Q-Tip + Kanye West: Award Tour at Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

I can’t wait to see Michael Rapaport’s documentary on A Tribe Called Quest – and I’m hearing its Phoenix arrival is coming soon – but until then I am warmed by the clips coming out of the 2011 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, for which Q-Tip served as the headliner.

Here we have Kanye West assisting on “Award Tour,” and, well, is there really anything else to say about that? I have so many B-sides and remixes and other Tribe odds and ends in my collection that I might just have to devote a week or two to them on this blog. Maybe once the documentary lands in Phoenix, I’ll do just that.

New Zilla Rocca (feat. Has-Lo): Full Spectrum


In the dead of Phoenix summer, when sweat trickles down body parts unknown, I typically stick to three colors for clothes: white, black and plaid. (Pro tip: Generra Hypercolor is a big mistake.)

Fashion was never really my forte anyway. I strive for boring and functional – I’m content so long as I have a solid pair of adidas. But there’s nothing bland about Zilla Rocca’s rap palette, which is on full display on his new single “Full Spectrum,” feat. his Wrecking Crew cohort Has-Lo with production by Dr. Quandary (World Around Records).

Like GZA’s “Labels” or Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics,” Zilla and Has-Lo flip a three-minute tale full of clever wordplay and imagery from a singular theme – in this case, colors (hence the title).

Stream/download the track below. It will appear on the upcoming Nights & Weekends EP, for which Kickstarter donations are being accepted to help fund physical copies and a Super 8 camera for the filming of a video for “Full Spectrum.”

Full Spectrum feat Has-Lo (prod by Dr. Quandary) by ZillaRoccaNoir

New Source Victoria: Once I’m Dead


I’ve been there from the get-go, from the demos to the live shows, so there’s a great sense of pride to see a fully formed product` coming in the not-too-distant future for Source Victoria.

It’s looking like the new album is coming this fall – October maybe? – but the first official taste has arrived by way of a three-song EP, a sort of maxi single, if you will. Remember CD singles? It’s like that … without the CD part.

The EP contains three versions of the song “Once I’m Dead”: the album version, a rockier non-album version and a demo that my brother recorded at his house on what must have been a rare quiet morning there (I love my nieces to pieces, but four girls ages 1-8 don’t remain silent for long).

The song credits are below, but it’s certainly worth noting the contributions: local producer/musician Jamie Woolford, pedal-steel player Jon Rauhouse (a member of Neko Case’s band who has also toured with Jakob Dylan), Grammy-winning producer/engineer Chris Testa and enginner (and longtime friend) Jamal Ruhe.

You can grab the tracks at a the new Bandcamp page or head to Yucca Tap Room on Friday night and get a free download code. I’m terribly biased, but I can confidently say there’s plenty more to look forward to on this album.


Meat Puppets, Telekinesis, more cover Nirvana on Nevermind tribute album


I’ll never forgive myself for loaning my cassette of Nirvana’s Nevermind to a so-called friend because, of course, I never got it back. Twenty years later, I’m still bitter. And, wait … it’s been 20 years?? This one is gonna start making me feel old.

To celebrate the anniversary of what few would argue to be the most influential album of our generation, Spin cooked up a covers albumNewermind — to complement coverage of the event in their August magazine (that’s that thing with glossy pages that also was influential 20 years ago).

I’m just starting to make my way through the album after downloading it for free at Spin’s Facebook page (you have to “like” Spin and then cough up your email address). Naturally, I had to start with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” not only because it’s the leadoff track but because it’s handled by Arizona’s Meat Puppets, who were famously covered by and played with Nirvana for MTV Unplugged in 1993.

The Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood tells Spin: “It wasn’t daunting. ‘Teen Spirit’ is just a few chords. It’s easy to play — slap some reverb on there and it’s good to go. This was a cool, weird opportunity — like playing with Nirvana on MTV Unplugged — so we’re happy to take it.”

Meat Puppets – Smells Like Teen Spirit by somuchsilence

Another of my favorites, Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis, came through in a pinch and put together a taut version of On a Plain, which you can hear at NPR.

I’m starting to really miss that cassette tape again.

Tracklist for Newermind:

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Meat Puppets
2. “In Bloom” Butch Walker
3. “Come As You Are” Midnight Juggernauts
4. “Breed” Titus Andronicus
5. “Lithium” The Vaselines
6. “Polly” Amanda Palmer
7. “Territorial Pissings” Surfer Blood
8. “Drain You” Foxy Shazam
9. “Lounge Act” Jessica Lea Mayfield
10. “Stay Away” Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band
11. “On A Plain” Telekinesis
12. “Something In The Way” JEFF the Brotherhood
13. “Endless, Nameless” EMA

Incoming: St. Vincent, Oct. 20

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

That sort of creepy image you are looking at – designed by Annie Clark herself – is the cover of the forthcoming St. Vincent album, Strange Mercy, due out Sept. 13 on 4AD.

The 11-track album will be supported by a fall tour that includes a Phoenix stop on Oct. 20 at, yes, the Crescent Ballroom, where quality shows are being lined up despite precious little information about this new venue (see more here).

Clark has been well-received in Phoenix, drawing packed crowds first at Modified and then at Rhythm Room last year. So whatever the size of Crescent Ballroom, it’s a good bet to be near capacity.

Strange Mercy tracklisting:

1 .Chloe in the Afternoon
2 .Cruel
3. Cheerleader
4. Surgeon
5. Northern Lights
6. Strange Mercy
7. Neutered Fruit
8. Champagne Year
9. Dilettante
10. Hysterical Strength
11. Year of the Tiger

We Were Promised Jetpacks: Act on Impulse

We Were Promised Jetpacks - In the Pit of the Stomach

A little more than two years after releasing their debut, These Four Walls, young Scottish upstarts We Were Promised Jetpacks announced Monday details of their second album, In the Pit of the Stomach, due out on Fat Cat in the U.S. on Oct. 4.

The band also unveiled tour dates in support of the release, including a Nov. 8 stop at the Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix’s newest downtown venue (about which details are still a bit of a mystery). Via Twitter, WWPJ says Bear Hands and Royal Bangs will join the tour.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can grab a new song, “Act On Impulse,” at the band’s website. WWPJ says the new album “captures the sound of our live show,” and “Act On Impulse” definitely has that vibe – a song that builds slow and delights in the art of anticipation.

We Were Promised Jetpacks: It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning (live in Tucson)
We Were Promised Jetpacks: Quiet Little Voices

New Megafaun: These Words


Last year, I had the chance to interview Megafaun drummer Joe Westerlund, who was pretty excited about the sonic direction his band was taking. At the time (April 2010), the band was preparing to release the six-song EP Heretofore while looking ahead to recording material for their second full-length.

“Mostly I think we’re getting more comfortable stripping things down and just writing more straightforward songs,” Westerlund said. “And at the same time, we’re writing other things that are taking things further out into experimental territory.”

That last sentiment is proving to be somewhat prophetic after listening to “These Words,” the first single from the forthcoming self-titled LP due out Sept. 20 on Hometapes. These guys are really taking studio improvisation/experimentation into chaotic directions, where songs are deconstructed and built back up into something beautiful. The first listen to “These Words” almost felt unnerving in spots – it’s a challenging/rewarding experience.

The track features looped field recordings Westerlund gathered from his travels in Bali and rural North Carolina: frogs and cicadas, to name a couple.

Here’s an album teaser video:

Miniature Tigers release Fortress demos


To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of their second full-length, Fortress (July 27, 2010), Miniature Tigers are releasing demo versions of the album’s songs in three installments for free.

The New York-based band, by way of Phoenix (thank you very much), is unveiling them in sequence, so the first batch includes the first four songs on the album: “Mansion of Misery, “Rock N Roll Mountain Troll” (one of my faves), “Dark Tower” and “Gold Skull.” These are great sketches of the final songs — with sometimes trippy experimenting that the demo process allows. Loving the horn bridge (or are those kazoos?) on “Rock N Roll Mountain Troll.”

Thanks to the band for letting us in on these. Visit Miniature Tigers’ website or fork over your email address in the widget thingy below to get downloading.

New Isaiah Toothtaker: Muerte Folks


Tucson emcee/tattoo artist Isaiah Toothtaker, who earlier this year released his full-length Illuminati Thug Mafia, is already unleashing new treats.

On Monday, Toothtaker dropped a free single called Muerte Folks, a haunting two-verse tale on the topic of suicide.

Production was handled by Depakote, a newcomer to the Machina Muerte crew who reinterprets Heartbeats by the Knife without losing any of its chilling edge. (Anyone know where the opening lines come from … sounds like a movie perhaps?)

A video for Muerte Folks, created by Marco Oliva and Thomas Haskins at Hobo Stew, was also released: