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Quickspins + Retroview

by The Concordian January 24, 2012
Quickspins + Retroview
Rick Ross – Rich Forever (mixtape) (Maybach Music Group; 2012)
Rick Ross is back to his usual shenanigans in Free Forever, released Jan. 6. Continuing a long-standing tradition of basing his lyrics around money, women and smoking, Ross fails to depart from a formula that has given him a relative amount of success in the past few years. Free Forever contains more of the typical Ross drawl (because labelling him as a singer or rapper would be too much of a compliment). Misogyny and racism permeate his lyrics: “Back to these bitches following my timeline / Back to these crackers following my timeline” while solid beats provided by A-list producers (Lex Luger, Mike Will, Beat Billionaire) keep this boat barely afloat. Catchy beats found in Teflon Don are few and far in between here. Ross has satiated his fan base ahead of the upcoming album God Forgives, I Don’t, but you can expect more of the same when that is released.

Trial track: “Holy Ghost”

Rating: 3.0/10

– Myles Dolphin
Matthew Dear – Headcage (Ghostly; 2012)
At only four songs in length, I expected this EP to have more bang for its buck. The Texas-born electronic DJ, producer and “avant-pop artist” released Headcage in advance of his forthcoming full-length album Beams, set for release later this year. But if you ask me, he shouldn’t have even bothered. The project starts out promisingly, with the rhythmic, pulsing breaths, vocals, drums and synth that Dear lovers have an affinity for. Dear’s deep half-speak, half-singing voice provides a trance-y introduction to his complicated yet minimalistic approach to electronic music. But immediately after the title track, the EP begins to nosedive. Halfway through “In the Middle (I Met You There),” you think the record is going to make a recovery, but by the third song you realize the whole project lacks audio cohesion and you lose interest altogether. The final track, “Around a Fountain,” is a perfect closer—just not for this EP.
Trial track: “Headcage”
Rating: 4.0/10
– Allie Mason
Hands & Teeth – Hunting Season (New Rose; 2012)
While the title Hunting Season conjures the same images of flannel shirts, taxidermy foxes, and wall-mounted antlers that have served countless other indie bands in the past few years, Toronto’s Hands & Teeth have produced something far beyond your common antler rock. From the moment you hear “The skin on my bones/ I feel, is hardly my own” on the opening track, a thrilling sense of uncanniness overtakes the listener. This feeling comes from the dynamic balance that the five members of H&T manage to strike between their diverse songwriting styles. Both sophisticated and listenable, the music on Hunting Season offers everything from the operatic eruptions of Muse to the playful subtleties of Wilco. Some songs seduce the ear immediately, while other tracks might require multiple listenings to display their true depth. With its pouncey bass, jangly guitars, and charismatic vocals, Hunting Season is a strong addition to Canada’s mind-bogglingly rich indie scene.
Trial track: “Parallel States”
Rating: 7.0/10
– Phil Glennie

Spoons – Arias & Symphonies (Ready; 1982)

Canadian New Wave band Spoons released their sophomore album Arias & Symphonies in 1982. The 11 catchy New Wave tunes will get you moving and give you a good idea about where a lot of bands today drew their influences. The chart topping tracks “Nova Heart,” “Arias & Symphonies,” and the unabashedly Canadian “Smiling In Winter” exude the success Spoons achieved at creating beautifully layered songs.
The title track acts as a centerpiece halfway through the album, while the driving beat, picture-perfect New Wave lyrics and vocals just loud enough to shine above the full sound, complete with everything one desires from music of this genre. Driving guitar and bass, wailing guitar solos, a drum beat that doesn’t quit, and of course, synth goodness (that New Wave signature). “No More Growing Up” also deserves mention, because more and more we find ourselves wondering just when we will have to grow up.
With a tinge of emotion alongside a stride confidence, this album has just the right amount of production and glam without falling into gimmickry.
Trial track: “Arias & Symphonies”

–  Julien Strasfeld

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