Linkletter is a not-so-in-your-face Eminem. This is white-man’s rap, but the 23-year-old Missoula native steers wisely away from the run-of-the-mill drive-by ghetto gab that most rappers love. As we know, Missoula isn’t the best place for those experiences. Instead, Shine offers strong political raps about the usual suspects and Linkletter’s frustrations with society. “Welcome to America, may I please take your order? Yea, I take a government who doesn’t lie…and a president who’s more intelligent than a pair of glass eyes.” Linkletter’s first full-length album sounds familiar yet fresh, the raps resting comfortably on a bed of soft textures and loops. The drums, however, sound thin and weak at times. One of the highlights on the 15-track disc is the nearly eight-minute-long “Trials and Tribulations.” What sounds like Indian tablas, flute and a dry-sounding santoor roll comfortably in the background while Linkletter raps about sweatshops and brand-name manufacturers. On another track, mournful salsa samples work in tandem with optimistic lyrics about America “when the smoke clears.”
Linkletter’s debut is well produced, his lyrics have depth and the raps are melodic for the genre. An interesting addition to a crowded field of young rappers. (Eric Segalstad)
Linkletter’s CD release party takes place at The Other Side Saturday, Feb. 19, at 9 PM.
Ex Models is a tense and screeching noise-band from New York City with a big-city-underground affection for releasing most of its work on vinyl. The Models’ work is found on six or so LPs and EPs, but Zoo Psychology marks the band’s debut on CD. It’s an album that most people will write off as annoying noise, but a select few will find inspiringly original and addictive. The compositions defy song structures, and even the Ramones couldn’t cram 15 tracks onto a 20-minute disc. Not surprisingly, the album takes some getting used to. Chief noise-maker Shahin Motia yells out incomprehensible words in a falsetto voice accompanied by his rapid-fire industrial guitar sounds while the rhythm section, perhaps influenced by Big Apple traffic, moves unpredictably in a frantic stop-and-go. The ensemble pulsates like an amphetamine rush, and just when you hope it’s about to slow down another onslaught of modulated punches and manic screams hits you, producing sonic overload. If you’re tempted to crank it up, remember that you might get evicted for blasting an album that sounds like a construction site. But for all its weirdness, and given a fair chance, this might just grow on you. (Eric Segalstad)
The Ex-Models play Area 5 Art Gallery Monday, Feb. 21, at 8 PM.
Boss Hog EP
Some things that came to mind while listening to The Chicharones’ Boss Hog EP: pork rinds (chicharones is the Spanish word for pork rinds), Johnny Cash, Fred Astaire, America the warmonger, Tracy Chapman and rosy high times—in no particular order. The Chicharones are composed of Sleep, of Old Dominion, and Vancouver’s Josh Martinez, a duo broadly described—without seriousness, but respectfully—as the Simon and Garfunkel of modern-day rap. If you take it seriously, though, you will find in the Boss Hog EP intrepid songwriting, lyrical imagery and raps that hook you right in and keep you close, paying attention to every word uttered, fascinated by every melodious strum emanating from Sleep’s guitar.
Yes this is a rap album, and like a bag of pepper-doused pork rinds it’s fiery, unforgiving and leaves you wanting more, even if the last bite had you on your knees. The seven tracks that make up the EP are carefully orchestrated with brief “cameos” interspersed, like a sampled Johnny Cash sounding off on some show organizers during a badly run concert. It’s no surprise this underground rap duo has a growing legion of followers spread over two countries. (Diego Bejarano)
The Chicharones play The Other Side Thursday, Feb. 17, at 9 PM. They are joined by Nasty, Linkletter and DJ Enzymes.
After 20 years of distributing banned cassette tapes among rebel groups in Mali, Tinariwen finally recorded an album for a major label last year and got international distribution. The world music scene has not stopped talking about the band since, and now the legendary poet guitarists have released a second album called Ammasakoul. The foreign sound takes a little getting used to, but this is another superb collection of songs. Tinariwen continues to urge their own people to wake up and fight marginalization by the government and the 21st century. They talk about their fight and cultural pride in trance-inducing drone notes and Lydian melodies pulled from the desert’s musical scales. People have said the electric guitar is dead, the Fender Stratocaster a relic of a bygone era; this CD is proof positive the guitar is still a formidable weapon. I hear eight people riding across the desert playing gritty lines and singing to the stars, rebel rockers around campfires telling stories about struggle and loneliness on six strings that echo their mourning through sand-clogged amplifiers. Glory be to the guitar! (Colin Ruggiero)