Brooklyn’s Yellow Eyes are still operating on the fringes of the American black metal scene, although their growing discography increasingly suggests they belong closer to the top. They were one of 2013′s 40 Best New Bands, and their Hammer Of Night LP found its way onto our list of last year’s 50 Best Metal Albums. The band followed that this past January with a 2-song cassette/12″ called The Desert Mourns, and they’ll close out the year with another such EP. Yellow Eyes have always produced relatively lean songs — even the best atmospheric black metal can tend to meander, but Yellow Eyes strip away much of the music’s drone-ish tendencies in favor of hysterical hooks — and Stillicide is perhaps the most immediate work of the band’s young career. Both of the EP’s two songs are richly complex, yet distilled to an essence: There’s no drift or stasis here, just short builds and long bursts. The B-side, “Heat From Other Days,” was premiered over at Hell Awaits earlier this month, but today, we’ve got the title track. Both are great. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Yellow Eyes are headed out on a short North American tour with another excellent (and under-recognized) Brooklyn black metal band, Anicon. If they’re coming to your town, you should make it a point to attend, because both bands are absolutely ferocious live acts. You can hear “Stillicide” and check those tour dates below.
If you’re prone to checking out AcclaimedMusic.net, you may have noticed that Kool & The Gang have but one song in the top 6000: 1980′s “Celebration,” nestled at #3383, between Fuck Buttons’ “Olympians” and Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” The Gap Band have three songs on the list; the O’Jays have four. Chic’s absence from the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame has been decried as a tragedy for years running; the Gang have been eligible since 1994, but any advocacy on their behalf — they’ve never been nominated — is a murmur. But perhaps more so than any act of their — or any — era, Kool & The Gang entered the canon via their eminently sampleable discography. On their official website, they claim to be “the most sampled band of all time” — I’m not sure if anyone keeps tabs on that sort of thing, but it feels about right. Tone Capone made a couple of horn blats from “Jungle Boogie” even more elephantine on Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It.” The halftime strut of Nas’ “N.Y. State Of Mind” walks on the deep-pocket groove of a live break on “N.T.” The nearly subliminal keys and synth whine on “Summer Madness” are an industry unto themselves, with one or both appearing on classic cuts from Rodney O and Joe Cooley, Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Aaliyah, and (most famously) DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Even after clearance issues made sampling a high-priced hobby, Kool & The Gang were still never far from musicians’ fingertips: namechecked by Kevin Barnes and Rogue Wave, covered by My Morning Jacket, haunting (with a host of other funk/disco luminaries) Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
During most of the year, it’s extremely difficult for a major-label rap artist to get an album out. During the last six weeks of the year, though, those albums come fast and furious. I have no idea why that would be, but one of the biggest albums of this year’s fourth-quarter rap-album marathon is Rick Ross’ Hood Billionaire, his second studio LP of 2014. He’s already shared a bunch of songs, all of which feature somebody: “Elvis Presley Blvd.” with Project Pat, “Keep Doin’ That” with R. Kelly, “Nickel Rock” with Lil Boosie, “Movin’ Bass” with Jay Z. The latest single is “If They Knew,” a love-rap with the R&B singer K. Michelle. The new video, from Ross’ frequent collaborator DRE Films, has a sloppy soap-opera storyline and the deeply entertaining sight of Ross and Michelle looking glamorous in a laundromat for some reason. Watch it below.
Eminem and Sia’s single “Guts Over Fear” now has a video to coincide with the release of Eminem’s new Shady Records compilation Shady XV. The clip matches footage of Eminem rapping in a warehouse with a narrative about a boxer overcoming many life obstacles in pursuit of his dreams. He has fear, see, but what he has even more of is guts. Watch below.
16 days before 2014 ends, the Baton Rouge rap monster Kevin Gates will release a new mixtape, presumably because he likes making things difficult for those of us who are trying to make “best rap mixtape of 2014″ lists. Gates has already shared a generous handful of tracks that will probably appear on his forthcoming Luca Brasi 2: “Reasonable Suspicion,” “Crazy,” “I Don’t Get Tired,” “Out The Mud.” The latest is “Perfect Imperfection,” which has a name like a goofy R&B self-affirmation but which turns out to be a hyena banger about knowing that nobody understands you and maybe being proud of it. Listen below.
Ghostface Killah has been voted the rapper most likely to release a concept album about a vigilante superhero driven by revenge every year since 1994, and now he’s doing it. 36 Seasons comes out in a couple of weeks, and we’ve posted the early tracks “Love Don’t Live Here No More,” “The Battlefield,” and “Double Cross.” “Blood On The Streets” is the latest he’s shared. Like “The Battlefield” and “Double Cross” before it, it features fellow ’90s veteran AZ, whose hardnosed understatedness makes him a nice foil for Ghost. It’s also got a warm, tough, soul-dazed beat put together by the 45 King with the Revelations. Listen below.
The Decemberists’ video for What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World single “Make You Better,” Parks & Recreation stud Nick Offerman plays the host of a low-budget 1970s German TV show where Colin Meloy and company are undertaking a mishap-laden performance. Bill Fishman directed the clip, which you can watch below.
Grooms played Death By Audio’s farewell show last weekend, and the band’s relationship to the now-defunct DIY space runs deep. They’ve been practicing there since 2007, back when they were called Muggabears; principal songwriter Travis Johnson (the only original Grooms member remaining from those days) and A Place To Bury Strangers’ Oliver Ackermann ran their Death By Audio effects pedal company out of the space; and bassist Jay Heiselmann was a tenant there. (Johnson shared some remembrances of the space for Impose.) The physical location that nursed them is gone, but Grooms are pressing on with new album Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair early next year. Lead single “Doctor M” taps into that Sonic Youth vein that’s always been so fruitful for this band, cruising from an increasingly intense motorik buildup to an extended ethereal outro. Listen below.