Cypress Hill: Till Death Do Us Part
The confusing thing about Cypress Hill has always been their seemingly contradictory obsessions with gangsta violence and their well-documented love of the herb.
Considering the mellowing influence of all the dope these Latino hip-hop pioneers have smoked over the years, you’d think by now they would be chilled out. But B-Real, Sen Dog and Muggs have clearly decided for their sixth full-length album that if the formula ain’t broke, don’t break it.
The opening track, Another Body Drops, begins with the unmistakable sound of a bong being fired up and then quickly turns the familiar shoot-em-up themes covered in their breakout hit, How I Could Just Kill a Man. They might not score any points for originality, but at least you can’t say they forgot their roots.
Bong Hit and Ganja Bus begin in a highly similar fashion, the latter featuring none other than Damien Marley bringing some dancehall vibes to the table. These three have often gotten by with a little help from their friends and Till Death Do Us Part is no exception.
They may not have reinvented the wheel on this one but it is sure not to disappoint anyone fond of stark grooves mixed with kind words to the herb and swaggering gangsta fairy tales.
Various Artists: Rock Against Bush Volume One
As most reasonable people will agree, the greatest imperative currently facing the planet is the defeat of George W Bush in the upcoming fall election.
W’s pro-war, anti-pot agenda is the sort of thing that drives Fat Wreck Chords founder and NOFX frontman Fat Mike absolutely apeshit.
With a timely release on 4/20, the CD is a mix of previously heard battle hymns from usual suspects such as Social Distortion, Pennywise and Jello Biafra (sounding just as righteously pissed off he did in his Dead Kennedy glory days railing against the Reagan Administration) and new material from such punk luminaries as the Offspring (Baghdad), the Descendants (Sad State of Affairs), and the Get Up Kids (Lion and the Lamb).
Proving that ditching Dubya is more than just an American concern, the album also contains contributions from the Great White North’s DOA (backing up Jello on That’s Progress) and fresh young things Sum 41 (with the none-too-subtle Moron), as well as unwilling British coalition members Ministry (the fierce No W) and Billy Bragg (with Less Than Jake on The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out).
Worth picking up for the music alone, also included is a DVD featuring a gob-smacking documentary entitled, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. It’s full of interviews with longtime intelligence experts and former CIA officials challenging the spin-doctoring and hype of incurious George’s administration. Buy this album today and pray to whatever deity you like there won’t be a need for Rock Against Bush Volume Two.
Trey Anastasio: Seis de Mayo
Turns out the Phish frontman and neo-hippie icon wasn’t kidding when, a decade ago, he penned the lines: “Waiting for the time when I can finally say/ that this has all been wonderful but now I’m on my way.”
He may not be able to completely escape the demands of the Deadhead army inherited when Jerry Garcia passed away but, musically speaking, he has at least found a way to create a little distance. Seis de Mayo, released on April 6th (you really have to wonder why he couldn’t hold its release date for another month), is an all-instrumental composition and not the sort of thing the legion of potheads who make up the bulk of Trey’s fan base would likely want to dance barefoot on his lawn to.
The seven-piece album is a collection of new material and versions of tunes originally recorded with Phish, but played the way he intended them to sound, not the boogie-friendly way he and his bandmates could duplicate live.
For example, Andre the Giant, featuring Phish bassist Mike Gordon, now sports musicians playing African instruments such as the djembe and balafon. Prologue is now performed as the orchestral miniature Anastasio had in mind. Coming To now comes to you via Dixieland, and Guyuute is now performed by a honking, 66-piece orchestra.
Anastasio’s credentials as a virtuoso have long been established and, while Seis de Mayo won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it is worth checking out to hear him flex his musical muscles and try something even more ambitious than the jam band improvisationals that have been putting smiles on the faces of stoners for the past 15 years.