House Shoes: “Let It Go” album review

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Illustration by Dominique Purdy

Though the new full-length release “Let It Go” from hip hop DJ/producer Michael “House Shoes” Buchanen is the first from the Detroit native, he is by no means new to the scene. An integral part of the Motown resurgence, he spent a decade, starting in 1994, as resident DJ of Motor City’s landmark St. Andrew’s Hall, and in 1997 released the much sought-after collection of rare remixes by the much revered late Jay Dee (J Dilla), titled “Unreleased.” He recently served as tour DJ with Mayer Hawthorne & the County and has moved more than 25,000 units of nearly 10 EP and remix albums under his name, but “Let It Go” marks his first album as executive producer. Set up as a concept album rather than piecemealed individual tracks, the gritty industrial feel of Detroit is omnipresent. Featuring guest emcees from both his hometown and L.A., the record starts off with the instrumental track “Empire/Get Down,” setting things off hard with its hypnotically swaying beat. On “Keep On,” Cali emcee Co$$ balances out the heavy with a fun neo-funk vibe, and “Sweet” switches it up again with Detroit’s Danny Brown destroying the mic with rough and tumble rhymes. The percussive-heavy “Last Breath” sees Virginia composer Noltz trading verses with L.A.’s Oh No and MED, and “Time” is a standout with a thick beat and slick verses from Detroit rapper Big Tone. While overall an intriguing album, things take a weird turn on “Goodfellas,” which uses great samples from the film to start off a dragging beat that doesn’t go anywhere. That said, the overall flow works in a delicate balance of Michigan grime and California sun.

– Linda A. Rapka

Originally published by L.A. RECORD

Q&A (and new single) from Pony Boy

Marchelle Bradanini, aka Pony BoyShe is neither pony nor boy, but don’t let the stage moniker of doom-wop singer/songwriter Marchelle Bradanini’s fool you. Singed with just the right amount of L.A. flare, Pony Boy’s down-home Southern style allows the small-framed blonde and blue-eyed bombshell to get down and dirty with the right amount of class.

The B-side to Pony Boy’s new “Not in This Town” single, titled “The Murder Ballad of Carrie Lee” (and up for free stream/download on Soundcloud) is aptly described by the artist as “junkyard doom wop soul country blues.” An imagining of a cross-country crime spree by a ’50s gal who falls under the sway of a bad boy, the tune moshes together twangy banjo plucks, bouncy piano riffs and the obligatory harmonica solo, creating a mossy swamp pond that lays thick underneath a foggy vocal track mixed with just the right balance of smoke and grit. While the song itself is finely crafted, Pony Boy’s seductive voice is definitely what sets her apart, carrying a soul and strength unrivaled by other Americana-loving female vocalists in L.A. This interview was done [on the quick! – ed] by Linda A. Rapka. Continue reading

Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde Anniversary: “Let ’em Feel How it Felt” – Interview w/ Slimkid3, Fatlip, J-Sw!ft & LA Jay

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All photos by Linda A. Rapka

South Central Los Angeles hip hop group the Pharcyde changed the face of West Coast hip hop forever with their 1992 debut Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. With its ingenious blending of jazz, funk, classic rock, R&B, powerful beats and insanely sick rhymes, the album continues to influence and inspire. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release, two founding members Slimkid3 (a.k.a. Tre) and Fatlip along with producers J-Sw!ft and L.A. Jay—and plenty of special guests—will perform a special concert presenting the album start-to-finish (with skits and everything) at the Roxy on Wednesday, May 23. The four met up with Linda A. Rapka at Delicious Vinyl headquarters in Hollywood to reminisce about the making of the iconic album and the bizarre ride it’s taken them on since.

Who came up with this idea to do a Bizarre Ride 20-year celebration?
LA Jay: It was J and Mike Ross. [Founder of Delicious Vinyl.]
J-Sw!ft: I proposed it to Mike. He told me he was doing this box set and I said are you gonna do some kind of promotion? Are you gonna do a celebration? I think it’d be dope if we did the whole album like Pink Floyd, like The Wall—do it live, front to back with skits. Let ’em feel how it felt in the studio actually running it.
Fatlip: You know what it is? It’s weird ’cause obviously we’ve got some like creative chemistry, and then like yesterday, J was the first person I seen when I walked in the room and he was playing all the skits, and I knew this was a good idea. Continue reading

The Moog: “Seasons in the Underground” album review

THE MOOG

Seasons in the Underground

MuSick Recordings

Seasons in the Underground

Say “Hungarian” and goulash likely comes next to mind. Rock music, not so much. But with their latest effort, Season in the Underground, Budapest natives the Moog prove that rock runs through their blood thick as a kolbász. Long worshipped by the band, England’s legendary engineer Ken Scott (David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Beatles, George Harrison, Jeff Beck), takes the helm as producer. Scott perfectly marries their raucous garage essence with synthesizer-driven 70s rock and pop hook sensibilities. Though opening track, “Seasons Change in the Underground,” offers uninspired chord progressions and a less-than-catchy chorus, things quickly turn around. The third tune, “I Wanna Take You to Paris,” opens with a bright synthesizer and expands into a sunshine melody, pleasantly accentuated by honey sweet, 1960s-inspired xylophone pings. “Highway” boasts an irresistible bouncy hook recalling hints of early Velvet Underground. Gergő Dorozsmai repeatedly chirps, “This country is too small for meeee/I wanna be roaming free …”—sincere words from a band living in a landlocked Central European zone. “We Walk in Slow” glows as the album’s hidden gem: taking an unexpectedly mature and reflective tone, Tonyó “the Baron” Szabó’s vocals are stripped naked in an inspired delivery, punctuated in all the right spots by soaring guitar licks recalling the same 70s greats Scott knows so well. The band has been known to partake in rock-star shenanigans themselves, like when they got jumped by Lady Gaga’s security guards. Keep an eye out for more tomfoolery after their SXSW set March 17.

—Linda Rapka

As published by L.A. RECORD