Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lost Words

The other day I'd really kicked some ass through the eBook revision of "Nevermind". Key scenes that I hadn't quite liked were easily and properly rewritten, and I'd advanced through a full four chapters of the story.

Because I'd been without my laptop I was operating with files on a USB key.

I guess you can see where I'm going with this.

Boom! Lost the key. Files gone.

It really burns me that I'd made so much bloody progress with the eBook to that point. It bugs me because now I have to start back from my previous filesave. It bugs me because I'm trying to get "Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind" out before summer, and I still have to figure out some marketing and distribution details, as well.

The idea of having to completely do-over everything that I just lost is completely discouraging, and right now I don't feel the motivation to do it. I'm going to toy with Aeon's War for a while, now. I might also start building the "Nevermind" eBook site a bit, put out some character biographies, etc.

But I just can't face starting back on everything I lost in my revision right now.

Annd so, here's the music review:

So in the last week I’ve gotten three CDs in the mail and oddly enough all three of them were by Rap artists. I’m notorious for not listening to much Rap, so I assume that this fulfils some sort of Karmic sentence that I’ve incurred along the way. In any case, what I listened to wasn’t all that bad.

Ron Contour & Factor: Saffron

Better known as Moka Only, Ron Contour is yet another in a long line of prolific Canadian Rap artists that you probably haven’t heard of unless you have your ear to the Underground Sound here in the Great White North.

‘Saffron’ is the latest in a very long line of releases he’s put out, over the last 16 years of making music. As I’m unfamiliar with the bulk of Contour’s catalogue, I can only comment on the one album.

The album establishes its sound, brassy, Jazzy, Funky and old-school right out of the package. “Check It Out” more than capably launches the songs on ‘Saffron’ into the ear, demanding attention be paid to the music.

The lyrics here are considered and intelligent, eloquently crafting new poetic images for the listener’s edification. Verbal rhythm is as essential as the rhyme, and Ron Contour is a master of lyrical delivery.

Jazzy instrumentation and old-school music and sound sampling weave together to form the last essential ingredient of the album: the backup. Merged together as a whole, ‘Saffron’ is a fantastic example of Rap done right.

Ron Contour & Factor: Saffron
Fake Four
Steve’s Rating: 9/10

Manafest: The Chase

When I reviewed Manafest’s 2008 release, ‘Citizens Activ’, one of the things that I enjoyed was that the Toronto-based Christian Rapper wasn’t being ham-fisted when delivering his messages of motivation and empowerment, of faith and life. Well, it looks like in the intervening years he’s slipped on his Schneider’s Boxing gloves.

This album is very message heavy; tracks like “Every Time You Run” and “Avalanche” getting nineteen kinds of preachy.

But the real letdown of this album is that Manafest tries to harken back to the dark era of Rap/Metal fusion of the early 2000s. Most of the album sounds like it’s caught in a custody battle between Linkin Park and Papa Roach, with nothing to differentiate itself from either.

There are some okay songs on this album, “No Plan B” (Which isn’t about RU-486, oddly enough) which opens the album among them. But generally I find ‘The Chase’ to be a letdown, especially given how well Manafest fared with 2008’s ‘Citizens Activ’.

Manafest: The Chase
Steve’s Rating: 6/10

Pip Skid: Skid Row

This one threw me for a curve. The music and vocals here are so grandiose, so melodramatic; the title track, “Skid Row” opens the album with an almost theatrical passion. But their intensity seems to stem from an exuberance and passion that is lacking in much of the music scene these days, across every genre.

Oddly enough, the album doesn’t devolve into the Hip-Hop-Hubris of artists taking themselves seriously. Pip Skid manage to demonstrate how much fun they’re having as they perform; songs like “Tens of Dollars” “I’m Impossible” “Fuck You So Much (pt. 1)” and “I Can’t Sleep” are all very fun tracks that prevent the album from taking itself so seriously.

Even when the album does turn serious, such as on tracks like “Heart Worm”, it does so without devolving into sanctimony. All in all this is a heartily entertaining album, well worth checking out.

Pip Skid: Skid Row
Foultone Records
Steve’s Rating: 8/10