I’m proud to put another Pacific Northwestern musician up for Tunesday this week.
Well, half of this group, Kimya Dawson, hails from her adopted home of Seattle/Olympia, WA but her cohort in this weird, hipster-hop adventure is San Francisco/New York’s Aesop Rock. Together, they form the band, The Uncluded.
For those who are unfamiliar with these seasoned musical characters, Kimya Dawson could be included in the anti-folk genre for her off-beat yet adorable approach to storytelling through song. You may recognize her music from the film, Juno, as she had 6.5 songs on the official soundtrack. I say 6.5 because there were six from Kimya Dawson, herself, and one from The Moldy Peaches – a musical collective that offered Kimya her earliest taste of musical fame. There are also three songs from Kimya on the Juno B-Sides. Big Kimya fans over in the Juno department.
Aesop Rock has been swimming through my playlists for the last decade. One of my favorite rappers/MCs for his unique voice and spitty-tendencies (I like it when people spit out words and make it sound good, you know?) and his acute ability to caress the English language into highly poignant and opinionated lyrics. His voice is almost percussive (spitty) which adds another layer to the homespun quality that this band and album seem to exude.
Oh, and about that album: It’s called Hokey Fright and it’s unlike any other anti-folk, indie, or hip hop album you’ll hear this year (or maybe even decade). I maintain my stance on “hipster-hop” being the most accurate way to describe it.
The Uncluded has been releasing a surprising amount of music videos for the album, which was released on May 7, 2013. Most albums get a meager handful of videos released for select singles while The Uncluded has released five music videos to accompany Hokey Fright.
Of them, my favorite has to be the most recently released video for the track titled “The Aquarium.”
In a river water tank utter
“Please don’t tap the glass, thanks.”
“Hold a moment.” told him,
“As an overgrown oaf in a coat of exposed bone you are not afloat alone”
The two enter an aquarium as animal psychologists and begin analyzing the captive sea life as if they were humans, subsequently comparing them to oddly sealife-like humans facing scrutiny and difficulties in their own lives. It’s put together with an intense and energetic feeling that fits oddly well with the pair’s wildly different styles.
This track also exemplifies the vocal layering that The Uncluded seems to be inventing and concurrently mastering. Aesop frequently speaks verses of of spoken-word-laced lyrics while Kimya Dawson has a lightly melodic echo of complimentary verses intertwined. Aesop Rock’s impression comes off to me as highly percussive, and I really enjoy the way he uses his diction and word pressure to provide another layer of rhythm to each track.
In the department of the utterly relatable, we have the track, “Delicate Cycle:”
I was 26 years old the first time I lived in a house
With a washer and dryer in it and that’s the year I bottomed out
Maybe what was missing was the sense of community that comes from
Hauling your big old load out in public and airing your dirty laundry
And the company of other people who also don’t have the amenities
At their convenience in a home that’s so set up that they never have to leave
Positivity radiates throughout this entire album, both musically and lyrically. There’s an energy that accompanies each song that makes you feel like you’re listening to something that you can feel good about supporting, and spreading around.
Also wildly noteworthy is the self-love anthem, “Teleprompters,” which discusses the battle that is anxiety and self-doubt. There’s no video for this track (yet?) but it’s absolutely one of the top three songs on the album, and maybe the most important. The track, “Organs,” seems to be a PSA for organ donation, and doesn’t do a bad job of selling the concept, to be honest.
Also among my favorites? “Superheroes,” which is essentially 38 seconds of sandwich celebration.
Not fashion enough for you? Try this video for their song, “Scissorhands” which features a wildly impressive… nail tutorial…?
The Uncluded’s Website on Rhymesayers
Listen to Hokey Fright on Spotify
“Teleprompters” (Buy This Song):
“Superheroes” (Buy This Song):
“Organs” (Buy This Song):