August 24, 2011

Avey Tare - Down There Review

There is not a moment to spare from the beginning of Down There. Instantly Animal Collective member, Avey Tare, pulls listeners into a swampscape of blurry voices and wet beats for his debut solo effort. Animal Collective are known to craft songs that experiment with the production and style of modern music, to such a huge extent, that their music has gained a considerable cult following. This steady rise in popularity has only since exploded by the time the group released their mainstream breakout album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, in 2009. Their music can be described as freak-folk, or neo-psychedelic, but that sort of statement might even be restricting considering the group’s constant evolution. The soundscapes and emotions that Animal Collective produce in their albums, such as their guitar driven, Sung Tongs, or sample based Strawberry Jam, make their records have a true cohesion and are a real treat to experience as a full album, and a journey into the minds of these awe-inspiring musicians. However, the exclusion of three quarters of the group does not stop Avey Tare with this brilliant, surreal escape of an album, Down There. This nine track solo release goes many places, and is best experienced as a whole. Starting off with “Laughing Hieroglyphic,” Down There takes listeners under, and it flows from one song to the next, just as Avey’s voice flows next to the beat. “Glass Bottom Boat” is a short interlude, which splits the album in a way, and sets the tone for the remainder of the tracks. The swimming and water themes, when combined with the musical instruments and electronic beats, which sound as if they are just under the surface of the lagoon, leave listeners in the depths of Avey’s mind. And when thinking back on all the popular music that is designed by the dollar, and made to follow all the rules, it surely is a joy to experience the real sounds and real emotions of Avey Tare, and descend into the vast world and whimsical madness of Animal Collective’s most prominent songwriter.

Rating: 8.9/10

Recommended Tracks: Oliver Twist, Ghost of Books, Lucky 1

August 22, 2011

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up Review

When Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler of Brooklyn, New York, worked as part of the jazz hip-hop trio, Digable Planets, their easy-going alternative rap rocked the 90’s, when hip-hop was still in its early stages and growing in popularity. Now more than a decade later, Butterfly is back with a new name, and a new group, pushing a sound that burns a new chapter into the history of hip-hop. Based out of Seattle, Butterfly, newly dubbed as Palaceer Lazaro, heads Shabazz Palaces. Many excited fans were already buzzing from the release of Shabazz’s first two self-released EPs, Of Light and a self-titled EP. If these two releases meant anything in the world of hip-hop, it was a sure sign of something else entirely. Come summer 2011 and Shabazz Palaces releases their first full-length, Black Up, a collection of spaced out beats that build up and dissolve several times over for each track, leaving listeners entranced by the album’s mystifying and near-flawless production. Boasting a record full of sounds that make no compromises for accessibility, Black Up contains no discernible radio singles. The last time a hip-hop record so blatantly left listeners to do most of the work was 2004’s hip-hop album, Madvillainy, now arguably one of the greatest hip-hop releases of the decade. Now it can certainly be a risk to leave a record absent of any standout hits, but with Shabazz Palaces, this is clearly not the case. Black Up transforms every couple minutes, and Palaceer Lazaro has a way to make it work in the best way possible. Only time will tell how well this record will be received, but perhaps time will catch up with the sound that is contained on this newly released LP. For now, Shabazz Palaces own a sound that hip-hop has never really heard before. Check out their new record to hear for yourself the future of hip-hop, and always support the artist. Buy their records, see their shows.

Rating: 8.9/10

Recommended Tracks: Are You... Can You... Were You? (Felt), Youlogy, Yeah You