Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reviews:: Ira Lee - My Favorite Songs By Me

Ira Lee's new album, My Favorite Songs By Me, puts me in a bit of a quandary. I mean, I liked Ira's last album, and I really like this one, but I don't exactly know what to say to you fine folks to induce you to have a listen. And that's kind of the point isn't it? Well it's the point here, to spread the word about music we like - I realize other blog-type sites appear to have some other agenda, but your best friends here at the hill.

So then, what to say about Ira Lee? Would something like "Hey, do you like rap-house songs about a neighbor that used to masturbate in public and bang on the door looking for a fix before eventually dying of an overdose? Yes? Well then Ira Lee's Donna Jones Remix is for you!" lure you in? Perhaps not. Ira's narratives are painted from a wide-ranging palate, albeit he usually favours the section of the palate whose colours are various shades of gut-kicking sadness. When you add to this his off-kilter delivery and his clever & cantankerous personality, you get a very challenging brand of hip hop. And most people don't want challenging hip hop. Despite how many people make claims to the opposite, most folks just want the hip hop Arrowroot - easily digestible.

But here's the rub: despite all of the above, Ira's songs are really listenable. And that is impressive. He's a great storyteller, mixing people, places, and events (both personally earth-shattering and mundane) into eclectic songs that draw me in every time. Consider that his new album alone has songs about stealing a little girl's bike, the stankness of other people's bathrooms (which may or may not be Ira doing a Moka Only impression), various horrible and/or insane people he knew (Mike Brown, the aforementioned Donna Jones, Henry, The Pigman), various people he cares about (his grandmother Ruthie, his mom, and his man Matt), Montreal, and under-age lust. If you can take that list of subject matter into an engaging 16-song album, you've certainly got some talent.

I have no idea which bits are fact and which are fiction, but the detail in his writing makes everything so vivid and believable. But if I had to pick one song to try and sell this album to a first time listener, it might be Montreal, which is chock full of detail about Ira's newest city of residence, and while it seems much more positive than the similar Alberta's Trying To Kill Me from his last album, you're still kind of left wondering how he actually feels about the place. That said, it's hard to deny the appeal of the macabre glee of the sing-songy Your Little Sister's Bike, the naughty Juno-esque charm of All The Places We Did It, or the desperate sincerity of Ira's grandma-ode Ruthie.

Re-counting the the good songs on the album reminds me that I shouldn't give short shrift to the production on the album, which was done by Ira and folks like Scott Da Ros, Mattr, Funken, Ryan Stinson, Factor, petit BIG, and Critical Mass. I remember the production on Ira's last album being rather subdued for the most part, but this time it takes more of a co-starring role with Ira's narratives and beats like Factor's dusty throwback for Henry seem to inspire Ira to kick his flow into a higher gear/

Even though it's good to see that my rambling is just as strong in 2010 as it's always been, I'm gonna just assume I've peaked enough of your curiosity enough that you're ready to go check out My Favorite Songs By Me for yourself. If you're ready for a hip hop album that will make you smile, laugh, cringe, frown and perform various other one-word facial displays, then you'll likely be glad you did.

MP3:: Ira Lee - Your Little Sister's Bike

MP3:: Ira Lee - Donna Jones (Remix)

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Posted at 1:51 PM by naedoo :: 3 comments

add to facebook add to Digg this Googlize this post add to Yahoo

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Mike Brown, Yo! did sayeth:

I'll have you know that I am neither insane, nor horrendous!


At 9:27 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

haha, yeah, listening to the song again now I think I lumped you in there kind of unfairly. Sorry about that!


At 11:43 AM, Blogger stinson did sayeth:

I STILL wanna be like mike!


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