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Ernest Hood - Neighborhoods Music Album Reviews

A newly reissued private-press curio from 1974 captures the bygone sounds of daily life in Portland, Oregon, in dreamy, proto-ambient form.
In 1975, the Portland, Oregon, musician Ernest Hood pressed his lone solo album, Neighborhoods, in an edition of a few hundred. He passed out copies primarily to friends, and the album, a curious blend of found sounds and proto-ambient, disappeared into the Pacific Northwest mist. Newly reissued by Freedom to Spend (in a much improved pressing, spread across two discs), it’s not the first such rarity to be pulled from the ether in the 21st century, as YouTube’s algorithm accumulates millions of plays for once obscure jazz and new-age records. But it might be the most uncanny, an album that kindles a sensation not unlike watching home videos of your own childhood.



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Sheff G - The Unluccy Luccy Kid Music Album Reviews

The Brooklyn drill artist follows up his two-year-old hit “No Suburban” with a grim and terse debut LP.

Sheff G’s The Unluccy Luccy Kid comes two years after his breakout “No Suburban.” The eerie anthem found the Flatbush native convincingly adopting Brooklyn drill’s signifiers—brusque threats, lingo-filled punchlines, and a video of hoodied-up men whose ages were betrayed by their backpacks. Millions of clicks later in 2019, Sheff G is still something of an underdog: Unluccy Luccy Kid comes after Canarsie’s Pop Smoke took over the summer with “Welcome to the Party.” The spotlight’s redirection hasn’t deterred Sheff, though. The production here is cleaner, but his debut project finds him repacking his style instead of making large steps forward.

The Unluccy Luccy Kid feels more like an industry necessity than a statement. A few of its tracks can stick out on their own, like the previously released “Flows,” his bluesy collaboration with fellow Brooklynite Sleepy Hallow. But strung together, these tracks are dulled by their own repetitiveness. You’ve heard all these grievances elsewhere: We came from the struggle, don’t like fake love or snitches, and don’t pretend you shot somebody, just be yourself.

Sheff G largely avoids the introspection or detail that would give these tropes weight. He broods about being “a product of power and pain” over the funereal pianos of “Respect,” but his verses are pridefully elliptical about what that means: “Never talked what I did/Still I will never talk what I saw.” To be fair, that’s not really anybody’s business; however, Mozzy’s vivid verse on the ghostly “Menace” (“Meet me on Fourth, right by the court/None of these shooting guards play around”) has more resonance.

Sheff G largely relies on the compact, off-beat syllabic barrages that he rode on “No Suburban.” His approach works best when he’s not trying to contort that flow into singsong melodies, like the clumsy and generic “Designer.” Sleepy Hallow appears on half of the project’s tracks and does well as the choleric foil to Sheff’s bearish presence, landing many of the album’s darkest jabs (“What can they tell me about the trenches, almost lost my sense/So if my name is ever mentioned just tell the judge send a sentence,” he raps on “All My Life,” darkly humorous but dead serious).

The Unluccy Luccy Kid isn’t going to be the groundbreaker that pops the Brooklyn drill scene out of its bubble, but that’s probably how it was designed. Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow sound more engaged when they’re rapping unapologetically about street dealings. A few of drill’s artists have expressed making music mainly for the folks who walked those streets. If Unluccy Luccy Kid connects with them, hasn’t it served its purpose?

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