Album Reviews – Round 2 (The Trusty Knife and Ka$h)

The mixtape has been with us for several decades now.  It was born out of cassettes personally made of our favorite songs which we would pass around to each other for a myriad of reasons.  The book/movie High Fidelity is a true reflection of the old way of these tapes.  We would make compilations for a potential or actual significant other.  We would construct tapes of music to expose other people to new sounds.  The metal scene of the late, late 70/early 80’s grew leaps and bounds because the dedicated fans would mail off tapes made of underground artists they had in their city to people in other cities (or countries), hopefully for reciprocation.  This was something that was completely exciting and almost exclusive 100% of the time.

With the creation of CD burners and the internet, this practice hasn’t died.  It has instead morphed into something completely larger than life it seems, especially in the rap and hip-hop worlds.  It seems that the mixtape and rap were created for each other in the way that they have been married, quite successfully, for decades now.  Artists have found a perfect promotional tool in a world that is completely dominated by image and short attention spans.  Mixtapes have come to serve as a constant reminder to the general population that the artist is still here and is still being active.

At times this can be counterproductive to the genre because it has been literally flooded Old Testament style with this medium and it’s difficult to sift through the dirt to find the gems.  But, when those gems are found, the successes that can come from them are parallel to none (reference 50 Cent and Lil Wayne’s success due to their mixtape production).  Not only are mixtapes great for the national and international scenes, but they work wonders for the local scene that the artist finds themselves in.

It took me a little while to really understand the mixtape as such a large focus of so many people, but once I was able to disarm myself and realize that you can’t look at a mixtape as you would an album, I began to get it.  The mixtape is about exposure, plain and simple.  Cohesion is not necessary.  Original beats is not necessary.  What is necessary is that the music be potent and something that will create a spark of interest in that artist by those who may listen to it.

That brings me to today’s rap/hip-hop review of a webtape (same principles of a mixtape, it’s just not actually pressed) by a Milwaukee rapper named Ka$h, who is a flagship member and co-founder of the Umbrella Music Group.

KA$H – KA$H AS BLACK BAUER, BLACK BAUER SEASON ONE

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The title and theme come from the seminal television series 24, which help to create an air of immediacy around this project.  The idea that time is limited is intriguing because it leaves little room for deviation.  It’s almost like constructing something based on Edger Allen Poe’s principle that a short story should maintain a constant feeling throughout the entire work, not relying on a rollercoaster ride, but simply setting the tone right away and then keeping it up.

This web/mixtape does that very successfully, whether it was the intention or not.

I found myself anxious to listen to the next track almost as soon as the track I was currently listening to began (albeit I got caught on the song Dem Boys for several listens and almost convinced myself that I didn’t need to go further because of how lethal of a track it was/is).  I’m glad that I didn’t skip around and that I took the whole project in because almost every track deserves a complete listen so that you can feel the true hunger of Ka$h the emcee.

With more braggadocio than the average music I choose to listen to in my free time, I found myself mean mugging along with the tracks, absorbing the style of Ka$h himself.  To add more street value, Ka$h touches on his weed selling days, and even shows maturity about it in reference to his new life as a father and adult.

The crowning moment of the project for me is the song Real Life featuring Prophetic and Roni.  It takes me back to a time when rap was just about laying it out on the table and then walking away knowing that the cards you just played were better than anybody else, but you didn’t need the pot in the middle because you do this for the love of the game.

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Overall, I was very impressed with this as a web/mixtape and it is something that could be taken to have an album formed out of it in the future.

I suggest you download this free project from Ka$h if you like rap/hip-hop that is a little more heavy on the streets.

http://umbrellasup.com/blackbauer.html <—- Go and get it!

 

THE TRUSTY KNIFE – THE TRUSTY KNIFE

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Pop music has come a long way since the concept of “pop music” came into the world.  What passes as pop now is nowhere near the pop of the past.  So many new sub-genres have been created to explain the music that people produce if they choose to make original pop influenced music.  We have alternative pop, neo pop, post pop, retro pop, power pop, garage pop, etc.

Today, because I’m feeling particular feisty, I am not going to allow myself to take the cheap way out and describe The Trusty Knife’s sound by breaking it down into sub-genre classification.  The approach that I’m going to take with this review is to explain to you what I see and hear when listening to this music.

When the album begins, I immediately imagine myself in a room filled with late 20/30/early 40 something year olds.  Musical purists that like dark plastic framed glasses on their faces, thrift stores; people who support their community as much as they support their friends in their endeavors (whatever they may be).  These are your Eastsiders or your Riverwesters.  Your Bayviewers.  They recycle.  They have a small garden in their backyard, or want one.  They wear Capri pants…the men too, and they even dance unabashedly to the music that they enjoy regardless of how much they’ve had to drink.

What I feel from this album is immediate warmth welcoming me, almost as if it’s nodding at me with a smile even though I’m a complete stranger.  The sounds say to me, “Hey, it’s cool that you’re new…everybody is new at some point.  Stay for a beer and just enjoy some music that is created and played by people who really enjoy constructing something for you to listen to.”

I hear melodies and lyrics that are catchy so maybe I even join in the dancing.  This scene is becoming more and more infectious as I get further into the album.  The bluesy riffed, yodel infected groove jam Ditch The Chops has me looking around the room for a moment to see the crowd swaying and completely captivated by the musical patterns presented to them.  However, as soon as it begins, it’s almost as quickly over and the dancing once again begins to a new track.

I am thigh deep now into this party and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  Any pretensions that I may have had when walking in are completely gone and I’m reacting to the band as if we’re old friends.  Song after song comes on and the strength of the writing, playing, singing, makes itself more and more present.

At the conclusion of the party, there is a sense of happiness that it was attended and not skipped.  However, nobody wants to stop partying, so the band strikes up its instruments once again, not tired or weary from the gig it just played but completely energized at the fact it gets to play again.

This is what I see and hear when playing this album, and if you listen closely, you just may hear and see this as well.

Pop music fans, seek this band out.  I’ve been told that they are amazing to see live, something I hope to experience soon.

http://www.myspace.com/thetrustyknife

 

NEXT REVIEWS GO UP TUESDAY – CHECK THE REVIEW SCHEDULE IN THE PREVIOUS POST

 

Future Review Schedule

This Thursday: The Trusty Knife and Ka$h

Next Tuesday: Disguised As Birds and Speak Easy

Next Thursday: The Maze and Dylan Thomas

Following Tuesday: Eric Cross and YOUR MUSIC NEEDED HERE

As you can see, I’m running out of music to review.  I know there are more Milwaukee bands/groups/artists that have music…so submit it!  Email milwaukeemusicreviews@gmail.com and let’s grow the scene!

-Lou

Album Reviews – Round 1 (Red Knife Lottery, and Haz Solo & Dylan Thomas)

When listening to an album, it is hard to not immediately begin comparing the sounds that you hear to the ones that you have heard before.  What’s even more difficult is not telling people what you hear since we crave either a climate of agreement or disagreement.  We especially delight in these situations in regards to our specific media addictions.  Lastly, the MOST difficult thing to do is to actually let somebody disagree with you about what you’ve heard because we all thirst for the next fierce battle of taste.  We long for the riots and bar fights questions like, “Who started punk?  The Ramones or The Sex Pistols?” begin.  I am not here to do that.

What I am here to do is to give an honest critique of the sounds that I hear, free of preconceived comparisons that encourage the reader to immediately categorize the music before they have heard it.  The statement “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is most certainly true and it is this principle in which I will press forth with my scribbling.

With these words written, here starts my blog.

-Lou Z. Huer

Fellows Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED KNIFE LOTTERY – SOILED SOUL AND RAPTURE

coverWith every year that goes by, the sub-genres of rock music further fuse with each other creating a diverse soundscape that can either come off as something invigorating or completely muddy when brought together on an album.  On Red Knife Lottery’s newest effort Soiled Soul & Rapture, the pace of the album is kept fresh by this coupling of styles.

The guitars fly with power and then turn to swirl like a tornado of melody when you don’t necessarily expect them to.  This gives the mind something to keep it busy and it’s always appreciated when pulled off successfully.

The lead singer, Ashley Chapman, has a voice that has power and a blood curdling scream that raises the hairs on your body, which is a good thing.  She is also very capable of carrying a beautiful tune when the occasion calls for it.  The only downside is that the vocal tones can become monotonous when compared to the accompanying sounds and they often get muddled by the dynamic music, hiding poignant lyrics about a life of excess and the perils of it while simultaneously giving female listeners something positive to absorb.  However, make no mistakes about the quality of the voice.  I am excited to see where she takes her vocal direction in the future.

The album is cohesive but short.  I am left wanting more after finishing it, leading me to go back for a second and third listen, however no more music appears to my dismay.  But, that is what I believe is an earmark of what I define as being a good album, so I can feel confident in passing on my recommendation of this album.

My favorite tracks are Raise No Fool, Hip Bruisers, and Shapeshifters with my only question being about the track Junkie Jazz, but even though it didn’t hit me at first it has grown on me after several listens.

I don’t have a rating system figured out yet so I am going to go the route of “Who’s Line Is It Anyways?” and assign this album 955 points with those points not meaning anything.

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You can catch Red Knife Lottery this Friday at the Eagles Nest as they kick off the new tour.

 

 

 

 

HAZ SOLO & DYLAN THOMAS – ALL JOKES ASIDE

haz solo and dylan thomasOver the past 30 years the genre of rap has steadily grown from the street corner and block parties it was born out of into a financial juggernaut that sways pop culture with its every whim.  We hear the commercial by-products of rap music everywhere as we are inundated with it at the clubs and on the radio.  However, the sounds of soulful hip-hop have been noticeably missing since the entry of the Bling era.  This in no way means that the style of music isn’t still being created, it just means that you have to dig a little further to find it, similar to how beatsmiths Haz Solo and Dylan Thomas dig to find samples for their production.

This diligence in finding good music to make good music pays off.  On their first collaborative album, All Jokes Aside, the soul sample is alive and well leading me to reminisce about the days that I, myself, poked around on the turntables.  The beats are equally coupled with rhymes about things that typically sound good over smooth grooves.  Female companionship, or the lack thereof, fills in as the albums main topic of discussion making for a disk that one could listen to on the way to a romantic rendezvous as a sort of pump up for the hopeful end to the night’s chase for someone that smells as good as it looks.

However, the album is not overly sexed out or does it only have witty lyrics about the opposite gender and their endeavors with them.  There are moments of pure hip-hop on this album where the lyrical muscles are flexed.  One such track is RedBlueGreen where the top-billed emcees each take a color and rap about it with Prophetic rounding out the song on the third verse.  It’s very creatively done and is perfectly place on the 2nd half of the album.  Crills is another such track that serves up notice to their peers.

At times the stream of consciousness is not completely together, but it seldom falters for very long.  Part of that may be the insertion of inside jokes, both sonically and verbally, meant for only their closest friends to understand.  But with that being said, the album also shows the depth of each producers talents, often using the last 30 seconds of several songs to switch the beat up almost as to say to their competition that they will never run out of music.  For the listener, that is a very good thing.  I personally love albums that do this instead of relying on the fade out of a chorus in its 8th time of being repeated.

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If you enjoy hip-hop, then this is an album that I can honestly pass on as being one you should most certainly buy and give a spin.  You can purchase their album on Digistation.com (http://www.digstation.com/artistalbums.aspx ).

 

 

 

 

NEXT TUESDAY – TRUSTY KNIFE AND KA$H will be reviewed

 

Who I’m reviewing for Tuesday

The first albums that I will be reviewing are from Red Knife Lottery, and Haz Solo and Dylan Thomas.  I am looking for more music to review and based on how many submissions I get, they will either all go up Tuesday or I will hold some for later in the week.

 

Email your submissions (music, bio/press kit, picture) to milwaukeemusicreviews@gmail.com

 

-Lou

Music Reviews – First Round!

I thought that I would take a moment to let everybody know that the first round of music reviews will be posted on Tuesday, November 3rd.  Again, I will review everything and anything that is thrown at me musically!

 

Submit to: milwaukeemusicreviews@gmail.com

 

-Lou

 

Fellows Johnson

Information For Your Britches – Here’s How You Send Me Stuff

I am a simple man, with a simple plan.  That plan is to provide honest reviews of all Milwaukee music that is sent my way.  I will review albums, EPs, singles, music videos…pretty much anything that gets sent my way.  On occassion I may even review a show…but don’t count on it.  I usually get way too drunk at shows to ever give an accurate and fair representation of what the experience was truly like.
Now, to explain what I mean by Milwaukee music.  Milwaukee means, but is not limited to, music that comes from:
People in the city of Milwaukee
People in the county of Milwaukee
People who once called Milwaukee (the city or county) home
People who are in the metro area around Milwaukee
Get it? Got it? Good!
Now, let me tell you what to send and how to send it.  I will accept links to any Imeem, Myspace, Purevolume, etc. page so that I can just stream the music.  I will also accept links to places like sendshare and mediafire where I can download complete projects.  God help you if you infect my computer however.  I also want some information about you as an artist and your music.  ALWAYS send a picture or two so that I can give the readers of this page a visual reference.  If you have a press kit, I will take that as well.  Basically, represent yourself well and give me what you think a record label or large magazine would want to see.  If your stuff looks shady, you will go on my public “Shady Asshole” list…so be warned, keep it professional.
Send everything to milwaukeemusicreviews@gmail.com and I will get back to you usually within 48 hours
I also reserve the right to remain annonymous because I don’t really feel like being stabbed by a broken Pabst bottle when I go out and about.  You can call me afraid.  You can call me a pussy.  Bottomline, you can call me alive and uninjured.
Honestly, the reason I am doing this is because I love the Milwaukee music scene and I want to help by giving a voice to those who want to get their music out there and not because I have some innate desire to be mean.  I would much rather have my critiques help you to improve and grow rather then rip you apart so that you don’t want to do it anymore.  That being said, just don’t completely blow musical chunks.  Fair enough?  I thought so too.
-Lou

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