Monday, March 12, 2012

Latest from Bobby Dorward, Space Among Many, and yes Lil B

One Of These Days EP

* * * 1/2


Blue Bear-associated musician Bobby Dorward’s debut EP, One Of These Days, is a neat, four-song collection of beautifully simple rock songs. The earnesty with which Dorward executes these tunes contributes immensely to their effectiveness--this is unpretentious rock music that is both full-sounding and stripped-down, neither minimal nor maximal. Though these tunes appear to take much inspiration from the early 1970s (see the Van Morrison-ish “Summer Days” and the Steely Dan swagger of “Looking From The Shadows”), they also occupy a sort of Platonic intersection between classic rock, soul, pop, and country--these songs are so straightforward they defy categorization, and consequently, they are immensely likeable. Though there’s nothing radical and innovative on One Of These Days, nothing that hasn’t been done better by countless other artists, Dorward’s style and songs are so effortlessly timeless it’s beside the point.


White Flame

* * * 1/2

Lil B has created so many personas he doesn’t need to care about audience expectations. It’s impossible to be disappointed by a Lil B album these days, but it’s also more difficult to be impressed by one given that his next mixtape could very easily be a bottomless piece of trash or a Public Enemy-level masterpiece depending on the weather. His more recent mixtapes have been serious, apparently political (his rhetoric is so gleefully naive it’s hard to say) works that range from brilliant (I’m Gay) to joyless (The Silent President). White Flame, on the other hand, revels in the sort of stuff Lil B is famous for, from the homoerotic post-machismo to the esoteric samples to the moments of sheer, effortless, ecstatic brilliance (“BasedGod Fucked My Bitches,” a Daft Punk-warping anthem that stands among Lil B’s best). If your first exposure to Lil B was through timeless classics like “Wonton Soup” and “Ellen DeGeneres” or if you're just a diehard BasedGod disciple, this is your album--and as these descriptions apply to roughly 99.9% of Lil B’s fanbase, it’s safe to say White Flame will not disappoint.



* * 1/2

Trendsetting is increasingly difficult in the upper echelons of the pop charts, and many of the best pop acts are competent imitators. San Francisco duo Space Among Many are currently far from busting the Top 40, but they have the airwaves in their ambitions, choosing to follow this pursuit through studiously crafting the sort of music the less musically knowledgeable might refer to as “indie.” (I would call it “indie-gone-alt,” though both appelations are tricky). “Borders,” with its youthful “whoa-ohs,” steamy organs, and feel-goodish lyrics, is an admirably competent shot at a Foster The People/MGMT-style alt-pop song that is grander in scale but not far-removed from the MIDI tinkering of last year’s Images EP. At five and a half minutes, it’s overlong, and the ridiculous simplicity of their lyrics suggests they have not yet learned that their heroes’ work thrives on brains as well as hooks. Yet Space Among Many’s earnesty allows their work to shine as the product of a genuine love of their medium rather than simple imitation or bandwagon-jumping.

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