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The Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments to an ElegyThe Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy

A Smashing Pumpkins album with Tommy Lee on drums and a running time of a mere 32 minutes?  I’m intrigued.  Oddly, even with the incredibly short (for Billy Corgan) running time, this is one of the more varied Pumpkins albums in terms of sound.  It has the heavy rockers you expect (“One and All”), but also has quieter moments (“Being Beige”), electronic based dance tunes (“Run2me”), and is that a flute on “Drum + Fife”?  Based on the title I guess that makes sense.  Surprisingly, on first listen at least, the album holds together despite these variations, and provides a very enjoyable listen.  It is way too early to know if Monuments to an Elegy will have the stickiness of its excellent predecessor Oceania, but it has that potential.

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Trash Kit - ConfidenceTrash Kit – Confidence

Trash Kit is a post punk trio out of England.  Being a female band leads to lots of comparisons to The Slits and Raincoats and Trash Kit certainly has the hooks those bands did, but Confidence reminds me (and this is splitting hairs a bit) more of New York No Wave acts.  It’s not quite as shambling as a Lizzy Mercier Descloux or James Chance, but there is still a sense the music could fall apart at any moment.  The songs all hang together, though, (primarily due to their throbbing tribal beats) and they present a thoroughly enjoyable whole that explores some truly wonderful melodies and sounds.

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Big K.R.I.T. CadillacticaBig K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica

Based on the early singles, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Big K.R.I.T.’s latest, and with its soulful, spacey, laid-back southern hip hop, Cadillactica more than lives up to my hopes.  As usual, K.R.I.T. brings positive, hopeful lyrics and acts as his own producer, so the beats and rhymes are of a piece (that piece is reminiscent of early Outkast, although not on that level).  There’s been a string of excellent hip hop albums released in the last few weeks (after a pretty barren summer), and Cadillactica, while very different in style/sound from something like Run the Jewels 2 or Hell Can Wait, fits in well with that high quality.  This one is highly recommended.

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Allan Kingdom - Soundset 2014

Allan Kingdom – Soundset 2014

Soundset 2014 brought an opportunity to speak with the Twin Cities own Allan Kingdom.  Allan’s been working on breaking into the local scene for a few years now and is starting to see snowballing success.  In addition to his first performance at Soundset (three years after he attended as a fan then swore he wouldn’t go back until he was a performer), the real life Allan Kyariga was named to First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2013, got a cover story with local indie newspaper The City Pages, created an official remix of Poliça’s “Chain My Name”, and is in the process of readying two new releases.  Allan and I chatted about achieving childhood goals before even being old enough to drink legally, getting inspiration from the world around us, and what it means to be ‘The Northern Gentleman.’

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27

May

2014

Photo Review: Soundset 2014

By Craig McManus. Posted in Concert Review, Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

Soundset 2014

Once again, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend meant Rhymesayers Entertainment’s Soundset festival at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota.  2014 saw Soundset sell out its 30,000 tickets for the first time through advance ticket sales, and the massive crowd was treated to a perfect day of hip hop both with regards to the weather (highs in the upper 70s and partly sunny) and the music (from classics like Nas and Cypress Hill to a fresh from jail Wiz Khalifa).  Head below for a photo review of the day (more photos are available on MiG’s Facebook), and check back in the next couple of days for MiG interviews with Lizzo w/Lazerbeak and Allan Kingdom.

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21

May

2014

Soundset 2014

By Craig McManus. Posted in Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

Soundset

This weekend, I will again be attending Rhymesayers Entertainment’s Soundset in Shakopee, Minnesota.  So keep your eye here over the next couple weeks for photos and interviews from this fantastic hip hop festival.

 

2013 was another banner year for the Twin Cities music scene.  Prince introduced his new band, 3rdeyegirl, and started making more appearances than he had in the last few years (including a pajama party at Paisley Park), The Replacements (well, half The Replacements) reunited to record some music to raise money for former guitarist Slim Dunlap and to play some out-of-town festivals (we’re still waiting Westerberg and Stinson…as if you didn’t know), local O.G.s The Suburbs and Run Westy Run also reunited, Low played a 30 minute festival set consisting of a single drone, and Rhymesayers snagged Snoop Dogg for Soundset.  Oh, and on top of all that a ton of great new music was released by artists both new and old, with a ridiculous amount of that music being released by one local label that is absolutely killing it right now.

For my “Top 20 of 2013” list I limited myself to a single word or phrase about each album.  I think the technique worked in that context because each of the albums on the list already had thousands of words written about them.  When it comes to the top releases by Twin Cities artists, however, that isn’t necessarily the case.  Accordingly, while I’ll still be limiting the amount I write about each album, there will be more information than in the Top 20.  Of note, four of the albums in the Top 10, and several more honorable mentions, are available for free download.  So, if you’re at all interested in exploring the Twin Cities music scene circa 2013, get downloading!

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MiG jumps into the year end ‘Best of’ lists, with Craig McManus leading off with his Top 20 albums of the year:

In the past, I’ve always written a blurb about each album explaining it’s inclusion on my list.  Over the years of checking other people’s lists, however, I’ve noticed that I rarely read similar blurbs.  Instead I scroll through to see what made it, what I agree with, what I disagree with, and with what I am unfamiliar.  Then I move on to the next list.  As I highly doubt I’m alone in this technique, I’m going to dispense with the paragraph of explanation and instead simply note the word or phrase by which it is best encapsulated.  Think of it as a ‘Best of’ word association.  It’ll save me time, and perhaps someone will actually read it rather than skimming to the next image.

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11

Aug

2013

Happy Birthday Hip Hop!

By Craig McManus. Posted in Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

 

1520sedgwick_avenueOn August 11, 1973, a young man going by DJ Kool Herc hosted a “Back to School Jam” in the rec room of the above building in the Bronx.  That party is now recognized as the birth of hip hop.  That’s right, hip hop is 40.

 

Boogie Down Productions

This entry is a continuation of So You Don’t Like Hip Hop: Part 2 – Early MCs, originally posted on March 28, 2013.

Boogie Down Productions – “9mm Goes Bang” (March 3, 1987): B-Boy Records

Formed in the Bronx (the ‘Boogie Down’) in the mid 1980s, BDP was made up initially of MC KRS-One (the name was his graffiti tag) and DJ Scott La Rock.  La Rock was working as a social worker at the Franklin Avenue Men’s Shelter in the Bronx when he met shelter resident KRS-One.  KRS-One initially dismissed La Rock as just another social worker, but the two struck up a bond when KRS-One arrived at a party to find his social worker behind the DJ equipment, and the duo soon began working together.

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