Some Dreams Never Sleep EP (The Hundreds)
Philly hip-hop artist Gilbere Forte’ dropped this 11-tune EP last week. I have only one quip. It opens up with a collab track with Mississippi MC Big K.R.I.T. called “Black Soul.” It’s a banger, no doubt, but the first voice we hear on the EP is K.R.I.T.’s, not Gilbere’s. Now, in the hip-hop game, such guest appearances are critical for new artists, who often need to hook up with a bigger name to get their foot in the door. (Making appearances on later tracks are Bun B, Pusha T, Casey Veggies, Tyga, Asher Roth and Jim Jones.) But it’s still a bit awkward, and it’d be great to hear Forte’ come out swinging with his normal confidence straight out the gate. That said, Forte’ kills his verses. “I left my old contacts and Blackberry at the crib/ Any moment I’m gonna make it, I don’t owe you niggas shit,” begins his story of dream-realization. He’s a compelling storyteller, the production (courtesy of Raak) is fresh and hard, and this is definitely his most focused release so far.
On The Water (Thrill Jockey)
This is the Baltimore-based pop group’s third full-length effort. All three of them have three words in their title: 2008’s Wave Like Home , 2010’s In Evening Air and now, On The Water . If I was putting down money on what the fourth LP title will be, I’d say Something Something Earth or Something Something Fire . There’s actually a song on this one called “The Great Fire,” so, yeah, probably Earth . Listeners who really dig bizarre vocals are gonna go gaga for Samuel Herring’s mouth-steez. It’s warbly and dramatic. Very dramatic. For those who hate goofball singers, you’re gonna disregard this sucker as some sorta intolerable post-Coheed & Cambria silliness. Musically, it’s like a less urgent and pop-virtuosic and sexy “Purple Rain,” which is what the title-track actually sounds like. They’re fully capable extra-mellow pop numbers, and one or two could easily be danced to by Bill Murray in his next midlife crisis/learn-to-live-again film. Particularly “Burn The Bridge,” which has “zany dance scene” written all over it. Those aside, there’s not much else here that’s gonna get the floor doing much but slow grinds. If you wanna take a sleepy trip with a weird-voiced tour guide, here’s your ticket.
Ashes & Fire (Pax-Am/Capitol)
Ryan Adams takes alotta piss. People really and deeply and truly hate him. I am not one of them. The whole Whiskeytown discog slays, as do many of his solo records, particularly Heartbreaker , Gold , Demolotion , Love Is Hell and Cold Roses . The North Carolina native can write a damn song. His last few, though, have lost that grit, recklessness and swagger, and the result’s a much weaker product. Perhaps Adams is the kinda musician you have to grow old with, like Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Perhaps it’s wrong, and even selfish, for us to think that songwriters can stay wild and hell-bent forever. Hell, Ryan’s a married man now, and settled up with Mandy fucking Moore. Dude’s probably happily on lockdown, no longer jumping off ferryboats and posting up at the pub until closing time. While he used to drunkenly fantasize about “Cherry Lane,” now he’s living it, loving it, as perhaps a grown-ass-man should. But, you know what? I’m wrong and selfish and I want the fucked-up version back. Naming the album Ashes & Fire is just a tease, cuz this one ain’t about burnin’ the whole thing down to the ground, but building up a newer, stronger kinda love.
PW's Music Issue 2014