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Local cd roundup — Marijuana Deathsquads and Wize Guyz

Local noise rock collective Marijuana Deathsquads wander on their debut while hip-hop duo Wize Guyz revisit hip-hop’s golden age.
Local cd roundup — Marijuana Deathsquads and Wize Guyz
Image by Photo courtesy Marijuana Death Squads

Artist: Marijuana Deathsquads

Album: âÄúCrazy MasterâÄù

Label: Totally Gross National Product

After a month-long residency at Los AngelesâÄô Satellite (formerly known as Spaceland) âÄî a 260-person venue thatâÄôs housed everyone from the Arcade Fire to the Foo Fighters âÄî MinneapolisâÄô 10-member noise-rock collective Marijuana Deathsquads finally started to come into their own. Featuring a rotating all-star cast of Twin Cities talent that includes Ryan Olson (Gayngs), Stef Alexander (P.O.S. and Building Better Bombs),the group comes close to being considered the Twin CitiesâÄô latest artistic super group.

But Marijuana Deathsquads doesnâÄôt sound quite like a super group. Hell, it doesnâÄôt even sound much like music. Marijuana Deathsquads sounds more like a psychological meltdown, a mechanical body of sound propelled by cyborg-synths, distorted vocals and menacing drum beats.

âÄúCrazy MasterâÄù runs for nearly 40 minutes but says all that it needs to say with the nine-minute opening title-track. Lead singer Isaac Gale shrieks in the distance beneath a sheet of sonic clutter and outstanding drum work. And with some minor variations here and there, thatâÄôs really the gist of it.

The songs donâÄôt seem to follow any linear structure, oftentimes digressing into prolonged bouts of dissonant noise âÄî which is fine, because âÄúCrazy MasterâÄù is more an exercise in ambience and experimentation than songwriting.

After a while it all just starts to mesh together into one dreary sonic malaise that seems to take more pleasure in style and attitude than coherence. ItâÄôs music thatâÄôs meant to be experienced in a live setting, but donâÄôt expect âÄúCrazy MasterâÄù to draw many converts. Sometimes itâÄôs interesting, other times itâÄôs terrifying, but most of the time it just seems downright aimless.

2 out of 4 stars

Artist: Wize Guyz

Album: âÄúâÄô85âÄù

For far too long Rhymesayers has had a monopoly on Twin Cities hip-hop. While the MidwestâÄôs ever-burgeoning empire has paid its dues and earned a respectable reputation, far too many rap outsiders caught beneath their tall shadows have gone unnoticed over the years.

But with the release of their debut album, âÄúâÄô85,âÄù local emcees Lojik and Dextro of Wize Guyz defy all those local hip-hop norms with boom-bap production, soul-influenced grooves and enough streetwise swagger to keep even the most astute rap junkieâÄôs heads ringing.

ItâÄôs an album that hearkens back to the genreâÄôs all-but-forgotten golden age while avoiding cheap imitation. ThereâÄôs plenty of classic hip-hop tropes on âÄúâÄô85,âÄù and what the duo might lack in terms of originality, they more than make up for with their verbal prowess and delivery.

From the head-banging production on âÄúAbove GroundâÄù to the superb front porch romp âÄúCirca âÄô85,âÄù Wize Guyz stagger on rarely missing a beat occasionally flanked by local cats that include human beat box Carnage the Executioner and recent Picked-to-Clicker MaLLy.

ItâÄôs hard to say whether or not Wize Guyz will ever reach the local status of such powerhouse names like Brother Ali or Dessa, but their debut is a testament to their passion for the art form. And sometimes that, joined with a little talent and persistence, is all you really need.

3 out of 4 stars.

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