Here’s a rundown of some good new music that premiered today:
- “Petey Green” – Uptown XO Feat. AB The Pro
- “Three White Horses” – Andrew Bird
- “Cool Kong” – Retro Su$hi
And as an added bonus, here’s a full version of Bon Iver’s Radio City concert, streaming for the next 48 hours only. Having seen Bon Iver live in Tampa, I can tell you, the groups concerts are surprisingly good and add nice texture to the songs.
“Coexist” – The xx
After 2009’s “xx”, a brilliantly minimalistic debut that excited most of the indie-rock universe, many wondered where the British band would take their sound. The answer is somewhat complicated. Although the band’s most distinctive elements are still in place, they branch out in subtle ways. “Coexist” shows a band that is willing to flesh out and expand it’s sound without completely breaking free of their musical boundaries; in this way the album is more “Room on Fire” than it is “Kid A“.
“Tempest” – Bob Dylan
Initial response to the legendary singer-songwriters 35th studio album has been overwhelmingly positive. Such notable publications as Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Newsday have all given the album a perfect score and described it as one of Dylan’s darkest records. This album looks like one I’ll have to spend some serious time digging into to see if the music justifies the early hype.
“Love This Giant” – David Byrne & St. Vincent
Two years in the making, this collaborative effort features two distinct and diverse voices meshing their styles together and showing the willingness to experiment. Artsy but still accessible, the album is undeniably funky and sure to please fans of both artists music.
Other notable releases:
- “Algiers” – Calexico: the Arizona band’s followup to 2008’s well-recieved “Carried to Dust”, “Algiers” is reportedly dedicated to New Orleans and exhibits many of the signature sounds and styles that define that city.
- “The Carpenter” – The Avett Brothers: Following up 2009’s “I and Love and You”, the brothers again recruit legendary producer Rick Rubin behind the boards to engineer the bands folky sound.
- “Observator” – The Raveonettes: Inspired by the people lead singer Sune Rose Wagner met during a three day drug and alcohol bender due to depression, the Raveonettes latest album contains some of the bands most focused songwriting in years.
I’m going to try to produce some shorter content to keep this website fresh and full in between my longer essays. Today I’d like to unveil a new article type to the blog, a weekly reminder and synopsis of all the new major music releases for the week.
“Centipede Hz” – Animal Collective
Animal Collective’ followup to their stellar 2009 album “Merriweather Post Pavillion” has been touted as a significantly different record than it’s predecessor. Based on the stream that was available, courtesy of the band itself, I’d have to agree. “Centipede Hz” is a harsh, dissonant and busy record that lacks the poppy melodicism of their last effort. First single “Today’s Supernatural” is a pretty good example of the albums overall sound.
“Sun” – Cat Power
Chan Marshall’s first album full of original material since 2006’s “The Greatest”, “The Sun” finds the gifted songwriter, one of rock music’s best female voices, at the top of her game while also bending and blending her style to create something alternately familiar and new. Listen to lead single “Cherokee“.
“Breakup Song” – Deerhoof
Over the course of 11 albums Deerhoof has made a point of adding and subtracting elements to their music so that they never repeat themselves. Their latest album, “Breakup Song”, fits into this pattern and falls in line with the quality of Deerhoof’s previous material. Listen to album closer “Fete d’Adieu“.
Other notable releases:
- “Ocean Roar” – Mount Eerie: the band’s second moody, brooding album of 2012 is sure to be just as much of a critical darling as it’s predecessor “Clear Moon”
- “The North” – Stars: the sixth album from the Canadian band finds them sticking to their formula of electro-rock soundscapes and sugary vocals.
- “The Bloom and the Blight” – Two Gallows: Their first album in 5 years, “The Bloom and the Blight” is equal parts massive and intimate.
The inspiration for this blog came from an idea I had a while back for a rather long, researched and thorough essay. I wanted to call this essay “Is Hip-Hop Dead: Historical Declinism In Rap Music.”
Declinism is the belief that something, particularly a country or a political/economic system, is undergoing a significant and possibly irreversible decline. When I learned about this principle in a History course I took last year it immediately reminded me of Nas’s 2006 album “Hip-Hop Is Dead.” Although some have criticized Nas for his decision to name the album as such, stating that the title was a simple publicity stunt, this brand of ‘Declinism’ in Hip-Hop is neither unprecedented nor recent. In fact, both Hip-Hop artists and outside commentators have been bemoaning the state of Hip-Hop since it’s inception. East Coast artists such as Common complained about the emergence of West Coast Gangster rap during the early 90’s and the toll it was taking on the art-form. ‘Underground’ MC’s have been complaining about the commercialization of Hip-Hop since at least the rise of ‘Jiggy Rap’ in the mid-to-late 90’s. Southern Rap is still struggling to find a foothold amongst rap ‘purists’.
All of these trends demonstrate a conviction amongst artists and fans that Hip-Hop is or has been in a state of decline. With my essay I wanted to attempt to answer whether Hip-Hop really is in this decline, all the while giving an account of the many declinist models throughout Hip-Hop’s history. This is going to be an ongoing project that I hope to have finished by the end of December.
I also titled my blog “Is Hip-Hop Dead?” because I think the aims of this essay extend to all the writing that I want to do for the website; in essence I want to examine the intricacies of the music I love and raise/answer intriguing questions about how we listen to and interpret music. I hope I can satisfy these aims and will try to the best of my abilities to achieve this goal.
Welcome to “Is Hip-Hop Dead?”.
I’m writing this blog with the simplest of intentions: to set aside a place where I can divulge my thoughts on music and continually maintain a hub of personal ideas. I don’t expect a mass readership or loyal, devoted following. I can only hope to fully develop the musical postulations that are floating around inside my mind while concurrently increasing my skills as an author.
I hope you, whoever “you” are, enjoy what I have to say. If you are unfortunate enough to stumble across this blog please take the time to comment and let me know what you think.