Mixtapes of the Month

Here’s a new feature that should become a regular here: some of the best mixtapes that dropped in the past month.
Après le jump

Oab first came to my attention with his excellent one-off “Danny DeVito,” which makes good use of hilarious sound-clips by the song’s namesake. This is the first mixtape by the Virginia State junior. As the title indicates, the album is entirely written about the ladies of Oab’s life and he admits on Datpiff that this was not the easiest topic to write an entire album about. I do wish that Oab had allowed himself a bit more freedom with regards to song topics. However, this is definitely a promising debut, and it’s got some nice production on it by Oab himself, along with 9th Wonder on “Misses in Action.”
Recommended Tracks: “Misses in Action”
9th Wonder & Jay-Z- Black American Gangster
American Gangster is one of the more underrated items in Jay-Z’s discography. It did well critically and commercially but didn’t feature any majorly successful singles. This is a nice opportunity to revisit some of Jay-Z’s best, most focused rapping (along with a reminder on “Hello Brooklyn (Still Politics)” that before Lil Wayne became a sad joke he was a good rapper). 9th Wonder was the main producer for Little Brother and he’s been one of the best out there for years, specializing in oh-so-smooth soul samples. The two collaborated once in real life on the stellar “Threat” off The Black Album. Jay-Z has always sounded right at home over this kind of production (see Kanye’s work on The Blueprint).
Recommended Tracks: “I Know (What You Like) (ft. Pharrell & The Jackson 5)”, “Black American Gangster” 
Raekwon- Lost Jewlry

Raekwon has enjoyed a surprisingly excellent late-career resurgence since 2009’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. 2. This mixtape, like Raekwon himself, is not flashy. It’s mostly a solo effort, with only four features (including Freddie Gibbs and the lesser known Maino, who puts in a memorable verse on “To The Top”). The production isn’t handled by any big names, but rather a collection of hard-working veterans and up-and-comers. In particular, the relatively unknown Roads-Art makes a big impression with work on four of the 13 tracks. Overall, this mixtape is not really anything new for those familiar with Raekwon’s career, not that there’s anything wrong with that. While “gangsta rap” has basically become a meaningless term, Raekwon has made his career on literally rapping about being a gangster, doing it quite convincingly and inventively. And while rappers have referenced movies like Goodfellas and Scarface for decades, few other rappers’ albums sound like they could easily be made into excellent, grimy crime movies. The only real missteps on here are the two “love” (or as close as Raekwon songs can get to love) songs with R&B singers on them and weak production (“Hold You Down” and “86′”).
Recommended Tracks: “Never Can Say Goodbye”, “For the Listeners”

Chart of the Week: WESU Loves Charles Mingus

Normally I just give you the chart, but this week we have Charles Mingus topping the charts on the strength of his new box-set that we were lucky enough to get at a discount from the record label. Mingus is one of the greatest geniuses in music history–and one of the craziest. Here’s his Cat Toilet Training Program (“The main thing to remember is not to rush or confuse him”!). Here’s a nice post about the time he punched trombonist Jimmy Knepper on stage. Now, on to the charts!

After the jump

1    CHARLES MINGUS    The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65   
2    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham
3    BUDDY GUY    Live At Legends   

4    BEN SERETAN    New Song   
5    BEN HARPER AND CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE    Get Up!    Concord-Stax
6    RODRIGUEZ    Searching For Sugar Man    Legacy
7    FOXYGEN    We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic    Jagjaguwar
8    TORO Y MOI    Anything In Return    Carpark
9    A$AP ROCKY    LongLiveA$AP    RCA
10    CHRISTOPHER OWENS    Lysandre    Fat Possum

11    YO LA TENGO    Fade    Matador
12    BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW    Cobra Juicy    Rad Cult
13    BOB DYLAN    Tempest    Columbia
14    BLEEDING RAINBOW    Yeah Right    Kanine
15    CAT POWER    Sun    Matador

16    MYSTICAL WEAPONS    Mystical Weapons    Chimera
17    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular
18    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope
19    PORT ST. WILLOW    Holiday    Self-Released
20    ZZ WARD    Til The Casket Drops    BOARDWALK
21    FLYING LOTUS    Until The Quiet Comes    Warp
22    TIM MAIA    World Psychedelic Classics 4: Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul Of Tim Maia    Luaka Bop

23    MASSIVE ATTACK    Blue Lines    EMI
24    PEOPLES TEMPLE    More For The Masses    Hozac
25    CLINIC    Free Reign    Domino

26    BORIS/ASOBI SEKSU    Boris/Asobi Seksu Split [7-inch]    Sargent House
27    THE COUP    Sorry To Bother You    Anti
28    THEE OH SEES    Putrifiers II    In The Red
29    MYKKI BLANCO    Cosmic Angel: Illuminati Prince/ss    UNO NYC
30    ANGEL OLSEN    Half Way Home    Bathetic

New WESU Chart: Psychedelic Pill Poppin’

1    NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE    Psychedelic Pill    Reprise
2    BOB DYLAN    Tempest    Columbia

Rest of chart after the jump

3    BUDDY MILLER AND JIM LAUDERDALE    Buddy And Jim    New West
4    DIRTY PROJECTORS    About To Die    Domino
5    JAPANDROIDS    Celebration Rock    Polyvinyl
6    KING TUFF    “Screaming Skull” [Single]    Sub Pop
7    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope
8    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular
9    DINOSAUR JR.    I Bet On Sky    Jagjaguwar

10    MYKKI BLANCO    Cosmic Angel: Illuminati Prince/ss    UNO NYC
11    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol
12    METALOCALYPSE: DETHKLOK     Dethalbum III    Cartoon Network
13    THE COUP    Sorry To Bother You    Anti
14    BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW    Cobra Juicy    Rad Cult
15    TOY LOVE    Live At The Gluepot 1980    Goner

16    TORO Y MOI    So Many Details [7-inch]    Carpark
17    TITUS ANDRONICUS    Local Business    XL
18    TY SEGALL    Twins    Drag City
19    FLYING LOTUS    Until The Quiet Comes    Warp
20    BAND OF HORSES    Mirage Rock    Brown-Columbia
21    BARBARAS    2006-2008    Goner
22    ZZ WARD    Til The Casket Drops    BOARDWALK
23    GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR    Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!    Constellation
24    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham

25    SWANS    The Seer    Young God
26    SCOTT WALKER    Bish Bosch    4AD
27    TYVEK    On Triple Beams    In The Red

28    PORT ST. WILLOW    Holiday    Self-Released
29    FRANK OCEAN    Channel Orange    Def Jam
30    FRIGHTENED RABBIT    State Hospital    Canvasback-Atlantic

At Least 18 Reasons To Be Excited About 2013

2012 was a stellar year for music. Check out my post here for evidence. Just since I wrote that year-end list, Freddie GibbsBaby Face Killa mixtape crept onto my list for honorable-mention status, on the strength of this incredible video. Others like Miguel‘s Kaleidoscope Dream, Starlito‘s Funerals and Court Dates, Action Bronson & Alchemist‘s Rare Chandeliers and Roc Marciano‘s Reloaded might make it on there with a few more listens. 2013 has the potential to top that year, good as it was. Already, what I’ve heard from it– new music by A$AP Rocky, Toro Y Moi, Foxygen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Christopher Owens, and the Azealia Banks dis track Angel Haze put out yesterday– is highly, highly encouraging. Here’s what to expect:

List after the jump:


1. Christopher Owens- Lysandre (1/15)
I downloaded a leaked version of this today (don’t worry, I’m definitely buying it when it’s out officially) and listened to it several times on repeat. This album demands and rewards your attention all the way through. I am happy to report that this album is full of sincerity, love, honesty, beautiful songwriting and musical arrangements. It’s missing some of the more rocking elements of his work with Girls, but this is a mature, classy, delightful concept album. The only comparable record I can think of is Histoire de Melody Nelson. He uses a repeated theme, like 70s albums, such as Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Red Headed Stranger and The Last Waltz. And it stands up against any classic from that time period.

2. A$AP Rocky- Long.Live.A$AP (1/22)
The debut single for this album, “1 Train” features a veritable who’s who of elite up-and-coming rappers: Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf (who steals the show), Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T. A$AP is definitely a good dude to see rising in popularity– even if he’s not the most talented rapper, he’s got a definite ear for beats, surrounds himself with talented individuals, and challenges common conceptions of hip-hop. As he puts it in a new interview with Complex: “Why is it so fucking hard to accept the fact that we’re heterosexual men who love fashion? We get along with gay people, we accept gay people. We get along with white people, we get along with Asian people. We love everybody.”

3. Foxygen- We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (1/22)
I’ve covered Foxygen before here. They are a very fun group and this album is a big leap forward from last year’s EP. I pre-ordered this and the label sent me a link to download it even though it hasn’t been officially released yet. “No Destruction” has one of the best lines I’ve heard in a while: “There’s no need to be an asshole. You’re not in Brooklyn anymore.” Hopefully, this album will get a lot of recognition. Foxygen should be a big deal soon.

4. Toro Y Moi- Anything In Return (1/22)
Still associated with the joke-genre, chillwave, Toro left that behind for good in 2011 with the funk-influenced Underneath the Pine and Freaking Out. Now he’s turning his attention to pop. This isn’t exactly the type of stuff you hear on the radio, though. It’s sophisticated, exquisitely crafted, dreamy pop music. Check out the video for “So Many Details”, in which Toro wears a turtleneck and looks moody while his girl’s in the hot tub for evidence of his eccentric genius.

5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra- II (2/5)
The first single for this album, “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” has been out for a while. It’s one of the best songs released in 2012, a song about isolation and loneliness that is at once beautiful, heartbreaking, and somehow hopeful, much like Tame Impala‘s Lonerism.

6. Ghostface Killah & Adrian YoungeTwelve Reasons To Die (3/19)
It’s been seven years since Ghost put out the inimitable one-two punch of Fischscale and More Fish. Though he’s put out a lot of quality material since then, it’s high time for one of the best rappers alive to put out another classic. This one looks like it’s got the potential to be that. Adrian Younge has scored the Black Dynamite soundtrack, and put out the outstanding psychedelic soul record Something About April in 2011. If you’re a Ghost fan, you know the man loves his soul music and is one of the best to spit over soulful beats. So this team-up makes a lot of sense. Plus, RZA is executive producing. And, good lord, that cover is great.

7. Kurt Vile- Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze (Spring)
This is what Kurt’s saying about his new album: “The guitar playing is better and the ideas are new. It’s classic, it’s epic, with many more solos.” Can I get a hell yeah?! I’ve been a big fan of Kurt’s since 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo. And I would not expect him to be one for idle boasting.

8. Queens of the Stone Age- TBA (First half of 2013)
The band recently sent out this message to Mojo Magazine. Apparently “the record sounds like running in a dream inside a codeine cabaret.” And even they don’t know what that means. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about this album, especially the return of Dave Grohl and Nick Oliveri to the band (missing since 2002’s classic Songs for the Deaf, which, believe it or not, came out over ten years ago now. You’re old.

9. Danny Brown- Old (TBA)
Danny recently revealed collaborators on this album are going to include A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Kitty Pryde and Purity Ring. He also said the album’s going to be “more mature” and “If people are just looking for dick-sucking jokes, there isn’t too many of them this time.” A more mature Danny Brown is almost hard to conceive, but I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what that sounds like. And more collabs with Ab-Soul.

10. Earl Sweatshirt- Doris (TBA)
Earl’s recently released single “Chum” is probably the best thing he’s done so far in his young career– an autobiographical track that shows off his cleverness, way with words, and emotional depth (despite speaking in a monotone). It’s also far more mature than his impressive but definitely immature debut, 2010’s EARL. Maturity definitely seems to be a theme of a lot of these albums in 2013. And that’s not a bad thing. Music can be intelligent and thoughtful without being boring. Especially if you’re as ridiculously talented as Earl.

11. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- Cocaine Pinata (TBA)
After putting out two excellent EPs together, Thuggin’ and Shame, Gangsta Gibbs and Madlib are putting out a full length. And it’s called Cocaine Pinata. I’m excited, anyway.

12. Pusha T- My Name Is My Name (TBA)
Pusha T was instrumental in bringing Chief Keef to greater attention, telling Kanye West about the young Chicagoan, leading to the G.O.O.D. Music remix of “Shit I Don’t Like.” But don’t forget that Pusha is still capable of being a vital, relevant artist himself. It’s been six years since Pusha released one of my favorite albums with Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury. The debut single off this album, “Pain” is very encouraging, as is the rest of the work he’s been doing since becoming a part of Kanye’s inner circle.

13. The Underachievers- Indigoism (TBA)
This group is signed to Flying Lotus‘ label. They have so far put out a handful of songs and videos on Youtube. Despite the limited output, The Underachievers are a very promising young group, who set themselves apart with some tremendous rapid-fire spitting and lyricism. They also share with Ab-Soul a fascination with the secrets the pineal gland (or “third eye”) may unlock.

14. Ab-Soul & JMSN- Unit 6 (TBA)
Ab-Soul & JMSN released one track together last year called “Nibiru,” which starts out with Ab-Soul theorizing that aliens probably built the pyramids. As with The Underachievers, Ab-Soul comes close to the sort of conspiracy theories you might see on the History Channel. However, that doesn’t take away from how good his music is, and there is something intriguing about this movement in hip-hop. JMSN appeared uncredited on several tracks on Kendrick Lamar‘s good kid m.A.A.d. city, and also released an experimental R&B album, Priscilla last year, which features a gorgeous Sigur Ros sample on “Hotel.”

15. My Bloody ValentineTBA (TBA)
My Bloody Valentine hasn’t put out an album since 1991’s Loveless, the record that is the definitive, perfect, and pretty much only essential shoegaze album (and also bankrupted their label at the time, Creation). Recently the band announced that they have finished mastering this album, though other details remain sparse.

16. The Arcade FireTBA (TBA)
Arcade Fire have reportedly already recorded 35 songs. They’ve also been working with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. I’ll just leave it at that.

17. Snoop LionReincarnated (TBA)
Snoop Dogg has managed to remain one of the most iconic and beloved rappers despite arguably putting out only one classic in his career, Doggystyle way back in 1993 (or two if you count The Chronic). However, his transformation into Snoop Lion will at the very least renew interest in what he’s doing musically. Since converting to Rastafarianism, he’s abandoned hip-hop for reggae and adopted a more positive persona. This isn’t exactly a shocking move for one of the most famous weed-smokers in the world. As Drew Magary puts it in a recent profile in GQ, “A hundred thousand years from now, there’ll be nothing left but a pile of rocks and Snoop, perched upon the rubble, smoking a blunt, having outlived and outsmarted us all. The lion: king of the weed jungle.”

18. Tyler, The CreatorWolf (TBA)
His last album, 2011’s Goblin was one of the most disappointing albums in recent memory– an album so bad it almost made everyone (including me) look stupid for thinking Odd Future were anything more than a bunch of immature kids who make rape jokes and hate everything. However, Frank Ocean‘s critically acclaimed Channel Orange, Domo Genesis‘ solid No Idols mixtape with Alchemist, and Earl Sweatshirt‘s “Chum” have all proven that Odd Future definitely do have something special to them. Another reason for hope: Tyler has expressed admiration for Toro Y Moi and The Stepkids, artists making music quite a bit more mature and easy on the ears than the nihilistic mess that was Goblin.

Other artists that (hopefully) will be putting out albums in 2013: Action Bronson & Harry Fraud, Andre 3000, Angel Haze, Beck, Boldy James & Alchemist, Cloud Nothings, Deerhunter, DOOM & Ghostface Killah, Dr. Dre, Frightened Rabbit, Iceage, Juicy J, Kanye West, King Krule, The Knife, Madvillain, Major Lazer, Metal Clergy (Ka & Roc Marciano), MGMT, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Oab Jenkins, Schoolboy Q, Sky Ferreira, The Stepkids, Talib Kweli, Tinariwen, Vampire Weekend, Yo La Tengo and many, many others. Truly there will be an embarrassment of musical riches in 2013.

Best Albums of 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the best music this year, and there’s a whole lot of it. This is just one man’s list and a totally subjective one– these aren’t necessarily the most important albums of the year, but they’re the one’s that I liked the most.

Click through to see the list


1. Ab-Soul- Control System

Kendrick Lamar’s album is getting all the attention this year, and for good reason. He’s made two classics in the past two years. But Control System has more highs than good kid, m.A.A.d city (including my favorite song of the year, “Book of Soul”). Kendrick and Ab make up half of the Black Hippy crew, which may be the best group of rappers who all seem to like each other since the heyday of Wu-Tang. Ab-Soul is the mascot of the band, the only one who actually looks like a hippy. He’s also the most out-there, rhyming about stuff like the pineal gland. This is what he said about that song in an interview with Complex, “Because you like the song you might want to ask somebody what a pineal gland is. Feel me?” I feel it. There’s a very strong theme of paranoia to Control System, much like another of the year’s best album’s, Cancer 4 Cure. As the album title indicates, Ab-Soul is drawing attention to systems of control– the military, the government, the police, etc. In “SOPA,” he takes on internet censorship. “Double Standard” takes on sexism. But there’s nothing preachy about Control System. He’s not Lupe Fiasco, railing against the system from some moralistic high-horse. His influences range from Eminem and Jay-Z to Basquiat and Banksy, but he’s definitely his own man. As he puts it on “Illuminate”: “I used to wanna rap like Jay-Z, now I feel I can run laps around Jay-Z.” That’s not empty bragging. Ab is a seriously gifted MC, who can hit you with punchlines that make you pause the track. Then there’s “Book of Soul,” an autobiographical tour de force about getting Stevens-Johnson syndrome (the reason why he’s nicknamed Black Lipped Bastard and wears sunglasses all the time) and the tragic death of his girlfriend, Alori Joh, who’s featured both on this album and Kendrick’s Section.80. It’s one of the most emotionally powerful rap songs I’ve ever heard.

2. Japandroids- Celebration Rock

Like Control System, Celebration Rock gives you a good idea of what to expect in the title. Do you like Celebrations? Do you like Rock & Roll Music? Then you, my friend, will dig this. It’s good to have a band that rocks out as hard as these guys around. There’s nothing particularly deep or game-changing about this album, but it kicks more ass than just about anything else.

3. Natural Child- Hard in Heaven

Natural Child also rocks hard. They are a group of scruffy long-haired Southerners who sound like they’re playing at the best, seediest bar in Nashville circa 1976. This was the year that I discovered Burger Records, and this is my favorite out of the treasure-trove of weird, wonderful albums that label puts out.

4. El-P- Cancer 4 Cure

This album is even more uncompromising than Control System in its dystopian vision of America as an authoritarian police-state. No song in 2012 may be more prescient than “Drones Over Bklyn.” On “The Full Retard,” he even has a cartoon voice mock him: “You are so fucking paranoid.”Oh in case you were wondering whether he cares about whether that song title offends you: “Did I give a shit? Of course not.” El-P has been an underground hero for a long time– member of Company Flow, producer for Cannibal Ox, founder of Def Jux. Recently he’s been reintroducing himself to a new generation of underground hip-hop fans, working with some of the best: Das Racist, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Killer Mike and Danny Brown (the last three appear on this album). He’s got an auteur’s vision for his production– dark and almost hallucinatory, like a Cronenberg movie. And “For My Upstairs Neighboor” is the best rap song about domestic abuse that I’ve heard.

5. Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music

This album starts out with the best banger of 2012, “Big Beast,” a song that teams up Killer Mike with two other legends of Southern rap, Bun B & T.I. The video is one of the best things that happened in 2012– a tribute to slasher movies and Drive with zombie strippers, El-P in a Ronald Reagan mask, and T.I. hilariously looking like a kid next to Mike and Bun. This album is a collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P, who produced every song on the record. It’s an unexpected but inspired partnering of two men from very different worlds– the Dungeon Family and the New York underground– who share a strong love for rap music and a questioning, critical political sensibility. Like Control System and Cancer 4 Cure, this is another album that challenges the persistent perception of hip-hop as a misogynistic art form. “Untitled” is Mike’s tribute to women, and he has admitted in interviews that having a daughter has made him change some of his previously-held sexist views. “Reagan” is a political dissertation in song form– the most thorough expression of hip-hop’s fascination with and hatred for Ronald Reagan. “JoJo’s Chillin'” is old-school Slick Rick-style hip-hop storytelling. “Willie Burke Sherwood” is about Mike’s late grandfather, and I saw him tear up in concert when he played it.

6. Kendrick Lamar- good kid, m.A.A.d. city

The cover tells you a lot about this album– it’s Kendrick’s coming-of-age film, a strongly cinematic album that holds together as a complete narrative about a good kid trying to find his way in a very tough place– Compton, California. The three song cycle from “m.A.A.d. city” to “Swimming Pools (Drank)” to “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is unbelievably good. MC Eiht, a Compton veteran, delivers a scene-stealing verse on “m.A.A.d. city,” a song about how a kid gets drawn into crime. Kendrick made it to household-name stature with this album, and he’s got some big names helping him out– Dr. Dre and Wheelchair Jimmy, who appear on this album, along with Lady Gaga, who thankfully did not. But far from depending on those established acts or on input from label executives to polish him into some commercially viable rapper, Kendrick made an ambitious, personal statement without compromising his artistic integrity one bit, and it worked! This is the most reassuring story for the music industry this year.

7. Tame Impala- Lonerism

As someone who has spent a lot of time alone in the Jardin de Luxembourg, this album cover hit almost too close to home. The themes of the album– loneliness and unrequited love– are likely familiar to just about anyone. But this isn’t a album that broods in unhappiness. Rather, it’s dreamy, psychedelic music that can make you smile in spite of whatever troubles you. The boys from Perth have surpassed the high expectations placed on them after their stellar debut, Innerspeaker. This album recalls the greatest psychedelic music of the sixties and seventies, but it’s not derivative. Along with other Tame Impala-associated acts, Pond & Melody’s Echo Chamber, Lonerism is an exciting indication of a psychedelic rebirth.

8. Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan
Dirty Projectors have a pretty unparalleled ear for melodies and beautiful arrangements. Thankfully, they also know how to rock out, as the album opener “Offspring Are Blank” demonstrates, starting off pretty, but featuring some badass guitar riffery. While other “indie” acts like Grizzly Bear, the XX & Bat for Lashes went minimalist this year, making boring, lifeless music, every song on this record sound full of energy and possibilities. It’s a highly varied album musically, which makes sense, considering David Longstreth has cited everything from Lil Wayne‘s Da Drought 3 to “Homeboy” by Eric Church as influences on the record.

9. Blue Sky Black Death & Nacho Picasso- Exalted
Nacho Picasso is a character. He raps about topics like Greek and Norse mythology and makes 80s pop culture references, just as much as he touches on subjects like drugs, sex and violence. This album is one of the funniest of 2012, but it also sounds like the soundtrack to a movie about a dark, twisted criminal underworld. The beats by Blue Sky Black Death are hard hitting, dark, and synth-y, almost like the Drive soundtrack, but harder edged. Both are vital elements of a surprisingly awesome Seattle hip-hop scene, which features the likes of Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction and Kingdom Crumbs. Possible line of the year: “I say my name and I do a little chuckle.” I would too, if I was named Nacho Picasso.

10. King Tuff- King Tuff

This is a thoroughly fun glam rock album made by a man who sounds like he would be a whole lot of fun to hang out with. King Tuff AKA Kyle Thomas is perhaps best known as the singer and guitar player in Witch, a stoner metal band that features J. Mascis, who put out a killer album of his own this year, Dino Jr.’s I Believe in Sky. It’s hard not to be in a good mood when you listen to this album.

Runners Up (in no particular order):
Lil B- Obama Basedgod
The Coup- Sorry to Bother You
Cult of Youth- Love Will Prevail
Curren$y- Muscle Car Chronicles
Dinosaur Jr.- I Believe in Sky
GLC- The Anti Simp
Angel Haze- Reservation
Ka- Grief Pedigree
Gucci Mane- I’m Up
Kane Mayfield- Rhymes By Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition
Nas- Life Is Good
Niki & The Dove- Instinct
SpaceGhostPurrp- Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp

WESU Radio 200: Swedish Pop on Top

1    EL PERRO DEL MAR    The Pale Fire    Control Group
2    FLYING LOTUS    Until The Quiet Comes    Warp
3    PRINCE RAMA    Top Ten Hits Of The End Of The World    Paw Tracks
4    AMANDA PALMER AND THE GRAND THEFT ORCHESTRA    Theatre Is Evil    8 Ft.
5    EVENS    The Odds    Dischord
6    MR. MUTHAFUCKIN’ EXQUIRE    The Man In The High Castle   
7    METRIC    Synthetica    MMI-Mom And Pop

Click through to see the rest of the chart, featuring The Coup, Cactus Channel, Ex-Cult, Ab Soul & Converge

8    THE COUP    Sorry To Bother You    Anti
9    SUFJAN STEVENS    Silver And Gold    Asthmatic Kitty
10    KING TUFF    “Screaming Skull” [Single]    Sub Pop
11    ROC MARCIANO    Reloaded    Decon
12    TITUS ANDRONICUS    Local Business    XL
13    TOY LOVE    Live At The Gluepot 1980    Goner

14    CACTUS CHANNEL    Haptics    Hope Street
15    KAKI KING    Glow    Velour
16    MATH THE BAND    Get Real    Anchor Brain
17    U.S. GIRLS    Gem    FatCat
18    FATHER JOHN MISTY    Fear Fun    Sub Pop

19    EX-CULT    Ex-Cult    Goner
20    DUM DUM GIRLS    End Of Daze    SUB POP
21    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham

22    AB-SOUL    Control System    TopDawg
23    NON/BOYD RICE    Back To Mono    Mute
24    ALVARIUS B    Alvarius B    Abduction
25    MAC DEMARCO    2    Captured Tracks
26    SIDEWALK DAVE    Hard On Romance    Telegraph
27    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope
28    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular

29    CONVERGE    All We Love We Leave Behind    Epitaph
30    GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR    Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!    Constellation

WESU Chart: Mac DeMarco Rocks WESU

1    MAC DEMARCO    2    Captured Tracks
2    FRANK ZAPPA    HOT RATS    Rykodisc
3    LITTLE FEAT    Rooster Rag    Rounder
4    FOXYGEN    Take The Kids Off Broadway    Jagjaguwar
5    EL PERRO DEL MAR    The Pale Fire    Control Group

Click through to see the rest of the chart, featuring Dum Dum Girls, Niki and The Dove, Panzerballett & Kaki King



6    DUM DUM GIRLS    End Of Daze    SUB POP
7    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular
8    CAT POWER    Sun    Matador
9    TWIN SHADOW    Confess    4AD
10    EVENS    The Odds    Dischord
11    SUFJAN STEVENS    Silver And Gold    Asthmatic Kitty
12    PRINCE RAMA    Top Ten Hits Of The End Of The World    Paw Tracks
13    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol

14    NIKI AND THE DOVE    Instinct    SUB POP
15    KING TUFF    “Screaming Skull” [Single]    Sub Pop
16    TEEN DAZE    Inner Mansions    Lefse
17    VARIOUS ARTISTS    Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years Of Amnesty International    Amnesty International
18    INDIGO    Wake [EP]

19    PANZERBALLETT    Tank Goodness  
20    ANDRE WILLIAMS AND THE GOLDSTARS    Nightclub    PRAVDA
21    HUMONGOUS    Miniature Pinscher  
22    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham
23    KATE NASH    Death Proof [EP]    Have 10p
24    DESERT    Camins   

25    KAKI KING    Glow    Velour
26    NATURAL CHILD    Hard In Heaven    Burger
27    VARIOUS ARTISTS    More Music Compilation 2012   
28    FOUR TET    Pink    Text
29    MATH THE BAND    Get Real    Anchor Brain
30    EX-CULT    Ex-Cult    Goner

WESU Radio 200: Menahan Street Band on Top

Here’s our latest chart for CMJ:

1    MENAHAN STREET BAND    The Crossing    Dunham
2    TIM MAIA    World Psychedelic Classics 4: Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul Of Tim Maia    Luaka Bop
3    CHILD ACTOR    Victory    Fake Four
4    BEST COAST    The Only Place    Mexican Summer

Click through to see the rest of the chart, featuring The Evens, Brian Eno, NON/Boyd Rice & Main Attrakionz

5    EVENS    The Odds    Dischord
6    METRIC    Synthetica    Mom And Pop-MMI
7    GRIZZLY BEAR    Shields    Warp
8    FOUR TET    Pink    Text
9    METZ    Metz    SUB POP

10    BRIAN ENO    Lux    Warp
11    LUKID    Lonely At The Top    Werkdiscs
12    TOY LOVE    Live At The Gluepot 1980    Goner
13    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol
14    OF MONTREAL    Daughter Of Cloud    Polyvinyl
15    THE XX    Coexist    XL
16    JOSEPHINE FOSTER    Blood Rushing    Fire

17    NON/BOYD RICE    Back To Mono    Mute
18    ANTIBALAS    Antibalas    Daptone
19    CONVERGE    All We Love We Leave Behind    Epitaph
20    DIRTY PROJECTORS    About To Die    Domino
21    BROTHER ALI    Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color    Rhymesayers
22    ROC MARCIANO    Reloaded    Decon
23    SIDEWALK DAVE    Hard On Romance    Telegraph

24    MAIN ATTRAKIONZ    Bossalinis And Fooliyones    young one
25    ALLAH-LAS    Allah-las    Innovative Leisure
26    CLINIC    Free Reign    Domino
27    PEOPLES TEMPLE    More For The Masses    Hozac
28    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular
29    TY SEGALL    Twins    Drag City
30    KENDRICK LAMAR    Good Kid In A M.A.A.d City    Aftermath-Top Dawg-Interscope

An Interview with Sidewalk Dave: Bee Mating, Abandoning Folk for Rock & Roll & Miya’s Sushi

I’ve been a Sidewalk Dave fan for a while now, and have already written about him in posts here and here. Today, I interviewed Dave on the phone. We talked about a wide range of topics from the inspiration of bee mating for his new record, to his recent shift in musical approach from folk to rock, to the importance of the great Miya’s Sushi in his life, and his new experimental side project, Sasquatch Fucker.

Click through to read the interview

JB: Let me start out with the “Honey Bee” video, which I just watched and thought was a cool concept. I was wondering actually, have you seen something called Green Porno?
SD: Green what?
JB: Green porno.
SD: You mean like pornography?
JB: Yeah.
SD: No.
JB: OK. Well I recommend you check it out because I think it’s sort of similar to the concept you had for that video. Do you know who Isabella Rossellini is?
SD: No.
JB: She’s an actress and she’s a pretty bizarre person. And she makes these videos where she dresses up as different animals—a lot of them are insects. And shows how they mate. (laughs) And she has one for bees which is really fantastic.
SD: Ah I wish I knew that.
JB: Yeah yeah so what happens in the video. The man bee mates with the woman bee and he loses his penis. The penis gets stuck in the woman bee. So she becomes the new queen. And then he bleeds to death. So would you say that that idea had anything to do with that song?
SD: Yeah that had everything to do with it. I was reading the Biology of the Honey Bee, a book, while I was traveling. I was reading through it and I was in the middle when I was about to start recording Hard On Romance. So I went to the section about mating and I read all that. And it’s the most fucked up mating process I’ve ever heard. (laughs). These bees, their only purpose is to mate with the queen and when they do they get killed and all their friends do the same thing and actually it’s like a big orgy.
JB: Yeah. And they also fight with each other and some of them die.
SD: Yeah totally. I was just thinking about Romeo and Juliette being one of the most tragic love stories and then I was like, that’s not fucking tragic (laughs). I like to go with extremes and that seems pretty extreme for me. That helped form the whole album. You’re totally right. “When I cum I bleed” [lyric from his song “Honey Bee”]. All that stuff.
JB: So I’ve been looking at your website and I saw you put in a couple articles about Ty Segalland Tame Impala, who I think both released fantastic albums this year—in Ty Segall’s case three really good albums. And both of them I think are on the forefront of this movement of going back to the basics, making old school garage psych albums that sort of sound like they were released 40 years ago. So would you consider yourself to be a part of that movement at all?
SD: I had the idea for the sound of the record last year. I was already demo-ing stuff that way. I’ve always been trying to keep lo fi and get hi fi as well. High fidelity lo fi recordings…There’s a difference between that and the other way around, you know? I didn’t think about any scene but when those albums came out I was really pumped because they’re in the vein of types of sounds I look for in the music that I make. It was just cool to feel not alone. Not that it’s that far out there. I knew that I was trying to get away from folk, which is something that Ty Segall has also seemed to do. Goodbye Bread had more acoustic guitar. It was rockin’ too, but it was lo-fi folky.
JB: Do you think that you’ve abandoned folk music for good, or do you think you might eventually go back to that?
SD: I haven’t burned my acoustic guitar or anything. I’m definitely not interested in it really right now. I think it’s more likely I’ll get further away from it than go back to it. But I think those songs are good. Those songs are always in me. I just don’t know of a new way to do it right now. Until I find a new and exciting way to make folk songs again I don’t really want to go back to my roots just for the sake of nostalgia.
JB: It seems like there have been a lot of changes in your life recently. Not only did you switch styles pretty drastically but you moved from New Haven to Brooklyn. I was just wondering what that’s been like? Do you foresee staying in Brooklyn for a while or ever coming back to New Haven?
SD: I’m in New Haven still a lot. I still work at Miya’s and my record label is in New London. So I still feel very connected to New Haven and Connecticut. But it’s a big scene in New York and there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on. I don’t think you can check that out quickly, you know? I’ve been coming to New York and falling in love with New York for years and I kind of always knew I’d end up here. But in New Haven, the scene is so promising and so potent for how small the population is. So I’m lucky in that way. I feel like society breeds you to go through phases. Ever since you’re a kid, you’re 4 years old and then you go to preschool and then four years later you’re in another school and four years later you’re in another school, and you do your undergrad and that takes four years. And then, since I graduated in 2008 or 9, it’s been at least four years with this band, and it was just time for a change.
JB: From your website’s bio, you say that you traveled around a lot when you were a teenager. So what were some of the better and worse experiences you had when you were doing that?
SD: I lived in Iowa when I was four to eight years old. All the memories from that time in my life are really beautiful. I lived in a trailer park. And then we made money and we built this big house and it was really contrast-y. I moved to Switzerland. All of a sudden my world changed. My memories are really vivid. It was a lot of adventures and staying out until sunset and then riding bikes down long roads with fields. That was one of my better memories. And then living in North Carolina was pretty awful. In contrast, it’s a really beautiful place. We lived in the mountains. But we were poor and I was picked on and the people were not that nice where we were.
JB: And what brought you to New Haven originally?
SD: I got a swimming scholarship to Southern Connecticut State University. It was the only school I got into and it was only because of swimming. My grades were really bad for the first two years. At that point I was already living on my own. My mom moved to Kansas when I was 16. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I just figured I may as well live on some school loans and live in a dormitory for free basically. Well, not free. I had to pay it back. I knew about The Space. I knew the owner of The Space somehow through my mother.
JB: And then how did you start working at Miya’s?
SD: Our guitar player, who you saw play with us in New York, he worked there, and our drummer got in a motorcycle accident. So I couldn’t work for like a month and then I didn’t have money and I was living at the rehearsal space. And then our guitar player, who was already playing with us a little bit, said that he could get me a job there because he worked there. They saved my life. They really treat you like family.
JB: That’s my favorite restaurant in the world. I love that place. Do you think you’ll try to keep working there for a while, or do you eventually want to make your whole living off music? Do you think that’s feasible?
SD: I want to spend as much time playing and working on that stuff as I can. So I want to work as little as possible or not at all. It used to be a goal of mine to live off music, but I don’t know if I’m interested in spending my time trying to make that happen. I’d rather just spend my time trying to have the time. So right now Miya’s takes good care of me and I don’t have anything in New York that’s coming up right now that will allow me to be as flexible with my schedule as I am with them and make as much money quickly. I’m not actively trying to stop working at Miya’s. But, I don’t know if in a year I might want to stop commuting.
JB: So I saw on Facebook, you recently debuted a side project called Sasquatch Fucker. (laughs)
SD: Yeah, Sasquatch Fucker is kind of this art installment…a very crass art installment band. It’s just me and this guy I work with at Miya’s.
JB: Dave Corsack.
SD: Yep. So every once in a while, usually when he’s fighting with his girlfriend or breaking up with her, he all of a sudden has time, and then we go to his storage space rehearsal cube and we play blistering, loud music about really, really crass and tasteless things. And we speak in Southern accents and we have stage personas. But that was the first time we did it live and it was really spur of the moment and half the people really, really hated it. And half the people really, really loved it. So, I think that was a success.
JB: Yeah, you always want to have strong feelings as opposed to indifference.
SD: Right right. Because even the people who hate it are talking about it. They’re like, Sidewalk Dave is totally making a fool of himself or a fool of us or not taking it seriously anymore. At least they’re talking about it.
JB: You recently donated a song to a benefit compilation for Hurricane Sandy. I just wanted to know what your experience with the storm was, and how it affected people you knew in New York or elsewhere.
SD: A lot of the people I know personally weren’t in any sort of emergency state, and for me it was like a windy night. I didn’t know how bad it was until the next day when it was on the news. And then to better understand the effect it had, I went and volunteered in Rockaway in Queens that was hit really, really bad, and those people are still homeless and still screwed up, and I’m trying to go once a week if I can, even though I haven’t been in the city, to go and volunteer. It’s worse than people think in a lot of ways. So I was really excited and jumped at the chance to be on the compilation, and I hope it does well. I don’t know about the Red Cross, though. I don’t know how much help they were at the beginning. They might be doing better stuff now. But that’s where the money’s going. I don’t know if I agree with that completely, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

WESU Radio 200: Jens Lekman topping our charts

Here’s our second installment of the Radio 200 chart we send out to the College Music Journal each week:

1    JENS LEKMAN    I Know What Love Isn’t    Secretly Canadian
2    TNGHT    TNGHT [EP]    Warp
3    BIG WALKER    Root Walking
4    MAGIC SLIM AND THE TEARDROPS    Chicago Blues Session, Vol. 10    Blind Pig
5    CONVERGE    All We Love We Leave Behind    Epitaph
6    DIRTY PROJECTORS    About To Die    Domino

 

Click through for the rest of the chart, featuring Earl Sweatshirt, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Holy Ghost! & Josephine Foster

7    EARL SWEATSHIRT    “Chum” [Single]    Tan Cressida
8    METZ    Metz    SUB POP
9    SKY FERREIRA    Ghost    Capitol
10    BOLDY JAMES    “For The Birds” [Single]
11    SHINY TOY GUNS    III    10th Street
12    JONI MITCHELL    CLouds
13    TAME IMPALA    Lonerism    Modular

14    MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER    Melody’s Echo Chamber    Fat Possum
15    FLETCHER C. JOHNSON    Salutations    Burger
16    CAT POWER    Sun    Matador
17    BAT FOR LASHES    The Haunted Man    EMI
18    THE ORB    The Orbserver In The Star House    The End
19    RAVEONETTES    Observator    Vice

20    HOLY GHOST!    “It Gets Dark” [Single]
21    NINA SKY    “Day Dreaming” [Single]
22    IHSAHN    Eremita    Candlelight
23    OMBRE    Believe You Me    Asthmatic Kitty

24    JOSEPHINE FOSTER    Blood Rushing    Fire
25    CALVERTRON    Deconstruction [EP]    Jack Knife
26    SOUL SUGAR    Hands On [EP]
27    ADDISON GROOVE    Adventures In Rainbow Country [EP]    50 Weapons
28    HOT CHIP    In Our Heads    Domino
29    BRIAN ENO    Lux    Warp
30    HUMONGOUS    Miniature Pinscher