Monthly Archives: April 2015

Sound ‘Round: Heems

He was in high school when the world stopped turning

Heems – Eat Pray Thug (Greenhead)

Heems - Eat Pray ThugHe refers to his proper solo debut as, “9/11 and Heartbreak” and parallels Kanye’s minimal moodiness to his own. But where Yeezy’s emotional trauma centered on the loss of his mother, Heems’ turmoil is more exigent. While he reminisces on the galvanizing events which occurred just two blocks from his high school, he’s more concerned with their lingering effects on America and her brown-skinned citizens. Take this heart-breaker of an opening line from “Flag Day.” “We’re going flag shopping for American flags / They’re staring at our turbans / They’re calling them rags.” The details of day-to-day racism are potent enough, but he hits harder on the finale, “Patriot Act” when he relays harassment on the part of federal agents and teaches his foreign-born father how to speak English “so he doesn’t raise too much attention and get labeled a troublemaker.” Heavy as fuck on domestic policy – and rightly so – he’s equally dour on the breakup songs. Although anguished by bad romance, he manages to see the light. Case in point is “Pop Song,” wherein he rhymes softly about a woman who is no mere rebound: “I’m sick of all the games, not trying to mess with you / I get so low, but I’m really at my best with you.” Kanye could never be so plainly poetic about Kim Kardashian. GRADE: A

Key Tracks: Flag Shopping” / “Patriot Act” / “Pop Song (Games)”

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Sound ‘Round: The Go! Team

Proof of youth

The Go! Team – The Scene Between (Memphis Industries) 

Go! Team - The Scene BetweenIan Parton built his little band that could around the frenetic dichotomy of bratty retro-pop and hip-hop’s old-school affinity for brash beats. Those competing elements splintered on 2011’s Rolling Blackouts, a record with melodic muscle that’s undermined by rap chants so laden with sugar they cause cavities. This follow-up finds Parton alone for the first time in a decade as his hired hands have moved on to various projects. Refocusing his efforts, he continues searching for the ideal soundtrack to his indie-rock daydream with a rotating cast of female guest vocalists who add a joyful sense of optimism to his youthful zeal for hooks. On the surface, the subject matter is as superficial as the arrangements are simple. But with each song comes an adult-like quest for escapism. The title track equates environmentalism with freedom while the opener morphs the routine act of getting out of bed into a political stance against societal apathy. Shit gets heavy on the hymn for Heaven’s Gate, a religious cult which committed mass suicide in the ‘90s. Don’t mistake Parton’s tribute for possible mimicry, however. The title for the song that follows says all there is to know about his state of mind. It’s called “Reason Left to Destroy.” He’s not going anywhere for a while. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: The Scene Between” / “The Art of Getting By” / “What D’You Say?