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Copywrite - God Save the King
Released: February 28, 2012
Label: Man Bites Dog
Copywrite is no newbie to the rap game. Being prominent in underground hip-hop since the late 90’s with his Columbus rap crew MegaHertz (MHz), Copywrite has come back stronger than ever with his latest solo release God Save the King which landed a spot on Billboard’s top 100 rap albums chart.
Throughout the album faith is a common theme, such as in “Post-Apocalyptic Request Box” where Copywrite spits, “I was birthed one night to worship Christ / Devil, my soul’s not for sale, no purchase price / I’m a rebel, a wordsmith, nice, my mom’s angel sing / Keep my baby in your prayers, God save the King,”. Copywrite seems to let his guard down as he explores his faith and channels his pain from losing loved ones into his music. There is a lot more to God Save the King though other than spirituality. Copywrite lets his rap-battle roots shine in tracks like “White Democrats” where he continues his beef with Asher Roth as well as “Swaggot Killaz”, and “G$K”. Samples throughout the album range from a vocal sample of Biggie in “Swaggot Killaz”, to “Western Girl” by Dragon in “Got to Make It” and a Dive Strait cover of “Money for Nothing” in “Yo MTV Raps”. God Save the King is proof of Copywrite’s raw lyricism which is complimented by its production, mostly contributed by Bronz Nazareth, Jason Rose, and Stu Bangas.
While the 17 song album is a bit lengthy, it is full of detail and is packed with punch line after punch line as Copywrite makes every word count which won’t come as a surprise to veteran Copywrite fans. But even God Save the King shows furtherance in his poetic writing and has provided him with some momentum that is much deserved, leaving fans curious and optimistic to see where he goes from here.
They have been called “repulsive,” “irresponsible,” and “juvenile.” They’ve been called “genius,” and “the future of hip hop.” Love them or hate them, the meteoric rise of rap collective Odd Future is something truly astounding. This group of young, 20-something rappers has gone from self releasing tracks on their website to selling out national tours and performing on MTV. And the release of their debut album, The Odd Future Tape Volume 2, will only help in their journey to the top of the hip hop world.
Although they have released mixtapes as a collective, this is their first proper album. It is also the first taste of the members other than Tyler, The Creator for many fans. As the group’s leader, Tyler has a hand in most of the tracks, either by contributing a verse or by making the beats. But the other members really shine when they are called upon. Hodgy Beats, who recently released his own mixtape, displays his skills throughout, especially on “50” and “Snow White”. The former is as close to a punk rock song as rap can get, with Hodgy chaotically rhyming over a pulsating beat as Tyler provides a ridiculously catchy hook. The latter sees Hodgy taking a much more relaxed flow, with Frank Ocean’s soulful voice providing a stark contrast. Ocean, who’s currently opening for Coldplay on their world tour, represents the best chance of any Odd Future artist to cross over to the radio. His laid back R&B style is a far departure from his peers, as shown on his lone solo track on the album, “White”. The other two rappers in the collective, Domo Genesis and Mike G, get chances to display their talent as well, and don’t disappoint. Mike G is one of the least known of the group, but really shines on his solo track, “Forest Green”, an album highlight. He drawls over a simple synth line and hand claps, even contributing his own chorus, making it the best of the solo tracks on the album. Then there’s Domo Genesis, arguably the most talented rapper in the collective. His cocky rhymes steal the show on each of the six tracks that he is a part of. Domo has a more reserved style of rapping, meticulously weaving his lines together while always staying calm and collected. The real highlight, however, comes at the end of the album, with closer “Oldie”. The 10 minute song features each of the members providing a verse over a simple drum beat. It lets each of the members put their strengths and skills on display, and the video they made to accompany it shows how much fun they have while performing together. It also features the triumphant return of Earl Sweatshirt, the 18-year-old prodigy who had been kept away from the group for much of the last 2 years. Sweatshirt’s incredible verse combines his clever wordplay with tongue twisting rhymes, and is the high point of a great song, ended with one final verse by Tyler, looking back on their journey to this point.
The Odd Future Tape Volume 2 is one of the best hip hop albums I have heard in quite a while. The combination of Tyler’s minimalist electronic beats and all the different styles the members bring to the table creates a truly special sound. You can hear in the songs that they are enjoying themselves and legitimately care about the music they make, something refreshing in the hip hop scene. Odd Future has come a long way to get to this point, and they will continue to grow. As Tyler puts it on the track “Sam”, “It’s really awkward to know that a bunch of kids do adore me….I’m still a kid in my heart so I have a problem maturing, but it’ll come from experiences…” It will be interesting to see where the group goes from here, but they will most certainly not go quietly.
- Nick Niedzielski
TIGERTOWN is a unique, new branch of indie pop hailing from Sydney, Australia as well as NSW. The 6 band members melded together from two different families. Their closeness gives them a very raw, passionate quality that is not easily attainable. Tigertown is very different from most of our main-stream indie music. These artists bring a strong cultural aspect to their performances and are slowly sweeping their way across the states. Their most recent release was the EP, “Go now” that was officially available on iTunes in May of 2011. Their first album entitled, “Tiger Town”, held one of their most famous tracks, “What makes it Harder”. This particular song has a more upbeat tone and “poppy” sound. Some of their other tracks tend to be more relaxed and melodic. Currently, they are playing the majority of their shows in Australia and Canada, but are expected to make a US tour sometime this year. Tigertown will give you a new perspective on indie music as a whole and give you a taste of the multinational music experience.
I’ve been listening to City and Colour for about two years now and not a single song ever gets old. Dallas Green is the artist and is where the name comes from, Dallas-city and Green-color. He writes, sings and plays guitar for all of his music. Dallas Green is from Canada and was also Alexisonfire, a post-hardcore band. City and Colour is acoustic/folk music, nothing like his previous band work. One of the main things that I love about City and Colour is Green’s beautiful mellow voice. His music sounds great whether you’re listening to a CD or seeing him live-he’s phenomenal. Although I’m not as familiar with his most recent album Little Hell I am a big fan of his first album Sometimes.
His lyrics are beautifully written. He portrays his sensitivity and creativity through each song. Although a lot of his songs don’t always fall under the happiest of categories, he truly captures emotions with his powerful lyrics that people can instantly connect to. Green’s lyrics are true poetry. If you are interested in City and Colour I recommend songs “What Makes a Man,” “Coming Home,” “Sometimes” and “Confessions” which all fall under a more sensitive category but can truly touch the heart. Dallas Green is a truly talented individual and has become more and more popular through the past couple years. If you are interested in attending Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee you should definitely check out City and Colour because he’ll be there!
Here Lies the Hero, an up and coming talent hailing from Midland, Odessa, has already begun making its mark in music history. These small town boys are spreading their powerful sound throughout Texas and taking us by storm. The band was brought together in ’08, when its first two members, Aaron Chaney (vocalist), and Jaxon Moore (vocalist and guitarist), met in their high school choir class. Not long after they were joined by their drummer Dylan Koen, 2nd guitarist Brandon Chavez, and bass player James Tuppen. Some of their main musical influences included; Saosin, August Burns Red, and Taking Back Sunday. Their first EP called “Tides to Sky” (whose name actually came from lyrics in their song “Anchors and Airplanes”) was produced by Bryan David, who is also producing their new EP set to record in March. One of their most popular hits on the first EP is the song “Sirens”. It was written by Jaxon Moore and Aaron Chaney after Moore had recorded the beginning of a tune that had been running through his mind one evening in Dallas. He had been playing with the idea of sirens as a metaphor for falling into a trap and wanted to incorporate that message into the lyrics. One of the main things that set Here Lies the Hero apart from a lot of the music we have today is their positive message. The band does not specifically classify themselves as “Christian”, but they promote the Christian ideals and do not endorse anything negative or use any profanity in their music. Moore says that this outlook keeps the quality in their sound. This band has already played over 200 shows and has a very bright future ahead of them. They will soon be re-locating to Dallas in order to promote their music and have more opportunity to get their message out. Here Lies the Hero has a dynamic sound and are definitely worth checking out!!!
Paralytic Stalks –of Montreal
Released: February 7, 2012
The release of the critically acclaimed Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? perhaps have inspired and will continue to garner strict scrutiny over any of Montreal record that follows this pinnacle epic. One can appreciate any pop artist who takes musical and aesthetic risks, but the post-Hissing Fauna albums proved lackluster and generally did not enjoy positive reception from critics or fans. The funky sex-drenched Skeletal Lamping and False Priest were difficult to listen to.
While still remaining sonically experimental, Kevin Barnes (who is of Montreal) also alludes to the band’s older sounds and styles in Paralytic Stalks. In this concise yet dense album, Barnes’ aptitude for melody and harmony and his use of confessional, dark lyrics remain consistent. Listeners will notice the eclectic nature of of Montreal’s 11th release—ranging from progressive space rock (of the striking opening track) to colorful (yet still subtly melancholy) pop to even pseudo-country. And then there’s the last 20 minutes of the record: “Exorcismic Bleeding Knife” is some kind of strange, disorienting sound collage that makes one think of the Beatles’ “Revolution 9.” The 13-minute closing “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission” begins with Princey poppy funk and spirals into a mad, atonal soundscape. The finale then shifts into Barnes’ fragile voice singing sadly and simply, accompanied by an equally sad and simple piano.
Yes, one could deem this album “ambitious.” However, Paralytic Stalks is not entirely overwhelming to listen to. It’s actually a fascinating and enjoyable listen. Clearly, Kevin Barnes is one of the most brilliant musical minds of our time. But you can detect a hint of exhaustion in this record that has been accumulating since Hissing Fauna; after being incredibly prolific since 1997, perhaps this man needs a restful hiatus, and inspiration will then find him again.
Hit The Lights- Invicta
Invicta: unvanquished, unconquerable, invincible.
The title of Hit The Lights’ newest album perfectly encapsulates the band’s rocky past couple of years. After releasing 2008’s pop punk gem Skip School, Start Fights, Hit The Lights’ was signed to Universal Republic, a major record label. The band immediately met resistance while working on the follow up and was stuck in limbo for a year. After being dropped, they signed with Razor and Tie and released Invicta, the album they wanted to make all along.
When the first epic drum beats kick in on the album opener “Invincible”, it is clear that Hit The Lights wanted to take their sound to the next level with this release. The first three tracks, “Invincible”, “Gravity”, and “Earthquake”, have huge, anthemic choruses, and vocalist Nick Thompson’s voice shines, showing a huge improvement since Skip School.
The band shows their biggest growth in the slower tracks, such as “So Guilty”, “Faster Now”, and most impressively, “Should’ve Known”. The latter is one of the highlights of the album, with haunting vocals and eerie guitars driven by a rolling snare. These songs provide a refreshing change of pace by showing a more emotional side of the band.
That’s not to say the band has lost all there edge though. “All The Weight” sounds like it could have been a b- side from Skip School, and the roaring guitars in “Float Through Me” bring back some of the bite from the band’s past.
Invicta is a huge step forward for Hit The Lights, showing that the band has far more ambitious plans than toiling in the ever growing pop punk scene. The band has shown that they are something special with this release, and will only continue to grow in the future.
Award Tour EP
Released: November 25, 2011
Mike G made his debut into the rap game in early 2010 on the infamous Odd Future’s mix tape Radical. His smooth vocals over a Mos Def beat left fans wanting more. Shortly after this, Mike G released his own mixtape ALI and has been releasing a series of chopped and screwed versions of Odd Future songs along with other popular hip-hop tunes. By the time Award Tour was due to be released in November of last year, the bar had been set quite high for this hyped Odd Future member. However this seven-track mix tape could be considered a disappointment after its long awaited arrival.
It is clear after listening to these tracks that making beats is Mike G’s strong point but however there are not many “stand out” areas to the listener otherwise. The first track featured in this EP “Moracular World” was previously featured on ALI as well, which is confusing considering there are only seven tracks on Award Tour; leaving in question whether or not this was a rushed project for this rising artist. The lyrics used throughout this mix tape are consistent to those of other Odd Future member’s: violence, drugs, weapons, and the rise to fame.
Vince Staples is a treat though, being featured on five of the seven tracks. The title track “Award Tour” and “Michael Douglas” both including extensive vocals from Vince Staples are by far the best songs on the mix tape. Unfortunately for Mike G this release has probably sent his followers in different directions and pushed him back out of the Odd Future spotlight. For Vince Staples’ unique voice and impressive rhymes, he may be sticking around for a bit longer.
When in talks of the top hip-hop albums of last year, Section.80 is sure to be argued. 2011 XXL Freshman Kendrick Lamar claims to be the voice of his generation and Section.80 is a reflection of that and one in which he succeeds tremendously.
In Section.80 Kendrick focuses on what he sees as the flaws of his generation with emphasis on the problem of his generations dependency on drugs. He does so with deep lyrical content proving himself as an intellectual and quite the wordsmith. With piano melodies, brass horns, and drums heard in a majority of the songs, the album has a jazz vibe going that flows seamlessly with his sincere and passionate lyrics.
Favorite songs on the album include “A.D.H.D.”, “Blow My High (Members Only)”, and “HiiiPower”. “A.D.H.D.”, which samples Jet Age of Tomorrow’s “Knighthawk”, shows off his story telling ability in his tale of a girl choosing drugs over love. “Blow My High (Members Only)” is Kendrick’s track in honor of Aaliyah that includes a Pimp C hook as well as a sample from Aaliyah’s own “4 Page Letter”. And then there is “HiiiPower” which is produced by J. Cole and is the climax of Section.80. The song talks of self-enlightenment, hard work, and the concept of HiiiPower (The I’s represent Heart, Honor, and Respect) that Kendrick describes as ” a way of thinking with higher expectations, and achieving richness in body and mind. Essentially a quest for knowledge and wisdom of the body, mind and spirit.”
Kendrick is quickly growing in popularity and with his words of peace and desires for a more humane society he has received a cult - like following from many of his fans . Within the 16 track album it’s hard to find a significant down side. Lamar captures you with his words and puts you in a trance with the instrumentals. Listen and see if you agree.
I just need to start out by saying that this album is a must have for any Hendrix fan. Valleys of Neptune was released on March 9, 2010 and is an album comprised of previously unreleased material by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This album offers everything that can be offered by the late and amazing Jimi Hendrix. On this album you will find different versions of a few classic Hendrix songs, a couple covers, and brand new tracks that have never been released before. The overall feel of Valleys of Neptune is that of a jam/practice session by the band. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the greatest jam bands of all time, perhaps the most influential band of all time. You really get the feel that the band decided to jam out in the studio, and they also happened to decide to record the session as well. Jimi shows his skills as a blues guitarist in multiple bluesy songs, as he adds that classic Hendrix twist that no one else can seem to reproduce. Hendrix was a musician who played in the moment, by that I mean he played what he felt like playing when he felt like playing it. He didn’t care what anyone thought. That really shows here on the album as he expresses his sole through the guitar. The few alternate versions of classic songs like Stone Free, Fire, and Red House show what Jimi is capable of; how he can invent an entire new song out of the same song. It sounds confusing but it’s something your ears have to hear for themselves. I also have to give recognition to the late and phenomenal drummer Mitch Mitchell who bangs away on those drums with unsurpassed skill as only Mitch can do. Also, we can’t forget the man who completed the lineup, the also late and wonderful bassist Noel Redding. It’s hard to fathom that every member of The Experience has passed, but they live on forever in the Valleys of Neptune. Like I have said, this is an amazing album that any fan of Jimi Hendrix or 60s music in general definitely needs to have in their collection. This review can only be concluded with one simple question: Are you experienced?
Gadsden, Alabama native Yelawolf (formally known as Michael Wayne Atha) has teamed up with Slaughterhouse and has put forth his debut album RADIOACTIVE. After being labeled as the “Joe Dirt” to the music industry by his own manager he is now on the rise to being labeled as a top dog in the Hip Hop music community.
RADIOACTIVE is a 15 track album with a southern twang and a variety of artist features. RADIOACTIVE features artists: Shawty Fatt, Mystikal, Kid Rock, Lil Jon, Ritz, Gangsta Boo, Eminem, Poo Bear, Priscilla Renea, Fefe Dobson, Mona Mona, & Killer Mike. Although RADIOACTIVE’s artist features may seem random they managed to fit right in. If you have listened to Yelawolf’s previous work and mixapes the content on RADIOACTIVE may first appear predictable but when you really listen to the album you eventually start to appreciate the story Yelawolf tells.
RADIOACTIVE definitely differs from other recent Hip Hop album releases such as Take Care & Camp, because it contains hard knock life content and a southern edge. Yelawolf is a great addition to the radio waves and it’s not because Hip Hop great Eminem is backing him up along the way. I personally believe Yelawolf is creating a rap lane of his own and shouldn’t be labeled as just a great white rapper but a great rapper period.
Overall RADIOACTIVE is worth the listen and receives a respectable 2 thumbs up.
Top 5 songs on the album:
The Last Song
Despite her less than impressive appearance on Saturday Night Live in January that apparently caused her to cancel her tour, Lana Del Rey’s debut album Born to Die deemed successful. The 24-year-old New Yorker released her first single, “Video Games,” back in October and since then has been topping music charts across the board. According to one of Lana Del Rey’s recent tweets, her album reached No. 1 in eleven countries prior to it’s debut.
Don’t let her collagen-plumped pout fool you, her lyrics are full of sexual innuendos and a ‘bad girl’ attitude. From the sassiness of “Off to the Races” to the ballad-like tune “Born to Die,” Lana Del Rey presents a variety of emotions in her album. It’s no surprise if Born to Die instantly reminds listeners of Lady Gaga with sporadic mentions of money, sex, fame, and all the glamour that comes with. She’s got as much girl power as a majority of many other female pop artists, but with more genuity and charm.
Overall, “Born to Die” is catchy and expressive, and after playing the album on repeat since it’s release, I’ve yet to grow tired of it. If the girl can clean up her on-stage performance reputation, she’ll have it all.
Amnesty International is celebrating their 50 year anniversary by releasing a 4 CD collection of Bob Dylan covers that features over 70 songs each done by different artists. The collection has artists of old like Jackson Browne and Joan Baez to artists of new like Adele and even Miley Cyrus (whose song surprisingly isn’t all that terrible). The first listen for the CD can indeed make you cringe with some pretty awful covers (like that done by Bad religion or Rise Against). But the CD does move past this initial shock with many gems and elegant new renditions to eventually bring out a new successful sound of so many classics. A few great ones to name are Pete Townshend’s “Corrina Corrina,” My Morning Jacket’s sweet rendition of “You’re a Big Girl Now,” “Boots of Spanish Leather” by The Airborne Toxic Event, or even Elvis Costello singing “License to Kill.” With over 5 hours of play time, even hardcore Dylanologists are bound to find a few likeable favorites and eventually grow to enjoy the mix. It runs for around 20 dollars for these 4 CD’s making it worth checking out if you’re a fan of Dylan or of his many cover albums.
After listening to Lights Out, it’s likely you’ll either be reminded of how much love bites, or how truly innocent and blissful love can be. Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood, the lovelorn Pop duo known as Big Deal released Lights Out back in September 2011 and since then have been gaining some serious Indie street cred. Maybe it’s their undeniable chemistry, their simplistic yet painfully personal approach to music, or perhaps, it’s their sweet, sentimental lyrics that make Big Deal’s music so desirable. Whatever it is, they’ve got it.
Working with only an electric and acoustic guitar, the 13 tracks on the album are filled with a dueling hum and strum like sound. The lack of variation in instruments may seem less appealing, but the minimalistic nature of the musical arrangement on Lights Out only allows more spotlight for the duo’s honest, heartbreaking lyrics, an element which can make or break an album, and definitely makes this one. On “Cool Like Kurt”, Costelloe and Underwood harmonize beautifully over and over again “Take me to your bed/Don’t take me home/I wanna be old/I wanna be older”, a line that displays so accurately the angst that comes along with being a teenager in love. In the more explicit “Talk”, the duo exclaim “It’s okay, I’m just a kid/It’s okay, I’ll get over it.” This harmony and naïve romanticism is a theme which is present throughout the album. Amidst the soft strumming and faint, yet noticeable electric guitar on the track “Swoon”, true poeticism takes shape within the lyric “So come and find me dizzy with the spell of our chemistry/You are a diamond that fits into my heart so perfectly.” And in the case of the more complex “Locked Up”, a song that could very well be one of the heaviest lyrical love songs of 2011, Big Deal so tenderly proclaims “You don’t have to be alone/Maybe you’re not, I wouldn’t know/Cause’ you keep it all locked up.” Along with providing an album to makeup or breakup to, Big Deal truly lives up to their name on Lights Out.
Review by: Allison Johnson
Gone and Goner is the debut album by TS and The Past Haunts and it is both a raucous and sweet album. The music is in your face and at times resembles the soundtrack to a badass motorcycle movie, but the lyrics written by Travis Shettel are thoughtful and very personal. For example, the song “Janice Haynes” tells the story of a woman screwed over in a court case, that Shettel was a juror in, and it hard to not sympathize with the woman. Overall the album is a fun listen and it invites you to see from the perspective of an extremely insightful musician.