Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Run-Off Groove #205

Aloha, and welcome to the 205th edition of The Run-Off Groove. This edition is not as packed as recent editions, but it's here, so since you're here, now you need a list of things you should hear. Start it, bra.

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Image Hosted by Kidz In The Hall have gained a bit of attention in the last year due to their efforts to make themselves heard and known. Now they're getting some MTV rotation due to the release of The In Crowd (Duck Down/Major League/Koch), and their sound is refined and polished. Some of their lyrics seem to be specifically written for a bit of mainstream recognition, kind of like The Roots when Malik B. said that he could make Metallica and Guns N' Roses thrash, there are some reference that one might not have heard on their first album but this is a more sophisticated Kidz In The Hall, Double O and Naledge are willing to open themselves up to exposure by exposing the exposed, and does it work? For the most part yeah.

Musically they are more varied than before, banging like they were from the South but still doing the NYC-vibe, the East Coast groove, and also doing tracks that could appeal to West Coast heads, but when you hear "Drivin' Down The Block (Low End Theory)", ""Middle Of The Map Pt. 2", and "Love Hangover" (the latter featuring Estelle), they become coastless and borderless, they are truly about making good hip-hop that everyone can enjoy, as it should be. Phonte of Little Brother blesses "Paper Trail" with an incredible verse, and in fact the overall vibe of Kidz In The Hall on this one is as if they were Little Brother's, well, little brothers. Camp Lo sit in on "Snob Hop", unfortunately their vocal tracks obviously sound like they were done elsewhere although hearing them both in the track is the ultimate honor. Buckshot drops a great verse in "The Pledge", and other guests on the album who help out the Kidz include Sean Price, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk, Skyzoo, and Fooch.

The suits they wear on the cover artwork is just a front, they'll bust out and go crazy when you hear the album and do everything hip-hop style. When they try to branch out and do something else, as they do in the rock/soul "Lucifer's Joyride", for me it doesn't work, it sounds like they're catering a bit too much for reality show acceptance, or a chance to tour with Gym Class Heroes and these guys are worth much more than that. The In Crowd is an album that tells their fans that Kidz In The Hall are in, and you can be too if you want to be. B-boy-isms are still around, help yourself.

(The In Crowd is available from CD Universe.)

Image Hosted by The last I heard from Mochipet he was twisting beats and throwing out LFO's as if they were free cheese and ramen packets. They call it "breakcore", and I was expecting some really mind-tripping experimentation again with his new album. I was pleasantly surprise to hear Microphone Pet (Daly City) and hear his approach to hip-hop, and if his sonic electronic soundscapes weren't proof that this guy knows what he's doing, this new album shows he has the confidence to continue to do anything and everything he wants to do.

Microphone Pet has a distinct California sound in terms of how laid back and freeflowing the music and MC's are. It's not an "I don't give a fuck" attitude here, but more like "hey, the beach is only a few miles away, I got some drinks in the other room, I'm going to groove, be fly, and let this Mochitrack move me". It's not as claustrophobic as his Girls Love Breakcore album, and not something you want to drill your head with. In fact, "Lazy Day" (featuring the smooth luscious vocals of KFlay, who sounds a few shades away from Ladybug Mecca) could easily become the summer jam of 2008 if both of them had their way. This would be the kind of track one wouldn't mind hearing Fatlip drop a rhyme on. Hieroglyphics fans will get into "We Put It Down" for it features Opio, Pro The Leader, Dopestyle with enough clever lines and verses that will give you that smirk of pride and made you wish you wrote something that good Considering some of the video game beats heard within, it's surprising Del isn't in the song for a line or two but it holds up very well as is. Dopestyle joins Casual and Humanbeings in a song that will give you brain damage, "Mr. Malase" as the bass and boppy keyboards will fuck up your head, seriously.

Fans who are anxiously awaiting something new from Crown City Rockers will have to pick up this album to hear Rahsaan offering his soulful "lyrical treasures" in "Ride On", and perhaps an EP between Rahsaan and Mochipet would be a great addition to their discographies (or at least I would welcome it). The album never slows down with contributions from Mykah9, Mike Boo, E da Boss, Bicasso, Dubphonics, 215 The Freshest Kids, and other collaborators both old and new that establish themselves as artists, but also help Mochipet define them for a brief moment, and everyone allowing each other to just... party in the name of music. Mochipet's production on this album is up to par with name producers in the hip-hop and electronic genres, and if there is anyone who could easily boost the musical careers of Brenda Song, Christian Serratos, or even give Sean Kingston a challenge or two, it would be this guy. Until then, enjoy the Rubik's cube of production that Mochipet provides, then step back and await to hear what he'll offer up next.

(Microphone Pet is available directly from Daly City Records.)

Image Hosted by I've been a fan of Daptone Records for years, and if you were a fan of the Desco and Soul Fire labels, Daptone was the natural place to go. The label has received a lot of attention over the years, whether it's for the analog pleasures of their recording techniques to the explosion of Sharon Jones and Binky Griptite. It was enough for them to be able to move their label HQ and studio to a new place, and because of them there has been a surge of soul and funk bands getting into the game as well, releasing vinyl all over the place (as they should). Daptone are allowed to celebrate, and they did by releasing a compilation of songs that were originally released on 45rpm singles. They're doing it again with a second volume, and like the first, it will only be available as MP3's. Weird? Yeah, a little, but if you are a diehard fan you'll buy the records as well.

Daptone 7 inch Singles Collection Vol. 2 (Daptone) examines various songs and artists in their singles discography and puts them together as one for all to hear in one place. We're talking stuff like a cover of "Che Che Cole" by Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the 2-part "Stand Up" by Lee Fields & The Sugarman 3, the too-funky-for-your-ass "The Matador" by The Mighty Imperials, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings offering their perspective of The First Edition classic, "I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In". The Dap-Kings take it alone for "Nervous Like Me" and it may move you to want to become a part of their exclusive Dap echo chamber.

I should also say that I've always been a purist in that when I've listened to Daptone output, it has always been on vinyl. I was given a promotional CD copy of this digital-only album and hearing their production makes me wish all modern music was still this warm. I wish people like Res and Danielia Cotton would go into their studio to record, but I know these guys are picky about what goes in. The same attitude is applied when it comes to what makes it out of their doors, and this 13-track album is proof that regardless of the influence of the music, there's still a reason to make that kind of music today.

(Daptone 7 inch Singles Collection Vol. 2 will be released on June 2nd and will be available through eMusic

Image Hosted by When you have a band who has gained recognition for playing intense instrumentals, what better way to try something new with a title like The Distant And Mechanised Glow Of Eastern European Dance Parties? That is exactly what 65daysofstatic has done on their new EP (Monotreme), and this "something new" involves a bit of electronic tomfoolery and, yes, singing. Their singing efforts aren't bad at all, the three songs on here (it's a four track EP, with one song being made in two different mixes) sound like the kind of thing a band would do between sessions and tours, for fun. "Dance Parties (Distant)" sounds like something New Order or Dirty Vegas would do, and this might make a few of their fans scratch their head wondering if what they're hearing is what they should be hearing. It's a house/techno track more or less, a unique treatment of a song fans are familiar with from their most recent album. One is a bit grittier than the other, but those who have enjoyed their creativity within the group's self-made restrictions will love the exploration they do here.

The EP features two brand new tracks, "Goodbye, 2007" and "Antique Hyper Mall", the former sounding like Mike Shinoda if he joined nine inch nails, the latter a bit of abstract minimalism after it overdosed on luudes. These two songs show the progress of what the group has done over the years, along with hints of what may be coming in the future. 65daysofstatic for me are up there with Supersilent and The Necks in terms of wanting to take their music to new and interesting places, helping the listener on with their journeys making them never return to where they came from before. This EP may very well be that for 65daysofstatic. Welcome to the future, gentlemen.

(The Distant And Mechanised Glow Of Eastern European Dance Parties is available from CD Universe.)

Image Hosted by It's safe to say that most people have never heard Jex Thoth, and if you are a fan of progressive, psychedelic hard rock, the daring stuff that you want to make yourself numb with, get yourself familiar. Jex Thoth are a band from California who were previously known as Totem. They decided to switch their name and call themselves after their vocalist, so like Tad, Jex Thoth are a woman and a band.. Their self-titled debut (I Hate) will please those who love the electricity of such bands as Monster Magnet, The Four Horsemen, MC5, and early Black Sabbath. At first listen I thought her vocals were pushed too forward and that her vocal tracks were a bit cleaner, if not different from the music itself. A second listen (and a brief look at their bio) made me realize that Thoth is not just some alterna-friendly rocker girl, she is someone who belts it out strong, a continuation of that thick hard rock that once dominated the Earth for years.

Their music is just not plodding heaviness, the arrangements and occasional shifts in mood and time signatures are a welcome surprise to the murkiness they offer in their music and lyrics. It sounds like the sound of doom, think leather jackets, endless rainy days, and a constant chill in the air. Yeah, probably the soundtrack of your life, right? Thoth may not have the operatic qualities of a Ronnie James Dio, but the emotions expressed are just as moving and she can be as majestic as some of her metal and folk heroes, as she reveals in "The Banishment", ""Stone Evil", and the 3-part suite (!!!) called "Equinox Suite". I love the sound they're able to achieve, and a part of me knows that if they were ever able to work with Rick Rubin, their sound would be over the top. However, the sound they're able to achieve on this album is perfect as is and I don't want to hear any tweaking of the formula, at least not now. Right now, they may be one of the more original hard rock bands out today, a band not afraid to embrace their influences and show to the world what the future could be like.

  • On a self-promotional note, the brand new digital broadcast of Book's Music is available, and it's free. This week's installment is the 69th one, with the number 69 there's a need to raise an eyebrow or two and get a little frisky. You can do so now, in a digital broadcast that is exactly 69 minutes... in length.

    Click here to get your own player.

  • That's it for this week's Run-Off Groove. There's still a lot I didn't make it to this week, so come back next time. If you have any music, DVD's, or books you'd like for me to review, contact me through my MySpace page and I will pass along my contact information. When it comes to music, vinyl and CD's are preferred. Thank you.

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