His trials and tribulations have been well-documented over the past several years, but former Grammy-nominated Fugees collaborator and Rawkus A&R dude John Forte is finally ready to resume a normal life and tell his side of the story through music. He wastes no time, trading intelligent wordplay with fellow Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli over Kanye's "Homecoming."
With bright, clashing costumes and just the right amount of irony, Of Montreal could be the most likable indie-rock band around. Their schizophrenic style ranges from caffeinated pop to lovemaking funk in a matter of seconds. In other words, they have a lot of energy but can also smooth it out like Barry White.
Cohorts Joshua Eustis and Charles Cooper blend precise laptop drum programming, ambient electronic sounds, lush orchestral passages, and velvety singing with a heavy dose of live instrumentation, including a Fender Rhodes keyboard. It's the addition of organic sounds that sets Telefon Tel Aviv apart from its contemporaries; these two are masters of creating soundscapes and intricate electro-rhythms, but they can also flat out play. Editor's note: We're featuring this in memory of Charlie Cooper, who died last week at the age of 31.
Think of Will Oldham with a cig-scarred basso profundo and you'll have a sense of this veteran alt-folk troupe's ancient wisdom. Sounding like a surprisingly holy cross between a fin-de-siecle cabaret show, a modern anti-folk crew, and the fragrant vagrants on the corner, the 'chop makes tunes to be wistful to.
It's a fittingly double-edged moniker for a man whose 'pen game' is much sharper than any sword. Indeed, Alonzo "Novel" Stevenson is a bit of a paradox, and his debut is a study in creative duality: equal parts sung and rapped. With soul great Solomon Burke as his grandfather, Novel's musical lineage guarantees an eclectic mix of hip-hop greatness.