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Fredric Hall

Rundown Guide for December 23, 2011

Despite a slow week, there are new releases from rapper Common, and the CD release of the legendary New Breed Compilation.

Hey all!

Christmas is just around the corner and I know you’re exicited about the gifts, food, and awkward family conversations.  As per usual, there weren’t a whole lot of releases this week.  But I was able to find some gems for you to check out.

Common – “The Dreamer, The Believer” [Think Common]

Common is that rare breed of rapper whose worst efforts are still better than the crap that’s out these days.  Seriously, since he dropped the debut “Can I Borrow a Dollar” in 1992, all of Common’s works have been, at least, pretty solid to phenomenal.  “The Dreamer, The Believer” is trying to continue that trend, with the singles “Blue Sky” and “Celebrate”.

Various Artists – “The New Breed Compilation” [Wardance Records]

This collection of New York Hardcore bands was only available on cassette in 1989.  And even then, only 700 copies were made, due to a massive distribution force of two people:  Freddy Alva and Chaka Malik, two avid hardcore fans.  Like most comp, this was made to let people know what bands were playing in their neighborhoods.  Bands like Discipline, Outburst, Breakdown.

Boog Brown – “The Brown Study Remixes” [Mello Music Group]

There are times where you hear an artist whose work you’re so impressed by, that you feel stupid for not knowing them beforehand.  Boog Brown is one of those individuals.  Hailing from Detroit, the femcee dropped some lyrical punches with the album “The Brown Study” in 2010.  Now, we have the remixed version, featuring beats by Def Dee, Dunc of DTMD, and Georgia Anne Muldrow. 

Polyrhythmics – “Labrador” [Polyrhythmics]

Okay, okay.  Lately, they have been a slew of funk bands popping up on both coasts.  Now, with the such a flood of bands coming up, it’s hard to distinguish one from the other.  That’s the one flaw with bands like that:  they all tried to be the next James Brown, without attempting to bring their own personality in to the mix.  Enter Polyrhythmics, a band that’s trying to do their own thing while respecting the spirits of Brown and Fela Kuti.  Tracks like “Moonroof”, “Stinky Finger” and the title track have the required funkiness that will guarantee to get asses shaking.

Music Rundown Guide for December 7, 2011

New albums from The Roots and The Black Keys, along with Amy Winhouse’s posthumous release.

So how was your Thanksgiving weekend?  I hope it was just super awesome, filled with stuffed stomachs, dosing off on the couch, and drunken relatives acting like a damn fool.  Now that you survived that, time to chill out with what’s in store for this week in music.

Black Keys – “El Camino” [Nonesuch]

Man that was fast, wasn’t it?  I know they released “Brothers” in 2010, but, really, it seemed so much shorter than that.  Then again, if your band consisted of only two people, you’ll be pumping albums out are break neck speed too.  “El Camino” doesn’t bring anything new to the table other than the rawness of the blues-rock duo, which is all they need.  “Lonely Boy” is such an example, when some harsh guitars and thunderous drumming.

Amy Winehouse – “Lioness:  Hidden Treasures” [Universal Republic]

Everybody knew it wouldn’t be long after Amy Winehouse’s death before record executives start putting unreleased tracks from her catalog.  My thing is, if she wanted to put the tracks while she was alive, she would have.  The tracks were unreleased for a reason.  Or maybe she was going to put them out.  I don’t know.  Anyway, if you’re a Winehouse fan – which, I’m assuming, is a lot of you – then you should check this one out.  Included in the album are covers of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Girl From Ipanema”.  Also, there’s “Body and Soul”, a duet with Tony Bennett.

The Roots – “Undun” [Def Jam]

A few weeks ago, I let you guys know about the Roots – Betty Wright callabo “Betty Wright: The Movie”.  Now, I’m letting you know about the band’s new album, “Undun”.  The album tells the story of Redford Stephens, a young man who is thrown into a life of crime.  I know, it sounds like the typical cautionary of urban youth that’s been done thousands of times, but with “Undun” the Roots attempt to paint a more humanistic picture of the character, through tracks like “Tip The Scale” and “Make My”, to not to make him “hero nor victim” as the band put it. 

Onra – “Chinoseries pt 2” [All City Records]

And we end this little shindig on a funky tip via Asia.  While walking the streets of Asia, beatmaker Onra scooped up some vintage folk and pop Chinese records from the 60s and 70s.  Add some kick – ass beats to the mix and you have “Chinoseries pt 2.”.  Possible the most eclectic mix and East and West you’ll ever hear since Wu – Tang Clan and the movie “The Last Dragon”.  With tracks like “Fight or Die”, “No Matter What” and “Ms. Ho”, this will definitely be a head banger for any beat connoisseur.

Music Rundown Guide for November 17, 2011

The Roots collaborate with Betty Wright, and Drake and Gym Class Heroes release their new albums this week

Betty Wright and the Roots – “Betty Wright: The Movie” [S-Curve Records/Ms. B Records]

No, this isn’t from the star of Golden Girls.  Look at the last name again.  This is from funkstress Betty Wright.  Having put out albums since 1968, she is very familiar among old-school RnB fans.  Combined with the raw power of the Roots, you have a juggernaut of funk that will blow minds of old and new school fans alike.  Definitely worth checking out.


Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles II [Fueled by Ramen/Decaydance]

I have a soft spot of this band.  Tavie McCoy has a decent flow that I can’t help but to love.  You could say they’re a guilty pleasure of mine.  The sequel to their debut album, The Papercut Chronicles, the band once again holds it down with catchy-ass songs like their single “Stereo Hearts” featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5.  But possibly the catchiest of the tracks is “Martyrial Girls, where Travie is channeling his inner Kanye for his rhymes.  Still, if this doesn’t get your heart pumping, I don’t know what will.

Drake – Take Care [Cash Money]

Like Gym Class Heroes, here’s another person that I have a bit of an affinity with.  Despite being backed by the overrated Lil Wayne, Drake does possess some skill that’s not ignorable.  The title track is really catchy as hell, with some soothing lyrics by Rihanna that  compliment the song. “Make Me Proud” is another one that really surprised me with its niceness.  There isn’t anything in particular that stand ups, but rather the overall atmosphere of the album that makes it really bumping.

Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow [Fish People/ANATI-Records]

Kate Bush has been of the few female artists, besides Tori Amos and Bjork, that really pushes the boundaries of music.  With Bush, her voice hasn’t changed a bit in over thirty years.  Most of the album is Bush on the piano, with the occasion electronic beat providing the background to a few songs, like the single “Wild Man”.  But Bush doesn’t really on things like AutoTune and Fruity Loops to make her sound good.  She’s in her early 50s and is very comfortable to the talents she has on her fingertips.

Music Rundown Guide for November 8, 2011

Check the latest music from As I Lay Dying, Disturbed, and Tech N9ne

Instead of some smart – ass introduction, I just want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Heavy D, who that time of this writing, passed away. My thoughts and prayers are out to his loved ones.

Disturbed – “Lost Children” [Reprise]

Here’s a little something for hardcore Disturbed fans: a collections of rarities and B – sides, gathered by David Draiman and company. With diamond – in – the – rough tracks like “Hell” and “A Welcome Burden”, the album also includes “Mine” and “3” which were only released through the band’s website. Don’t expect any brand new material. This is strictly for the hardcore fans, but novices can still peep it to quench their curiosity.

Angel and Airwaves – “Love Part One and Two” [Rocket Science]

And you thought Green Day’s “American Idiot” was ambitious as hell. Here we have Angels and Airwaves pulling out every pop – rock trick in the book to materialize “Love Part One and Two”: a two CD soundtrack to the film “Love” which singer Tom DeLonge executive produced. The tracks, such as “Letters to God Part Two” and “Surrender” give listeners a sound that plays more to atmosphere than bombast. Given that it’s a soundtrack, it makes sense.

As I Lay Dying – “Decas” [Metal Blade]

So now we’ve crashed from atmosphere to sheer, unbridled brutality from As I Lay Dying. Probably one of few metal acts that – as the kids would say -“keep it real”, the band have been doing pretty good for themselves. Their last album, “The Powerless Rises” sold 125,000 copies and counting and achieved a ton of critical acclaim. “Decas” is the band’s way of thanking their fans for the ten years they’ve been together. The album includes three new songs (“Paralyzed”, “From Shapeless to Breakable”, and “Moving Forward”), four covers (Slayer’s “War Ensemble” and Judas Priest’s “Hellion”), four remixes and one re-recording of “Beneath the Encasing Ashes”.

Tech N9ne – “Welcome To Strangeland” [Strange Music]

Tech N9ne has been around for minute. 1999 to be exactly. With little to no major labels backing him up, his work was featured in movies, TV and video games. Along with a machine – gun rhyme flow, his music has a dark edge that edges towards the obscure Horrorcore hip- hop. Nevertheless, here he is again, with “Welcome To Strangeland”: track upon track of the sickest, darkest and meanest rhymes ever heard. Check out the tracks “Gods” and the title track to see what I’m saying.

Music Rundown Guide for November 1, 2011

Megadeth brings it. And Lou Reed collaborates with…Metallica?

I hope your Halloween was a good and fun one. I hope all the ladies got their skimpy costumes, getting their sexy on. I hope all the fellows fulfilled their fantasies of being more muscular and badass than they are. But hey, that’s what Halloween is for: to be something we’ve always wanted to be. So with Thanksgiving coming up, here’s some new shit for you to check out.

Megadeth – “TH1RT3EN” [Roadrunner]

Let’s start off with a new one from on the “Big Four”. If you don’t know what I mean when I say “Big Four” then kindly search it on Google because I don’t have the time to explain. Anyway, here you have another collection of new cuts from Dave Mustaine and company. After thirteen albums – get it? That’s why they call it “TH1RT3EN” – fans can expect the guitars, drums, and vocals to maintain and exceed the typical amount of extreme face meltage.

Lou Reed and Metallica – “Lulu” [Warner Bros]

Yep, that’s right. That’s not a bad acid trip you’re having, you’ve read that correct. Lou Reed, the progenitor of melancholic musings, has collaborated with one of the most popular metal bands in the world. It’s a match made in…somewhere! And to top it off, the album was inspired by the plays “Earth Spirit” and “Pandora’s Box” written by German expressionist Frank Wedekind. Listening to this will be an experience, I’ll tell you that much. But listen for yourself.

London Philharmonic Orchestra – “The Greatest Video Game Music” [X5 Music Group]

Now here’s something for all the video game nerds: music selections from your favorite video games getting the full blown orchestral treatment. Yes, it has finally happen. The London Philharmonic Orchestra took the music from the likes of “Final Fantasy”, “Call of Duty”, and “Tetris” and give it the depth and nuance that only an orchestra can bring. Too bad they didn’t do Aeris’s death scene in “Final Fantasy VII”, but it’s cool. But they do have the main theme from the series.

Metaphor (aka MED) – “Classic” [Stone Throws]

Chances are that you were rolling your eyes when you saw the title. “Who does this dude think he is?” you say to yourself. But among all the rappers that call their music classic and turn out to be the complete opposite, there are the few who are able to back up such grandiose claims. Metaphor, frequent collaborator with Madlib and MF Doom, is putting out his sophomore release, with Madlib providing beats for the majority of the tracks. To sweeten the deal, the title track features Talib Kweli on the mic. Not bad.

Music Rundown Guide for October 26, 2011

Boyz II Men celebrate their 20th anniversary, while Roots Manuva bring on the revolution.

Boyz II Men – “Twenty” [MSM Music]

If you’re into RnB’s long – lost sibling called New Jack Swing, it’s time to bust of the jean overalls and high top fades, because Boys II Men have come back with “Twenty”.  The title reflecting the group’s twenty – year career, the album contains two CDs: the first comprising of new material, the second is eight re – recording of their hits, including “Motown Philly”, “End of the Road”, and “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye”.  Those feeling nostalgic will pick up the album based on the second CD alone.

Roots Manuva – “4everevolution” [Big Dada]

Roots is one of the few individuals whose voice can be recognized the moment you hear it.  His voice – that warm, bassy, British timbre – coupled with banging beats, make for some awesomely listenable albums.  “4everevolution” is no exception, taking the formula that worked so well in the past and throwing in a hint of dubstep (“Here We Go Again”) and you have something that fans will snatch up with the quickness.

Kashmere Stage Band – “Texas Thunder Soul: 1968 – 1974” [Now – Again Records]

You may not heard the city of Kashmere Gardens, Texas, but from the late ‘60s until 1978, it was home of the one of the funkiest bands ever, and they were only teenagers.  The Kashmere Stage Band was the brainchild of Conrad O. Johnson, a music teacher at the Kashmere High School, who wanted a band that combined funk, soul, and RnB and ,most importantly, have a band kids will not be embarassed to play.  The result was nearly – twenty years and splendid funk, eight studio albums and a group of kids that would never look at high school the same again.  After being lost of decades, the recordings surfaced, and the folks at Now – Again records gathered the best of the bunch into a 2 – CD anthology, along with a DVD detailing the history of the band.

The Revelations – “Concrete Blues” 

For a change of pace, here’s The Revelations.  This group is a perfect counterpoint to Kashmere Stage Band’s gorgeous funk outhings.  Featuring the soulful sounds of Tre Williams, they makes a nice, relaxing mood with Williams’s vocals and the group laid – back grooves.    Definitely something to chill out to.

Rundown Guide for October 20, 2011

This week brings us new music from Everlast, Jane’s Addiction, and underground rap group Freestyle Fellowship.

I know some of your are getting use to College New’s brand – spanking new layout.  Awesome, ain’t it?  Got that new car smell.  Anyway, some things remain the same, and I’m still bringing new music to check out this week.

Everlast – ”Songs For The Ungrateful Living” [Martyr Inc Records]

The past couple of years have been prolific for Everlast.  With his solo works, his partaking in the hip – hop supergroup La Costa Nostra, this dude made sure his presence was in your radar.  ”Songs For The Ungrateful Living” is keeping up the pace as he goes back to his ”Whitey Ford Sings The Blues” motif that brought him mainstream success.  Judging by the tracks “Get By” and “The Rain”, the album is a record for the hardships of working class folk, sort of like Johnny Cash if he had two turntables and a microphone.

Freestyle Fellowship – ”The Promise” [Decon Records]

Twenty years ago, a group of underground MCs known as Freestyle Fellowship, released ”To Whom It May Concern…”.  It wasn’t a commercial success like it West Coast brethren like N.W.A,  but Freestyle Fellowship did paved the way for the fast – talking raps that will be popular during the mid – ninties.  They were also the first to infuse jazz elements into their music, way before Digable Planets with their “Rebirth of Slick”.  They’re continuing their tradition with ”The Promise”, with tracks like “This Write Here” and “We Are”.

Jane’s Addiction – ”The Great Escape Artist” [Capitol]

I was going to start to blub about how long it has been since Jane’s Addiction released an album, but that would be redundant.  Why?  Because frontman Perry Ferrell, like Everlast, never left.  He’s been running the revived version of Lollapalooza since 2003, and has been known to go up on stage for sing a song or two.  With the constant exposure, fans have wanted him to put out a damn Jane’s Addiction album already.  Well, now you got it.  I hope you’re busting your pants right now.

Jedi Mind Tricks – ”Violence Begets Violence” [Enemy Soil Records]

At the conclusion of this list is something that is soaked in grit, blood, and guts.  Vinne Paz and Jus Allah, forming the duo Jedi Mind Tricks, doesn’t was time coming up with witty word play, similies, or any of that bullshit.  This is simply a smashmouth album and of booming bass, drity samples and even dirtier rhymes.  It’s the type of album that will amp you up and conjure up an urge to break stuff.  Dig on “Target Practice” to see what I’m talking about.

Music Rundown Guide for October 12, 2011

Check the latest from Bjork, Five Finger Death Punch and Mayer Hawthorne

As you’re swimming through ideas of Halloween costumes, what candy to buy and whose house to TP, check out some of the stuff below to get you going. You might find to perfect soundtrack after you leave a bag of crap on your neighbor’s door, set the bag on fire and ring the doorbell. Cheers!

Five Finger Death Punch – ”American Capitalist” [Prospect Park]

I figure I’ll start the list off with some in-your-face rock. We have Five Finger Death Punch who, after two albums, has cemented themselves as a band that have some legs and can take their career into the next decade if they play it right. With tracks like “Back for More” and “Under And Over It,” these guys have blend the clean vocals of mainstream metal and yet still have a bit of grit in their songs.

Bjork – ”Biophilia” [Nonesuch]

Ok, this is Bjork we’re talking about. You either think she’s a freaking genius or you think of her as that weird looking chick that wore a swan as a dress years ago. You probably made up your mind whether you’ll get her new album or not, did you? Well, all I can say is…it’s Bjork. With ever album she somehow find ways to mess with your concept of how music should be experience. Yes, experience, not just listen. With ”Biophilia,” there will be apps for each song available for the iPad. 

Mayer Hawthorne – ”How Do You Do” [Republic]

I remember hearing one of Hawthorne’s tracks a couple of years. After a quick listen, I thought this was from the ‘60s. I mean, with all these cats out trying to emulate the sounds of Motown and Stax records, Mayer Hawthorne has got it down pat: the intstrumentation, the lyrics, the vocal arrangements. He really nailed it. He didn’t just listen to those old records, he devoured them and it became part of his soul. Check out the single “Get To Know You.”

MURS  – ”Love And Rockets Vol 1:  The Transformation” [DD172]

Straight out the West Coast, MURS is only one of a handful of rappers whose songs are don’t revolve around guns and bitches. With MURS, you’ll get songs about heartbreak, being on the road, being an independent rapper, selling candy bars as a kid and also the little mundane things that folks go through every day. ”Love And Rockets” doesn’t stray from that path, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Dig his track “Remember 2 Forget.”

Music Rundown Guide for October 4, 2011

The Misfits released their long awaited follow – up, as do DJ Shadow.

October is here.  And you know what that means?  Fake blood.  Skimpy costumes.  Ogling girls wearing said skimpy costumes.  Oh, man, this month is gonna kick so much ass, it’s not even funny.  In the meantime, check out what’s coming out this week.

Misfits – ”Devil’s Rain” [Misfit Records]

After their last album dropped in 1999, Jerry Only and company have cranked out another entry to the Misfits’ over-thirty year legacy.  Though some complain that Only’s voice is…um…not the best when compared with Michele Graves and Glenn Danzig, he’s still trying, and you have to give him credit for doing that.  Anyway, here’s the single “Twilight of the Dead”.

DJ Shadow – ”The Less You Know, The Better” [Verve/Roc-A-Fella]

Though he’s not the first to use samples, DJ Shadow definitely made sampling an artform.  The man who influenced a new generation of beatmakers, including RJD2, has come out with a heterogeneous mixture of sounds.  You heard the term, “everything but the kitchen sink”?  Well, he threw in the sink, the pipes, and a chunk of the wall attached to it.  Hip – hop, drum n’ bass, soul, and rock are forced to co-exist in this one album.  What’s the result?  This:

Bernie Berrell – ”All The Woo In The World” [Get On Down]

For those who don’t know, Bernie Berrell is better known as the keyboardist for Funkmeister himself, George Clinton.  He went on to play keys for the Talking Heads in the ‘80s.  But, before he did that, he released his solo debut in 1978.  With a mix of funky tunes and piano – and – voice driven tracks, Berrell shows off his versatility, paying homage to the funk while making folks see that he’s more than that.  Still, the funky shit is pretty sweet, the first track, “Woo Together”.

Styles P – ”Master of Cermonies” [Entertainment One]

It’s been a while since I put up someone from the mainstream hip – hop front.  As a sort of whetting of appetites for those waiting for the new Lox album to drop, Styles P released his solo album this week.  Listening to this might give you a preview of the upcoming “The L.O.X. Order” they may or may not come out this year, depending on negotiations with Bad Boy Records.  Meanwhile, peep “Ima G”. 

Rundown Guide for September 27, 2011

Wilco, Blink 182 and 9th Wonder are at it again this week

Hello everybody. September 23, marked the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. As you’re sitting outside the yard, watching the foliage change colors, take a listen to what’s below. Thank me later.

Wilco – “The Whole Love” [dBpm/ANTI]
If you’re like me and live in Chicago, chances are you’ve seen a billboard promoting this band. Wilco is, aside from Smashing Pumpkins, a band that Chicago is pleased to call its native son. With “The Whole Love,” Wilco will give audiences their blend of rich lyricisms and musicianship.

Blink 182 – “Neighborhoods” [Blink Recordz]
Well, after a two-year delay, the pop-punk trio has come back with the first release since their reunion in 2009. As with their previous self-titled album, the group continues their exploration into darker material, though they’re maintaining their pop sensibility.

9th Wonder – ”The Wonder Years” [It’s a Wonderful World Music Group]

He made beats for Jay-Z, R. Kelly, M.U.R.S. and Erykah Badu. He was the member of the grossly underrated Little Brother. Now 9th Wonder’s on his own, making his debut album with the likes of Badu, Masta Killa and
a whole mess of guess spots that can occupy an award show. Just check out the track “Make it Big.”

Madlib – ”Medicine Show No. 12: Raw Medicine – Madlib Remixes” [Madlib Invazion]
So we’ve come to the twelfth entry of Madlib’s ”Medicine Show.” This time, Madlib has gone back to basics: a mixtape of remixes. Simple. That’s it. But it doesn’t mean his skimping on the creativity, oh no! The Beat Konducta has a couple of tricks up his sleeves.