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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Cadence Weapon
Afterparty Babies
Anti-

Rating: 4.4/10 ?


February 28, 2008
I hate to be the guy to shoot him down, because Rollie Pemberton's living the dream: an ex-music critic who's hustled his way up to Epitaph's famed Anti- imprint, home to a cast of legendary weirdos ranging from Tom Waits to Tricky. And he's not a bad rapper, though if he paced himself a bit, he might be surprised to notice a huge drop in the amount of excess spittle on his mic after tracking. But his brand of videogame-indebted indie rap usually finds him stuck between Aesop Rock and Koji Kondo, a comparison which shouldn't faze a dude who once gave Bazooka Tooth one of Pitchfork's first rave rap reviews and themed his first video ("Sharks") around inserting his image into various NES games.

Rollie has yet to find his voice, though. On his second full-length as Cadence Weapon (excellent handle), he attempts a stark album opener. Imitating a TV on the Radio-style harmony round for a beat that he stumbles to keep, Pemberton half-recites about tracking down old friends over drumless minimalism. But instead of embracing his flaws, he seems to exhaust himself trying to outrace them, and insists on dragging the track out to five minutes, hardly a lean way to get going, especially for an unknown. His most Nintendo-like beats have the disadvantage of being really, really distracting, and on "Limited Edition OJ Slammer," the overall brightness of the cut overpowers his gulping voice entirely, and it's just hard to follow.

One admirable tack that has me admittedly on the fence is how Pemberton tries to make rather dancey tunes out of startling transitions, like an IDM-informed Bomb Squad on "In Search of the Youth Crew," where the funky riffs in the verse and chorus don't relate to each other at all. On the one hand, it makes me sniffy for the desperate days of Public Enemy stitching squeals together for an unremittingly original whole. But on the other, the lack of footholds is a double-edged sword and sometimes you get the feeling Pemberton has no idea what he's doing: "Messages Matter" is, in places, the best beat on the entire record, sliding a tense, chopped-up string riff forward and backward, until it abruptly switches to something more akin to melting tubas. For the remainder of the song, the different approaches only grow more and more frustrating. He truly goes after my heart by sampling Eno's Another Green World on "Your Hair's Not Clothes!," and setting off a series of entertaining put-downs ("It used to be "I Wanna Be Your Dog, now it's 'Who Let the Dogs Out?'"), presumably about hiphop itself. The catchy horn-blat showcase "Real Estate" is the only other track with the potential to get under one's skin.

As a lyricist, Pemberton certainly knows his potential audience, naming Mega Man 4 as a favorite on "Juliann Wilding," though I don't know who the Dandy Warhols references are meant for, or why he'd settle for a book that's not the Bible to do coke off of. "I thought I'd write something mildly committal," he shrugs. I just wish he treated his music a little better than that.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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