Tag: Run DMC

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Currently comprised of Gilbert Elorreaga, Mark Gonzales, Greg Gonzalez, Josh Levy, Sweet Lou, Beto Martinez, Adrian Quesada, John Speice and Alex Marrero, the Austin, TX-based act Brownout was formed ten years as a side project featuring members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma, but interestingly enough, the project has evolved into its own as a unique effort, separate from the members’ primary gigs. Over the past few years, the act has garnered critical praise — they won their third Austin Music Award last year, while composing and arranging work that’s unflinchingly progressive while evoking the influences of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic. Unsurprisingly, the members of Brownout have been a highly-sought after backing band,  who have collaborated with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell, and adding to a growing profile, they’ve made appearances across the major festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others.

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin-based act, and as you may know, the band has released five full-length albums: 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath and 2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II — with their last two albums Latin funk interpretations and re-imaginings of the legendary work of Black Sabbath. Of course, during their run together, Brownout has released a handful of EPs, including 2017’s critically applauded Over the Covers, their first batch of original material in some time.

As a child of the 80s, hip-hop was a nothing short of a revelation to me and countless others. Every day after school, I practically ran home to catch Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and BET’s Rap City and during the weekends I’d catch Yo! MTV Raps with the legendary Fab 5 Freddy  — all to catch Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie, Das EFX, A Tribe Called Quest, X Clan and Public Enemy among an incredibly lengthy list. (Admittedly, I didn’t watch Rap City as much. Even as a kid, I hated their host and I found their overall production values to be incredible cheap. Plus, I really loathed how they almost always managed to either cut to a commercial or the end credits during the middle of a fucking song — and it was always during your favorite jam. Always.) 28 years ago, Public Enemy released their seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, and unsurprisingly, the album wound up profoundly influencing the future founding members of Grupo Fantasma/Brownout. The band’s Greg Gonzalez (bass) remembers how a kid back in junior high school hipped him to the fact that Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was built on James Brown samples. As a teenager, Beto Martinez (guitar) speaks fondly of alternating between hip-hop and metal tapes on his walkman (much like me). And Adrian Quesada remembers falling in love with Public Enemy and their sound at an early age. “When I got into hip-hop, I was looking for this aggressive outlet . . .,” Quesada says in press notes, “and I didn’t even understand what they were pissed off about, because I was twelve and lived in Laredo . . . but I loved it, and I felt angry along with them.”

So as true children of the 80s and 90s, the members of Brownout, with the influence and encouragement of Fat Beats‘ Records Joseph Abajian have tackled Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet — with their own unique take on the legendary material and sound. And although they were eager to get back to work on new, original material, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to one of their favorite acts. As Abajian says in press notes “I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs.” He adds “it was good to know they were P.E. fans . .  We came up with a track listing and they went to work.”

Understandably, translating sample-based music to a live band turned out to be more challenging than everyone anticipated. Quesada tried to get into the heads of the legendary production team the Bomb Squad in order to reinterpret Public Enemy’s work. “Imagine the Bomb Squad going back in time and getting the J.B.’s in the studio and setting up a couple analog synths and then playing those songs.” And while some songs closely hew to the original, other songs use the breakbeats as a jumping-off point for Mark “Speedy” Gonzales’ horn arrangements, synth work by Peter Stopchinski and DJ Trackstar‘s turntablism. “Our approach is never in the tribute sense,” Adrian Quesada explains. “We’ve always taken it and made it our own, whether it’s the Brown Sabbath thing or this Public Enemy thing.”

Fear of a Brown Planet comes on the heels of several Brown Sabbath tours, and while being an incredibly tight and funky band, the members of the band are incredibly psyched to bring revolutionary music to the people, especially in light of both the current   social climate and that they’re not particularly known for having an overt political agenda. “If there’s any way that we can use the already political and protest nature [of P.E.’s music], we would like to try,” Beto says. “The album’s title, Fear of Brown Planet is definitely a relevant idea today and we’re not afraid to put it out there, because we want to speak out.”

Fear of a Brown Planet‘s first single is Brownout’s take on “Fight the Power,” and while retaining the breakbeats that you’ll remember fondly, their instrumental take is a funky JB’s meets Booker T-like jam, centered around an incredible horn line, bursts of analog synth and sinuous guitar line. As a result, Brownout’s take is warmly familiar but without being a carbon copy; in fact, they manage to breathe a much different life into the song without erasing its revolutionary sound or its righteous fury. Check out how it compares to the original below.

Throwback: Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis”

As I mentioned earlier, over the years, the holidays have become increasingly difficult for me, with the season harboring many more bad memories than good ones as I got older; however, whenever I think of Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” I think of times that seemed far more easier and brighter, even if they may have been viewed through rose-colored glasses and the hazy nostalgia of adulthood.  But along with that, what I can clearly remember was that as a child, I wanted to be like Run DMC because I thought they were the coolest brothers on the face of the earth; plus, they grew up in my home borough of Queens, which made their achievements seem plausible for a music loving black kid.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays for everyone else. And may there be peace, brotherhood and sisterhood for all.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Return with an Epic, Mind-Altering Bit of Thrash Metal

Now, over the past year or so, Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P has added themselves to a lengthy and eclectic list of mainstay artists I’ve written about throughout the history of this site. And as you may recall, the quartet’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80’s productions — think Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, and as a result, the members of the band have crafted material with a streamlined and punishingly,  raw ferocity,  specifically meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream as the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Unlike their debut, Street Reaper reveals a subtly expanded songwriting approach, rooted in their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a particular tuning or time signature but rather, a particular mood that inspires doom — in this case, terror, uncertainty, chaos, war, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced not by doom metal’s typical sci-fi, fantasy or mysticism but within an inescapable, horrible and fearful present, full of what seems to be the impending collapse of democracy as we know it in the US, of economic failure, dwindling resources, increasing inequity and inequality, nuclear war, civil war, and a primal fight for survival. Album single “The Other Side” may arguably be the Portland-based band’s most blistering and impassioned playing — and while it may be a desperate howl into a growing void, there’s a feral urgency within the material that sets them apart from their contemporaries. The album’s follow-up single, “Unmarked Grave,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it features  blistering, impassioned, face-melting power chords, a motorik groove, forceful drumming, an arena friendly hook and howled vocals, and while being equally urgent, the material manages to sound as though it were indebted to Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a sweaty, whiskey and hallucinogen-fueled frenzy.

“The Casket,” Street Reaper’s latest single (and album opening track) is a blistering bit of thrash metal, reminiscent of Ride the Lightning and Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica and Iron Maiden, thanks in part to layers upon layers of chugging power chords, forceful drumming and howled vocals and it may be among the most explosive songs they’ve released to date, but pay close attention to the expansive and ambitious song structure that features shifting time signature changes and chord progressions, as well as some incredibly dexterous guitar work. Simply put, it’s pretty fucking epic!

New Audio: Portland-based JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Return with a Blistering and Feral New Single

Over the past year or so, the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P has added themselves to a lengthy and eclectic list of mainstay artists I’ve written about throughout the history of this site. And as you may recall, the Portland-based doom metal quartet have long operated off the belief that heavy metal crawled up out of the gutter, where it writhed to life in the grit and grime of the streets — and unsurprisingly, the band dubbed their scuzzy and grimy approach to doom metal as “street doom;” however, interestingly enough if you heard Black Leather” and “Tremble,” off their full-length debut In The Wind, the band’s sound seemed to be indebted to  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Soundgarden.

Street Reaper, R.I.P.’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin‘s legendary and influential 80s productions — think The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, and as a result, the members of the band have crafted material with a streamlined and punishingly,  raw ferocity,  meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. And unlike their debut, Street Reaper reveals a subtly expanded songwriting approach, rooted in their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a particular tuning or time signature but rather, a particular mood that inspires doom — in this case, terror, uncertainty, chaos, war, etc. 

Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced not by doom metal’s typical sci-fi, fantasy or mysticism but within an inescapable, horrible and fearful present, full of what seems to be the impending collapse of democracy as we know it in the US, of economic failure, dwindling resources, increasing inequity and inequality, nuclear war, civil war, and a primal fight for survival; in fact, album single “The Other Side” may have arguably been the the Portland-based band’s most blistering and impassionaied playing — and while it may be a desperate howl into a growing void, there’s a feral urgency within the material that sets them apart from their contemporaries. 

“Unmarked Grave,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it features  blistering, impassioned, face-melting power chords, a motorik groove, forceful drumming, an arena friendly hook and howled vocals, and while being equally urgent, the material manages to sound as though it were indebted to Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a sweaty, whiskey and hallucinogen-fueled frenzy. 

New Audio: Portland’s R.I.P. Returns with a Primal and Urgent Single

If you were frequenting this site over the course of last year, you have come across a couple of posts featuring the the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P. And as you may recall, the Portland-based quartet has long operated off the belief that heavy metal crawled up out of the proverbial gutter, where it writhed to life in the grit and grime of the streets — and unsurprisingly,  the band dubbed their scuzzy and grimy approach to heavy metal and doom metal as “street doom.” But interestingly enough, the first two singles off their RidingEasy Records released debut In The Wind, “Black Leather” and “Tremble,” the Portland-based metal quartet’s sound seemed to be indebted to  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Badmotorfinger, Superunknown and Down on the Upside-era Soundgarden. 

Street Reaper, R.I.P.’s sophomore effort is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80s productions — think The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, revealing a streamlined and punishingly, raw ferocity meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Interestingly, unlike the preceding album, the band’s songwriting approach subtly expanded, based on their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be tried into a particular tuning or a time signature but on a particular mood — in this case, terror and dread.  Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced by and evokes the sensibility of our extremely fucked up times instead of focusing on sci-fi or fantasy or mysticism, and as you’ll hear on Street Reaper’s latest single, “The Other Side,” the doomy vibes are rooted in an inescapable and fearful present, full of the possibility of the impending collapse of democracy here in the US, of economic failure, nuclear war, dwindling resources, and a downright primal fight for survival. 

Naturally, the song finds the band playing at their most blistering and impassioned — it may be a desperate howl into the void, but there’s an uncommon urgency that will set the Portland-based quartet apart from their contemporaries.