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Sunday November 23rd 2014

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Ears & Fingers 12/12/13

by Jason Leger

Childish Gambino
‘Because the Internet’

I’m a huge Donald Glover fan. I remember seeing him years ago on short Internet videos that were crass, crude, and ultimately hilarious. And then “Community” hit it big, and he was launched into a form of notoriety that only being a network television star can provide. Glover was on the same level as Tim Allen and David Schwimmer. Let that sink in.

When I initially listened to “Camp,” Glover’s first full length under the name Childish Gambino, I was more than halfway expecting sarcasm, wit, and humor. I was only partially right. What I actually got was a pretty heart wrenching, emotional roller coaster of an album. On my first listen, I felt kind of assaulted, but I enjoyed the experience, and learned how to feel feelings again.

Now Childish Gambino is back with his second full length, “Because the Internet,” which oddly enough, was recorded entirely in secrecy at Chris Bosh’s home in Miami. Across the span of the past few weeks, the album has been slowly leaking out, much to Glover’s chagrin, but every track I heard leading up to the whole work, I loved more and more.
Upon finally hearing “Because the Internet” in totality, it became the cherry on top of a year filled with solid hip hop releases, ambitious in the vein of “Yeezus,” masterful in the footsteps of “Magna-Carta Holy Grail,” and at times reflecting the lewdness of “Wolf.”

While none of the tracks immediately caught me the same way “Heartbeat” did on “Camp,” there are plenty of gems on this album. “Shadows” is a solid R&B-infused jam, as is what I consider the strongest track, “Oakland.” Actually, a good portion of the album contains powerful R&B vibes, which is essentially speaking my language. This album is a very muscular release, and a ballsy one as it comes very close to the end of the year.

Kudos, Mr. Glover.

“Because the Internet” is out now via Glassnote Records and you can watch Donald Glover on the new season of “Community” premiering Jan. 2.

If You Haven’t Heard: The War on Drugs
Well, if you haven’t heard The War on Drugs, my prediction is that in the coming year, you will. In fact, I’m predicting that you will hear a lot from them. Last week, the band announced that their upcoming third full length album, “Lost in the Dream,” would be released March 18. Along with the announcement, the band revealed a string of 2014 tour dates, and shared the album’s first single, “Red Eyes.” The track takes the smooth, hazy textures that The War on Drugs have become known and loved for and gives a bit more of a polished, easily connectable sound.

The War on Drugs have proven to only get better as time goes on. In 2011, they released “Slave Ambient,” which was an elaborately minimal roots rock powerhouse, with clockwork rhythms and narrative introspection. This album was all over the place on year end best of lists, but didn’t quite gain the band the notoriety they deserve. Now they are poised to take over the world, and from the sound of this first track along with the input of some friends I trust who have heard album cuts, there will be quite a bit of momentum behind them in 2014.

If you legitimately haven’t heard this band, there is still plenty of time to catch up before March. I recommend starting with “Slave Ambient,” specifically the track “Baby Missiles,” and then working backward through the “Future Weather” EP and then to “Wagonwheel Blues.” You will be up to date in no time at all.

Keep your eyes on this band in the coming year, as all signs point to big, big things for them.

“Lost in the Dream” is out March 18 via Secretly Canadian Records.