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Full Albums:

  • Childish Gambino, Royalty1
  • Nas & Damian Marley, Distant Relatives2
  • Driver F, Chase the White Whale and Bury a Dream3
  • The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America and Stay Positive
  • Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
  • The-Dream, Love Hate
  • Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
  • Phil Collins, No Jacket Required4
  • Peelander-Z, Super DX Hits5
  • Big K.R.I.T., Live from the Underground6

Random Excellence:

  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Clan in da Front” and “225 Rounds”
  • Warren Zevon, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”
  • The Tragically Hip, “The Darkest Ones”
  • Thursday, “Signals over the Air”
  • Television, “Friction”
  • Raekwon, “The Brewery”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel like a Millionaire”7
  • Public Enemy, “Brothers Gonna Work it Out”
  • Pearl Jam, “Army Reserve”
  • Lupe Fiasco, “Say Somethin
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Spanish Castle Magic”
  • Jay-Z, “Public Service Announcement”
  • Green Day, “When I Come Around”
  • Fall Out Boy, “Tiffany Blews”
  • Faces, “Too Bad”
  • Asher Roth, “Choices”
  • The Clash, “What’s My Name”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Meteor Hammer”
  • Phil Collins, “Take Me Home”
  • Them Crooked Vultures, “Nobody Loves Me (and neither Do I)”
  • The-Dream, “Rockin’ that Shit”
  • Soundgarden, “Black Rain”
  • Rage Against the Machine, “Year of tha Boomarang”
  • Childish Gambino, “We Ain’t Them”

Reviews:

1. Boom. Real album. He did it, y’all. Songs have “royalty” and “unnecessary” motifs (to start) ,and it’s a cohesive statement (a lot of which he even produced!). Better still, as one of my friends pointed out, “royalty” is just an understatement when you look at the guest list. However, I should also mention that that same list does make me wonder how capable he’d be of carrying an entire album on his own. Than again, do I really care? Nah, just hit them beats and lay down them jokes (Tina Fey).

2. I wonder if Damian is going to do an album on his own again. He seems like he relies far more heavily on guest acts than Gambino does. A lot of his performances seem to use the same lilts and patterns, even though his words are unique. Which is to say, I think I preferred his collaboration with Mick Jagger and Joss Stone much more.

3. I caught the tail end of these guys live. On a scale of one to overdue, that was pushing eleven and I still accidentally showed up late (the venue’s site said they were going on at 11, they went on at 10, I showed up at 10:30). Yes, life imitates metaphor. On the level though, those guys kind of ruined my week with the amount of fun I had with them after their show. It’s weird enough to see a concert on a Sunday night, much less catch up with a bunch of dudes you went to high school with until way too late. Luckily I got to walk home, but they had to subway back to the bassist’s sister’s apartment that night and then cram into a van later the next day. It was even weirder to hear them talk about how this might be the last tour, despite a minor steamroller effect. They all have jobs. One’s married. Why choose getting beaten up by the road when you can just settle into your 401k?

4. This garnered itself Grammy of the year in 1985, so my dad obviously had no choice but to ingrain this cassette into my consciousness from an early age. There’s nothing bad about that. Just…take, take me home.

5. Another one of my friends mentioned hanging out with them and that he had a lot of fun doing it. Listening to this album is like painting a picture of how much fun they must be (live, at bars, to talk to, etc.). They sound like the guys at the bar ordering shots (and tacos) for everyone. I did a Google image search and was not at all surprised: costumes, bright colors, and extreme closeups. Everything they do is fun, or at least funny.

6. All the puzzle pieces came together. The boy K.R.I.T. made an awesome album (also, like ‘bino, mostly produced by the main rapper!), though I shouldn’t have been surprised. Maybe what’s really surprising is that no one else is listening. C’mon, son. He got B.B. King on his album. That’s when the underground becomes nothing more than beneath him–it’s his time.

7. This song alone inspired me to create a heavy metal/heavy rock playlist on Spotify. The idea for something like a “Rock Party” playlist with rock songs I love had been rolling around in my head for a while, but this made something a little harder happen. I only know about two people who definitely like it, but sometimes this playlist’s the only thing that gets me through the hardest tasks on my plate. Fight hard tasks with hard rock and you’ll be fine.

Comment:

There’s something very confusing about sweat. I showed up to a friend’s rooftop on the Fourth of July while sweating and I didn’t stop. In most circles, that’s not a problem, but when I say “I was sweating,” I mean my back was closer to a waterfall than a dripping faucet. And the hardest part about all of it is that my shirts always end up looking like I’m participating in a one-man wet-tee-shirt contest.

Of course, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying it feels weird to be the only person with a wet shirt and (frequently) a dry brow. I don’t know what to tell people. “My God. Thank you, yes, I am genetically inclined to generate my own air conditioning that simultaneously allows me to enjoy the great outdoors and not want to be near anyone while I experience it.” “What, this? Oh, no–I haven’t spilled my drink so much as every available droplet of my own personal saline collection. But sure, I’ll borrow that towel.” “Am I hot? Trick question, right? Because…I’m…double entendre…no, I’m not single. My girlfriend also thinks this is gross. Hahaha, no, I’m not proud of that, I’m just saying.”

Obviously I’m going to be fine, summer is just a weird time for me. Do I bring two shirts to work? Do I slowly convert my entire undergarment drawer to boxer briefs? Is three shirts per day too many? How did anyone stay alive before ice cubes, air conditioning or the subtly named Fresh Balls? More importantly, do I dare take public transportation?

But then again, I still have an iPod to block out al the complaints.

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