Aesop Rock Finds Strength in 'OCD' Writing Tendencies and Collaboration

Categories: Previews

Photo: Chrissy Piper/Courtesy of Rhymesayers Entertainment
Music critics and rap fans alike have labeled Aesop Rock too verbose for his own good, accusing the rapper of writing nonsensical bars that require the aid of a dictionary. It's true that with an Aesop song, you often have to listen over and over and over again to make sense of the words he's strung together — and then listen again to unpack the message. His wordiness is even proven: According to a May 2014 study published by data scientist Matt Daniels — wherein he compares the vocabularies of 85 rappers — Aesop does indeed have the biggest vocabulary in hip-hop.

"I think I've always been a kid that, like, when I heard a word that I didn't know, I looked it up," Aesop says. "When I write stuff, I want it to be unique....I just like hearing words, I like hearing how they fit together. There's a million little things that you can tweak within the English language that will really put a lot of weight on different aspects of your sentences and different aspects of your rhymes and lyrics. It's part of the deal to me; it's part of what I like about it."

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We Went to Karaoke with Weyes Blood's Natalie Mering

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All photos courtesy of Chris Chafin
Natalie Mering at Karaoke
A few years ago, Natalie Mering was living in a tent in New Mexico with her boyfriend, harvesting wild herbs that she'd then send overnight to a company that turned them into "pharmaceutical-grade tinctures," as she put it. One day, the two of them went to a lithium hot spring ("lots of lithium gas," she offered as an aside), and they ran into a man sitting in a pickup truck with a small poodle. He was very high on an unspecified hallucinogen. The dog belonged to the man's mother, as it turned out, and he was feeling guilty about taking it, and that guilt had somehow roped in guilty feelings having to do with Jesus, and generally left the guy a fucking wreck. Mering and her boyfriend took it upon themselves to help.

See also: We Did Mushrooms at the Bronx Zoo With Andy Animal, Cannibal Tribesman

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J-CUSH on Lit City Rave: "Trust That the Energy Will Reach Ridiculous Levels All Night"

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Courtesy of Red Bull Music Academy
Lit City Trax is a New York-based record label that happens to throw some of the city's best parties. Founded in 2011 by Jamie Imanian-Friedman, also known as performer J-CUSH, the label puts out a steady stream of artists pushing past the edges of dance music. DJ Rashad, who tragically passed away this year, was instrumental in the label's beginnings. Their original goal was to bring the high-BPM micro-genre footwork, via Rashad's Chicago label Teklife, to the masses, but they've gone far beyond that. In 2014 they've released critically acclaimed albums by Traxman, UNIIQ3 and others, and last year they made Dazed And Confused's top labels of 2013 list.

See also: The Goosebumps-Themed Rave Is a Real Thing

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Brooklyn Record Label Captured Tracks Takes Risks, Avoids Soundscan, and Sees Results

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Captured Tracks' Mike Sniper
At 10 years old, Captured Tracks founder and owner Mike Sniper was already doing business at the lunch table. "There was this kid who was really into heavy metal, and my sister gave me all her heavy metal tapes because she was getting into other stuff," he says. "I didn't like heavy metal, and she had gotten me into Depeche Mode, the Cure, the Ramones, Buzzcocks--so I started to trade with him for that stuff. Just like any kid, you're into whatever anyone's telling you to be into. "

That last off-the-cuff comment belies Sniper's astute ear, which has shaped his Brooklyn-based label since he packaged and distributed its first releases in 2008 from the basement of Academy Records in Flatiron. This weekend, Captured Tracks celebrates its fifth-year anniversary and the opening of its first brick-and-mortar store with a two-day festival, abbreviated as CT5. The lineup, including freak-rock auteur Mac DeMarco, the hazy dream-pop of Soft Metals, and Blouse's chilly darkwave, indicates just how far the label has come. At the first Captured Tracks Festival in 2009, this year's headliners and flagship artists Wild Nothing and Beach Fossils had yet to release albums that would take off--Gemini and Beach Fossils, respectively--going on to sell thousands of copies and establishing the label's tastemaking reputation.

CT5 takes place at The Well on Saturday, August 31, and Sunday, September 1. "ULTRA" two-day passes are $55 and one-day passes are $30. For more information, visit the Captured Tracks website.

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"Tuck Into Bed" With Lenka's Lullabies For Adults

Parenthood is a gamechanger for pretty much everybody, but for Lenka, as an artist, having her little boy brought on a total revamp of her perkier sound. Instead, she began to explore what she calls "lullabies for adults," and her third and most recent album Shadows is packed from start to finish with smooth melodies and sweet vocals delivered serenely by the Australian singer. "It's more folky and mellow and dreamy," says Lenka of her new sound. "It's a more quiet set, which has been great because I've been playing the old songs as well and am sort of re-imagining those tunes in a new way which has been really fun for me."

In conversation, Lenka is just as relaxed as her songs, even as she tries to calm down her just awoken son. The soothing nature of her latest output and current taste seems to have had as pervasive of an effect as she hopes her music has on her listeners' dreams. She even shared her favorite playlist of dreamy tunes by some of her favorite artists with us because adults need a moment to relax, too. (Lenka's Spotify playlist follows interview.)

Lenka plays Joe's Pub tonight, July 18.

See also: Another Free iTunes Single of the Week: Lenka's "The Show"

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Mark Rose "Looking Forward to Cracking a Beer" With Freshly Reunited Spitalfield

Mark Rose
In Chicago during the early millennium, pop punk and emo bands reigned supreme and helped produce heavy hitters like Fall Out Boy who left a massive mark on alternative rock and paved the way for similar bands to come along and fit into the mold. In 2007, before Spitalfield could break through completely to that level of mainstream fame, the still young band that formed in 1998 while they were still sophomores in high school parted ways. Before the break-up, however, they had enough time to release a seminal album that has since become a must-have for kids interested in understanding the history and origins of emo.

Ten years after the release of the album, Remember Right Now, the band's line-up from that period has reunited for a ten-date tour that began in their hometown of Chicago. "I think it's going to be a great time to have fun and play some songs that meant a lot to us," says Mark Rose, Spitalfield's lead singer who has since launched a successful solo career as a singer-songwriter and helps run the songwriting service Downwrite. As Spitalfield prepares for the NYC date of their reunion at the Studio at Webster Hall tonight, we spoke with Rose about the band's past, present and possible future.

See also: Emo is Dead, Long Live Emo: 30 Bands Making it Safe to Hurt Again

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Jace Clayton Can't Get a Job, Can Play Two Pianos at Once

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Photo by Rocio Rodriguez Salceda

Jace Clayton, who usually performs and records as DJ/ rupture, is applying for a job he knows he's not going to get. He wants to impersonate Julius Eastman, an obscure gay African-American composer, pianist, and vocalist from the late 20th century. Unfortunately, there were a lot of applicants for the position and he just didn't cut it.

"I am sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for this position. We wish you both personal and professional success in your job search and the future," says Pakistani musician Arooj Aftab on "Callback for the Society of American Eastman Supporters," an original composition that closes out Clayton's recently released album and the first under his own name, The Julius Eastman Memorial Depot. "The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner is an equal opportunity employer. All candidates will be considered regardless of—" Isolated, dissonant piano chords cut her off before she finishes listing the rest of the employment non-discrimination act in disaffected song.

See also: Liturgy Are Somehow Playing the New Yorker Festival

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Nude Beach Rock Lulus Tonight For Free

Categories: DIY, Previews

Even though I've never laid eyes on them, it's easy to recognize Nude Beach's Chuck Betz and Ryan Naideau at the Williamsburg coffee shop where we meet. Ripped leather jackets and Germs pins stand out against carefully sculpted hippery. Vocalist Betz, with his bed-head buffount hair-do, is a dead ringer for the Clash's Mick Jones. He says that The Clash are one of their primary influences-- you can hear that all over their latest release II. It's a jangly rock and roll record, closer to "Rudy Can't Fail" or "Train in Vain" than the currently unavoidable garage-punk sound. The record's initial pressing of 500 copies sold out almost as fast as it was picked up for re-release by Other Music.

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What Does Sammy Hagar's Dick Look Like? A Chat With Home Blitz About Van Halen

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"I've always thought of myself as a fairly sane person, but chronicling this experience is kind of making me wonder why." Those are the last words Theresa Smith, guitar player in one of New Jersey's best bands, Home Blitz, has to say on her bizarre, year-long decent into obsessively analyzing one of rock's most bombastic punchlines: Van Halen.

See also:
- Live: Van Halen Attracts The Naked, Sweaty Eyeballs To Cafe Wha?
- In Which We Say Nice Things About The New Singles By Train And Van Halen

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Ten Things We Hope To See During My Morning Jacket's Three Day Port Chester Run

Ryan Mastro
When My Morning Jacket play live, they tend to come off as an elemental force. They play three hours, paradoxically leaving you wanting more and leaving you absolutely spent. MMJ gives everything live, but also requires a lot of you, pulling you through blissed-out calms into twisting, peaking jams and one epically emotive chorus after another. They're live shows become a religious experience, where fans track recordings of each concert, or make pilgrimages cross-country to see MMJ's marathon sets at Bonnaroo, or at Madison Square Garden, or both. A rare feat.

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