Over the years, I’ve had to become practically belligerent in justifying why I call certain records folk records. If not to others, at least to myself. By all accounts, this record is equal parts homemade noise, acoustitronic, indie pop, and due to a heavy presence of sitar, it even might fall into that ever-ambiguous, usually irrelevant “world” genre. Which makes it a folk record, if you ask me. Woods teams up with Henry Barnes, a noise forefather of sorts, currently creating as Amps for Christ but formerly a part of Bastard Noise. Barnes’ tracks range from the brilliantly technologized to the sublimely ethereal, songs that are less centered on melodies or structure than they are on the sound of the instruments being played. “Roto Koto in C Major” begins as a pretty traditional East-meets-West vamp and hums along for a while, but somewhere around 3:55 heads starting turning into thousands of heads, the river picks up its current and we’re washed over the edge of this reality into that of Woods. Which is a pretty chill place. “Sleeper,” while a kindred spirit to the sing-along folk pop of their last two records, is decidedly more acoustic, more dream-affected. I imagine Jeremy Earl and friends isolating, chopping and screwing the Victor Herrero Band’s percussion tracks before writing this song. “From Oatmeal to Buttermilk” is the only Woods and AFC collaboration here, and in the omniscient, omnipresent sense of the word, it’s simply divine. The other Woods tracks are painfully accessible and singable, while “September Saturn” closes out the record with a traditional Woods one-chord, one bassline, 9-minute long vamp. Also, “Lore Bateman” is a Child Ballad, number 53. Traditional, see?
Sacramento’s Death Grips are easily one of the stranger acts to emerge from recent influx of DIY hip-hop upstarts. In fact, the duo barely qualifies as hip-hop at all, transcending hardcore, noise, electronica, and of course rap to create a punishingly aggressive style that continues to bludgeon you over the head with its anger and immediacy. On The Money Store, the duo’s second LP and first with a record deal, Death Grips refines the blend of proto-rap/electro noise they emerged with on their debut Ex-Military into something a bit more subtle. However, just because Death Grips doesn’t explode in a maximalist onslaught on every song doesn’t mean they still aren’t as pissed off as they were a year ago. Stefan Burnett attack with a flow that sounds more akin to Henry Rollins than any of his modern hip-hop contemporaries, shouting out cryptic punk wisdom in a low bark making someone like Tyler, the Creator sound like Vanilla Ice. Zach Hill crafts wildly unpredictable instrumentals that range from the unrelenting throb of “Get Got” to the percussive Bollywood morph of punk weight, to the pumping dance grooves of “I’ve Seen Footage” and “Hacker”. Burnett and Hill have created a style of music that sounds purely theirs and manage to make it surprisingly palatable while maintaining a definite sense of individuality. There is no one making music like this right now.