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Blogcritics Goodie Bag: Pharoahe Monch, The Majestic Twelve, Peasant, The Harry Smith Project and the Submarines

Pharoahe Monch, one of hip-hop’s most gifted lyricists, is ready to reintroduce himself to a rap world crying out for genuine artists with his long-awaited album, Desire. At a time when a rapper’s image and financial status appear to capture the attention of fans more than lyrical content and creative production, Pharoahe has refused to “dumb down” his new project, choosing instead to adhere to the rules and principles he learned growing-up in hip-hop’s Golden Age — be original, be true to yourself, and be as skillful as possible on the mic device. But that said, don’t expect to hear Monch stuck in a time-warp on Desire. With beats from the likes of Mr. Porter (Kon-Artist of D12), The Alchemist, Detroit’s Black Milk, and long-time collaborator Lee Stone, the lyrical king from Queens is definitely looking to move the art form of hip-hop forward with this album. Listen to the first single, “Push” (wma|ram).

North Carolina artpunks The Majestic Twelve‘s cinematic short directed by Norwegian filmmakers Thomas Lien and Joachim Solum for the single “Trapped Underwater” off of their underground hit record, Schizophrenology, recently debuted on the MTV Latin America airwaves. “Trapped Underwater” sounds like a lost new wave classic, an unearthed Chills song from the era of Submarine Bells. The lyrics hint at lust, suffocation, and loss of identity, and front-man Kenyata Sullivan sings the song in the voice of a man on the brink of dissolution. The video is shot entirely underwater on 35mm film.

Peasant is the alias of subterranean pop-folkie Damien DeRose. While everything he produces is recorded in what seems like an intimate setting, DeRose avoids the misused lo-fi tag with a sound that’s airy, warm, and incredibly inviting. The Wind is a limited-pressing 4-song 7-inch that presents Peasant’s minimal and oft-gorgeous folk songs in all their modest glory. The tunes DeRose pens are concise, to-the-point, and overall compelling, and The Wind is as good a starting point as any for this underground talent. You can stream the album or download a few songs: “Exposure,” “Those Days,” “Can’t Believe You’re Believin’,” and “Be Free.”

Fifty years after renowned musicologist, filmmaker, and painter, Harry Smith (1923-1991) compiled the definitive Anthology Of American Folk Music, Shout! Factory will release The Harry Smith Project: Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited, a four-disc audio/video tribute to the legendary archivist. In a series of concerts at the turn of the millennium, Beck, Sonic Youth, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, David Johansen, Steve Earle, Richard Thompson, Beth Orton, and others paid tribute to Harry Smith and his Anthology, which encompasses the entire repertoire of American folk music. Compiled by producer Hal Willner, the new box set draws inspiration from Smith’s landmark 1952 six-album compilation, which brought such blues and roots artists as The Carter Family, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dock Boggs and Uncle Dave Macon to national attention and sparked the late-1950s/early-1960s urban folk revival. The Harry Smith Project: Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited will be available on October 24, 2006, but meanwhile check out the e-card.

Zorpia Music is now in beta. The new feature allows aspiring artists to post MP3 music files, lyrics, videos, and to interact with fans around the world. Through a partnership with Nettwerk Music Group, Canada’s leading privately owned record label and artist management company, the band The Submarines will be the first to showcase music on the portal. The Submarines will be releasing exclusive remixes of their songs that will only be available on Zorpia Music.

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