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Pharoahe Monch, PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

2014 | Label: W.A.R. Media LLC

After 2011′s thematically scattershot, lyrically inconsistent W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), it would have been sufficient for Pharoahe Monch’s followup PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have been merely solid. Something on the level of, say, 2007′s underrated, heavy-hitting Desire would’ve been plenty. Instead, what we get from Monch is something deeper and more conceptual: a case study in how one allegorically semiautobiographical narrator attempts to overcome his traumatic experiences.

Whether those experiences come from mental health struggles (“Losing My Mind”), drug addiction (“Broken Again”), the dignity-sapping downward spiral of economic uncertainty… more »

Triptykon, Melana Chasmata

2014 | Label: Century Media / The Orchard

Along with Venom and Bathory, Thomas G. Fischer is a pioneer of the first wave of ’80s black metal. First with the primitive thrash outfit Hellhammer, and then with the more experimental Celtic Frost, he pushed the genre’s boundaries to their limits. Celtic Frost released the essential albums To Mega Therion in 1985 and Into the Pandemonium in 1987 before disbanding; motivated by a renewed hatred for the mainstream and the human race, they reunited for 2006′s colossal, doomy Monotheist, but internal friction promptly tore the band apart and… more »

The Both, The Both

2014 | Label: SuperEgo Records / The Orchard

It was said of Fred Astaire’s partnership with Ginger Rogers that “He gave her class and she gave him sex.” Duties in The Both, which fuses Aimee Mann’s wry mopery to Ted Leo’s pop-punk passion, don’t break down along the same lines, but like all the best team-ups, one provides the other something vital they’d been missing.

It’s not simply a matter of each pulling the other in their direction, although Mann certainly benefits from Leo’s adrenaline surplus, and her harmony vocals remind him to write the accompanying melodies. Writing together,… more »

Chet Faker, Built on Glass

2014 | Label: Downtown Records / The Orchard

In 2011, Chet Faker’s brilliantly brooding version of the Blackstreet ’90s-R&B classic “No Diggity” went viral, not only reaching No. 1 on Hypemachine and sound-tracking a Super Bowl beer commercial but also helping to turn the Melbourne singer-musician’s debut EP Thinking in Textures into a pop hit back home. This led to a 2013 collaboration with kindred EDM upstart Flume; their haunted “Drop the Game” went platinum in Australia.

All this is particularly remarkable for a dude who consistently looks and sounds as though he just woke up from… more »

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