The Blind Shake doesn’t keep their love for Michael Yonkers a secret. I couldn’t blame you, though, if you have a hard time connecting the dots between the psychedelic legend’s lowfi garage-folk strangeness and the punk trio’s hard-charging sonic assault. Microminiature Love isn’t as difficult to wrap your head around, but once you get into Michael and the Mumbles or Goodbye Sunball, the similarities get harder to pinpoint.
Enter Jim and the French Vanilla. JatFV is the solo project of Jim Blaha, one of the Blind Shake’s fraternally linked guitarists. Blaha’s solo material is mix of low-fi garage and acid folk—not unlike the side of Yonkers that you used to hear back in the sixties. Now, I would never say that Jim and the French Vanilla and early Yonkers are two peas in the same pod, but understanding their stylistic similarities is a good place to start.
Jim and the French Vanilla’s sophomore album, simply entitled II, explores a wide variety of styles—from country to psychedelic rock. The string that binds them is that nearly all 14 tracks feature Blaha solo, playing guitar and singing in a highly reverbed environment. Occasionally the tunes feature Blaha recording on multiple tracks and filling out the sound, but with the exception one Blind Shake acoustic joint and Jim’s brother Mike joining him a few times on drums, it’s purely solo Blaha.
Thematically, II is melancholy, with Blaha providing his own overarching concept in the lyrics to “Misery”: “It’s misery, played by me.” A handful of the songs, like “Unlucky” and “Deep Water,” display a folk-country tinge. However, even at his rootsiest, Blaha keeps the psychedelic flame alive. The distorted vocals are notable, as is Blaha’s skill on the guitar. II’s most intrepid journey into acid folk is probably “Long Ways From Here,” which features an Eastern-oriented (dual) guitar part that sounds a bit like some of Sandy Bull’s farther-out material. The shadow of the Blind Shake isn’t too far off either—“The Big Day” actually sounds like it could have been lifted from the Blind Shake catalogue, none the wiser.
If you are accustomed to the Blind Shake’s sound, you might not have an easy of a time with Jim and the French Vanilla. While the similarities are there, II’s slower pace may not be ideal for fans of brain-melting garage punk. If you don’t mind slowing it down a bit, II has a lot to offer attentive listeners. Not only does it sport a bevy of good jams (my favorites in addition to those already mentioned being “Too Bad” and “Unusual”), it’s also an interesting trek into the Blind Shake’s span of influences. But of course this is a JatFV record—not a Blind Shake record—and it should be listened to on its own merit. At the same time, if you ever wondered what the Blind Shake did with all those unused acid folk influences, Jim and the French Vanilla may satisfy some of your curiosity.
II will be available via Modern Radio on March 1st. Jim and the French Vanilla’s record release show is on the same day at the Kitty Cat Klub.
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 Old Ideas by Leonard Cohen.
There is something absurd about evaluating a Leonard Cohen album. The work is too singular. There are so few points of comparison with other artists in popular music. Is it good? Compared to what? Compared to the other septuagenarian Jewish-Canadian Buddhist monks who publish in the New Yorker while selling out world tours doing “folk” music? He’s definitely in that Top Ten.
Thematically and lyrically, Old Ideas is right line with the albums that built his legend in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Sonically, much less so. The beauty of those early albums was in the simplicity of Cohen’s weathered sing-speaking against spare acoustic guitar. That voice, now deeper and more roughened by age, would be even better served by the old formula. Instead, he opts for a full band with horns, electric bass, synth, archilaud, and wispy female backing vocals (which sometimes come off as a bit cheesy). The result is very close to his recent live shows.
If you were lucky enough to see his mesmerizing, three-hour performance at the Orpheum in 2009 or the filmed London show from the same tour, you know that the full band works well on stage. However, on a recording it works less well. The smooth jazz-style horns and the electric bass sound retrograde, and one can’t help but wish he would have had the guiding hand of a Rick Rubin to strip it all down à la Johnny Cash’s American Recordings.
That said, the album is a stunner. Cohen may be 77, but he’s at the top of his game. Lyrically, he has no peers. Once again, all of the big biblical themes are explored—love, hate, lust, sin, forgiveness, redemption, and, most of all, death. Each is examined from different angles and in different moods, sounding at times hopeful (“Going Home”) and others despairing (“Darkness”). Like his earlier albums, it bears many listens and will only get better with age. So if you only buy one album from someone your grandpa’s age this year, make it this one.
Despite his legendary status, I am not very familiar with Leonard Cohen’s work. I am completely clueless as to what he has been up to basically since 1998’s I’m Your Man. Staying active, it appears.
His newest record, Old Ideas, will be his third released in the 21st century. And speaking of active—despite getting old, Cohen still sounds like he’s getting around. Even if he’s now touched by the wisdom of age, to hear him sing about love, sex, and poetry . . . well, he still has the passion of a young man. Despite some instrumental changes over the years, Cohen is still singing in the same rhyme patterns and gravelly baritone croon. I don’t like that he’s often accompanied on Old Ideas by a chipper female accompaniment, but that hardly distracts from Cohen’s gravitas. For the most part I can ignore the cheesy window dressing and concentrate solely on Cohen and his carefully chosen words. I would have preferred that he just recorded the record unaccompanied by anything save the wear and tear of years gone by. But he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, so he’s still got plenty of time for an album like that.
Leonard Cohen comes at you with the softest lyrical hammer on Old Ideas. Tracks like “Amen” display a careful and gentle arrangement that are at times reminiscent of the somberness of “Nobody Home” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This album feels more personal than that, though. “Crazy to Love You” has the mystique of a French noir film, but wouldn’t feel out of place soundtracking shots of an aged, sad-looking Bill Murray dressed in strange clothes in a Wes Anderson film. Despite this, these songs don’t feel like characterizations, but a window into Cohen’s own somber, reverent life. What we see here is a musician showing his age, but wearing it as a badge of honor.
There are points in the album, which is full of down-tempo gospel and blues-inspired folk, in which the instrumentation becomes less important that Leonard’s hypnotizing voice. It has as much character as a gnarled oak tree, but is delivered with the tenderness of a lover. Tracks like “Lullaby” float the listener down a river on a makeshift raft with a harmonica: the music pushing the album forward, Leonard stepping in only to steer you along.
Fans of Toms Waits’ quirkiness (sans circus side-show, plus cathedral gospel choir) will have a lot to look for in this record. Some songs are more up than others, others more down. But front to back, Leonard Cohen offers a deep experience to the listener. Put this record on when you want to relax, zone out, be sad, contemplate, or just sit down and listen to a story from grandpa.
When Red Hunter, lead singer of Austin folk band Peter and the Wolf, sings the phrase “I’m Living the Dream” on the song “Rosariot,” I found myself wondering what exactly he meant. Did he mean he had everything, the living manifestation of all that he ever wanted? Or was he saying he lives his life in a dream? Either could be possible listening to his new LP Easy Mountain. Hunter is not yet sounding completely content, but the worn vocals and lush instrumentation on Easy Mountain give the impression of a well-worn soul, or at least someone who has seen and experienced enough to fill a songbook or two.
From the boardwalk folk of “Lightfalls” to the mellow, plaintive “Silver Sand,” anyone who has heard Hunter’s well groomed and emotive folk styling’s will feel right at home on Easy Mountain. Even when he falls victim of trite lyrics like “nothing to do but walk around/maybe to the end of town” on the somber, folky “Sure I see the Sun,” he still can ramble on with his folky charm. The track, even with its lyrical shortcomings, feels like a lo-fi , more depressing Simon and Garfunkel. His last LP was the Of Montreal-esqe freak funk under the nom de plume of Traffique, which he slightly references on the eccentric “The Sunglasses Song,” which leans on a bubbling bass synth line instead of acoustic guitars and mellow string arrangements.
Hunter makes the kind of music that is deceptively simple and almost too easy to absorb on first listen, giving the listener the impression that it isn’t any deeper than your average top 40 song. The track with Peter and the Wolf if that most of the songs prove to enigmas wrapped in dual vocal parts and slight twists of phrases. From the first time I heard the stunning “Safe Travels,” which is still one of my favorite songs of all time, I have found Hunter’s material to be captivating and hard to resist. Whether Easy Mountain is Hunter living in a dream or through a dream, whatever it is I hope he can keep it up.
Listen to preview tracks below and grab the album straight from the source HERE.
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 Visions by Grimes.
Montreal’s 23-year-old Claire Boucher is a self-styled producer, artist, and remixer. She left Vancouver for Montreal to attend McGill University and studied philosophy and neurobiology before discovering GarageBand. In 2010, she dropped out of McGill with two records. Newly signed to 4AD, Grimes delivers with Visions, a run-through of electronica stylings and pop sensibilities. While some of her early work may have suggested the gothic charm of Fever Ray, here on Visions, her sound is broader.
“Infinite Without Fulfillment” rides swinging, jagged percussion. The bouncy, synth-driven lullaby of “Genesis” has the singer’s signature high-pitched, arty vocals on top of a driving beat. Boucher’s girl pop vocals are in full-effect with ooh oohs and la la las on the romper “Oblivion”, where she pleads “I need someone now to look into my eyes and tell me girl you know you gotta watch your health.” She gives us cryptic glimmers of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” with “Color Of Moonlight,” and goes mod-disco on “Visiting Statue,” which is colored in more girl pop shades. Boucher’s vocals are chameleon and distinctive, an effect that works on songs like “Visiting Statue.” “Vowels=space and time” is aided by snappy drum machine march. Boucher’s experimental R&B vocals shine on “Skin,” where she does her best Aaliyah with a careful falsetto and stutter beat.
It’s interesting how Boucher describes her music as “post-internet,” because her music is all internet-driven. Visions’ soft electro-art rock makes like this year’s tUnE-YarDs: a breakout female artist unabashedly incorporating all that is relevant in 2012. Visions takes up a perfect space between to Poliça’s downbeat Give You The Ghost and the quirky pop of tUnE-YarDs playful w h o k i l l.
This record is a little chirpy for my tastes. As far as looped, dreamy female vocals go, I’ll take Julianna Barwick’s moody elegance over Grimes’ squeaky energy any day of the week. Still, upon hearing Grimes debut Visions, I understand what people seem to like about it: It’s complex, well-constructed dance music. It may sound to me like a band fronted by a 13-year-old anime character/chipmunk . . . but one who obviously knows what she is doing. I’m actually surprised to find that I enjoy tracks like “Genesis” and “Eight,” if only for their great beats and production value. Maybe someday I’ll come around and get into the voice, but I think it’s going to take some time. Maybe it’s the fact that the two records I have had on lately are this one and Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas. If there was ever an antithesis to Cohen’s new album, Grimes’ Visions would surely be it.
Visions is Grimes’ first proper full-length release, though her songs and impending hipness have been swimming around the internet for months. And while I don’t normally find value in genre names like “grave wave” or “witch house,” when describing this album they are surprisingly apt. A recent study claims that modern parents feel classic fairy tales are too scary for their children. On Visions, Grimes takes it upon herself to prevent the darkness of these children’s tales from going anywhere—even if she has to play all the parts herself.
And she does. The woman behind Grimes, 23-year-old Claire Boucher, takes a bedazzled hammer of electronics and keyboard and pounds simple, catchy beats into your brain. These are layered with dreamy arpeggios, “oohs,” “ahhs,” and other sounds from outer space. But when she coos “oh baby” it’s no more compelling than when anyone else does. Paired with her baby-doll falsetto, I can’t seem to fully get past that.
It may no longer be a valid critique to say an artist’s album doesn’t play like a cohesive whole. But if an album doesn’t have a strong linear flow, why have an intro and an outro? In this case it delays a strong start and belabors an already drawn-out ending with songs that are only partially formed.
Visions also feels top heavy. The catchiest, most danceable tracks (“Genesis,” “Oblivion,” and “Eight”) are clumped together in the first 12 minutes of the album. Much of the rest feels like filler. The last full track is the exception. ‘Skin” builds over the course of six minutes, and shows the influence of Lykke Li, with whom Grimes toured last year.
“Skin” also demonstrates what I want more of on future Grimes recordings: depth, complexity, and more vocal range. I hope the falsetto is a phase. When you catch a glimpse of Boucher’s real voice, it’s deeper and darker, more PJ Harvey than pop princess. I didn’t think Visions was earth shattering, but it grabbed me enough that I’ll stick around to see what happens next.
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 Six Cups of Rebel by Lindstrøm.
If you divide 100 by seven, you get 14.286. If you divide Lindstrøm’s latest album, Six Cups of Rebel, by seven, you get one solid dance song. “Call Me Anytime”—a nine-minute track nestled in the middle of six other hyper-repetitive, unsexy, itchingly fast house cuts—is consistently surprising considering the genre in which the Norwegian producer has decided to work. Synths evoking wonky horns, strident piano, and exotic flutes lend “Call Me Anytime” a Roxy Music-esque freakout vibe that morphs into a blast-beat-punctured jazz track—ultimately ending on a tropicalia chill. Think of an Orbital tune, if Orbital reinterpreted the soundtrack to Castlevania.
The infectious grooves and dynamic flourishes that make “Call Me Anytime” so good are lacking from the rest of Six Cups of Rebel. The other tracks zoom past like weird, pseudo-psychedelic trains. They’re loud and loaded with just enough weird vocal samples to make a fan of The Books wonder why they’ve never listened to dance music. Opener “No Release” uses organ tones in a way that will make you want to run out of church on Sunday. “De Javu” revels in low-end grooves that embarrassingly rumble like your stomach after huevos rancheros. Channeling the Blue Man Group (or something), “Magik” features the swip-swips samples of someone whipping a piece of plastic through the air. I could go on, but I think it’s kind of pointless. If you want to hear some funky space disco that uses repetition, retro synth, and brassy atmospherics very well, look no further than Lindstrøm’s partner in crime: Prins Thomas.
I admire electronic composer Lindstrøm’s new album more than I “like” it. Through seven tracks (why not call it Seven Cups?), Lindstrøm is adventurously creates unconventional song structures. Tunes like “Magick” and “Hina” are free-flowing and weird techno-journeys that warp a normally structured genre into organic colors and shapes. Call it electronic jazz if you will—Lindstrøm frees himself from the tyranny of a cohesive beat and journeys down the rabbit hole heedlessly. On one hand, it makes for an intriguing, even amazing, listen. On the other, Lindstrøm’s abandonment of conventional format makes his sound lacks accessibility. It’s technically dazzling music that (at least for me anyway) doesn’t hold much purely aesthetic appeal. Do I enjoy listening to it? Sure. But unless I’m in the mood to delve wholly into the album in my sensory deprivation chamber, I’ll probably choose something else.
I’ve patiently waited for a follow-up from Norwegian producer Lindstrøm comparable to his excellent 2008 LP Where You Go I Go Too, yet I’m consistently disappointed. His work since hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t lived up to the euphoric, head-in-the-clouds electronic revelry that burst through the speakers on Where You Go. After some good, but not great, collaborations with fellow producer Prins Thomas and sultry voiced chanteuse Christabelle, Lindstrøm returns with a second full-lengt, Six Cups of Rebel. Unfortunately, like the collaborative follow-ups, this record spends more time wobbling around the edges than reaching dance floor nirvana. The material ranges from the cheesy stomper “Quiet Place to Live” to the church organ tapestry of “No Release,” which lives up to its name by never giving the listener any semblance of resolution. Lindstrøm comes closest to his previous magic on the frantic, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink “De Javu” and the wandering, mystical space funk of “Call Me Anytime”—a track that leaves no stone unturned in its quest to mine every sound known to man.
It’s feels like Lindstrøm either isn’t capable of or doesn’t want to replicate the rapturous space disco (as it is often called) of Where You Go I Go To. I suppose I shouldn’t go into each release expecting Lindstrøm to reinvent his own wheel, but I also can’t mask my disappointment when he doesn’t even come close.
Toward The Low Sun may be the best Dirty Three album in over a decade. While I think that both 2005’s Cinder and 2003’s She Has No Strings Apollo are undeservedly maligned, there is no denying that Low Sun does a better job of recapturing the magic that the Dirty Three found in their earlier records. They don’t compromise here, either. The band has been accused of losing sight of melody for the complexity of their sonic adventurousness. Low Sun is by no means pared down. Without “dumbing down” their sound, however, the band crafts structures that complement the melodies without obscuring them.
Well . . . except for record opener “Furnace Skies.” The album’s first track is a blast of guitar noise, irregular beats, and general chaos. It’s as if, at the start, the band is trying to get the mess all out of their systems before moving on. The rest of Low Sun is full of the Dirty Three’s elegant instrumental folk/jazz oeuvre. “Sometimes I Forget You’re Gone” strips down an aberrant piano melody and accompanies it with Jim White’s drumming, which sounds as if he’s trying to hit every drum and cymbal simultaneously. Warren Ellis’s violin doesn’t take its customary prominent position within the band’s sound until lovely folk ballad “Moon on the Land,” which is also enhanced by mandolin and more restrained drumming from White.
Ellis takes the lead on the record’s two best tracks, driving both “Rising Below” and “Rain Song” with some of his most evocative violin melodies since Whatever You Love, You Are. The former focuses mainly on the dynamic between guitarist Mick Turner and Ellis’s multi-tracked strings. Between the two of them, Turner and Ellis produce a vibrant melancholy that, in line with the band’s aesthetic, climaxes in an orgasm of instrumentation. “Rain Song” mainly consists of Ellis’s disconsolate strings and picking, which wander across the span of the funereal tune before ending in a whimper.
Low Sun ends impressively, with “That Was, Was,” “Ashen Snow,” and “You Greet Her Ghost” finishing the backend of the record with impassioned sadness, particularly with the addition of a forlorn flute on “Ashen Snow.” The closing is reminiscent of some of the Dirty Three’s finest late-’90s/early-2000s work, concentrating on violin-led melodies evocative of a wide array of emotional responses. In fact, while every emotion from extreme pain to extreme joy is explored in the space of the instrumental tracks, the one response that never comes to mind is boredom. The Dirty Three have always been a thrill to listen to, and on Toward the Low Sun, the thrill never comes at the expense of complexity. If the band’s fire was simmering low throughout most of the 2000s, it is certainly roaring again.
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 Born To Die by Lana Del Rey.
I think I am supposed to be outraged…OUTRAGED!… by Lana Del Rey and her new LP Born to Die. Despite my best effort to fire myself up and buy into the notion she is worse than Milli Vanili covering Nickleback, Born to Die mostly just bores me. My first thought upon hearing her breakout hit “Video Games” was that someone did a crappy version of what Lucinda Williams would sound like if she tried to write generic pop and had significantly less talent. The rest of the album is equally bland. Where you could be creative, she instead titles a song “Diet Mountain Dew,” when she could be intriguing, she sings about “cocaine hearts” and wraps her song in over dramatic pop dribble on “Off to the Races.” Born to Die didn’t really bug me or make me upset, it just made me wish it was over. The thing that confuses me is that people who generally value artist creativity seemed instantly enamored with her, which only helped to fuel the backlash. To me, this album sounds like a perfect complement to the record collection for those who get excited when The Black Eyed Peas come on the radio. I suppose if I looked at it in a different light, I could get myself in a tizzy, but I can’t even fathom why Lana Del Rey has even been inserted into that conversation. Shiny, overproduced, lowest common denominator pop music that is meant for high school dances and top 40 radio stations, not music nerds like me. Despite what Liz Phair says.
I was initially drawn in by Lana Del Rey’s first single “Video Games.” It has a nice melancholy melody that is well suited to Del Rey’s smoky pipes. And I still don’t think it’s a terrible song – that is unless you listen to the lyrics. In “Video Games” as well as the rest of Born To Die Del Rey seems to have actually filled in the lyrics as an afterthought, or possibly using a random word generator. Take the line “I say you’re the bestest / Lean in for a big kiss / Put his favorite perfume on,” for instance. It sounds like something you might find in a 3rd grader’s diary. And despite the awful lyrics, if Del Rey had at least managed to craft an album’s worth of melodies that are as good as the one from “Video Games,” then the record wouldn’t be a complete disaster. Unfortunately the rest is mostly dreck – innocuously bland melodies with jarringly superimposed hip hop samples.
Del Rey is infamous for calling herself the “gangster Nancy Sinatra,” which from the sound of this seems to mean copping Nancy’s style and tacking on some poorly conceived beats. The main difference between Del Rey and Nancy though is that Sinatra had substance. In addition to being a sex bomb she was also a gal whom you couldn’t tip over with a feather. Del Rey has the sex part down pretty well, but thus far the substance is lacking.
A lot of people already are on polar opposite sides of the spectrum regarding the songstress known as Lana Del Ray. Ever since the debut of the song that catapulted her into the limelight known as “Video Games”, it’s been interesting to see the critic’s word regarding the album known as Born To Die. Regardless though, this sounds like “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West (even Jeff Bhasker shares production duties on two of the album’s cuts), but even with that, Kanye’s production handprint is all over this, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rather than the hedonistic, excessive highs that Kanye uses, Lana takes on the melodramatic lows of love and heartbreak, and again, this also works in “Born To Die’s” favor. Such cuts as “Off To The Races”, and even the upbeat tempo of “Diet Mountain Dew”, Lana’s vocals aren’t anything to whine about, but it takes a certain downer amount of energy to digest the wallop that this disc packs across 65-plus minutes. If you’re grading her music solely on the live performance of SNL, then you are sadly mistaken to say that this disc sounds bad or doesn’t pack a punch. But there’s a great deal of material here that warrants a second time around to truly see how to digest Lana Del Ray.
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.