Tag Archives: Hip Hop

Check It Out: Maidenstone

MaidenstoneThis post goes out to everyone who thinks I only ever talk about punk rock.

You know folks, I do like other genres of music and one of them is hip hop.

So let’s talk about hip hop shall we?

One thing I have always liked about hip hop is the beats that fuel the lyrics.  I am sure many of you can agree with me that a rap song with terrible beats is nothing to talk about.

Akron, OH’s Maidenstone specialize in beats and unique instrumentals.  They are not a rap group, but rather a couple of pals who decided to borrow lyrics from various rappers and supply samples and beats taken from a wide span of musicians and composers.  The result is an outstanding mixtape and does not focus on just one genre.

Here, check it out:

Consisting of pals Cory Maiden and TJ Firestone, Maidenstone dropped their hip hop collaborative in December on BandCamp.  The best part?  It’s free for anyone who wants to hear what they threw together.

I think one thing about Maidenstone is that the samples are well-thought.  “Holy Shit Batman” caught my attention thanks to the eccentric samples of Pulp and The Jesus and Mary Chain while “We Are Groot” had some Pet Shop Boys.

“Dark Arts” was insane and I hope to hell Mos Def hears this.  Who knows, maybe he will be making a request for Maidenstone to create beats for his next release.  That Peer Raben sample was just dark but powerful.

Of course I loved “Son of a Gun”.  If anyone knows me, ODB is one of my favorite rappers out there.  Add some piano and horns playing track from Perez Prado, and you have yourself a crazy ass track.

Another track I have to make mention of is “Vertical Kryptonite” and not just because Big Boi is on it, but because Maidenstone sampled The Greatest Show on Earth and it fits perfectly.

Sometimes tracks can be recreated in a good way.  I am not talking about some shitty Genesis cover by Disturbed.  I am talking about taking great songs and putting a new twist.  It is kind of like a remix, but to me, this is a little more complex.  Seriously, just listen to this.  I guarantee you are going to dig some of it.

I also love their puck rock inspired covers to their mixes.  Dammit, I just can not stay away from punk references, can I?  Oh well.  Download this and enjoy.  I know I did.

BHP Best of 2015

2015 is wrapping up quickly so I felt it was best I get this out of the way before I become too involved with the holiday festivities.

As much as I wish I was more active on this blog, I will admit I am still listening to as much music as possible whenever time admits.  I am not giving up just yet folks.

With that said, here are my choice releases for 2015:


BHP Best of 2015

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
-This album was one of my favorite releases of 2015 before it was even released.  I knew I was going to adore it before I heard it and I did.  This is one of those bands that has really reached back into the 90s with their style and I love everything about it.

Yotam
Yotam Ben-Horin – Distant Lover
-Yotam blew me away with his latest solo album.  This dude rules and is one of my favorite songwriters out there.

Lucero
Lucero – All A Man Should Do
-I love Lucero.  With that said, when I first listened to this album, I was not digging it much.  In fact, it was not until my third listen that I realized how solid the album is.  I can not stop listening to it.  Yeah, it is not like their older material but it still owns.

Baroness
Baroness – Purple
-This album was literally just released (12/18/2015 for those of you who are wondering).  Luckily there is that edit option on there here ol’ blog because this needs to be on my list.  This album is perfect, absolutely perfect.  After all this band has been through, it is nice to see them return with such force.

John Moreland
John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
-John Moreland is incredible.  Words can not express my appreciation for this album.  Seriously, I can not write anything about this, you will need to listen to it for yourself.

Frank Turner
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
-I do not think it is possible for Frank Turner to release an album that I do not like.  This guy is a modern-day musical hero to me.

NRNS
Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled
-This album was a blast to listen to.

TBR
Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming
-Spite losing Brandon recently, Teenage Bottlerocket gained a lot of attention with their power pop punk release.  This catchy as hell album guarantees for a good time.

Annabel
Annabel – Having It All
-This album seriously made me want to be a better person.  I find myself listening to this album on the days where I feel like I need a boost in the feelings department.

Sidekicks
The Sidekicks – Runners In The Nerved World
-I swear this band matures more and more with every release.

Joey Cape
Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
-This album was so beautiful yet gloomy.  Cape has proved himself to me once again that he is one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet.

Purple
Purple – (409)
-Purple are fun and encompass rock n roll to the max.  I do not even know what that means.  This band is all about the fun and released an amazing album full of catchy tracks.

toyGuitar
toyGuitar – In This Mess
-If this album happened to fall under your radar, you are totally missing out.  Happy-go-lucky-punk-rock-beach-jams should sum up this album.

Success
Success – Radio Recovery
-Success dropped one of the most catchy punk albums of the year.  I love these dudes and think everyone needs to check them out.  I also love the fact that their album cover pays tribute in a sense to Fifteen.

Refused
Refused – Freedom
-The last time these guys released something, it was the late 90s.  I never thought they would put something out again, but they mostly regrouped after some touring and dropped this killer album.  A lot of people said it was over-produced and forced, but I still like it.

Sam Russo
Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams
-This was an excellent album that I am glad I was able to check out.  Sam Russo takes storytelling and songwriting to the best level.

Dr Dre
Dr. Dre – Compton
-This was the album I listened to the most this year easily.  For over two months, I listened to this album in full every single day.  I had a slight obsession with it.  The best part about about this is the first time I heard it, I thought to myself that it was not even that good.  By the time the album ended, I was hooked.  I even listened to it this morning.

Patrick Sweany
Patrick Sweany – Daytime Turned To Nighttime
-This album just makes me want to drink whisky on a porch at night with my close pals.  Nice to see Pat continue on with his passion.  I sure do miss the days whenI could hit up the Zephyr and see him play.

Johnathan Richman
Johnathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith” (7″ Releases)
-I had the privilege to review both of these singles thanks to Blue Arrow Records and all I have to say is that I can not wait for Richman to release his next full-length…


Well folks, that is all I have at this time.  I am sure I am missing something and will probably edit this post 7 more times.  For any of you paying attention, this blog has been updated just a few times…

Until then, happy holidays to you and yours.  I appreciate anyone who has ever taken a moment to check out what I have to share on this site.  If it was not for you, I would probably have thrown the towel in a long time ago.

Album Review: Doomtree – All Hands

Doomtree - All HandsIt takes a lot for me to admit I like a modern day hip hop act.

I’m not trying to sound like a jaded hipster supreme or anything, but I just can’t get into a lot of these hip hop acts out there let alone understand what the hell they are talking about.

Maybe it is because I am getting old.  Or maybe it is because I prefer 90s hip hop over anything else (Bone Thugs and Wu Tang will always remain my favs).

I can always make exceptions of course.

Doomtree is easily one of those exceptions.
(Note: Run The Jewels is another – but we are not going to talk about them in this post.)

Hailing from Minneapolis, Doomtree is a hip hop collective full of artists who bring different talents together to create a complex and intricate style of hip hop.

I can’t lie, P.O.S. is how I learned of Doomtree.  I was introduced to him years ago and even got to shoot some up clone and personal photos him him during a memorable set at a Warped Tour as he performed literally in the middle of the crowd standing upon an equipment case.  Anyone who sings Fugazi in the middle of a rap track is ok with me.  Not to mention, he was in Wharf Rats too.

Should I even mention that another member in Doomtree, Cecil Otter, was 1/2 behind Wugazi?  Do you see why I dig these guys so much?  Perhaps I need to calm down.  Nah…

Doomtree

I was introduced to Doomtree’s second release No Kings shortly after and was completely blown away.  To be honest, I still listen to that album.  It is a timeless collection of awesome with plenty of memorable tracks that have not gotten stale by any means not to mention the “Bangarang” video still rules thanks to Har Mar Superstar.

Doomtree recently dropped an all new album in January called All Hands.  This will be their third official album and was actually recorded far away from civilization and cellphone signals.  The result is not surprising, an eyebrow lifting album that easily will gather tons of attention.

“Final Boss” started off things so strong with a incredibly likable track that was full of 8-bit beats.  Each of the 5 MCs took a turns rifling off lyrics praising their hometown, recognizing  talent, talking video games, and just life.  The repeating  “get up like I never f*cking got up before and I get it like I never f*cking got it before” seemingly pumped this listener up each time it repeated.  I thought it was great that the track just ended with Jake Hanson playing a simple riff on his guitar.

You know, I thought I was impressed with the first track, and suddenly I was treated to “My Own Nation”.  Wow.  I am not even certain I can describe how much I dug this track.  I think you will just need to hear it for yourself (see below).  The climax of this track is where things got insane.

“.38 Airweight” brought light of Bernie Goetz, a NYC so-called vigilante douchebag who shot and killed 4 young men almost 30 years ago because he thought he was going to get mugged.  This track to me was a callout to all of the senseless violence from yesteryear and today.

“Mini Brute” was a mess of sounds that almost seemed to encompass my entire attention, pulling me away from the lyrics, but I just kept fighting to just absorb the poetry.  This track was insane.  I wish those jackasses in Akron, OH never broke into my Cavalier and stole my mediocre stereo system in 2004.  I really would have loved to have the opportunity to blast this track.

Of course “Cabin Killer” had me hoping for Evil Dead references, but instead I was treated to plenty of head-nodding smooth flows.  I wish Cecil and P.O.S. both could have kept going for a tad longer, but I am grateful for the Stay Puft reference.

“Generator” may have been speaking about speeding up, but this song just fell short.  I appreciated the Atari Teenage Riot electronic-sounding heavy beats, but overall I was kind of bored.

Thankfully “Off in the Deep” jumped out of that rut and returned to awesomeness.  P.O.S. Sims, and Dessa all took turns doing what they do best on this track.  I am still trying to figure out if they sampled a song behind the scenes on this track as it sounded so familiar.  If not, kudos to Doomtree for creating such a likable sound.

“Marathon” closed things with a punk edge thanks to the repeating hook “when it all boils down there’s nothing but bones left”.  Maybe this track was not as heavy as the others, but it was certainly the most well-written, especially the final “hashtag No Kings, crash y’alls server.”  What a way to end an album.

I can not tell you the number of times that I have gotten myself so worked up over an album only to hear it with pure disappointment.  This is so not the case as All Hands does not disappoint at all.

I think the thing I love most about Doomtree is that nothing seems generic or forced.  From the lyricism to the beats in each track, you can hear how genuine the pride is.  It is not commercial hop hop by any means and  really needs to trump some of that quick-beat, lazy written crap that seems to always grab all the attention.

This act has continued to impress me.  I would not be shocked if All Hands took them a step or two closer to the spotlight that they so much deserve.

RIP Adam Yauch (aka MCA)

My heart seriously just sunk a few moments ago when I learned that Adam Yauch, also known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away today after a 5-year battle with cancer.  He was 47.

When I heard he was not attending the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony a few weeks back, I knew something was up, but I figured he was just getting treatment again.

At the ceremony, Ad- Rock (Adam Horovitz) and Mike D. (Michael Diamond) read a letter from Yauch in response to being inducted to the Rock Hall:

“I’d like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike. They walked the globe with me. It’s also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours.”

I think “touched” is an understatement.  The Beastie Boys are one of the most important bands of my lifetime.  Love them or hate them, the B-Boys changed music in a good good way and Yauch had a big part in that.

Yauch at the 2007 Virgin Mobile Festival

Currently the website / blog for the Beastie Boys is down, so I am waiting to see what the rest of the band has to say about this unfortunate loss. (UPDATE – The site is now up and there is an amazing piece about Yauch on it.  Head over to the Beastie Boys site if you would like to check it out.)

All I know is that when I found out, I was sad – really sad.  Maybe some people do not care, but I do…

I have been a fan of the Beastie Boys since I picked up Licensed To Ill in a Gold Circle store in 1986.  I remember hearing them once on MTv when it was a cable channel that actually played music videos all the time.  My Mom caved in and bought it for me.  The way I looked at music changed the moment I ripped off that cellophane wrapper.

I grew up with them and wanted to be like them as a youth.  My Paul’s Boutique cassette was played so much that it disintegrated.  I have caught them a handful of times including when they headlined at Bonnaroo in 2009.

I was lucky enough to have met Yauch, and the rest of the B-Boys, in 2007 at the Virgin Mobile Music Festival in Baltimore.  I interviewed the band for about 7 minutes and laughed more than anything.  They were cool guys and I remember specifically  Yauch just laughing hard while Ad-Rock stood ever so close to me while I rifled off some questions to them.  It was a memory I will never forget, and now plan on cherishing for the rest of my life.

Yauch was always the bad ass of the group.  He was an inspiration, an icon, a legend.  He will be missed.

The Awesome: Mixtapes (& Their Alter Ego, Wooky Stax)

Maybe it was the excessive beer intake last night, but I woke up this morning to the strangest dream I have had in a while.  Not to bore you with details, but the dream ended with me in a convertible telling Ryan of Cincinnati/Detroit pop-punk act Mixtapes about this other dream I had within the dream that involved a James Bond like India adventure.  He looked at me like I was high and then got mad at me when I asked him what it would take for him to sing me some Wooky Stax.

I took that as a calling today to write a little something something about Mixtapes as well as their alter ego known to many as Wooky Stax.

For those of you who do not know of the pop-punk act Mixtapes, you my friends are missing out.  

The male and female front-kinda-sorta-duo sing about everything from thinking that Strung Out is a “mediocre version of the skate punk 90s” to not staying up all night and just kicking it at home drinking Diet Coke.  The band is unique in that they are not looking for the fame and do it for fun (well at least I think they do).  Most of their material has been released for free on the interwebs through various sites and they never seem to stop touring.  They also have a handful of 7″ vinyls out for all you collectors out there.

They are a prolific band you need to check out.  I’ve seen them live a couple times and it is a riot.

Visit the Mixtapes Bandcamp page

Download Mixtapes Maps on Death To False Hope Records

Check out other Mixtapes releases on Animal Style Records

Then there is Wooky Stax…

Wooky Stax is Mixtapes’ alterego rap project.  I do not care what anyone says, I love it.  It is far from the greatest hip hop and probably was created as a joke to the ever so hardworking rap music industry (can you sense the sarcasim?).  Ryan and Maura do their best to rap over samples and honestly…it’s kind of catchy and it’s hella free.

Download the Wooky Stax EP Smile