É Arenas - Mar Iguana:
A short EP for the short amount of time you have; I know that you’re busy. É Arenas, bassist of Chicano Batman fame has released a two-track EP in honor of “two of the most ancestral plants: Marijuana and the Nopal.”
Mar Iguana (track #1) is in itself a wonderful pun, a quedabrita about a beach iguana who likes to smoke pot. The narrative to the merengue "El Nopalito” was personally harder to track, but sonically and rhythmically it's an irresistible opportunity to get down.
I enjoy discovering solo artists outside of bands I already adore. I can tell where É Arenas has fit into Chicano Batman’s songwriting. The devilish cumbia track “La Manzanita” off their eponymous album bears certain resemblance to “El Nopalito,” particularly in then keyboard department.
There is a playful, joyful, and maybe dorky aspect to this dance music that makes me bounce. It’s buoyant, that is what it is. I can feel the Los Angeles sun inflecting this stuff. Check it out! AUSTIN
RIYL: Meridian Brothers, Frente Cumbiero, Chicano Batman
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2
Ghostface Killah & Apollo Brown - The Brown Tape:
Diving headfirst into Black History Month HOT and HEATED with The Brown Tape, the musical love-child of two hip-hop legends that needs no introduction: Ghostface Killah and Apollo Brown. It sure is a good time to be brown let me tell you that. The Brown Tape is an alternate version of Ghostface Killah’s 2013 album of 12 Reasons to Die, produced completely by Apollo Brown. This mixtape is super nostalgic and tremendously soulful, reminiscent of the classic Staten Island sounds of Wu Tang Clan and Detroit darling J-Dilla.
The beats are definitely bumping louder and harder with Brown’s magical touch and Ghostface’s chilling voice, leaning towards a funkier vibe than the original album with hits like “An Unexpected Call” and “Murder Spree” embellished with looped beats and daring piano riffs. Overall, this no-frills album gets right to the point, analogous to a much simpler time of the golden age of hip-hop.
This album is sure to set the mood of the next month as we at KXSC reflect on black history and what it means to be a person of color around the globe and within our community. Tip your goddamn hats to the godfathers of hip-hop and rap; take a moment to appreciate the incredible mark that African Americans and all black people have left on music, art, and our glorious world. NATASHA
RIYL: Wu Tang Clan, Mos Def, Method Man
Recommended Tracks: 2, 7, 8, 10
BOYO - Me, again:
BOYO is the indie pop project of LA musician Robert Tilden. Me, Again is his second full-length record, and is out on Danger Collective Records. Lo-fi synths and jangly guitar melodies abound on this album as Tilden sings about personal problems and relationships in his life. He sings about loved ones falling into a drug addiction, social cliques of the music scene in LA, and his own struggles living with mental illness. On the title track “Me, Again,” Tilden sings about sleeping for days and regretting his ways. He seems to associate “me,” or himself, with regret and mistakes.
There are two songs on the album that are called “A Social Death by Proximity,” which describe the sometimes-superficial nature of relationships among musicians in the LA scene (specifically, Hollywood and Los Feliz). Tilden sings “they’re around if you make it,” and describes friendships based around his success as a musician rather than from a true place of genuine friendship. In “Repressed,” Tilden talks about the difficulties dealing with addiction and sings “they want what we crave but we don’t.” The record ends with the more up-tempo song, “Dinosaurs,” which seems innocent enough, mentioning words like astronauts and dinosaurs, but actually refers to drug addiction—something much less innocent. Over all, it’s a beautiful record with tons of great songs on it! BOYO never disappoints, and this album is no exception. CHRISTINA
RIYL: The Strokes, Stove, Slow Hollows, Surf Curse, Mac Demarco
Recommended Tracks: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13
FCC: Clean except 5