West Coast Legacy

Daaaamn! South Central is in the house once again. Schoolboy Q goes hard; his flow is razor sharp, his punchlines hit like fists, his producers drop beats that rattle and scream like hollow points, and when all’s said and done, he’s carrying on a legacy nearly 30 years deep. Continue reading 

Kids These Days

Future Islands

Don’t be surprised if Future Islands comes snapping out of 5th Alley like a gang of dancing street toughs from 1955. The North Carolina-founded, Baltimore-based synth-pop trio has grooves to spare, and lead vocalist Samuel T. Herring has some dance moves that will make you feel inadequate. They’ve been working at that can-do sound of theirs, all the while evolving from kids to adults, and nowadays they’re surfing a wave of half-maturity that leaves their sound feeling hopeful, ponderous and full of heart. Continue reading 

Professor Trill

Bun B

As MF Doom once said, rap these days is like a pain up in the neck. Seriously, the ratio of intelligent lyricists to not-exactly-lyricists-at-all leans heavily toward the latter in this time of ours. (“You a stupid ho, you, you stupid ho, etc.”) That’s why Bun B’s a cool drink of water, even if he is a crusty old G. He’s been at it since 1987, and cut his teeth as one half of UGK (Underground Kingz), who had their first major release in 1992. To understand why this is impressive, it is important that we look at rap’s evolution as a whole. Continue reading 



Papadosio is a prog-rock band at its core, but take a closer look; it is so much more than that. The Athens, Ohio-founded quintet could quite easily have tailored its sound for ignorant audiences, but if you want your music to say something, actually spread a message, you gotta go big. Continue reading 

He Don’t Auto-Tune Live


Yes folks, the father of Auto-Tune is coming to town. If you haven’t heard T-Pain before, there are four basic things you need to know: 1. He loves shawtys; 2. He actually has a good voice but uses Auto-Tune because he thinks it’s cooler; 3. He will buy you a drank if you are a shawty and/or know how to “talk money”; 4. He may or may not be in love with a stripper right now. Oh, he also lost four teeth in a golf cart accident, but that’s neither here nor there. Continue reading 

Leimert Park, What’s Cool

Dom Kennedy

Despite never writing lines over three beats long, Dom Kennedy works a pretty contagious game. In interviews, the California-born rapper sounds like Muhammad Ali, toting himself as the hardest-working, most prolific, sensational, fresh, badass artist in hip hop today. While most of these claims can be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt, “hard-working” lands with great accuracy. Continue reading 

Wet Desert

Utah-hailed indie rock outfit Desert Noises

Desert Noises

You might expect a band named Desert Noises to give their music a stark, arid edge, something grim and dry. In reality, though, the only thing truly dry about this Utah-hailed indie rock outfit is their hometown. By all accounts, Desert Noises is wet. The group’s 2012 EP, I Won’t See You, babbles and laughs with a sleepy pop sheen not too far removed from Band of Horses. Each song moves in endless crescendo, and the result is a good, crisp wave of sound. And boy, do these cats know how to surf. Continue reading 

Nappy Roots Day

Jangly piano, minimalist beats, red-beans-and-rice-style hooks

Nappy Roots

What’s the most informative debut album title, you ask? Why, 2002’s Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, of course. The title says it all, and what better way to announce yourself in the hip hop scene than that? Take three racially charged foodstuffs, slap ’em on a sleeve and call yourself Nappy Roots. Yes folks, it’s that country rap you’ve loved since Birdman, Nelly or Ludacris first pimp-slapped your brain. Jangly piano, minimalist beats, red-beans-and-rice-style hooks: It’s all you’ve ever wanted from the dirty South and more. Continue reading 

Puppet Masters

Meat Puppets became a phantasmagoric country-western rock band with punk in the back of their throats

It’s unfortunate that, for a good percentage of Gen Y, first interactions with the Phoenix-born rock group Meat Puppets come via Kurt Cobain and not, as would be proper, the band members themselves. Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance featured a handful of covers, and some of the most memorable were Meat Puppets tunes (“Lake of Fire,” “Oh, Me,” “Plateau”). Now, before things get a bit too sassy, let’s pump the brakes and slam it into reverse. Continue reading