We’ve been waiting for Freddie Gibbs’ new album since his gritty vocals graced last year’s Pinata, his dynamite collaboration with Madlib. And he doesn’t disappoint—Gibbs’ latest is a contender for underground rap album of the year. Over a digital bounce, Gibbs establishes his powerful presence early on with “Fuckin’ Up the Count” (“Gangsta shit in my DNA, I just can’t explain that/Even if I die tell my enemies I remain that”). His collaboration with Black Thought proves inspired on “Extradite,” as Mikhail’s beat blends ’70s soul with “Twilight Zone” organs while Gibbs and Black Thought’s words spill out like rolling dice. Like similarly great albums released this year by Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples, Shadow of a Doubt is grim but enlivening—seek the hard-hitting “Packages” as proof. Gibbs is the quintessential thirtysomething rapper who’s toiled in the underground only to see younger guys get the glory—if there’s any justice, Shadow of a Doubt should make that a thing of the past.
By now, you must know Ty Segall is a busy guy, recording something like 96 albums a year between his various projects (that’s actually closer to four or so, but who’s counting). Still, despite having just released a new album of smashing proto-metal with Fuzz, forming several new bands and re-releasing his T. Rex cover albums as a set on Black Friday, he’s also got just a plain ol’ new album on the way (so the next time you’re feeling spread thin … think of Ty Segall and get to work!). Emotional Mugger is due Jan. 22 on Drag City and was announced by sending a VHS tape of the album to various editors. Pitchfork says they got a copy of the 1993 film My Life at the end of the album, as well as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on another tape. But no worries if you don’t have a VHS player anymore—the album will be released on all the normal formats. We haven’t heard any songs yet, but apparently an emotional mugger is a “non-verbal and non-physical emotional exchange,” as we’ve gleaned from this faux-educational video starring Segall.
Daniel Lopatin’s second release on Warp as Oneohtrix Point Never is hell-bent on defying expectations. A song like “Ezra” begins with cut-up, recognizable motifs but becomes destroyed by diversions into heart-pounding 16-bit synth chases and vocal snippets emerging from its distorted folds. “I Bite Through It” engages in pop-rock structure yet mocks it at the same time, its sharp notes arranged neatly in sets of eight, which are broken up by a hard-hitting beat and more scenic portions, its tones varying without rhyme or reason across the song’s taut three minutes and 17 seconds. Similarly, the guttural vocals and laser-beam synths exploding out of “Sticky Drama” achieve EDM-style release even as its brutal middle portion feels insanity-inducing. But the need to step away now and then only proves the album’s power. Part of Garden of Delete’s strength is its ability to temper its dislocating sense of confusion with clear reference points that help the listener find their balance. The smoky, hollowed-out beginning of “Freaky Eyes” gives way to pipe organs, sudden swells and noises that skitter around like beetles, making it feel like a horror movie soundtrack collage. “Lift’s” disembodied vocal bits and layered piano runs feel alien but are lovely nonetheless. The more pronounced vocals on “Animals” make it easily noticeable, but it would be a standout regardless, its tones disintegrating beautifully while a pitch-shifted vocal comes in and out of static in a way not entirely different from Radiohead. Oneohtrix Point Never is an acquired taste that occasionally feels like it needs Cliff’s Notes to fully grasp. But it’s undoubtedly some of the most intelligent, forward-thinking music being made today. Those willing to take the plunge will be duly rewarded.
Legendary New Orleans pianist, songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint died today. He was 77.
Toussaint died this morning of a heart attack while in his hotel room in Madrid, The Associated Press reports. Toussaint had still been touring and performing at the time of his death.
Toussaint began performing in the 1950s and wrote hundreds of hits for other artists, such classics as “Working in a Coal Mine” for Lee Dorsey and “Lady Marmalade” as performed by LaBelle. His solo career blossomed in the 1970s with releases such as his 1971 self-titled album.
Toussaint was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and 2009, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011. He has performed with everyone from Paul McCartney to Elvis Costello. Toussaint is considered one of New Orleans’ most celebrated artists and often performed as a headliner at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Watch a performance of Toussaint in Madrid from from video taken yesterday below.