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Full Albums:

  • Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two
  • Ladyhawke, Anxiety1
  • Driver Friendly, Chase the White Whale and Bury a Dream
  • Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table and Junkyard Speed Ball
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, The Main Ingredient
  • Tom Vek, We Have Sound
  • The Supremes, Live at the Copa2
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, Favorites3
  • Bear Hands, Burning Bush Supper Club4
  • Rye Rye, Go! Pop! Bang!5
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised6
  • Ab-Soul, Control System and Longterm Mentality7
  • Rage against the Machine, Evil Empire
  • The Alchemist, Covert Coup Instrumentals8
  • Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe9
  • Homeboy Sandman, Chimera10
Random Excellence:
  • Styles P, “Shadows”
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Y Control”
  • Warren Zevon, “Boom Boom Mancini”
  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Clan in da Front”
  • Raekwon, “Incarcerated Scarfaces”
  • The-Dream, “Priceless”
  • Tenacious D, “Master Exploder”
  • Television, “Friction”
  • Say Anything, “Belt”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, “The Power of Equality”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “Turning on the Screw”
  • Pearl Jam, “The Fixer”
  • Hot Chip, “Shake a Fist”

Songs of the Week:

  • Childish Gambino, “Freaks and Geeks”11
  • The-Dream, “Put It Down”
  • Stevie Wonder, “Black Man”
  • Stanley Clarke, “School Days”
  • Sly & The Family Stone, “Everyday People”
  • The Roots, “In the Music”12
  • Rage Against the Machine, “Bulls on Parade”
  • Neon Indian, “Ephemeral Artery”
  • M83, “Kim & Jessie”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Saturday Night Special”
  • The Afghan Whigs, “Faded”13
Reviews:
1. This felt like an aptly named album more than anything else. It was dense and compact, with added tension from more distorted guitars than the last album. Her first one was some sort of indie-pop land of fairy tales, love, and hooks (except “Professional Suicide,” a diss track that makes me uncomfortable). Where “Manipulating Woman” was the sneering, but ultimately satisfied escape from someone genuinely terrible, this album seems to wallow in the terrible–not lyrics or the music, just the subjects. “Vaccine” felt so down in the dumps (and cacophonous), I couldn’t even finish it.
2. Absolutely sublime. The medley’s amazing, Ms. Ross is on fire, and everything about this is great.
3. My Dad and I were talking about Southern rock because Kings of Leon was on the radio. He couldn’t quite place them for a moment until I said “Oh, they’re kind of Southern rock guys.” Which got us talking about what Southern rock is and if it’s really big enough to demand a subset within rock and roll, or if it’s really any good. I reminded him about all the Allman Brothers Band albums he’s had since college and pointed out that Lynyrd Skynryd might be the easy, “Oh someone’s got a guitar out? Yell ‘Freebird!’ at them!” joke–to the point of cliche–, but they’re really an excellent band. He couldn’t remember some of their other titles, but I pointed out that they successfully covered J.J. Cale songs, whom we both love, and we both groaned at the excellence of “Saturday Night Special” when I remembered it. You guys, just go listen to “Saturday Night Special.”
4. At the First Annual Great Googa Mooga, these guys were apparently playing. I didn’t get to see them because our party split up, but was also slowly migrating in the right direction–but slowly for fear of missing The Roots’ performance. I decided to give them a listen at work and was very impressed. “What a Drag,” “High Society,” and “Can’t Stick ‘Em” are excellent.
5. I couldn’t believe I’d seen the music video for “Sunshine” almost two years ago. Or that she got Robyn on “Never Will Be Mine.” Or that she sampled an Irving Berlin song and turned into something I kind of want to dance to. All around, she might sound young, but there’s nothing immature about her content or her ability to get everyone on the dance floor.
6. From pop to blues to an amalgamation of country and folk, John just keeps digging deeper into music’s roots. Maybe his next album will be a Paul Simon-like affair where he pops up in Africa just because he can. Blues and country are sort of kissing cousins where the latter’s the big macho affair that talks too much about trucks, horses, and America. So I was genuinely terrified when the country flares started peeking up in the background. But luckily John still doesn’t make full-on country music, and I remembered marrying your cousin’s also legal in some parts of America.
7. Mentality came out first and is better, but “Illuminate” is probably the best song he does on either album (and it’s on Control System). It’s a great explanation for his entire existence as a rapper: he was born to shine as a guest on songs, adding layers of complexity to the someone else’s product, an effect that he can only ever seem to reproduce during his own efforts once in a while. And he’s not a consistent hitter, either: the beats are good, the guests are great, but sometimes he’s just annoying. He’s sort of like the Eazy-E of Black Hippy, except way better than Eazy-E because I don’t think Kendrick Lamar  (the Ice Cube of the whole shebang) is ghostwriting all of his rhymes.
8. I listened to this because he apparently did a ton of Mobb Deep tracks and a Schoolboy Q one. It’s pretty menacing, old school, great.
9. It’s nice to have her back. “This Isn’t Our Parade,” “The Keepers,” and “Fame” are my favorites.
10. It’s starting to feel like all of a sudden he’s talking more about God. And the hooks that made The Good Sun so great aren’t as prevalent anymore. This EP feels like a slight lull compared to the previous EP and, obviously, the aforementioned LP.
11. I think I might’ve listened to this song about 20 times on repeat on my walk home. The beats are impeccable and the rhymes are just as good. Sure, I’m still not a big fan of punchline rap, but it somehow makes sense coming from a comedian.
12. What a month for this song. I first saw The Roots play it at Googa Mooga with my sister; she was sort of out of her element, visually uncomfortable about the amount of people and her lack of context for this band. It’s a rap band made up of more musicians than rappers? She also doesn’t like rap and was worried about the rush to get back to the City. So we left shortly after this song finished, but it seemed like this was one of the ones she might’ve been okay with. Then the next weekend when my dad was in town, it came up on shuffle and he surprisingly didn’t think it was terrible. I used it as an example to illustrate what made my sister ready to finish the night, as well as an example of their musical prowess. Perhaps it’s because they’re based in a jazzier, blues, funk, and soul background that sometimes makes them more accessible, but it could also be that this song’s a little more tame than your average rap song. It’s still about arrests and parties though, which is why it helped me the next week at the gym.
13. It’s like a game of “Catch The Rolling Stones References”–but also incredibly awesome in its own right.
Comment:
I had a month. Friend visits, entire weeks celebrating the magic of the Internet, attending incredible speeches, talking to celebrities like John Hodgman and Justin Long, store openings, visits from family members, trips to Boston and Brooklyn, not nearly enough sleep. My mother even comes to town this weekend and a friend who visited last month is back in town this month. Summer Fridays also started, so I’m sure I’ll be using the time to catch up on some of the things that this month helped me fall so far behind on. I finished twim already, on to the next thing on my to-do list…
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