Friday, June 14, 2024

Cloud Nothings – Final Summer - Blue Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

Pure Noise (2024)

Would you believe that this is the seventh Cloud Nothings full length album I've written about for this website in the last ten years?  That seems kind of crazy and it made me think about this band for a while before writing this.  When I really put my mind to it and try to recall the prior six records, I can't.  And I realize that while every single one of them is a good record, inevitably I listen to each record for a month or two when it first comes out and then it gets filed away on the shelf and not listened to again.  The only one that I go back to repeatedly is Here and Nowhere Else.  I love that record and still play it a few times a year guaranteed.  The rest?  I'm not sure I've listened to any of them other than the year I first got them.

And that sort of sums up my feelings about the new Cloud Nothings album Final Summer.  It's a good record, with good songs - sure to please anyone that likes Cloud Nothings prior records.  And I like it, genuinely.  At the same time, it's kind of unremarkable.  I wouldn't say it's boring, necessarily, but there isn't any song on here that makes me sit up, take notice and say "this is great."  It's kind of the definition of a solid record.  It does what it's supposed to, but nothing more.  It fades into the background very easily and isn't the sort of thing that makes you want to keep going back to it.

The main reason I've listened to this album as many times as I have, is just so I could write about it.  Without that to do, I don't know that I would have been motivated to spin it more than a time or two.  Again, it's a good record.  If you like the other Cloud Nothings albums, you'll like this one.  But if you have other Cloud Nothings records, I'm not really sure you need this one.  The others get the same job done and none of them can really hold up to Here and Nowhere Else for me.

Cloud Nothings – Final Summer
https://cloudnothings.bandcamp.com/track/final-summer

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Double XX Posse - Put Ya Boots On LP

Untitled

Big Beat (1992)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Double XX Posse is a group that I didn't listen to back in the 90s.  I don't remember seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps, but in rereading old issues of The Source, I certainly see that they were advertised pretty heavily there for a few months at least.  Not entirely sure why I didn't investigate further, but for whatever reason, limited money or limited knowledge, those ads just passed me by and I din't think about them at all until decades later.

When I finally got around to listening to Put Ya Boots On, I was instantly mesmerized by the booming East Coast production.  It's rough and while not as funk driven as EPMD, I certainly feel similarities in the way this album sounds when compared to Long Island royalty.  

Lyrically, for 1992, this is really strong stuff.  It's hard to tell exactly how many different people are rapping on this album, but I believe there are two main MCs responsible for the lion's share.  Whoever is on the mic on whatever song you decide to play on this record brings the goods.  The lyrics are not what I would call complicated, but they are layered with well constructed rhyme schemes and patterns.  The pacer is fast and you get a whole lot of words per minute.

There's nothing pop or crossover friendly here, this is early 90s underground East Coast boom bap.  If you like that sound, this is an album that you definitely need to check out, but if you need something a little smoother or catchier, there may not be as much for you here.  For me, this is the total sweet spot of the sort of hip hop that tends to resonate with me the most.  It's the sort of album just begging for an expanded double LP 90s Tapes reissue.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Superchunk – Misfits & Mistakes 4xLP

Untitled

Merge (2023)

I have been a Superchunk fan for a really long time.  They played at one of the earliest shows I ever went to and have been a constant in my rock and roll life for 30 years.  They've been remarkably consistent over that time.  The records that I love, I really love.  The records that I don't love are still pretty good all things considered.  I wouldn't say there are any bad Superchunk records, just ones that I don't listen to as often as others.

Superchunk has had three previous singles comps.  The single LP Tossing Seeds in 1992.  The double LP Incidental Music in 1995.  The triple LP Cup of Sand in 2003.  And now, for their fourth singles comp, we have Misfits and Mistakes, clocking in at a staggering quadruple LP set.  FOUR LPs worth of Superchunk B sides and oddities.  I love me some Superchunk, but this is way, way, way too much.

Don't get me wrong, there are flat out great songs on this thing.  "February Punk," "Blinders (Fast Version)" as well as singles versions of some of the best songs from their last few albums.  The artwork and liner notes are also top tier.  I love reading about individual songs and seeing the art of all of the singles I bought leading up to this. But there's so much here to get through.  A billion covers. Fast songs.  Slow songs.  So many songs.  As much as I love Superchunk, four LPs worth of songs, clocking in at two and a half hours of music is  just too much.  

Had they broken this up into two double LPs released a year or so apart, that would have been better.  I'd probably be really psyched on that.  But this much Superchunk, the vast majority of which is not the cream of their crop, is just overwhelming and kind of difficult to get motivated to listen to.  It almost feels like a chore.  Could I just listen to one of LPs at a time, sure.  But there's something about that just seems weird.  If it wasn't meant to be listened to together, why did they release it together?  For whatever reason, this is too much and is destined to be one of those Superchunk records I don't play very often.

Superchunk – Misfits & Mistakes:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/misfits-mistakes-singles-b-sides-strays-2007-2023

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead Or Alive 4xLP

Untitled

Cold Chillin' / Traffic (2007, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I said the same when I wrote about Road to the Riches a while back, but I didn't listen to Kool G Rap & DJ Polo when they were active back in the 90s.  I just don't remember seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps, though I definitely knew the name from reading The Source.  I think I mainly attribute it to the fact that this album, Wanted: Dead or Alive came out right as I was getting into hip hop, the same summer that Mama Said Knock You Out had come out and completely changed my musical worldview.  I wasn't immediately digging into the more underground sounds or the albums that came out before that moment, so they slipped through the cracks.  And I guess when their final record came out in 1992, it didn't make as big a splash in my world as others.

I eventually fell for Kool G Rap & DJ Polo when the Take It Personal Radio podcast did a show long feature on their music.  I had always been aware of G Rap's reputation on the mic, but I really wasn't prepared for the ferocity that he attacked his lyrical delivery.  Wanted: Dead or Alive is step up in that regard as compared to their debut.  The lyrical content is also cranked up a notch as the mafiosa style that he's reknown for really came into focus on this album.

Production-wise, things are a little darker this time out.  Gone out the bouncy pianos of "Road to the Riches," replaced by slinkier bass lines and pounding kick drums.  While I do actually prefer the first album, you can't argue with a crew of producers that includes Biz Markie, Eric B, Marley Marl and Large Professor.

The version of this album that I ended up hunting down is the quadruple LP reissue that came out in 2007.  In addition to the main album there's two extra LPs full of remixes. B sides and instrumentals.  Is it essential material?  Probably not for most people, but the B sides are great and some of the remixes shine just as strong as the originals.  For me it was worth it.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead Or Alive:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nzT1Vv7Fcm0AYJPVCR8PwKb6ZlqcS-1EI