Robust Worlds is more than a musical soup made of Johnny Thunders's garage-punk mojo and Neil Young's pensive, western soundscapes. There are other things to consider in describing Chris Rose's Minneapolis projectincluding synth and reverbthat give it its own identity and make it more of a concoction made for this decade.
Rose calls his debut album Emotional Planet. I would never call my album "emotional planet" for fear of driving off listeners averse to treacle. But this album is emotionalin a non-invasive, sincere way. It doesn't ask you to feel more than you want to, but it could set you over the edge if you'd had one too many beers.
On "Heavy Moon," which I admittedly associated with "Harvest Moon," Rose sings about pulling tides and "a heavy moon in my mind" in the way someone does when they're left threadbare but not destroyed. "Lion" evokes a "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" melancholy and "Best Wishes" feels like the soundtrack to driving through the desert under a starry night, perhaps under the influence of calming psychedelics.
Rose manages major contradictions in his sound: it's both wispy and raw, rocky and placid. It's rock and roll, but it always seems to be floating away instead of walloping you with chords. Some impressionistic music is best left to background soundit's not interesting enough to dwell onbut Robust Worlds isn't mindless in that way. You want to cling to the words. Even as the echoes evaporate, you wish they'd stay a little longer.
Robust Worlds plays Zoo City Apparel Thu., Oct. 11, at 9 PM with Collin Gorman Weiland, Skin Flowers and Better Tennis. All ages. $5.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The Heist
You know you've struck audio gold when you put on an album and immediately think, "My little brother better hear this."
With smart lyrics and a nearly LMFAO pop mentality, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis use The Heist as a vehicle to get at this generation's concerns: Move over Minneapolis, Seattle is the new champ of indie hip-hop. Or is it better named hipster-hop? The Goodwill-sifting rhymes on "Thrift Shop" might make you think so. On "Same Love," they amp up the progressive politics indicting the hateful in a way no stump speech ever could.
The pair embraces experimental challenges and blends sampled genres, from funk to Passion Pit-style synth, and even to bluegrass on "Cowboy Boots." Unfortunately, they have a tendency to drop into tired crunk productionthose tip-taps just begging to get retired already.
Still, The Heist has its finger on what the kids are into these days: "Cowboy boots doing lines at the bar/where the time goes slow when you're drinking PBR." (Brooks Johnson)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform at the Wilma Theatre Wed., Oct. 17, at 8 PM. Sold out.
Cheap Time: Wallpaper Music
Simple is sexy, and Tennessee trio Cheap Time wastes no time letting you know that. Overdubbing and orchestration is nice for Grammy winners and huge venues, but getting sweaty off messy solos and fuzzy power chords creates an intimacy that real music lovers should care about.
On Wallpaper Music, the band abandons the short-form punk of previous albums and attempts a sound closer to a mix of Fugazi and The Ramones. Except for lead singer and guitarist Jeffrey Novak's distinct bratty drawl, Cheap Time's original songs are familiar enough they could pass for a punk cover band; they know how to make that classic sound and they do it well.
Given some extra attention, Cheap Time could have come up with a few more tricks. Novak, the band's only consistent member, embraces lazy structures and repetitive choruses. Any group of dudes playing with pedals and progressions could eventually settle on a similar sound. Still, Novak is so self-assured about his structural apathy that it's easy to buy into what he's sellingand like it. (Brooks Johnson)
Cheap Time plays the Badlander Tue., Oct. 16, at 9 PM. $5.
Kanye West: Good Music Cool Summer
The title of Kanye's new mixtapeKanye West Presents Good Music Cool Summersuggests a messy operation. Announced last October via all-caps Tweet, slated for release in August and then pushed back to mid-September, it manages to both arrive late for and predate actual summer. "Mercy" is on there, even though it came out in April and continues its metamorphosis from sick jam to song strippers are tired of. Kanye's appropriation of "Don't Like" falls into the same category: stupid catchy but another hoary relic of early spring.
In other words, Kanye West Presents Good Music Cool Summer bears the hallmarks of disaster. There's only one catch: roughly 80 percent of the tracks are fantastic. As obviously disconnected from reality as Kanye has become, he somehow refuses to fall off. One need only hear his expert use of R. Kelly on "To the World" to know 'Ye remains the master of rap that just barely touches the ridiculous. When he indignantly shouts that "Mitt Romney don't pay no tax" or suggests that God has perhaps killed members of his family out of resentment, we know that he's gone crazy. Then the beat kicks in, and we know he did it for us. (Dan Brooks)