Exitmusic – Passage album review

The Brooklyn based duo Exitmusic have a knack for capturing the mood of a pivotal moment. The duo is made up of Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino. Palladino is also an actress most recently noted for her role on HBO’s critically acclaimed series: Boardwalk Empire. But music came before acting for her ever since her teens. Growing up, she was encouraged by her mother, a then professional opera singer, to pursue her passion for songwriting. Palladino met her counterpart, Church, shortly after he moved to New York after teaching English in India. The two collaborated with their individual strengths to form a band, touring with Phantogram for a year in 2009 up until they returned to NYC to record an album of their own.

Their full-length release, ‘Passage’, is a melancholy and ethereal take on modern day pop. It is seemingly a perfect fit for that classic climactic scene in a thrilling film noir. Aesthetically, there may not be much to dissect while listening to the album, but it plays like a well crafted soundtrack. It is not neatly tied together with distinctive shifts that give it cohesion. That is what brings beauty to the tracks: that it is haphazardly thrown together with loose threads and dead ends… yet done prophetically and with all the emotional upheaval that breaks your heart and tightens your throat.

Arpeggio’s and pitchy vocals shiver through out, as if the singer was on a balance beam during the recording. But the beats building up to the climactic bridge lead the listener into a cathartic release of pent up anticipation. With only one album under their belt so far, Exitmusic has made quite the entrance; with melodies flourishing to a rouse and accompanied by the occasional sun-drenched ballad, their sound is heartbreaking. The music is enough to make you swoon and soon revel in the fill of nostalgic bliss it bellies upon you. Exitmusic’s “Passage” was released on Secretly Canadian Records and is available online or in stores all over the world.


El-P – Cancer4Cure album review

Brooklyn rapper and producer, El-P, just released a radically contemporary LP on Fat Possum Records. His flow is angular and viciously intelligent.  The instrumentals are diverse and cutting-edge.  The pervasive drone is not unlike the constant noise levels in Brooklyn. A lot of songs, for example “Drones Over BKLYN” sound influenced by Death Grips’ aesthetic of metal and heavy machinery (not to mention the political relevance of drones).

Stand-out single “The Full Retard” is a machine gun party. Quoting deceased friend Camu Tao, El-P demands, “So you should pump this shit, like they do in the future.”  After a while there’s a hilariously sarcastic voice that comes in: “When harmony and love reign, no longer do we live in a society bent on its own destruction… Children of every race, creed, and religion frolic in fields of golden dandelions.” He’s clearly making fun of rappers who indulge in flaky bullshit. Then it’s cut off by a barrage of rapid gun-fire, El-P smirks and repeats “little bitch” for a while.

In terms of collaboration, El-P doesn’t mess around. “Oh Hail No” (described to Skinny Mag as, “Some rebel shit from the garbage”) has verses from both Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire and Danny Brown. “Tougher Colder Killer” (inspired by a poem about a soldier’s guilt after battle) features Killer Mike and Despot. “True Story” has chopped vocals from Heems (Das Rascist). However, “Works Every Time” featuring Paul Banks of Interpol is lukewarm, but whatever.

The subject matter is original and affecting. Opening track, “Request Denied” is about the exuberance and irreverence of youth. Escapist yet destructive pass-times are the basis of “Works Every Time”. “The Jig Is Up” and “Sign Here” are the only songs about women… but “The Jig Is Up” is based on Groucho Marx’s famously self-depreciating line, “I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have me” and the interrogative “Sign Here” is about sex and domination. “For My Upstairs Neighbor” has a bored and shocking refrain, “If you kill him I won’t tell…” Madness, paranoia, death, control, technology – definitely more relevant than smoking weed and thinking up clever nicknames for yourself.

You really should pump Cancer4Cure like they do in the future. El-P is on point.