Plenty of solid weirdos releasing new tracks and vinyl, and bigger-name hip hop dudes dropping delightfully free mixtapes and mini-album, and what can we say other than “Thanks, April.”
Best release of April 2011
Death Grip, Exmilitary (mixtape)
Recorded over a stretch of five months, Death Grips' mixtape is an avant hip hop project involving Zach Hill and some Sacramento homies whose identities remain purposely obscured. This could be a one-off record in Zach Hill's hungry blob of side projects or the rumblings of a hostile takeover. I plan to simply enjoy the ever-loving fugg out of this record, as it sounds like the evolutionary inevitable of Anti-Pop Consortium's avant garde aspirations without suffering through the deliberate propaganda of branding it as forward. It's also a well-timed alternative to the maddening proclamations of Waka Flocka Flame being the “first truly metal rap star”
Best music of April 2011
Tearist, Tearist Living: 2009-Present (PPM)
That Tearist, the LA electronic duo, should choose to release a live album seems like a good way to show off the alien energy the group exudes onstage, but it's also an interesting choice since they could just as easily have dropped a massive, slickly produced series of summer bangers (sort of hate that word). Instead of falling in line behind bit crushers like Crystal Castles, Tearist see themselves releasing their Early Work alla “Sonic Death, 2 x 4, or Metallic K.O.”
Jonwayne, Bowser (Alpha Pup)
Jonwayne's Bowser is a sample-free adaptation of the video game aesthetic, but the mission remains clear: save the princess and save the kingdom. The record plays out like an adventure through the levels, as cloud stages are wistful and glitchy, while sinister bass and synths are trial by fire treks through the castle levels to battle the infamous Bowser.
Ty Segall, Ty Rex (Goner)
For one day Ty wears pink boas, mascara and top hats the size of oil drums.
Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Telesterion (Rodriguez Lopez)
In some ways, ORL is like a new millennium Frank Zappa, a somewhat misunderstood, self-perpetuating cottage industry recording and marketing music of his own choosing regardless of commercial trends or even conventional taste.
Age Wave, “Telephone Dreams” 7-inch (Bathetic)
Like a cyborg hive trapped and struggling to shake off its own inert programming, finally coming under the dark spell of the track's under-riding pulses. The resolution is subtle, as is the whole sub-five minute 'scape.
Web Dating, Lovin You (Oops Baby)
Live, Web Dating are a big fat pile of teenage decibels (twenty-something decibels, really) and you're not spending that much time listening to the words.Then you sit down in front of some computer speakers and there you go, love songs, every last one.
Monofonus' One-Sider Vinyl Series
While not necessarily cleanly dropped this past month, the series, which includes releases from Soft Healer and Soft Encounters combine superior, classy as fuck design, and an ecstatic sonic sense. Can't go wrong.
Xander Harris, Urban Gothic (Not Not Fun)
A loathsome traipse through eerily quiet neighborhoods, desolate wastelands, and apocalyptic cities overrun with mutated perverts of all shapes and sizes.
White Fang, Grateful to Shred (Marriage)
Four young dudes making the kind of gold intended for four young dudes.
People Like Us, Welcome Abroad (Illegal Art)
Musician Vicki Bennett's sound collages are unique in the amount of genius they cede to the source material– you will recognize many choruses and verses from 20th century greats, but all of it will feel somehow displaced (but not marginalized) within the trippy, playfully altered space Bennett conjures up.
Smoke DZA, T.H.C. mixtape
Smoke DZA's T.H.C. mixtape is 14 tracks recorded live from the Smoker's Club, which sounds like the green room in an Uptown soul club in the 70s.
Unouomedude, “Frequency” (Old Flame)
Uno has taken the silky chillwave chops from an earlier release and graduated to his own smooth sailing school of slow-burn early indie knocks and tried and trusted doo-woppy vocal choruses.
Curren$y & The Alchemist, Covert Coup (self-release)
The sounds you want to hear while stepping out of a coupe you just hot boxed.
Tonstartssbandht, Hymn tour cassette
Here's the duo at their best, effortlessly mashing out classic 70s boiler rock through a psychedelic meat grinder, phasers and ribbons of feedback blowin' in the radiated wind. Rumor has it they'll be re-recording this entire effort after returning from shows in Russia, but the original sounds mighty fine to us.
COOLRUNNINGS, Dracula Is Only The Beginning
For being recorded in a living room in either Lenoir City or Knoxville, the boys in COOLRUNNINGS managed to take it to the arenas for a hand clap breakdown and some glammy solo riffage. It's a concise study of the glam rock genre, down to the fluffy slap of the drums and it shreds.
Ab-Soul, Longterm: Mentality
Soul broke us off with his and Kendrick's newest dedication to choice liquor called “Moscato,” in which Soul relates his personal un-wind prescription to the tune of “let's head home / crack a bottle of the Sutter Homes and hit some trees”. Amen, amigo. Ab-Soul is rapidly becoming the Black Hippy crew's Nate Dogg of choruses. He brought the gangster dramatics to Schoolboy's “What's The Word?” and he's struck gold once again on “Moscato” with “when things get hard to swallow / we need a bottle of moscato / puts me in the mood for your lovin'.”
The Feelies, “Here Before” (Bar/None)
Here Before is the Feelies here and now with their sound firmly etched from the catalogue of their past with lyrics looking to the future.
The Peoples Temple, Sons of Stone (HoZac)
These Michigan loners seem to get that psych music doesn't necessarly mean peace and love posturing. It's bored kids making loud music just like other luminaries from their state, The Stooges, MC5, and The Gories.
Ponytail, Do Whatever You Want All The Time (We Are Free)
Ponytail may not tour off this album, they may indeed never be whole again, but doesn't that just make this last document of their genius that much more precious? Course it does.