By Brian Harris
Comeback Kid “Die Knowing”
One of the many things that is prevalent in the hardcore punk scene is the intensity that the lifeblood of the genre chews up and spits out bands with no remorse, as well as, no shortage of new bands willing to go out and carry the flag for hardcore. That being said, lasting for 14 years in a scene like this is an impressive feat and for Winnipeg’s Comeback Kid, it’s been a time filed with globe trekking tours, successful albums and a rabid fanbase who is always hungry for more and more.
Their latest album, “Die Knowing,” out now on Victory Records, doesn’t tread any new ground either sonically or lyrically but is simply a solid, yet formulaic Comeback Kid record and one fans of both the genre and the band will like. “Die Trying” is chock full of the machine-gun drumming, the sing-along vocals about making the most of life and shredding guitars that devotees of CBK have come to expect on their past albums like “Wake The Dead” and “Broadcasting”.
Far too many musicians nowadays are far too focused on reinventing the wheel and not enough on making stuff that their fans will like. Comeback Kid stuck to their tried-and-true method when making “Die Knowing” and while it’s not a game-changing album by any stretch of the imagination, it’s still a good album that the band, its fans, and the genre of hardcore should be proud of. ***3/4
Recommended Songs: “Somewhere In This Miserable”, “Should Know Better”, “Didn’t Even Mind”
Schoolboy Q “Oxymoron”
Following the major-label success of his Black Hippy crew-mate Kendrick Lamar, fellow SoCal MC Schoolboy Q dropped his new album “Oxymoron” and like Kendrick, Q’s album feels like a breath of fresh air in a somewhat stagnant hip-hop scene.
“Oxymoron”, according to a interview that Q did with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds, represent the dichotomy between the shady things that Q has done in the past and continues to do is all for a good cause, to make the best life he can for his daughter.
“The oxymoron in this album is that I’m doing all this bad to do good for my daughter. That’s why I’m robbin’. That’s why I’m stealin’,” Schoolboy Q says in the interview, adding, “Whatever it is that I’m talking about in my album negative, it’s always for a good cause, for my daughter.”
The album has more of a hardened edge compared to “good kid, m.A.A.d City”, due to Q’s childhood running the streets and helps “Oxymoron” be both a catchy as hell record that fans all over will like all the while being a distinctly West Coast record, which is shown on songs like “Prescription/Oxymoron” and “Blind Threats”, which has a guest spot from Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan
One of the catchiest songs on the record is “Los Awesome”, featuring Jay Rock, also of Black Hippy. Featuring some trippy synth beats from Pharrell, the song is one of the better ones on the record and is a good lead into the next song, which has a guest verse from Kendrick Lamar, “Collard Greens”, that has a catchy hook which will definitely get some spins in the club. The one true party song on the record is for sure “Hell Of A Night”, which has a hypnotic beat that will get stuck in your head for a while.
“Oxymoron” is a very-solid major label debut and shows the obvious Nas-like talent that Schoolboy Q has. Ultimately or unfairly, it will get judged alongside “good kid, m. A. A. d City,” and while “Oxymoron” may not have the across-the-spectrum radio-readiness of Kendrick, it’s still a damn fine album that is one of the better rap albums of the past few years. ****
Recommended Songs: “Los Awesome”, “Hell Of A Night”, “The Purge” (feat. Tyler The Creator)