Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Spin: Mike Glendinning "Random Acts of Grunge Jazz"

Even after 5 years in Seattle I never did see a “grunge” show. I saw a few rock shows in between copious amounts of rap shows. But hey, the Saturday spin column has always been about the stuff a little left of center I find myself listening too at all hours of the night. So what better way to bring it back to life than with some like this: Mike Glendinning, Random Acts of Grunge Jazz.

My initial suspicions were proven slightly wrong as this meandering record will prove to be an very unique listen, if nothing else. Mike seems to be a talented musician playing guitar and holding down vocal duties and he has an decent line up behind him. Filled with fuzzy guitar chords, hard drums and some well placed strings this album comes off like Nirvana (sue me, I don't know another "grunge" band) meets Meg Christian and Herbie Hancock.

While it's never quite as catchy as Nirvana proved to be, it is as loud. It's never quite as experimental as Herbie proved he could be, but Mike and his band are certainly trying new things and working with rhythms in ways familiar to any number of Jazz bands. And while it's certainly never as pristinely quiet and serenely welcoming as the folk music of Meg Christian, they certainly do know how to convey a beautiful moment in between the pure chaos that can pervade some tracks.

“Dead Red Summer” proves the perfect example, after the noisy and screeching “Fade” we are given a bubbly, almost pop number that instantly brings to mind the The Beach Boys sound. Mike Glendinning has an uncanny ability to imitate a number of styles from a number of genres and he exercises that skill admirably here delivering a project that holds much to be found. Never repeating the same thought twice, everything is connected by his guitar.

You can get the album here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ocean's 7 "Vegas Baby" (Video)

Damn... I never thought I'd be excited about a project that had such pop stars as Jermaine Dupri, Nelly and Usher but the song already had me curious and this video just sells it. Not to say they are bad artists, just not really something I've been fucking with in a minute. But I'll be rocking their new tape this afternoon thanks to this - be on the look out for a review!

If you didn't have it, you can grab the song here - courtesy of the dope boy shake.

Soulution "Shine Through"

When I think of the Hip Hop I love, it’s not the hard core gangsta tales that inspire me but the soulful productions that any number of emcees chose to rhyme on about their life. From Nas telling stories about the view from his project window to Brother Ali doing the same almost a decade later or delivering a sermon about the modern day fuckery that is American politics (“Uncle Sam Goddamn” anyone?) the music of these tracks and countless others inspire movement and excitement. The canvases produced by record collectors provided the right back drop for inspired poetry – and that is Hip Hop.

Soulution may be an unknown name in the country which birthed his chosen genre of music, but he certainly managed to capture the pens of a number of talented emcees – some known and some not so known, but all incredibly talented at delivering impassioned rhymes for the people to take in and enjoy.

Being born in the Netherlands in the early 80s, one listen to Soulution’s debut album Shine Through will demonstrate that while kids across America were becoming entranced by this magical new style of music so to were our peers across the water, and that is something special. To see this culture expand and escape the confines of our borders to be taken and interpreted in whole new ways is an awesome example of the power held within this music.

Of course Soulution isn’t the first to do it, hardly in fact. The UK has had a thriving Hip Hop scene for almost as long as it’s existed here and I’m sure the emcees from Africa, Australia, Cuba and all points in between have influences in their own societies as well as the legends every Hip Hop head respects. But even with thriving scenes across the globe, America is still closing its ears to the sounds of the streets elsewhere.

Now some could argue that it’s the simple fact that one doesn’t want to listen to music in a language they can’t understand – I can dig it. While I’ve listened to some music in other languages, not being able to understand the lyrics to a song makes for a unique and different listening experience that could easily become frustrating; I rarely go back for repeat listens to much of the stuff I’ve heard in another language.

Soulution has bypassed this problem entirely by featuring an extensive line up of emcees and singers, mostly from the states with perhaps a few European guests as there are a handful of unfamiliar names present on the track list.

Delivering a powerful set of instrumentals, Soulution’s name suits him well as he is obviously schooled in the classic soul music so much of Hip Hop has been built on. But even on the rare track or two that he does decide to flip a song that has already been sampled he executes it to perfection proving that he is not just trying to regurgitate that which has already been done.

While his productions are obviously influenced by the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, et al. he has a few tricks up his sleeve that make for some great surprises. On the great up beat banger simply titled “Anthem” we hear Project Move get in your face and I don’t think anyone could not be filled with energy after hearing it.

With Shine Through Soulution has crafted a care free collection of tracks. While so much Hip Hop gets weighed down by the politics of the industry or the posturing that one needs to perpetrate to come across as though he is hard and from the streets, Soulution is just kicking it with the homies on a nice sunny day in the park.

El Gambina spits on the heartfelt “Love Life” to beautiful results as she paints a picture about life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and all the emotions in between are captured and with a well placed scratched hook (I love a good scratched in hook, too bad it’s so poorly executed far to often) and some melodic strings, Soulution comes across like a conductor of beats.

Being a producer driven album guests are the norm here and where so many production albums can fail with boring no name emcees weighing down the fluidity Shine Through flows like water never once hearing a song out of place (oh the lost art of sequencing) or an emcee who doesn’t belong. Talib makes an appearance alongside Asheru, only adding to the nostalgic quality of this album. Then there’s the Bahamadia, Mr. J Medeiros, and Supastition posse cut “Soul Shine” filled with its triumphant horns, a well sung hook and some knocking dusty drums. These are just two examples of well matched artists to Soulution’s beats.

With music such as this it’s easy to get inspired and lose your mind in the tunes for an hour as you just enjoy it. Hip Hop is supposed to be fun, and that forgotten element shine’s through loud and clear here on Soulution’s debut album.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ch-Ch-Check it Out!

When two of the biggest and baddest DJ's join forces with the greatest publication you've probably never read to put out a special Tee and companion mix CD you know it's gonna be hot!

After dabbling with a fashion related post, I figure why not keep 'em coming? I like clothes, I can admit it - and when they are this fly whats not to dig?

Cop the Tee here and shouts out to Blanco @ Put Me On It for, yes, putting me on it.

Rock City "Put The F'n Album Out... Sneak Peak"

It's a new day, a new month and I'm trying to make some changes in my personal life. Hopefully this will mean more posts here at the lounge for ya'll! Back when I posted on the regular, Monday was reserved for mix tape reviews. It might not exactly be Monday but close enough right?

Rock City caught my attention on the last Beans album with the single “Go Low” getting a video treatment. While you can argue the quality of a Beanie Sigel album for days (I'm a fan, always have been – It's the ROC!) the duo that is Rock City undoubtedly killed the track and proved that they can hold down a hook for the future – lets see them get some features from these lazy ass rappers!

But where “Go Low” shed some light on their voices, this sneak peak of a mix tape shows that they are actually capable emcees – at least when going in on a number of modern day classic beats. From opening with the obligatory “Say You Will” cover they flip it up and attack Common's “Be” intro for their own official jump off to the tape and then roll right into “Best I Ever Heard” which is an amusing take on the Drake single, but I'm already over emcees rocking to it – some tracks are meant to be done by one.

If you already have your interests piqued then this tape is certainly for you as we aren't even a quarter of the way through it and they still got more bangers lined up. They take “Blame It” and make a great argument for the existence of mindless club music – there will always be a time and place for it, don't hate.

Unfortunately it takes hot beats to make tracks pop in the club, and while they can obviously chose heat rocks the masses have already shown love to when it comes to selecting some original material it proves severely lacking in the creative and entertaining categories. It proves to be an even worse choice when they decide to rock some hot trash like “Jumpin Out the Window” - this track never should have been made to begin with, why would you bother remaking it?

With a tape that opened to so much promise they seem to get lost in club dreams and a desperate attempt at fame. Auto tune weighs down the second half of this quick mix tape (clocks in at just under 48 minutes) that changes from some impressive flows to a display of top of the line faux singing – I take back my previous statement, the singing on “Go Low” may very well have been a fluke.

Not all is lost as Put The F'n Album Out... Sneak Peak proves to resurrect itself towards the end with Rock City rocking the mic some more to decent results, getting close to the heights they showed us in the beginning (“PSA”) but while braggadocios rhymes can carry a mix tape they don't display the depth that would prepare them to deliver a full fledged album. If this tape is to make the people want an official album I certainly hope they enlist big name producers, lay off the auto tune and apply those writing skills they've sold to “everyone in the game” to their own tracks.

If I didn't scare you off, grab the tape here courtesy of the dopehouse.