Where were you in September 2012? We were fumbling through the Flobots’ last album, The Circle in the Square. And now, after many moons, we’re tackling them again, hopefully with steadier hands and heads. Jonny 5, Brer Rabbit, KennyO, and company are back at it, releasing their first album in that timespan, Noenemies. We’ll discuss the current state of Flobots, the new album and its content, while touching briefly on “having your back against the wall” so to speak—confronting the ‘thens’ and ‘nows’ of critical consideration.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite (and perhaps only) virtual band! Although we’ve inspected the work of Damon Albarn before, this is our first chance to take on the Gorillaz, an unrelated ensemble of animated musicians — 2-D, Mudoc, Noodle, and Russel — who, as far as we’re concerned, are behind the music we’re hearing. On their latest album, Humanz, the Gorillaz introduce a bevy of artists, both old and new, to help with the project and take on its variety of subjects. Let’s follow along! And save room for a brief discussion on the subjectivity and flexibility of rating criteria where art is concerned.
Today, Matt welcomes back another “crossover guest” — that is to say, a guest who made an appearance on our other series, the Crash Chords Podcast, in Episode #77. That guest would be the rapper, writer, director, producer, and video editor hailing from New York City, known as Hops. Given the opportunity for a second interview, Hops updates Crash Chords on his latest exploits. Having stepped away from rap temporarily to work on a dance record, Hops discusses his current job doing video editing for Fortune.com as well as a short film he’s directed called Take Me With You. Seeing as there’s plenty afoot for the talented producer, the two also discuss the current state of the film industry and media’s effects on modern-day society.
Ready to take on the impossible, kid? Help us take on The Impossible Kid, the 7th studio release by veteran wordsmith Aesop Rock. You can thank listener Alex StarF Alverson for today’s pick as we hope you’ll join us in peeling back the layers of this complex self-assessment of an album: one of both the artist and the person. As wordsmithing will be of critical importance to today’s episode, we decided to conduct our own self-assessment in our topic [at 1:48:18] as we take a brief look at the importance of word choice in critical analysis, as well as in the art itself.
To close out this review season, we bring you the debut album by the most ambitious collaborators we’ve ever looked at… Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment. Although they began with a core of five members, the band’s debut album Surf certainly lives up to their name, The Social Experiment, by introducing MANY more musical minds to the table. Offering the album up for free (exclusively on iTunes), the band appears to be as magnanimous as they are community-driven. Enjoy this thorough analysis along with, lastly, some quick thoughts on contemporary music trends — verily on our minds as we fast approach the 2015 year in review.
Today Matt welcomes Arizona rapper Bag of Tricks Cat. Curious about the name? Behind it is a sentimental story of how the rapper owes his deep love of music to his grandmother, Ann Bennett, who sang the “Felix the Cat” theme song in 1959. Although Bag of Tricks Cat has taken his music career in different directions, the love of music remains and is currently firing the production of an LP called Cat’s Out of the Bag, which will feature his already-released singles “Never Sober” and “Dream Girl”. The full album will be released in Summer 2016. With Matt, Bag of Tricks Cat discusses his biggest influences; his writing process; and close collaborator, touring mate, and former Autographs guest Mega Ran. He also chats about the video shoot for the “Dream Girl” single and about how the new record will differ from his previous, The Cat That Never Came Down.
Today’s album, Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots, explores the many ugly heads of ‘insecurity’. Fun times! But there’s a catch… The artist (the author and musician) is very much a part of the tale, which leads to a rather — wait for it — “meta” plot-structure. Yes, that label, “meta” (as groan-worthy as it has become in pseudo-academic culture), adds a strong dimension to Blurryface. That being the case, starting at 1:34:55 we take some time to explore the use of “meta” elements in other pieces of music, as well as some common fallacies that have erupted from the word itself.
Come witness what many would call the junction point of two repelling magnets (Hip-Hop and Classical) with the newest album by Black Violin, called Stereotypes. Its core members (violinist Kev Marcus and violist Wil B) might argue this point however, as they approach their unique brand of genre fusion as a marriage made in… Florida. Give the album a listen (the duo’s first LP under the Universal Classics label) and then come give us a listen! Or, skip to 1:31:26 for a roundtable discussion on whether Hip-Hip can claim the title of “most versatile.” We’ve got our opinions, let’s hear yours!
The electronic/abstract hip hop community must be delighted by the release of Scott Herren’s latest album, Rivington Não Rio, released under his long-time alias, Prefuse 73. After several other projects, Herren’s Prefuse 73 label once again incurs an eclectic array of collaborators and featured artists, while Rivington Não Rio also aims to take us down a much darker path. After we break the album down to its core, stick around for a followup discussion on ‘music description’ and the pallete of words we implement—or strain to implement—when summing up our favorite sections.
Back to nerdcore! This week we take an excursion through the life of Mega Ran, nerdcore rapper hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. For the full excursion, fans can now purchase a documentary that was released about Mega Ran’s life called MEGA-LO-MANIA. With Matt, however, he discusses recent projects such as his latest solo record, Mega Ran Com: Mission, as well as a collaborative effort with fellow nerdcore rapper Storyville called Soul Veggies. Touching upon an upcoming record and the concept behind its inspiration, they also chat about how gaming has influenced his life & music, what it feels like to be officially licensed by Capcom as an indie artist, and his unique transition from a teaching career to full-time rapper.