Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Yes Yes Yalls Are Awesome

Okay.  You heard it here first.  This group is the shit.  That's it.  If you don't like the Yes Yes Yalls, I don't know what to tell you.  I don't know what you're waiting for.  I've been looking for a long time for the next big thing.  I look regularly.  I don't write this blog because I want to.  I do it because I have to.  I hate it.  I'm  a slave to it.  I'm an Audio Slave.  And the Yes Yes Yalls is what I have been looking for.  

 The music of the Yes Yes Yalls is like a girl whose too fine.  It makes you angry because you are no longer in control of yourself.  Rather your a slave to her beauty, knowing that everything you've busted your ass for is hers, she only has to ask  for it.  Your happily damned.  

I found out about the Yes Yes Yalls at an open mic, a real open mic.  


In the basement bar on a Thursday night in NYC without any of the sexy.  The crowd, dudes too old to still be rapping, people missing teeth, chicks with major flaws ... this isn't the beautiful people.  

Shameless Plug on the Left.  Chris on the Right.

And the Yes Yes Yalls fit right in.  You won't find Justin Timberlake beauty here.  The lead singer/rapper ... yes, and there's no auto-tune here ... Shameless Plug is a 5' 8'' 180 lbs. stocky, lumberjack looking dude, with a optimistic sense of humor with a cynics sarcasm and a tongue in cheek style.  The other half of the group Chris has the same vibe but with a calm wholesomeness that is reassuring.  Though Chris is a skeptic but wants to believe.  And there's no reason they shouldn't. 

Shameless took the stage.  I stood there ready to not like what I was about to hear.  I enjoy not liking what 90% of what I hear.  It assures me that my sense of taste has not gone soft.  But in a shitty bar on the ass end of Manhattan, Shameless was not having any of my skepticism.  He jumped on stage, stocky as hell,  with no fashion sense except the good sense to rock black and just rocked the stage.  He raps like a babbling brook, is flow is like a river and just rolls along.  He leaves it to the listener whether they want to listen to the contents of the lyrics or just listen to the music.  


If you choose to dive into the lyrics you won't be disappointed.   The level of truth and metaphor is crushing.  But the kicker is this.  Then he breaks out into a perfect falsetto voice to sing his own hooks.  Take that Jigga.  Can you rap WELL and then sing your own hooks?  Uhhhh ... can you say "Game Changer?"


And if that isn't enough, his boy Chris, the producer of the tracks of the Yes Yes Yalls, is too talented.  He is so talented that he just throws (see their song H.G.N.) the beats of entire songs on the ends of other songs.   P. Diddy would be drooling to do a remix.  Because it's already done.  There are entire songs at the ends of other songs.  It would be like your mom making a turkey.  And then when you were done, she broke out a roast beef as an encore.  It almost makes you just say, enough.  I can't take anymore.  Then you just gorge yourself some more.  And then feel disgusted with yourself.  But what choice did Chris give you.  That's how the beats are. 

Okay.  I'm tired of talking.  I'm tired of trying to tell you how good this is.  Listen for yourself.  And if you don't like it, I've got the number of a good therapist.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Malik -- Moonlighting the Songwriter Mixtape: A Lesson About Mixtapes


This mixtape is the perfect example of a rapper with talent but who doesn’t edit himself.  Let’s not get it twisted.  Malik can rap.  He has a respectable flow.  It’s not the Mississippi River but it isn’t a lake either.  It’s a solidly reliable flow laced with a solid variety of punch lines.  His delivery is respectable as well, enunciating clearly, allowing the listener to actually listen.  Imagine that.  Unfortunately, there are some major flaws which detract the listener as well.  

He titles his mixtape I’m Not A Singer.  He is not.  So he should stop trying. His singing is an annoyance that detracts from his rapping.  He is new to the game and cheapens his brand by trying to broaden it prematurely.  Next, he has too many tracks on this mixtape.  20 tracks from a new artist?  Ummmm, no please.  Take a tip from Brother Ali, 9 hot tracks please.  No more are necessary.  So take the twenty.  Pick the hottest nine.  Cut all the extra-talking on the album out … it comes across as insecure … and let your lyrics speak for themselves. 

Single:  Uptowns

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Song of the Day: Wale's 90210


While I don't like the album and don't recommend you buy it, this song is great.  This song is a standout on the album.  A little introspective so ladies, when your planning to do some ish ... make sure you're not turning into this chick.  Deuces.


CD Review: Wale's Attention Deficit: His So So Flow's Unremarkable

 Wale's Attention Deficit:  I had an Attention Deficit while listening to it.

The production is sick.  This album is not good (though there are some bright spots, i.e.
"90210", "Shades", and "World Tour") because the production is sick but waaaaayyyyy too often Wale just misses the mark on lyrics.  There are far too few punchlines and, while the flow is rhythmic, it's not saying much in a way that makes you want to listen.  Grade:  No good.

A brassy beat which opens the album in a strong way but Wale doesn’t do the same.  His flow seems at this point mediocre.  His punch lines are too weak and too few and far between at this point.  While the flow itself is rhythmic, there is little to nothing else.  Grade:  Passable.

Mama Told Me
While Best Kept Secret drops a hot beat, and Wale again  has some notable lines his non-crisp delivery (a delivery where one does not enunciate clearly) does not allow for appreciation of all of his lyrics.  But Wale does us a favor on this track, which is iPod enabled (should be on one’s iPod).  He stays out of the beats way.  The beat is so fresh, and Wale doesn’t screw it up.  Thanks Best Kept Secret (producer).  Grade:  Good.

A song about interpersonal deception, Wale presents a once again respectable flow.  But it just isn’t special.  Bun B outshines Wale on this track.  Producer Mark Ronson does decent work but the track isn’t particularly notable.  Bun B’s verse doesn’t stop time but there are lessons to be learned from it.  It is focused on the topic at hand and the verse is crisp.  Grade:  Decent.

Pretty Girls
Follows the Wale formula.  Mediocre flow but doesn’t get in the way.  Great beat.  Best Kept Secret shines once again.  Grade:  Good.

World Tour
While Cool and Dre deliver on a hot club track with Jazmine Sullivan doing her thing very hard, sounding like a young MJB.  But Wale does his usual with too few punchline, an unclear flow, and a general incoherence.  Grade:  Good (but only because of JS and Cool and Dre.   Wale just stays out of the way.)

Let It Loose
The Neptunes let loose one of their clearly underperforming tracks.  It’s supposed to be a track for the ladies but it just is overall weak.  The beat isn’t terrible but it’s not terribly good either.  Wale does his normal decent flow, weak content thing.  Grade:  Passable.

This song is an exception to the entire CD, thus far.  A song about an LA girl caught up in the LA lifestyle, this song is great.  The beat is solid and Mark Ronson does a great job here.  But more so, Wale makes something out of it.  His verses are very focused and the hook doesn’t try.  The slower tempo allows for him to enunciate his words more therefore allowing each line to be delivered as a punch line in and of itself.  He should look at this song and recreate the techniques used on other songs, and find a way to deliver the same precision on faster tracks.  Grade:  Nice.

Wale shines on this track about the intra-racial politics.  His verses are audible and on point.  Though he does begin to waver in the last verse he can’t be faulted.  He takes a decent beat, by Best Kept Secret, and shines it up.  Grade:  Nice.

Lady Gaga features on this song and does a good job, singing a monotone hook, a club song for the ladies.  The beat is a club banger but Wale does his usual with a cut-under-the-best flow.  Cool and Dre represent producing solid club fare.  Grade:  Decent.

TV in the Radio
David Andrew produces an old school beat in a new wave way.  But for some reason it’s not a good thing here.  Wale does his normal thing.  He has some some great lines every once in a while, i.e. “Phat lines all the time.  They be Roseanne Bars.”  K’Naan is nice.  While his flow is out of step in general, the abundance of punchlines means something.  He pushes the song to … Grade:  Respectable.

An introspective song questioning his own personal motives.  But it’s not very good.  Grade:  Not good.

Slow and introspective.  Sounds very similar to “Contemplate,” not in lyrics but in feel.  In general boring.  Grade:  Not good.

Wale’s usual m.o.  A cut under flow and … read the rest of the posts.  Subpar lyrics and solid beat.  Grade:  Tired.  Tired of good beats with Wale.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mission Hill: A Pleasant Surprise

One of the nice things about working for Chunky is that my job consists of going out most nights and finding new music.  Most of the time this quest is a drastic failure, as most bands are terrible (read: Pink Floyd wannabes, singers who can’t sing, musicians with no message, etc).  However, the reason to stay patient is a pleasant surprise.  Mission Hill is a pleasant surprise.

Mission Hill is not U2.  They are not Jimmy Hendrix.  They are not Bob Dylan.  They are not game changing artists.  But neither are No Doubt, Simple Plan or the Offspring, yet they all three are great.  What separates these three bands from Mission Hill is the fact that, despite not changing the game, all three of these bands have a signature sound whether it be Gwen Stefani’s nasal crooning over punk-pop tracks or the Offspring’s permanent teenaged angst turned adult anger-rage over guitar laden frenetic drums, the sound is distinct.  Mission Hill gives glimpses of the same type of stamp from time to time, though it is too rare.

Overall, Mission Hill is highly listenable.  Their music is solid fare, like eating at a good friends house.  It's not your mother's cooking but it's in the same neighborhood and it's still good.  Their music is of the solid Northeastern rock variety, i.e. Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.  It's semi-addictive, the more you listen, the more you'll like it.  But it's not  Nirvana.  It won't change your perspective or give voice to things internally unheard.  You'll like it but you won't write home about it, but friends will ask you who it is if they hear you playing it.  It can entertain, rarely intrigue, but can also bore. 

To hear the intrigue, two songs, “Down With Young Love” and “Dancing with the Rascals”, the lead guitarist, a Norweigian (who says we don’t need Europe?) Zach Jagentenfl, whose name means 'Devil Hunter' (nice), kills the potential monotony of these tracks.  In “Down With Young Love” we have a singer that sings his usual m.o.: introspective tracks without being deep.  To his credit, he knows he is not Chris Doughtry.  

He stays within his range and sings about topics he knows.  There is something to be said for restraint.  In the interview however, listen for a mild case of LSD (Lead Singer Disease), with respect to taking credit for the actual music.  He has some notable songs, i.e. "Long Time Comin'" and "Save Me From Me"  where he talks about girl issues, respectively, a woman who he's fed up with and a woman trying to 'fix' him ... not that he's all that broken.  

The rhythm section has apparent chemistry.  Drummer Takuma Anzai and bass player Alex Knutsen get along swimmingly musically and personally.  (Listen to a full interview below).  This foundation allows for the lead singer to perform and the lead guitarist to put his stamp (on two out of ten songs) on their music.

Overall, this music is highly marketable.  Think a younger Bon Jovi style band.  While lacking the smash hits that make Bon Jovi … well … Bon Jovi, this band if they keep working will surely stumble upon these songs as their chemistry improves.  If  Jagentenfl’s musical skills are infused into the songs more often the songs can be notable.

 Their fan base, college educated 23-34 year olds are loyal.  They sing respectably, don’t delve into topics that are uncomfortable, normally play decently, and occasionally surprise the listener and rock out hard, but the long and short of it is that their music is safe.  It is edu-rock with a blue collar tinge.  It won’t rock your world but it’s marketable and listenable.  It can be more ... perhaps a lot more, but only time will tell.

Mission Hill Interview Part 1:

Mission Hill Interview Part 2:


Thursday, December 3, 2009

These United States: Great Live Show, Decent Recorded Music

These United States

Take five scruffy Southerners, add a singer with a Tom Petty feel and some Southern Rock-Americana and you have These United States.  

I went to see this band at a local New York live music spot on a weekend.  The music was guitar heavy and lively.  These guys gave their all in a great performance. 

The room was filled with electricity, and while the previous band may have had more fans, this band’s fans were genuinely listening and enjoying the show.  It would have been hard not to enjoy this show.  The guys were genuine friends, the stage presence was ego-less, with all the guys gelling together seamlessly.

Jesse Elliot, the lead singer, sings well but is no Tim McGraw.  However, the genuine nature with which he sings covers a lot of ground.  The fact that his drummer has his back 100% makes a 
big difference.  Robby Cosenza is a great drummer, playing balls out all the time.

His foundation allows for Colin Kellogg, the bass player, to provide a solid bass-line off which the stars of the show, the vocals and the guitar heavy music, launch. 

This music is not syth-rock, or indie rock.  In their live show it’s just rock-and-roll but in their recorded CD Everything Touches Everything, Southern rock is clearly the star of the show.  “Will It Ever”, a song in the vein of bemoaning the loss of connection after love is lost, is typical of the songs found on ETE.  

However, that isn’t a bad thing.  But if you are expecting the balls out rocking sound found in the live show you’ll be disappointed.  

Everything Touches Everything is a road trip CD, an album I suspect grows on those who listen to it often like a blessed melanoma.  It is a CD for cleaning up the house or for looking out the window on a long bus ride.  It is a CD that goes perfectly with a scene in a movie where a girl is cleaning up the house as her boyfriend watches her dance with a mop unknowingly.  It’s a good CD. 

If you like Tom Petty, you’ll like this.  But if you are looking to rock, buy a ticket to a These United States Show.  But ETE is not the CD that will let you rock.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Even rockers, like myself, need a break every now and again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where Have We Been????

Please be patient with us. We have been super busy.  Our physically printed version of our blog has come in (available at select street wear stores and online CD distributors) as well as two CD reviews and a new show review.  Plus, we're in the works linking up with some other blogs.  We'll be posting sometime between today and tomorrow and we promise not to starve you out much longer.  Thanks.