Friday, June 5, 2009

Heavyweight Dub Champion - "Rise Of The Champion Nation" CD

The sticker affixed to the front of this beautifully-produced (screen-printed gatefold packaging, sticker/poster, card-stock inserts, etc.) deluxe-edition CD says it all - "71 minutes of massive dub hop". Formed by producers Resurrector and Patch, this 15-track set includes collaborations with wise wordsmiths like KRS-One, Killah Priest, Dr. Israel, A.P.O.S.T.L.E., Ganga Girl, and tons more. Lyrically, these artists touch on spirituality, politics, revolution, prophecy, and our apocalyptic world itself - eloquently and with a far more worldly outlook than their supposed peers. 'Destroy The Industry' breaks it down with some tough verbiage, attacking the corporate world and the mainstream hip-hop world with one fell swoop. These guys aren't here to mince words, that's for sure. Musically, 'Rise...' features big, hearty beats integrated with live instruments seamlessly (and plenty of variant samples used as texture). The melding of classic hip-hop with deep dub treatments is reminiscent of stuff like the awesome Ice (circa 'Bad Blood') or perhaps some of Bill Laswell's stunning dub-hybrids, complete with a deep experimentalist/cinematic sound streak. The message is right-on, the vehicle is a monolith of forward-thinking 21st century poetry set to sound. Immense, yes. Smart? Certainly. Recommended? Definitely. (Champion Nation)

Heavyweight Dub Champion website

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Billie Holiday - "The Life And Artistry Of Lady Day" DVD

The inimitable 'Lady Day', as she was called, was unquestionably the first lady of jazz and blues in her time. Her tremendously troubled (and brief) life was rife with horror and tragedy, but Holiday channeled this into her music, which stands today as an inspiration and influence on even today's singers. This UK-produced documentary does an admirable job summing up her life and art. It's highlighted by several complete performances, including a breathtakingly solemn and intense 'Strange Fruit'. The limited outsider viewpoints, and the reliance on stock footage of Holiday makes for a wonderful primer, and there's a few minor bonuses (discography, some short performances from film, etc.) to beef it all up. A nice deal, and well-suited to Lady Day novices like myself. (Idem Home Video via MVD Visual)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers - "Songs In The Night" CD

Lovely and slightly freaky Americana folk vibes from Oklahoma, with Crain's unique vocals recalling kindred souls like Joanna Newsom or Bjork , but placed more within a straightforward songwriting foundation (and certainly not as 'flighty' as those comparisons might imply). Production by Danny Kadar (My Morning Jacket, Grizzly Bear) is sympathetic -- keeping a clear and honest vibe that allows all the instruments and Crain's almost-ghostly vocals to shine through. There are some strong songs here, to be certain. Take 'Scissor Tales', with it's almost Western shuffle and narrative construction. Crain is a skilled wordsmith, and her band never steals the limelight, adding color and subtlety in all the right places. 'Songs In The Night' is a perfectly fine album of mature tunes from a band who have a boatload of potential. I'm impressed. (Ramseur Records)

Samantha Crain's website

Samantha Crainspace