Thursday, March 25, 2010

Album of the Week: Wild Young Hearts

Once again, I'm just a little late with this post. Last week I listened exclusively to the Noisettes' second album, Wild Young Hearts. I was put on to the Noisettes by known associate sometime last year, but I just threw the album in my itunes and only listened to it randomly on shuffle. Last week was the first time I really paid attention to any of the song, and, I must say, I was pretty impressed. The lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa, has a powerful and unique voice, although at times it can get a little too Ertha Kitt-ish. At time, the Noisettes are reminiscent of something Mark Ronson might have a hand in, but they also remind me of Josie and the Pussycats sometimes - the 2001 movie version - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think I had more to say about this album about four days ago, but I've since forgotten and become engrossed by the subtle innuendos of Serani

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Album of the Week: The Stimulus Package

As you may have guessed from the above image, I spent last week listening to Freeway & Jake One's album, The Stimulus Package. If the internets are any indication, this album was one of the most highly anticipated hip hop albums in early 2010, and I am split on my feelings about it. Every song on the album was produced by The Emerald City's own Jake One and, by and large, the beats are top notch.  "Follow My Moves" is my favorite song on the album, which probably speaks more to my recent infatuation with ignant rap than to Jake One's beat making skills. Other stand out beats include: "She Makes Me Feel Alright" and "Microphone Killa".

So the beats hold up; "What about the lyrics?", you ask. I've never been a Freeway fan, per se, but I kind of always thought that he had some value as a rapper. Prior to the release of The Stimulus Package, if you had asked me about Freeway, I probably would've said that I liked his delivery. Apparently, I would've been wrong. After listening to The Stimulus Package several times, I am about 95% certain that Freeway can't carry an album on his own. He wastes a lot of Jake One's beats on this album, and his cadence, more often that not, is annoying and juvenile to me. In addition, he drops some pretty retarded lyrics like: "I'm the MC with the hammer that is too legit to quit", and "Row, row, row your boat". Yes, he actually says that. I'm not a big fan of listening to strictly instrumentals, but The Stimulus Package is definitely a hip hop album that's better sans lyrics.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Album of the Week: Explainin'

This is going to hopefully be the first in a series of weekly music posts. I spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day driving to and from BART, which is just about enough time to listen to an album two or three times in a given week. Every Sunday I'm planning on posting a little review of the album I listened to during my daily commute in the preceding week. These won't necessarily be new albums, as evidenced by this week's selection; they'll just be whatever I'm listening to for whatever reason. What inspired this, you might ask. Well, I finally made the transition into the late 1990s in terms of car stereos with the death of my 1991 Volvo sedan and the subsequent acquisition of a "new" 1998 Volvo wagon - with a single-disc CD player, no less!

This particular post actually reflects what I was listening to two weeks ago because I didn't have time to post anything until now. About two weeks ago, known associated and I were chatting about how Bored Stiff pretty peaked with their debut EP, Explainin', which got me wanting to revisit the album. Needless to say, it's really stood up well and, unfortunately, kind of makes their more recent releases that much more disappointing. 

I think Explainin' was released in 1994, but I could be wrong about that. It wasn't until about '95 or '96 that I became aware of it and then I proceeded to jock Bored Stiff pretty hard for a bit. Prior to hearing Explainin', most of the "Frisco rap" I had heard trended toward gangsta' or mob-style music (RBL, JT, San Quinn, etc), whereas Bored Stiff, while not necessarily being "un-street", had a less typical sound and range of topics, without ever failing to rep the 'Sco. To sum it all up, Explainin' was a groundbreaking EP to me that foresaw the emergence of the non-gangsta' Bay Area underground that flourished in the late 90s, and still sounds fresh, in every sense of the word.  For anyone looking to cop the album these days, it's been re-released with a handful of bonus tracks, including "Therapy", which is easily my favorite track from the first Bomb Hip Hop Compilation.