"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friends Who Make Music

"I'm comfortable enough in my (relative lack of) masculinity to admit that I'm a fan of this show"


One of the more awkward aspects about being a (not a) blogger writing about music (you know, aside from all of it…) is being asked by your friends to listen and post their band’s music for your site. As any person who adheres to the most basic of social conventions can tell you, peer-to-peer human bonding requires one to like (or at least, pretend to like) your friend’s shitty band even if you’d rather stick a corkscrew into aural cavity than listen to their music. Naturally, this can be problematic when one considers oneself to be an objective critic (and in my case, somebody with flawless taste) and you have to inform your friends through your (relative lack of…) social graces that you won’t be writing a fawning piece of their industrial sludge metal band on your blog because you don’t want to compromise your objective integrity (or rather because you simply have taste…) Fortunately, I have been blessed with friends that have musical talent and I’m proud to be able to post their stuff on my blog.


5 O’Clock Shadowboxers – The Slow Twilight

Over the course of my blogging career, I have befriended (and made enemies with) many of my fellow bloggers and musicians who frequent the same corner of the interwebs that I do. Through my travels, I somehow managed to befriend the infamous rapper Zilla Rocca of Clean Guns and producer/musician Douglas Martin of Fresh Cherries from Yakima through our correspondence and daily shit-talking we all do at Passion Of The Weiss and The What? message boards. Douglas and Zilla despite being on opposite coasts have formed like Voltron to form the group, the 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, to release their collaborative album, “The Slow Twilight”.


This album is no joke and is one of the best albums to be released recently in a year that many critics are calling a return to form for hip hop (if the form was like 2004 but still…). The Slow Twilight sounds like the artistic cousin of GZA’s “Liquid Swords” if it were mated with Edan’s “Beauty & The Beat” and channeled through a less needlessly unintelligible version of Aesop Rock (in a good way) humping a DVD of “Double Indemnity.” Zilla Rocca is obviously a very talented lyricist and song-writer (although he does fall into my number one pet peeve of all white rappers which is cramming too many words and syllables into their verses to show of their technical virtuosity. Sorry, Zill. It’s true.) as he takes effort to craft some really effecting and sad songs on this like his ode to dead-end girls from Philly on “Dead Queens.” However, the real star of the show is Douglas Martin’s murky, low-end production. Drawing heavily from familiar mood rock sample sources like Radiohead and the Velvet Underground (allegedly, I’m not nearly enough of a Lou Reed stan to tell you), Martin crafts a dark, dark noir inspired beats. The beat on “Bottomfeeders” alone might be my favorite beat done all year.


Download or Buy: 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers – The Slow Twilight



Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

I have known the dudes (and chicks) from Ra Ra Riot in one shape or the other since my days happily drinking myself steadily into oblivion at Syracuse University. Their original drummer, John Pike, before he tragically passed and their lead singer, Wes Miles, were friends with my old college roommate, Clint, and used to sit on Clint’s bed and listen to weird break-beat records in our dorm room while I played Battlefield 2 on my computer. I remember seeing them perform their first shows in the basement of grubby house parties and now, the band is breaking nationally appearing on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and touring with (Seth Cohen Approved!!!) Death Cab For Cutie and (the immortal) Vampire Weekend. Numerous number of my friends are obsessed with these dudes (since they know them, personally), so its been oddly satisfying in seeing a band I can remember from its infancy going from playing shitty parties in the ‘Cuse to selling out Webster Hall in the space of three years.


I’m not the world’s biggest indie rock fan (obviously) but I’ve always had a really good time at their shows and I purchased their debut CD when it was released last August. Ra Ra crafts sweet and peppy indie pop songs that work slightly better live than they do in recorded form. They are kind of hypnotic live due to a large part because of their high energy state shows (and the fact, their two female members are hot) as Wes Miles really brings it. “Ohh La” off their album was probably my favorite indie rock (well, the only indie song I liked) last year.


Buy: Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line


Divine Minds – Divine Intervention/SoulKlap & Divine Minds – The Quan

Divine Minds, consisting of fellow Shaker Heights alums, rapper Jerrell Johnson (Black J) and producer Mike Amaddio, have been kicking in and out of my musical consciousness back since I was pretending to be a rapper myself (and no, you will die before you hear any of my old material. Asher Roth, eat your heart out..). Jerrell was a friend of my younger brother and knowing that I was a big hip hop fan myself, used to pass me his early mixtapes that he created in his buddy’s homemade studio.


Now, Jerrell and Mike are all growns up (Word to Vince Vaughn) and crafting some damn, quality hip hop in their own right. “Divine Intervention” and “The Quan” (with rapper/producer Soul Klap) are some true boom bap purist goodness filled with J’s nimble rapping and some quality Dilla-lite quality beats. Each record is primarily concerned with social and geo-poltical…um, politics and can at times be mired in the typical conscious rap tropes but its definitely worth the time to check out. “The Quan”, Jerrell’s collaboration with Soul Klap is probably the more realized mixtape of the two but both are filled with some banging beats and rapping. Plus, there has to be the first song about “Global Warming” that manages to be hard as nails.


Download: Divine Minds – Divine Intervention


Download: Soul Klap & Divine Minds Presents The Quan

12 comments:

Jordan said...

So wait you gotta be a Lou Reed stan to recognize Venus In Furs? I thought Velvet Underground & Nico was required listening if you wanted to be pretentious in high school. Anyway, I think that's my favorite beat (No Resolution). Also about the production being the star... was it my shitty headphones, or was the production on this mixed extra loud compared to the vocals? Like they know people listen to this more for the beats?

DocZeus said...

"So wait you gotta be a Lou Reed stan to recognize Venus In Furs? I thought Velvet Underground & Nico was required listening if you wanted to be pretentious in high school."

Your talking to the wrong dude. I think I've listened to a Velvet Underground album once in my life.

bding7 said...

First, we absolutely must hear your demos.

Second, a friend of mine went to Syracuse and I'm pretty sure she said she either knew or was friends with people in Ra Ra Riot.

Their original drummer, John Pike, before he tragically passed and their lead singer, Wes Miles, were friends with my old college roommate, Clint, and used to sit on Clint’s bed and listen to weird break-beat records in our dorm room while I played Battlefield 2 on my computer.

B.J. Steiner, ultimate nerd.

DocZeus said...

"B.J. Steiner, ultimate nerd."

Hey!!! I only got into the game because my friends in the next dorm room over played that game while we were hanging out drinking. Plus, I sucked. I'm not very good at first person shooters. I anger too easily. And in that scenario, I described I'm easily only the third nerdiest dude in the room.

DocZeus said...

"First, we absolutely must hear your demos."

And under no circumstances will that happen. You don't know what I've done to keep those things a secret...

DocZeus said...

"Second, a friend of mine went to Syracuse and I'm pretty sure she said she either knew or was friends with people in Ra Ra Riot."

And who is your friend?

Jordan Paladino said...

Ra Ra Riot is dope but Vampire Weekend gets jabbed at? Indie is boss, so is Brooklyn.

DocZeus said...

I'm completely biased cuz I sort of know them and have seen them live on numerous occasions strictly out of convenience of my circle of friends. Vampire Weekend just draws my ire because of their name. I STILL haven't heard their music. I plan to keep it that way based on the fact, somebody described it as being heavily influenced by Paul Simon. My mortal enemy. Umm, no.

Jordan Paladino said...

Graceland is an okay record. Vampire Weekend is overrated no question, but they have a few good songs. I've seen Ra Ra Riot twice so it's all love.

Kronos said...

I have a copy of the DocZeus deep, deep underground mixtape. However, I have made a deal with the devil to keep it out of circulation. Besides, the Good Doctor knows where I live and I have no attention of incurring any Brooklyn late night justice.

However...... I have it on good authority from an absolutely trusted anonymous source that CC Sabathia - yes THAT CC Sabathia - used to listen to Doc's tape a few years ago, before he left Cleveland for "greener" pastures in NYC. Maybe you can pry the tape out of CC's hands.

And Doc........you just gotta listen to Velvet Underground at some point. Lou Reed takes a heavy beat and simple guitar riff... and talks about the streets of NYC... kind of like the early hip-hop scene. It's pure NYC.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

I have some early Doc Zeus material too. Kidnext was a phenom on the mic. In all seriousness, I give that mixtape occasional play and its better than most of the shit that gets released now.

DocZeus said...

"Kid Next"

How do you know that name?!