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REVIEW: Smell the DA.I.S.Y. – De La Soul

De La Soul - Smell the DAISYDe La Soul
Smell the DA.I.S.Y.
Self-released; 2014

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4 / 5

De La Soul prepare for a big 2014 with the first of three planned releases: Smell the DA.I.S.Y., a free mixtape available via BitTorrent, is a reworking of classic De La raps over previously unreleased J Dilla instrumentals. It’s both charming for fans of the legendary rap crew and reverent to the late, great producer and his family. Read what else I had to say about it, here.


REVIEW: Cognitive Dissonance: Part One – Raz Simone

Raz Simone - Cognitive Dissonance coverRaz Simone
Cognitive Dissonance: Part One
Black Umbrella; 2014

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4 / 5

Raz Simone’s first album since inking a deal with 300 Entertainment is an instant Northwest classic that also stands as tall as many of the best national releases of 2014. Read what else I had to say about it over at Potholes In My Blog.


REVIEW: Abrasions: Stitched Up – Apollo Brown & Planet Asia

Apollo Brown & Planet Asia - Abrasions Stitched UpApollo Brown & Planet Asia
Abrasions: Stitched Up
Mello Music Group; 2014

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3 / 5

In which my 36 year-old man sensibilities kick in and realize they don’t make ‘em like Premier and RZA anymore (obvi). Read my review of Apollo Brown and Planet Asia’s new EP, Abrasions: Stitched Up, here.


REVIEW: Digital Wildlife – The Physics

The Physics - Digital WildlifeThe Physics
Digital Wildlife
Self-released; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4 / 5

The Physics tackle one of the most relevant questions of modern-day music-making on their new album, Digital Wildlife: How does the digital realm affect our understanding of, and interaction with, the analog when it comes to recorded music? Click here to read my album review over at Potholes In My Blog.


REVIEW: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 – Eminem

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Interscope; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3 / 5

On the sequel to his 2000 breakout album, Eminem (with help from Rick Rubin) reaches back in hip hop time to mine hits for a modern-day audience. The outcome: mixed results. Read what I wrote about The Marshall Mathers LP 2 over at Potholes In My Blog.


NEW MUSIC: Bright Vices – The Flavr Blue

The Flavr Blue - Bright Vices

Electro-pop trio The Flavr Blue released their new EP yesterday, Bright Vices. You can preview and download it below. Click over to Potholes In My Blog to read some more stuff I wrote about it.


REVIEW: Rubber Souls – Tanya Morgan

Rubber Souls - Tanya MorganTanya Morgan
Rubber Souls
Imprint One80 Inc.; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.0 / 5.0

Grown man rap in a classic format. Read my review of Tanya Morgan’s new album, Rubber Souls, over at Potholes In My Blog, here.


THOUGHT BUBBLE: The Problem with Online Music Criticism (and a Doris Album Review Drinking Game!)

Rant

The online music criticism universe is becoming an increasingly self-referential place. We — and I say “we” because I’m including my own stuffy self here — seem eager to stumble all over each other in a mad dash to be the first to say some shit about an album. Shit that will inevitably be repeated ad nauseum in numerous other reviews on various other sites that are all virtual clones of “that one” site we increasingly love to hate, but can’t help but click on during our first round of morning coffee.

To wit: In my Doris review I used the words “absentia” and “preternatural” inside the first two paragraphs of the piece. Why? Because I’m really fucking clever and I like to use precious vocabulary like this in order to prove my worth to the handful of uptight dicks who love geeking out over sickly turgid music criticism such as the kind I feel compelled to steal time at work to write (#runonsentence). So imagine my chagrin as I read Son Raw’s (excellent) take on Doris over at Passion of the Weiss and finding, you guessed it, exactly the same two words within the first two paragraphs of his review.

Earl(At this point in my #rant I find it important to note that I’ve made it my strict policy to never read the other reviews of albums prior to completing my own. This to avoid the dreaded sway of other writers’ opinions that I value, and the subconscious — and, let’s be honest, not-so-subconscious — lure of straight-up plagiarism. So, Son Raw, if you’re reading: I didn’t bite your steez, hand to God.)

(And also: I count myself lucky that David Reyneke, Andrew Martin, et al, have allowed me to be a regular contributor to their labor of music love, Potholes In My Blog, and I think that the stable of writers they’re putting on over there holds up in talent and knowledge base to any of the fools Metacritic feels worthy of co-signing.)

All this to say: the act of tapping out intelligent, well-considered album reviews these days feels like an exercise in expositional diminishing returns. And reading said criticism by other writers feels like the limpest circle jerk in the history of circle jerks. (And I say “circle jerks” specifically because, WE’RE ALL DUDES HERE, a whole other problem in itself that definitely deserves its own column/#rant.)

I’m not really here to offer solutions to the dilemma because I’m still trying to figure out what an adequate solution might look like. (Maybe it’s hopeless, like the Yelp Corollary [my term], which says that everything rated online and en masse inevitably trends toward the status quo.) Maybe I’ll start writing reviews that can only be read with a magic decoder ring. Maybe I’ll learn the alphabet of my native language and paint my reviews by hand on the sides of buildings in Flushing, Queens. Who knows what appropriately subversive tact I’ll take in order to exact my cold revenge? What I am here to do is #rant about it (obviously), and collate all of the standard tropes found in Doris reviews the web over into a comical and therapeutic game for drinking, aimed especially at folks like me who turn to the internet on the dawn of every major album release hoping for intelligent discourse.

Yes, it took me that many paragraphs to get here.

Mugs of beer

So, with that, take a drink every time…

  • A well-listened hip hop critic compares Earl Sweatshirt to MF Doom.
  • A self-important critic complains about how most of Earl’s verses “don’t make any sense.”
  • A warm and fuzzy critic praises Earl for his “autobiographical” and “confessional” lyrics.
  • An unimpressed critic is displeased with Doris’ understated production values.
  • A fussy critic reasons that there were too many guest features.
  • A concerned critic references Earl’s time spent in a Samoan rehabilitation center.
  • A highbrow critic notes that Earl’s father is a South African poet laureate.
  • A lowbrow critic refers to the lack of rape fantasies on Doris.
  • An impassioned critic declares Earl as the best rapper in Odd Future.
  • An armchair psychiatrist critic calls Doris a “therapeutic” exercise for Earl.
  • An estranged critic mentions Earl’s “absent father.”
  • A hyperbolic critic deems Doris a “classic.”

And finally, take a shot for me if…

  • You believe my review of Doris to be bloated overkill and an example of the exact problem about which I’m #ranting.

REVIEW: Doris – Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt - DorisEarl Sweatshirt
Doris
Tan Cressida / Columbia Records; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.0 / 5.0

Click here to read my review of Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album, Doris.


REVIEW: Magna Carta… Holy Grail – Jay-Z

Jay-Z - Magna Carta Holy GrailJay-Z
Magna Carta… Holy Grail
 Roc-A-Fella / Universal; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3.5 / 5.0

Click over to Potholes In My Blog — the god of online indie rap criticism — to read my take on Jay’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail.


ALBUM REVIEW: Authentic – LL Cool J

Authentic - LL Cool JLL Cool J
Authentic
S-BRO Music Group / 429 Records; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 1.5 / 5.0

The winter has officially arrived for LL Cool J’s rap career; even longtime fans should don their parkas for this one. Click here to read my review.


REVIEW: Wolf – Tyler, The Creator

Wolf - Tyler The CreatorTyler, The Creator
Wolf
Odd Future / Sony; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3.5 / 5.0

Click here to read my review of Tyler, The Creator’s new album, Wolf.


THOUGHT BUBBLE: The Trouble with Macklemore

Macklemore SNL

The white rapper with the crazy red fringe game and un-Googleable hairstyle danced across Saturday Night Live’s venerable stage two weekends ago like it was his last performance on earth. At first glance, the “blandly handsome” Macklemore (as Grantland’s Steven Hyden put it) didn’t look much like a rap music harbinger of doom, but for a concerned segment of hip-hop’s literati that’s what he closely resembles.

If you were a viewer watching at home, or maybe even in the studio audience, your reaction was likely one of either intense bewilderment, extreme delight, or furrowed disdain. Macklemore’s number one hit single “Thrift Shop” has very humble origins and the story of its rise to fame contains the standard tropes now associated with meme-powered feats of acclivity. But while sectarianism as it concerns bubblegum acts like Carly Rae Jepsen and petri dish experiments like Lana Del Rey can be reduced essentially to matters of taste, Macklemore’s ascent is complicated by the genre he practices in and the resultant untidiness endured by racial semantics.

(Click here to continue reading at Potholes In My Blog.)


REVIEW: Jamie Lidell – Jamie Lidell

Jamie Lidell - Jamie LidellJamie Lidell
Jamie Lidell
Warp; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3.0 / 5.0

Jamie Lidell makes pop-R&B/soul/funk that looks and sounds like the legendary source material by his musical heroes in their ’80s heyday. If you squint hard enough, that is. Click here to read my review of his new self-titled album.


REVIEW: A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside – Alexander Spit

ABTTTO - Alexander SpitAlexander Spit
A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside
Decon; 2013

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3.0 / 5.0

I reviewed Alexander Spit’s A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside for Potholes In My Blog. Click on over to read it.


REVIEW: Trilogy – The Weeknd

The Weeknd
Trilogy
Universal Republic; 2012

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.0 / 5.0

The Weeknd’s major label debut is simply a compilation of 2011′s three heralded EPs: House Of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes Of Silence. While there are still thrills to be discovered by those unfamiliar with the group, there’s not much new for the already initiated. The Weeknd’s devoted fans are left with the question: What’s next?

Click here to read my full review.


Growing Pains: Jay-Z’s In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 Turns 15

The good folks at Potholes In My Blog occasionally run retrospective pieces on the milestone anniversaries of landmark albums. They asked me to do such a piece for Jay-Z’s sophomore LP, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, which turns 15 today. Click here to read my thoughts.


VIDEO: “Rent Money Tour: Seattle” – Bambu (feat. Kixxie Siete, Rey Resurreccion, Prometheus Brown, & Grynch)

Shout-out to Bambu for dropping this video off this morning. Check him out live on the Rent Money Tour. Read my opinionated opinions on his latest LP One Rifle Per Family here. The Physics’s Mario Sweet on the beat.

And R.I.P. John T. Williams.


REVIEW: good kid, m.A.A.d. city – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d. city
Interscope Records / Aftermath Entertainment; 2012

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.5 / 5.0

Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city is one of the best hip-hop albums of 2012. But you already knew that. Click here to read my review at PiMB.


REVIEW: One Rifle Per Family – Bambu

Bambu
One Rifle Per Family
Beatrock Music; 2012

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.0 / 5.0

Click here to read my review of Bambu’s new — and, according to him, final — full-length, One Rifle Per Family.


SHOW REVIEW: Jay-Z at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (October 1, 2012)

For seven nights now, Jay-Z has paid his respects to the borough that birthed him: Brooklyn. I was in the crowd on Monday night when he got all wistful an’ shit. Read my thoughts on the matter, here.


REVIEW: First Of A Living Breed – Homeboy Sandman

Homeboy Sandman
First Of A Living Breed
Stones Throw; 2012

Score: 3.5 / 5.0

Super lyrical Homeboy Sandman drops more left-of-center knowledge on his first LP for Stones Throw Records. Click here to read my review at Potholes In My Blog.


DOWNLOAD: “Potholes Podcast: Jake One” – Potholes In My Blog

Click image to download.

The estimable folks at heavy-on-the-independent Potholes In My Blog (conflict of interest alert!) collaborated with Seattle super-producer Jake One for this 12-track mix. Local representation via The Physics and Vitamin D. Click here to find the review I wrote for The Physics’ Tomorrow People.

 


REVIEW: Tomorrow People – The Physics

The Physics  
Tomorrow People
Independently released; 2012

Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 4.0 / 5.0

The Physics deliver yet another well-rounded and accomplished album in Tomorrow People. Read my thoughts here.


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