Built for Angst, Built for Ass, Life at the Bottom Rung
Former Betting on the Muse ax man Bert Maple has forgone his gambling habit with the hottie gods of poetry (not to mention Heart covers) for a pas de deux with industrial dance thrash in his new outfit Colonial Excess. On all three of these CDs in the four-CD series (the fourth due out in the indefinite future), sounds hailing from the musical universes of Sonic Youth, Liars, The Great Redneck Hope, Front 242, Daft Punk, and the Pixies implode into a dizzying black gravity cavity of rock 'n' hole. Aside from ironic vocal sampling (which is hella played out) on tracks like "Kill Me" and "The Moneyshot," this is neat, nifty, wacky, wild stuff quite expertly produced. "Dinner's At Six," a dour domestic duet by Bert and Indica Maple, is my favorite. Maple and his cohort Jack Kennedy are joined by Craig Haughton, Travis Hess at various times variously on the various six-song CDs. Amazingly, you can acquire these smartly packaged l'il fellers for free at www.colonialexcess.com .
The Greatest That Never Made It
The first full-length album from these native veterans of the Colorado Springs hip-hop underground is surprisingly great, smooth flowing and un-angry. MCs Kove One and EGOed along with DJ Cenik have made a record that really stands out for what it's missing: pretense, undue posturing, overproduction, unnecessarily gymnastic demonstrations of overly syllabic linguistics, conflated ideals, etc. Understatement is hardly something you'd expect from most hip-hop, but here it is: a record that has the easy tempo and conversational ease of friendship.
Lyrics for the Listener
After five years in the San Francisco Bay area in the late '90s, I can't say I'm much for spoken word, but beyond the first track (does anyone ever really listen to the first track on a hip-hop album?), Kris Harlow's Lyrics for the Listener is more of a lovely, down tempo (mostly) hip-hop album than adamant or painfully confessional braggadocio. Lots of guest appearances including spectacular, spaztastic scratching from the aptly named DJ Papercut, Kove One from StillCatchinWreck, and Black Pegasus form F.O.S. Like his peers in SCW, Harlow seems content with a quiet, playful production that allows its artistry to do the shouting. Hear! Hear!