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


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Lyrics Born
Everywhere at Once

Rating: 6.6/10 ?

April 29, 2008
"Do U Buy It?" sounds like a goof at first, a misstep even. It reminds me of Weird Al a little bit: the nerdy cadence, the simplistic, parodic-Devo melody, the cheerleader chants, three-chord rock and new wave tempo over which Tom Shimura barks about suckers (or is he the sucker himself?). The song is the only new place the formerly ever-evolving Shimura goes on Everywhere at Once, his second real album, which admittedly kinda sucks.

Shimura epitomizes the old adage that an artist has their whole life to pen their debut album and only a year to prepare the follow-up. After debuting in the group Latyrx, with Lateef the Truth Speaker, under DJ Shadow's warped, beatmaking care with The Album in 1997, the duo concentrated on guest appearances both together and separate while Lyrics Born developed his singing-rapping style over time (most spectacularly on Blackalicious' easy-funking "Do This My Way" in 2000).

Over the course of six years Shimura put together his debut Lyrics Born album, Later that Day…, which finally dropped in 2003 and was, spectacularly, one of the year's best records, hip-hop or otherwise. That album signaled the arrival of distinct sound, a warm-glazed home-production style and an emphasis on patchy funkbeats, clavinet, double-smoked bass, and the oddly compelling foil of female backup singers on nearly every track (which included Shimura's better half, Joyo Velarde). By the time he issued his solo debut Shimura's skills had improved quarterfold, as he proudly showed with speed-rapped runs about "Bananarama in the back of an Acura," a remembrance of telemarketing days with Blackalicious' Gift of Gab, and two sung classics, the stomping "Bad Dreams" and the swaying, dubby "Love Me So Bad."

And then the genius got a little stuck. It took him two years to follow up Later that Day… with a remix album (Same Shit, Different Day), which was pretty good, and had some excellent guests (KRS-One!) but was still predominantly a remix album, which no one waits two years for. By the time Overnite Encore: Live! arrived to sell us the same (excellent) tunes a third time (now reworked with a rock band on stage!), the Lyrics man was starting to look a little like Hanson. What's next, a Christmas album?

So here we are, with the record Shimura smartly did not title Same Shit, Five Years Later…, because that would've made it slightly easier to tell he's stuck in his own brain. The album opener, "Don't Change," is a corny rehash of his 2003 sound, without the minimally complex groove or aural presence to warrant it. "Hott 2 Deff" continues in this vein: slightly cheesy, repetitive dance music that gets by on the excellent rapping (with Jurassic 5's long-lost Chali 2na!) and some newsworthy horn fills, but the attempt to one-up Prince does the rapper no favors, and burying his near-whispered voice in the mix only keeps him from saving the too-basic music.

And so it goes, until the album unexpectedly improves in the middle with the addition of a new wave fascination (the aforementioned "Do U Buy It?" and the heavenly synth groove and infectious 'whoa-oh-oh" chorus of "The World is Calling"), off-kilter reggaeton ("Top Shelf [Anything U Want]") and the rare stale-funk bounce that works (the sing-songy "Rules Were Meant to Be Broken"). But what we ultimately learn is that rules were meant to broken, and this time, Shimura didn't break enough of them by half.

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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