Listen below to what is apparently the last LP from the original lineup of local trio Zoo Animal. While lead singer/songwriter/guitar player Holly Newsom will be soldiering on under the Zoo Animal banner, the three piece that has been a stalwart of the local scene over the last few years will be changing as the rhythm section has decided to call it a day. The songs are are jagged and stark as previous work, but take the sound even further and are the most bleak, focused material Newsom has written yet. Celebrating the release of the record with Zoo Animal tonight will be a great lineup featuring Is/Is, Gospel Gossip, and Gramma’s Boyfriend at the 7th Street Entry.
The New West is now christened; lead by Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy’s lyrical assaults that go beyond the obvious crime and drug-rattled narratives, focusing on good times with their new crew Black Hippy (Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul & Jay Rock). Schoolboy Q was born Quincy Matthew Hanley on a military base in Frankfurt, Germany, and then raised in South Central, Los Angeles. After attending a few community colleges, he gave the rap game a curious look and found himself immersed. By 2009, he had released two mixtapes with Turned Hustla (2008) and Gangsta & Soul (2009). In 2011, Schoolboy released his debut, Setbacks, and started to generate a buzz. He appeared on the critically praised Kendrick Lamar debut Section 80 and ASAP Rocky’s heavy buzzing mixtape Live Love A$AP, building expectations before he released his sophomore long-player Habits & Contradictions in 2012.
While Schoolboy Q and Lamar are new school, and likely most of their friends maybe be gang-affiliated, Schoolboy himself a former Hoover Crip who spends tales as their lives unfold. Both document life through the playfulness of Souls Of Mischief cemented by the ‘fuck everything” ethos of N.W.A. and the cockiness of a young Kanye West. Schoolboy Q says “Biggie, Nas and 50 Cent are my biggest influences”. At the same time, he is emotional and drugged out on everything with pockets full of oxycontin, mushrooms, weed, liquor and condoms. It is a soundtrack of street life, a sincere view of America through a darker lens, where Obama’s election changes nothing on the ground.
Habits & Contradictions opens with the mournful “Sacrilegious”, which offers “gloomy hoodies and weaponry…marinating in Satan water”. Schoolboy knows he must answer for his ills “They say clean your hands before you eat, rest your sins with pray/But I’ve done did some things I don’t think I could ever wash away.” On his certified banger “Hands On The Wheel” with Harlem’s ASAP Rocky, Schoolboy re-imagines Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit Of Happiness”. The drug-fueled “Oxy Music” delivers on its title. The darkness of the Odd Future is referenced on “Raymond 1969”, as it rides a sample of Portishead “but they worried about Osama, blood and crip niggas, Jeffery Damers” as Schoolboy gets crunk all over the track. On “Nightmare On Figg St he states “better hope our star poppin’/Before I start robbin’ the re-up with OxyContin”. “Grooveline Pt. 1” gets soulful with assist from Dom Kennedy and Currensy. On his ”look at me” song “Gangsta In Designer (No Concept)” Schoolboy quips “my foreign hoe gangeroon, always rocking shit I never know” juxtaposed with “burner on my lap, nigga motherfuck the cops” over a bouncy melody. “My Homies” addresses on the meaning of loyalty and “real nigga addictions” produced by Alchemist. There’s also the plenty of panty dropping tales of “Sex Drive”, “Druggys Wit Hoes Again” and “Sexting” in a more typical topics. The albums emotional jewel is the keeper “Blessed” with comrade Kendrick Lamar. The cryptic ”Nightmare On Frigg St.” name drops “Niggas In Paris” for no apparent reason as he indulges in Gravediggers scary movie creepiness over a RZA sounding production.
Hardcore hip-hop goes druggie and gets the hallucinogenic treatment, along with tales of sex parties and robberies. Despite all the tough talk he finds a way to mention his love for daughter as being his greatest affection. Standout tracks include the explosive “Hands On The Wheel”, and the introspective “Blessed”; finally, the witty lyricism of “Gangsta In Designer ( No Concept)” proves Schoolboy Q is competitor. Alongside newer artists like Danny Brown, ASAP Rocky and Currensy, Schoolboy Q has found his lane, braggadocios pimp shit, pill popping’, oxy talking, weed celebrating, reflective and woman exploring, about that live in the moment shit, staying strapped, always remember to protect your neck. Habits & Contradictions is already being talked about as a breakout record, its richness in detail while it zing-zags across various styles and flows politically incorrect at every turn is a celebration of dark joyfulness.
This will be day three of Brother Ali coverage, but trust me, it is worth it. After seeing a video and hearing a song from his new EP, we can finally deliver to you his brand new record for the basement bargain price of $0.00. A little slower and more sensual than a lot of his old material, The Bite Marked Heart is a smooth, easy listening journey through the less intense version of Brother Ali. A good album to put on with your special someone today if you are into that kinda thing. Stream the album below or download it for free
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are Three reactions, Three impressions, Three Takes on Rad Times Xpress IV by Black Bananas.
Jennifer Herrema late of rock deconstructionists Royal Trux, who briefly morphed into RTX, reappears here with Black Bananas and her voice is raspy as ever. For whatever reason I fully expected this record to be completely dire, but it is not. Royal Trux found a small hole in stoned 70s rock (Stones, some Neil Young) and crawled into it, set up shop and invented their own weird sound world that could be great and terrible, often at the same time. Black Bananas sort of does the same thing but the point of reference is overstuffed 80s funk-rock a la Parliament-Funkadelic and George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” record. Except the end result isn’t exactly funky. More like a groove-based disorientation (which frankly is pretty similar to what the other-half of Royal Trux, Neil Michael Haggerty, has been exploring with the Howling Hex). Every song has about nine things going on at the same time. Digital hand-claps, synth, synth-y guitar, drums, vocals, strings, hair metal guitar soloing, even more vocals and farty potato basslines, you name it’s all in here. And like I mentioned I didn’t want to like this but I find myself strangely pulled back to it. “Hot Stupid” is pretty catchy I can’t deny (and that’s about all you can ask from a song called “Hot Stupid” I think). And other tunes, namely “Do It” sort of sound like acid-damaged modern R&B or a new-ish Prince song, which is basically the same thing. “My House” is surprisingly not a cover of the Mary Jane Girls’ classic since that would make sense as a sort of touchstone for this record. Well, it would if the Mary Jane Girls had dressed like LA Guns and dabbled in cod-Metallica riffs sometimes.
Black Bananas (formerly RTX) frontwoman Jennifer Herrema’s band Royal Trux with then boyfriend Neil Hagerty deconstructed the Rolling Stones into a messy noise rock affair. If Royal Trux was the Exile On Main Street, Black Bananas squarely fall into the disco funk of the post-Some Girls Stones. Opener “It’s Cool” kicks off with a snare drum fill straight into a tripped out guitar intro that almost sounds like a rewrite of the riff to “Foxy Lady”. “TV Trouble” drops most of the psychedelics for a slightly more straight ahead bass funk before “Acid Song” puts things straight into a slightly trippier 1980s Stones homage sound. The rest of the first half falters between not memorable and downright annoying with the auto-tuned vocals “Hot Stupid”. The riff heavy “My House” is nothing really memorable but helps pull things out of dance beat territory for a minute. The wailing saxophone of “Overpass” is sort of the highlight of the second half of the album while the closer “Killer Weed” seems like a tacked on Motley Crue leftover. While Rad Times Xpress IV never exactly completely flops, it fails to produce anything of much interest.
A few years removed from the scuzzy classic rock of Royal Trux, Jennifer Herrema still can’t mellow out. Her latest band, Black Bananas, make the kind of convoluted and overwhelming noisy rock that will instantly draw in fans of Trux, while adding their own funky twist to the occasion. Rad Times Xpress IV is 45 minutes of messy, cosmic sludge that sounds like Herrema’s old bands aural mess filtered through the swampy, psychedelic lens of Parliament Funkadelic. This is not saying you are going to hear Maggot Brain, but the spirit, that sense of more is more and weird is better is a common thread throughout the entire LP.
Tracks range from the righteous, thick garage funk of “Hot Stupid” to the thick synth charges of “RTX Go-Go.” From the opening sludge of “It’s Cool,” Rad Times Xpress IV is a 13 song exercise in excess and opulence, with no effect pedal or outrageous idea discounted. This is an album that features songs titled “Killer Weed,” “Foxy Playground” and “Acid Song,” and continues the rich RT tradition of keeping one foot in the gutter and the other in the refined guitar rock cannon. The songs are about as chaotic and unfocused as you would expect, with the listener feeling a little like they are sitting in a sloppy, late night jam session. Like Royal Trux, you can’t help but wonder what the band could accomplish if they didn’t sound like they were intentionally throwing sand in the gears (especially when the blueprint fails as it does on “TV Trouble”), but Rad Times Xpress IV is plenty of fun and another feather in the RT related cannon.
(PS–If you aren’t sold simply by the glitter bombed, funked up classic rock, know that the artwork is about as outrageous as the music and well worth checking out.)
In more words the album is disjointed and self-indulgent, but also fun and promising. Considered as a stand-alone entry outside of legacy that Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty built with Royal Trux, this album is still a very noteworthy listen. It falls somewhere short of extraordinary, but only perhaps for its lack of focus. The electronic-infused beats are punctuated by masterful guitar work that manages to be both tasteful and bombastic within stand-out tracks such as “Do It” and “TV Trouble”. Clocking in at just over two minutes, “Do It” crosses the line of succinctness into becoming fleeting, which proves to be problematic theme throughout.
The tracks with the least to say musically seem to get the most time on album. Curiously, the album switches it up to an almost arena rock-punk style for “My House”, which is interesting, but almost feels like a hidden track right there in the middle of the album. The song offers us a rare glimpse of Hagerty’s impressive guitar prowess, without hiding behind the over-saturated fuzz that permeates much of the rest of album, which is refreshing. Herrema maintains poise and attitude throughout but falls flat on some choruses that don’t feel genuine and some, like on “Hot Stupid”, that resort to the unfortunate tactic of autotune to further this disingenuousness. This album is both impressive and fun, but manages to still not seem important.
Don’t miss Black Bananas on 5/22 for what should be a great show with Kurt Vile at the 400 Bar.
This isn’t going to help the Jay Reatard comparisons. Ty Segall has been compared to the late garage punk Reatard for many reasons, namely their prolific pysch-garage sounds that find the artists hiding their pop hooks underneath layers of fuzz and their ability to create a lot of sound and fury with minimal parts. Now Segall is following in Reatard’s footsteps with a collection of his best singles in the form of a powerful compilation. Segall’s collection is 25 roaring tracks collected under the umbrella called Singles 2007-2010 and is being released by the venerable Nasville label Goner Records. The tracks range from cuts featured on his LP and EP’s to harder to find singles that really round out the collection, making a final product that would work as well as an introduction to new fans as it will as a capstone for the diehards.
Per usual, the songs are quick and powerful bursts of garage based fuzz stomp, with a mix of his early one man band material (much more stripped down) and his later work when he had a band backing him up. The 25 songs contain little fat, with the longest track clocking in at 3:08, and he packs in as much muscle as he can over the collection. Ranging from the straight forward stompers like “It” and “No No,” to the gentler acoustic jams “Lovely One” and on to the demented organ freakout of “….And then Judy Walked In.” A personal favorite of mine has always been the rich, T-Rex boogie of “Caesar,” which highlighted his Melted LP and is one of my favorite tracks he has put to tape.
Segall also has no problem working his magic on songs by other artists, with the collection containing covers of songs by Chain Gang, Thee Oh Sees, Simply Saucer and Gories. Seeing that five of the final tracks were demos only made me laugh, realizing that the lo-fi scraggly mess that made final albums was not actually first takes recorded straight to tape as I had expected (and secretly hoped). It is funny hearing “The Drag,” a powerful but straightforward highlight from his self-titled debut LP, in an even more primitive stage. The song, the first song to draw me into the fuzzy web of Segall a few years back, lost a lot of the punch of the final version being backed by a a drum machine, which drained some of the vitality that helped create the stirring final product. Whether highlighting the ongoing creative process he works through or simply bringing together 25 great tracks, Singles 2007-2010 is a rewarding listen and a testament to one of the hardest working and most entertaining artists in rock music right now. As is the case with every Segall record, it is already out of date and behind the times, but shows again that despite his breakneck pace, he is following in Reatards footsteps in making sure that the quality is equaling the quantity.
Segall will be playing a show at the 7th Street Entry on 5/8 with White Fence supporting (surprise!) a new LP created in collaboration with White Fence.
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history, and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are Three reactions, Three impressions, Three Takes on the new record Clear Heart Full Eyes from Hold Steady front man Craig Finn.
There’s something about Craig Finn’s new album, “Clear Heart Full Eyes,” that strikes me. Given all the changes he’s undergone (from Lifter Puller to his work with The Hold Steady) hearing “Clear Heart Full Eyes” for the firs time sounds like Craig Finn subdued, and while it isn’t the clear masterpiece, it definitely represents Craig Finn properly, it sounds like the ghost of Springsteen came to him, which gives the record a more bluesy/Americana feel to it, you would think that you’re listening to Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings”, which also gives Finn’s narratives more breathing room, such as on “Apollo Bay,” and on the numerous tales on “New Friend Jesus,” it really is Craig Finn making the type of record he wants to make. And everything from its production value to the way that Finn tells these stories, give the record a really human feel to it. While clearly it may not be the record Hold Steady admirers expected, it definitely is a majestic effort.
Alright, let’s just jump right in…it pains me to say it, but this album is simply awful.
I loved Lifter Puller and I’m a huge fan of The Hold Steady. Baseball-lover Craig Finn’s first recorded foray into the solo world, though, is a complete swing and a miss. The first words Finn bellows are “my head was really hurting,” obviously foreshadowing how my noggin would feel upon giving Clear Heart Full Eyes some time. After the first listen, I was unimpressed & disappointed. After the second, I was miffed (and just a tad pissed off). After the third, I came up with a list of things I’d rather do than listen to this steaming pile of garbage ever again…
I’d rather watch the Director’s Cut of Love & Other Drugs.
I’d rather do PR for Odd Future.
I’d rather be on an unconditioned airplane, in a middle seat, between two dudes going to Burning Man.
I’d rather eat at Subway.
I’d rather attend a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, when his guests are a Kardashian and anyone from NCIS.
I’d rather go #2 in the First Avenue men’s room.
…or in the Turf Club men’s room.
…or in the Triple Rock men’s room.
…or in the 7th Street Entry “men’s room.”
I’d rather listen to Radiohead.
This album isn’t just bad…it’s atrocious. The familiar vocal styling is there, but Finn seems to be lacking any motivation whatsoever, as if prior to his time in studio, he was on a strict diet of mashed potatoes and Percocet. As for the sleep-inducing accompaniment, I envision Finn wandering downtown Nashville, soliciting random drunken street musicians who’ve been kicked out of Robert’s, pleading for their assistance in creating an authentic and emotional sound, none of them knowing the importance of a metronome. The Hold Steady are the ultimate party bar band, thanks in large part to Finn’s spastic energy and worker bee attitude. Not a situation exists, though, where I could imagine enjoying any of this material in concert, let alone on record.
The music of Craig Finn with Lifter Puller and for the first three LP’s with The Hold Steady was like that person you see at the bar and you are convinced they are the best person in the world. The stars are aligned. They are smart, funny and know how to party. His solo album is waking up the next morning and seeing they are fat, toothless and you think their tattoo’s may be borderline racist. If you would have told me 7 years ago that Craig Finn would write and release a song as lumbering and awful as “New Friend Jesus” I would probably have punched you…but alas, this abomination is truly credited to a messieurs Finn. Finn suffers from the lack of muscle in the music, even more than I thought he would. The knotty indie-classic rock of Lifter Puller and the straight up classic rock of The Hold Steady matches so perfectly with his talk-sing cadence in a way I hadn’t appreciated until hearing him struggle through the mundane slide guitar and breezy alt country on the train wreck of “Balcony.” It isn’t all bad, as songs like “When No One’s Watching” seem to infuse that spirit that brings out the best in Finn. For your sake, if you are a Lifter Puller or Hold Steady fan like me, don’t stain your memory by opening this door. Sometimes change is good…sometimes it sounds like an off key coffee shop singer wrestling with 2nd rate Minneapolis centric Bulkowski-esqe poetry backed by a crack Austin band. Which is depressing, in all the wrong ways.
What is the sound of Duluth? Or Minneapolis, Brooklyn, or Austin, TX for that matter? Looking at the last two cities, you might argue that a jangly variant of lo-fi garage pop epitomizes their current “sound.” But characterizations like that don’t really get at a city’s sound so much as the type of music that’s popular among musicians from that locale. And thanks to the proliferation of Internet music culture, chances are the aesthetic popular in one larger city is also popular in another. (Do you see how I just conflated Austin and Brooklyn?) I imagine one thing working against larger metro areas—let’s add Portland and, to a lesser extent, Seattle to the mix as well—cultivating a distinguishing music style is the in-and-out migration of young creative types. A good portion of the artistic work comes from individuals with shorter roots to the region and a poorer sense of the city’s music history.
Minneapolis has a long history of well-loved, well-known, and well-remembered musicians and bands who’ve called the city home. Dylan, Prince, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, yadda yadda—all regarded as seminal “Minneapolis artists.” But there’s nothing essentially “Minneapolis” about Robert Zimmerman’s raspy storytelling, the skeezy grooves of The Artist, or the charging punk of the ’80s. Nothing in the guitar chords, drum kicks, or synth riffs. Without outside knowledge of the band, it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint where the seminal bands came from. Maybe, if explicit enough or Google-able, you could guess from some revealing lyrics . . .
Two bands notorious for name-dropping their home state are the Hold Steady and Motion City Soundtrack. (For the latter, it’s even encoded in their name!) And neither of them, in my opinion, connects music to place in anything more than a superficial way. While mentioning Lyndale Avenue or City Center may serve an autobiographical or narrative end, the references are merely cultural touchpoints for the listener a character in the song. Depending on the track, artists like these come off as either encyclopedic city slickers or desperate crowd-pleasers.
So what about Duluth? The harbor city’s biggest cultural exports are, arguably, Low and Trampled by Turtles. But just like Prince and the Replacements, Low’s shoegazing alt-rock and Trampled by Turtles’ rootsy bacchanalia aren’t particularly “Duluthy.” A half-liquored-up music-theory graduate student might contrarily try to argue that the cold, foggy winters of Duluth lend a mellow, introspective quality to Low’s songwriting; or that big-small town vibe of downtown Duluth is the origin of the celebratory togetherness of Trampled’s folky bombast. I believe that music can capture the atmosphere of a place as large as a city, but I don’t think it can be accomplished through rock or pop.
Not to sound like an old saw . . . but this is a perfect realm for experimentalism—like the combination of found-sound manipulation and abstract choral music of Philip Blackburn. Blackburn is a UK-born “environmental sound artist” who’s been doing much of the album production work for the fabulous and under-appreciated innova record label based in St. Paul. After about 20 years with innova, the label is releasing what amounts to Blackburn’s “debut album,” Ghostly Psalms (due out February 28). The lead-off track from the album is “Duluth Harbor Serenade,” an 8-minute wander along the shore of Lake Superior and the up the cobblestone avenues of the taconite city.
“Duluth Harbor Serenade” is a montage of found sounds mingled with immersive public performances in the city. (Watch the video below.) The shrill bellows of fog horns, piercing wail of ambulance sirens, and tolls of church bells comingle with the laughter of school children, buzzing chainsaws, an impromptu street-corner choral arrangement, lapping waves, and random loud instruments played and recorded simultaneously throughout the city. According to innova, the composition was “heard over several miles.”
Blackburn’s serenade is, I think, the perfect example of music capturing the “sound” of a city. Listening to it brings me back to day trips with my dad and brother to Canal Park and crooked evenings walking out of Fitger’s. The recording samples he chose to spotlight on the track speak to Duluth’s industrial past—the boats pushing through the harbor, the railcars loading and unloading ore from the Iron Range—in a very honest way. One example of someone trying this out in Minneapolis—to a much lesser extent—is Jeremy Messersmith at the end of his song “Light Rail.” These are the sounds that make the city what it is, turned into music. On top of that, by bringing the performance into the streets, Blackburn indirectly engaged Duluth’s whole population with his art.
I’d argue that a work like “Duluth Harbor Serenade” is possible for every city, every town. It’s up to the artist, of course, to single out the integral, nostalgic, idiosyncratic snippets of noise that make the place memorable, that turn a city into a hometown.
Following up his excellent early 2011 LP Space is Only Noise, minimal electronic artist Nicolas Jaar released to short, but very good, EPs near the end of last year. The first EP is self-titled, released under his Darkside moniker, that is more sleek and dark than Space is Only Noise. Don’t Break My Love, released under his given name, follows the ambient textures of Noise more closely.
Don’t Break my Love is essentially a single released as an EP. The title track is the A-Side; “Why Didn’t You Save Me” serves as the B-side. “Don’t Break My Love” is classic Jaar, building itself with drum clicks wrapped in static; soft, wobbly synths; and disjointed vocals. The track is a wistful mix of spooky and alluring moments. The curveball comes five minutes into the track, when the music drops out and demented neo-soul sweeps through the speakers. Once you get over the abrupt shock, it is as funky and commanding as you would ever suspect from Jaar. “Don’t Break My Love” sounds like an outtake from Noise and is a good continuation of his work, even if it isn’t the most arresting track he has ever written.
The real highlight, for me, is the dark, avant-noir stutter of the three song Darkside EP. The tracks seem tailor made for your next car-heist movie, slinky and detached while still packing a forceful punched. Simply named “A1,” “A2,” and “A3,” the collection is a masterstroke in minimal electronic funk. It’s possessed with the kind of restrained urgency that makes you clench your fists and stomp your feet, ready at any moment for the unsuspected twist around the corner. The songs are all tight and rigid, equally suited for a headphone phase-out as a dark and sweaty dance floor. Letting the bass line pulse through the songs and utilizing cutting guitar stabs, Jaar proves he is fully capable of bringing the funk when he wants to, even if his forte is in wandering the nebulous ether of synthscapes.
Both releases serve as excellent addendum to Space is Only Noise and further encouragement for those who haven’t checked out Jaar yet to hop on the bandwagon. While Don’t Break My Love cements his mastery, the Darkside EP is the real stunner, and—importantly—shows that Jaar is more than a one-trick pony. Both are streaming below—two crystal clear examples of why Jaar is one of the most exciting young artists (he is 22) currently working in electronic music.
On her follow-up to 2010’s 1977, Chilean/French rapper Ana Tijoux further explores the nascent jazz/hip hop fusion aesthetic of that record. While 1977 found a balance between hard-hitting rhymes and sultry beats, La Bala tips the scales toward jazz and R&B. Though an extremely capable rapper, Tijoux spends almost as much time on La Bala singing as she does rapping—similar to what we recently heard on Doomtree emcee Dessa’s A Broken Code. La Bala’s most lively rapping can’t even be attributed to Tijoux—a guest rapper from Los Aldeanos takes that prize with some fierce wordsmithing on “Si Te Preguntan,” on which Tijoux mainly sings the chorus (though she does rap a verse toward the song’s back end).
And while there isn’t anything wrong with Tijoux’s singing voice, there also isn’t anything all that special about it. Tijoux brings a fiery passion to her Spanish-language verses when she does rap them. As singer her vocals are merely good without being captivating. Despite a weaker vocal ability, several songs off of La Bala are bound to evoke some comparisons to a “Latin Erykah Badu” (particularly smooth jazz number “Quizas”). Generally, Tijoux strikes a fine enough balance between rapping and singing that her strengths in the former mask any weakness in the latter. In fact, the line between rapping and singing is often blurred to the point of not really being able to pin the sound down firmly in either camp.
When Tijoux does break out and rap, the results are often mesmerizing and enchanting. Titular track “La Bala” and “Las Cosas Por Su Nombre” are both standout singles in which Tijoux shines with expertly calibrated rhyme schemes. The record’s production shines as well—La Bala is drenched in sultry strings (similar in style to Janelle Monae’s recent ArchAndroid) that are the silky smooth foil to Tijoux’s hard-edged words. (However, again, when she sings, the juxtaposition effect is lost.) The beats and sampling also are generally executed well—though “Shock” occasionally falls into the all-too-common trap/trope (in Latin hip hop) of sounding like a Manu Chao song.
If my complaints about Tijoux’s singing voice turn you off, don’t dismiss the album outright–on La Bala Tijoux is as fine a singer as most around, and La Bala is a very successful fusion of jazz and rap. In a world where celebrated female emcees are still rare, though, it can be difficult to see one of the genre’s brightest stars drifting towards the jazz vocal category (which has been brimming with females since Billie Holiday and beyond). It’s Tijoux’s choice though—she’s got the talent to become a great rapper or, in all likelihood, a great singer. My own predisposition biases me towards the former, but I have to admit La Bala shows that Tijoux has got some talent in the latter as well.