Legendary thrash/metal/punk/funk/jazz pioneers Living Colour have been breaking the mold since the late 80's, and now they're back with one of their most potent collection of songs to date. Shade taps into the band's roots in blues and hip-hop and signals an exciting new chapter in Living Colour's history, just when the world needs them the most. Kevin, Eduardo, and Marcus K. Dowling sit down to work through this powerful return to form one of the most important bands in rock-and-roll history.
As of late, the music industry has seen a rise in talented African-American musicians who paint outside of expected mainstream lines for pop artists. In eschewing easy-to-consume tropes for left-of-center jazz, soul, and techno-influenced sounds, performers like Kendrick Lamar, Robert Glasper, Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean and so many more have created a sustainable and alternative-inspired vibe. However exciting this class of stars may be, it's important to remember that this is a movement that has an impressive historical context as well.
Anticipation. Excitement. Elation. Confusion. Disappointment. This week, Frank Ocean is all of these things and more.
Supremely talented Chicago MC Noname first announced herself to the world two years ago on Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap. On Telefone, she's finally stepping out on her own with one of the strongest statements on womanhood, life in the hood, and life in general that we've heard in recent memory. Marcus K, Dowling and Briana Younger join us to discuss this monumental mix-tape that was well worth the wait.
PLUS! Singer/songwriter Esmé Patterson's critically acclaimed LP We Were Wild, is as perfect a slice of pop-rock that you're going to find in 2016. We've got a new track to help get you acquainted.
Kehlani; Jhene Aiko; a proud declaration of being black wrapped in the sound of summer
Why You Should Care
Jamila Woods gained recognition singing the chorus of Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s song, “Sunday Candy”, but the Chicago-based singer/poet has just released her debut album of great R&B jams, entitled HEAVN, that should give her even more deserved attention. One of the standout tracks on the LP is “VRY BLK,” a song that is as clever in its wordplay as it is proudly defiant in the face of police brutality. Woods keeps Chicago in the mix, adding rapper Noname to the song for a breezy verse. As relevant as the lyrical content is today, the production values backing up her great voice makes this a quintessential summer song. But surprise - this summer jam actually has an important message.
Chance The Rapper, one of the most exciting hip-hop artists of the 21st century, recently dropped his long awaited third mixtape, Coloring Book.
With that much firepower in the room we should probably talk about something right?
OK. Let's talk about Chance.
Chance the Rapper; Memphis hip hop; chillaxation
Why You Should Care:
Perhaps one day when we talk about music from Memphis we won’t automatically think of Sun Records. Healy could start that revolution with the mellow brand of hip-hop presented on his great debut album A Galaxy with Skin. His singsong delivery and minimal yet bluesy instrumentation illustrate that he’s more than familiar with the musical progeny of his home city.
This week on the podcast, we’re back from vacation just in time for Kevin and Paul to team up with the unstoppable Marcus Dowling to talk one of 2015’s most anticipated releases, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surf. The unofficial follow up to Chance The Rapper’s 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, Surf smashes genres, destroys expectations, and elevates the hip hop game in ways that only Chance and his crew could do. Jazz, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock – Surf celebrates an entire history of music, while pulling it gleefully into the future with youthful abandon and surprising sophistication that belies this young crew's years.
PLUS! Record Store Day every week? A Netflix for Vinyl? The details of Spotify’s deal with Sony leaked? A new track off of Louis Weeks’ outstanding new record haha (OUT NOW!!)? We’re talking all of this and more on the podcast you’ve been waiting for all your life, it’s Episode 118 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
In our year end podcast, the gang is joined by Dave and Mike from Mittenfields to cover some ground that we might have missed in 2013, offer advice to artists in the year to come, and discover what Kenobi the dog really thinks about Bill Callahan. Chance the Rapper, Minks and more on our special year end blowout. Grab a beer...lord knows we did.
10. Kanye West - Yeezus
The most undeniably beautiful mess of an album to come along in ages, Yeezus, by all rights, shouldn’t be mentioned anywhere near the words “Best of 2013.” Yet here we are and here it is. Anticipation was high, the hype even higher, for what the Chicago artist/producer would deliver as a follow up to 2011’s glorious My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and what we got was a confusing, aggressive, and aggressively risk-taking collection of songs that play more like a slo-mo, hi-fi train wreck than a work of staggering genius.
10. Kanye West – Yeezus
Dark. Aggressive. Complex. Offensive. Kanye West’s 5th album is all of these things, but most of all it’s his most creatively risky effort to date. Sonically, Yeezus is operating on a completely other level then anything released this year — in fact it makes most records sound lazy in comparison. But a funny thing happened on the way Yeezus becoming the stuff of legend: Kanye got in the way. What could have been a juggernaut of an album is sidetracked by West’s overly misogynistic lyrics, and his continuing lack of self awareness. Social commentary is a hard trick to pull off in any arena, but when you present yourself as the American dream — because you pretty much ARE the American dream — and then attempt to attack that in any measure, the results are at best trite, and at worst laughable.
To be clear, this is an ongoing issue that West suffers, and he is at his best operation as the fairly unchallenged master of pop that he has made himself into. But for now (and this opinion is constantly shifting) Yeezus remains more Zooropa* and less Achtung Baby. It’s clear that there is a masterful artist at work here who is willing to sacrifice the end result for the sake of experimenting with his art, but the attempt is only half of the secret recipe: You’ve gotta stick the landing.
*For the record, I freaking LOVE Zooropa. LOVE. IT.
9. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park / Ashley Monroe – Like A Rose
Why two albums? Because both perfectly represent the struggle that “modern country music” faces in 2013. Deservedly maligned by the discerning music fan since the days when the thunder rolled, there’s been a shift over the last few years away from the assembly line nature of what hits the airwaves, back to the more personal, less manufactured music that is the bedrock of a large portion of the American songbook. Musgraves “Merry-Go-Round” and Monroe’s “Like A Rose” are at once eloquent and utilitarian in their assessment of small town living, and rivalJason Isbell’s acumen for commentary of the human experience.
Unlike Isbell though, both artists go slightly off the rails by the end of their song cycles, giving in to the machine’s need for a “hit.” And in doing so they both keep what might have been a duo of timeless, universal records tied to a genre that both artists very clearly can, and should, rise above. That having been said, if you can push past the autotune and the straight-from-the-80’s “redneck” power chorus singing that ultimately takes control of these records, you’ll be rewarded by the work of two of the finest songwriters working in popular music today.
8. Kingsley Flood – Battles
The holy grail for most bands is to be able to match massive performances with equally massive songwriting chops. On Battles, Kingsley Flood took that idea and injected their already successful formula of bar brawl Americana with a double shot of adrenaline to produce one of the most satisfying records of the year to date. Grounded in singer Naseem Khuri’s explorations of what it takes to get by in today’s America, this mostly Boston based five piece (Khuri resides right here in the District) walks the razor’s edge of serious and seriously entertaining, and they do it all with an ease normally reserved for bands twice their age. Successfully bridging the gulf between folk, power pop and punk, Battles finds its power in its unflinching honesty and sincerity, regardless of the delivery method. This is a new Americana, and one that, if this release is any indication, is very quickly going to take over the world.