August would not let us settle into cruise control, sipping fancy cocktails with little umbrellas before the Fall scramble. Irene was a drizzle compared to London burning record companies, John Maus calling record stores depressing, Cybmals Eat Guitars not letting starving artists eat, and MTV wants to be our friend again. It was a month riddled in catastrophe that even Nicki Minaj's anatomically correct bust could not save. As always, we soldiered on thanks to following August releases.
Best album of August 2011
Danny Brown, XXX (Fool's Gold)
50 Cent is kicking himself for not signing Danny Brown based on a pair of skinny jeans. His reasoning is severely flawed, considering both rappers are after a mutual interest: white girls. Brown's XXX proves his signing to Fool's Gold was the proper career initiative. His endless supply of nasty disses and prowess proclamations are best served over Fool's Gold's marriage of hip hop and electronic music. Brown's comical modus operandi awards him the creative freedom to pummel us with a dark record and still come out grinning his broken tooth smile. At 30 years of age, Brown is too old to die like a rockstar, but if there's truth in the stories on XXX he is blessed to be alive to tell them.
The best releases of August 2011
Speculator, Nice (Underwater Peoples)
Nick Ray, a.k.a. Speculator, is not sampling and compiling like he once did on the Lifestyle cassette, but on “Blue Rose” the influence is one giant black transmission of Joy Divisionism. Can't hate it though, it's just one song at the end of an LP that warps kraut-rock, tape hisses through 80s popism, sticks to walls of icky, noisey reverb, and revs up on Suicide-wave.
Main Attrakionz, 808s & Dark Grapes II (Mishka NYC)
Main Attrakionz are growing up before our eyes into bossalinis of the west at a light speed pace with eight mixtapes within the year. It begs the question, what is it about the Bay Area that breeds prolificity?
Jacuzzi Boys Glazin' (Hardly Art)
With a deceptive title that makes you brace for more 80s affected jacuzzi-pop schlock, Florida's Jacuzzi Boys provide the best scuzzy TVPs-inspired offerings we have heard since Knight School's Revenger and Nodzzz's Innings.
Stephen Malkmus, Mirror Traffic (Matador)
For an old dude I was expecting Malkmus to perhaps entertain a pastoral side more traversed by Stephin Merritt. Thankfully the former Pavement frontman is taking a road cooler and more natural than that of his aged Matador label mates Modest Mouse.
Sun Araw Ancient Romans (Sun Ark Records)
Heady vision-quest music that likes its sounds twisted like knots of fiber stretched into tapestries of aural color. This will probably hold you over until the Trust Now Prince Rama album drops this October.
Flash Bang Grenada, 10 Haters (Hellfyre Club)
Nocando and Busdriver traded off guest appearances on their respective solo albums (“Least Favorite Rapper” from Jhelli Beam and “Two Track Mind” from Jimmy The Lock), so it felt like only a matter of time before the Blowedian graduates would take their relationship to the next level – forming a group. With a fine collection of IDM beat music mutated into rappable beats, FBG are in a heated competition to out-weird one another with hyperbolic claims of teleportation and good ole' fashioned misogyny with a rapper slant.
Terius Nash, 1977
There's an aggression on 1977, that suggests Nash intends to set the record straight as to who's the fuggin' boss 'round here. His tweets let us know he's off the leash from his label. The free offering is matched with a liberated songwriter who's out to reclaim his genre. Once Nash addresses the chip on his shoulder, 1977 settles into “Wedding Crasher,” which might inspire a new generation of Benjamin Braddocks banging on locked Cathedral doors.
Oddisee, Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park the tape is ripe with heart-guided nostalgia, as Oddisee's creations seek to rekindle those intimate memories. The warm piano sample on “Skipping Rocks” makes you feel like a worry-free kid again, while the fuzzy riffing on “Closed After Dark” celebrates a less-innocent era of park hangouts.
Guardian Alien, Guardian Alien (Swill Children)
Just as their namesake might be keeping an eye on our own self-destructive tendencies from somewhere on the dark side of Saturn, Guardian Alien have watched benevolently over many a Brooklyn show, filling the late night cauldron with their steaming brew of highly-evolved and completely unhinged free-for-all improvisations. The tracks are all culled from live recordings at Shea Stadium mixed with studio recordings, and captures the valleys of trembling anticipation and peaks of pure heat.
Official Transcript of Obama meeting Mickey Rourke
Pure music, we swear.
Silk Flowers, Days of Arrest (Captured Tracks)
We're sad to say that Silk Flowers is no longer an active band, and that their last show passed earlier in the summer opening for Ariel Pink. The trio, who made woozy synth ballads fueled by samples and beats and noise abstractions, were a good year or two ahead of the large wave of projects that used similar tools to tell less strange and lovely sonic stories. It's sad to see them go, but they've left us with one more four track EP entitled Days of Arrest.
Ricardo Donoso, Progress Chance (Digitalis Recordings)
It comes with a certain deep left-of-center pedigree that Ricardo Donoso's latest output explores the boundaries between ambient and Brazilian “morning dance music” (which he experienced at raves growing up”, as well as a sort of Kosmiche existentialism in which synth sequences spiral ad infinitum into deeper realms of intricate repetition.
Fungi Girls, Some Easy Magic (Hozac)
While we were huge fans of Fungi Girls' earliest output, it's clear that the Texas trio has been practicing. You can't get much more legit than teenagers hammering out pitch-perfect garage and laconic vocal delivery and Fungi Girls' Hozac debut is better than an amateur ode to the mountain of scuzz that's come before it: Fungi Girls aren't tourists in this terrain, they're young blood for hungry rock, and we look forward to music eating 'em alive for years to come.
Olekranon, Abadina (Self-released)
We perennially hear from the sludgy industrial death heap that is Olekranon, and this time around the lead-off's a faker, a bunt to pure darkwave simulacrums and head-nod hypnosis. That's “Abadina”, (streaming below), but the rest of the murky outing sinks deeper into the comforting darkness from which it came.
Heat Wave, Stasis 1 (Deep Tapes)
Exploring shimmering electronic ambient noise and subterranean dub, Alex Gray's newest release resembles some form of urban tribal music for a gang of downtown vagabonds.