The Spinal Tap of hip-hop

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Posted December 20, 2007 in Music

Govinda Sky—Surrender (Govinda Sky Music)

The Spinal Tap of hip-hop, Boston’s Gavinda Sky not only claim to have “created a new genre”—“Transcendental Hip Hop”—but have copyrighted and trademarked the term (seriously). It doesn’t help that they look like a pair of aging High Desert meth cookers who’ve kidnapped a mid-puberty Ali G. A shame, ‘cos Surrender is actually rather listenable. Govinda Sky set out to “enlighten people . . . about Eastern traditions and philosophy” with gusto, littering the disc with sitars, gongs, exotic mantras and lyrical nods to Hinduism, Islam, Gandhi—oh and Christianity, Dr. King, and what sounds like Native American war cries. I think I caught a reference to chicken tikka masala, but might have just been hungry. Trevor Buckingham is an able if unspectacular rapper and at least offers a positive alternative to Gucci ‘n guns gangsta-isms, and Raja (ahem) James Cennamo enthusiastically chants his bumper sticker hooks, but the spell’s repeatedly broken by clove-smoking, bee-in-a-bottle guitar abominations. Check out to see what I mean: www.myspace.com/govindasky. (Paul Rogers)

 

 

Bob Marley & the Wailers—Exodus: 30th Anniversary Edition (Island Records)

The pride of college campuses all across America, Bob Marley is solely responsible for every dreadlocked white hippie-type who exhales a plume of liberation after each giggling toke. Which is saying something, because not even those ’60s pluralists Love communicated one love like that—least not to conventionally anal Anglos, anyway. Exodus remains one of the most transcendent global albums of all time for its pre-dub, completely mellow sensibility; hence Marley has become a sort of Rasta Revolution peacetime brand that never seems to wear thin, even if the ten tracks on this celebratory rehash (at least on the marketing level) smacks of milking the cash-cow. Included in this 30th anniversary edition is a DVD of Marley’s full 1977 live performance at London’s Rainbow club (previously released in snippets), and it doubles as a reminder of the legendary Jamaican’s, um, knack. Such ever-redeeming songs like “Three Little Birds,” with the warm cradling surrender of “Don’t worry, bout a ting, cuz every little tings, gonna be alright,” is still enough to make the common worrywart feel a tinge of guilt. Let’s not forget that this album, like so many opuses inspired by near death experiences down through the ages, was recorded after an attempt on Marley’s life and just as he learned of the cancer that would eventually kill him a few years later—and what is Marley’s Exodus if not the very soundtrack of a reprieve? (Braxton Leeds)

 

 

Rademacher—Stunts (Self-released)

The best stunt Fresno’s Rademacher pull off on their debut is drawing favorable comparisons to indie icons Pavement and Grandaddy without really sounding anything like their central valley forebears. Like all decent indie rock, the quartet’s songs typically go left where traditional rock songs turn right, cuts like “Machines” and “Not My Home” using shape-shifting time sigs, stop/start tempos and staccato guitar riffs to counteract the hooks, playful keys and Aaron Espinoza’s (Earlimart) slick(er) Eagle Rock Studio sound. Opening cut “Arkansas” establishes another album trend, the rhythmic surge, choir-like harmonies and half-spoken/half-yelled vocals suggesting Rademacher listens to plenty of Arcade Fire in the tour van. Sosa even sounds like Win Butler, but his narratives are firmly fixed in Fresno, recalling the suburban-slacker vibe Stephen Malkmus chiseled into the rock lexicon. Stunts never reaches Pavement’s iconic detachment or AF’s dramatic heights, but shooting high and landing in between has made for a promising debut. (John Schacht)


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