Monday, April 21, 2008

Split Lip - Fate's Got a Driver

Though I'm into early Split Lip recordings for what they are, it's not unfair to say the band would have ended up a lost relic of early 90's hardcore had it not been for their decidedly un-hardcore final LP, Fate's Got a Driver. For me, this is one of the cornerstone records of mid-90's emo-core - intricate riffs that are powerful without being heavy, catchy choruses, vocals that are distinct and emotional without being whiny and of course a layout full of obscure photos of old clocks, gumball machines, steps and old 45's.

Shortly after its release, Split Lip changed their name to Chamberlain, rerecorded the vocals and rereleased Fate's Got a Driver under the new name. Vocalist David Moore's vocals are a bit stronger on this version, but aside from that, the name change and the layout are the only recognizable differences. Fate's Got a Driver is definitely a precursor for the direction Chamberlain would take as they progressed. It has always felt distinctly Midwestern in this lonely, small town way not even their Midwestern contemporaries shared and that vibe only increased as they continued to release records as Chamberlain.

Split Lip - Fate's Got a Driver

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mobb Deep - Hell on Earth

For some reason, it seems like all the best rappers from the post-Golden Age era of Hip-Hop only had one classic album worth of tracks and rode that out until they hung it up or continued coasting off past glory. Some people throw Mobb Deep into this category too, but I might argue that the follow-up to their classic 2nd recordThe Infamous is nearly on par with its predecessor. Regardless if Havoc and Prodigy attended art school, there's no denying they have a knack for penning gritty narratives of criminal life, drugs and hustling. On Hell on Earth they didn't tamper with the original formula that made them great, but merely elevated the strengths and downplayed the throwaway aspects of their first two albums. The beats are grimy and hard and the rhymes are urgent, clever and seemingly effortless. From the opening of "Animal Instinct," Hell on Earth is a beast that slays and makes me feel like a bystander to situations I've never faced in places I've never been.

Having heard Hell on Earth before any other Mobb Deep records probably has something to do with my affinity for this record, but whenever I listen to it, I think of being 16 and listening to it in my room thinking it was the hardest record ever. Someone on a messageboard I read referred to Mobb Deep as the Cro-Mags of hip-hop and while the obvious differences are apparent, there is a fair amount of truth in that statement. Both recorded two landmark LP's that helped define genres that set the standard for others to follow before falling by the wayside. Regardless of what they are doing now, this record is essential.

Mobb Deep - Hell on Earth

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mix - 4/15/08

My good friend Nyree recently asked me to recommend some music for her to check out. Since she moved to New York a few months ago I can't simply have her come over or burn her records, so I figured I'd use this forum to post mixes that she and anyone else can download. Most of this stuff is not new, but I rarely ever make mixes for people anymore so I went with a bunch of songs I've thought about putting on mixes for people. Enjoy.

01. AC/DC - If You Want Blood (You Got It)
02. The Lemonheads - Down About It
03. Duran Duran - Come Undone
04. Teenager - Alone Again
05. The Impressions - Can't Satisfy
06. Sparklehorse - Some Sweet Day
07. Beulah - All Points North
08. Leatherface - Not Superstitious
09. STAR - Exploding Order
10. Daniel Johnston - Mind Contorted
11. XTC - Ballad for a Rainy Day
12. George Harrison - Run of the Mill
13. Husker Du - Sorry Somehow
14. Iron Curtain - The Condos
15. M83 - Kim & Jessie
16. Nada Surf - No Quick Fix
17. Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic
18. Kings of Convenience - Gold in the Air of Summer

Mix 4/15/08

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray

The Lemonheads are one of those bands that made a seamless transition from my childhood into my adult life. If anything, I like It's a Shame About Ray more now than I did then. Perhaps, because I grasp the lyrics about drugs, loss, love and growing up with greater understanding now than at age 11 when I first heard it. Or maybe because I really respect how they grew from a messy punk band into this incredible straight-forward rock band without ever losing that edge or punk sensibility. Whatever the reason, this record has continued to resonate with me for 15 years while many others didn't make the grade. At just under a half hour, every song on It's a Shame About Ray is as vital as the next. From the lazy dope scoring haze of "My Drug Buddy" to the budding love story of "Kitchen" and the need to play even the smallest role in someone's life of "Bit Part," no adolescent emotion or theme goes unreferenced. The songs are concise and undeniably catchy, full of hooks and some of Evan Dando's best lyrics. While I don't think The Lemonheads ever put out a bad record, there is no denying It's a Shame About Ray is their finest hour. It's one of the few records I will listen to, then immediately press repeat and get psyched to hear a song I just heard all over again.

As a sidenote, I saw them with Karl Alverez and Bill Stevenson of the Descendents as Evan Dando's backing band the day before my birthday this past year and it made me feel like a kid again. I kept my composure and didn't turn into "that guy," but inside I was bubbling over with excitement as they played literally every song I wanted to hear. It was one of the best shows I've been to in years. So, if you get the chance to see them, definitely do so. Evan Dando is a bit faded, but in between songs he just starts riffing on "Nervous Breakdown" so it's win-win.

The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray