album reviews: Jersey Girls, 50 Cent, and a Zwan: Sounds like a date

Sol-illaquists of Sound
4 Student Counsol (Running from Precedence)

Immerse yourself into this subterranean musical cave, this hip hop outland with pure, organic designs, melodious vibes on the beat, lyrical analytics and obscure reflections-some imaginative music compositions with entrancing beat-making and steadily streaming rap flows. What must be said is that is some cerebral shit, i.e., these artists put a lot of thought into this album.
Coming out of Orlando, Florida (I know, I was surprised too), Sol-illaquists of Sound’s doing some soul-searching in their own creative grotto, delivering some real sagacious hip hop for a genre saturated in the mainstream by Ja Rule or “P.Diddy” offshoots. These dudes don’t have a real record deal yet, but they’re contemplating some deep thoughts over sick beats on this record (e.g., the multiplicity of being, such as a digital one who’s broken up into digits or an analog self taken in as a whole, or the idea of creation vs. destruction vs. re-creation-these guys are bugging out!). They stray far from the popular and tedious hip hop narrations about big titties, diamonds and glossy cars.
Along a cohesive track-course, Swamburger’s swift flow and incisive lyrical release attuned with Alexandragod’s balanced tone and relaxing rhymes, and with cameos by Tonya Combs and producer DiViNCi, 4 Student Counsol’s galactic trip shoots you up where you wanna go to get high. Hit up a nirvana with “EYECEA” and “S-P-A-C-E Away,” a euphoric carpet ride across chimerical grooves.
While the different songs are eclectic, scrupulously worked on as individual items, the
ork as a whole is befittingly concordant. Whereas “Ka’s Mos Dance” is cut up simply with brash African percussions and a melody created by Combs’ humming modulation, “2nd Nature” employs a jazzy beat with dense bass and temperate keyboards. “Collaborative Sol-o” has a swinging organ solo, courtesy of DiViNCi, and a Thelonius Monk-style sporadic piano tune. On “The Mark It Place,” the MCs play on the notion of the exchange of ideas in a society, analogizing it to diverse ways to place your mark in the world and the multitude of messages communicated to us each day (like with billboards and advertising).
As “3 Sided Light” speeds up the tempo with a drum-n-bass beat, Sol-illaquists appease us towards the end with “Theory of Proven Threats,” composed with an acoustic guitar and mellifluent vocals by Alexandragod, so pop in this record when you need a real shot of mind-bending musical flow. E-mail for more info.

– Omar Sommereyns

Rye Coalition
Jersey Girls [EP]

I don’t care how many times people try to convince me, this band is NOT from New Jersey. Everything that is absolutely incredible about Southern rock is boiled down and poured all over Rye’s last two releases {Jersey Girls and last year’s On Top} like syrup on so many waffle house pancakes. This review is slightly biased by the fact that I saw Rye Coalition play Brooklyn’s Polish American Club this past November, but I was a fan before that. Basically any bias surfaces from my obsession with the transmogrification of the Rye Coalition sound.
Rewind a couple years to their 1999 release, The Lipstick Game, and you will hear an entirely different band. Wrapped in the stylistic restraints afforded by their black dress shirts and white belts, The Lipstick Game is a slightly danceable entry into the indie rock scene that put them alongside such bands as Piebald and The Faint (listen to The Faint’s Media and you will understand the comparison).
Somewhere in the midst of changing labels (from Gern Blandsten to TigerStyle), Rye Coalition stumbled towards a drunker sound with their ZZ Topless EP. By the time they released On Top in 2002, gone were the half-assed, half-danced drum beats and not so sweet guitar licks, and in came a dirty, redneck energy that few bands ever manage to get a reign on. The new material on Jersey Girls (tracks six and seven are from ZZ Topless, track two is from On Top) brings this creative force to a new level. The first and last tracks on this EP are like a promise to continue on booze-influenced tirades with hard driving melodies andass-kicking drum solos, in true American fashion.
Everything that makes rock and roll beautiful – drinking, fucking, fighting – is perfectly accompanied by this record. If you enjoy any of these activities, and you haven’t tried them listening to this album (or On Top), DO IT TODAY. Shit, Rye Coalition can add fun to something as mundane as eating chili.

– James Hush

Mary Star of the Sea

Within the melancholic ocean of whirring, electric guitars that feedback waves of longing, ache and desire, lays this new rock quintet assembled by The Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan. Let’s not get into how both bands may have a similar underlying feel, but how this is Corgan’s endeavor to plow into the enigmatic tunnel of love and loneliness.
The songs and lyrics vacillate between the surface and the profound deepness of love: Corgan chants, “Maybe we were bound to love each other” on “Declarations of Faith,” then changes to cynicism on “Ride a Black Swan” (“The things I want keep me sinking down”) and to irony on “Baby, Let’s Rock!” (“Baby, I’m the greatest thing you got”), while finally reaching a buoyant closing and positive outlook on the last track, “Come With Me.”
Although Corgan’s warbling voice and tormented lyrics will soak up a bit of emotion from you, many of the enduring, cyclical guitar progressions may overindulge your eardrums (in a bad way, that it.) Once in a while, guitarists Corgan, Matt Sweeney (former member of Chavez and Skunk) and David Pajo (Slint, Tortoise) impress with their sonorities, like on “Jesus, I/ Mary Star of the Sea,”-a 14 minute long experimental track that fluctuates from electrifying solos and intense, raging melodies to placid note plucking, so gentle they could lullaby a baby to sleep.
Honestly though, perhaps the best song (or the one that holds best as a congruently-built track) is their single, “Honestly” (strangely enough), embossed with tender and emotive harmonics and an embryonic guitar in the background ready to explode when Corgan exclaims, “There’s no place I could be without you honestly.”
Watch out though: listen to this album too many times and you’ll O.D. on a surplus dosage of droning cries for love and longing and then drown in the deep blue sea of melancholy.

– Omar Sommereyns

50 Cent
Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Say hello to marketing, I mean 50 Cent. If you’re deaf (not def) and blind and you managed to cop a braille edition of the Hurricane, you probably still have heard about this guy, it’s impossible not to.
With the deaths of Big and Pac well out of the way (and to a lesser extent Big L), the powers that be have elected a new rapper to set himself up for life via death. Granted, being shot nine times (once through the cheek, which coincidentally does not help his flow) adds a bit to the “street credibility” image of Fiddy; but does image make a rapper? I think, sadly, we all know the answer to that: yes. If you wanna disagree, go ahead – but think of all those rappers who’ve somehow pushed a million plus thanks to a gimmick. If I have to start citing people, you’ve never heard a rap album in your life.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is the clearest example of a manufactured artist in a long time. The beats are there, with production from Dre, Eminem and Rockwilder amongst others, but with lyrics like “I’m 50 Cent I write a little bit but I pop nines” it’s easy to see where 50’s “talents” lie. If you haven’t heard “Wanksta” you a wanksta, seriously, this is what his whole album is about: braggadocio bangers with no replay value. But that shit works, period. With a marketing campaign a million men deep, Dre and Eminem backing him and beautifully airbrushed liner notes (where’d the bullet scars go on the last page?); Fiddy (complete with custom Gucci Gat Grabbers), now properly polished and sellable, is ready to flip airbrushed thug music into “Bling Bling” profits for a few months.
So enjoy each single as it drops one month after the one before it and watch as America turns 50 Cent into 50 mil, unless he gets shot and dies, then multiply that figure twice. Bling blaow!

– Sven Barth

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