September 13, 2004

Applied Communications "Africa Baby Yeah YEah Yeah"

I've been searching my soul quite a bit lately, about personal matters that don't matter here. In my quest for spiritual and personal growth, I've learned a lot about myself, and I've learned that the first step towards growth is admitting your shortcomings. If you don't step up and see that you have a problem and admit it, how can you grow? You can't. It's been my observation that unless you're committing to some horrible crime or sin of passion, people welcome these confessions of fault and are willing to help you grow.

Having said that, I must confess to you, dear readers. I'm sometimes a very lazy music writer.

I can't help it, though. Sometimes, in my quest for describing a record, I fall victim to the cliches of the business. I won't repeat my sins, because those errors were in the past, and I am all about the here and now. I feel better just talking about it. I knew I would. Thank you for listening. I'm working on it, I really am. Hug me, please; this is oh-so hard for me to talk about, but you're going to see a Brand New Joseph starting today!

But damn it, Applied Communications has made it extremely difficult for me to grow. One of the laziest lines a music writer can use is the "this record is so weird, you have to hear it to appreciate it!" It's a line that's been running through my head ever since I listened to Africa Baby, Yeah Yeah Yeah!, their debut album. Max Wood, the solitary visionary behind this record, is a twenty-year old boy genius, a young man who sees something that nobody else sees, and whose music reflects that. He's a twisted fellow, but he's utterly brilliant. He's put the whoop-ass on full blast and has made a record that betters everything ever done by Beck, Cex, Atom & His Package, Wesley Willis, Daniel Johnston, Sugarhill Gang and Captain Beefheart. Africa Baby Yeah Yeah Yeah! is a weird blend of hip-hop, noise, punk and just utter insanity--but it's brilliant insanity, one that defies all words.

Wood's a very divisive fellow; you either think he's a genius or a retard. There is no middle ground; you either love him or you wish he'd take his lithium. Personally, I think this is easily one of best records I've heard all year. Maybe it's the insanity in my brain, maybe it's just the fact that I laugh insanely every time I listen to it, maybe it's the fact that his vocals and music and everything are so off that they're on--whatever it is, I can't stop listening to this record. Every track's a winner. He's got awesome beats. He's got a great flow. (His boast of "my flow is tight!" is no lie.) He's got personality and charm. He's a fuckin' boy genius, and I'm smitten. I've been extremely lazy here today, but when you're dealing with someone who sings "You may be a fish/I may be a boy/But together we can be/A fish and a boy," easy descriptive words really do fail. You just need to shut the hell up and go buy this record.

--Joseph Kyle
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