Odd Future

Review: Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Despite the huge buzz and heavy praise that has surrounded him through his brief career so far, it has taken me some time to appreciate the artistry of Earl Sweatshirt, outside of his appearance providing the hook for Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids”.  However, when the news came that he was releasing an album entitled I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, I knew I would have to be tracking down a copy; the last time the mere mention of an album title had me scrambling like this, Atmosphere had just released When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, and that became one of my favorite hip-hop albums of that year.  Much like Atmosphere’s record, I Don’t Like Shit is a deeply introspective and reflective album, though it is a much darker musical journey that is distinguished by its grim and spare production.

Earl’s often extremely laid-back flow can make a codeine user appear as hopped-up as a meth addict, but on many tracks the deliberateness of his delivery helps emphasize his lyrics.  The album begins on a bright and playful note with the intro “Huey”, but this mood is quickly replaced by a more ominous tone that haunts the rest of the record.  Earl creates drum tracks that are heavily processed to emphasize unnatural tones, and the eerie synths and other industrial touches recall early Wu-Tang solo records.

Considering the often bleak subject matter, Earl wisely restricts the running time on I Don’t Like Shit, wrapping up the album in a concise fashion in slightly less than half an hour.  Lyrics deal with death, anxiety, depression, and the emptiness of fame in a frank and honest manner, but the album avoids merely dwelling in misery.  Though it is dark, I Don’t Like Shit is never oppressive, which makes it easier to digest over repeated listens.

Earl’s ability to maintain a strict standard in his editing is something that his fellow Odd Future mate, Tyler, the Creator, needs to learn.  His latest, Cherry Bomb, starts off promising enough, with its nods to N.E.R.D.’s catalog that are fun and engaging, but the album slides off the rails by the end.  It is certainly an improvement over the practically unlistenable Wolf, but Tyler still has trouble harnessing some of the potential seen on Goblin.  Tyler has shown some great talent with his production over the years, and I often prefer his particular delivery when he raps, but he continually falls into the same traps over and over again.  Experimentation can be exciting, but not every idea needs to be heard, and shock tactics result in diminishing returns.

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Over the Weekend (Apr. 13 Edition)

New videos, new music, and news to help tide you over as you wait for the NBA playoffs to begin…

For weeks, TV on the Radio has been teasing the release of their latest single off their brilliant album Seeds by posting photos with the hashtag “#herecomestrouble”, and last week finally shared the video for “Trouble”.  Much like the song, it has a somber tone, but there is a redemptive undercurrent that ultimately makes it uplifting.

Janelle Monáe surprised her fans this morning by releasing a new song and accompanying video, a fun romp entitled “Yoga” off an upcoming compilation EP called Wonderland Presents THE EEPHUS.  The video does indeed feature some “yoga”, though the focus is not necessarily on fitness or inner peace, but as a precursor to a wild party.

The biggest shock of the weekend was the announcement that Frank Ocean will soon be releasing the follow-up to his breakthrough album channel ORANGE in July.  His fellow compatriot in the Odd Future collective, Tyler, the Creator, also surprised fans with the sudden release of his new album Cherry Bomb, which is now available for streaming and will have a physical release with five different album covers on April 28th.

Another highly-anticipated release that is now available for streaming is the newest effort from Speedy Ortiz, with Foil Deer up on the NPR website.  We loved their debut album, Major Arcana, and had a lot of fun when they performed at Project Pabst, so we cannot wait to get our hands on the record when it is released next week.

We are also glad to hear that Local H is close to releasing another record, and the AV Club has an exclusive track from the upcoming Hey, Killer.  The band (with a slight lineup change) will soon be hitting the road, and we highly recommend you go see them play.

And finally, we have a couple of fun, useless lists to help you pass the time.  OC Weekly has a list of the 10 Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock, and we have to say that we agree with several of their selections; there clearly was some thought involved, and the intent was not to troll readers.  And AV Club followed up their A-Z list of Animated Series with a rundown of the Best Rock Bands of the 00’s for each letter of the alphabet, and while not a bad list per se, it definitely fulfills the qualification of being “useless.”