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Monday, December 8
Action Bronson The Observatory Here's the skinny on rotund rapper Action Bronson: he's a culinary enthusiast by day and an MC by night, recording fastidiously well-worded tracks with the precision of Ghostface or Kool Keith. Every studio rat needs their leisure pursuits--Lil Wayne has his skateboarding; MF Doom has his masks--but Bronson's are uniquely childlike. This is a man who rhymes about butterscotch (no, that's not a euphemism) and pizza toppings. On record, Bronson favors weird, wonky production that leaves just enough breathing room for his tales of dining misadventure, which outline the following statement of purpose: to shut shit down at the food court, and tell every caterer they're the one for him. (MT Richards)
Tuesday, December 9 Del the Funky Homosapien The Observatory Del the Funky Homosapienlives by tha funk. To us, that looks a lot like not giving a funk what anybody else says or thinks. The Oakland rapper began his career writing for his cousin Ice Cube's backup crew, Da Lench Mob, but after Cube helped him release his first solo album, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, the two parted artistic ways, with Del doing a 180: He opens the video for "Wrong Place," a track from his 1993 sophomore album, shaking a bullet at the camera and saying, "I don't wanna have to clown these gangsta rappers, BUT it's about skills. You know it ain't right--let's not have these flyin' around." Then he founded legendary underground crew the Hieroglyphics and later got dropped by Elektra. Thank goodness. Since then, Del's put out a slew of revered releases, including 2014's Iller Than Most. Catch him at the Observatory this week for $5. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
Thursday, December 11
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Jhene Aiko The Observatory By now, it's clear that Sailing Soul(s) was barely the beginning of Jhene Aiko's journey in the music industry. Her recently released debut album, Souled Out, shot to number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 70,000 copies--double the number of her debut EP. It also debuted at number one on the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and US R&B Albums. Not bad for a concept album, which focuses on the evolution of a woman's heartbreak before becoming enlightened. The debut also solidifies Aiko's grasp on a mix of psychedelic and electronic infused R&B. Despite the fervor over the young songstress, she knows that ability to keep a level head is key. (Nate Jackson) The Dustbowl Revival The Wayfarer The American Anthology of Folk Music was one of those mystical albums that defined one era and redefined another--curator Harry Smith practically invented the folk and roots revival of the '60s by reinventing his own collection of "old time" music, the blues and folk and murder ballads recorded at the dawn of modern popular American music. That's where Dustbowl Revival draws their inspiration--the fundamental days, when styles and ideas dissolved into each other back in the hills and the hollers, and when singers and performers had to have personalities loud enough for those primitive little microphones to register. O' brother, where art thou, you may ask? Well, probably in the front row for this. (Chris Ziegler)
Friday, December 12 RX Bandits The Glass House RX Bandits 2014 release Gemini, Her Majesty confirms that the band are, without a doubt, jelling at a higher level. They are proggier than ever, which shouldn't surprise anyone following the band during the past decade. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Embree began pushing the boundaries of Rx Bandits' ska-punk origins on the aptly-named Progress album in 2001. Up until that point, the band had squarely situated themselves as purveyors of the third-wave ska movement alongside the likes of Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris. With Progess, the band offered skank-chopped rhythm guitar against unconventional meters; the song "Consequential Apathy" provides a nice reference point for when the band took its beeline toward prog-rock. And when Choi joined them for The Resignation, the songwriting become even more ambitious: The grooves hit harder, the horn parts took on a more psychedelic, affected quality, and Embree's vocals maintained an organic, earthy appeal. This week, they play two back to back shows to close out the year on their home turf at the Glass House. (Adam Lovinus)