Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Listen to the new Radiohead - In Rainbows below (apologies for them only playing 30 seconds at a time, there seems to be something wrong with the hosting). It is available for digital download here. If not for any other reason, give support to the digital music revolution.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Percee P - Perseverance

It took John Percy Simon (aka Percee P) long enough (20 years) to be properly introduced to the music world. Percee P has been rapping since the early 80's during the dawn of rap and hip-hop in the South Bronx where his mother moved the family when he was a young boy. While he made his own recordings he struggled to get any serious attention from record labels, and survived by selling mixtapes outside Fat Beats Records in Brooklyn. He's had additional success with numerous guest appearances on records by the likes of Vakill, Jedi Mind Tricks, Aesop Rock, and Cenobites, among many others. It wasn't until 2003 that Percee P finally landed at the trailblazing California-based hip-hop label Stones Throw that he had the opportunity to make his long-awaited (aptly titled) debut Perseverance.

Perseverance gives an extensive crash course in Percee P's ornate rhyme scheme and highly developed delivery style. His flow is definitely unique and hasn't changed over his many years in the business. This is another incredibly respectable quality about Percee's music. He hasn't bent his "old school" ideal where lyrical content is imperative to producing quality hip-hop. On the whole, Percee P spends the 54 minutes of his debut album going back and forth between boasting about his superior skills and his lack of recognition up until now. Normally, this lyrical content would be tired from other artists, but Percee P has earned this opportunity to stand on his own soapbox and he delivers throughout. Most of the production is left to fellow labelmate Madlib whose semi-experimental beats are juxtaposed with Percee's old school flavor. This pairing of old and new schools requires an amount of trust from both MC and producer, but on this particular album their collaboration was certainly worth the wait.

Eclectic collaboration with Four Tet:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hard-Fi - Once Upon a Time in the West

Sophomore albums are quite the Catch-22 for highly acclaimed new bands, since they point to both where the band has been and where they could be going. Unfortunately, a lot of times they tend to go down and are sometimes forgotten about until they produce a more redeeming third album (if they get that chance at all). On the other hand a solid 2nd album can catapult a band to further stardom and place them on the musical map for years to come. Hard-Fi is a band that encountered this conundrum recently. The quartet from Staines, Surrey, England made one of the most talked about albums of 2005 with Stars of CCTV. Their music is a mix of post-punk, indie rock with a splash of Clash-esque verve. All wrapped up into a debut album that had the UK in tizzy. Their fame reached a fever pitch when they played 5 consecutive sold out shows at famed Brixton Academy from May 14 - 18, 2006. The only other bands to have done this are The Clash, Bob Dylan, Massive Attack, and The Prodigy. Not to mention Hard-Fi are the only ones to do it off the success of their debut album. With popularity reaching critical mass, their follow up effort Once Upon a Time in the West (Sept. 3, 2007) came highly anticipated.

Stars of CCTV was a really enjoyable album that showed a fresh sound from a rather normal suburban London band. The album was raw and full of energy that didn't gloss or shine with a huge studio budget. In essence, it really showcased what the band was about. Has fame gone to their heads? Has fame given them too much money for orchestration and studio gimmicks? Has fame gotten Hard-Fi away from what they do best? The answers to these questions seem to be a resounding 'Yes' when you consider the sophomore effort Once Upon a Time in the West. The album is pretty mediocre coming off such a great initial effort. There are a few songs that demonstrate the same swagger the band become known for. In its place for the remainder of the album are over-thought and over-produced songs with the same ideas, but presented with much less gusto. In an effort to sound like their idols The Clash, they effectively forget what they're all about and fall on their faces. Hard-Fi attempt to mix their influences together and really over-analyze what they want to do rather than going with gut reactions and emotions. They began making music because they weren't hearing any music that spoke to them about their lives. Now that they're (presumably) rich and famous their ethos of being regular suburban kids complaining about life doesn't seem to hold much water anymore. Time to sack up and make the grand gestures of the emblazoned "lack of" cover art equal to the music.