Big LThe Big PictureRawkus Records
I want to start this review by giving respect to Big L and his family. Big L (Lamont Coleman) was gunned down in his hometown of Harlem, New York in February of ’99. His legacy will live on in his rhymes, his music, and his fans. He was just getting signed to Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records before his life was tragically cut short. Big L’s other projects included the super hip-hop veteran group Diggin’ In The Crates (D.I.T.C) with Showbiz and A.G., Diamond D, and Lord Finesse, which is some ill shit. L’s ability to freestyle is unparalled, and this last collaboration is proof that the underground hip-hop scene has lost a true lyrical genius. Rest in peace, Big L. Keep throwin’ those “L”s up, kid.¿A.S.
At The Drive InRelationship Of CommandGrand Royal
If you haven’t heard of At the Drive In, you will. They rock harder and kick more ass than Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, and all those other poser rap-rockers. They toured with Rage Against The Machine, where they proved to the world that they’re ass-kickers to the third degree. This new album is like a technical tornado filled to the gills with mad breakdowns, devastating drum sequences, out- of-hand vocals, and face-smashing guitars. This album is not to be missed¿it’ll get you very ramped-up to do any activity that requires aggression. At The Drive In is like a mix between Fugazi, Rage, and an alien spaceship crashing down to Earth. This is the time for all humans to rise above the music-cloning performed by MTV and major radio stations across the world. Revolt! Tell them you can choose your own music! Go get this album now, you rock-starved indie soldiers.¿C.C.
ProudandtallWhat’s Happening Here?Sun Sea Sky Productions
This album by Proudandtall is basically flawless indie rock. You can put this disc in and let it play all the way through until it ends. Then just push play again and listen to the whole thing over again. I’d say if you enjoy any kind of indie music like Pavement or Drive Like Jehu rock and roll, you’ll love this band. I wish everyone would just go buy this CD because it’ll be one of your new favorites.¿C.C.
BTMovement in Still LifeNettwork America
Where do people get ideas to name their albums? I possibly understand this one. I think BT stands for bowel transfer¿a movement … in still life. Get it? I thought it was funny, but I think a lot of things are funny. Like the guy at the Del Mar Fair this year cruising around with throw up caked on his back, the time my dad accidentally shit his pants in 7Eleven, or the new corporate name change from Dow Stereo to Tweeter. Really, everything is funny. This CD is funny. The first song is titled “Madskillz¿Mic Chekka.” Notice the Z and the Ks. The lowdown: it sounds like a cross between hip-hop and techno. Buy it, and add it to your cool collection. You may even absorb some mad skillz from it.¿J.M.
This new self-titled Rancid CD kicked my ass all around the mosh pit. It’s much faster and more furious than the albums before this one, and it’s a slap in the face to anyone who ever thought Rancid was gone. The guitars are ass-kicking with stomping bass lines and piston-powered drums. They fit in all kinds of crazy breakdowns and hooks. A little less ska-ish (thank god), and more punk than ever. If you’ve never bought a Rancid CD, it’s time to go get the new one before you get an ass-whipping like no one’s ever seen.¿C.C.
TristezaDream Signals In Full CirclesTigerstyle
San Diego, California’s Tristeza is picking up where Tortoise left off after their last album. This new release is by far the most amazing instrumental music released in the last year. The bass is like a mind-numbing space drug that massages your spine. The guitars and drums flow perfectly in beautiful synchronicity. What can we say? This is an amazing album, and if you don’t understand it¿your soul has a short attenti span.¿C.C.
Kool Keith MatthewFunky Ass Records
This album should’ve been called Kool Keith Venting. It’s a lot of songs where Keith rips a bunch of sucka-ass punks new asses and tells the world what’s on his mind. No space or alien shit on this disc, it’s straight up MC battling at its finest. Lots of cuss words and cutdowns. Tight flows and crazy sentence structures make this another Kool Keith classic.¿C.C.
SlowcoachNew Strategies Are Necessary, This Is Not Solid GroundSilver Girl
This band plays music that’s a mix between grunge and indie. The word grunge is lame, but the music on this CD is not¿it’s very good, actually. The singer kind of screams, but in a good way¿our art director says they sound like Mudhoney. I haven’t heard much of Mudhoney’s music, but if Slowcoach sounds like them, I’d venture to say that they rip. This is mid music¿meaning it’s not soft, but it’s not super hard, it’s right in the middle between hard rock and indie rock. They sound a little like Archers of Loaf, which also is a good band. Check out Slowcoach if you’re fed up with MTV shit-rock.¿C.C.
DJ HurricaneDon’t SleepTVT Records
The most often asked question about DJ Hurricane is “Where the hell did he go after working with the Beasties?” Well, he’s just fine, and he’s got a new project under wraps. The album’s called Don’t Sleep, and it’s got flavor for days. The guest roster is unbelievable on this one¿Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Ad Rock, Black Thought from The Roots, Flipmode Squad, Kool G Rap, and the one and only Public Enemy¿just to name a few. The only downside is the Queen cover of “We Will Rock You” with Stone Temple Pilots lead singer Scott Weiland¿it’s pretty busted. There’re too many other good songs to really clown this album too hard, though. All in all, this is a well-produced venture into the mind of DJ Hurricane.¿A.S.
City OfSelf-titledNo Time Cooking Records
City Of’s characteristic bass-driven tones anchor it to the category of indie genius. However, the idiosyncratic nuances provide the album with the necessary facilities to transcend the sub-par tenor of the “emo” genre. The pleasantries of the music radiate through sun-kissed guitar riffs and are crowned by the warm echo of a female tongue. The overall tonality is warm and soothing¿reminiscent of The Sea And Cake¿with the foundation of each song being a well-planned composition. Intelligent song structure coupled with harmonious beauty affords a pleasurable journey.¿Keith Pesta
Def Squad Presents Erick OnasisDef Squad/DreamWorks
The green-eyed bandit is back. And is he smooth as silk on this one? Yes, ya’ll! In my opinion, this is one of Erick Sermon’s finest pieces yet. Real buttery, if you know what I’m saying¿pure beats and pure Def Squad rhyme battering rams. You must peep the Slick Rick track, “Why Not?”¿it’s juicy. When all is said and done, if you leave the music store (and you call yourself a hip-hop head) without this Erick Sermon tape, your shit’s straight into left field.¿A.S.
L’altra makes very pretty, intelligent music for lovers or people who want to love each other. Their music is very refreshing¿ahh … like dipping your head in a mountain stream, or diving into the ocean naked. Their style is very pure and very soulful. If you’re a fan of The Sea And Cake or Elliot Smith, you’d like this band. But they’re not really like anything you’ve probably heard before, so you might just want to go check them out for yourself. Support indie music¿make the radio listen to you!¿C.C.
Blonde RedheadMelody Of Certain Damaged LemonsTouch and Go
New York City’s Blonde Redhead delivers a collective of beautiful, dissonant tracks in their latest release, Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons. This indie three-piece has definitely evolved over their five-album career into one of the finest bands in an almost nonexistent genre. This is displayed firsthand in songs like “A Cure” and “Loved Despite Of Great Flaws” (dope title). Track three, “Melody Of A Certain Three,” is the perfect blend of Beatle-esque melody while retaining a matured, acoustic brand of heaviness. Their high level of songwriting and musicianship accompanied by their unique catchiness have really come together and solidified in this album, without losing their disregard for the predictable formula you’re usually subjected to. Well-placed hand claps, confusing bleeps, dope percussion, and the always-welcome voice of Kazu Makino make this one of the best releases in this realm of rock I’ve come across in a long time. I’m just glad there’re outlets for groups like Blonde Redhead in an era of rap-rock stadium-tour confusion.¿Shaun Rossalmost nonexistent genre. This is displayed firsthand in songs like “A Cure” and “Loved Despite Of Great Flaws” (dope title). Track three, “Melody Of A Certain Three,” is the perfect blend of Beatle-esque melody while retaining a matured, acoustic brand of heaviness. Their high level of songwriting and musicianship accompanied by their unique catchiness have really come together and solidified in this album, without losing their disregard for the predictable formula you’re usually subjected to. Well-placed hand claps, confusing bleeps, dope percussion, and the always-welcome voice of Kazu Makino make this one of the best releases in this realm of rock I’ve come across in a long time. I’m just glad there’re outlets for groups like Blonde Redhead in an era of rap-rock stadium-tour confusion.¿Shaun Ross