Categories
Arthur & Yu Champagne Champagne Common Market D. Black Fences Fleet Foxes Grand Archives Head Like A Kite Hey Marseilles Imaginary Scoop J. Tillman Joshua Morrison Kinski Le Loup Mad Rad Moondoggies Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band Pearly Gate Music Pica Beats Sera Cahoone Talbot Tagora The Blakes The Cave Singers The Maldives The Saturday Knights Visqueen

GIVE-ing season arrived this week — with a 30+ track local artist compilation

Fresh off the presses from our inboxes comes this week’s launch of GIVE — 30 downloadable tracks from a variety of Seattle artists, who are donating their songs to benefit Arts Corps and local area foodbanks. The $7.00 (!) compilation, which was produced, curated, and funded by Caffe Vita, will be available online here. Physical compilations can be picked up at all Caffe Vita locations, Easy Street Records, Sonic Boom Records, University Book Store, The Crocodile, EMP, Neumo’s, and Sorrento Hotel. The in-hand compilations will include a physical card with a redemption code for the download, and a prettied-up sleeve to make it a ready-to-give present.

Here’s the full track listing — nearly all of which are exclusive to the compilation:

Arthur & Yu: “Magic Mountain”
The Blakes: “Parking Lot”
Sera Cahoone: “Love’s Gonna Live Here”
The Cave Singers: “Growing Palm”
Champagne Champagne (feat. Fences): “Victim of the Modern Age”
Common Market: “The Picture of My Delorean Gray”
D. Black: “On the Go”
Fatal Lucciano: “Gangsta”
Fences: “Sadie”
Fleet Foxes: “Mykonos”
Grand Archives: “Wake Up”
Head Like a Kite: “Director’s Cut”
Hey Marseilles: “From a Terrace”
Kinski: “Whatever Happened to Madeleine Stowe”
Le Loup: “Forgive Me”
Mad Rad: “Love in a Strange World”
The Maldives: “In the End”
Gabriel Mintz: “Safeway”
Moondoggies: “Side of the Road”
Joshua Morrison: “Mammoth Cave”
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band: “Bitter Cold”
Pearly Gate Music: “Big Escape” [wow!]
The Pica Beats: “Durian Shakes”
The Saturday Nights: “Go!”
Talbot Tagora: “Ichthus Hop”
J. Tillman: “Earthly Bodies”
Visqueen: “Hand Me Down”

The best part of it all is that a full 100% of the sales will go directly to GIVE beneficiaries: Arts Corps, Ballard Food Bank, Rainier Valley Food Bank, University District Food Bank, and West Seattle Food Bank. The next-to-best part is that there’s more coming, by way of tracks from the Long Winters, Ben Gibbard, David Bazan, and the Dutchess and the Duke — purchasers will be notified as the tracks become available. To trump all of that, there will be a companion benefit concert featuring Grand Archives, D. Black, Grant Olsen of Arthur & Yu, Kinski, and a roster of other artists at the Crocodile on December 3rd for $15.00.

No matter which way you like it best, make sure to give some Seattle for the holidays! With a roster and a beneficiary list like this, you just can’t go wrong.

Categories
Common Market Imaginary Scoop

Bumbershoot preview: Common Market

Common Market, comprised of producer and member of Blue Scholars Sabzi and MC RA Scion will be dropping rhymes and truth bombs on the Bumbershoot Fisher Green Stage on September 6th. Since 2005, Sabzi and Scion have continued to push the envelope with their brand of homegrown hip-hop, using elements of blues, R&B, and authentic, original beats and sounds. RA Scion rhymes are thought provoking and message-driven, exploring concepts like the death of hip-hop, inequality, poverty, and what must be done to overcome them. Scion manages to do this in an intelligent, aggressive, unapologetic fashion without sounding pompous or preachy, which is an impressive feat. His messages are neatly cradled in Sabzi’s beats, rich in instrumentation with hints of D-I-Y floating throughout. Together, their creations feels similar to that of something found on the San Francisco bay area’s AntiCon label, both in message and sound.

 

Tobacco Road, their second album released in September of ’08 is polished without being slick, which appears to be an important aspect of what Common Market is trying to achieve as a hip-hop act. Lyrically, they have matured and have become more focused in their message; musically, their beats have become more complex and continue to embrace and canvass many genres to create innovative tracks that move your spirit and your body.

 

Check our their MySpace page to hear tracks off of Tobacco Road, as well as their EP and self titled first album, or check out their website at www.commonmarketmusic.com. Don’t miss these MCs at Bumbershoot. They bring both intensity and playfulness to the stage and are an exceptionally good live show. Support local hip-hop and check em out on Sunday, September 6 on the Fisher Green Stage at 5:45pm.

 

If you want a peep at the RA Scion and Sabzi in action, here’s the video to their single “Escaping Arkham”:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNpjvtdy6aU]

Categories
Common Market De La Soul Dead Confederate DJ Spooky Eleni Mandell Hey Marseilles Imaginary Scoop Katy Perry Lenka Matt & Kim Modest Mouse MSTRKRFT Natalie Portman's Shaved Head No Age Sera Cahoone Sheryl Crow The Cave Singers The Long Winters

First acts confirmed for Bumbershoot

I doubt this is an April Fool’s joke so I’ll put it out there, Bumbershoot announced the first list of acts to play this year. There are certainly some that I’m really excited to see (some again) and others I’ll pass on.

I know there’ll be a lot of people bitching about Katy Perry but remember that booking her sells tickets that pay for other acts and you can choose to do something else while she plays.

Here’s the roster so far:

Sheryl Crow / Modest Mouse / Katy Perry / Michael Franti & Spearhead / De La Soul / Raphael Saadiq / Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan / The Long Winters / Sly & Robbie & the Taxi Gang / World Party / MSTRKRFT / Roy Ayers / Common Market / UH HUH HER / Dave Alvin and The Guilty Women / Eric Hutchinson / No Age / Matt & Kim / Dead Confederate / The Cave Singers / Swollen Members / Vieux Farka Touré / Lenka / Gang Gang Dance / Todd Snider / Holy F**k / DJ Spooky / Iglu & Hartly / Low vs Diamond / Sera Cahoone / Eleni Mandell / Carrie Rodriguez / The Honey Brothers / Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head / Extra Golden / Cordero / Forgive Durden / Hey Marseilles / Adrian Xavier, and much, much more to be announced.

So, to appease reader “maddog” who always asks about local bands, there’s Hey Marseilles, Sera Cahoone, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (who I’m going to see in San Diego in about 90 minutes from the time I’m writing this), Modest Mouse, The Cave Singers, The Long Winters and probably a few more I’m missing. There’s also Dyno Jamz, who won the EMP’s Sound Off! competition.

I think it’s a pretty solid lineup, actually. What do you think?

Categories
Blue Scholars Common Market Imaginary Scoop

Tonight's Recommended Show: Blue Scholars and Common Market at Neumo's

Tonight, two of Northwest hip hop's finest duos wrap up the third consecutive night of shows at Neumo's. The first two sold out (and this one probably will very shortly) but it's easy to see why.

Last time Blue Scholars played in Seattle (at a sold out Showbox show last September), I wrote:

Blue Scholars don’t separate their political awareness from their music – and all of the best songs in their catalogue tell the stories you won’t hear on the news or read in newspapers. That they are able to tell those tales through their music (and especially over Sabzi’s excellent beats) makes them both politically and artistically successful.

This, though, was a show and everyone present was there to have a great time – and they did. This setup was minimal, it was just Geologic and Sabzi this night, and they weren’t backed by a funky jazz band, like when I saw them at The Program last year. There was a cameo from Thig Natural of The Physics, who gave us a verse on “North by Northwest”, but it was mostly Sabzi’s beats and Geologic’s rhymes for the night. I couldn’t see anyone who didn’t have their hands in the air during that song.

And for Common Market, my friend Chris Estey wrote of their Capitol Hill Block Party set last summer:

It was a powerful, two-fisted set, and if the music from a DJ I didn't recognize wasn't so mesmerizing, I would have been startled enough by Scion's live performance change of tone to walk out of the festival and start organizing for change, dammit. I'm not being facetious — there are some hip-hop artists who compare themselves to the energy of the MC5, but they lack any political conviction to go with the fuzzy guitars and souped-up drums. Common Market is radical, revolutionary rap music, and Scion was swarming a healthy, bouncing crowd all by himself to get them started.

The set was long and strong, and a perfect way to begin my (and many others') experience of the Capitol Hill Block Party 2008. I am incredibly eager to get back to devouring CM's new double album-length brimstone banquet of language and groove, "Tobacco Road," with such mind-altering and dance-sparking anthems like "Slow Cure" and "Trouble Is." It's an eighteen track concept record about the death of the working class and the bastard priests who bless it, and listening to it again this morning it makes perfect sense that Common Market sounded like a Kentucky-born Clash taking "London Calling" out on the stage for the first time. Yeah, no BS, I had a hard time imagining being as impressed by anything else coming up at the Block Party after this.

If those two groups weren't enough to get you out of the house on a Monday night, Macklemore and Dyme Def (another one of my favorite local hip hop crews) will also be sharing the stage.

What have you got planned on this Monday night?

  • George Kahumoku/Dennis Kamakahi/Richard Ho'opi'i, Triple Door*
  • Von Iva/Semi Precious Weapons/The Greatest Hits/The Knast/Creem City, El Corazon*
  • Naked Eyes/Smile For Diamonds, Comet
  • Lady GaGa/The White Tie Affair/Chester French, Showbox
  • Blue Scholars/Common Market, Neumo's

Categories
All Girl Summer Fun Band BOAT Chris Walla Common Market Damien Jurado Fleet Foxes Grand Archives H is for Hellgate Hey Marseilles Imaginary Scoop Jared Mees and the Grown Children Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground LoveLand Man Plus Old Haunts Pica Beats Team Gina The Dead Science The Doll Test The Dutchess and the Duke The Kindness Kind The Nextdoor Neighbors The Pharmacy The Saturday Knights Throw Me the Statue Wallpaper Young Sportsmen

Best of 2008: Top Northwest Releases of 2008 TIG Editorial Picks

TIG staffers are a lot like you — coming up with our list of faves for the year is a fun and gripping process. After comparing/contrasting/debating our individual favorites, we figured the sum of our imaginary parts would make for an interesting list.

While ChrisB and Keenan, among other things, brought in the power-pop elements,  Chris Estey stood by the smartie subtle elements of this year’s Northwest offerings. Imaginary liz, as usual, loved the lo-fi and indie-pop songs, while imaginary dana spent much of the year obessed with Throw the the Statue and of course, the Fleet Foxes. And nearly all of us agreed that the Saturday Knights album was a force to be reckoned with. Here’s our our staff votes tallied up…

Top Northwest Releases of 2008, TIG Editorial Picks:

25. The Nextdoor Neighbors – Magic Vs The Machine {live show review}
24. The Dead ScienceVillanaire {album review}
23. H is for HellgateCome for the peaks stay for the valleys {info}
22. Kay Kay and His Weathered UnderdroundKay Kay and His Weathered Underdround {live show review}
21. BOATTopps EP {live show review}
20. LoveLandThe Beautiful Truth {info}
19. Damien JuradoCaught In The Trees {album review}
18. Common MarketBlack Patch War {album review}
17. Chris WallaField Manual {album review}
16. Hey MarseillesTo Travels and Trunks {live show review}
15. Jared Mees and the Grown ChildrenCaffeine, Alchohol, Sunshine, Money {album review}
14. Grand ArchivesGrand Archives {album review}
13. Man PlusHungarian Suicide Songbook {album review}
12. WallpaperOn The Chewing Gum Ground
11. (TIE) Young SportsmenIf You Want It {album review}
11. (TIE) Doll TestMosque Alarm Clock
10. The Pica BeatsBeating Back the Claws of the Cold {info}
9. Team GinaProducts of the 80s {album review}
8. The Kindness KindThe Kindness Kind {info}
7. The PharmacyChoose Ur Own Adventure {info}
6. Throw Me The StatueMoonbeams {album review}
5. Dutchess and the DukeShe’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke {live show review}
4. The Old HauntsPoisonous Times {live show review}
3. All Girl Summer Fun BandLooking Into It {live show review}
2. Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes {album review}
1. The Saturday KnightsMingle {album review}

Peruse some of individual staffer favs:

Categories
Common Market Dandy Warhols Dexter Street Stompers Joseph Arthur Live Show Review South Lake Union Discovery Center The Helio Sequence The Saturday Knights

KEXP BBQ 2008

As I stepped outside my apartment on my way to the 2008 KEXP BBQ, I felt a few drops of rain falling. I wisely doubled back and grabbed an umbrella and jacket from my car. Normally a little rain doesn't faze me, but with freshly dyed hair one must plan ahead. Last time I got caught in a storm, I came out looking like Andrew W.K. Heading down to the event, the bus was full of BBQ goers and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, regardless of the impending weather. I wondered if the show would indeed go on if it rained as much as the clouds were threatening.

Arriving at the event, I immediately bumped into a couple of friends from my KEXP volunteer days, and heard about how awesome Greg Vandy's jug band had been. Crap! I really wish I had been there to see them play. The weather was still pretty nice at that point and I wandered into the beer garden to check shit out in there. Lo-o-o-ng lines at the Pyramid beer booths, so I milled around a bit more before being totally stunned by the Saturday Knights! Chris B. has already posted an excellent review of that set, but let me just say I was blown away by how amazing TSK's were on Saturday. I'll definitely be seeing them next time they play.

The Saturday Knights photo by Chona Kasinger

After the Saturday Knights, I found Imaginary ChrisB and Imaginary Chona to compare notes and catch up a bit before Common Market began. During this time, a non-threatening sprinkle began to fall, which very quickly turned into SUMMER STORM 2008. Thank god for my umbrella! Hipsters were floating past me on swift running rivulets. I noticed animals marching onto the SLUT two by two. I honestly thought they were going to call the whole BBQ off for a second. Undaunted, Common Market launched their set in spite of the downpour, with lots of impromptu rhymes about summer in Seattle.

Common Market photo by Chona Kasinger

The beer garden was crammed full of people under the plastic sheeting and small patio umbrellas, trying to get out of the rain. We saw others taking refuge under the Pyramid Beer van. The Common Market set was genuinely good and was a force more driving than the rain, leading most of the crowd to stick around regardless of the weather. I have to say, I don't think any other band could have kept the crowd's spirits as high. The rain eventually slowed to a steady drizzle and then finally stopped altogether, just in time for the Helio Sequence to start
setting up onstage.

I read a really great set by the Helio Sequence just a few weeks ago at SP20 and was a little loathe to cover them in the wake of Chona's fantastic review from that show. Honestly though, they're an easy band to love and an easier band to review; they don't ever disappoint. The sound was a little sketchy at first, especially from where I was standing, but technical issues were resolved early in the set. The Helio Sequence has been playing quite a bit lately and seem very comfortable onstage (if a little tired), cheering everyone with their bouncy, upbeat opener. Drummer Ben Weikel played flawlessly in his characteristic style, although usually he's at an 11 and Saturday he was at about 5/6.

Helio Sequence. Photo by Chona Kasinger

I have to admit that vocalist Brandon Summers seemed a little less energetic than normal as well but they still turned in a decent performance and the audience didn't seem to notice or mind either. In fact, a collective "WHOOP" went up from the crowd when "Can't Say No" began. We also heard "Lately" and the unilateral favorites "Keep Your Eyes Ahead" and "Hallelujah" as the closing two songs. At that point, the crowd seemed really happy, the Helio Sequence was really relaxed and everyone was just in a groove, dancing and smiling a lot. YAAAY. The set ended with much applause and a gracious Helio Sequence left the stage.

The Helio Sequence photo by Chona Kasinger

While waiting for Joseph Arthur to set up, an enormous, vibrant double rainbow appeared overhead, prompting KEXP DJ John Richards to treat the milling crowd to an a capella "Rainbow Connection" while we waited in line for beer or food. It didn't take long for Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts to set up. Early into their set, they sang Happy Birthday to G. Whiz (I found out later he was their drummer) and also dedicated a song to "the late, great Bernie Mac" later in the set, containing the lyric "If you're gonna leave, you should say goodbye." A little sad.

The set became more upbeat after that, at times the whole audience was clapping and singing along and really seemed to enjoy the Neil Young-infused country electric style. I gotta tell ya, I thought Joseph Arthur had one of the most beautiful acoustic guitars I've ever seen.

Photo: Imaginary Chona

 

Unfortunately at this point, my friend and I were both tired, damp and a little drunk so we unfortunately were not able to stay for the Dandy Warhols. It had been a good enough day already! But looking at Chona's amazing photos, I have some strong regrets about not staying…

Dandy Warhols photo by Chona Kasinger

The Dandy Warhols photo by Chona Kasinger

The Dandy Warhols photo by Chona Kasinger

Categories
Common Market Live Show Review

Capitol Hill Block Party 2008: Common Market

Tanned to almost red, lean and intense in all black clothing, RA Scion led Common Market with an angry energy I have never seen from him before. This is the band that was at one time the best bet for getting your mom and pops out to a hip-hop show; the love and unity spilled everywhere when Scion would rhyme and chant and extrapolate as Sabzi spun sweet and smooth rhythm and sound. 

You may still be bringing the family along to a CM gig — though as the Block Party started, it was mostly young, rabid music fans clotting around the Main Stage outside Neumo's — but that's so everyone you know can get their butts kicked to DO SOMETHING about the nastiness this country has become.

It was a powerful, two-fisted set, and if the music from a DJ I didn't recognize wasn't so mesmerizing, I would have been startled enough by Scion's live performance change of tone to walk out of the festival and start organizing for change, dammit. I'm not being facetious — there are some hip-hop artists who compare themselves to the energy of the MC5, but they lack any political conviction to go with the fuzzy guitars and souped-up drums. Common Market is radical, revolutionary rap music, and Scion was swarming a healthy, bouncing crowd all by himself to get them started.

The set was long and strong, and a perfect way to begin my (and many others') experience of the Capitol Hill Block Party 2008. I am incredibly eager to get back to devouring CM's new double album-length brimstone banquet of language and groove, "Tobacco Road," with such mind-altering and dance-sparking anthems like "Slow Cure" and "Trouble Is." It's an eighteen track concept record about the death of the working class and the bastard priests who bless it, and listening to it again this morning it makes perfect sense that Common Market sounded like a Kentucky-born Clash taking "London Calling" out on the stage for the first time. Yeah, no BS, I had a hard time imagining being as impressed by anything else coming up at the Block Party after this.

Common Market photos by Kyle Johnson

Common Market photos by Kyle Johnson

Categories
Chris Walla Common Market Death Cab for Cutie Dyme Def Fleet Foxes Grand Archives Head Like A Kite Imaginary Scoop Little Party and the Bad Business M. Bison Man Plus Mark Pickerel Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Old Haunts Panda & Angel Sera Cahoone Shake Some Action! Shim Star Anna Tea for Julie Team Gina The New Bloods The Nextdoor Neighbors The Pharmacy The Saturday Knights The Turn Ons Thee Emergency Throw Me the Statue Young Sportsmen

Best of 2008: it's half-yearly check-in time

As of today, we’re officially in the second half of 2008. Welcome! To gear you up for another fabulous six months of local Northwest releases, we here at imaginary headquarters have brainstormed an imaginary mix for all of you, containing some of our favorite songs by Northwest artists released this year to date thus far.

No promises that each of these will make our Best of 2008 Reader’s Poll final list, but at least this way you have the next six months to follow-up and listen to these releases before you have to decide. In alphabetical order, we have…

The top imaginary 33 Northwest songs of 2008 {so far}:

  1. Sera Cahoone “The Colder the Air” (from the release Only As The Day is Long)
  2. Common Market “Watership Down” (from the release Black Patch War)
  3. Death Cab for Cutie “Cath” (from the release Narrow Stairs)
  4. Dyme Def3Badbrothaaas” (from the release 3Badbrothaaas Mixtape)
  5. Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal” (from the release Fleet Foxes)
  6. Head Like a Kite “Big FM Radio Hit” (from the release There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere)
  7. The Helio Sequence “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” (from the release Keep Your Eyes Ahead)
  8. Grand Archives “Index Moon” (from the release The Grand Archives)
  9. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground “Simon Courage Flees the Coop” (from the release Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground)
  10. Little Party and the Bad Business “A Free Box for Everyone” (from the release Jock Therapy)
  11. M. Bison “Party All The Time” (from an unreleased EP)
  12. Man Plus “Not For All the Cocaine in the World” (from the release The Hungarian Suicide Songbook)
  13. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head “Me + Yr Daughter” (from the release Glistening Pleasure)
  14. The Nextdoor Neighbors “Town Full of Mannequins” (from an unreleased EP)
  15. The New Bloods “Oh, Deadly Nightshade” (from the release The Secret Life)
  16. The Old Haunts “Volatile” (from the release Poisonous Times)
  17. Panda & Angel “Sirens” (from an unreleased EP)
  18. The Pharmacy “Little Toys On The Shelf” (from the release Choose Yr Own Adventure)
  19. Mark Pickerel “She Calls” (from the release Cody’s Dream)
  20. Pleasureboaters “Elliptical Realism” (from the release !Gross!)
  21. Shim “Satisfied” (from the release Feel Like a King)
  22. Star Anna “If Wishes Were Horses” (from the release Crooked Path)
  23. The Saturday Knights “Dog Park” (from the release Mingle)
  24. Shake Some Action! “Half Past Three” (from the release Sunny Days Ahead)
  25. Tea for Julie “Pollyanna” (from the release The Sense in Tying Knots)
  26. Team Gina “Wife-Swapping” (from the release Product of the Eighties)
  27. Tennis Pro “Shelley Gets High” (from the release Are You There God? It’s Me, Tennis Pro.)
  28. Thee Emergency “Call 911” (from the release Solid)
  29. Throw Me The Statue “Yucatan Gold” (from the release Moonbeams)
  30. The Turn-Ons “Here She Is” (from the release Curse)
  31. Shane Tutmarc and the Travelling Mercies “Honey I Chose You” (from the release Hey Lazarus)
  32. Chris Walla “Two-Fifty” (from the release Field Manual)
  33. The Young Sportsmen “Girl Pants” (from the release If You Want It)

To paraphrase imaginary ChrisB, we feel like this list is pretty unfuckwithable. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t inadvertently overlook something great. If you have additions for our list, please chime in with your comments below.

 

Categories
Common Market Gabriel Teodros Grayskul Live Show Review Showbox at the Market Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli and co. close out Noise for the Needy 2008

Talib Kweli had three opening acts — Grayskul, Gabriel Teodros, and Common Market –onstage for the closing show of the Noise for the Needy 2008 benefit for Urban Rest Stop. All three groups are local to Seattle, each with a kind of philosophic vibe that doesn't interfere with their ability or desire to have a really good time. Throw in a large crowd of hip hop-loving Seattlites willing to donate their hard-earned money to an extremely worthy cause (and to see BKMC of course) and you have yourself an excellent show that doesn't need any kind of review to confirm it.

The somewhat goth-tinged music of Grayskul was performed with a bright energy that resulted in even the most reserved Seattlite present at the Showbox dancing. After their set, the soulful MC Gabriel Teodros wowed the audience with a friend who out a beat for him to rhyme over. He gave much love to Seattle, Ethiopia, and women (the latter can never hurt your cause in this girl's opinion) and he mentioned being out of town for a while, which may mean he's touring — a lucky thing for the rest of the country if they get him their way. At some point local MC Khingz arrived on stage via skateboard and during Common Market's set, Geo of Blue Scholars showed up for a song and Blake Lewis came on stage to make use of his now famous beat boxing skills.

Common Market photo by Blush Photo

Sabzi photo by Blush Photo

Blake Lewis at Noise for the Needy

Talib came out affably onto the stage, and lived up to his rhyme from Listen: "Kweli – the flow captain, the fast or slow rappin' I'm so crackin', you ain't heard?" While he does have some awesome principles that are expressed in his lyrics, ultimately the greatest thing about his live show is dancing to his Brooklyn-accented rhymes.

Talib Kweli photo by Blush Photo

Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli by Blush Photo

All in all, a great hip-hop show from beginning to end.

Categories
Common Market Massline Media Record Review

Black Patch War

There's nothing like hearing an act that you've been rooting for finally get it all together. Common Market's (RA Scion and DJ Sabzi) self-titled debut album was good… not great, but good. Now, before you think I'm trash-talking Common Market here, let me plead my case. No matter how many times I've listened to the album, it just never seemed to click, like something was out of phase, flickering in and out of reality. You'd get absolute gems like “Connect For” or “Trinity” and then a bunch of tracks that fell a bit flat. Maybe I was unjustly comparing it to Sabzi's other act, Blue Scholars, whose debut was approaching perfect. In any case, I had a lot of hope for Common Market, and Black Patch War gives us a taste of that promise fulfilled.

Black Patch War is just tight. Tightly produced. Tightly rhymed. Tightly packaged into seven songs. It just feels so much more focused than anything Common Market has released. The title track is an aggressive protest song that borrows some of Jay-Z's Black Album vibe, with Scion sporting a sizeable chip on his shoulder. Of course, modern urban radio would be terrified of it because it's (a) intelligent and (b) lacking enough faux-pimp/gangster posturing. “Watership Down,” using a smeared soul sample to wrap about Scion's verses, espousing a lot of great one liners like ”they'd be afraid of death if they had something to life for,” and “Red Leaves” seems to partner with “Watership Down,” with its more optimistic tone (albeit subtle). It is kind of fun to hear Common Market trying some big sound like on “His Eminence." You could almost picture the 10' tall neon sign flashing “Common Market” behind Scion and Sabzi in the video. On the flip side, “Trouble Is” is some of the smoothest sounds that the act has put to tape (hard drive?) and could be the high point on the EP, coming across like southern hip-hop with a brain.

Common Market are taking a big step forward with their Black Patch War EP. The songs come across as much more together and focused than anything they've recorded before and its this evolution that takes Common Market from another intelligent hip-hop act to a duo with a voice of their own.