All in Music

The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die/ Deer Leap - split

I've never heard of Deer Leap, and the only time I listened to TWIBP (as they abbreviate it on the record) was in a basement in New Haven, CT. I have no recollection of them being quite this lethargic or post-rock-y. Both groups mash emo and post-rock sensibilities in the way their contemporaries, Castevet, have been doing, albeit lacking some of Castevet's grit and force. TWIBP are unique and have their moments of genius, like on ‘Everything Will Be Okay'; Deer Leap area a bit unfocussed and derivative. Not an essential release, but TWIBP's side of this split is decent.

RIYL: Castevet, Algernon Cadwallader, Cucumbers

Grade: B-


Polar Bear Club- Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Although they always hovered around the bro-ish side of hardcore punk, Polar Bear Club knew their limits in a way that made 2009's Chasing Hamburg feel like it should have been a guilty pleasure, but inexplicably wasn't. However, on Clash Battle Guilt Pride the boys from Rochester have softened a bit and added more melody. Experimentation is natural as a band marinades in its own juices, but PBC are sounding more and more like buttrock. This record drops the ball in a big, unforgivable way. Times like these make me want a ctrl+z for bands.

RIYL: Hot Water Music, Have Heart, Meaningless Sex

Grade: C-

For those unfamiliar with rap duo Das Racist's underdog beginnings, it all began with a single song—‘Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell'—a one-off joke track wherein our heroes Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez each find themselves at the titular fast food joint on Jamaica Avenue, Queens, on the phone with one another but both are too high to realize they're already at exactly the same place. Since their unlikely genesis, Das Racist (who expanded to a trio with the addition of Ashok Kondabolu) released two highly-acclaimed mixtapes in 2010: Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man. Both expanded on their irreverent attitude towards hip hop and their ethos, which can best be described as post-modern. Don't think that descriptor (or the fact that they're based out of Brooklyn) makes Suri or Vasquez snobby, obtuse artists. On the contrary, their scattered verses were equal parts arcane culture references and hilarious asides to weed, Donkey Kong Country, Rockport shoes, and, of course, fast food.


Joyce Manor - Joyce Manor

Make no mistake, this California four piece plays pop punk, but only in the loosest sense. Don't expect any influences from Green Day and Screeching Weasel, or any similarities with contemporaries The Dopamines either. Joyce Manor is about urgency, energy and a fair dose of abrasion, editing their song structures down to the noisiest minimum requirements of a pop tune. Heartfelt lyrics and everyman vocals will have you singing along to this self-titled full length, and their deceptively strong musicianship will keep you coming back for more.

Shabazz Palaces -  Black Up

Ishmael Butler AKA Butterfly was a hot commodity of alternative hip hop in the 90's as a result of his de facto leadership role in Digable Planets. Since that group succumbed to infighting, Butler has kept busy: his solo effort under the masthead of Shabazz Palaces lifts the spirit of his work in Digable Planets and recontextualizes it in shocking and innovative ways. Jazz samples have been replaced by a cosmic and atonal sound palette which Butler pains with deftly. Black Up is spacey, obtuse, idiosyncratic, and easily the best hip hop release this summer. Chew on that, Lil' Wayne.

Bomb the Music Industry! -  Vacation

There are benefits and drawbacks to following a band through their career. On the one hand, you feel a part of something—you are the audience. You're invested; on the other hand, any band is liable to take a sharp turn, inevitably flinging some fans to the wayside. On Vacations, BTMI finally take that turn, sloughing off most of their ska influences and embracing garage rock and their healthy appreciation for the Beach Boys. Lyrically it may be their best record yet, and although it requires some acclimation from long-time fans, Vacations may well be their magnum opus.