Monday, March 31, 2014

"It's On Again" ft. Kendrick Lamar- Alicia Keys

If there's a key to the city for soundtrack features, go ahead and hand it to Kendrick Lamar for 2014. In the same month he laid waste to the psychedelic wonderland of Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" he's returned to decimate the Pharrell produced, Alicia Keys anchored "It's On Again" with the brute force of the Rhino. While the doleful, twinkling keys demand a degree of reverence, Lamar has none to offer. He's snarling before the first note can ring out, the veins in his head bulging as he offers a song "for the warrior, for you and I." He name checks "David and Goliath" and while his runaway success puts him far closer to the Philistine at this point, his intensity befits the scrappy underdog. He's willing to run through the flames because he can see what's waiting on the side. He'll land on his dreams, no matter how much exertion or exhaustion it takes.

For her part, Alicia Keys doesn't appear to be exerting herself at all. She croons over Pharrell's slowly propulsive dance beat with ease. Her breathless exhortations to "go on" disappear almost as soon as they are said, fading into a billowy cloud of silky disco strings and blooping keyboards. In that way Keys acts as the yin to Lamar's yang; a cold passivity to a red-hot ferociousness. She's willing to "sacrifice my ego" because she has no need for such inanities. She'll go it alone as a shadow in the middle of the night. Keys is no less of a warrior than Lamar, she's just far more reserved about her profession.

"It's On Again" is available through iTunes tomorrow.

In Revue- 'Teeth Dreams' (The Hold Steady)

Even before I'd heard a note of Teeth Dreams, the Hold Steady's sixth studio LP, I felt like I knew what I'd be getting. First and foremost the new record would deliver lead-singer Craig Finn's sprechgesang style; half-barked and half-crooned. That unmistakable sprechgesang would tell of: winners, losers, lovers, boozers, cult-like figures, and helpless romantics circling the drain in or around Minnesota's Twin Cities. A sotted group would be joining Finn, sounding like a bar-band holding residency at the same drinking establishment for 10 years straight. In the album I would be able to find riffs aplenty. Outnumbering those riffs would be Finn's quotables, some intensely relatable others far too specific to identify with.

Knowing all that, I still found much to like and marvel at with the Brooklyn-based quintet's latest effort. Though I can't imagine indie-darlings like the Hold Steady aiming for the back of an arena, Teeth Dreams has that air about it. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (who has worked with: Rush, Foo Fighters, and Danzig) the record is the rock with a capital R album few indie bands bother with anymore. It's become cliché to say, but it is absolutely true. On any given year-end best-of list, you're likely to find at least one band that took the bare-bones, RAWK approach and are lauded for it. A tactic the Hold Steady has taken since day 1. Their squalling guitars, mule-kicking drums, and rumbling bass don't just have you headbanging though, they also give Finn's lyrics a sense of white-knuckle urgency.

Finn's desperation flies off the pages of Teeth Dreams' glossy black lyric book. A main concern this time out is how music can grant saving grace. Lead-single "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You" sees Finn postulating he fell in with the fabled Cityscape Skins mostly for the music. I know I've ended up in uncharacteristic crowds at concerts; trying to find someone to experience the music with because witnessing it alone would represent a pinnacle of loneliness. Finn's female companion in the rallying "Spinners" tries to shed that skin-tingling variety of loneliness by putting another record on and "dancing it off." It's fleeting sanctification however, by the time the needle hits the end of eerie piledriver "On With the Business" the baptismal font has run dry. "All our friends are acting sketchy and lifeless, waking up with that American sadness," Finn prattles over spiky guitars. Being a premier "bar-band" is great for publicity, but can be a hellacious lifestyle choice.

While music is the preferred life-raft for some, others cling to ill-conceived relationships. Some will jump right from one person to the next, not necessarily due to an overactive libido but because they hate the stark absence the end of a relationship creates. "Wait A While" focuses on this phenomenon with a sniper's precision. "I'm sure they'll come up in the parking lots and at parties," Finn says of future "suitors." "You know you don't have to accept, collecting boyfriends isn't such a healthy hobby, I'm sorry but there's other words than yes," he not so-gently reminds as a familiar organ echoes his advice. Advice Finn would've been better off taking in "The Only Thing". Though never implicitly stated, the jangling number gives the impression the featured relationship was born out of mutual heartache. Rather than temper it, the two only cultivate more pain. Her teeth crowd Finn's dreams and he's left her "sleeping at a storage space by the airport." When a new guy arrives, Finn warns "first she was with me," refusing to give up "ownership" of something that's long since vanished. No one likes acknowledging the end, but sometimes that acknowledgment is necessary.

More than most, the individuals walking the desolate halls of Teeth Dreams' final two tracks need to acknowledge their time is up. Defined by interlocked acoustic guitars, "Almost Everything" documents two people too naive to notice the warning signs. Instead of airing their grievances, the central couple sits "in the back of the theater just drinking and talking about movies and Krishna and hardcore and Jesus and joy." From the beginning they refused to listen, when one warned "I can't spend the night" the other ignores the statement. They're an example of Jim Carrey's sentiment in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that "constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating."

Epic-closer "Oaks" completely eschews conversation for chemicals. In the slow-cresting waves of guitars and plodding drum kicks, a couple is caught waiting on a corner for kids who've run off with their money. "Gave them half, but they never came back," as Finn remembers it. "Half" is the perfect amount to land on, because this decaying couple is split on everything. They shuffle between being "scared" and "brave." Akin to Bruce Springsteen's street-urchins in "Jungleland", they long to break out but are never quite able. They sleep as often as they stay up. Even when they dream, their dreams feel corrupted. The titular "oaks" they idealize are obscured by thick, black smoke. Inevitably such a split sinks them, their "glass-bottom boat" is shattered by the time Tad Kubler's rending guitar solo comes in. Nothing's left because nothing was ever fully committed to.

If there's one thing barring Teeth Dreams from being equal to the Hold Steady's earlier successes Separation Sunday or Boys and Girls in America it’s their own half-commitment. Listening to the album I get the impression they're suddenly uncertain of their sound, which can be partially attributed to keyboardist Franz Nicolay leaving in 2010. To account for the lost they overcorrect, shifting between bands the aforementioned Raskulinecz has produced and a group Finn would've seen for $5 on a Friday night back in Minneapolis. It's hard to separate instruments from the mix at times, possibly because they're afraid of wandering too far out into the open. Some, like bassist Galen Polivka border on inaudible. Even in spirited moments, Bobby Drake's drums occasionally sound like cardboard.  In that way the whole band embodies Finn's characters that do whatever they can to survive. They scratch when they have no claws or talk when they know there's nothing left to say. They're full of bark, but their bite is far from certain.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What's New(s)?

The Killers' Brandon Flowers, Local Natives, Father John Misty, Dawes cover Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash's "lost album" Out Among the Stars dropped this Tuesday and it's been a surprisingly busy week for news surrounding the record. On Wednesday, we found out from Cash's son John Carter that "four or five" more album of unreleased material could see the light of day. And now, La Blogotheque has issued an Arturo Perez Jr. directed clip that features: Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Local Natives, Father John Misty, and Dawes reinterpreting tracks from Out Among the Stars and discussing Cash's importance to them.

Backed by Dawes, Brandon Flowers dives into "I Came to Believe" while reflecting on Cash's faith and storytelling abilities. Father John Misty covers June Carter Cash duet "Baby Easy Ride", a track he says features the husband and wife duo "winking at each other." And finally, Local Natives tackle the titular "Out Among the Stars" in their communal baroque pop style and pay tribute to the "duality of Johnny Cash."


2 Chainz and French Montana are "A-Rod"

Once ATL's reigning jester 2 Chainz was Akon (or at least his diamonds were) and now the endearingly goofy artist has apparently become NY Yankees third-basemen Alex Rodriguez. Accompanied by a surprisingly restrained Young Chop beat and a cogent French Montana, 2 Chainz compares himself to the suspended ball-player, citing his own $25 million a year payroll. With that high stack of chips he grabs up all the chinchilla he can, adds to his never-ending necklace collection, and pays for some introductory Spanish lessons (que pasa?). No word yet if 2 Chainz has passed his test for P.E.D.s or not.

While it hasn't been confirmed, there's a good chance "A-Rod" could appear on B.O.A.T.S. III, which 2 Chainz revealed in February he's been working on.

Check back Monday for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"When We Are Old"- YYU

Right now as I'm typing this, I hate how I feel. Don't worry; I don't have some sort of deathly pallor. It's more of a general unease caught under my skin; an odd quiver if one could be more permanent. The sort of thing where you question if this all mental or mostly physical.

The reason I'm writing about this is because low-key Texas-artist YYU's "When We Are Old" calls to mind similar maladies. Almost immediately, his carefully plucked acoustic guitar is shuddering. Notes shake as though they're carrying an immense weight upon its shoulders. And as painfully intimate and uncertain as they seem, those notes wonderfully match YYU's voice. Rendered in folksy falsetto, it too feels as fragile as glass. His voice here is so wispy; words can disappear as they're delivered. YYU then reminds me of Bon Iver/Volcano Choir lead-singer Justin Vernon. Even when Vernon seemed indecipherable, you could hazard a guess at what he was trying to convey. Each tremble in his voice was mainline into a reservoir of pain. In YYU's case that pain comes from having a front row seat to decay. "I know I am dying I watched myself, I know I am tired I watched myself," he avers. When he pipes in bird chirps or switches to an upbeat tempo replete with handclaps in the track's second half, that pain doesn't vanish. Every strum is still suffuse with that same pain. Unidentifiable, but wholly relatable.

You can listen to "When We Are Old" here and you can purchase the track through RAMP Recordings as a 12"/MP3 single that also features the electronic-leaning "Kiss As We Walk".

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's New(s)?

Cloud Nothings and Wavves collaborative album "almost done"

Dylan Baldi's new album as part of Cloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else is out next Tuesday (April 1), but evidently Baldi's not taking any time off between projects. According to Exclaim, the frontman has been operating in Los Angeles, working on a collaborative effort with fuzzy surf-rock king Hathan Williams of Wavves.

In talking about the project with Exclaim, Baldi says the album is "almost done" and the seeds for the collabo were sewn in Paris. "I woke up one morning hungover in Paris, which is where I usually live, and I just had a text on my phone that was like, 'Yo, wanna make a record together?' I was like, '...Okay!' And that was it. It sounded fun." Baldi went on to add that the partnering resembled a cross between the two artists' work with "another element that wasn't present in either of our music before."

While you wait for the project, check out recent clips from Cloud Nothings and Wavves, and look for Here and Nowhere Elese out April 1 through Carpark Records. 

New Zach Braff film to feature music from Bon Iver, Cat Power, Chris Martin, and yes the Shins

Last spring Zach Braff launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Wish I Was Here, his first directorial work since 2004's Garden State. In the time since, the film received over $3 million in funding and premiered at Sundance in January.

Now Wish I Was Here has an opening date of July 18 in New York/Los Angeles with a wide-release the following Friday (July 25). In discussing the film with Entertainment Weekly, Braff opened up about the film's soundtrack which will feature a collaboration with Coldplay's Chris Martin and Chan Marshall of Cat Power. According to Braff the work will serve as the film's title track and is "one of the most amazing songs ever." In addition to that "amazing song", the soundtrack will include new songs from Bon Iver and Garden State centerpiece the Shins who will "change your life."  No word yet if the Martin/Marshall effort will do the same. Until it comes, you can always enjoy the video for the Shins' "New Slang".

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Sleep Sound"- Jamie xx

Last June when I had to a chance to see the xx live in Kansas City at the Uptown, a point I drove home in my subsequent review is how dependent the trio is on silence. In a song like "Missing" from 2012's Coexist, it's so brutally stark you can hear the proverbial pin drop. Mere seconds tick off the clock, but it feels like an eternity. In that absence of sound, you feel trapped. Anxiety can kick in because you're no longer sure what you're supposed to be doing. And then at the last second, Romy
Madley Croft's luminous guitar swoops down to save the day.

In xx beatmaker Jamie xx's latest solo effort "Sleep Sound" there's no savior act. Granted the same sort of silence doesn't dominate the track, though there still is sublime tension to it. In his short write-up for Stereogum Miles Bowe calls it "room-filling" and he's right, insomuch as it is lines every corner of the room. A patter of drums and what register as faint harp plucks do exist, they're just never firmly in front of you. Instead, they hide in those aforementioned corners beckoning you into the shadows. Sampled vocals softly stutter "ooh ooh ooh" before a low-end bass rumble and jittery drum-machine pattern obscure them. "Sleep Sound" is the sort of track you'll leave on repeat, if only to discover everything that's going on. Silence is not just profound, it's alluring.

"Sleep Sound" is part of a double A-side single along with "Girl" that will be out May 5 via Young Turks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's New(s)?

De La Soul releases J Dilla mixtape for download

Earlier this month I reviewed "Dilla Plugged In", a warm bare-bones affair that acted as the first sample of the pairing between the legendary De La Soul and fallen hero J Dilla. Now we have more than a sample, as the Long Island trio has released Smell the D.A.I.S.Y. The entire mixtape, which runs 11 tracks, sprinkles reworked De La lyrics over unreleased Dilla beats and has one feature from frequent Method Man collaborator Redman. You can download the tape now for free through BitTorrent and cop the Dilla documentary Still Shining along with it.

Along with Smell the D.A.I.S.Y., De La Soul have two new albums planned for 2014 entitled You're Welcome and Premium Soul on the Rocks, which will be produced by DJ Premier and Pete Rock.

1. "Let the King Ascend
2. Who ft. Redman
3. Dilla Plugged In
4. "Goes the Word"
5. "Vocabulary Spills"
6. "The Pitch"
7. "Taking the Train"
8. "Leave Your Cares Behind"
9. "O'Shut Up"
10. "No More No Less"
11. "Marvin Jaye"

More Johnny Cash albums of unreleased material could be on the way

Yesterday, Out Among the Stars, the latest posthumous release from Johnny Cash dropped via Columbia. But apparently another collection of unreleased material from the Man in Black maybe just around the corner.

According to Cash's son John Carter Cash "There are a few things that are in the works right now – probably four or five albums if we wanted to release everything," he speculated in an interview with the Guardian. Cash went on to say that there maybe "three or four"more albums worth of material his father recorded during the storied "American Recording" sessions with go-to producer Rick Rubin. 

In that same piece, Rubin backed Cash's claims. "We released the work we had been planning to release along with John [Carter Cash] and the idea of the Unearthed boxset of outtakes was his idea," Rubin affirmed. He went on to add, "We will probably put out additional Unearthed material recorded since the last Unearthed box, in keeping with John’s wishes."  With so much of Cash's work still coming down the pipeline, the Man in Black is becoming the country equivalent of 2Pac.

Until a new collection of Cash tunes surfaces, there's Out Among the Stars to enjoy along with the terrific video for album cut "She Used to Love Me A Lot".

Kate Bush adds more dates to first tour in 35 years

Last Friday, the Guardian reported that noted British pop-perfectionist Kate Bush was embarking on her first tour since 1979. And now, before Bush has even played a note of a single show, she's expanded the tour. Pitchfork notes her Hammersmith Odeon residency "Before the Dawn" has expanded from "15 to 22 shows" and now includes gigs on "on September 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, and October 1, as well as the originally announced dates on August 26, 27, 29, and 30, as well as on September 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17,

 and 19."

If you can't make it to any of those shows, you can always enjoy the video for Bush's classic 1985 track "Running Up That Hill". 

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Open Up"- Oscar

Seeing the cover for "Open Up", London art student Oscar Scheller's self-released effort under the mononym Oscar, you can probably make a few predictions about the track. "Warm" is an adjective that immediately came to my mind. The sort of warmth you feel when you're wrapped up in layers of blankets and a glint of sunlight comes beaming in. Rather than shield your eyes from the light you lazily stare at it, as though looking long enough will solve some cosmic mystery.

Despite its quivering guitar lines and in-the-pocket drum beat, "Open Up" has that same shiftless contemplation. Oscar's voice possesses a beautifully worn quality. When he croons "I don't want to tell the truth, I don't want to lose you," in the opening couplet you get the sense a weary collapse is around the corner. He's a hopeless romantic in a painfully literal sense of the phrase, so downtrodden his pleas lack any kind of pathos. He'll make a bid before wondering "what's the use?" Even in the song's chorus, where a wonky synthesizer shows up and the drumming becomes more urgent, Scheller seems nonplussed. The phrase "you wait" is repeated by Scheller though it's more self-contained than second-person. And then another word enters the scene, one anyone who has spent enough time staring at the four walls in their bedroom knows all too well: "stuck."

You can hear "Open Up" now on Stereogum where it had its premiere this morning. Oscar's debut EP will be out in the Summer via Smalltown Supersound's newly minted Brown Rice imprint.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's New(s)?

M.I.A. to tour with A$AP Ferg

In support of last year's under-appreciated Matangi, musical firestarter M.I.A. will be going on a late-spring North American tour with none other than A$AP Ferg. According to Brooklyn Vegan, she'll kick off the tour with a festival date in Miami before teaming up with the A$AP Worldwide member in Washington D.C. on April 27th. Once her tour with the new Shabba concludes, she'll embark on a European for additional festival dates. Given both M.I.A.'s and Ferg's dancehall obsessions, I can only hope this tour results in a collabo effort.

Tour Dates:
3/28 Miami, FL - Ultra Music Festival
4/25 Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theater
4/26 Asheville, NC - Moogfest
4/27 Washington, DC - Echostage (w. A$AP Ferg)
4/28 Pittsburgh, PA - AE Stage (w. A$AP Ferg)
4/30 Detroit, MI - Detroit Masonic Temple (w. A$AP Ferg)
5/1 Chicago, IL - Riviera Theater (w. A$AP Ferg)
5/3 Toronto, Ontario - Yonge-Dundas Square
5/4 Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis
5/5 Boston, MA - House of Blues (w. A$AP Ferg)
5/6 Portland, ME - State Theater (w. A$AP Ferg)
5/8-9 Queens, NY - Knockdown Center
5/24 Quincy, WA - Sasquatch Festival
6/28 Seinajoki, Finland - Provinssi Rock
6/30 Arendal, Norway - Hovefestivalen
7/5 Belfort, France - Eurockeenes Festival
7/11 Gräfenhainichen, Germany - Splash Festival
7/12 Liège, Belgium - Les Ardentes Festival
7/19 London, England - Lovebox
7/20 Valencia, Spain - Benicassim International Festival 

"Come Walk with Me"

"Let It Go"

Girl Talk and Freeway set to release Broken Ankles EP

All the way back in October on the blog, news surfaced that sample wizard Girl Talk was partnering with Philly-Freezer, Freeway himself to craft an EP tentatively titled Broken Ankles. According to Pitchfork, that EP is now official and will be available April 8 for free download via Datpiff. The 6-track release will also feature rappers: Waka Flocka Flame, Jadakiss, and Young Chris. 

In an official press-release for the EP, Girl Talk (born Gregg Gillis) discussed the stylistic differences between this upcoming record and prior albums: 
"I wanted to work closer to traditional song structure compared to my last few albums, but still include some detailed sample splicing and change-ups when it felt appropriate. The overall structure is what I thought worked best with Freeway's style... It's always important to me to have an album that works as a whole; something that has a calculated flow to it, which is intended to be listened to front to back."
To promote Broken Ankles, Girl Talk and Freeway have teased a video for "Tolerated", their collaboration with Waka Flocka Flame. You can view it below, along with the official Broken Ankles tracklist. 

Broken Ankles:
1. "Broken Ankles Intro"
2. "Tolerated" ft. Waka Flocka Flame
3. "Tell Me Yeah" ft. Young Chris
4. "I Can Hear Sweat" ft. Jadakiss
5. "Suicide"
6. "Lived It"

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Home Studio (Back Up In This B****)"- Chance the Rapper

(From: Freshness Mag)
How is it even possible for someone to be so unswervingly giddy in a song? It's a common question I ask myself anytime I come across one of Chance the Rapper's sun-soaked celebratory tracks. Not every moment on last year's stellar Acid Rap tape was rife with unmitigated joy, but when a song was upbeat in the slightest it was the rap equivalent of "walking on sunshine."

Released early this morning through his Twitter account, "Home Studio (Back Up In This B****)" continues the sunny traipsing act. Courtesy of The Social Experiment, the beat employs a warm synth-organ that's quickly joined by noodling soul guitar and steady drum-pats. It's the sort of instrumental you could put on repeat and easily nod off to, not intrusive in the least. But when Chance's vocals are appended to it, there's no way you could catch any amount of z's. While it's now meant to describe engaging on Twitter, the verb "twittering" is a near-perfect descriptor of his rap style. He's harried, but focused. One second he's bizarrely riffing on Yogi bear before offering the sagely advice "just don't catch your sheep before they hatch." Even when his voice is strained, his mind can deliver the detail-laden "in a '04 Ford Taurus on a spare with a wax finish." No matter how wide-eyed Chance gets, he'll never lose his masterful eye for detail.

There's no album attached to "Home Studio" yet, but a new Chance release would be a wonderful thing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jandek Live at the Billiken Club

In an act that was purely kismet, I came across a black cat at a Jandek show in St. Louis this past Friday. My nerves to the point of short-circuiting at waiting for the famed Rep, I wandered out onto St. Louis University's metropolitan campus to gulp down fresh air. Not 100 feet outside of the venue, standing in front of orange lawn light I saw a black cat. With its shadow magnified and light bouncing off its shimmering black fur, I was instantly mesmerized. All my long-kept Irish superstitions flew out the window. In that moment, standing on a rocky sidewalk, I could do nothing but stare. 

From the first time I ever heard the oblique artist known as Jandek, I've had a similar feeling. Every marker tells me to stay away, that if I hear one of his haunting lullabies I need to head in the other direction as quickly as possible. But I can't. When I hear his painfully whispered voice uncurling over roughly picked guitar strings, I draw as close as I can.

That strange hypnosis started before his set at SLU's Billiken Club began. Not long after he had finished doing sound checks, I saw him standing in front of the stage taking stock of the room. "S***," was all I could mutter when I saw them. I've been fortunate enough to meet the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus, but I never had that moment with either of them. They both possess a terrific relatability; you feel comfort when you're in their presence. Not so with a figure like Jandek, who has spent 3 and a half decades cultivating a shadowy personae. From the issuance of his first, Ready for the House in 1978, he's felt at odds with his audience. Though they're released for public consumption, the songs are often so intensely personal it's easy to believe their release was a mistake.

In fact, one of Jandek's first exhalations of the night was "I can give it, but nobody wants it," a firm acknowledgement of his outside status. He's a nightmarish take on the idea of the "artist's artist." Artists from the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle to Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst sing the praises of Jandek far and wide, though they'd never court the same kind of chaos he so readily does. Hearing his first song of the night on the small stage, it's easy to assume the chaos comes from a place of stark loneliness, a notion that falls apart as soon Sheila Smith sets up residency at the drum kit. The chaos continues. Smith falls all over the drums; she climbs on top of them and lays her head down when she feels like it. And all Jandek can do is drift further into an unfathomable abyss, confirming the idea that "the only thing worse than being alone, is being with people that make you feel alone."

Even when she teasingly paws the Man in Black, it registers as an act of cruelty. Instead of reaching back, he retreats further into a miasma of regret and disillusionment. There's "prostitution in Chicago" he howls in the role of twisted minister. In that number, mankind's sins are laid out for everyone to see in the unbiased light of day. However the morality play is short lived, as he finishes the couplet with the borderline nihilistic "I don't care about that." Whatever humanity will do, it will continue to do until our planet permanently ices over. 

That lack of concern extends to pick-up members Matty Coonfield (of Bug Chaser, Tone Rodent) and Joseph Hess (Spelling Bee, Braining) who rotate along with Smith every few songs. Hess in particular stands out for the crop of stained golden hair he sports. He feels entirely out of place with the ramshackle outfit, until his turn at the microphone comes. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, he nearly rips his larynx as he sings. Jandek's dark aura is like Michael Myers in musical form; it won't die and only grows stronger over time. Anyone coming closer enough will be infected by it, no matter how inhospitable it first appears.

No one got caught up in the aura quite like Sheila Smith. Throughout the night she occupies the roles of: punk front woman, jokester, siren, and temptress. "Where were you born? On a ring or Saturn?" she sneeringly questions in a comic turn. The humor fades when she prances over to the Rep himself and swipes at his guitar mid solo. There's an odd sexuality to it; where either a violent laceration or tender lovemaking seems plausible. The tension does briefly dissipate when the Rep passes by Smith on stage and cracks a minuscule smile, temporarily breaking a facade some 30 years in the making. It doesn't last long. Soon the death stare consumes his eyes again as he occupies the keyboard. It's not surprising on a night where anything seems possible. Late in the set, Jandek wails "I'm here or I guess I am?" Seeing an enigma in person doesn't make it any more understandable.

"We Made It" ft. Jay Z-Jay Electronica

"Apologies go out to all my fans cause they waited so patiently," enigmatic New Orleans rapper Jay Electronica delivers early in his verse from a remix of Soulja Boy's booming "We Made It". Considering the beautifully elegiac "Better In Tune with the Infinite" he released last week and now this, he no longer has anything to apologize for.

And while everyone is already focusing on label-boss Jay Z's shots thrown at Drake, Jay Elec's take on the pure giddiness that is "We Made It" is an unqualified success. Contorting his voice into the much discussed "Migos flow" Electronica gets sociological early and often. He plots a line of black heroes from "Solomon to Sambo to Django" while discussing the suffering that dogged all of them. "Obamacare won't heal all that anguish" he starkly reminds everyone, the roots of the pain go much deeper than that. What keeps Electronica upright in spite of that overwhelming pain is an unflinching motivation, carrying him from "from the cotton fields, straight to spaceship."

That said, it's impossible not to discuss "We Made It" without dissecting what's motivating Jay Z on the song. Apparently Drizzy's comments "Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references," light a fire under Jay to respond. "Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk, silly me rapping 'bout s*** that I really bought," Hova raps with an audible smirk over the shifty trap beat. It's not a shot fired, so much as it is a lyrical autocorrect. Most rappers are stuck living in the land of imagination, Jay's successful enough to make his dreams a reality. He's already hopped off the slave ship and can now be seen "stuntin' on stage" with a black tux befitting John Gotti. In "We Made It"'s interlude the loathsome Kenny Powers wonders aloud "why the hell are so many people trying to tell me to slow down? Seems like motherf***ers should be shutting the hell up and enjoying the show." Stop focusing so much on album delays and disses, instead just kick back and relax. 

Still no recent date for Jay Electronica's Act II though one may be coming very soon with this recent uptick in material.