Thursday, July 28, 2016

Daughter of a Tapehead: Boris

Pink (Deluxe Edition)
Sargent House
Released: 7.8.16
Originally released: 2005 via Diwphalanx Records (Japan); 2006 via Southern Lord Recordings (U.S.)

* I'm in the midst of finishing up a review of the Pink reissue for I Heart Noise.  I'm hoping to have that out very soon.

** While the tendency for Boris to genre-hop isn't necessarily something one can glean from a single track, this aspect of the band makes them difficult to readily categorize and I think Isabella picked up on that.  

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Nisennenmondai

Nisennenmondai is a three-piece from Japan whose propulsive art rock mutations seem to derive mainly from the No Wave era groups like DNA and Mars, whose own caustic brands of anti-melody had been inspired largely by the urban ruin of late-70s New York City, not to mention the desire to simply play music that had no clear ancestor, namely traceable roots to rock, blues, jazz, funk...etc., (though I could argue some connection to free jazz).  I'd also cite the psychedelic and repetitious elements of groups like Neu! and Can as possible influences as well as post-punk's utilization of dub reggae.  

Nisennenmondai has apparently been playing together since 1999, so it embarrasses me a little to be discovering this group almost twenty years later.  But, the tracks I sampled from the group's recent release #N/A warranted acknowledgement.

On September 2nd, Nisennenmondai will be releasing the #6 EP, its single track pulled from the sessions that birthed #N/A.  The B-side features a remix of #6 by Throbbing Gristle's Chris Carter

Below is a teaser video announcing the EP.  I've also embedded a Soundcloud link with some cuts from #N/A that you can check out.  The EP will be out on On-U Sound and the info below (along with a link to pre-order the album) was provided by Julian T. Schoen - Artist, Event & Project Management.  


Watch the Teaser Video now //\\ Pre-order limited edition vinyl
#6 is out September 2 on On-U Sound

Nisennenmondai - #6 EP Teaser
(YouTube // Vimeo)

Earlier this Spring, Nisennenmondai, the female trio from Tokyo, Japan, that make live, hypnotic, instrumental industrial / no-wave jams, released their collaborative
#N/A full-length with legendary producer and On-U Sound captain Adrian Sherwood. The LP was well received by the likes of Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, XLR8R and others.

Today, the trio & Sherwood are pleased to announce the follow-up
#6 EP, available September 2 on limited edition vinyl, featuring an exclusive bonus cut from the #N/A sessions along with a very special remix by the underground legend Chris Carter, best known for Throbbing Gristle, Carter Tutti Void, and Chris & Cosey.

Nisennenmondai is composed of Sayaka Himeno on drums, Yuri Zaikawa on bass, and Masako Takada on guitar. They have been composing live, instrumental music since 1999, first channeling a noise / no wave aesthetic in the vein of Sonic Youth, only later developing into streamlined, hypnotic, minimalist sound that could be likened to
"organic live techno".

Already receiving support from the likes of Battles, Prefuse 73 and Throbbing Gristle, Nisennenmondai began their dive into electronic music culture with their collaboration with Shackleton last year. Linking with Sherwood helps continue this trajectory while adding a new layer to their hypnotic jams. 


Nisennenmondai -
#6 EP
(On-U Sound, out September 2)


Track Listing

Side A

Side B
#6 (Chris Carter Remix)


(Site // Facebook // Twitter)

On-U Sound
(Site // Soundcloud // Twitter // Facebook

Letters From A Tapehead

VH1 Classic Will Be MTV Classic...

All those of years of GEN X'ers being ignored or maligned by their babyboomer parents, indifferent and cynical marketers and a media that was more than happy to cater to perceptions of "slacker-dom," and the one bone we're thrown is MTV Classic.  I don't know whether to celebrate or tell Viacom to go fuck themselves because, chances are, this "new" network is probably going to have as much success as VH1 Classic's very lazy attempt at recapturing the so-called magic of a bygone era.  Remember Nick At Nite?  That's basically what this is, except for the ex-Manic Panic set who insatiably scour Buzzfeed for lists pertaining to topics like "You were a 90s kid if..." and "Things only 90s kids will understand."

Sorry, that's my 90s era cynicism kicking in.  

You can find an article on the re-branded MTV Classic at Stereogum.

I'll probably wind up watching it.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Blonde Redhead: "This is the number of times I said I will but didn't (4-Track Demo)"

At the end of September, Blonde Redhead will be releasing Masculin Féminin, a 37-track compilation featuring the band's first two releases (s/t and La Mia Via Violenta) along with singles, demos, essays, and unseen photographs.  Masculin Féminin is being released as part of the 200 Line series, a faction of Numero Group's archival endeavors that specializes in the forgotten recorded artifacts from the DIY era. 

You can listen to the track below or check out the Black Book article.

There's also a trailer announcing the release.

Information and links were provided by Force Field PR.

Blonde Redhead shares rare early demo via Black Book ahead of Numero Group box set release

STREAM: "This is the number of times I said I will but didn't" (4 track demo) -
Soundcloud / Black Book

VIDEO: Trailer Video -

Teeming with the energy and grit of pre-Giuliani Manhattan, Blonde Redhead's long out-of-print early recordings have finally crawled their way out of the '90s basement thanks to Numero Group who will issue a 4LP / 2CD set on Sept. 30. Weighing in at 37 tracks, Masculin Féminin compiles the band's first two albums for Steve Shelley's Smells Like Records (self-titled and La Mia Via Violenta), their period singles, extant demos, and radio performances across four LPs or two CDs. Dozens of previously unpublished photographs illustrate two lengthy essays on this essential New York band's formative years.

This is the latest installment in Numero Group's 200 Line series which has also included releases from Unwound, Bedhead, Codeine, White Zombie and The Scientists.

"These songs combine a raw need, a ready access to neediness, with seemingly incongruous cinematic changes reminiscent of '60s Italian pop music and movie scores. They switch between emotional grandeur and eye scratching immediacy." -Arto Lindsay


10/09 Laval, QC - Salle Andre-Mathieu
10/11 New York, NY - The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph
10/13 Washington DC - The Howard Theatre
10/14 Durham, NC - RJ Reynolds Industries Theater

Blonde RedheadMasculin Féminin
(Numero Group)
Street Date: Sept. 30, 2016
Pre-order here

Track List:

LP 1 -

1. I Don't Want U
2. Sciuri Sciura
3. Astro Boy
4. Without Feathers
5. Snippet
6. Mama Cita
7. Swing Pool
8. Girl Boy

LP 2 - 7"s and Bonus Material

9. Amescream
10. Big Song
11. Inside You
12. Vague
13. Jet Star
14. This Is The Number Of Times I Said I Will But Didn't (4 Track Demo)
15. Instrumental (Live at Snacktime)
16. Slogan Attempt
17. Swing Pool Instrumental (Live at Snacktime)
18. Woody (4 Track Demo)

LP 1 -
La Mia Vita Violenta

19. (I Am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off
20. Violent Life
21. U.F.O.
22. I Am There While You Choke On Me
23. Harmony
24. Down Under
25. Bean
26. Young Neil
27. 10 Feet High
28. Jewel

LP 2 - 7"s and Bonus Material

29. Flying Douglas
30. Harmony (7" Version)
31. 10 Feet High (7" Version)
32. Valentine
33. Not Too Late
34. (I Am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off (KCRW Session)
35. Pier Paolo (KCRW Session)
36. Country Song (La Mia Vita Violenta Outtake)
37. It Was All So Sudden (4 Track Demo)


Letters From A Tapehead

Faith No More: "The Jungle (Live 1986)"

An expanded edition of Faith No More's 1986 debut LP, We Care A Lot, will be out August 19th via Koolarrow Records.  In the interest of promoting the reissue, a video of the group performing "The Jungle" at San Francisco's The i-Beam has surfaced online.  This footage will be included in the reissue, along with demos and other live recordings.

Information on the reissue is provided below along with pre-order links, all of which were provided by Speakeasy PR.  




SAN FRANCISCO, July 27, 2016 – As part of the build up to the release of Faith No More's We Care A Lot reissue (Aug. 19, Koolarrow Records), watch new, rare footage (audio and video by Chris Husband) of Faith No More performing 'The Jungle' live from 1986 at The i-Beam in San Francisco:

The footage and track are included on the album reissue, and the track is also now available (as well as "We Care A Lot" and "As The Worm Turns') as instant downloads on the iTunes pre-order link:
“This was an album that started as a demo, before any label had any interest in us,” explained Faith No More bass player Bill Gould. “There were a couple of reasons we decided to release this now: first of all, it’s been 20 years since it has been commercially available. Secondly, when cleaning out my basement, I discovered the original master reels, and we all thought that resurrecting this from the original tapes would be a great way to reintroduce We Care A Lot into the world. Lastly, this has been a band effort; we are releasing this in the same way as we recorded it, deciding everything amongst ourselves and getting our hands deep into the nuts and bolts… just like we used to.”

The original 10-song album, remastered by Maor Appelbaum via the original reels Gould eluded to, is enhanced with nine bonus tracks including demo versions (taken from the original 8-track tapes) of “Greed,” “Mark Bowen,” “Arabian Disco” and “Intro,” live versions of “The Jungle” and “New Beginnings” and new mixes, via Matt Wallace, of “We Care A Lot,” “Pills for Breakfast” and “As The Worm Turns.” Liner notes from keyboard player Roddy Bottum and behind-the-scenes photos will be included with the physical release.
We Care A Lot (Deluxe Band Edition) is available now for pre-order on CD (, digital ( and vinyl (

We Care A Lot arrived in November 1985 via Maximum RocknRoll editor Ruth Schwartz’s Mordam Records. The seminal album, boasting the timeless title track, which can still be heard daily on radio stations worldwide, confounded music fans and critics alike. As Pitchfork said in a 2015 article dubbed “The Misunderstanding of Faith No More,” the unpredictable and hard-to-define band “had radically altered the parameters of popular music years before the fabled alternative revolution.” Rolling Stone called it a "raw punk album" while Select Magazine dubbed it "a lustful marriage of mutoid metal and dance floor verve."

“When strangers ask what Faith No More is I’ve always said, ‘well, it’s kind of an art band…’ I say that mostly to distance us from the hard rock world that we’re often times lumped into. I mean, hard rock, sure, that was part of it, but our roots most definitely and pointedly stem from a specific freakout art time and place in San Francisco, a time that no longer exists. In 1982, the hippies mingled with the punks, the artists hung out with the musicians, the dance people and the punks were one and the Satanists and the sexual pioneers… all part of the same scene,” Bottum explains, colorfully setting the scene for the original inspiration for the band and We Care A Lot. “That weird SF window provided a platform from which we were free to express and cultivate a really uniquely odd sound experience. In Los Angeles, no one really cared much, but SF was always super supportive, encouraging us, directly and not, to get our collective freak on.”

“We felt like it was time to take the next step,” adds drummer Mike Bordin. “We raised as much money as we were able and booked time at Prairie Sun Studios just north of San Francisco. I can’t remember how long it took us to record the album, but not a lot, maybe a few days. The songs were sharp from having played most of them at various shows. Very stripped down, basic as could be. The place was on a farm in chicken country (Petaluma). Hard work, but a ton of fun too.”

We Care A Lot (Deluxe Band Edition) track list:
1. We Care A Lot
2. The Jungle
3. Mark Bowen
4. Jim
5. Why Do You Bother
6. Greed
7. Pills for Breakfast
8. As The Worm Turns
9. Arabian Disco
10. New Beginnings
11. We Care A Lot – 2016 Mix
12. Pills for Breakfast – 2016 Mix
13. As The Worm Turns – 2016 Mix
14. Greed – Original Demo
15. Mark Bowen – Original Demo
16. Arabian Disco – Original Demo
17. Intro – Original Demo
18. The Jungle – I-Beam, SF, 1986
19. New Beginnings – I-Beam, SF, 1986

Letters From A Tapehead

clipping.: "Baby Don't Sleep"

Manipulated blocks of industrially cold friction and cable-similar static provide some very loose notion of rhythm for clipping.'s latest single, "Baby Don't Sleep." This is the first track from the group's upcoming new LP, Splendor & Misery, which is being billed as a "a Sci-Fi/dystopian concept album."  That description seems well-suited for the group's noise fetishism, the often dissonant aural language that sound designers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson have built around vocalist Daveed Diggs, who has a unique ability to find meter despite the duo's seeming distaste for melody or groove.

Splendor & Misery will be out September 9th via Sub Pop and Deathbomb Arc. You can find info on the release below along with pre-order links, all of which was provided by Sub Pop.  

Clipping share Splendor & Misery details, “Baby Don’t Sleep” official video

Splendor & Misery available September 9th worldwide on Sub Pop/Deathbomb Arc

Last night, Clipping shared details on behalf of Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi/dystopian concept album due out on CD/LP/DL/CASS September 9th worldwide on Sub Pop/Deathbomb Arc.

The album is led by the highlights “Baby Don’t Sleep,” “A Better Place,” and “Air ‘Em Out,” was produced by the band, and mixed by Steve Kaplan in Los Angeles. The album announcement comes on the heels of the group’s just released
Wriggle EP [link here].

Clipping has also delivered an official for “Baby Don’t Sleep,” the lead single from
Splendor & Misery [watch here].

“Baby Don’t Sleep” is Clipping’s collaboration with multi-disciplinary artist Cristopher Cichocki. The new visual is an electrified vortex of video art that jolts into the core of the group’s commanding noise-rap and musique concrete aesthetics. Captured within the industrial bellies of New York and Los Angeles, this meticulously detailed work is comprised from Cichocki’s visual experiments with interference static, oscilloscopic wavelengths, and flicker-frame animation.

Splendor & Misery is now available for preorder from Sub Pop [link here] and Deathbomb Arc [link here]. Preorders through Sub Pop Mega Mart and independent retailers near you will receive the Loser edition on crystal clear vinyl (while supplies last). Additionally, Wriggle, the group’s surprise EP, is also available [link here].

Clipping’s current tour schedule in support of
Wriggle and Splendor & Misery includes: August 4th in Seattle at Chop Suey (with Cakes Da Killa and Porter Ray); August 19th in Los Angeles for the Perpetual Dawn Anniversary; A hometown release show on September 8th in Los Angeles at Highways Performance Space (with Busdriver and Pedestrian Deposit); And September 11th at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival.

The September 8th show is presented by Highways Performance Space, Artistic Directors, Leo Garcia & Patrick Kennelly.

There will be more dates announced soon. Please find a current list of dates below.

About Clipping:
Clipping formed in Los Angeles in 2009. Initially conceived as a remix project, Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson began composing new beats to accompany pre-existing rapacapellas. These early attempts paired noise and power-electronics inspired tracks with (stolen) vocals by commercial rap artists. Jonathan and William did this mostly to amuse each other and the duo earned very few fans. However, the band began in earnest in early 2010, when rapper Daveed Diggs joined the group. The three members had known each other for many years—William and Daveed since elementary school, and Jonathan since college. Clipping was their first project as a trio, building on both their long friendship and their many shared obsessions: rap, experimental music, and genre fiction, among others.

Clipping released
Midcity on their Bandcamp page in February of 2013 and signed with Sub Pop Records only three months later. The band described their debut as “party music for the club you wish you hadn’t gone to, the car you don’t remember getting in, and the streets you don’t feel safe on…” But they were careful not to fall into the critical position assumed of all “underground” artists, where operating outside of the mainstream is understood as a negative judgement of the mainstream. Clipping wanted to emphasize that their experimentation was not meant to assert that all rap should sound one way or another, or that the band had anything but admiration and adoration for the rap music they were providing an alternative to. They went on to describe their sound in relationship to early Dr. Dre production, calling Midcity an attempt to make “classic west coast rap music out of the tradition where sounding different wasn’t cause for fear.”

Midcity began very much like Jonathan and William’s remixes had—noise-inspired beats with aggressive rapping, all made very quickly—but as the project developed, the trio found that their strength lay in more conceptually rigorous practices. Halfway through the album, complex rules began to shape their processes: the band restricted themselves from using traditional drums sounds, and the lyrics were never written in the first person. The first rule was dismissed shortly after it was established, but the second became one of the main strategies for Clipping’s follow-up album.

In 2014, Clipping released their Sub Pop debut,
CLPPNG. The title was a reference to the absence of rap’s most common word—“I”— in the album’s lyrics. The omission played with a common contradiction in rap lyrics: their dual position as assertion of individuality and authenticity, and their condition as shared generic codes that can be infinitely rearranged by each new author. Clipping experiment with rap as art-in-a-closed-field but vacate that art of its presumed subjective center, revealing instead a collage of recurrent rap themes, generated as if by an artificial intelligence. The band viewed this limitation as a constrained writing technique, similar to those used in Georges Perec’s La Disparition and Walter Abish’s Alphabetical Africa, but apparently this was too subtle a concept for some listeners as no professional reviews of the album noted it. Many even lamented that the lyrics were less experimental than the beats.

However, the beats on
CLPPNG were, in their own way, quite traditional. For the most part, they represented attempts to adopt regionally and generically specific hip-hop tropes, filtered through the band’s unique lens. The single “Work Work,” which featured a guest verse by Compton rapper Cocc Pistol Cree, was a musique-concrète interpretation of a contemporary west coast beat (think DJ Mustard, League of Starz, HBK Gang) built from the sounds of smashing cinder blocks, crumpling beer cans, rolling ball bearings, and one very musical thermos. “Summertime” (with King T) achieved an old school G-Funk vibe, “Tonight” (with Gangsta Boo) aimed itself at a sweaty Memphis nightclub, and “Inside Out” captured Clipping’s love of 1990s KLC beats for No Limit Records. Even “Get Up,” with its incessant alarm clock drive, was conceived in reference to Trillville’s bedspring-squeaking anthem “Some Cut” and combined with the questionably-motivational message of the Geto Boy’s “First Light of the Day.” CLPPNG’s musical language was one of citation, pastiche, and homage ultimately concluding in an utterly faithful performance of John Cage’s tape composition “Williams Mix.”

Wriggle EP comprised six tracks that weren’t finished in time to make it onto CLPPNG. For “Shooter,” Clipping recorded themselves firing fifteen different guns, the sounds of which exclusively constituted the beat’s drums, augmented only by a synthesized tone-row. The verses referenced the well-worn technique of “hashtag rap,” but instead of using it to boast about the rapper’s personal wealth and masculine prowess, Clipping generate imagistic narratives of three different violent encounters. True to much of the group’s music, “Shooter” was an attempt to reframe a familiar style and test the limits of its formal capabilities.

“Back Up” featured two of Clipping’s friends and musical associates, the Anticon-signed rapper Antwon and Signor Benedick the Moor, while “Hot Fuck No Love” contained what might be the most explicit verse to date from Clipping’s favorite New Jersey rapper Cakes Da Killa. The EP’s title track, “Wriggle,” was built around a sample of the influential power-electronics song “Wriggle Like a Fucking Eel” by Whitehouse, transforming William Bennett’s torturous imperative in to a instructional dance-floor banger.

Since the release of
CLPPNG, many things have changed for the band—William finished his Ph.D. in Theater and Performance Studies with a dissertation on experimental music, Jonathan composed scores for the feature films Starry Eyes, The Nightmare, Excess Flesh, and Contracted: Phase II, and Daveed was in some play.* The variety of their activities outside of Clipping has always influenced their work inside the band, but never has this been more the case than in the creation of Splendor & Misery.

Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels. William and Jonathan’s tracks draw an imaginary sonic map of the ship’s decks, hallways, and quarters, while Daveed’s lyrics ride the rhythms produced by its engines and machinery. In a reversal of H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic insignificance, the character finds relief in learning that humanity is of no consequence to the vast, uncaring universe. It turns out, pulling the rug out from under anthropocentrism is only horrifying to those who thought they were the center of everything to begin with. Ultimately, The character decides to pilot his ship into the unknown—and possibly into oblivion—instead of continuing on to worlds whose systems of governance and economy have violently oppressed him.

* Daveed originated the roles of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the acclaimed Broadway musical
Hamilton and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Tour Dates
Aug. 04 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey*
Aug. 19 - Los Angeles, CA - Perpetual Dawn Anniversary Show (venue TBA)
Sep. 08 - Los Angeles, CA - Highways Performance Space**
Sep. 11 - San Francisco, CA - San Francisco Electronic Music Festival
* w/ Cakes Da Killa & Porter Ray
** w/ Busdriver, Pedestrian Deposit

Letters From A Tapehead

PUBLIC ENEMY Action Figure Set by PressPop Inc.

Public Enemy action figures.  This is now a thing.

You can find the pre-order links below along with info straight from the good people at Aggronautix. 

PUBLIC ENEMY Action Figure Set by PressPop Inc.



Kings of Hip Hop and inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Public Enemy’s “first action figure as a set” featuring four of the central members from the 80’s.

Members are: Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and Terminator X.

Both the dolls and the packaging are designed by Ed Piskor, author of the New York Times Best- Selling and Eisner Award winning comic series: Hip Hop Family Tree.

Designed by : Ed Piskor ( Hip Hop Family Tree)
Sculpted by: Tomohiro Yasui
Size: Chuck D 4.13"(10.5cm) / Flavor Flav 4.05"(10.3cm) / Professor Griff 3.74"(9.5cm) / Terminator X 4.92"(12.5cm)
Articulation: neck, shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees.
Material: PVC,ABS
Packaging: window boxed.

***For orders outside of the United States, please note that items will take longer to arrive (average of 3 weeks) and there is no tracking available w/o upgrade to an expedited shipping method (between $10 and $30)***


Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 22, 2016

Singles: Helen Money, Saafron, Stann Smith, NAG, Magic Trick

Helen Money: "Become Zero" (via Thrill Jockey Records/Spotify)

Saafron: "Mtulazaji - Spirit Bomb" (via Julian T. Schoen/Stones Throw/Soundcloud)

Stann Smith: "Gone" (via Obscure PR/Soundcloud)

NAG: "Ancient Wisdom" (via Viral Propaganda/YouTube)

Magic Trick: "More" (via Force Field PR/Soundcloud)

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 15, 2016

Shopping For Records: The Bought of 2016 — Anenon, Kendrick Lamar

We're more than halfway through the year, so I thought it was about time that I discuss some of the 2016 releases I've purchased. Here are some thoughts on the following:

Friends of Friends
Released: 3.4.16

Purely on the strength of the single "Once," I went to Anenon's Bandcamp page and purchased a copy of the band's latest album, Petrol.

Anenon is the moniker of one Brian Allen Simon, saxophonist and creative presence behind Petrol, whose composed intersections of soft and rushed are manifest in such a way as to find solace in spite of constant stimuli. Petrol is apparently an ode to the Los Angeles highway, though there's a lot of serenity within these grooves, too much to attribute to the frustration, anxiety, and stress one experiences when stuck in traffic. The aforementioned “Once” struck me because of Anenon’s dichotomous approach to tension, its hurried drum patterns, built by collaborator Jon-Kyle Mohr, being met with tonal calm. The be-bop approach to “CXP” is an easier idea to comprehend as just about every element incorporated into its being is headed somewhere fast and the programmed semi-boom bap of “Machines” takes an interesting turn with layers of bowed instrumentation and synthesized sound.

While jazz rhythms and brass melodies inform a lot of the album, this is an ambient outing. Occasional leaps into purely electronic melodies so occur, (as with the string-accompanied “Lumina” and the playfully composed “Mouth”), but Anenon’s saxophone finds kindred accompaniment with swells of meditative sound in tracks like album opener, “Body,” “Hinoki,” and the near-pulsation in “Panes.”

Anenon could be called smooth jazz for beat-meisters, but don’t let that sway you from checking this one out. It’s a deep listen from start to finish. The album closes with its title track, a beautifully rendered mash of brass, strings, percussion, and electricity that finds something to appreciate in the hurried aspects of its point of inspiration before eventually fading into the incidental sounds of cars passing by.


Kendrick Lamar 
untitled unmastered
Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope
Released: 3.416

“Pimp! Pimp! Hooray!”

I’m still not completely sure if Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered, which, if I may date myself slightly, is sort of the Incesticide to last year’s Nevermind, (2015’s To Pimp A Butterfly for those that don’t know), could be considered as a proper 2016 release since it’s essentially a compilation of unreleased demos from the Butterfly sessions. But, the truth of the matter is, untitled unmastered should’ve been called untitled, because this album sounds too thought out to be what its maker has claimed it to be.

Granted the material does sound rough next to the level of craftsmanship that went into Butterfly. But untitled unmastered benefits from well-considered track sequencing and the same level of multi-instrumentation and musical influences that made Butterfly as successful as it was, jazz, funk, blues, soul delivered unto Lamar’s very capable and lyrically dense flows, which expectedly conform well to just about every musical idea presented. Despite the overall rhythmic simplicity of “untitled 02 | 06.23.2014,” with well-collaged embellishments of brass and piano entering at points, Lamar finds ways to make it complex, changing up his phrasing as if trying to find the perfect rhythmic cadence. It’s as if he’s syllabically composing a progressive rock track, each pause for breath marking a time signature.

As far as standouts, the first track I really responded to was “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013,” its off-kilter rhythm and Thundercat’s modest bass application a captivating backdrop to Lamar’s commentary on race and what every class seeks to gain from the American dream. And then “untitled 5 | 09.21.2014,” successive bass notes (and possibly Kamasi Washington’s saxophone) amplifying what would otherwise be considered a pretty chill stride, Lamar trading verses with Jay Rock and Punch which follow a heavy contribution from singer, Anna Wise. And “untitled 06 | 06.30.2014” features Cee-Lo Green performing overtop bossa nova rhythms. Production for “untitled 6” was handled by Adrian Younge and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammed.

Lamar seems to be the most politically and socially relevant artist in the spotlight currently, at least as far as popular music is concerned. It could be argued that Beyoncé’s Lemonade is vying for this position as well and, since Lamar is involved with Lemonade anyway, it’s not as if she can claim to be unaware of his presence. He’s an insightful and interesting dude and he’s making hip-hop sound vital and exciting, again. And musical.

Worthy purchase.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What I Heard This Morning: Skinny Girl Diet & MJ Guider

'Tude and the chops to match.

Skinny Girl Diet's "Yeti," which was pulled from the group's upcoming debut LP, Heavy Flow, is infused with the familiar malnourished outlook that has in the past informed and fueled rock music of this sort.  As fast and loose as the term "punk" is slapped onto any uptempo melody and runny nose vocal, Skinny Girl Diet reclaims some of the genre's anxiety, impending dread tonally plucked out of those bass strings and an AmRep-learned sensibility scraped together into something new that I feel like I haven't heard in quite some time.  

Heavy Flow will be out 9.23.16 via Fiasco.  The track was provided by mutante-inc. 


The trio MJ Guider will be releasing their album, Precious Systems, on 7.15 via Kranky.  Two tracks from the album surfaced online today, "Former Future Beings" and "White Alsatian."  Expansive and ambient, both songs have a floating and immersive quality about them that's enhanced through layered, discernible instrumentation and vocalist Melissa Guion.  During "Former Future Beings," in particular, Guion is able to compete with some very deep and enveloping, though lush, sounds, her voice an added embellishment in some ways to its gently composed maelstrom.  

These tracks were provided by Rarely Unable PR.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to embed them, but you can still access them below. 

"Former Future Beings" 

"White Alsatian"

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Singles: SeaWitches, Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Tim Presley, Richard Yot, Still Corners, GHOUL, Frankie Reyes

SeaWitches: "Tempest" (via Girlfish PR/Emerald Eye Recordings/YouTube)

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas: "Chevron" (via Earsplit PR/Indie Recordings/Decibel/YouTube)

Tim Presley: "Clue" (via Mutante Inc./Drag City/Soundcloud)

Richard Yot: "Kings of Nothing" (via Soundcloud)

Still Corners: "Lost Boys" (via YouTube)

GHOUL: "Ghoulunatics" (via Earsplit PR/Tankcrimes/YouTube)

Frankie Reyes: "Flor De Azalea" (via Stones Throw/Soundcloud)

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

No Ripcord: Child Bite & Kaada/Patton (Second Chance Selection: January - June 2016)

Child Bite 
Negative Noise
Housecore Records
Released: 4.1.16

Bacteria Cult
Ipecac Recordings
Released: 4.1.16

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, July 04, 2016

Buried in a Good Mix Tape: "America" is in the Title...

July 4th.  If your ears aren't still ringing after lighting up all of your noisemakers in tribute to our independence, enjoy some of my "America" selections.

Brian Eno/David Byrne: "America Is Waiting"

Yes: "America (Simon & Garfunkel cover)"

Primus: "American Life"

The Mothers of Invention: "America Drinks and Goes Home"

Black Flag: "American Waste"

R.E.M.: "Little America"

MC5: "The American Ruse"

Bad Religion: "American Dream"

David Bowie: "I'm Afraid of Americans"

Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — Emma Ruth Rundle, Tropical Fuck Storm, Primitive Man, Private Life, Uniform, Erika Wennerstrom, Djrum, Windhand

Starting August off with some new singles. Emma Ruth Rundle:  " Darkhorse " (via Rarely Unable /  Sargent House  / YouTub...