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    The disparate sounds of Sole, DJ Pain 1 and Andrew Jackson Jihad collide on “Old Gods Ain’t Dead”, the first video from Sole and Pain 1’s forthcoming Death Drive. Behind metal riffs and Pain 1’s underground-meets-mainstream palette, Sole and Sean Bonnette find common ground in poetry and politics.

    Sole describes the new record as “a political rap album executed in a way that eschews the rapper persona of savior/prophet and speaks from the riot line.” He and Pain 1 recently launched an indiegogo campaign to support the project, which is currently in its final week. Perks include an anti-capitalist version of Apples to Apples, lyric tapestries and an exclusive EP of bonus material.

    Death Drive drops in May.


    Today, Berlin math rock outfit mOck, who recently released their Components EP stateside through Nefarious Industries, share their new video for “Leiden, NL”. Fronted by vocalist/bassist Freddy Knop, the Tortoise and Karate-influenced trio operates in a free structure alternating between minimalist restraint and bursts of complexity.

    In the cleverly edited clip for “Leiden, NL”, mOck is shown performing through reflections and projections bouncing off various instruments and an old Nintendo. Watch the video above and stream “Components” via bandcamp.


    The Los Angeles-based Hellfyre Club invaded the Lower East Side on Thursday night and rocked a packed Mercury Lounge with 3+ hours of eclectic indie rap. Touring in support of Dorner vs. Tookie, the diverse 4-man crew of Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, Milo and Nocando delivered wit, innovation, crowd interaction and humor all blanketed by the bright visuals of director/rapper WC Tank. 

    Two years after I caught a mediocre performance from Nocando at the Soda Bar in San Diego, the man showed genuine signs of transformation. If his heart wasn’t in it before, it’s unmistakably there now. He started his set with an acapella verse, wove in substantial new material and finished with a track set to Atmosphere’s “Denvemolorado“, all to hearty applause.

    Open Mike Eagle followed and delivered a set worthy of the snowballing hype. His name was chanted during and post-set, his delivery was as effortless as it was flawless, and his shout-rap second verse on “Password” remains one of the most fun things one can witness at a hip hop show in America. Though I partially wanted to murder the drunkards behind me rapping along to half of Mike’s songs, I was with them in spirit.

    Continue reading at

  4. Chuckie Campbell - More Die of Heartbreak (Review)

    Drawing inspiration from Saul Bellow’s 1987 novel of the same name, Chuckie Campbell’s More Die of Heartbreakfinds the Buffalo emcee exploring the past seven years of his life, framed by a violent assault that left his jaw broken in two places and the suicide of the friend who assaulted him. 

    “Men carve hate in the hearts of men”, Campbell raps on “Father’s Hands”.

    The album’s scope is both personal and political. Lead single “Synesthesia”, which recalls Qwel’s “Vincent Van Gogh Coke Ad” in its hues, attempts to address all that is wrong with America in just under four minutes. Though the song is off-putting in its obviousness, it is the only major misstep on the record. When Campbell switches his lens from macro to micro, his skill as a storyteller emerges. The brilliant, piano-driven “Seasons” fleshes out a childhood memory of watching a young man succumb to a heart condition on a basketball court in the unforgiving cold of winter.

    The soulful and intricate production of Willie Breeding is a high point of the album from start to finish, complementing the varying flows of Campbell. He slows it down and allow his words to take center stage on MDOH’s story-based tracks and at other points opts for a double-time delivery reminiscent of Noah23 that is nothing short of impressive. Chuckie Campbell put a lot of time and heart into this record, and with the help of a talented cast featuring everyone from Wu-Tang veteran Cappadonna to country vocalist Erin Breeding, More Die of Heartbreak is a stellar cathartic release.


    On a chilly Friday the 13th, a diverse crowd of teenage girls with glow stick wristbands and well-to-do hipsters escaped the elements and descended on Barclays Center for MGMT’s first NYC show in three years.

    Kuroma opened before the legendary alt-rock trio Dinosaur Jr. took the stage for 45 minutes of thunderous, melodic riffs and stately crooning. J Mascis and company’s set featured tracks from 2012′s I Bet On Sky as well as their extensive back catalogue, highlighted by “Watch The Corners” and “Feel The Pain”.

    Backlit by massive psychedelic projections and bright beams cutting through pot smoke, MGMT showed no signs of a band coming off of a critical dud of a record at Barclays. Patient ears would argue that MGMT’s self-titled third LP rewards repeat listens and only disappoints if the lone criteria is how well it stacks up against Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations.

    Following a bombastic introduction befitting the detached arena setting, the touring sextet launched into “Flash Delirium” and worked through a stellar set featuring fan favorites from their first two records, challenging, spacey material from MGMT and a brain melting improvisational detour on “Kids”.

    MGMT Setlist:

    Flash Delirium
    Time To Pretend
    Introspection (Faine Jade Cover)
    The Youth
    Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
    Mystery Disease
    It’s Working
    Weekend Wars
    I Found A Whistle
    Siberian Breaks
    Electric Feel
    Your Life Is A Lie
    Cool Song No. 2
    Alien Days

    Visit to check out April Siqueiros' full photo gallery of MGMT and Dinosaur Jr.


    Austin, TX by way of Sheffield, UK singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Stoney is back with his strongest and most diverse LP to date, More Than Animals, slated for a January 14 release. The record begins with a tangible bang and ends the same. It’s a concise, brilliantly arranged 12-track effort void of filler.

    Though Animals marks only his third official release, Stoney’s music bears the presence of a Brit-pop veteran and recalls decades worth of influences in its classic hues. The preacher’s son from South London knows how to write a hook. The preponderance of his new album boasts remarkably catchy choruses, none more so than the moody, layered reprise of “Devil On My Back”. That track sets the emotional tone for the record, a decidedly darker affair than his last LP, 2007’s The Scene & The Unseen. Stoney’s provocative snapshot imagery suits Animals’ gloomy aesthetic well. Lines like “shivering like a whore turning tricks in the London rain” and “I’ll carve you on my heart just like a fool” provide abstract glimpses into the turmoil that informs his writing.

    My lone criticism of the record is that Stoney’s radio-friendly ballads (e.g. “Bedpost” and “Let It Go”) pale in comparison to his uptempo, guitar-driven tracks. Though well produced and lyrically sound, they’re all too familiar. Stoney is at his most original and compelling under the dynamic blanket of tracks like “Cock of the Walk” and “Round Here”, the type of songs leading indie labels to throw offers at the unsigned Austin transplant as the new year approaches.


    Back in September, Jackson of Grand Buffet put out Duke 2, his first collection of tracks recorded under the Mrs. Paintbrush moniker. The project is a continuation of the absurdist, satirical raps GB came to be known for along with a healthy dose of singing and veiled cultural criticisms.

    Today we have the premiere of Duke 2 track “Mr. Fiddlesticks”, which can be interpreted as a jab at big pharma, processed foods, coke rap, or your girlfriend’s pastel pantsuit. Nonstop Everything had the following to say about the video:

    “Deep within a rainbow’s cadaver, self-transforming machine elves speak through geometric archetypal color information. Not surprisingly, the translation looks pretty rad.”


    Sydney, Australia’s Monks of Mellonwah made the interesting decision to release their new LP, Turn the People, in three installments, beginning with Ghost Stories in June and continuing with the Afraid to Die EP, which came out earlier this month. MOM’s recent bona fides include Best International Act at the 2012 L.A. Music Awards and Best Indie Rock Band at the 2012 AIM Awards as well as a deal with A&R Worldwide.

    The alternative quartet cites Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as influences, but its sound skews more towards a less polished, pop-friendlier Incubus. The EP’s title track is its most impressive offering, with a glimmering melodic breakdown in the final third complementing chugging guitars and thick bass. Lead singer Vikram Kaushik rolls with the punches of an uptempo chorus but falls considerably flat on poorly written verses.

    This trend of mediocre vocals and adequate yet unoriginal instrumentation continues throughout Afraid to Die, concluding with the regrettable ballad cliché that is “I Belong to You”. There’s nothing particularly great here, but nothing particularly awful either (save for some of Kaushik’s lyrics). The derivative progressions and choruses are catchy enough to land MOM some pop rock radio play and an award or two, but the middle third of Turn the People shows that they are a band in need of an identity and a ghostwriter.


    Photography by Elastic Muse

    My third night at CMJ included stops at the Riot Act Media Showcase and Fader Fort before touching down at Knitting Factory for the Totally Gross National Product Showcase. The diabolically hipster duo that is Pony Bwoy were closing out their set with the spacey slow drip of “Ævum (time crawls)” when I arrived, setting the stage for Lizzo.

    Minneapolis-based Lizzo was one of the most buzzed about hip hop artists coming into CMJ 2013. After years of experimenting with R&B, progressive rock, electropop and rap in Houston, Lizzo relocated to Minneapolis in 2011 and picked up steam with her crews Lizzo & The Larva Ink and The Chalice. After Larva Ink parted ways and left a trail of writer’s block in its wake, Lizzo found inspiration from a Lazerbeak instrumental mixtape and reached out to the Doomtree veteran. Her Lazerbeak-produced solo debut, Lizzobangers, came out on Tuesday.

    10349306996 fe39a92686 o CMJ Day Three: Totally Gross National Product Hits Brooklyn

    The Knitting Factory crowd was into it from the moment Lazerbeak dropped the beat, and Lizzo’s charisma and skills were on full display. She boasts numerous styles and can sing just as well as she raps. With the exception of “Batches & Cookies”, a song that makes me want to slam my face into a wall, Lizzo’s performance was one of the most memorable at the halfway point of CMJ.

    Considering the projects that The Cloak Ox’s Andrew Broder, Jeremy Ylvisaker Mark Erickson and Martin Dosh have been a part of over the years (Fog, Hymie’s Basement, Crook&Flail, Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer, Dosh), their debut collaboration Shoot the Dog was a bit of a letdown. Though the band may not be the sum of its parts on record, they are nothing short of brilliant in a live setting. As the skies cleared outside on Metropolitan Avenue, The Cloak Ox powered through an hour of virtuosic guitars, stellar drumming and moody vocals, drawing heavy applause in the process.

    10349306585 3490041651 o CMJ Day Three: Totally Gross National Product Hits Brooklyn

    With dual drummers and Marijuana Deathsquads behind him, indie rap icon P.O.S played his first NYC show in a good minute. The Doomtree rapper was scheduled to headline an Irving Plaza show on the We Don’t Even Live Here tour one year ago before learning he was in need of a kidney transplant and subsequently cancelling all dates. Though he’s not at full strength in late 2013, P.O.S can still rock a show amongst the finest of his genre.

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    10321217096 c3e98cc156 o CMJ Day One: Woodkid Wows at Webster Hall

    Photography by Elastic Muse

    Last night the CMJ Music Marathon returned to NYC for its 33rd year. An elaborate showcase of 1,400 emerging artists descended upon downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn intent on taking that next big step with whatever set time a dive bar or major venue should provide. CMJ 2013 also features a few established acts, and on night one I opted for Woodkid at Webster Hall after a round or ten at the Hotel on Rivington Press Party.

    France’s Woodkid (Yoann Lemoine) and his 7-piece followed a solid opening set from Thomas Azier with singular compositions boasting themes of transition, adulthood and decay. The ominous war drums of Woodkid’s dark symphony spoke of death and destruction on the horizon, yet were paired with stirring vocals reminiscent of Antony and potent horns that clashed brilliantly in their light. Anyone who has witnessed Woodkid’s breathtaking music videos can picture another world conjured by his music, black and white, three dimensional, occupied by warriors, monsters and mysterious gleaming towers.

    Continue reading at


    Jacksonville-based Rickolus is gearing up to release Troubadour, the follow-up to 2012′s critically-acclaimed Coyote & Mule. The Power of Myth-inspired double LP, split up into acoustic and electric halves, is set to drop October 29 on Circle Into Square

    URB is proud to premiere “The Lonely Fox”, the second single from Troubadour. Stream below and download here.


    Photography by Elastic Muse

    New York City is known to draw some talented musical acts every now and then, and on Tuesday night, concertgoers had Tame Impala/Flaming Lips, Big Boi and Warpaint to choose from. Playing their first Big Apple show in over two years, Los Angeles quartet Warpaint brought their heady mix of ’60s psychedelia and ’80s shoegaze to a sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg.

    “DJ” Nelleke opened the show with an hour of soul, funk and rock vinyl. I’m not sure if she traditionally spells the first half of her moniker in quotes, but it’s worth brooding over. Conventional wisdom, which is the nickname I’ve given to my subjective inner thoughts, suggests you’re not a DJ if you don’t scratch and just lazily turn knobs that have little to no effect on the end product. And throwing a shitty dance beat over Fleetwood Mac does not a DJ make.

    A visibly bored crowd woke up at 10:22pm as Warpaint hit the stage. Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa were in their element, playing dense, moody tracks from Exquisite CorpseThe Fool and their new LP, due out in January. “Composure” was the strongest inclusion of the night, with Kokal’s sultry, pensive vocals absorbing her bandmates’ midtempo flurry. The layered harmonies of “Burgundy” followed a couple songs later and went extremely hard before “Undertow” and “Billie Holiday” put eager fans in sing-along mode.

    Warpaint capped off their MHoW performance with a two-song encore featuring “Baby” and “Beetles”. It was a flawless set from a band primed for a big year.

    For additional photos of Warpaint’s set at MHoW, visit


    On October 29, Denver-based emcee Time will be dropping Newstalgia, a 19-track LP featuring production and guest shots from the likes of Ceschi, Jake One, Factor, Budo, Man Mantis and Xiu Xiu. The rapper/journalist gives equal credence to the personal and political on the album, looking back to childhood obsessions with video games and basketball cards while also taking aim at the housing crisis. Time is an artist with an impressive CV, having handled production and engineering duties for Common and co-authored a paper with Noam MF Chomsky. His insightful political tracks are informed by the same journalistic ethos as friend/collaborator Sole.

    Time will be joined by Grayskul for a record release party on November 3 at the Moon Room in Denver. Until then, check out the exclusive stream of Newstalgia over at URB.


    The union of Saul Williams and The Gap on Thursday night in midtown Manhattan was a confusing one to say the least. I don’t often equate the brand (or any brand) with art and progress. Saul sat on the floor scribbling lines into a notebook while his band plugged in and fashionistas in hilarious hey-everyone-look-at-me clothing chatted over Moscow Mules and Brooklyn Pilsners. After one song, Mr. Williams went into a spoken word piece (which I want to believe was composed on the spot) concluding with “the gap between the haves and the have nots… the gap between the haves and the have nots”, unveiling a measured subversive blade in the process aimed at multinationals and presumably Fashion Week at large.

    Despite a Gap-qualify soundman, Saul and his backing band Dragons of Zynth rocked a packed house with tracks from The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy TardustVolcanic Sunlight and perhaps a newbie from the forthcoming Martyr Loser King, though I couldn’t truly tell given the nature of the distortion from the speakers and a mounting deafness in my left ear.

    It should be noted that Fader co-sponsored this event, which probably had a lot more to do with Saul being there than The Gap (his next album drops on Fader Label in 2014). Saul mentioned that he was asked not to curse by event organizers then quickly dove into a song that comically dispelled the notion. He asked the crowd (and I’m paraphrasing heavily), “Are you feeling live? I know we’re in a store and shit, but are you feeling live? Move around. If you break something, don’t worry… The Gap will pay for it.”

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    UPDATE: Saul’s twitter account features lines from the aforementioned poem.


    Intra-label collaborations often seem inevitable, but don’t always come to light. That Phil Collins – Skrillex joint we’ve been waiting for on Atlantic is seeming less and less likely with each passing year.

    One label collabo that is happening is Mount Mantras, the Fake Four union of Terra Lopez (Sister Crayon) and Zavala (Dark Time Sunshine). Zavala’s remix of the Cynic EP title track is our first taste of their electronic-leaning side project, with an EP slated for Spring 2014 and a full length to follow in the Fall.

    Listen to the URB premiere of “Cynic (Zavala Remix)” below and catch Sister Crayon on tour with Blue Sky Black Death next month.

    Sister Crayon (supporting Blue Sky Black Death)

    9/25 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent

    9/27 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

    9/28 Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater

    10/1 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

    10/8 Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck

    10/9 Columbia. MO @ Mojo’s

    10/10 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudville Mews

    10/11 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge

    10/12 Lansing, MI @ The Loft

    10/14 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

    10/16 Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe

    10/17 Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy Philly

    10/19 Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub

    10/22 Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade

    10/23 Asheville, NC @ The One Stop

    10/24 Atlanta, GA @ The Basement

    10/25 Athens, GA @ Green Room

    10/29 Memphis, TN @ Newby’s

    10/31 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada

    11/02 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s