Record Review: Lil Fame & Termanology-Fizzyology

Lil Fame & Termanology-Fizzyology (Brick)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Lil Fame of M.O.P., going by his producer moniker “Fizzy Womack,” has crafted soundscapes for the likes of Kool G Rap, Cam’Ron and the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as a number of songs in M.O.P.’s catalog. So when Boston emcee Termanology set out to start work on another solo album he linked up with Fame to be his main man on the beats. At some point midway through the recording process Fame had ended up spitting verses and hooks on nearly every track. They realized that hewing an entirely collaborative project as a duo could result in a milestone record, benefiting both artists. And thus, in the new-ish trend of combined names (see: Liknuts, Wu-Block, MA_Doom, a million others.) Fizzyology was born.  ...full-length review continued here.


Record Review: Crystal Castles-III

Crystal Castles-III (Fiction)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Aptly-titled, III is the third album by Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, the Canadian experimental electro-noise duo collectively known as Crystal Castles. They are everything you wish you could be: shadowy, ingenious, skinny, and punk as motherfucking fuck. With percussion that thumps like a persistent authoritarian finger-tapping your congested chest and searing, agitated synths that spike into the backs of your eyeballs with the ease of a hot knife through warm butter, it’s the best dream you’ve ever had and your worst imaginable nightmare colliding face-first deep in recesses of your brain matter; erupting into a tepid, saccharine goo that flows through your body in a hurried uneasiness. I’ve never done heroin, but I’m guessing this is what the first taste is like. III is mood-altering, strangely danceable, and most of all, frightening yet beautiful vandalism. ...Read full review after the jump.


Record Review: Vinnie Paz-God of the Serengeti

Vinnie Paz-God of the Serengeti (Enemy Soil)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Paz enlisted a number of beat-makers for Serengeti—Havoc, DJ Lethal and C-Lance among them. Things get heated early with a DJ Premier-laced banger, “The Oracle.” Preemo’s hard-knocking boom-bap, turntablism, and sample-based hook provide the platform on which Boxcutter Pazzy spits his signature hard-rhymed lyricism: “My hands are made of stone, cut from that Madusa shit/Big gold chains, we was on that dookie shit/Still roll with the kids I stole the Gucci with/I punch you dead in the face, so fuck the music shit.”

Similarly, Marco Polo’s beat for the Blaq Poet feature, “Crime Library” unabashedly annexes the familiarity of the East Coast’s hardcore rap history, with chest-thumping drums, looped eeriness, record scratching, and a hook comprised of the oft-used Onyx “Throw Ya Gunz” sample—“One gun, two gun, three gun, four/Yours, mine, it’s all about crime!”  ...Read entire full-length review on SPB.


HDD Radio #11: All Hip-Hop (and some reggae) Mix

Welcome back! This is the eleventh episode of HotDogDayz Radio, and the second edition of our all hip-hop mix. This time we tossed in a little reggae to warm things up. It’s an hour of ‘70s reggae, ‘90s goofball hip-hop, and some brand new raps. No talkers—all rockers. Thanks for listening! Enjoy… Tracklist:
Dillinger - Fountain on the Mountain
Junior Byles - I’ve Got a Feeling
Derrick Harriet - Train to Herbsville/Crash Dub medley
KMD - Suspended Animation
Redman - How to Roll a Blunt
Pizza Boys - Simp Phonie (feat Andrew Broder & Mrs. Mucho Iglesias)
Quasimoto - Discipline 99 Pt. O (feat Mr. Herb)
Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown - Dear Jane
Showbiz & AG - I Luv Her When I’m High
Meek Mill - Believe It (feat Rick Ross)
Kendrick Lamar - m.A.A.d city (feat MC Eiht)
Strong Arm Steady & Statick Selektah - L.A. Blues
Sean Price - STFU pt. 2
Vinne Paz - Cheesesteaks
Lil Fame & Termanology - Fizzyology
Freddie Gibbs - Go For It (feat Young Jeezy)
Gucci Mane - Servin’
Action Bronson & Alchemist - Rare Chandeliers
Dillinger - Natty Kung Fu

Subscribe in iTunes here. Direct download here.  Leave us some feedback please!


HDD Radio #10: Old Stuff - '80s and '90s

And we're back! After another lengthy hiatus, HotDogDayz Radio returns to the air waves. (I feel like we're saying that every episode now.) In this edition our fearless DJ spins a bunch of old CDs of records that came out between the early '80s and mid '90s--punk, post-punk, new wave, alt, etc. Some of it you've probably heard, and some maybe not. Heavy on the Sugar and even heavier on the Soul Asylum. (Don't be frightened. Did you know they used to be a punk band?!) Thanks for listening! Enjoy... Tracklist:
Billy Bragg - Train, Train
The Smiths - Death At One’s Elbow
R.E.M. - Get Up
The Cure - Love Song
Happy Mondays - Hallelujah
E.M.F. - Unbelievable
Sugar - Good Idea
Sugar - Tilted
Sugar - Explode and Makeup
Sugar - All Roads Have Led to Nowhere (live)
Soul Asylum - Draggin’ Me Down
Soul Asylum - Do You Know?
Soul Asylum - Whoa!
Soul Asylum - New Feelings
Soul Asylum - No Man’s Land
Soul Asylum - Crashing Down
Public Image Ltd. - Bags
Sonic Youth - Inhuman
Bauhaus - In the Night
Joy Division - Atrocity Exhibition

Subscribe in iTunes here. Direct download here.


Record Review: Skyzoo-A Dream Deferred

Skyzoo-A Dream Deferred (Duck Down)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Much like its predecessor The Salvation or, say, Torae’s For The Record, this album is more along the lines of this-is-my-story (see Kanye West’s College Dropout) and less I-am-who-I-pretend-to-be (see anything Kanye West post-Late Registration.) It wouldn’t be a stretch to draw comparisons to, for lack of a better term, the emo rap days of the early ‘00s when Atmosphere, Blueprint and Sage Francis were the face of indie hip-hop. That is to say, Skyzoo’s approach to songwriting is more about providing personal insights and allegorical mind-benders than it is about providing escapism or furthering the negative stereotypes often associated with rap lyrics.  ...read full-length review right about now.


Record Review: WAR//PLAGUE-On A Darker Dawn

WAR//PLAGUE-On A Darker Dawn (Profane Existence)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Minneapolis’ scene veterans WAR//PLAGUE have finally released their debut full-length LP On A Darker Dawn.  They are veering in a slightly different direction while still snarled up in their crust punk roots. The conglomeration of styles and genres is varied enough though that it makes it difficult to put a solid label on them. Sure, in simplest of terms they are crust, but they are also quite a bit more than that too. (I used to call them post-ambient black metal crust-core or something like that. But let’s be honest here, what the hell does “post-ambient” even mean?)

Much of the band’s progression in sound has to do with a new drummer coming aboard for this record. The D-beaten barrage is still aggressive as ever, but there are noticeable tempo shifts and double kick rolls abound, resulting in a fierce convergence of percussion. You need not look any farther than “The Holy Blood” as an example of how good death metal-like pummeling sounds when given the crusty treatment.  ...read full length review right about here.


Record Review: Oiltanker-Shadow of Greed/Crusades

Oiltanker-Shadow of Greed/Crusades (Southern Lord)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, one of the oldest and wealthiest cities in the United States, on the surface doesn’t exactly scream crust punk, but Oiltanker’s existence is further affirmation of one of the most appealing aspects of crust, that it subsists virtually everywhere bubbling under the surface: angst-ridden, socio-politically conscious, and in stark opposition to the surrounding affluence and excess. And on Shadow of Greed/Crusades Oiltanker accurately conveys the infected scabbiness of fringe society one Dis-beaten track after another.  ...read entire review here.



Yo, its time to clear out some space around HDD HQ as we prepare to put out a couple new issues. If you're interested in getting some free zines, or, preferably, trading for them, holler at the email address.

HotDogDayz #1 sold out
HotDogDayz #2
The Soda Killers #1
The Soda killers #2
Restore The Power #1 sold out
Restore The Power #2
Restore The Power #3
If You Stink At Getting Ladies, Call Me #1--4 sold out
If You Stink At Getting Ladies, Call Me #5
If You Stink At Getting Ladies, Call Me #6


Scene Report: UFC on FX Live at the Target Center

UFC on FX live, Target Center, Mpls, MN, 10/5/12

There were a couple reasons I didn't want to go to this show tonight. First of all, it was a total waste of a card. Perhaps I"m spoiled because last time the UFC came through town we had GSP and Brock Lesnar on the card. Even so, I can't imagine anyone would really want to watch this on TV either. That, and I would no doubt end up being seated in front of some arm chair MMA fans (most likely from rural Wisconsin) that feel its their duty to call the fights move-for-move ("Oh half guard...oh, back the full guard...and back to the half guard...oh, almost got full mount.") and announce how they would have scored each round. ("Dude, I had that at a 10-8, bro." "Bro, are you kidding me, dude? That was totally a 10-9 round. He had cage control--come on, bro dude.") Well, I said fuck it and went for it anyway...

I grabbed an $80 ticket from a scalper for $20 and entered just before the main show on FX started. Upper deck was blocked off. Lower deck was three quarters full at best, but probably more like half full. I sat in a section where there were no idiots in front of me or behind me for several rows. They couldn't have made a lot of money on the gate. Dana was papering the show the day before at the weigh-ins, and in the days leading up to it, there were several opportunities to get free tickets around town. Lackluster enthusiasm in general. Lots and lots of booing. Say what you will about booing, but tonight I must admit--and I'm not a fan of booing fights--it seemed totally warranted. Dudes would not engage.  Even with the quick tapout in the first fight and the two knockouts later it's a more or less a shit show--shit card to begin with, followed by shit fights, equals shit show. This is something anyone could have predicted by simply reading the lineup. Lots of grumbling in audience during the whole thing, and especially on the way out. Sounded like people are pretty pissed about paying full price for it.  I would have been too. As unfortunate as it is, really the most exciting fight of the night happened in the crowd during the Ellenberger match in the section I was in. Aside from the fact that a poor gentleman of small stature got beaten bloody by two Jersey Shore-esque steroid monsters--seemingly unprovoked, I might add (wrong place, wrong time for him)--it was more action than anything on the main card. To his credit, Dana White did his best throughout the breaks (which were very, very long) to take photos and shake hands with as many fans as possible. Although it looked at times like he was more interested in chatting with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen than he was watching the fights. Who could blame him? Ronda Rousey was there too.  I'm fairly certain she and Dana are fucking.  You can tell by body language and the way the look at each other.  (If this news breaks, you heard it here first.) Overall, it was a completely underwhelming experience. Even the spectacle of live UFC couldn't save this one. It's really too bad that the UFC is so over-saturated and/or watered down that people don't get excited--even at a live event--for fights that don't feature big names.  Shit was totally lame.



Record Review: La Coka Nostra-Masters of the Dark Arts

La Coka Nostra-Masters of the Dark Arts (Fat Beats)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Although LCN worked with a number of underground producers for this album, the selection of beats they chose work well alongside one another—most of them sinister, hard-knocking and ripe with cuts and crossfades—giving Masters of Dark Arts an interconnected texture.

La Coka Nostra’s pluperfect union of bombastic boom-bap, record scratching, and realism-based hardcore rhyming conjures up imagery of hip-hop before skinny jeans and hook-anchored club anthems took over the mainstream—those days when packs of thugs stood outside the corner store, in over-sized sweats and hooded parkas, smoking on Phillies Blunts and trading verses in the cypher, while Gang Starr instrumentals blasted from a nearby Jeep. Head-banging is absolutely required.

...Full length review can be found here.


Fruit Cocktail, from TSK #1

On that teenage bedroom wall tip...


Spur Posse, from TSK #1

On that '90s pop cvlt shit...


HDD Radio #9: All Hip-Hop Mix

HotDogDayz Radio returns after an extended hiatus with a hip-hop version of the classic less-talk-more-rock radio format. Let's just call it all-rap-no-crap for now. If you're looking to hear our sultry voices, download the last episode--that one had a lots and lots of blabbering. Otherwise, commence the head-nod... Tracklist:
Gang Starr (feat. Inspectah Deck) - Above the Clouds
La Coka Nostra - Mind Your Bussiness
Q-Mixes - Q Shante (Quelle Chris Luxary Remix x Roxanne Shante)
Domo Genesis & Alcehmist - Elimination Chamber (feat Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, and Action Bronson)
Atmosphere - Millenium Dodo
M-Phazes - Midnight Madness (feat Heltah Skeltah)
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire - Lost in Translation
Strong Arm Steady & Statik Selektah - Married to the Game
Capone & Noreaga - Illegal Life (feat Tragedy Khadafi & Havoc)
Intelligent Hoodlum - Street Life (Return to the Life Mix)
Just Ice - Back to the Old School
Cage - 1992 Freestyle
Quelle Chris - Squabble
Gang Starr - New York Real Talk

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Let us know what you think. Thanks for listening!


Record Review: Nü Sensae-Sundowning

Nü Sensae—Sundowning (Suicide Squeeze)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Whether it is rap music, hardcore or pop punk, it seems the ‘90s are forcing their way back into our unsuspecting eardrums thanks to a handful of well-versed history-appreciating up ‘n’ comers. And with that sentiment arrives Sundowning, the second album by Vancouver, BC’s Nü Sensae, a band leading the small charge of current alt-core revivalists. Now a three piece—with addition of guitarist Brody McKnight—the formerly bass and drums only duo pins the snotty punch of classic L7 and Babes in Toyland alongside the auditory ambush of Dinosaur Jr. and the Melvins, while peppering it with Sonic Youth-y and Pixies-ish flirtations. Yes, it’s nearly impossible for anyone who lived through it the first time around to describe the band’s muddy, grunge-nodding brand of punk without playing the “sounds like” game. And that’s in no way a bad thing. Nü Sensae effectively retools the weightiest incisions from that exciting and hopeful era when “college rock” was becoming “alternative” and applies a punky methodology.  ...read rest of review here.


Record Review: Reks-Rebelutionary

Reks-Rebelutionary (Gracie Prods/MIM Ent.)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Reks continues to grow with each venture and that progression is again apparent on this record. Not only in terms of subject matter— verbalizing a vivid and bleak depiction of the current sociopolitical landscape; addressing among other things, institutionalized racism, wartime politics and government hypocrisy—but also in terms of breath control and album continuity. Rebelutionary shows Numonics and Reks synced up in seamless accord—a continuous stream of soulful beats compliments the emcee’s impeccable flow. Speaking in terms of aural pleasure, it sounds damn good.  ...continue reading full-length review here.


on the stereo

Oh, what's that, you're looking for music recommendations, old and new, and wondering what we--known taste makers and know-it-alls--have on rotation here at HDD HQ? Well thanks for asking. Here is list of some of CDs/records/tapes/downloads/etc. currently rocking the office stereo:

Brown Sugar--Sings of Birds and Racism
Crocodiles--Endless Flowers
The Cult--Ceremony
Dead Milkmen--Beelzebubba
Disparage--Retaliate demo
Domo Gnesis & Alchemist--No Idols mixtape
Fat Trel--Nightmare on E Street mixtape
Flatbush Zombies--D.R.U.G.S. mixtape
Gigs510--I Need Food, Swishers and Papers mixtape
Koko Beware--Something About the Summer
La Coka Nostra--Masters of the Dark Arts
Large Professor--Professor @ Large
Masta Ace & MF Doom--MA_Doom: Son of Yvonne
Mayhem Lauren--Respect the Fly Shit mixtape
Migraine--Four Humors 7"
Nu Sensae--Sundowning
Oiltanker--Shadow of Greed/Crusades
Public Image Ltd.--This is PiL
Raw Nerve--Midnight 7"
S.F.S. (Skating For Satan)-demo
Show & AG--Preloaded mixtape
The Smiths--Meat is Murder
Smoke DZA--Cuz I Felt Like It EP mixtape
Smoke DZA--Rugby Thompson
Sonic Youth--Sister
Suicide--First Album
Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death--Some of Us Are in This Together
Void--Sessions: 1981-'83
White Lung--Sorry
Y.N. Rich Kids--"Hot Cheetos & Takis"
...and a whole buch of Boot Camp Clik

As well, you can always click the "music" tag/label thingy to see our past posts on tuneage.


HDD Radio #8: RO'B From Seattle

For this episode of HotDogDayz Radio we sit down with HDD Seattle correspondent RO'B to talk about the past 10+ years of living in the Pacific Northwest. Topics include: Portland, Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, the Olympics, bar fights, graffiti, sports allegiances, bootlegging the Capital Hill Block Party, meeting "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and other stuff. Lots of talk and some music.

Murder City Devils - Every Day I Rise
Don't Talk To The Cops - Murder Burger Official Motion Picture Trailer
Don't Talk To The Cops - Murder Burger (feat OC Notes & Rachel Ratner)
Scribes - Shinin' Bright
Baltic Cousins - Holy Stones
Skarp - Souless
SpaceGhostPurrp - Bringing the Phonk
Rabbit Ears - For and Against

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Please let us know what you think!

Correction: The Colonel DeBeers character was supposed to be from South Africa, not South America.  DeBeers, real name Ed Wiskoski, is indeed from Portland.

Minnesota's current professional soccer team is the Stars.  The team that worked out at the same gym as me was the Thunder.

The Spring Break photos that RO'B sent in can be found here.  And the Olivian photos he sent can be found here.

Below is the Cold Killer cover of the Stranger that we talked about.  (It was September of '04, and I was in Seattle for the Beastie Boys To The 5 Boroughs tour at Key Arena.) Following that are some other pics of Seattle graffiti that RO'B mentioned.  He didn't flick them himself though--we stole 'em from the Internet.


HDD Radio #7: All New Music

And we are back! Exclamation point worthy? Well, sure, why not? Uh, I mean, why not! On this show our man in the booth spins all new music from 2012 and talks about working the kitchen in a Mexican restaurant with a dude who wore a Cannibal Corpse tee shirt everyday. It's all over the place on this one—rap, crust, punk, metal, indie jams, etc. Download and enjoy. And please let us know what you think. Thanks!

Large Professor - Focused Up (feat Cormega & Tragedy Khadafi)
MA_Doom - Slow Down
1982 - Too Long
Joey Bada$$ - Funky Ho
From Ashes Rise - Rejoice the End
Phobia - Remnants of Filth
Canibal Corpse - The Strangulation Chair
Fastkill - Guillotine Attack
White Lung - Thick Lip
OFF! - King Kong Brigade
Nu Sensae - Swim
Public Image Ltd. - One Drop
Crocodiles - Electric Death Song
Japandroids - Continuous Thunder

Subscribe in iTunes.

UPDATE: The Fastkill song was "Guillotine Attack", not "Terminal Disease."

UPDATE 2: This is the album cover/tee shirt in question...


Record Review: From Ashes Rise-Rejoice the End b/w Rage of Sanity 7"

From Ashes Rise-Rejoice the End b/w Rage of Sanity 7" 
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Formed in Nashville, Tennessee during the mid-‘90s American crust punk swell, From Ashes Rise later relocated to their current base in Portland, Oregon, where alongside fellow scene forerunners His Hero Is Gone, Tragedy and Hellshock, they helped cast the prototype for modern-day “epic crust punk”—a big sound that, while still rooted in anarcho-minded lyricism, apocalyptic imagery and D-beat, displays a noticeable focus on song structure; its hallmarks being slowish gloom, surging crescendos and crushing breakdowns.  Amid a persistent touring schedule, the four-piece have released three full-length records and a surplus of splits and EPs.  However, it’s been nine years since From Ashes Rise last released any new material. (Their highly extolled Jade Tree LP Nightmares came out in 2003.)  It’s clear from listening to their brand new two-song Southern Lord 7” Rejoice the End b/w Rage of Sanity though, that the formula hasn’t changed much in the interim.  Whether that’s a good thing or not is still to be determined.  ...Keep reading review here.


DVD Review: Dinosaur Jr. Live at the 9:30 Club-In the Hands of the Fans

Dinosaur Jr.-Live at the 9:30 Club: In the Hands of the Fans
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

In 1988 Dinosaur Jr. released their third record Bug. Despite it being lead singer/guitarists and band leader J.Mascis’ least favorite outing, it was their most successful album up to that point.  While touring in support of it, tension between Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow, who had known each other since high school and played together in hardcore band Deep Wound in the early ‘80s, grew too large to ignore.  As a result, Barlow was kicked out of the band in ‘89.  He then went on to focus his energies full-time in his former side gig, the equally tumultuous Sebadoh and collaborated with singer-songwriter John Davis in the Folk Implosion. Surviving numerous line-up changes, Mascis trudged along with Dinosaur Jr, releasing several critically acclaimed albums and cementing himself as a pivotal character in the ‘90s alternative rock movement.  Fast forward twenty-two years: Bug has been included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Barlow has since reunited with Mascis and original drummer Murph, and the band has announced they will be heading out on the road, playing the album in its entirety.  With that comes, Dinosaur Jr. Live at 9:30 Club.  ...read full-length review at this place.


Record Review: Broken Heroes-This is Oi!

Broken Heroes—This is Oi! (Skinflint)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

I am not the most qualified reviewer when it comes to modern-day Oi! music. Yes, I am familiar with the genre in general—I still spin The 4 Skins, The Business, The Oppressed, Blitz, or Sham 69 from time to time, and Cock Sparrer is the one band that has never been deleted from any of my iPods—but for the most part, I’ve been largely dismissive of anything current. In the mid to late ‘90s—around the same time I sported a bomber jacket and a suedehead cut—I curated a series of mixtapes called I Don’t Know Anything About Punk…or Hardcore…or Ska…or Oi!, so, yeah, I’ve been claiming to not know anything about the genre for a long time. But it couldn’t be any truer today, as a quick audit of my music collection shows I dipped out on contemporary Oi! or streetpunk, as it were, sometime around The Dropkick Murphys’ Sing Loud, Sing Proud album in ’01. In the interest of full disclosure (and with all due respect to the late Bruce Roehrs, whose column in Maximum Rock’N’Roll was one of my favorites,) I find most present-day Oi! to be nauseating and imprudent. So with that being said, I’ll ignore my savant-like urge to list every skinhead band that has “broken” or “heroes” in their name (137) and plow forward the best I can here with hopes that it doesn’t result in a boot party on my cranium.  ...read entire review and subsequent comments from pissed off skins after the jizump.


2012 Mid-Year Best-Of: Hip-Hop Mixtapes

2012 Best-Of Hip-Hop So Far: Mixtapes
An Excerpt From 2012 Mid-Year Review
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Part 1: Albums here.
As if keeping up with rap music’s ridiculously hectic release schedule isn’t frustrating enough, staying on top of the mixtape game is as daunting task as there is for a hip-hop head. Generally speaking I don’t fucks with mixtapes…or at least, that used to be the case. By and large they are collections of throw-away tracks, recycled beats, annoying advertisements for the upcoming album that never actually arrives (I’m looking at you Rick Ross) and the favored platform for trap-n-trunk rappers that can’t rap. Not to mention, they tend to drag on way too long. That being said, with downloads being the preferred medium these days, the increased debate over what establishes something as a mixtape rather than an official release is an unwinnable argument on par with, say, what-is-and-what-is-not-punk. And when it boils down to it, some artists only do mixtapes. So to be fair, I wanted to give some love to those notable tapes that have dropped so far in 2012…

Action Bronson—Blue Chips
This project—which borrows its title, imagery, and some key samples from the '90s Nick Nolte, Shaq, and Penny Hardaway basketball film of the same name—brings together Brooklyn producer Party Supplies and the Flushing-Queens MC-on-the-rise Action Bronson for a grip of songs. Although it is a free download, it plays more like an album than it does a mixtape. The only real drawbacks here are that, even though these are all good songs, none of them really stand apart from each other aside from “Hookers at the Point”; a misogynist tale in which Bronson raps from a few different points of view, including that of—surprise—a pimp. It’s that lack of variety that, at seventeen songs, tends to get a little monotonous near the end. Overall though, it’s another stellar outing by Bronson, in which he shows no signs of slowing down. Dude has bars for days.

Joey Bada$$—1991
Early in 1999, Joey Bada$$ states, “I’m tryin’ to go global…tryin’ to be a mogul” and later, “I won’t stop ‘til I meet Hova and my moms is driving a Rover.” And if this tape is any indication—as well as extracurriculars like calling out Kanye on his current mediocre-ness and (purportedly) beefing with Odd Future—it may not be long before he finds himself sitting in the front row of the BET Awards with a Kardashian on his arm. The Brooklynite, at just 17 years old, has crafted a surprisingly remarkable mixtape that recalls some of the most revered hip-hop in history. Over the course of fifteen tracks, Joey, along with his rhyme partner Capital STEEZ and the rest of the producer/emcee/artist conglomerate Pro Era, breathe new life into the tried and true ‘90s NYC rap formula. 1999 isn’t just the name; it’s the whole style—featuring production from J-Dilla, Statik Selktah, MF Doom, and Lord Finesse to boot. This cat has all the potential in the world to be H-to-the-UGE.

Meek Mill—Dreamchasers 2
It used to be that, aside from a guilty pleasure-like interest in Rick Ross, I didn’t really get down with anybody from the MMG crew. That was until I heard Meek Mill’s Ricky Rozay feature “I’m a Boss” about a million times while covering metro-area high school basketball games last year—it was by far the most played song in gymnasiums during the ’11-’12 season. So it was with equal parts curiosity and anticipation that I peeped Meek’s latest tape, Dreamchasers 2. And damn, if this thing isn’t good! What’s most surprising to me is that dude can actually rap. Now I know that might not come as a shock to anyone already familiar with Meek, but—at the risk of ruining my street cred here—admittedly, until recently I largely ignored trap music. (If you didn’t know by now, I’m primarily a boom-bap guy.) Dreamchasers 2 features production from a number of trunk rattlers like, Jahlil Beats, All-Star and others. Beat Bully lays the foundation for the “House Party (RMX)”, which is the first time in recent memory that I can recall being able to actually tolerate Mac Miller. Meek goes the emo route a few times with personal stories of struggle and whatnot, but it’s most enjoyable when he unabashedly indulges the listener with sex raps and stereotypical gangsta shit. Such as “Str8 Like That” and the Sam Sneaker-produced “Facedown,” which shows Meek, Wale and Trey Songz appropriating an old 2-Live Crew song of the same name are standout tracks.

M-Phazes—Phazed Out (Mixed Version)
This is a playlist of tracks from Coalmine Records’ recent catalog that have been remixed by Australian producer M-Phazes. The whole thing has been superbly beat-matched and scratched into a non-stop party-rockin’ joint by DJ Rhettmatic of the World Famous Beat Junkies. Veterans like Heltah Skeltah, Inspectah Deck, Phil Da Agony, Masta Ace, and CL Smooth rap alongside up-n-comers Torae, Bekay, Saigon, Skyzoo, and Termanology. This reminds me of (and subsequently long for) the ‘90s when mixtapes were actually cassette tapes of various rap songs mixed together by a DJ without the use of Serato. That’s not to say there isn’t some sort of mixing software at work here—I literally cannot tell—but if there is, it’s cleverly disguised by Rhettmatic’s impeccable turtablism. Fans of NYC’s Stretch & Bobbito, LA’s Fantastik 4our or Minneapolis’ Smoke & Delight and Dan Speak & Disco-T old radio shows will dig this.

Eric Sermon—Breath of Fresh Air
Despite being the subject of numerous controversial rumors (or the butt of many jokes, depending on how you look at) over the years—that he’s gay, that he’s homophobic, that he was thrown out a window, that he jumped out of a window on his own volition, his on again/off again relationship with EPMD partner Parish Smith, etc.—and dismal record sales, the Green Eyed Bandit has somehow managed to remain one of the more pivotal people in the rap game for twenty plus years. Yet this one totally took me by surprise. First, that the E-Double actually has some new material out, and secondly, that it turns out to be pretty decent stuff. Well it’s not exactly all new stuff—some of it is rarities and unreleased tracks from previous projects, but it is still very good. It’s got all the signature Sermon production you’ve come to expect—more or less, traditional East Coast boom-bap. And as with most tapes, Breath of Fresh Air is ripe with guest spots—KRS-One, Method Man, Too $hort, Rick Ross and Def Squad alums Redman and Keith Murray all make appearances, as do newbies Twone Gabz, the mysterious Lockness Monster, and the recently departed Sam-Bo.

Runner Ups:  I Self Devine—The Culture Series mixtapes 1-4, Raekwon—Unexpected Victory, Showbiz & AG—Mugshot Music: Preloaded and Mugshot Music: Preloaded Remixes, MC Tree G - Sunday School


2012 Mid-Year Best-Of: Hip-Hop Albums

2012 Best-Of Hip-Hop So Far: Albums
An Exerpt From 2012 Mid-Year Review
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

I have listened to so much rap in my life that it has affected me in bizarre and comical, yet undesirable ways. For example: For no good reason whatsoever (and with incessant bad timing—i.e. at work, at the grocery store, at lunch with my mom…on Mother’s Day, no less) I randomly channel Too $hort and yell out “biatch”, I can’t answer yes to a question without saying “geah” in my best MC Eiht drawl, and I constantly refer to the place in which I am at as “up in this piece.” (Thankfully I cut myself off from saying “swag” before it got out of control.) Not to mention, the chronic pain in my neck due to the perpetual state of head-bob in which I reside. I am continuously buying, downloading, streaming, and admittedly, sometimes stealing rap music. So I figured, since we are at the halfway mark up in this piece, why not sum up a few the best hip-hop records that have dropped so far in 2012…

El-P—Cancer 4 Cure (Fat Possum)
Whether on the mic himself or behind the boards for Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Murs, Mr. Lif, or Cage, El-Producto has been consistently creating stellar hip-hop music for nearly twenty years now. In 1997, as part of the now legendary trio Company Flow, he was responsible for one the most important rap records of the ‘90s, Funcrusher Plus. And in five year increments he has dropped a solo album that is not only one of the year’s best records in hip-hop, but the best in all of music. (See Fantastic Damage ’02 and I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead ‘07.) The same can be said of his third, and most recent, Cancer 4 Cure. Intact are the recognizable distinctions El-P has spent the last decade perfecting: meticulously-crafted futuristic sound collages and densely congested beats—sci-fi-informed and bass heavy—balanced with hard-hitting lyricism that zigzags between paranoia, self-deprecation, braggadocios chest pounding, and easily decipherable metaphorical witticism. Cancer 4 Cure isn’t just good hip-hop; its good music. Like the hook in the lead-off single “The Full Retard” goes, “You should pump this shit like they do in the future.”

Apollo Brown & OC—Trophies (Mello Music Group)
I don’t know if it’s just me being biased towards older MCs as I move increasingly into my own salt-n-pepper stage (the age-induced hair color, that is) but I’ve been quite impressed with recent releases by some of hip-hop’s elder statesmen—Edo G., Kool G. Rap and KRS-One,to name a few. And now D.I.T.C. crew member OC comes back again alongside up-and-coming producer Apollo Brown with an outstanding new album that might just be the sleeper of the year. The premise is as alluring as it is basic: Apollo produced simplistic sample-based string, horn and drum boom-bap and OC blessed it with his conciliatory no-frills delivery. You won’t find any traces of crunk, trap, thizzle, #swag, or purple here. Trophies is 16 tracks of pure unadulterated East Coast-style hip-hop, and it’s damn good.

Killer Mike—R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)
Released only one week prior, and playing like a companion piece of sorts to El-P’s Cure 4 Cancer, R.A.P. Music shows the Atlanta based Dungeon Family veteran as an invigorated and fresh-breathed MC on verge of finally breaking through. Over a backdrop created entirely by El-P, Killer Mike spits potent mix of politics, personal tales and hardcore G-talk. Aside from a appearances by Bun-B, TI, El-P and a couple lesser-known MCs, Mike goes at it alone, and the result is unified and striking. Considering El’s on the beat, it’s hard to call this Southern rap. That being said, in the aptly-titled “Southern Fried”, Mike lays down the Dungeon Fam-esque rhymes about Killer Hill and strip clubs, while El does his best to direct the beats appropriately—not exactly ‘playalisticadillacmuzik but close enough.

I Self Devine—The Sound of Lower Class Amerika (Rhymesayers Ent.)
I Self Devine is not only the unsung hero of Ryhmesayers, but in many ways, underground hip-hop as a whole. As far as RSE goes, he’s the only real street-style rapper on the label. (A highly contested case has been made for Brother Ali, but the fact remains, despite Ali’s best, well-intended efforts to sponge I Self and the African-American experience, their audiences are not one in the same.) Setting himself apart from his peers, I Self takes a utilitarian approach to songwriting; largely skipping the misogyny, homophobia and gun-clapping subject matter that plagues most street level hip-hop. Instead he takes it upon himself to narrate the current state of “lower-class” society and provide a historical telling of how things got this fucked up. The Sound of Lower Class Amerika is the latest in an impressive history—one that includes several Micronauts records, a superb outing with DJ Abilities as Semi-Official, and the underrated, yet unforgettable Self Destruction. Against a backdrop of beats provided by Jake One, Vitamin D, Benzilla and others, I Self conveys messages of community, class warfare and social injustice in the United States.

SpaceGhostPurrp—Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp (4AD)
While lyricism may not be SpaceGhostPurrp’s greatest strength, his YOLO-esque black male self-awareness, laughable ignorance and misogyny-laced rhymes only distract mildly from the overall feel of Mysterious Phonk, as it tends to one of hip-hop’s chief qualities: escapism. For example, this how the album starts: “Just a young-ass nigga—not giving a fuck/Cuz if I ever did, I’d be whife’n her up/My heart real black—I don’t trust a bitch/I hate this world—ya’ll can suck my dick.” (From “Mystical Maze”) And this is how it ends: “Fuck what they say—Nigga, Imma do me.” (From “Raider Prayer”) Production wise, Purrp’s beats are eerie, foggy, high-as-hell-in-the-deep-end-of-the-pool head-nodisms that would fit nicely alongside DJ Paul, anything chopped-n-screwed, and contemporaries like A$AP Ty Beats—they are, for lack of a better term, purp’d the fuck out. To people who loved hip-hop before sippin’ syrup and blowing back hydro became the norm, Chronicles probably doesn’t scream “best of”—and traditionally speaking, no, Miami’s SpaceGhost isn’t the most gifted rapper—but as a dual-headed monster—his real prowess is as a producer—he has created one of the year’s most cohesive, and I’ll just go ahead and say it, best hip-hop albums.

Runner Ups:  GangreneVodka & Ayahuasca, KRS-Onethe BDP Album, Oh No Ohnomite, DJ Premier & Bumpy KnucklesKolexxxion, ReksStraight, No Chaser


2012 Mid-Year Best-Of: Albums

Top Five Albums of 2012 So Far
An Excerpt From 2012 Mid-Year Review
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

MartyrdödParanoia (Southern Lord)
For over a decade now, these Swedish purveyors of stench have been unleashing their trademarked style of blackened everything to the crust-consuming masses. Despite the richer sounding production value of this record, there is still the full-on power and blunt straightforwardness indicative of D-beat. It’s just been polished up enough that you can clearly distinguish the multitude of layers created by the skilled axemen—incorporating, among other things, aspects of punk, hardcore and classic Swedish death metal. In that same regard, the partition of instrumentation allows the rhythm section’s impact on the overall sound, as they plod and pound their way through a thunderous Dis-laden low end backdrop. While the guitar work hints at it, it’s really the hateful, tortured vitriol of vocals that adds a heavy dose of black metal to the mix—a distinction longtime fans will recognize and appreciate.

Wolfbrigade—Damned (Southern Lord)
These Swedish crust punk veterans return once more with their signature brand of metal-tinged D-beat. This time around there is a noticeable attention to detail as it relates to the quality of production. It has cleaner and more user-friendly mix than past outings—likely a result of Southern Lord’s deeper pockets. Although the wall of sheer sound has been partitioned, allowing a few delicate gradations to flourish at unexpected times, they have kept intact all the anarcho-rage and Motorhead leanings they have perfected over that last seventeen years.

Tragedy—Darker Days Ahead (Tragedy Records)
Departing a bit from the D-beat swiftness, epic crust, and pure rage of previous albums, this record shows the band experimenting more with their sound—integrating drone vibrations, doom metal and even some demonic snarls. But despite the slow builds, chuga-chuga and other metal facets, this is still very much punk as fuck, thanks in part to the archetypal lyricism centering around bleak societal outlooks and anarcho-politics. It has been six years since these DIY-renowned Portland crust punk luminaires last released an LP, and what a slab of earth-crushing wax it is.

OFF!—OFF! (Vice)
While firing shots at Gregg Ginn and mocking Black Flag three decades after the fact may be oddly entertaining, we’d be better off to forget the entire hubbub of old punkers jogging out ancient rivalries. The bottom line is this is just good hardcore punk rock. Period. Keith Morris, much like on 2010’s First Four EPs, sounds as youthful a singer as he ever has—this is what he loves to do and he does it really well. And the band exercises flawlessly loud-ass Black Flag/Circle Jerks worship for which Morris can blow his vocal chords over. Much like with the production on the previous record, the same can be said of this one—it has a demo-like quality that is quite favorable to the overall sound.

Japandroids—Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
These guys create incredibly awesome poppy, punky, indie-rocky, sing-a-long summer jams, and I unabashedly love every single one of them. Listening to this record is like riding your bike to work on a cool, sunny Friday morning and deciding that today is the day you’re going to stop being such a wimp about consequences and go ahead and finally have sex with your crush from the office. Probably not in the office…that could result in you getting fired…but like, later, after a night of drinking and possibly cocaine. But what do I know; I don’t even own a bike.

Runner Ups: Mean Jeans—On Mars, White Lung— Sorry, Crocodiles—Endless Flowers, Public Image Ltd.—This is PiL, Phobia—Remnants of Filth


2012 Mid-Year Best-Of: Slept On in 2011

Three Records We Slept On in 2011
An Excerpt From 2012 Mid-Year Review

By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

Brown Sugar—Sings of Birds and Racism (Feral Kid)
Brown Sugar takes cues from both the past and present—sponging The Germs and Black Flag as much as contemporary hardcore’s boundary-bending tendencies ala Nö Pöwer or Raw Nerve—while lacing it with their own unique weirdness. They start with some mysterious-guy underpinnings, add a little saxophone buffoonery, sprinkle it with DIY cut-n-past imagery, and make it a vinyl-only release. The end result is Sings of Birds and Racism; the pluperfect amalgamation of fast art punk.

Vallenfyre—A Fragile King (Century Media)When I asked my friend who writes for Decibel Magazine if Vallenfyre’s debut album A Fragile King was really as good as they said it was in their year-end feature he replied, “I’m not sure; I’ve never actually heard it, but I think it is knuckle-dragger death metal.” (Not listening to a record your employers say is one of the best of the year? Typical.) Knuckle-dragger roughly translates to “old guys playing old school death metal.” And that is pretty much exactly what Vallenfyre is—they are a British super group featuring members of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth and Doom. For an upstart band A Fragile King shows them standing head-n-shoulders above the congested pack of classic Swedish death metal revivalists that were making the rounds in 2011. The guitars and vocals are absolutely enthralling and it’s all held together masterfully by a Dis-tinged doom-trodden rhythmic pounding. Half way into the New Year, and I keep going back to this one—it’s inescapable.

Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death—Some Of Us Are In This Together (DSB)
Based out of Seattle, WA and featuring current and former members of a slew of other PNW notables like Murder City Devils, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Modest Mouse, Cold Lake, Mongrel Blood, Rabbit Ears and others, TOLSATD has quietly been creating some of the best wierdo-art-punk-noise for close to a decade now. Whether it be cassettes, CDs or various vinyl formats, they have already amassed an extensive catalog of music, spread accross a number of different indie labels . Last year's Some Of Us Are In This Together is their latest, and most varied to date. Where their early work came off like experimental home recordings, the new record plays like the perfect culmination the band's yearly progression. They have structured marvelous, albeit boundary-less, songs. The dual vocal approach of Spencer Moody and Andrea Zollo recalls both the anger and angst of their old hardcore band Area 51 as well their eclectic arty and dance-informed features on fellow band member Dann Gallucci's A Gun Called Tension record. The whole thing plays like a vagabond experience—it's poectic, emotive and incredibly alluring.


Scene Report: Japandroids live at 7th St. Entry

Japandroids live, 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis, MN, 7/3/12
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

When a touring band starts their set by saying, “It feels like we’re back home, Minneapolis”, the natural instinct is to go Okay, yeah sure buddy— I bet you said the same thing last night in Chicago/Milwaukee/Madison/Detroit/somewhere in Canada/etc. But when Japandroids lead singer and guitar player Brian King said it to a sell-out crowd Tuesday night, the eager, packed-in audience opted to believe him. Minneapolis, for all of our shameless self-loving scenesterism, can be a fussy crowd; often times offering our lesser-known hometown bands nothing but folded arms and blank stares. That being said, we tend to treat out-of-towners—at least those with a good amount of buzz—really, really well. So it comes without surprise that Japandroids, who are in heavy rotation locally on both 89.3 The Current and 770 AM Radio K, were welcomed with open arms.

On the last night of their American tour, Japandroids landed at the legendary 7th Street Entry in downtown Minneapolis (where the Replacements once played five nights in a row in October of ’85 and where Atmosphere did an eight night stand twenty years later) to blow off some steam before the long, show-less drive back to Vancouver. Despite the hellish temperatures (a heat index up around 107 degrees Fahrenheit) King and drummer David Prowse played as if it had nothing left to lose; like they literally did live here and could just go home and pass out after the show. They frantically and sometimes sloppily, bashed through every track from their outstanding new record Celebration Rock. The songs that seemed to garner the most crowd participation were the lead-off single “The House That Heaven Built”; with its overabundance of ooh-ooh-ooh sing-a-long parts, the youthful drinking anthem “Younger Us”, and the album opener “The Nights Of Wine and Roses”; which was preceded by King urging everyone to check out The Dream Syndicate album by the same name, saying that the creation of Celebration Rock was influenced heavily by it.

The set was rounded out with select gems from Post-Nothing such as “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, “Wet Hair” and one of my personal favorites, “Sovereignty.” It was an oddly touching few minutes, as the Minneapolis crowd, who has its own love/hate relationship with finicky weather, proudly sang along to the PNW anthem: “It’s raining in Vancouver, but I don’t give a fuck.”

Of interest was how, even though it was an 18+ show, the majority of the audience seemed to be in their late 20s to even early 40s. (No doubt, a result of the Current’s affect on the local music scene—it’s undeniable, indie rock crowds have gotten older here since they debuted on-air in ‘05. It’s something that is quite heartwarming to see actually.) Near the end of the set they played the final song off of Celebration Rock, “Continuous Thunder.” Despite the band’s apologetic nature for playing “a slow one” it was near-perfect moment, as the lyrics, centered around lost love, resonated well with the us older attendees that may have a bit more life experience under our belts in that department.

The final song of the encore-less performance was a lengthy, raucous version of a Gun Club cover, “For the Love of Ivy”, in which it looked at times like the band might go into instrument-smashing mode. They didn’t however, which was kind of disappointing, but they did look completely spent, as if they gave it everything that had left in them. And that alone was completely satisfying. Besides, everyone else down on the floor looked just as exhausted. But we actually got to go home and pass out afterwards. Godspeed Japandroids!

Read original full-length version here.


Scene Report: A Punker's Revenge-A Celebration of Speedboat Gallery

A Punker's Revenge: A Celebration of Speedboat Gallery @ CO Exhibitions, Mpls, MN, 6/30/12
Speedboat was an art gallery in St. Paul that was open from '88 to '94 that, aside from art shows, had like, rad punk and alt shows and Schlitz beer and stuff.  I can't really speak on it, as I wasn't an actual resident of the TC at that point.  All I really remember is reading something about it in Details magazine back in the day, which was kind of a big deal to me probably.  I'm told that, for those that were hangin' back then, it's on some real personal/emotional type shit.  And as someone who has been around for a minute now myself, and seen my fair share of all-ages spaces, galleries, old bastions of punk and youth, etc. close up shop, I totally respect that for sure.  So, it was a no-brainer that I would be checking out the opening of the SBG revival last night.  Bands, beer, art...old/former scenesters--DUH!

It was way nice up in there too.  The art was a mix of old flyers (Slant 6, Mickey Finn, Lifter Puller, NOFX), some pieces that had ran in Speedboat back in the day, and new-ish things from new-ish peeps.  Much of it reminded me exactly what it is I love about art: that, like punk rock, anyone can do it...and that it is totally undefinable.  Most of it had a very--and I don't mean this in any way other than complimentary--untrained aspect to it.  Very DIY'y.

Two bands played.  One of which was Speedboat founder Paul Dickinson's band Francis Gumm.  They were alright but I missed most of their set.  It sounded very much like a TC band that would have been around in the '90s.  The other band, whose name I erroneously forgot to write down, I really enjoyed.  It was a post-punky, Brit rocky, male/female dual vocals thing with keyboards.  The dude told an endearing story about how he had a I'm-getting-old type panic attack just minutes after arriving, when seeing some of the flyers on the walls triggered memories of watching Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear at Speedboat back in the day.

As for the people in attendance: predictably is was the beer bellies and balding crowd--would-be "hip parents" that are in all actuality out-hipped by their teenage sons & daughters.  Overheard: "See son, I told you I used to be cool."  On the other hand, it was the kind of place where guys in their 40s could casually stroll in, wearing a super hero t-shirt that doesn't look at all out of place or ironic, and make beeline for the beer.

And on top of it all off, anyone that was looking close enough got Craig Finn's phone number--pre area code split, back when the entire metro was 612.  (I tried it--it doesn't work.)


For more about the history of Speedboat Gallery, read an oral history here.

"AC/DC's Washing Machine" by Sean Smuda

Art by Frank Gaard

Francis Gumm

"Old Man Joke" by Michael Mott

"Charles Barkley Series" by Noah Harmon

"It Was Nice To See You" by Jake Spriggins

"Wishful Thinking" by WC Wormley