Classic Album Review

Ramsey Lewis’ “Rocky Raccoon” Song Review

The prolific jazz musician Ramsey Lewis passed away earlier this September at the age of 87. Lewis was a Grammy award winning artist and is best known for albums like “Sun Goddess” and “The In Crowd.” 

Lewis is also responsible for a wonderful cover album of The Beatles’ music, called “Mother Nature’s Son.” “Rocky Raccoon,” off of The Beatles’ self-titled album (better known as “The White Album”) is my favorite song by the band. Lewis’ cover of “Rocky Raccoon” breathes a wonderful and vibrant life into the song, making it one of my favorite songs of all time.

The country song makes a wonderful canvas for a jazz cover. The cover starts off rather percussive and before you know it, a whole band of instruments have bled their way into the scene. The cover builds until it’s a pleasant storm of noise, with the melody on the keys serving as the rain and everything else draped behind it as the clouds.

Only 2 minutes and 38 seconds long, the cover is around a minute shorter than the original, and packs the same spirit into the same amount of time.

If you haven’t heard of Ramsey Lewis until now, I suggest you check out his rather extensive discography, there is something for everyone there. Or, at the very least, listen to his cover of “Rocky Raccoon.”

Classic Album Review

Discovering “Where the Heart Is” with Sweet Pill

Philadelphia-based pop-emo band Sweet Pill released their debut album with Topshelf Records in May of this year. Sadly, I had not gotten the chance to listen to it until recently. Since I first gave the LP a listen, it has been on repeat.

Coming in at 30 minutes, this album kept me entranced throughout the entire listen. Tracks flow from one to the next with great fluidity. The utilization of pop elements and structure over the emo instrumental and vocals make this record so replayable for me.

Lead singer Zanya Yousseff, guitarists Jayce Williams and Sean McCall, bassist Ryan Cullest and drummer Chris Kerneymakes make this album special. You can tell from the first listen that this passion project has been in the works for over two years.

Favorite Tracks

“Blood” is my favorite off of this album. Coming in off the title track, this song is about the anger that comes with a falling out and it does not mess around. This song utilizes breaks and a gritty, distorted rhythm guitar to really make each drop feel like a gut punch.

The song “Sometimes” also really stands out to me. I can’t help but bob my head when this song comes on. This song masterfully blends pop and emo to create something that’s fun to listen to but with a certain heaviness that’s unexplored in pop.


This album consistently uses violence to express anger and unfulfillment with life. I really appreciate Sweet Pill’s ability to use violence and make it effective consistently. They utilize this explosivity to such a degree that it’s impossible to skip one of their tracks when it comes on.

Sweet Pill’s work is filled with so much energy and enthusiasm and I can imagine them evolving their sound into something truly unique to them. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the coming years.

Classic Album Review

Biting into “Orange” by Fishmans

A fresh citrus fruit has an addicting taste, not unlike the sound of Fishmans’ lead singer in their album “Orange.” Fishmans uses the keyboard among Shinji Sato’s vocals, bass and guitar to create a beautiful dreamy reggae sound that brings in the clouds to block the oppressive sunlight of reality.

Their fourth studio album, “Orange”, is my favorite to return to. It has all of the reggae sounds like steel drums and beats that I love, which is combined with Shinji Sato’s iconic vocals. “Orange” was released in 1994 under Media Remoras.

For Fishmans, they had much trouble with the comings and goings of band members, producers and record companies. On the album, Shinji Sato does the vocals and plays acoustic guitar with Yuzuru Kashiwabara (bass, chorus), Kin-Ichi Motegi (drums, percussion, chorus) and Hakase-Sun (keyboards, chorus). A guest electric guitarist, Sugar Yoshinaga, also appears in various tracks throughout the album. 

Peeling Open “Orange”

“Kibun” basically starts off the album, and it does so with a pop, reggae and electric fervor. The vocal repetitions bring constant joy to my ears. Shinji’s voice and lyrics are elegant as they bounce up and down smooth as butter. 

In “My Life”, simple lyricism brings simple and pure joy. Fishmans creates a pop tune that exudes exuberance. The keyboard steps us into life and beauty with the beginning of the track and sweeps us into a journey filled with the sound of people living.

“My Life” music video by Fishmans. YouTube video posted by ponycanyon.

As one of my favorite songs of all time, “Melody” stands out on this album. It jumps right into the action of music and all the joy it brings. Epic percussion backs up an electric guitar that shreds perfect little rhythms. 

The track flows and pierces me quickly. I’d be surprised to hear from anyone that this song didn’t even make them tap their toes to the beat. 

A slower track on a fast paced album tends to stand out or drift into the background. I think “Kaerimichi” found its place by blending in the rushed and jumpy first half of “Orange” with the other dreamier half of the album. 

One Last Bite

After diving back into this album to write about it, I already cannot stop myself from listening to it again and again. Fishmans’ sound is intoxicating to my ears. If the last song I ever got to listen to in my life was a Fishmans track, my ears and soul could be at rest with that. 

“Orange” is so fresh even at 28 years of age. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to Fishmans at all, or if you’ve only listened to their later albums, I cannot encourage you enough to peel open “Orange” and taste its addictive sweetness.

Classic Album Review

A Lil’ Love for Broadcast’s “Work and Non Work”

If you’re looking for a compilation of tunes to mix with the rain, then Broadcast’s “Work and Non Work” is the perfect selection for you. Released on June 9, 1997 under Warp Records, this is the first LP Broadcast released in their career.

Broadcast is made up of Trish Keenan, the vocalist, Roj Stevens, the keyboardist, James Cargill, the bassist, Tim Felton, the guitarist and Steve Perkins, the drummer. Keenan passed away in 2011, but Broadcast’s numerous recordings are still being released posthumously. 

To Work or Not to Work

To start out, “The Book Lovers” teleports you into a dusty and musty infinite row of books. Covers and spines all cracked and dry from years without love and attention. Keenan’s wispy vocals fade in and out above the perfect synthesis of strings and keys that escalate into a comforting presence.

As a book lover myself, this track is one of my all time favorites. I love the ethereal and calm presence it exudes into my ears. When the song feels just about over, the beat returns to take us away into the night and ends the song perfectly. 

In “Living Room”, Stevens’ keys mix again with the guitar of Cargill, which creates electric trills of beauty. Before we even approach Keenan’s beautiful vocals in this track, the instrumentals all take over the beginning section.

I find this track to be almost danceable and relaxing enough to be perfect for a rainy evening. 

The last song I want to explore is “We’ve Got Time”. This spacey and timeless track is infused with the essence of a UFO. It flies around and around bringing mystery and sleek beauty to the indietronica genre.

Keenan’s vocals are especially lovely, and make the dreamy tunes spring to life through hope, futurism and wonder. 

Fading out of the Job

This entire compilation is wonderful. The tracks I didn’t mention above deserve the same amount of love. There really isn’t anything on the LP that I won’t be able to enjoy.

For me, Broadcast is a band that constantly blows me away with their techniques and synchronicity with each other. 

I can tell the whole band loved music and exploring the depths of their emotions together, and it is really unfortunate that Keenan has already passed away. I am just happy that we get to explore Broadcast’s music at all.

Classic Album Review

MF Doom’s King Geedorah Takes over the Musical Universe

MF DOOM is the epitome of lyrical legend, genius and bard extraordinaire. His side projects differ little from his wacky bars that fall under his most well known moniker, and “Take Me To Your Leader” is the best album of DOOM’s if you need to fill a science fiction fix. 

This album takes many of its samples from kaiju (large monsters like Godzilla and King Ghidorah) films. Many of the samples originate from the American remakes and English dialogue kaiju films. 

The voice lines are corny and fit his beats perfectly. Loud screams from a woman in distress match up perfectly with our supervillain’s most powerful bars to date. 

Contact with the Kaiju

Not only does this album have hard hitting lines, but the sweet melodies of softer R&B styled beats emanate from tracks like “I Wonder”. 

In this track DOOM (King Geedorah) is backed up by Hassan Chop and it explores all the missed moments and mistakes both rappers have made. It’s a bit melancholy for a DOOM track, especially on a wacky album such as this. 

In “Krazy World” it’s another slow burning song without DOOM as the main featured artist. The artist on vocals is credited as Gigan, which is a cyborg kaiju from space.

The verses in this track zoom through space at light speed. Before you know it the song is over and you’ve experienced 5 minutes of music in what feels like 30 seconds. 

Lockjaw” is the shortest track on the album with a run time of 1 minute and 3 seconds. I like this track for its lyrical content. I love how DOOM (and Trunks in this track) are able to master these insane rhyme schemes to create blistering verses and gorgeous melodies. 

Here’s a few lines from “Lockjaw” as an example:

“Then I form blazing sword and cut your mic cords

And kill them garbage rhymes only your friends get hyped for

Blitz your whole team, them n—– need to come clean

So I give ’em an acid wash like old school Levi jeans”

Quoted from MF DOOM and Trunks’ lyricism on “Lockjaw”.

The rapper, Trunks, is credited with the lyrics and vocals on this song and 16 lines in a flash. The couplet slant rhyme scheme makes up the entire track and provides a sense of instability and rush to the track. 

I cannot talk about this album without mentioning one of my favorite featured MF DOOM artists of all time, Mr. Fantastik. In “Anti-Matter” DOOM and Fantastik rhyme off one another in a call and response type song. 

The calls of Ghidorah are sampled in the background, and Fantastik’s warm, deep voice steeps my ears in a nice bath of fresh bars. DOOM and Fantastik have a wonderful synchronization in this track, and their ability to vibe with each other is heartwarming because of their rhythmic connections. 

Sending You Back into Space

MF DOOM’s deep knowledge of kaiju films and musical understanding in this entire album is so interesting to me. Taking and reusing art to create more art is gorgeous, and I love the way DOOM is able to take and give back so much love to the world through his art. 

People could write literary theses about DOOM’s lyricism in context with the 80’s and 90’s cultures. Also, the impact MF DOOM has had on the world’s music culture is next level.

For a guy that made beautiful beats in an under the radar way, he influenced millions of artists to become better musicians and cultural connoisseurs.

Classic Album Review

All Dogs Disappear after “Kicking Every Day”

Kicking Every Day” was one of the first vinyl purchases I made, and it was met with some weird looks and comments by my friends. Six years later, I don’t regret my decision to buy this album. No, it’s not the perfect indie rock album, but the charm it imprinted on me is more important than its musical significance. 

All Dogs is an Ohio band formed in 2012 who have not lasted long in the laborious music industry. After releasing “Kicking Every Day”, the band has not released a single track since then.

Their Twitter page hasn’t had any activity for 5 years, so I am assuming they’ve faded and dispersed on their own paths unfortunately. 

The band’s vocalist, Maryn Jones, initially formed the band with bassist, Amanda Bartley. The duo self-released a split with another local Ohio band, slouch.

A few more years passed and the band added two more members, Jesse Withers, a drummer, and Nick Harris, another guitarist, to the lineup. All this background info is provided by this small biography on Allmusic.

With their fourth member added, the band began to record “Kicking Every Day” on Salinas Records out of Detroit, MI, and they released the album August 28, 2015. 

Tracks and Thoughts

Thankfully, All Dogs gets right to business with “Black Hole” being the first track of the album. I am sure if I didn’t enjoy this song, I wouldn’t enjoy this album as much as I do.

“Black Hole” grinds and winds us into oblivion and the perspective of this band. It roots our thoughts for the rest of the album to Jones’ vocals and Withers’ quiet explosions on the drums. 

Another stand out track on this release is “That Kind of Girl”. It has the most classically rooted guitar riffs and pop-punk sound on the album.

By being short and sweet, this song gets to the core of the band’s talent, which are their vocals and guitar. No extra time is spent on unnecessary rhythms and intros. 

Beautiful blooming buds take time and warmth to capture the eyes of artists. In “The Garden” Jones’ lower-quality vocals combine with scratchy acoustic guitar to create somber beauty in a dew-y paradise. This song has a slow burning beauty that I find to be encapsulating. 

Concluding Musings

I can’t chop up the rest of this album to filler because some songs reach out differently to people that have unique perspectives compared to my own. 

I find much of the rest of this album repetitive in terms of sound and content. “Skin” and “How Long” aren’t the most stand out tracks, yet they still have the band’s core sound flowing through them. 

Overall, All Dogs don’t stand out compared to Pavement, Modest Mouse or any other seminal indie classic, but their strong roots and sounds make them enjoyable even if they don’t sit in the center of attention.

Classic Album Review

Lana Del Rabies’ “Shadow World” in the Light

With Lana Del Rabies’ “Shadow World”, dark, spooky vibrations are available to listen to in the sunlight. The true horror of this album is actually quite fun to listen to. Heavy bass, ghostly vocals and eardrum piercing beats take over your mind when listening to “Shadow World.”

Lana Del Rabies is a multimedia artist, also known as Sam An. She has opened for many bands and artists like JPEGMAFIA, Lingua Ignota and AJJ (all information from her website). Her talent is already known, and apparently her shows are a wondrous horror-pit of fun.  

The Dark Recesses of “Shadow World”

Out of all these heavy and diverse tracks, “Devour” has stuck with me the most. The horrendous shrill noise at the introduction of the song is unforgettable. It is worth the time and pain of listening to the full track (even if at low volume) to really enjoy all of it. I thought of “Devour” as a neat piece of art trying to free itself in a jump-scare film. 

Another sick track on this album is “Disgrace”. The initial beats left me with an itchy feeling crawling underneath my skin. Any song or artist that can do that through music has talent and a sickening sense of style. 

Also, on this track is rage and horror to the extreme. “Shadow World”’s other tracks have a droning sound, but “Disgrace” taps into some death metal vocals, which are fun to hear. 

Ghost” is another song like “Devour” that became lodged in my mind. Its eerie and peculiar introduction leads up into a quieter vocal section like that of Anna von Hausswolff.

One more track I want to highlight, “Vicious End”, has a graphic and fear-inducing music video that I found to be a neat addition to the track:

Video from YouTube posted by Deathbomb Arc. Directed and edited by Lana Del Rabies.

Goodbye Ghosts and Ghouls

As this is the first and only album of Lana Del Rabies I have listened to, I will be sure to check out her other full length album, “Tell Me Again This Is Love”. 

Initially, I loved the sight of a Lana Del Ray spinoff artist when I saw Lana Del Rabies pop up on some music site I was exploring, and now I am happy at how different her music is compared to the light pop music Lana Del Ray makes. 

I know this creepy atmosphere isn’t for everyone, but the way Lana Del Rabies is able to combine all the eerie sounds into horrifying and wonderful music dumbfounded me. I love seeing different ways artists look at the world and make the reality feel, and “Shadow World” is an exemplary model of this.

Classic Album Review

“Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast Album Review

Michelle Zauner is an extremely talented songwriter, and her talents especially shine on Japanese Breakfast’s 2021 album, “Jubilee.” The third LP released by Japanese Breakfast, “Jubilee” is a sickeningly sweet and at times devastating record that Zauner herself says is meant to be joyful. 

This is my favorite work of Japanese Breakfast’s as I’m a sucker for an indie-pop record and this is a masterfully-made one. With ten songs that clock in at just over 37 minutes, this Grammy-nominated album is one I’m sure will continue to soundtrack my early 20s. 

Although Zauner says the album is meant to be a joyful one, a lot of the lyrics seem like they’re more adjacent to yearning than joy. “Be Sweet,” the album’s most popular song, has lyrics that beg for kindness and attention: “Be sweet to me, baby / I wanna believe in you” and “Make it up once more with feeling / Recognize your mistakes and I’ll let you back in.” “Kokomo, IN” begs the desperate question “These days I can’t shake the awful feeling / I’m missing something I can’t place, is that you?” in verse two. The feeling of longing is littered throughout the album, making even your first listen to it a painfully nostalgic experience.

The production, done by Michelle Zauner and Craig Hendrix (Japanese Breakfast’s drummer), is dreamlike and nostalgic, at times large and sweeping and at times intricate in a smaller and more subtle way. 

Upon the album’s release some critics said that the album fell short in the back half, and while I agree that tracks like “Sit” and “In Hell” aren’t the strongest, the album is tied together fantastically with one of my favorite songs of all time, “Posing For Cars.” It is the album’s final track and is nearly seven minutes long (the back half of which is 3 minutes of the most beautiful guitar solo you can imagine) and is just absolutely devastating in a way that could bring anyone to their knees.

So while I don’t agree with Zauner that “Jubilee” elicits much joy, it does feel summer-y: wide open, nostalgic, filled with the highest highs and lowest lows.

Rating: 9.5/10

Classic Album Review

“Donuts” by J Dilla Album Review

J Dilla’s “Donuts” is in my opinion the greatest album of all time and I would like to tell you why. Before we get into the album itself we must first get into the man who made it.

J Dilla was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and early on started making hip-hop beats. He would start a group called Slum Village and would eventually get their demo tape to Q-Tip which led to him getting discovered. Q-Tip found Dilla in 1995 which was a year Tip was busy producing for Mobb Deep so when people would ask Q-Tip for beats he would recommend them instead use Dilla. This led to Dilla working with a ton of artists such as The Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, and even A Tribe Called Quest.

After this Dilla became a pioneer in hip-hop and a sought after producer. People were really drawn to his unique drumming style where he wasn’t drumming in straight or swing time but instead on his own time called “Dilla Time”. He had some success but really stayed a bit out of the main stream most of his career and would develop a cult following.

Everything was going well for Dilla until around 2003 he was diagnosed with a rare blood disease and also lupus. In 2004 he started his stay at Cedar-Sinai hospital in LA and instead of resting and retiring he would start to create his magnum opus.

Most of “Donuts” was created in the hospital with Dilla sampling from records people would bring him or stuff he would pick up when he would occasionally leave. The album was completed and then released on February 7, 2005 and Dilla would sadly pass away three days after the release.

Now without the information of Dilla’s passing the album is still great but much of the content on the album would be missed. Dilla was suffering greatly making this album and he knew he would eventually pass. So the way he chose to handle it and come to terms with his eventual death was to do what he did best and make amazing beats from old records.

But once you start to put the context of Dilla’s situation with the album the hints start to show themselves like the scratching of Jadakiss to ask “Is Death Real?” on “Stop”. The song “Don’t Cry” is as blatant of a message you can get. The song “Workinonit” seems to be a message about an artist life of creating. But the most chilling on the album is on “Welcome to The Show” the outro track the message isn’t obvious until you look at the sample which is “When I Die” by Motherlode. The sample says “When I die, I hope I’ll be the kind of man you thought I’d be” which is crazy to think of him listening to that during his time in the hospital.

“Donuts” is also unique because many of the moments are up for interpretation and have no answer since Dilla never had a chance to explain his choices. One example is the album starts with the outro and ends with ” Welcome to The Show”. The song that repeats “Only One Can Win” is titled “Two Can Win”. The tracklist is 31 tracks which is the age Dilla was when he made it. The messages in the album aren’t obvious or even totally proven so finding them you never knew what he truly meant or if he truly meant it.

This album the more you listen to it becomes obvious what its goal was. The goal was to leave a message to his fans and his family that can never go away. Dilla was in the hospital and felt that his best way to communicate was to chop up old samples in a way that would create a message about his impending death that his friends and family could listen to after his passing and think about him. If that is not the craziest thing you’ve ever heard I don’t know what is.

I hear people say all the time that no one would like the album as much if Dilla hadn’t of passed and that it is the only reason people like it. But they are entirely missing the point because without the situation Dilla was in the album would not exist and is almost entirely built around the concept of his passing so not taking in that context leaves out the subject matter that is in the album.

I recommend everyone listen to this album and hopefully hear what I hear in it. It is an album that could put on for so many situations like just hanging out or studying but everytime you listen you hear something new. I hope this album is spread for generations to come and Dilla’s legacy be continued forever.


Classic Album Review

“Acquainted with Night” by Lael Neale Album Review

ALBUM: “Acquainted with Night” by Lael Neale


LABEL: Sub Pop Records

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “How Far Is It to the Grave”, “For No One Now”,  “Some Sunny Day”

FCC: None

Lael Neale is a Virginia native and current L.A. resident. “Acquainted with Night” is her second album she has released, with “I’ll Be Your Man” being released back in 2015. She made all the music for “Acquainted with Night” in California and all of the videos in her hometown in Virginia, as stated on her Bandcamp page.

The album mainly consists of her airy, wispy vocals and the Omnichord, which she picked up to create “Acquainted with Night”. I would consider the tracks to fall into the lo-fi indie pop genre for the most part, as we can hear the crackle of the recording instruments often. All the tracks are filled with existential questioning and beautiful imagery. 

Favorite Bits:

How Far Is It to the Grave” is easily one of the most unique tracks on the album. The twinkling of Neale’s Omnichord brings me immediately into the light of the moon. The track is filled with the ponderings of an assortment of characters, who all question how much time they have left in their lives. In its eerie beauty, Neale responds, “It’s only a life dear friend, dear friend”. 

In “For No One Now”, Neale leads us on a positive journey. Forget everything that makes you worry and take whatever you desire in life. This anthem shines bright in the lonely, sunny mornings. This song is hope and love jumbled together, which celebrates the best of days in all their glory. 

My third favorite track is “Some Sunny Day”. The Omnichord’s ever-present hum of a few simple notes helps highlight Lale Neale’s vocals and lyricism. Also, a rare guitar appearance for this album is present, which adds a pleasant vibration. This track looks towards the future and holds the present in a melancholic state. Neale again looks to hope and destiny as her savior.

The Other Bits:

Now, the rest of this album is also extremely enjoyable, but some tracks aren’t nearly as distinct and loveable as the three songs mentioned above. For example I lump “Sliding Doors & Warm Summer Roses”, “Third Floor Window” and “Let Me Live Down by the Side of the Road” into a ball of comfort. I like listening to these songs, but it’s hard for me to pick them apart from each other. 

I didn’t want to include too many songs in my favorites section, but some honorable mentions are “Every Star Shivers in the Dark”, “Blue Vein” and the title track “Acquainted with Night”. Each of these songs are gorgeous, but don’t strike me the same as my picks above. 


Overall, this album is a great set of tunes to listen to in the morning or late in the evening as the sun is setting, especially for all you lo-fi lovers out there. I personally love to put on “Some Sunny Day” while I water my plants. This album reminds me why I like the lo-fi genre’s simplicity. It feels so welcoming and homely that I can snuggle up and enjoy hot coffee or tea and watch pretty white clouds float on by in peace. 

Lael Neale released a new song earlier this year, “Hotline”, which you can check out on her Bandcamp, if you feel so inclined. I am excited to see where her career ends up next, and I hope my love of this album can inspire y’all to enjoy her music too. 

Keep eatin’

DJ chef