Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Rennaisance of New Music

Bloc Party- Intimacy

Yeah, "Mercury" sucks. To make matters worse, it's sandwiched between two equally obnoxious tracks, "Ares" and "Halo". To make matters worse, these happen to be the first three songs on Bloc Party's sudden third LP. Having nearly completely abandoned the guitar rock of still-exciting debut Silent Alarm, Bloc Party's new elctro-dance-glitch direction is sure to turn off many with its way over-the-top beats (you complained about Partie Traumatic's production? Wait 'til you get a listen to this one.) Once you get past the messy start, however, there are a few redeeming tracks to be found in the back of the album, namely potential singles "One Month Off" and "Better Than Heaven", and the group's relentless energy and constant effort to reinvent their sound (this is their third album in just four years) inspires. Intimacy isn't going to do anything to help the nagging notion that Bloc Party don't really know how to write songs, but it's a small step up from the melodrama of 2007's Weekend In The Shitty.

Okkervil River- The Stand-Ins

Billed as the second part of a double-album, Okkervil River's new offering, the Stand-Ins, could barely stand as little more than that- a companion album. Coming off the heels of 2007's The Stage Names, a classic slice of hot, American pie, its sister album doesn't reach the same heights of "Our Life Is Not A Movie" and "A Girl In Port", but it is a solid sidekick. I won't go into great detail, but if The Stage Names left you wanting more, know that The Stand-Ins will finally make you full.

Of Montreal- Skeletal Lamping

OMG. Kevin Barnes is really, really fucking horny. Of Montreal's 9th album is really, really fucking insane. A large portion of it is devoted to the adventures of Barnes's alter-ego, a 40-year-old black transvestite named Georgie Fruit, who used to front a 70's band named The Arousal. It's fifteen tracks long, but depending on how you look at it, it could be anywhere from one to one-hundred songs. Each track is composed to four or five different pop segments, each strung together by the mind of Kevin Barnes, which explodes at least six times during the duration of this album. It's a trip through a fucked up, schizophrenic brain, and I recommend listening to it without taking notice of the track switches. That way, you honestly don't have a clue what's coming next. It's funky, it's sexy, and it's full of absolutely stunning, hard to pronounce pop songs like "An Eluardian Presence" and "Plastis Wafers". Oh, it's also unquestionably on the short-list for album of the year. But seriously, WTF?

SBT- A Rennaisance, Of Swords

Yes, the Rennaisance is finally done. Its release has been anticipated more than Cuban Linx II and Swift and Changeable combined, but this soon-to-be-legendary hip-hop sensation has finally surfaced. Masterfully produced by Donut Hole and tirelessly post-produced by Courtney Kalamar, both of whose identities remain cloaked in shadow, this purposefully misspelled Rennaisance throws insane beats and educationally-stimulated lyrical wordplay at you like a swarm of ninja throwing stars. Donut Hole, perhaps best known for his slick delivery and otherworldly talent for building metaphors, continues his dominance here with lines like "I bring heat like a toster/ Roasting every other one of your sculptors", completely abandoning the notion that toasters did not exist in 15th century Florence. Kalamar, meanwhile, never one to shy away from completely deviating from the song's topic in favor of lyrical spitfire, keeps the show from getting stale with his unique method of saying whatever the fuck he wants. Like Spencer Krug in Wolf Parade, his talents are kept in check by Donut Hole, ensuring that not every track devloves into a pop-culture referencefest. Though there are plenty of those to go around: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ian Brown, Harry Potter, Steve Holt, The Wire, Grand Theft Auto, butler Bernard, The Eagles, Stan Lee, Interpol, Jerry Maguire, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Michael Phelps, Fargo, Dice-K, Star Wars, The Revenge of Shinobi, Dewayne Wade, Veronica Mars, and the Spanish Inquisition are just a few of the modern-day pop culture phenomenons that make their way onto the Rennaisance. Newcomer Lil' Poltageist provides hooks on standout tracks "95 Theses" and "The Medicis", a breath of fresh air amidst misguided party tracks like Kalamar's "Get On Your SBKnees", a sexually confusing hodgepodge slightly resembling a rap song that will make you want to fuck everything you see for the rest of your life.

"Galileo", featuring a beat co-produced by former Electioneers frontman Matt Gasda, is another highlight, carefully splicing the line between SBT's haunting music and awe-inspiring, occasionally historically innacurate lyrics. But it's "95 Theses" that really welcomes the Salem Bitch Trials to the game. A sampled soul beat, two immaculately perfect verses by both MCs, an appearance by both Poltageist and fictional video game character Black Swan, and a legitimate respect for the Lutheran religion suggest that DH and CK, both presumably African American and in their mid to late 30's, are here to stay.

If you'd like your copy of the Rennaisance, contact either myself or Joe, both of whom are exhausted from spending three months on a hip-hop album and ferociously envious that it wasn't this one.



Syracuse Speech and Debate Team said...

I want my SBT!!!

M. Luther said...

95 Theses is the anthem for our generation.

dan said...

Not enough T-Pain. Also, I think Courtney Kalamar is just a dime-a-dozen Master P ripoff. But besides that, A Rennaisance, Of Swords is poised to be more influential than Illmatic. Or at least Nastradamus...

Erik said...

this question is directed at andrew. why is renaissance "purposely misspelled"? if it's some lame j-ren pun i'm not buying it.