The Evaporators "Gassy Jack and Other Tales"

In ’90s when he was bombarding unsuspecting artists with his off-the-wall interview stylings (the man was a deep-googler before Google was even a thing), few if any might have placed Nardwuar the Human Serviette as some sort of niche hip hop icon as the new millennium’s first decade drew to a close. Yet that’s exactly what happened. Nardwuar isn’t just comedic relief for Snoop though… (and without getting all Tony Robbins on you) he’s also one of life’s unheralded champions of maximizing personal potential. Doot-doola-doot-doo, do it yourself has been his battle-cry for decades as he’s personally celebrated underground music in his native Vancouver as a DJ and off-again-on-again TV personality, while also performing in goofball-troop Thee Goblins and the Evaporators. With the likes of positivity-guru Andrew W.K. in their corner — not merely as a fan, but occasional collaborator as well — the Evaporators have been Nardwuar’s mainstay since the ’80s.

Released in 2007, Gassy Jack and Other Tales wasn’t just a musical whim thrown together to capitalize on the vocalist’s still blossoming pop-culture notoriety though: its flashes of humanity and courage stick to the soul like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth. Take “Gassy Jack,” for example, where the band lays out a line that would put most “socially-conscious” rappers to bed: “Social housing for the needy, not lofts for the greedy/We don’t need a decree, just action from you and me.” Look no further than the title of “What if I Care About the People Who Live in the Seas Around Me?” for more heartfelt ammunition, but if you want to dig deeper, the song’s lyrics reveal a vulnerability that Nard’s squawky voiced-interviews rarely allude to, “I’m swimming with my emotions [...] Please understand my devotion.” To say that there’s a lot to be learned from Nardwuar might be an understatement, but at least Gassy Jack and Other Tales gives us a place to start.

[This article first appeared at Mills Record Company.]

El-P "Cancer 4 Cure"

“It’s like a fresh start on a new world,” chants El-P in the chorus of Cancer 4 Cure‘s “Works Every Time.” In some ways the entire album represents a fresh start for the Brooklyn-based MC and producer, though the same could be said of practically everything the tirelessly inventive Producto has signed his name to this past decade. Jeff Weiss rightly calls Cancer 4 Cure both “reinvention and inversion” — all the more fitting given how refreshing a direction the album takes musically, with its sporadic beats always appearing ready to pounce while constantly lurking beneath the captivating flow of the Gonzo lyricist’s anti-rhyme scheme. Balanced by the likes of Killer Mike, Danny Brown, and Despot, Cancer 4 Cure represents “a triumph of imagination and intelligence,” with the urgency behind the music felt all the way from the progressively intense electronics of “Request Denied” through to the slow fade of the album’s final split-part track, “$ Vic/FTL.”

[This article first appeared at Mills Record Company.]

Quintron and Miss Pussycat "Swamp Tech"

The distance between physically experiencing live music and attempting to replicate that same energy force on a recording is as prominent with Quintron & Miss Pussycat as it very well might be with any other musicians on the planet. To soak up the rotating bliss of Quintron’s Drum Buddy invention, or dance in time with the maraca-shaking Miss Pussycat is to baptize yourself in a waist-deep stream of performance art, only to re-emerge from the mysterious bog cleansed and reinvigorated. If there were a recorded track that remotely offers an aural experience similar to this however, it’s “Swamp Buggy Badass,” where an electric pulse invites participation in the badass call-and-response, only to be later glazed over by a thick layer of satisfying Louisiana swagger. As good as any other Swamp Tech track, it represents the duo’s playful and unhinged balance between shtick and soul: the driving force behind what makes their live shows as enjoyable as they are.

[This article first appeared at Mills Record Company.]