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Fredric Hall

Rundown Guide for June 1, 2011

New releases from Eddie Vedder, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Flogging Molly and Vast Aire

I’m sure most of you are glad the semester is over and your belly is still going through its post-Memorial digestion. As you’re sitting there, letting your mom’s potato salad and barbecue ribs work its way through the intestines, check out these cuts and see if they suit your fancy.

Death Cab for Cutie – ”Codes and Keys” [Atlantic]

Death Cab for Cutie. What you can say about them? Well, to me, they give me the chills. Even though they have this image of your typical laid-back indie rockers…I don’t know. I suspect vocalist Benjamin Gibbard is hiding bodies in his basement and shrunken heads in the freezer. Listening to ”Codes and Keys” brought up those same feelings, especially with the track “Door Unlocked and Opened.” With an album of ominous guitar work and an atmosphere of relentless doom, it just…gives me the willies.

Flogging Molly – ”Speed of Darkness” [Thirty Tigers]

Flogging Molly will make you want to go to the pubs, drink a pint, and get into a fight with someone three times your size. But then again, the same can be said about all Celtic punk bands, which is why they’re the bee’s knees these days. ”Speed of Darkness” will be the band’s fifth album and they show no sign of slowing down. All the tracks have the same white-hot, intense energy that will compel you to do something you’ll either regret the next day or won’t remember at all.

Eddie Vedder – ”Ukulele Songs” [Monkeywrench Records]

If you’ve followed Eddie Vedder’s career, you know he’s not the one to shy away from spreading his wings. See the soundtrack for “Into the Wild” as evidence. He’s gone off onto another adventure with hopes that we’ll be brave enough to join him: Vedder playing Ukulele. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. ”Ukulele Songs” isn’t a collection of twangy, countrified, bluegrass music but something that really explores the mind of Mr. Vedder. The single “Longing to Belong” and the premiere track “Can’t Keep” showcase that.

Vast Aire – ”2010: A street Odessy” [Fat Beats Records/Man Bites Dog Records]

If you had your ear to the streets back in 2001, then you heard the reverberations from a hip-hop duo from NYC called Cannibal Ox. When they dropped their El-P produced debut, “The Cold Vein,” it was quickly considered a classic by hip-hoppers and music fans alike. Since then, Vast Aire, one-half of the group, went solo. Though “Look Ma, No Hands” had some nice cuts, it didn’t hold up to the majesty of ”Cold Vein”. However, ”2010,” with tracks like “Nomad” with its spacey video game samples and the Cappadonna guested “I Don’t Care,” has the makings of another classic.

My Morning Jacket – ”Circuital” [ATO records]

My Morning Jacket, known for performing four-hour sets has come back after a three-year hiatus to put out ”Circuital.” After hearing the songs on this album, it’s actually more laid back than their previous endeavors, if you can believe that. “Victory Dance?” Laid back. The title track “Circuital?” So cool it’s frozen in its clothes. “The Day Is Comin?” Cooler than turning your pillow around and seeing Billy Dee Williams’s face on it. Yeah, it’s that chilled.  Rockin’ but chilled.

Rundown Guide for May 23, 2011

Thurston Moore’s new album is out as is Madlib’s latest addition to the “Medicine Show”

As you can see, I only got four entries today. That’s because it’s been a slow week of releases this week. Maybe it’s because all the label heads are out with their families and shit for the Memorial Day weekend coming up. Who knows. Anyway, here’s what we have to look forward to for this week.

Thurston Moore – “Demolished Thoughts” [Matador Records]

I figured we start this shindig with something a bit avant garde. And things can no more avant-garde than Sonic Youth’s frontman Thurston Moore. “Demolished Thoughts” will be the singer’s third solo release. The album is supposed to boast a more acoustic feel, with Beck lending a hand producing the tracks. After listening to the song “Benediction,” with Moore’s gentle guitar strums and a meditative violin accompanying him, this seem to be a bit more chilled than his previous works.

X-Raided – “Unforgiven Vol.3: Vindication” [Gangway/Bloc Star]

Man, I almost forgot about this dude.

To all wannabe gangsta rappers, whatever lyrics you’re spewing to your audience about how many guns you’re blasting, or how many broads you’re banging, you can never be as hard as west coast rapper X-Raided. From 1995 to now, he’s recorded 16 albums, five compilations and started a record label, all while incarcerated. Yep, he’s in jail, serving a 31-year sentence for first degree murder. With “Vindication”, X-Raided takes his time (seriously, most of the tracks go for five minutes) talking about street life, life in jail, and — on the track “Love, Loyalty, Respect” — shows his love towards his family. 

Face Candy – “Waste Age Teen Land” [Rhymesayers]

When the late Eyedea collaborated with some musicians in 2005, he wanted to something that’s really out there, that pushes the boundaries of not just hip-hop, but music in general. In 2009, they performed a set at the Black Dog Café and Winterland Studios. The result? “Waste Age Teen Land.” What does it sound like? Well, it sounds like sounds. Really, it’s a unpredicateble, disjointed, mish-mash of lyrics, drums, bass, guitar and everything that’s available. I really can’t pick one track out this joint, but Underground Hip Hop has snippets of every track. Enjoy!

Madlib w/Frank Nitt –“Medicine Show Number 09: Nittyville” [Madlib Invazion]

Continuing the monthly series of releases from the Beat Conducta Madlib, for this installment he has dropped the forays into different genres and settled for traditional hip-hop. Just a MC, Frank Nitt, a beat  and that’s it. However, this album does have the off-the-wall sounds that you would expect from Madlib, so you can rest easy if you’re thinking he’s gone soft. “Nittyville” is a perfect example of that, as is “So Beautiful,” which has Frank showing his flow about his bling and shit.

Rundown Guide for May 16, 2011

New goodies from Seether, Danger Mouse and Hank Williams round out this week

Two more weeks until your faces are stuffed with barbecue, potato salad, cole saw, pop and whatever edible delicacies you’re able to swallow without choking to death. Before you indulge, let me show you some music that’ll get you in the munching mood. I think. Ok, I’m not sure, but just take a look anyway.

Seether – “Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray” [Win-Up]

Seether has always been one of those bands whose sound is so distinctive you can recognize them by listening to the first couple of seconds of their songs. With this latest entry, the band has taken its style to another level with their single “Country Song”.  If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know what I’m talking about. Seether pulled up its collective pants, said eff it and did a song that included a twangy, countrified guitar. Their entry into redneck-ville aside,  “No Resolution” assures the fans that they haven’t lost their minds.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi – “Rome” [Capitol]

Here you have Danger Mouse — beatmaker and producer extraordinaire — responsible for the beats behind MF Doom, Jay-Z (without his permission), Gorillaz and, of course, Gnarls Barkley. Also here is Italian composer Daniele Luppi, whose work can be heard on the big screen in “Sex in the City” and “Nine”.  Together, they conjured a work that is a unique blend of trippiness and classical smoothness. With the backing of the same orchestra that recorded the score of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”, this is shaping to be something that will be never be heard before.

Ben Harper – “Give Till It’s Gone” [Virgin Records]

Whenever you feel your music is coasting by on mediocrity and blandness, Ben Harper can be counted on to smack the back of your head and wake your ass up. “Give Till It’s Gone” is no exception. Blending so many genres that he probably created a couple in the process, Harper fuses some folksy with the rock-n-roll in the single “Rock N’Roll Is Free.” You can look at the titles – such as “I Will Not Be Broken” and “Don’t Give Up On Me Now” – and you can tell he’s putting out some positive vibes towards his listeners.

Hank Williams III – “Hilbilly Joker” [Curb]

And now we do a swan dive off the positivity of Ben Harper to the boozed-soaked, cocaine-twinged bowels of Hank Williams. Oh yes, if you want your music covered in Jack Daniels and seminal fluids, Hank is your go-to tour guide.  With the tracks, “I’m Drunk Again,” “Pistol Packin’” and “M.F.J.,” (I’ll leave it up to you to guess what it means) Hank will lead you around the realm of debauchery and decadence. Lick it up.

Neek the Exotic and Large Professor – “Still on the Hustle” [Fat Beats Records]

Back in the ‘90s, Large Professor and Neek The Exotic collaborated for the White Men Can’t Jump soundtrack with the joint “Fakin’ the Funk.”  For those of you that were too young to remember the song or the movie, feel free to find the video on YouTube. Afterwards, go ahead and give this album a listen. It’s the same energy as it was in the ’90s. Though it has been around twenty years later, these cats still flow.

All Time Low showing new highs at Chicago's Congress Theater

Pop punkers show Chicago what they’ve got

Subpar sound aside, the All Time Low show was a spectacle of youthful energy mixed with the gaudy, immature humor that would make folks at “Jackass” proud.

I think it’s appropriate that I reveal my prejudices upfront so you’ll know what’s up. I’m not a fan of pop-punk. Sorry, I’m just not. But, I’m a reporter, and objectivity is the name of the game, so I’ll take a step back and look at this from a neutral perspective. Though some of said prejudices might slip in from time to time, I’ll do my best to keep it in check. Okay? Okay.

I was given the opportunity to talk to All Time Low’s singer, Alex Gaskarth, before the show. Before the interview, I hit a bump when, as I was taking out my notebook to jot down notes, I couldn’t find my pen. The guard that was there was kind enough to lend me his Sharpie, so as I’m writing, I’m glancing over the nice, wide black scribbles that can be vaguely recognized as notes.  

Alex was a cool cat. Although the band have been in the spotlight for about five years, — they were signed while they were still in high school —  Alex showed a coolness and maturity that I wasn’t expecting from someone who’s been given shine so early in their life. “Don’t take the career for granted” he said, a lesson he’s learned from being on the road and making albums. I thought, “Goddamn. That’s really grown-up of him to say that.” With their new album, “Dirty Work” slated for a June release, I asked Alex if the band did anything different as far as coming up with new material. Alex said there wasn’t much difference, but stated that the album was a reflection of their “natural growth” over years of touring and recording. When we talked about his approach to songwriting, he said he doesn’t listen to music during the process, because the song will be a copy of whatever song he’s listening to and not his own voice. I thought that was an interesting premise and a profound one. 

When I was done with the interview, I walked downstairs to the concert floor. At this point the floor was filling up with people. When I was walking toward the back, cursing myself for losing the pen, I noticed a peculiar sight: older folks, WAY older folks, sitting down at the rickety seats in the back. It didn’t take much thinking to know that these were the chaperones for the night’s festivities. And, man, these old ladies so didn’t want to be there.

The set by The Summer Set was good, but the set was marred the sound system. Anybody who has been to the Congress Theater will tell you its most prominent feature is the shitty sound system. At certain points, the sound cut on singer Brian Dales’ microphone, but he kept singing and praying that the damn mic would come back on. Even after he received a new mic that one went out as well, so they changed it again. But, bless their hearts, they plowed through the set. Hey Monday’s set was a display of unrelenting energy and high spirits, thanks in part to singer Cassadee Pope’s vocals. Yellowcard has a violinist in their squad, so you know their shit was awesome. 

But you don’t want to hear about all that, do you? You want to read about All Time Low. With several vertical racks of revolving lights swooping across the audience, the crowd was caught up in the infectious energy the band produced with every guitar chord, lyric and bass string. With that, and Alex and guitarist Jack Barakat’s bantering about starting a website called Bigbootybitches.com, I couldn’t help but feel the energy that was coming from the stage and was spreading throughout the young audience.

As I walked outside the Congress on that dark Friday night, I watched all the teeny boppers branching off down the sidewalk, across the street, here, there, everywhere. It was around 11:00 pm and I knew most of them would have to get home in time to avoid a parental ass-whooping. But they had smiles on their faces and they were singing with no inhibition. They’ve got the world ahead of them, and they have to the opportunity to take it by the balls and tell it what’s what. In short, they had a good time and God bless them for that.

Rundown Guide for May 4, 2011

Beastie Boys and KRS-One both release long-awaited albums this week

It’s May and I know you’re just aching to get this month over with so you can begin your summer vacation. With that in mind, I hope you take the following selections to heart when you’re brain is basking in thoughts of sandy beaches, nights out and drunken stupors.

Beastie Boys – “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2” [Capitol Records]

“Hot Sauce Committee Part 2” is the sequel to the non-existent “Hot Sauce Committee Part 1”. Actually, part 2 is part 1 that had a release date of September 15, 2009. It was delayed due to MCA’s bout with cancer. Now he’s better, a vegan, and ready to put out the hip-hop legend’s album. It features a slightly altered track-list, but the single “Too Many Rappers” with Nas is still on here. Other than that, it’s the brand of off-the-wall, innovative brand of hip-hop you’d expect from a group of Jewish cats that have been doing this for almost thirty years.

Musiq Soulchild – “Musiqinthemagiq” [Altantic/Wea]

In a market bursting through the seams with so-called singers singing songs about booty through their Auto-Tune voices, Musiq Soulchild managed to stay true to his roots and not succumb to such trends. What we have here is “Musiqinthemagiq”: a funky, soulful collection of tracks that will keep heads swaying to its infectious beats. Of course, we have to talk about the single “Anything” with Swizz Beatz, that has a steady, almost retro. vibe that will perfect for the steppers out there. “Sayido” also has a steppers-ready beat and keys that can complement a lovely evening out on the town with your significant other.

Crass – “Christ: The Album” [Crass]

Crass has been a group that draws a line between punks. They’re either the most innovative group in the world or they’re a bunch of posers who are imposing their anarachist views. Whatever the case, both sides can agree that there’s never been like them. With their dark, noisy guitars and audio samples, they paved the way for the artistic brand of anarchist punk. This re-release includes all the original tracks digitally remastered, liner notes from “frontman” Steve Ignorant (they’re anarchist, remember — it’s leaderless) and new artwork by him as well.

Showbiz and KRS-One “Godsville” [DITC]

Two of the biggest heavyweights in hip-hop are together to produce the juggernaut of albums. “Godsville” is just…wow. That’s it. That’s the only word that would accurately describe this. This is KRD-One’s third collaboration with a famous New York producer, following “Meta-Historical” with True Master and “Hip-Hop Lives” with Marley Marl. Hip-hop heads will like every track on this potential masterpiece, so singling one out will be futile.

Rundown Guide for April 26, 2011

New releases from Bootsy Collins and KMFDM round out this week

For most schools, the spring semester is winding down. As we are preparing for May and the impending summer vacation, we need some auditory help to get pumped up for the summer. With that said, I think I found some albums that will feed that need for speed.

Robert Johnson – “The Contennial Collection” [Sony Legacy]

It goes without saying that, if you’re looking to study the roots of blues then look no further than Robert Johnson. The man who supposedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to obtain his talents is being remembered with this two-disc collection. Also, the album is being put out as an early celebration of his 100th birthday on May 8. “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Ramblin On My Mind” and “Me and The Devil Blues” are all here to appease blues veterans and newcomers alike.

Bootsy Collins – “The Funk Capitol Of The World” [Mascot]

You want Bootsy? You got him in all of his drippy, greasy, funky glory. “The Funk Capitol Of The World” will be the Funk Master’s 23rd album and the latest addition to his almost forty-year solo career (and that’s not including the stuff he did with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic). The guest appearances on this album are your typical fare: Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Chuck D on “Hip Hop @Funk U,” all of whom have sampled Bootsy’s stuff at some point in their careers. But then the album throws a curve and puts in Samuel L. Jackson (“After These Messages”) and Cornel West (“Freedumb [When – Love – Becomes – A – Threat]”) which will certainly be an unique listening experience.

KMFDM – “WTF” [Metropolis]

The band that brought industrial music to the mainstream is back again. KMFDM’s previous release, “Blitz,” came out just two years ago, but this German bred band thinks that the public needs more. The band starts things off with “Krank,” with a sinuous moan and a droning bass track. Slowly, they hit you in the head with “Lynchmob” which is just a balls-to-the-wall blast of guitars and screaming that’ll will surely amp up anybody.

Otep – “Atavist” [Victory Records]

Otep has always been one of the few nu-metal bands that I actually like.  While others are immersed in rapping and engaging in frat boy behavior, Otep Shamaya has used the genre to project her feelings toward war, business and the fun stuff the kids are into nowadays. “Atavist,” the band’s fifth album, continues along the same lines including their cover of the Doors’ “Not To Touch The Earth.” They is also a special deluxe edition DVD which includes a short film “Baby’s Breath” — a song on the album — and a few music videos.

Dennis Coffey – “Dennis Coffey” [Strut Records]

A heads up: the following is strictly for the vinyl aficionados. There maybe a CD release soon, but at this time i’ts uncertain.

Here, you have Dennis Coffey who is probably the most prolific funk guitiarist around. He has played for Funkadelic, The Temptations and Del Shannon. He was a member of the original Motown “Funk Brothers” and his solo cut, “Scorpio,” is one of the most sampled breakbeats among hip-hop cats. In a few words, he’s off the chain. In another few words, he’s releasing his self-titled album for his ever growing audience. Tracks like “7th Galaxy” and “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” make people know why he is so popular.

Rundown Guide for April 19

Gorillaz release a new album while one of their members puts out a solo release

It’s the middle of the April and guess what? It’s snowing in Chicago. I woke up and the white stuff was on the grass outside. What the hell? If this isn’t undeniable prove that God hates Chicago, then I don’t know what is. 

Anyway, that aside, this is what’s up this week.

Gorillaz – “The Fall” [Virgin Records]

So…they’re back! The animated hip-hop group Gorillaz have invaded with another display of virtual goodness with The Fall. Actually, the album has been out since December of 2010 through download. But today marks the release of the physical album. Songs like “Phoner to Arizona” and “Revolving Doors” serve to give listeners a more subdued sound than their previous efforts. Still, the titles alone will tell people what tripped-out shit they’re about to experience.

Brian Setzer – “Setzer Goes Instru – MENTAL!” [Surf Dog]

I think the title says it all. 

Brian Setzer — founding member of the Stray Cats and the Brian Setzer Orchestra — has stuck out on his own with a collection of instrumental tracks. Orginally, Setzer did have vocals for
these tracks, but took them out because the music was that awesome, apparently. Even without vocals, tracks like “Go Go Godzilla” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” can stand on their own.

tUnE yArDs – “w h o k i l l” [4ad Records]

What if Janis Joplin had ditched her blues-rock style and went the artsy, avant grande route? Most likely, she would’ve sounded like tUnE yArDs. Like Nine Inch Nails, this is a Merrill Garbus project.  Her stage shows include making drum loops, beatboxes, and mixes on the spot with a back – up band behind her. The music itself is dichotmy of cheery pop sounds and dark lyrics, which will make you happily depressed or depressively happy depending on the day. For a good example of the weirdness, take a look at the video for the single “bizness”. 

Del The Funky Homosapien – “The Golden Era” [The Council]

Californian rapper Del has achieved enormous success with several projects. First, he came onto the scene in the 1990s with “Catch a Bad One” which had the sickest bass line I’ve ever heard. Then he collaborated with the Dan the Automator on not one but two seminal projects: first, Deltron 3030, then Gorillaz on the single “Clint Eastwood” off their debut album. Now, Del is back on his own and providing people with three albums’ worth of his rhymes. The set includes one new album and two albums of tracks that were only available online. Enjoy!

Les Nubians – “Nu Revolution” [Shanachie]

It’s been a while since we last heard from Les Nubians. Since the French singing duo released their spoken word joint “Echos: Chapter One” in 2005, nothing much has been heard from them. With “Nu Revolution”, the tracks are more upbeat, and the single of the same name is becoming a hit in the lounge circuit. Les Nubians is proving to everybody that Neo-Soul ain’t going nowhere.

Rundown Guide for April 12, 2011

Foo Fighters’ highly anticipated new album arrives today along with TV On The Radio and Atmosphere

You know what? I’m not going to bullshit you this week with witty anecdotes. We’ve got releases from some very important artists today, so let’s get to it.

Foo Fighters – “Wasting Light” [RCA]

Dave Grohl has been boasting to anybody willing to listen about how “Wasting Light” will be their hardest record yet. I was able to listen to the album recently and Dave definitely does a lot of screaming. The guitars also have a heavier, bass sound than normal. Their single “Rope” sums up the mood of the album perfectly with the aforementioned attributes while maintaining their grunge roots. Still, the band doesn’t stray too far to alienate old school fans.

TV on the Radio – “Nine Types of Light” [Interscope]

A band like TV on the Radio has an acute case of Multiple Personality Syndrome. Within one song they can be sweet, pissed-off, forgiving, an asshole and a saint. And it’s this type of bi-polarity that attracts fans around the world to their music. Plus, the vocals ain’t half bad either. Oh, and having David Bowie give you props and do guest vocals on your second album is definitely makes listeners stop and take notice. With “Nine Types of Light” they continue that direction, like on their track  “Will Do” which uses their signature combo of smooth/harsh vocals and laid-back/creepy music that will get them either wide recognition or a trip to the insane asylum. Either way, they’re going somewhere.

Atmosphere – “The Family Sign” [Rhymesayers]

Call Atmosphere anything you want, but you sure as hell can’t call them lazy. Since the Minnesota group dropped “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold” back in 2008, they’ve been doing a steady stream of touring and released a double EP (“To All My Friends” and “Blood Makes You Holy”). Now, Slug and Ant are ready to put out their first legit full – length album in three years. Ant really stepped up his game by using more live instrumentation that really complements Slug’s delivery (this is no fluke — Ant did wonders for Brother Ali’s “Us” album). Check out the single “Just For Show”.

Blueprint – “Adventures in Counter – Culture” [Rhymesayers]

Man, I’m slipping. Slipping really bad. Last week, when I was listing what was coming up, I forgot to mention one cat in particular. He goes by the name Blueprint, an emcee straight from Ohio who doesn’t give a damn about pre-conceived notions of what a hip-hop artist should encompass. He speaks from the heart and the head, which is a refreshing alternative from all the drugs, bitches and bling that’s still plaguing hip-hop. Anyway, he released an album last week and I totally forgot to mention him, so consider this my apology. Check out the cut “Radio In-Active” to see what the hell I mean.

Classified – “Handshakes and Middle Fingers” [Decon]

Last, but not least, we’ve got somebody from up north to lay down some rhymes for us yankees. In his native Canada, Classified has got three MuchMusic awards and thirteen nominations making it safe to say that he knows his shit. Not to mention guest spots from Brother Ali, Joe Budden and Kayo. “That Ain’t Classy” is a track that derides all the douchebag rappers whose self-esteem is so shot that they feel the only way to validate themselves is to show off their bling. That ain’t classy, dude. So not classy.

Rundown guide for March 22

The Strokes, Yellowcard, and Duran Duran are back with new music this week

There are many familiar faces on our list this week, which is a good thing. Sometimes you a need something that makes you remember the good times, and I know these bands will do just that. So enjoy and get nostalgic.

The Strokes – “Angles” [RCA/ Rough Trade]

Yes, they’re back. It’s been five years since their “First Impressions of Earth.” The band said that this album will be a throwback to its debut “Is This It.” A quick listen confirms this. Most of the album does have the old-school, post-punk sound people can quickly recognize from singles such as “Last Night.” In fact, “Under Cover In Darkness” sounds really similar to “Last Night,” to the point where there’s even a section of the song that is a direct copy of said hit. Still, if you want something familiar, then this is the album for you.

Panic! At the Disco – “Vices and Virtues” [Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen]

To be completely honest, I haven’t been following this group that much. It isn’t that they’re bad or anything, but there wasn’t anything about them that really captured my attention. Still, I’ll give them a shot; after all that’s my job, right? “Vices and Virtures” continues the band’s rocking sound via the single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” The band still has its traditional poppy, emo sound, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yellowcard – “When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes” [Hopeless Records]

Here’s another group that claims to be going back to their roots. With “When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes,” the band stated that the record will be going back to their pre – major label days. Also, I have to confess, I’m a sucker for any band that has a violin in its arsenal.  Sorry. That aside, songs like “For You, And Your Denial” do have a catchy quality that can’t be ignored. 

Duran Duran – “All You Need Is Now” [S – Curve Records]

So we’re going from something new to something old. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way because old is always awesome. Old has been around the block and back. Old knows a thing or two, and that describes Duran Duran perfectly. They know what works but simultaneously are not afraid to mix it up to appeal to the younger fans. Still, with the title track and songs like “Blame the Machines,” the band knows what works and what will work.

CunninLynguists – “Oneirology” [QN5/APOS Music]

If you like your hip-hop with nice, laidback beats and thoughtful lyrics, then this is right up your alley. CunninLynguists has been around for eleven years and still hasn’t lost a step in producing and rhymes. “Get Ignorant,” “Shattered Dreams,” and “Darkness” serve as demonstrations for the awesome beats and lyrics that are the group’s stable. Backpackers will not be disappointed by this release.

Rundown guide for March 14

Pharoahe Monch, Seerching Weasel, NY Dolls, Rise Against and Travis Barker

I have to say, this week is shaping up to be pretty good as far as releases are concerned. Seriously, there is not one disappointing selection in the list. I have to pat myself on the back for this one. These are the releases for this week.

Rise Against – “Endgame” [Geffen Records]

Since their last album “Appeal To Reason” Rise Against sound has developed a more – shall we say – epic feel? I don’t mean epic as “OMG! This is so frickin’ EPIC!” but a more grandiose sound, like they’re going all out with this release. This is appropriate considering the title is an indication of the cessation of one cycle and the beginning of another. Songs like “Help Is On the Way” and “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” have themes of finality and optimism that give hope.

New York Dolls – “Dancing Backward In High Heels” [429 Records]

Showing the youngsters that they’re going nowhere, protopunkers New York Dolls are invading the ears and heads of folk with this latest gem. Since 2006’s “Cause I Sez So,” the band has been on the radar and a new generation of fans are clamoring for their past albums, including their iconic self-titled debut in 1973. But what about this album? Well, tempo-wise, it’s more chilled, but there’s still umph in there as evident in songs like “Talk To Me Baby” and “I’m So Fabulous.” 

Screeching Weasel – “First World Manifesto” [Fat Wreck Chords]

Ah yes, Screeching Weasel. Chicago’s pop-punk mainstays have returned with another brand of in-your-face excitement. After eleven years, the band is back with “First World Manifesto”. The band still has the force and skills that are mimicked by countless other bands and with good reason: it’s fun, catchy as hell and it gets people riled up. “Beginningless Vacation,” “Follow Your Leaders” and “Frankengirl” showcased their traditional sound to a tee.

Travis Barker – “Give the Drummer Some” [Interscope]

Speaking of icons, we now have Travis Barker. This is his solo album, featuring a who-is-who in the music world, like Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Tom Morello. As you can see, Barker didn’t skip on guest appearances. Also, he produced every track, and played the drums of course.  So anyone who wants to see Travis Barker throw down on the skins should pick this one up.

Pharoahe Monch – “W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)” [Duck Down Records]

Most cats remember Pharoahe Monch from his hit “Simon Says”. But there is more to him than a Godzilla sample. Monch is rivaled by Slick Rick as being an awesome storyteller, like his contribution to the “Soundbombing II” compilation “Mayor” where he tells a tale of a cop that kills the mayor of the city. While “W.A.R.” isn’t a concept album in the traditional sense, it is, as the intro states, a warning. It’s a war against police brutality (“Clap”), war and exploitation. This is an album that can’t be ignored.