Showing posts with label Run the Jewels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Run the Jewels. Show all posts

Dec 15, 2016

Farce the Music's Top 10 Songs of 2016



Spotify playlist created by Jon Sorrell below the selections.

1. Lori McKenna - Old Men Young Women
We had a casual poll about 2016 music a month or so back. Lori McKenna led the way on the 
"Best Songwriter of 2016" voting, and it's no surprise. With observant, incisive songs like 
"OMYM" and the others on her brilliant The Bird and the Rifle, McKenna stays at the forefront 
of American songwriting. She has the ability to put the listener into a situation they may have 
never even dealt with and make them think "Yes, this is exactly how that feels!" Here she takes 
on a lover who's moved on to a newer model and skewers the whole cliché (see title) with pointed lines like "you want the lights off, he wants the lights on, so you can pretend" and "She's the past in a 
summer dress, he's a ride in a new Corvette"…damn, just damn. The Bird and the Rifle is a master-class and for me, "Old Men Young Women" is its centerpiece.


2. Justin Wells - The Dogs
Passion. That's what drives this tune and it's the feeling that comes to mind in describing it. "The Dogs" is an unapologetic portrait of life on the edges, embracing the underdog life of a touring musician trying to drink away a broken heart. He's doing his best, but the hurt bleeds through even on stage: "It ain't easy acting like it ain't personal, and the band asked me not to curse no more." Wells can belt and he does a bit in the chorus, but he knows how to sing with fire even when using restraint. That give and take of emotion, but more so, the palpable tension when it's held in check, is what makes this song one of the best of 2016.


3. Car Seat Headrest - Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
I don't pretend to know what the hell this song is about; I just know I love it. The lyrics are smart and snarky and anxious and abstract. The music is jangly indie-rock (with a slice of power pop) that's constantly shifting tempos. The hooks though. This freaking song has like 4 hooks. It's crazy, but somehow it works. When that crunching and cathartic "it doesn't have to be like this" refrain finally kicks in, it's nearly as bracing as any face-slapping Nirvana chorus. I've tried to review the album this song is from about ten times this year, but I just don't know what to say about it that would make any sense or sound like I vaguely know what I'm talking about. Just know that it and this song are badass.

4. DJ Shadow & Run the Jewels - Nobody Speak
I already loved this song before its absurdly entertaining video took my affections to a new level. Run the Jewels has a new album coming out early next year, but it was nice to have this reminder of their magnetism in 2016. Underground legend Shadow provides an aggressive, pounding arrangement with just as many memorable turns as the lyricists spit. If I'd done much working out this year, 
this would have been on repeat.


5. Brandy Clark - Love Can Go to Hell
It sounds so sweet but it packs a sting. This time around, Brandy isn't casting barbs at exes and jerks, but at love itself. She doesn't linger on goodbye or blame her former lover; it's the unseen forces of the heart she's wishing ill upon. The instrumentation is light and intoxicating, the melody is gently rolling. "Love Can Go to Hell" ought to be a hit, but maybe it's too good for that.


6. Turnpike Troubadours - Come as You Are
These guys are so damn talented, they didn't even release an album this year and still had one of the best songs. This single from Bruce Robison's The Next Waltz series sounds like something that might've been left off last year's self-titled masterpiece, only because it didn't really fit the feel of that set, not due to any questioning of its merit. This tale of a come-and-go relationship surely set off some smoldering slow dances across Texas dancehalls this year. TPT can do no wrong.


7. Cody Jinks - I'm Not the Devil
There's really not a best song on Jinks' 2016 album. It's an incredibly consistent and 
moving collection without a single droop in quality, much less a weak moment. This tune 
just kinda gets the de facto nod for being probably the most memorable of the bunch. 
Jinks is blessed with a wonderful voice and possibly even better songwriting talents. 
He'll be a star in this realm of music for years to come.


8. Paul Cauthen - I'll Be the One
A voice that recalls Elvis and Waylon Jennings all at once probably could sing the proverbial phone book and make me happy. The fact that this powerful vocalist can also write songs this good should make a lot of other artists jealous. "I'll Be the One" sounds both timeless and modern, sticking in your head with multiple vocal hooks, and moving your feet with a shuffling rhythm. I can't wait to see and hear where this guy goes. There's no ceiling.


9. Austin Lucas w/Lydia Loveless - Wrong Side of the Dream
"I look around at 35 and all I've got are songs." Whew. When this line hits shortly into the song, you know it's not gonna be all sunshine and roses. Lucas has one of the more distinct voices in Americana and adding Loveless turns that chill up your spine into full-fledged goosebumps. 
This is a lonely and longing look at how life on the road affects a relationship. 
Spoiler alert: it ain't good - but it makes for a great song.


10. Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward -
The Road Between None and Some
This is probably the coolest song of 2016. It's just "different," I don't know how to describe it best. It starts with a slinky bass line and minimal drums before building only slightly into a mid-tempo groove that never lets up. It's an earworm of the highest caliber - one you don't mind getting trapped in your head for days. Simplicity serves RPFPR well here. This feels like sipping a good beer in a New Orleans dive bar in spring with the door open and a nice breeze blowing in.


Nov 16, 2016

An Open Letter to Zach De La Rocha



Sup dude. The track you did with Run the Jewels was excellent. Super stoked on it. The stuff you did with the dude from Mars Volta, also badass.

But, dude. We need to talk.

There’s the elephant in the room. You know what it is. I don’t have to spell it out. We’re gonna need you to pick up the phone and give your dudes a call. This Prophets of Rage thing ain’t working. Believe me, we all love Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, but we love Rage Against The Machine more. We need you back on the microphone.

The situation is dire, and there isn’t a better voice in all of music that spits pure acidic bile like yours. For over twenty years, we’ve had Rage Against The Machine as an arbiter, a reality check of what the cultural pulse is, what we’re blind to, and whose hands have blood on them. Have you watched the news lately? We have a situation that requires a swift pen and mighty vengeance illuminating the issues at hand.

When you wrote verses during the Bush and Clinton eras they were siren songs to the masses that couldn’t grasp the world around them. You fell silent, and now, we need that fire back, and we need that vitriol. I know you didn’t write “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” but if those words aren’t poignant as ever, then what is?

Sure, many bands have a lot to say, but few have your megaphone, your stage. We need the world to feel that anger again as the streets are full of protests – who will be the soundtrack? We need Rage Against The Machine.

So, just hit me up or something….

Your pal,
Robert Dean





Aug 24, 2016

New Video: DJ Shadow / Run the Jewels - Nobody Speak

Here's the new video for "Nobody Speak," one of my favorite songs of the year. From DJ Shadow's album The Mountain Will Fall.

*language warning*


Dec 30, 2014

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2014


You were expecting something else, maybe? Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is epic. Despite there only being 9 songs on the official release (plus a bonus track), this is a big big record. Simpson takes the hard country brilliance we all loved on High Top Mountain and expands on the textures and topics. He gets weird in a few places, trippy and edgy even, but it never feels like a put on. This is where Sturgill wanted to go and he hopes we'll come along, but whatever. I'm in.

Mark Kozelek may not agree, but Lost in the Dream is an immersing record, long in listen and longer in ear-pleasing sounds. Though popular in indie rock circles, there's little about Lost in the Dream that fits that usually intentionally prickly sub-genre. It's an easy-to-listen-to, hard to quickly digest collection of atmospheric classic rock, steeped in the sounds of Dylan, Springsteen, Dire Straits and the like. Mark Koz (Sun Kil Moon) said it's "beer commercial guitar rock," but he doesn't like anything not frocked with stream of consciousness lyrics and picked on a nylon string guitar. Other detractors have called it boring, and I would have agreed after a couple of listens. Once it clicked though, Lost in the Dream burrowed its way in and stuck with me throughout the year. It's a beautiful album whose strength lies in its commitment to to a cohesive sound and an unapologetic earnestness.

 
A deep and beautiful record, as easy to enjoy on first listen as it is difficult to fully grasp on the 30th. Faucett's voice would be the clear calling card if the writing weren't so damn good as well. It's an album that sticks with you long after the final notes have faded. It sounds like nothing else released in 2014.


I lack the proper words to tell you why I love this album or why you should too. It's damn good or it wouldn't be at #4. Check the context. That's enough of a review. RIYL: Deer Tick, Bob Dylan, The Band, Jimbo Mathus.


The band goes back to their roots with fantastic results on this raucous and hedonistic trip of an album. It's billed as a look back at their career, but Most Messed Up feels far more lived-in than a simple recollection. The attitude is cocky and contagious, the partying over-the-top, the drinks frequent, and the music is rocking. They've been doing this "longer than you've been alive" and it sounds like they're still way better at it than anybody else. There's a little regret and some soul-searching but all-in-all, this is no nostalgia project - it's a reclaiming of what makes Old 97s a vital and legendary alternative country act.


Lydia blends pop sensibilities into her rockabilly side on Somewhere Else and crafts a versatile and fulfilling piece of roots-rock-pop-abilly or whatever you wanna call it. It's a well-written, liberated and enchanting performance with memorable songs that sound like hits from a world with better taste.

Darker and more focused than last year's debut from the duo, Run the Jewels 2 kicks out windshields and smacks around f**kboys, all the while sounding infinitely more intelligent and purpose-driven than most of their contemporaries. This is anarchy with reason, chaos with a plan, savagery with a heart. The interplay of El-P's off-kilter lyricism and Killer Mike's straightforward bomb-dropping makes their message hit all the harder.


Kelsey Waldon sounds more vulnerable and confessional than say, Loretta Lynn, on these 11 tracks but she's every bit as sure of herself. Hers is a sweet voice that belies a depth of realism and a spirit that forgives but never forgets. It's a world-weary but optimistic outlook that keeps The Goldmine from ever sinking into despair. It's a moving and memorable album that should easily satisfy fans of classic country and modern Americana, and make Waldon an artist to watch for years to come.


The heavier realms of metal call out to me a few times a year, and while not qualified to write about such music adequately, I inevitably end up loving some of what I come across. Pallbearer is a doom metal band, but apparently Foundations of Burden isn't true doom metal or something something blah blah I read in reviews by true metal aficionados. All I know is that I do like doom and stoner metal, and that Foundations of Burden fits right in for me. It's dark, slow, anthemic, epic and driving. Some of it sounds a little prog-rock with its endless journeying, but there's always a destination here, it's not riffing on just for the hell of it. Maybe what sets Pallbearer apart the most for me is that lead singer Brett Campbell actually has a good voice. He can't wail with the classic metal gods like Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, but he's certainly from that school of vocalizing.  The hypnotic 10 minute 17 second "Ghost I Used to Be" is even more epic in sound than length; it's one of my favorite songs of the year - and likely my favorite song ever from the doom metal genre. Non-metal fans probably shouldn't bother with this detour from FTM's usual fare. For the rest: throw some Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Queensryche into a blender on low-speed for reference. Amazing album - deserving of far better words written about it.


Womack sounds as assured and authentic as ever on this collection of memorable and well-chosen songs. She's a treasure and it's good to have her back, especially with such a worthy return.


Dereconstructed loudly takes on the "duality of the Southern thing" that Drive-by Truckers explored years ago on Southern Rock Opera. LBIII does it their own way: angry, political at times, and amped-up at nearly all times. The lyrics, which you may or may not be able to make out without reading the album booklet, are smart, poetic and often biting.


This is a downer of a Red Dirt country album that will leave you feeling surprisingly hopeful. LaRue tries out a variety of styles including folksy introspection, country rock, and even a little 70's-style Mellotron swoon - finding them all fitting in this deeply personal but highly relatable gem.


RIYL: Patsy Cline, Lydia Loveless.



Fire Mountain's All Dies Down harkens back to the 90s glory days of alt-country, bringing to mind the guitar pop of The Gin Blossoms, the addictive low-key melodies of Whiskeytown, and the edgy jangle of R.E.M.'s more country-leaning tunes. All Dies Down isn't stuck in that era by any means, but it certainly draws deeply from the well.




Don Williams sounds as good now as he did in his '80s heyday, maybe better. The excellent "I'll Be Here in the Morning" reassures a lover that "I'll be here for a while." God, I hope so.


Matt Woods has released his strongest album to date with With Love from Brushy Mountain. He's shaken off some of the "spot the influence" unsureness I heard in his earlier works and found his own voice and sound. This is country music filtered through rock, folk, punk, red-dirt and bar room soul and it doesn't sound like anybody else.

 
The early '90s might have been Stuart's commercial peak, but he's on the long swell of an artistic wave like none other right now. SN/SM shows off every facet of he and his expert band's absurd skill set of virtuoustic talents across an expansive collection of songs that never overstays its welcome.


Dark Night of the Soul presents all aspects of Jimbo Mathus: soul-singer, folksy storyteller, strutting rocker, country songwriter - there's little he can't do and sound masterful doing it. The most gripping thing about this record is just how little Mathus holds back. He's found his groove and is barreling headlong and breathlessly forward.

Dec 24, 2014

If _____ Wrote a Christmas Song...

 If Cole Swindell wrote a Christmas song…

You're my only Christmas wish
With lips like cherry shine
In my truck bed with bows and twine
That's how I made you mine


If Run the Jewels wrote a Christmas song…

Shut the f**k up and lend me your ear
F**kboys know it's that time of year
Fat motherf**ker coming down the chimney
Run them jewels Santa, take that sack home empty


 
If Lorde wrote a Christmas song…

I'm kind of over getting told to rock around the Christmas tree, so there
So all the eggnog got spilled there on the gifts but it wasn't my fault


 If Chris Tompkins wrote a Christmas song…

I just got through delivering toys all over the world
X-box Ones and Frozen dolls for all the bros and girls
Fireball and cookies for me, the reindeer know the way
I'm getting drunk in a sleigh


 If Sturgill Simpson wrote a Christmas song…

Poinsettias swirling round and round
Green and red on thread on thread
Walk that line to Santa's lap
And he whispers "Sonny, it's all crap."

Nov 5, 2014

New Video: Until the Ribbon Breaks ft. Run the Jewels

Clearly, electronic rock isn't really in our wheelhouse, but when Run the Jewels is involved, FTM's all in. Until the Ribbon Breaks featured on RTJ's first album and here, RTJ return the favor.


Dec 30, 2013

FTM's Favorite Albums of 2013: 1-20




1. John Moreland - In the Throes
John Moreland writes razor edged lines that grab your attention and tear your heart out. Next time you listen to the same song, you'll notice that the following line was just as good - you just happened to miss it marveling at the previous one. In fact, there's hardly a throwaway line on the whole of In the Throes, and nary a song worth skipping. The mood of the record certainly wasn't right to be my album of the year (it's been a rough one), but the best is the best, regardless of tempo or context. In the Throes is pretty low-key and gray in emotional content, but it's just too good to be denied. Moreland has distilled all his strengths (with the exception of his rocking side, which is also very strong) into this stunning work of great craft and heart which stands deservingly as FTM's #1 album of 2013. Standouts: All of them, but if I must pick, 3:59 and Blacklist.



2. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
Southeastern is a modern classic. This is an inescapable truth arrived at by a tidal wave of critical approval and fan appreciation. Jason Isbell is Americana's Entertainer of the Year and Southeastern is the Album of the Year; I don't care what any official organizations say. Isbell has done more positive for the genre than anyone else, including the folk-renaissance dudes who actually got radio play. "Elephant" is incredible and if it didn't mist your eyes at some point this year, I don't know …maybe your heart is way too tiny, Mr. Grinch. "Traveling Alone" is remarkable and romantic. "Relatively Easy" is insightful on a personal and wide scope. Southeastern is a masterpiece and what's scary is that Isbell is probably just getting started.


3. Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
Sturgill Simpson may not be the savior of country music, but he sure looks and sounds the part. This laid-back Kentuckian has the voice of an outlaw country god to go alongside his witty and insightful writing style. His songs are sorrowful, heartfelt, clever and self-deprecating, sometimes within the same tune. He probably gets a bit tired of the Waylon comparisons, but if there's a modern incarnation of that legend, Simpson has the talent and grit to at least make a valiant go at filling those shoes. High Top Mountain is an essential edition to any fan of real country music's collection. Standouts: You Can Have the Crown, Old King Coal.



4. Arliss Nancy - Wild American Runners
There is female frontal nudity on the cover of Arliss Nancy's stellar Wild American Runners. That it took someone pointing that out for me to even notice it speaks to the substance over style aesthetic of this hard-rocking, hard-living band. Sliding into the punk meets country standard-bearer position of early Lucero, the already musically strong Arliss Nancy has taken their songwriting to a new level with their 3rd release. "Vonnegut" and "Nathaniel" are among the best songs released in any genre this year. The former's "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt" is one of the most affecting codas I've ever heard.



5. Drew Kennedy - Wide Listener
Full disclosure: I consider Drew Kennedy a friend. He's a good dude who I've had the opportunity to hang out with before, during and after a few shows here in Mississippi. That said, I've never let that affect my reviews or feelings about his music.  As much as I've listened to him (Last.fm says I've played his songs 1,654 times), I still always find his songs to take some time to "get." Maybe it's Drew's poetic style or his unique vocals, but every time I hear his music, it's a new experience. To me, that's the mark of a great artist, and Wide Listener is his strongest and most layered work to date. The fact that he brought in a few co-writers this time around doesn't change the artistic vision or stylistic voice of Kennedy's work. Standouts: Hello Goodbye, Jackson Square.



6. Run the Jewels - s/t (still free!)
Killer Mike and EL-P's last albums were among my favorites of 2012. Putting two of my favorite rappers together on a full album sounds like a no-brainer, but chemistry isn't guaranteed, even between two creative artists with similar takes on hip-hop. Thankfully, Run the Jewels may even be better than the sum of its parts… and its respective parts are already cream of the crop.  This is a party album with a ton of boasts and brags, but it never plays to the "bling and booty" crowd. It's a smart take on culture and good times that's full of memorable lines, but also cohesive songwriting. The production is dirty, raucous and bass-driven, but never aggressively off-putting (like that of a certain rapper on top of everybody's else's lists). I've listened to this album more than any other in 2013 and it looks like 2014 will be another year of RTJ as they've already announced a follow-up.
Standouts: Sea Legs, Banana Clipper



7. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
Brandy Clark may not be the savior of country music but… wait, this sounds familiar. In country's "year of the woman" (critically not commercially, unfortunately), Clark stood at the forefront, at least for me. Kacey Musgraves might be the most recognizable face of the movement, but Clark is the most vital part of it. Her songwriting is superb, from the knowing ache of "What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven" to the smart-assed wit of "Stripes," she knows her way around a hook and through the ins and outs of the human condition. She's not the stone country throw-back that a Sturgill Simpson is; Clark is what country music should sound like in 2013 if it had evolved without so many greedy influences mutating the DNA. 12 Stories is a progressive work of heart and humor that honors its predecessors while gracefully arching towards the horizon.



8. Austin Lucas - Stay Reckless
Austin Lucas was a drain on my emotions this year. His post-divorce album, Stay Reckless, is mostly a shaded journey through loneliness and acceptance. There are great rockers like "Alone in Memphis" but again… alone. Lucas never sounded better, his voice aching with expression most singers could only dream of. "Splinters," an exploration of the uncertain reasons for the end of a relationship, is a deflating but gorgeous way to end the album on the saddest note possible.
Thanks a lot, Austin.



9. Fifth on the Floor - Ashes and Angels
Fifth on the Floor is the quintessential southern rock band working today. Theirs is a powerful, distinct and gritty take on a sub-genre that has become increasingly tiresome in the hands of less skilled bands. Ashes & Angels mostly steers clear of cliche with strong lyrics, modern attitude, and a mission to bring the rock. Lead singer Justin Wells is a mountain of a man with a voice to match and his cohorts are all excellent players. From the raucous "Whiskey" to the soulful "Angels in the Snow" to the excellent My Morning Jacket cover, "One Big Holiday," Ashes & Angels is an excellent entry from the premier band still carrying the southern rock flag.




10. Ashley Monroe - Like a Rose
Nine songs wasn't enough unless Ashley Monroe's plan was to leave us wanting more. On that count, Like a Rose is a job well done. Monroe's earthen angel vocals and gracefully edgy writing made this an album to return to over and again. Confessional and universal at once, Like a Rose gave us modern sentiment wrapped in a timeless package. Monroe covers regret, crime, drinking, lost love and a marriage in need of a little spice. What more could you need in a country album? More songs maybe…  Standouts: Morning After, Two Weeks Late




11. The National - Trouble Will Find Me




12. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer, Different Park




13. Shooter Jennings - The Other Life



14. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork



15. Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons




16. Son Volt - Honky Tonk




17. Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You




18. Possessed by Paul James - There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely




19. Vince Gill and Paul Franklin - Bakersfield




20. Todd Farrell Jr. and the Dirty Birds - All Our Heroes Live in Vans

Oct 24, 2013

New Video: Run the Jewels - Get It

From their acclaimed and deservedly so self-titled album (still FREE!), here's Run the Jewels with "Get It." Not particularly safe for work... Also not safe for hip-hop haters.

Get It from Run The Jewels on Myspace.

Sep 27, 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 3/4 Report


1. John Moreland - In the Throes

2. Jason Isbell - Southeastern


3. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

4. Drew Kennedy - Wide Listener


5. Austin Lucas - Stay Reckless

6. The Band of Heathens - Sunday Morning Record

7. Run the Jewels - s/t
(free if you click "Get It Now")

8. Ashley Monroe - Like a Rose


9. Shooter Jennings - The Other Life

10. Fifth on the Floor - Ashes & Angels

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