1. All The Way Korean! - "Down In The Hole" Hot Springs is undergoing some sort of harrowing post-punk revival at the moment, between Times Showcase winners Ghost Bones and All The Way Korean!, who are recommended for fans of bass and pessimism.
2. Fizzy Mahabba - "Glass Hack" Fizzy Mahabba is the best, worst and strangest acid-damaged art-pop group ever to hail from Harrison, Arkansas, world-famous these days as the mailing address for the KKK.
3. Ma'Leak - "Tennessee Honey" From Little Rock's Trilly Mob and/or Nostalgic Recordings, here's a new EP by Ma'Leak, an immersive, rasta-influenced dreamscape of a rap tape called "4 ATL" that sounds like it was recorded on cassette then catapulted into the center of the ocean. Can't help but be reminded of the scarier, sadder era of Lil Wayne's mixtape output or of the heyday of the Based God. It's desperate, druggy, lost music.
4. SpidaCrazy8 - "Mrs. Green" Not entirely Safe For Work, here's the video for Springdale rapper SpidaCrazy8's new single "Mrs. Green," which doesn't actually start until about 1:41 but which is completely worth your time. Incidentally, SpidaCrazy8 is an all-time-great rap name.
5. Ryan Cook - "Always Raining Always Pouring" The other day I was on YouTube looking up computer games from my childhood — not even fun ones, really, strange stuff like "The Pagemaster" — and I was struck by the fact that the space of the games no longer seemed three-dimensional, it seemed so limited and cramped and pixelated and pathetic. I either misremembered these environments or my own digital literacy and expectations just got more sophisticated with time. These are the sorts of dilemmas explored in the music of Hot Springs' Ryan Cook, who I'm pretty sure made this record on an Android phone.
6. The Lampliter Boys - "Lady Tobacco"The newest release from Fayetteville's Let's Talk Figures camp is a three-song EP by The Lampliter Boys, who claim they "fell off of the train somewhere between Cheyenne and Chiapas." Pitched somewhere between the Flying Burrito Brothers and Pavement, they make semi-ironic country music that's part Western Swing and part Southern Gothic. "Some say they found the final home of Ambrose Bierce, while others suggest they drank all the whiskey in Guadalajara," they say in their bio. "Few things are certain."
Any new Kari Faux is a cause for celebration, and the Little Rock expat recently announced she had a new album finished and forthcoming, "Lost En Los Angeles. " Here's the great first single, produced by longtime collaborator bLAck pARty. I interviewed the two of them a couple of years ago, when they left town — seems like a long time ago now. /more/
Fresco Grey is so good he makes me proud to live in Little Rock. How often can you say that? "I'm just sitting back doing algebra," he says at one point, because why not? My only problem with this song is that it should be about twelve times longer. /more/
Former Gunbunnies front-man and Little Rock expat Chris Maxwell has a new album coming out March 4, "Arkansas Summer," and Paste premiered the great title track this week. Pre-order the record at Pledge Music. /more/
From my perspective, Goon des Garcons did more than anyone else in 2015 to make Little Rock look like a fun place to make art, and that accomplishment alone demands respect. He also happens to be an almost compulsively ambitious rapper, continually raising the bar for the production value and reach of his and his friends' work. Arkansas tends to prefer a kind of modest, slacker self-effacement from its artists, and so Goon's loud pride might seem initially misplaced or uncouth; but the guy is explicitly attempting to start a movement, to get some momentum going. And look at what he did. /more/
Fayetteville's The Wandering Lake — the recording project of Brian Kupillas — released a new set of songs on Bandcamp this week and they are predictably great. The EP, "From James' Garden" comes after, Kupillas says, "what felt like a long drought of spirit." Find him on Tumblr, where he posts new music plus photos of elephants and body-builders. /more/
Kind of like the Buddy Holly song, but more ambivalent and tense and anyway louder. “Holly looked for space in the noise,” Greil Marcus wrote of Holly once. “He built his music around silences, pauses, a catch in the throat, a wink.” Little Rock's The Uh Huhs are up to something similar — space in the noise, a wink. You can find this song on their debut 7", which will presumably be available soon (will updated when I know). /more/
I'm pretty sympathetic toward any attempt at making a Little Rock anthem, and this one isn't bad as far as it goes. "Bangin' in the Rock ain't dead," Ekko Muzic says, which is both an obvious gesture and a deeply subversive one — to point out that the past isn't the past, the city's old issues and tensions and divisions remain urgent and troubling, which seems inarguable and worth mentioning occasionally. Local anthems are necessary and positive by definition — it's good to talk about your surroundings, even if "try not to get shot" is the message you come up with. /more/
Express Rising was originally the recording moniker of Chicago's Dante Carfagna, a record collector and producer associated with the great archival label Numero Group. With his new release, "Fixed Rope," Carfanga has added William Suran and Fayetteville's Kevin Blagg, who also records under the name Cellophane Garden; the trio recorded the album somewhere in "rural Arkansas" with synths, pedal steel, banjo and a wash of reverb, loose atmosphere and mysticism. It's an ambient record with a real sense of place, and it's one of my favorite Arkansas releases in months. /more/
World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.