On record :: KJHK new music reviews

Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf
"Big Shots"
(Stones Throw)
A-

Rarely does a record encapsulate a time period and evoke nostalgia with the ease and playfulness of Charizma's debut, an LP ten years in the making. MC Charizma and beatsmith Peanut Butter Wolf (later to found the seminal label Stones Throw) were collaborators in the fertile Bay Area scene of the early 90's and seemed poised for 'legend' status when Charizma was shot to death in 1993, before the release of what would become Big Shots.
It's hard not to celebrate Charizma's exuberant, freewheeling style on the
mic, and anyone can relate to having to "play a Too Short tape/just to let you tricky little girls know I'm not fake." Sonically, PBW's contributions are on the bouncy sample bonanza tip of West Coast contemporaries J-Swift, Domino and Jay Biz. This album belongs in the collection of any hip-hop fan, especially those stuck in the early 90's.
Phil Torpey,
Breakfast for Beatlovers 9-midnight Tuesdays


Telefon Tel Aviv
"Map of What's Effortless"
(Hefty Records)
A
New Orleans's production duo Josh Eustis and Charlie Cooper's last album,
"Fahrenheit Fair Enough," was a pure fusion of glitchy and crunchy textures with live instrumentation to create very laid back electronica. On "Map of what's Effortless," their sophomore effort, they take their previous formula to the next level, incorporating vocals on a majority of the tracks to create an extremely bizarre fusion of IDM, R&B;, soul, and pop with a theme centering around love and loss. There are several sonic textures and ideas present that may never have been explored before, but the album manages to be not only very experimental but also highly accessible.
Kyle Garrison
Host of "Courtesy Flush," 6-7pm Fridays


Slomo Rabbit Kick
"Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest"
(Skrocki Records)
B+

If album art is any indication of what is to be heard, then "Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest" evokes an air of a highly imaginative illustrated children's book... specifically "Where the Wild Things Are." Slomo Rabbit Kick delivers 17 little diddies that are sure to delight the inner child of any indie-rocker.
Frontman Jay Chilcote -- renowned for writing Death Cab For Cutie's
"The Face That Launched 1000 Shits" -- belts out a lyrical bazaar dripping with irony equal to that of Pavement. The listener is introduced to a bass monster who lives in a bass forest chasing "The Most Beautiful Girl He's Ever Known." Such short story portraits permeate the album, such as "Nikolai's" tale of pretending to be a starving Russian just to score with an art school girl.
"Bass" is the latest collection of bedtime pop-diddies for hipsters to rest their weary heads. Slomo says it best in "Equality, Urbanity, Fraternity, Humanity" when the "bass monster wants to spread the word... march to Electric Avenue, find some college kids and encourage them to start reviews, dialectical reviews." This college kid argues for everyone to visit the bass forest and appreciate the bombastic and coy delivery.
Nick Ray
Cultural Coitus, midnight-2am Wednesdays


Elbow
"Cast of Thousands"
B

Taking chances is good and unfortunately not what most bands do. Elbow came onto the scene in 2001 with a fabulously smooth pop album titled "Asleep in the Back." Right during the raucous hype of Coldplay, Elbow slipped into the foreground opening for Pete Yorn and more recently Grandaddy picking up a fan base the old fashioned way. "Asleep in the Back" brought sweet songs with a tinge of talented dynamic originality hinting that Elbow was indeed more then a pretty pop song band. With "Cast of Thousands," lead singer Guy Garvey, adds the pop element of his swooning and gorgeous vocals to a lush backdrop of shimmering harmonies. With the new album Elbow takes a step forward (albeit small) instead of trying to reproduce success by duplicating the first album or reinvent themselves because of nominal critical acclaim.
Brent Stevens
Host of "Focus," 7-9pm Wednesdays


Incubus
A Crow Left of the Murder
(Epic/Immortal)
B-

Incubus is slipping slowly into a permanent formula based on "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." (the band's second album on Sony, 1997). You know, bands like Metallica that find comfort in a song writing niche and are damned if they're going to leave it. Still a fan of Incubus though.
With the exception of two tracks ("Priceless" and "Here in My Room"), "A Crow Left of the Murder" is much of the same from the band. Lyrically, Brandon Boyd is always innovating and positive, but blinks his political injustice views more this time on cuts like "Pistola." Guitarist Mike Einziger is a severely underrated in modern rock. Complex chord rhythms, blues solos, and spacey pedal effects are just a taste of his resonating arsenal of talent.
On a majority of tracks compared to their last release, Incubus warps back to distortion and rapid chorus changes found on "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." Though there is single ("Megalomaniac") to let radio and MTV know Incubus is still making music, but don't be taken in -- there is distinctive work on this album that warrants respect.
Steve Walter
Rock Rotation DJ, 9-midnight Mondays


BLACK HISTORY MONTH
In celebration of Black History Month, each week, Cornelius Minor will present some classic works by African American artists. Through the years, these artists have inspired both minds and movements as they have captured the hearts of Americans of all hues. These musicians, with their art, have all in some way sought to change American life for the better. Their music is still as relevant today as it was yesterday, simply because that struggle continues. To hear these or any of the other artists being featured this month, call the KJHK request line at 864-4747.

Sweet Honey in the Rock
"Selections 1976-1988"
(Flying Fish Records)
A+

Certain groups have a magic about them -- a transcendent power that allows them to be all things to all people. Sweet Honey in the Rock is one such group. At times celebratory, defiant, mournful, reflective, and even angry, they are always beautiful and mesmerizing. This vocal group has been around since 1973, and this double CD set, while not new, covers almost a third of their longstanding career. At first listen, most would situate Sweet Honey within the Southern African-American gospel aesthetic. However the group is much more than that. They still tour and people who are drawn to folk, blues, jazz, and American roots music are all drawn to their raw vocal power. Led by Bernice Johnson Reagon, a musical titan in her own right, Sweet Honey is to music as Langston Hughes was to poetry. They paint melodic snapshots not just of black life but of American life in all its beauty, chaos, and contradiction.
Cornelius Minor
Voice Activated, 7-8pm Thursdays


Gil Scott-Heron
"Evolution (And Flashback): The Very Best of Gil Scott-Heron"
(RCA)
A-

Gil Scott-Heron was in the streets before most rappers knew the streets even had a name. Life for him is represented in angry syllables. This ain't happy folks' poetry. There are no flowers, trees, and snapping of fingers here -- just life told from the lexicon of a wordsmith whose social perception is much greater than his tolerance for bull. The poetry in this collection represents vision. Scott-Heron saw poverty and racism, and he also had a finger on the American system that kept those things in place.
He was drawn to black life like flowers are drawn to the sun. As a result, he was among the first to articulate the anger embedded in mush of the struggle that characterized that life. He was keeping it real back when others were still struggling to rid themselves of the reality of that everyday hustle.
There is a beginning to all movements. We are fortunate in that in musical movements there are often several. For Hip hop and for spoken word Gil Scott-Heron is one such living genesis. While this is not the best collection of his work, when seeking to understand just how much this man influenced African-American lyrical expression, this the most compelling piece of evidence.
Cornelius Minor
Voice Activated, 7-8pm Thursdays

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