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Fredric Hall

Rundown guide for March 8, 2011

Rapper Lupe Fiasco and Raekwon release their highly anticipated albums

We have some awesome new releases for your ears to enjoy this week. Plenty of highly anticipated debuts and reissues of classics down below. Yep, this week is shaping up to be pretty cool in Musicland.

Lupe Fiasco – “Lasers” [Atlantic]

Well, it’s finally here. Lupe Fiasco – still reigning from the success of “Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor” – has come back with another addition to his brand of lyrical beauty. As you can see from the track “The Show Goes On,” Lupe still has the smooth lyrical flow that will make your head bob, and the beats that make you ass shake. Put this on your “to buy” list.

Raekwon – “Shaolin Vs. Wu-tang” [Ice H20]

Along with Lupe Fiasco, we have another cat whose release has made cats hop all over: Raekwon the Chef. If you liked – no LOVED – “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” and “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II” will not be disappointed by this release. All the essential Wu – Tang is here: strong beats, lyrical acrobatics and of course, crazy kung – fu samples. Check out the title track and “Butter Knives” featuring Nas to gather the greatness. 

R.E.M. – “Collapse Into Now” [Warner Bros]

Yep, they’re still at it. After releasing “Accelerate” in 2008 to critical praise, and debuting at number two on the Billboard 200, R.E.M. has not only established that it can be fresh for over twenty years, but it refuses to fade away into obscurity. “Collapse Into Now” is evidence of the band’s display of endurance and innovation. “Uberlin” shows that singer Michael Stipe hasn’t lost his edge one bit. 

Rundown guide for March 1, 2011

Latest from Dropkick Murphys starts off this week

March is here and you know what that means? Time to put on your green clothes, pin your “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button on your shirt and drink a pint because St. Patrick’s Day is coming. With the Irish day coming up, I figure we’ll start the list with one of the quintessential Celtic-punk musicians around.

Dropkick Murphys – “Going Out in Style” [Dropkick Murphys]

The past few years have really kind to the Celtic-punk band. Thanks to their cover of Woody Guthrie’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” appearing on the “The Departed” soundtrack, and their constant touring, the band is set to become a household name. “Going Out of Style” will have fans new and old on their feet and singing along to the catchy title track and “Hang Em’ High.”

James Brown – “Singles 10: 1975-1979” [Hip – O Select]

If you’re a hard core James Brown fan or if you’re just starting out, you might want to give this latest collection a listen. As the title states, it’s a collection of hits and rare tracks from 1975 to 1979. During this period, Brown was leaning more toward Disco, but he never lost his funk-soul roots. Included here is his cover of David Bowie’s “Fame”, Elvis Perseley’s “Love Me Tender” and the rare “Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time.” Like I said, James Brown fans new and old should pick this up.

War – “Icon” [UMe]

Hey kids! Do you want to hear your favorite artists and super low prices? Well, gather around and buy up the “Icon” series. “Icon” was started for those who want to experience their favorite artist, but can’t afford the price (stupid record companies). So for only $14.35 you can get War, Peter Frampton, Loretta Lynn and the most esteemed of them all: Bloodhound Gang. As for War, you get all the hits, like “Slippin’ Into Darkness”, “Cisco Kid”, and “Low Rider” for the cheap. Get your copy today!

Matilda – “Stateless” [Ninja Tune]

When Matilda’s lead singer Chris James states he wanted the album “Stateless” to “be like a journey”, some might roll their eyes up and say “whatever”. But when you listen to it, you will be forced to admit that the album is like a journey, a beautiful yet disturbing journey. The band Matilda offers an almost mystical and funky trek through the musical landscape. As evident by the track, “Aerial”, the sound is a layered set of quaint and melancholic, twinged sounds.

Space Invadas – “Super Sweet” [BBE Music]

Space Invadas consists of Katalyst and Steve Spacek. Hailing from Sydney and London respectively, the pair has made some sweet music to say the least. With Steve providing soulful vocals over Katalyst’s funky, spaced-out beats, they have taken the international stage by the short hairs and are setting their sights on the the U.S.. So all you yanks better watch out because here they come.

Rundown guide of February 23, 2011

Johnny Cash’s archives and Gary Wilson

With All-Star weekend come and gone, people have to replace the basketball awesomeness with something. While these releases may not be as exciting as dunking over a car, it still gets the job done. Here’s what’s new this week.

Johnny Cash – “Bootleg, Volume 2: From Memphis to Hollywood” [Sony Legacy]

First we start with something from the archives of the late, great, Johnny Cash. This album gives us two discs of low-fidelity, twangy goodness from the Man In Black. For those of you looking for more, Sony Legacy has released “Bootleg, Volume 2” of Cash’s recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. Volume 2 continues showcasing his earliest performances, mostly unreleased or under-promoted. Definitely recommended for Cash fans new and old.

Johnny Cash – “Bootleg, Volume 1:  Personal File” [Sony Legacy]

But probably the most interesting from the bootlegs is Johnny’s “personal file”. Hidden in his home in Tennesse, Cash stored in a small vault, firearms from the eighteenth century, letters from fans around the world, demos and his “personal file,” recordings he did at his studio just for the hell of it. This is a refreshing take of Cash: cool, relaxed without the pressure of pleasing an audience. Just him, his guitar, his thoughts and his soul. Though released in 2006, it was renamed the first volume of the Bootleg series. Check out “The Letter Edged in Black.”

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx – “We’re New Here” [XL Recordings]

Last year, awesomeness was bestowed upon us when Gil Scott – Heron released “I’m New Here” in 2010 after sixteen of inactivity. The moment he let loose his graveled, pained voice, we were reminded why he influenced an entire generation of hip-hoppers. Now, upcoming producer Jamie xx is giving the already classic album a new twist. As evident on “NY Is Killing Me,” Jamie doesn’t twist Heron’s voice too much, since it’s already perfect. Rather, this is a meditation on Heron’s album rather a slapped – together remix album that only serves to give Jamie some shine. 

Rundown Guide for February 15, 2011

New stuff from PJ Harvey, Stryper, Mogwai, DJ Mark Farina and Off!

Well, it’s the day after Valentine’s Day. I hope everyone had a good time with their sweethearts and whatnot. If you didn’t have a sweetheart to share those special moments, don’t fret. I have some stuff that might perk you up. Besides, we know Valentine’s Day is a corporate holiday designed to milk money from desperate couples.  Suckers!

Off! – “The First Four Eps” [Vice Records]

I figured we’ll start this shindig with a hearkening to the good old days of hardcore rock. Back when young cats in t-shirts and ripped jeans moshed like there was no tomorrow, when the songs were fueled by angst and despair and alienation. Keith Morris, singer for Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, heads up this latest incarnation of hardcore punk revivalism named Off! Believe it or not, the band has only been around since 2009, yet the sounds that come out of this album, like “I Don’t Belong,” will make you think they’ve been around for decades.  This will be the release of the CD version, the vinyl will be released in December of 2010.

PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake” [Island]

British songstress PJ Harvey has been known to change styles with ever record. If you’re looking for a PJ Harvey sound, well, you’ll have to stop because you won’t ever find it.  b>”Let England Shake” is no different. With this album, Harvey focuses her attention on her home country of England and the everything around it, particularly the war in Iraq. However, this isn’t so much a protest album but something that merely states how war is effecting the country. It’s more an emotional reportage than social or political commentary. For a taste, check out the single “The Words That Maketh Murder.”

Stryper – “The Covering” [Big 3 Records]

Yep, it’s Stryper. Just when you thought debauchery and hedonism has taken over metal, Stryper has descended from the heavens with “The Covering”. Here’s the thing: This is a cover album. Yeah, I know, you wanted to hear some new stuff. Never fear, young Christian Soldier. These songs, like Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” include the signature vocals and dueling guitar that made Stryper so popular for all these years.

Mogwai – “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” [Sub Pop]

As the early band with the label “post-rock” back in the 1990s, Mogwai never let the label be the compass for its sound. As the title of the latest album suggests, they might consider themselves hardcore or maybe punk. Post-punk, maybe? Who cares. Mogwai is Mogwai and this album shows it. Mostly instrumental, atmospheric and laid back, this band is perfect for those nights of kicking back and vegging out.  Check out their song “White Noise.”

DJ Mark Farina – “Mushroom Jazz 7” [MJ7 Records]

We conclude this section with a cat named Mark Farina. House music fans will recognize the name, since he’s been holding it down for the genre since the early 1990s. Since then, he’s been experimenting with different styles, mixing in Herbie Hancock, De La Soul and everything in between to his house tracks, resulting in six mix tapes titled “Mushroom Jazz.” Today, these albums are the most sought after around the world. Volume seven of the series is a cumulation of years of honing his stills to perfection.

Rundown guide for Feburary 8, 2011

Avnat-grade rockers The Residents re-release a classic; Motorhead hits you upside the head with new album.

Hopefully, you had an awesome Super Bowl weekend. Whether you were rooting for the Steelers or the Packers, perhaps there are two things we all share: that the Black Eyed Peas performance at half-time was terrible, and Eminem lost whatever street credibility he had left by appearing in a commercial. I’m sure the following will help you cope with the mentioned events.

Motorhead“The World Is Yours” [UDR]

The pioneers of all things Rock N’Roll and badassness are back! Whereas most of their “peers” are trying new bells and whistles to appease the teen bopper crowd, Lemmy and his crew are barreling through with the their timeless bombast and high energy sounds. “The World Is Yours” doesn’t break new ground because the ground is perfect the way it is.   Motorhead is letting all the kids today know they’re the best at what they do with tracks like “Brotherhood of Man” and “Born to Lose:”

Macabre“Grim Scary Tales” [Willowtip Records]

For more than twenty years, Chicago’s Macabre has been blowing up heads and melting faces (not in that particular order) with its ever expanding sound. From metal, thrash, punk, hardcore and maybe some polka just for the hell of it, “Grim Fairy Tales” is another notch in their catalog of eclectic, yet hard-hitting, metal, such as “Nero Inferno,” a sing-songy romp through the netherworld as written by Dante Alighieri in the Middle Ages.

The ban’s “Locusta”just kicks your ass with its force alone.

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead“Tao of the Dead” [Superball Music]

Well, here’s another album by the band with the coolest sounding name, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Fans like them for their music, while journalists like them because they can reach the required word count quicker. Name aside, this album has some quite impressive displays of sonic goodness. Imagine indie-rock with a dose of downers and a bottle of Jack Daniels. It’s hynoptic, calm and introspective all at once. 

The Residents“Not Available” [Ralph Records]

The Residents are a weird band. I mean weird, weird, as in they make Devo look normal kind of weird. But I say that in a good way. With a steady stream of albums since the seventies, the group (or one man it was rumored) has not only pushed boundaries, but eradicated themselves from existence. The reissue of the 1978 album “Not Available” comes with extended versions of three tracks. If you’re into experimental rock to the fullest, check them out.

Hus“Cognac Fruit” [Domination Records]

With a list of music that’s hard, brutal, eclectic and weird, we’ll end with something chill. Straight out of Homestead, NY, Hus clearly knows his way around a microphone, with some luscious beats that are the equivalent of a glass of wine. Just check out this track “Dearly.” Another album with head-nodding brilliance.

Rundown guide for February 1, 2011

New cuts from North Mississippi Allstars and skater Tommy Guerrero

Hey all!

Well, it’s February, which means Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and of course, Groundhog Day. That’s right. This is the month where that rodent comes out of his hole and sees its shadow, thus pissing people off by declaring it’s six more weeks of winter. So let’s celebrate the first day of the shortest month of the year with some aural goodness from the selections below. Keep reading if you want to hear some good stuff for once.

North Mississippi Allstars – “Keys to the Kingdom” [Red General Catalog]

Here’s a band I haven’t heard in a while. North Mississippi Allstars is a band that can rock a crowd like nobody’s business. The world wasn’t ready for them when they released their debut, “Shake Hands with Shorty” in 2000, but with bands like The Black Keys and the White Stripes getting a little shine on the charts, maybe the mainstream public might submit themselves to their sonic blessings. “Keys to the Kingdom” maintains the band’s signature hard-hitting blues and country style without bowing down to the whims of trends and gimmicks.  This is blues to the bone marrow. Get used to it.

Fela Kuti – “Vinyl Box Set #1 Curated by ?uestlove” [Knitting Factory]

This box set comes with good news and bad news. The bad news is this box set, complied by ?uestlove of The Roots, is for vinyl lovers only. CD owners need not apply, at least for the time being. Until a CD version of the collection comes, vinyl heads will be able to bask in the awesomeness of Fela Kuti when they go through six of his albums that launched the genre he invented, Afrobeat, to the unprepared public. Obviously, a set like this will come with some goodies. In this case, it’s an essay written by ?uestlove, along with a poster from Fela’s 1986 concert in Austin, Texas. Go ahead and pick this up if you love your Afrobeat.

Revolting Cocks – “Got Mixxx?” [13th Planet]

So, yeah, Al Jourgensen is spraying people with his new collection of remixes from his Spring 2010 album “Got Cock?” (no doubt referring to chickens). For this preview I’ll include the tracks “Trojan Horse”, “Juice” and “Air Traffic Control” simply because these are the only titles I can write for the website without getting my ass chewed by the editor. And that’s what you’re going to get from this album?  Flithy, nasty, low-down dance music that will make the typical dub-step hipster cry home to their momma.

The Insane Warrior (aka RJD2) – “We Are the Doorways” [RJ’s Electrical Connections]

Lately, Columbus, Ohio beatsmith RJD2 has expanded his sound. He and his fellow midwest counterpart, Kanye West, both push the limits of hip hop to the edge, to the point where the only thing still on the cliff is the balls of the feet. 2007’s “The Third Hand” was a mind screw for some heads when RJ dropped the hip hop to do a rock sound, with him playing all the instruments. Though he’s back to sampling with “We Are the Doorways”, his head is still swilling around making more for the masses to clamor. Donning an alter ego, The Insane Warrior, RJ shows the what the soundtrack to “Robocop” would sound like if he was at the helms.

Tommy Guerrero – “Lifeboats and Follies” [Galaxia Records]

Tommy Guerrero is one of those people who can do no wrong. The man can skate AND make music that doesn’t suck. In short: He actually cares about what he’s putting out. “Lifeboats and Follies” is a maturation from his previous releases. Not to say that his other efforts were amateurish, but as you listen you can tell he definitely grew as a musician.