Music Reviews

Music Roundup 3/10/20

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We’re here to tell you what’s hot and what’s not on this week’s music roundup

music roundup Kamaiyah

Kamaiyah – GOT IT MADE

Genre: Hip Hop

Favorite Tracks:  “1-800-IM-HORNY,” “Set It Up (featuring Trina)”

Across any self-esteemed music critic’s career, they’re bound to run into releases that aren’t for them, but that they have no trouble believing could easily be for someone else. As far as my own tastes go, Kamaiyah’s third mixtape, GOT IT MADE, fits this bill. To be clear, Kamaiyah is hard to dislike: no-nonsense, hard-hitting, and oozing confidence with every syllable, she’s easily brightened up a whole string of affable singles from YG and E-40 via guest spots over the years. However, there’s no way around the fact that GOT IT MADE is a bit of a one-trick pony as far its overall tonal and sonic composite is concerned, the loose bass blats and crisp clap effects an effortless throwback to Oakland’s long history of hyphy, though unable to avoid giving off the general impression of plateauing after its initial volleys are lobbied. GOT IT MADE hits its peaks when Kamaiyah’s no-holds-barred personality is allowed to shine through, whether putting her detractors and aggressors in their place (“Set It Up”) or loudly establishing her sexual prowess and agency (the regrettably titled “1-800-IM-HORNY”). To its credit, it’s certainly an improvement upon the recent self-produced releases from oddball Bay Area statesman Lil B, all of which dabble in the preferred regional sound to increasingly lethargic effects, but there’s a reason I was way more invested in the Wu-Tang Clan than Death Row Records when I began to explore the genre in high school: somewhere in the sleek G-funk synths, overblown low end, and syncopated cycles of delivery, I begin to check out. Destined to have a few cuts included on 2020’s hip hop club playlists, GOT IT MADE is harmless, but little more. [Thomas Seraydarian]

music roundup Wasted Shirt

Wasted Shirt – FUNGUS II

Genre: Noise Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Double the Dream,” “Four Strangers Enter The Cement At Dusk”

Brian Chippendale sits behind Zach Hill as the most in-your-face drummer of the modern indie rock era. With styles and sounds that are distinct and overwhelming, each deliver countless performances that blur grating with greatness. It remains overwhelming to take in the breadth of Lightning Bolt’s work given Chippendale and Brian Gibson have been performing together for over 25 years, noise rock stalwarts who are several eras removed from their start and whose work still sounds as singular and urgent as ever. Listening to 2019’s SONIC CITADEL right after Chippendale’s latest project, FUNGUS II, you have to appreciate how relentless and balls-to-the-wall the two are in crafting a sound that’s slowly been building in fidelity since 2003’s grinding WONDERFUL RAINBOW without every straying from their core talents and larger sonic pallet.

I would never consider myself a Lightning Bolt expert by any stretch, but anyone who’s been even remotely interested in noise and art rock over the last decade almost has to have spent time studying their catalog, the expanse of their manic journey into fuzzy repetition worthwhile homework for listeners and musicians alike, and in that regard Ty Segall and I are classmates. Chippendale’s sound and edge remain as sharp as ever on Wasted Shirt’s FUNGUS II, but frequently I feel like his skills are somewhat wasted allowing collaborator Segall to essentially just play dress-up and make believe delivering a slightly more accessible (if also diluted) version of a Lightning Bolt record. And here’s the thing: I can’t fault Segall in the slightest! If I had an ounce of raw musical talent, I too would want to jam with Chippendale and make a bugged-out noise rock odyssey. Certainly Segall is someone whose work has borrowed from this aesthetic before, thus making the fit somewhat uncanny on tracks like “Double the Dream,” “All Is Lost,” and “Fist Is My Ward.” Occasionally songs skew a bit more towards Segall’s preferred sludginess with the longer cuts like “Harsho” or the highlight closer “Four Strangers Enter The Cement At Dusk,” and in a lot of ways that’s the more interesting sound being pursued, bending rather than breaking the duo’s respective pasts. Still, FUNGUS II feels stale at certain points, and that its most compelling original musical idea, “The Purple One,” ultimately pales in comparison to Ty Segall karaokeing Lightning Bolt across the rest of the record says everything you really need to know. If the collaboration sounded appealing, this was already for you, but it goes without saying that it could’ve used Gibson’s X factor to make its surreal, nerve-pinching soundscapes pop a bit more. [CJ Simonson]

MERRY-GO-ROUNDTABLE Episode 56: Doing Our Best to Survive: An Interview with Sean Bonnette of AJJ

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