Album Review: Born to Wander – Self-Titled EP

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It’s not every day that you get a debut album from a jazz trio, but more often than not, the music on it doesn’t sound that much different from anything else out there that’s getting play on the radio. Born to Wander, which consists of vocalist Kate Skinner, guitarist Steve Kovalcheck and bassist Erik Applegate, manage to stick out a bit. They’re a jazz outfit with a mellow yet peppy sound and an electric guitar ato offer style change their songs. Their debut album is a fun, cool production that shows what jazz can be. Continue Reading

New Music Monday: Manchester Orchestra Releases Hope

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Manchester Orchestra is not new to the game. With four critically acclaimed albums under their belt including their fantastic fourth album Cope which dropped April 1st of 2014, they can pretty much do whatever they want musically. So in true bands-that-do-whatever-they-want fashion, the Manchester Orchestra boys dropped Hope, a stripped down, not quite acoustic version of Cope.

They re record the entire album song by song in a true testament to their prowess as songwriters and musicians. They completely re envision the intensity of the album, holding on to the desperate driving nature of Cope while at the same time creating something fresh for themselves and fans.

What makes this album so interesting is the care and the meticulous nature of the production in each song making this more than a simple vanity project. One thing you see from successful touring bands is a certain kind of boredom with their own music. Manchester Orchestra breaks from this by reinventing themselves without completely departing from the things that fans have come to know and love. For one album the band lets out their inner Sufjan Stevens, something every band should probably do from time to time.

As a stand alone album Hope tip toes slightly into Boresville when listening from beginning to end if you’re expecting hard rock Manchester Orchestra and something is lost when recreating the intense breakdowns of Cope. But when you compare the two albums they work together and by listening to one the other becomes that much better. Especially Cope, that album is the tits. Continue Reading

A Revelation: Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis is Actually Really Nice

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The second J Mascis got on the phone, everything I had read about him was verified to be true. He was a man of few words, spoke with a bit of irreverence in his voice and was very matter-of-fact, but in the best way possible. As front man of Dinosaur Jr. he’s earned the right to be a little nonchalant about these things. My introduction to Dinosaur Jr. began as a teenager when I heard 1991’s Green Mind. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, indie rock or “alternative rock” as it was called back then, was just beginning to inch its way into the Midwest from the “grunge capital” of Seattle and various West Coast music hubs. Although the group originated in Massachusetts, Dinosaur Jr.’s sophomore album, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me had been released on SST Records, a fierce independent label based in Long Beach, California and home to Black Flag, Descendents and Sonic Youth. It was kind of the “it” label at the time. Mascis began carving out a niche for himself. Continue Reading

Album Review: Crunchy Kids – Mint

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When thinking of Minneapolis and hip-hop, Rhymesayers is the undeniable forefront. But the independent group Crunchy Kids takes a contending stand among the idols of underground music out of Minnesota. The four man project combines quick-beat vocals (Slim Chance), live drums (Marcus Skallman), bass (Eric Burton) and the keyboard (Eric Mayson) giving hip-hop a greater live band sound. They qualify their music as hip-hop and other but it’s hard to categorize these badasses. Continue Reading

Film Review: The Judge

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Did you know Robert Downey, Jr. has been nominated for an Oscar twice?

Yes, back in 1992, the man who would be Iron Man was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of silent film star Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. Not long after that, Downey would soon be better known for his drug addictions and his trips back-and-forth to rehab and jail, events which would make him the perfect candidate for bringing womanizing, boozing weapons designer Tony Stark to the big screen in 2008. Continue Reading

Food For Thought: Imortal Technique Breaks it Down

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When Immortal Technique speaks, you listen. There’s no way to get around this. You sit in your chair and you listen because every word he says carries weight. Sometimes it’s almost too heavy and you want him to crack a smile, but he stays steadfast in what he’s saying. There’s no wavering from his agenda—an agenda that started in 2001 when he released his first album, Revolutionary Vol. 1 with his own money and pushed it down the throats of anyone who would listen. And again, they listened. Immortal Technique, born Felipe Andres Coronel, emigrated from Peru to Harlem in 1980. As a teenager, he often found himself in hot water with authorities, which led to a yearlong prison stint during college. After he was paroled, he took up political science at Baruch College in New York City and at the same time polished up his rapping skills. All of his hard work paid off and soon he was rubbing shoulders with pioneers of the genre, including Chuck D of Public Enemy, KRS One and Mos Def. Armed with messages of a political nature, his lyrics revolve around controversial issues surrounding global politics, although he believes the word ‘revolution’ is used too loosely these days. Continue Reading

Afroman: Older. Higher. Wiser.

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Afroman could quite possibly be the best spokesperson for the legalization of marijuana. His first single, 2000’s “Because I Got High” became the pothead anthem of the new millennium and sent Afroman spinning out of control into a media frenzy. The South Central Los Angeles native never imagined that song would carry him so far, but it did. Now we’re here. Afroman, real name Joseph Foreman, released a remix of “Because I Got High” in mid-October and the internet exploded. With over one million hits in two days, it almost seemed like Afroman never left, although he’s been flying under the radar for the past few years. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t making music. Since 2000’s Because I Got High album, he’s put out over 25 various albums, singles and EPs. He never stops creating. At 40-years-old, he is experiencing a resurgence of popularity, but there’s a newfound maturity to Afroman’s style. Continue Reading