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Random Thoughts: Rapsody, Virgil Howe, Stamps the Bar


The 9th Wonder protégé has made one of the coolest hip-hop records of the year in the form of "Laila's Wisdom."

Rapsody has been a guest artist of merit on projects by the likes of Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar, but with the sheer breadth of soulful influences congealing on "Laila's Wisdom," the depth and intricacy of her lyrics and rhythmic inflections, and the timely conflation of resistance and self-acceptance that permeates the album, this would appear to be her time to shine alone.

'Dive' in

Self-proclaimed "dive bar" Stamps The Bar (98 Main St., Tonawanda) is developing a scene that ranges from indie to jazz to hip-hop. I need to get there.

Stamps has long been a home for metal and classic rock, but these days, we’re seeing a serious broadening of the booking palette, with weekly residencies (The Buffalo Jazz Composers Workshop on Mondays)  to local original indie rock (Roger Bryan & the Orphans on Oct. 21) and a rotating singer/songwriter showcase (Vibe Edition on Oct. 26, with Mahoganey Jaz, Dave Stewy, and others). It's nice to see a local joint widening its horizons.

Steve & Virgil Howe

Steve Howe and his son Virgil recorded an album together just prior to Virgil's death.  Title track "Nexus" is out now.

The recent death of Yes guitarist Steve Howe's multi-instrumentalist son Virgil Howe did not stall the completion of the album of Virgil's compositions the father/son team was recording. A drummer, DJ, keyboardist and composer, the younger of Steve Howe's two sons was a child prodigy whose interests in music ran far and wide, from electronica to rock and classical.

"Nexus" marks the first full collaboration between father and son, and was hoped to be one of many. The sudden passing of Virgil Howe deeply shocked the entire InsideOutMusic team, as it happened just a few hours after he had approved the first press release about "Nexus," writes Thomas Waber, the A&R man responsible for the project.

"It was supposed to be a new beginning for an exciting musical collaboration, but now it has become one of the saddest albums we have ever worked on. We left the decision over the release of ‘Nexus’ up to Steve and respect his wish to continue as originally discussed. Being fathers, too, we can only guess how hard it must be to deal with such a loss and we sincerely hope you will all enjoy ‘Nexus’ despite the circumstances under which it is coming out."  Virgil Howe died on Sept. 11, at the age of 41. The cause of death remains unconfirmed.

Manson goes over the Falls

A full-on Marilyn Manson production inside the intimate Rapids Theatre on Feb. 9? Yes, please.

I might be less excited about this, if not for the fact that Manson's freshly released "Heaven Upside Down" is a strong, on-point collection of alternately brooding and face-slamming Manson classics-in-waiting, some of them in the mode of "Mechanical Animals," which remains, for me, Manson's finest recorded hour.

Joe Fox & Nas

The former London street musician teams with hip-hop royalty for "What's the Word," a sprightly, Dylan-esque folk-hop stunner. The kid's got a future.

Still a 'Loser'

Beck's follow-up to Grammy-winner "Morning Phase" is an upbeat, technicolor affair.

"Colors" is not at all in keeping with its predecessor's predilection for introspection and beautiful melancholy. And yet, I still like it.

Reznor's 'Halloween'

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have interpreted the creepy theme music from John Carpenter's "Halloween." Who better?


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