Prob Cause, White Lung, Trixie Whitley, Palma Violets

Catching up on some recent Buried Treasures

August 8, 2013

In case you missed the recent “Buried Treasures” episode of Sound Opinions, here are some recently unearthed gems.

Prob Cause, The Recipe Vol. 2 (probcause.com)

Like his pal Chance the Rapper, who guests on this set along with Psalm One, painter and rapper Prob Cause is evidence of another, more positive, and very welcome side to Chicago’s burgeoning hip-hop underground—one that indicates that this city’s refusal to pander to musical or lyrical clichés and nihilistic gangsta posing (hello, Chief Keef) did not die out with groundbreakers such as Common, Kanye West, Rhymefest, and Lupe Fiasco.

The Recipe Vol. 2 isn’t quite as stunning a showcase as Chance’s Acid Rap, one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. But Prob Cause is almost as witty and engaging lyrically, cracking on everyday activities like watching basketball while getting high and confessing a giddy fondness for psychedelic exploration (“LSD” is the standout track) while and gamely jumping musically from dusties soul to old-school hip-hop grooves to dubstep.

My only question: Where the heck are these guys getting all these great psychedelics these days?

Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

White Lung, Sorry (Deranged)

The second album from vocalist Mish Way and her Vancouver-based quarter has been out for some time (it was released in May 2012), but these ferocious modern-day riot grrrls only really pinged my radar when they played a proudly defiant, start-of-the-day set at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival, injecting a much-needed dose of female consciousness.

With 10 tracks whizzing by in less than 20 minutes, Sorry is relentless in its energy and aggression. But unlike many of the original riot grrrls, this band never turns didactic, favoring a more cut-and-paste, impressionistic approach to its lyrics that owes as much to Kurt Cobain as it does to the Beat poets.

“Four young boys like to make fun/I’ve seen them swimming in circles down a dead rot gun,” Way sings in “St. Dad.” “And they don’t wait around/Bo Diddley’s in the ground/St. Dad don’t you see?”

I’m not exactly sure what she’s singing about, but I know that she means it.

Rating on the four-star scale: 3 stars.

Trixie Whitley, Fourth Corner (Strong Blood)

Born in Belgium, raised in Brooklyn, and the daughter of rootsy singer-songwriter Chris Whitley, singer Trixie has been making noise for some time, as a member of Daniel Lanois’ band Black Dub and on a series of solo EPs. But her full-length debut Fourth Corner is where she comes into her own, reimagining the sultry soul and R&B of the ’60s via Tom Waits recording on a laptop.

An unlikely approach, perhaps. Yet it works, seducing you even as it leaves you slightly unsettled.

Rating on the four-star scale: 3 stars.

Palma Violets, 180 (Rough Trade)

Led by co-frontmen Samuel Fryer on guitar and vocals and Alexander “Chilli” Jesson on bass and vocals, this young, twenty-something London quartet made the most exciting debut this year after homegirls Savages and Brooklyn slackers Parquet Courts.

Steeped in classic garage rock and psychedelic thrash, complete with vintage’60s organ, Palma Violets’ sound isn’t as inventive as either of those bands. But 180 is a strikingly accomplished effort nonetheless, with strong melodies enhancing the propulsive rhythms and snarling guitars on tracks such as “Best of Friends” and “Step Up for the Cool Cats.”

Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

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