PLAIN WHITE RAPPER: Athens experimental rapper Marshall Moore (aka the former Hairy Confucius) just released a seven-song EP under his current project name, The Quiet Pack. It's titled Steam Zone, and a release show is scheduled for the Caledonia Lounge Thursday, Dec. 1. Pop Weirdos and VHS Collectors Club share the bill. Newcomers to Moore's music will notice his slowly paced but supremely enunciated vocal delivery, which is far more situated to conversation than confrontation. The only graspable hip-hop touchstone here might be the thin slice of early De La Soul present on “Meet Me on the Astral Plane.” From the pop world, though, Pet Shop Boys are clearly echoed on “Let's Make Some Plans,” and early ’90s G-Funk R&B—which itself drew largely from '70s grooves—shows itself on “Bot Boy.” Lyrically, Moore either uses a whole lot of simile and metaphor (“Construction Materials”) or he's crystal clear and straightforward (“We Love Hangin' Out”). Problem is, I can't tell which is which most of the time. See what you can do over at quietpack.bandcamp.com.
BLUEPRINT FOR SURVIVAL: A massive new mixtape is out from the Razzi King reggae camp. The Razzi King Lovers Rock Mixtape completely lives up to its name, with 20 tracks of rocksteady, dub and 1970s-era reggae. There are a few cover versions that both hit (a version of Shuggie Otis' “Strawberry Letter 23”) and miss (Bob Marley's “Stir It Up”). By and large, though, this is a pretty killer collection so steeped in genre knowledge and skill that old-school listeners will appreciate its depth and newcomers will be exposed to various well-executed styles. Vocals are credited to King, Lakeshia Moon, Frankhe Lion and Cozmos, while beats were handled by Point Guard, Jah Stevens, Seineek and Ill Minds. Tuck in at echobassrecords.bandcamp.com.
THREE OUT OF TWELVE AIN'T BAD: Musician Taylor Ross, who records and performs as Surface to Air Missive, is originally from Tallahassee, FL but now spends his time in Athens. A new STAM album just came out via Los Angeles label Leaving Records, which just happens to be distributed by the eternally cool Stones Throw Records, so that right there is hella dope. And that's also where the dopeness ends. It takes so long to be grabbed by anything on this record, titled A V. Then, by the time it gets grabby—the sixth track, “Sharp Guise”—it wears its debt to old of Montreal so heavily you'd swear it was a cover band. The same thing is true of “Full Love Wonder” and “My Finest Shirt.” Ross has a clear ear and capacity for sharply dressed melody, but only seems to let some personality through on a handful of tracks. Notably, “Morning Thought” is a great little romp through both soft-psych and rousing guitar swells à la The Kinks or The Three O'Clock. Similarly, “Me and the Gang” has a cool march-and-stomp rhythm. The most fully realized song is the final track “Time Being,” but the listener making it this far doesn't seem likely. Make your best effort over at leavingrecords.bandcamp.com.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO 95 N: Another Florida transplant makes news this week, as Jacksonville native Christopher Bartus hosts a showcase for his cassette label Tapes From the Gates at The World Famous Saturday, Dec. 3. Performing this night are Mind Brains, Richard Gumby, Wild Abandon, and St. Augustine group Lady Dug. Bartus himself is playing synthesizer with Wild Abandon these days, and his label released cassettes of the Jesse Kennedy-led project's two most recent releases, each of which I gave the ol’ thumbs-up here in these pages. Bartus says both of those tapes, plus cassette versions of Mind Brains' self-titled album (originally released on Orange Twin last year) and the new EP by Visitation, Venus, released digitally last month via MOEKE Records, will be available for purchase at this show. Dig into the label and all its doings at tapesfromthegates.com.
SPEAKING OF WHICH: The aforementioned new EP from Visitation should be heeded as distinctly not a release from Davey Wrathgabar's almost two-decades-long project Visitations. Instead, it's the several-years-old project from Ray Heekin (ex-Gospel Music), and his new record is a lush affair that's totally listenable in either foreground or background. Centered around mid-tempo synth rhythms and melodies, it reaches its high point on “Country Music Ecstasy.” The foreboding sense of small-orchestral grandeur on “This World Is Number One” and finger-poppin' shuffle step of “Let's Die in Love” are pretty good, too. Honestly, the whole EP is ripe for some clever DJ remixing, so those of y'all so inclined, lean yourself toward moekerecords.bandcamp.com.