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The Psycho RealmImport
The Psycho Realm (1997) is the first album of the hip hop group Psycho Realm. The group consisted of Sick Jacken, Duke, and B Real, MC and one of the masterminds behind Cypress Hill. It peaked on #13 in the Heatseekers chart in 1997.
The Psycho Realm is an impressive collection of hardcore West Coast gangsta rap. There's genuine menace in their rhymes and music, which is why it hits so hard. The Psycho Realm's surrealistic imagery and impressionistic music creates genuine tension.
It tries more things than the average hip-hop record, and that makes it worth a listen!LP 1
1. Psycho City Blocks/Psycho Interlude
3. The Big Payback
5. Interlude/Stone Garden/Interlude
6. Temporary Insanity
7. Doors Intro/Confessions Of A Drug Addict
1. Who Are You Interlude/Bullets
2. Love Letters Intro/Love From The Sick Side
3. R. U. Experienced/Outro
5. Lost Cities
6. La Conecta Intro/La Conecta (Pt. 1)
7. La Conecta (Pt. 2)/Goin' In Circles Outro$39.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
For The Cause
Pressed on Clear Vinyl
Maintaining urgency, authenticity and integrity has never been an issue for New York City's hardest, and hardest working band, MADBALL. Twenty-five years along as a recording and touring entity, MB brings forth its ninth aural chapter, »For The Cause«; a signature collection of lionhearted, groove-laden, street-level New York Hardcore as only MADBALL can bring it.
The aptly titled album doesn't so much revisit where the group has been since 1994 - although MADBALL released its first EP, »Ball Of Destruction« as a virtual AGNOSTIC FRONT side-project back in 1989 - but forges forward and represents where the fellas find themselves collectively and personally a quarter-decade down the road.
Throughout the band's storied history, MADBALL has asserted its mission; carrying forth a simple yet righteous cause, and this time around, they've chosen to define that cause more succinctly than ever before. Tornadic vocalist/front man Freddy Cricien explains, "If you're not fighting for a cause, you're not participating in life. Simple as that. Speak up, fight, educate yourself, make a difference and make sacrifices for what's important to you." Words to live by.
»For The Cause« sees the return to the fold of guitarist Matt Henderson, who hasn't appeared on a MADBALL album since 2000's »Hold It Down«, for which Henderson also served as producer. "To have him record with us again was really special," offers Freddy. He adds, "Matt's been playing 'commemorative' shows and tours with us on-and-off over the years, so, obviously, the love and friendship is there. He'll always be an honorary member A MADBALL lifer."
Unique to this album is the stellar production work by RANCID's Tim Armstrong, who clearly helped express MADBALL's distinctive voice powerfully and dynamically without stepping on the trademark formula the band has forever carried, yet constantly seeks to improve upon. "It's a tricky thing, producing. You can truly enhance something, but you could also ruin a record if a band lets you," says Cricien. Freddy continues, "Tim has always respected our band and how we do what we do. He knew we had a vision for how this album should sound, so he let us do our thing, but was there every step supporting and cheering us on. Whenever he did chime in, it was well thought out and he made strong suggestions. He even helped write the hook on 'For You.' He was there for us in a non-meddlesome role, which for this particular record, was the best-case scenario." Danish studio veteran Tue Madsen (MESHUGGAH, DARK TRANQUILLITY, SICK OF IT ALL) skillfully handled mixing duties on »For The Cause«.
Also, noteworthy on »For The Cause« are the various cameo appearances by some of MADBALL's friends, as well as several artists with whom the group shares a mutual respect; namely PSYCHO REALM's Sick Jacken on the track 'Rev Up,' THE BUSINESS' Steve Whale and producer Armstrong on 'The Fog,' plus legendary emcee Ice-T on the hardcore banger 'Evil Ways.' Freddy discloses, "Jacken is our homie. He just came through to say what's up and check out the spot and I happened to be recording 'Rev Up.' He was really digging the song and just freestyled. It really drove the message of the song home. As for Ice-T, he added a good flavor to 'Evil Ways.' It was a real honor to work with someone I've been following and have respected since I was a kid. He genuinely supports our band and the scene we come from. Tim and Steve jumping on 'The Fog' happened organically like everything else with this record." The UK Oi! legend provided the spoken intro and a guitar lead to the street punk-tinged anthem.
What's maybe most notable on »For The Cause« is its various twists and turns both musically and vocally to keep MADBALL's brand of NYHC fresher than it has ever been. Freddy presents, "How do you grow as a band or as a person if you don't take chances? We feel obligated to ourselves and everyone else to evolve, at least somewhat. We took more 'chances' on this record than on any previous one, and we're happy about that! We're proud that it's still very much us; it's real and honest. There is plenty on there to satisfy the people that support us from every era of this band."
As for MADBALL's astounding longevity in the hardcore game: "We don't know how to do anything else at this point. We raise our families to the best of our ability; we do MADBALL to the best of our ability So far so good, and we don't feel that we've reached our full potential in either of those areas just yet."1. Smile Now Pay Later
2. Rev Up
3. Freight Train
5. Old Fashioned
6. Evil Ways (feat. Ice T)
7. Lone Wolf
8. Damaged Goods
9. The Fog (feat. Tim Timebomb)
10. Es Tu Vida
11. For You
12. For The Cause
13. Confessions$24.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullersWhen Suzanne Vega first discovered the novelist and short story writer Carson McCullers as a teenager, she thought, "If I ever want to play a character at any point in the future, I could play this woman." That time has arrived. On Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers, Vega inhabits McCullers' extraordinary character and renders the life of a woman who, revolted by the politics and racism of her upbringing in the American South, arrived in New York in her early twenties and became one of the literary lights of the 20th century. In such esteemed books as The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941) and The Ballad of the Sad CafÉ (1951), McCullers used the South as a lens through which to view the painful, nearly always unrequited, search for love in a world that often punishes individual self-expression and rewards repression and emotional compromise. McCullers battled those limits in her life as well as her work - a personal heroism that makes her, in Vega's view, a figure of great contemporary significance. She was an instinctive rebel whose message of personal freedom resonates profoundly in our own insurgent age, nearly fifty years after her death at the age of fifty in 1967.
"I feel that McCullers' ideas and thoughts are very modern," Vega says, "and she incarnates them in a way that other authors don't. She tried to live them and paid a price for it. She would refer to herself in a kind of transgender way - she would say things like, 'I was born a man' -- and she probably was bisexual even if she didn't always act on it. She was one of the first females to write about civil rights and the struggles of blacks in the South. Also, she suffered several strokes and was disabled for pretty much the second half of her life. To use today's parlance, her life and work embodied human rights on just about every level - race, gender, trans, queer, disabled, youth."
The ten songs on Lover, Beloved are part of a two-act play in which Vega and another actress perform the role of McCullers at two historical moments that bookend her career: the first, set in 1941, when The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter propelled her to literary fame, and the second shortly before her death, as she movingly reflects on her life and work. There are also plans to perform it as a one-woman show. Vega wrote the script, and co-wrote eight songs with Duncan Sheik, the singer-songwriter whose keen theatrical sense helped create the Broadway hit show Spring Awakening and the current groundbreaking musical, American Psycho. (Two additional songs, "Carson's Blues" and "The Ballad of Miss Amelia," were co-written by Vega and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens.) In songs like "New York Is My Destination," "We of Me" and "Lover, Beloved," you can hear the signature cool detachment of Vega's singing and revel in the characteristically incisive observation of her lyrics, many of which deftly draw on McCullers' own writing.
But the songs' elastic melody lines, loping rhythms, idiosyncratic instrumentation (including clarinet, harmonium, banjo, ukulele, trombone and accordion), and surprising arrangements (by guitarist extraordinaire Gerry Leonard, who also produced the album) are like nothing we've heard from Vega before. "It was great working with Duncan Sheik," Vega says. "All you have to do is give him the barest bones of an idea and then he delivers this fabulous piece of music." For "Annemarie," an aching ballad about an androgynous adventurer with whom both McCullers and her husband fell disastrously in love, Sheik delivered a lovely, simple melody that, Vega says, "practically made me cry. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I wanted something with all that yearning, and I love what he came up with." For "New York Is My Destination," which describes the youthful McCullers' vision of her future as a celebrated novelist, Vega says she wanted "something classic, something that sounded like Rodgers and Hammerstein, something glamorous," and, once again, Sheik delivered a melody that perfectly complemented the heady excitement of Vega's lyrics.
Overall, Lover, Beloved finds a sound that exists outside of time. It's traditional enough to suit the iconic quality of its subject; clever enough to capture her originality and daring; and contemporary enough to help establish McCullers as an avatar for this century as well as the preceding one. Most of the instrumentation is acoustic, but, in particular, Gerry Leonard's evocative, atmospheric electric guitar playing lifts the music into another, more imaginative realm. That McCullers herself was an accomplished, classically trained pianist - and that the lyricism of her writing reflects that innate musicality - only further enhances the shivery dynamic between words and music on the album.
In order to realize the theatrical quality of this project, Vega, with Sheik's encouragement and assistance, also handled her vocals in a different way. "Duncan really pushed me out of my comfort zone," Vega says. "I was shocked at how high he wanted me to sing. But he was like, 'No, no - you can hit that.'" Sheik's goal was to achieve a kind of sonic drama in Vega's vocals, "as much drama as he could squeeze out of me," she says. "It works for the character. McCullers is kind of childlike, and you can believe her singing in that naïve, simple way. I'm pushed beyond my limits in both the low notes and the high notes, and also the emotion. I definitely feel as if I was being pushed beyond what I usually do."
Unquestionably, rendering a character like McCullers in words and in sound represented a serious creative challenge. All the songs on the album attempt to capture the innermost feelings of a writer who was highly ambitious, immensely complicated and fiercely dedicated to her conception of herself and her work. She was simultaneously shy, introverted and wildly provocative, as "Carson's Blues," the album's opening song, announces: "A childish liar/A devilish bitch/I can be innocent and charming/And suddenly switch." "Harper Lee," a song Vega describes as "upbeat and bitchy," chronicles McCullers' sense of her place in the literary pantheon - a spot, in her view, well above the wildly successful author of To Kill a Mockingbird. ("I'd like to kill more than just that mockingbird," she sings.) "Instant of the Hour After" and "We of Me" all explore the loving and loathing, the sexual adventurism and missed emotional connections, that swirled inextricably in McCullers' marriage to a bisexual man who shared her literary ambitions but was never able to realize them. On the title track, Vega limns the dizzying dance of unsatisfied desire at the heart of McCullers' work: "The lover pursues,/The beloved one flees Each one alone/In the land of the heart."
"12 Mortal Men" indicts the provincialism and brutal racism of Columbus, Georgia, where McCullers grew up. "The Ballad of Miss Emilia" essentially recounts the plot of McCullers' novella, The Ballad of the Sad CafÉ, a saga, like so much of her writing, of failed joinings, loneliness, and proud, if isolated, survival. By the time the album concludes with "Carson's Last Supper," McCullers has abandoned the ideal of erotic desire in favor of a more universal love that could embrace all the various characters in her books and the many people in her life - as well as, perhaps most importantly, the ravaging contradictions within herself that both drove her art and caused so much hardship in her life.
With Lover, Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers, Suzanne Vega achieves a new peak in her already distinguished career. With these songs and the play they inhabit, she hopes that "a new generation of people will discover Carson McCullers, that they will realize how cool she is and how compellingly her work can speak to them. I want to put her on the stage again so that her spirit lives. Really, no one is excluded from the vision she defined. I'm so excited by the possibilities." In these beautifully transporting songs, many of those rich possibilities have already been realized. - Anthony DeCurtis1. Carson's Blues
2. New York Is My Destination
3. Instant of the Hour After
4. We of Me
6. 12 Mortal Men
7. Harper Lee
8. Lover, Beloved
9. The Ballad of Miss Amelia
10. Carson's Last Supper$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now