Weekly Roundup: March 2, 2018
Andrew WK - You're Not Alone
RIYL: Joe Cocker, Meat Loaf, CKY
Something about Andrew WK's whole party messiah shtick just plain works for me. I may not go in for all of his songs;a lot, even on I Get Wet and The Wolf, feel like filler, but I just don't give a damn when the message behind them--and behind WK's return, You're Not Alone--is delivered so well and so earnestly. You're Not Alone is a glorious return for WK, as bombastic and symponic and piano driven as the best of Meat Loaf mixed with Motorhead, all delivered with the absolute confidence, swagger, and pure good will as the best of Joe Cocker. The motivational segues may catch some moder people off-guard as they utterly lack irony, but that is part of what makes this record so refreshing and so vital. I'm goddamn sick of the irony and nostalgia-driven culture that we live in and I will happily follow Andrew WK into a better future.
Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
RIYL: Oathbreaker, The Dillinger Escape Plan, HORSE the band
It's been awhile since I checked in with Rolo Tomassi. The UK mathcore (nee-nintendocore) group has been quietly releasing incredible release after incredible release, always expanding their sound and garnering critical acclaim and a wider and wider fanbase. Jumping from one of their earlier records to Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It was a jarring but entirely pleasurable experience. I had always steered around their earlier stuff, despite loving Dillinger Escape Plan, because it was almost too jagged for me. Now those jagged edges have been smoothed out in favor of a lush, expansive sound. Digging around in their back-catalogue, its a path that they began to forge some time ago, and TWDaLWBI is a logical continuation of it. Now that DEP have gone the way of the Dodo, there's no reason that Rolo Tomassi shouldn't be everyone's new go-to for mathcore and this record serves as a truly excellent gateway to their harsher material.
Phonte - No News is Good News
RIYL: Talibe Kweli, Nas, Atmosphere
Modern hip hop, as near as I can tell, is in a time of crisis. Hip-hop and rap, I am utterly convinced, are two of the most difficult and most intelligent genres out there. Really good hip-hop requires a preeminent knowledge of wordplay, a death grip on branding, a perceptive sense of audience, and the wherewithal to maintain constant vigilance on culture, history, and popular music to mine for references. Modern *popular* hip hop and rap is dull, same-sounding, unintelligible, unintelligent, and utterly derivative. With bands like Migos and their same-sounding ilk ascending to the heights of the rap game (don't get me wrong, they represent an important evolutionary step of music, but all their songs sound exactly the same) or the new influx of emo-boy cloud rap (and admittedly I do like Nothing Nowhere)--that old-school strain of intelligent, elevating hip hop is not currently the darling of the public eye. And its too bad because Phonte's No News is Good News is an absolutely stellar example of both a throwback to that era, and a subtle updating of it. There has been a lot of great hip-hop in the last couple years--Joey Bada$$, Domo Genesis, Vince Staples and others prove it, but for whatever reason, and with the exception of the untouchable J. Cole, it hasn't grabbed the hip-hop zeitgeist. Hearing rap and hip hop that is actually about things other than status or weed is refreshing and Phonte deserves some public recognition.