David Ramos' extraordinary drum skills have led him to projects like making beats for Aceyalone and Busdriver and touring with the free-folk artist Little Wings. It didn't hurt, of course, when Modern Drummer named him in "Top 10 Progressive Drummers of Today." So Ramos' solo debut, This Up Here, doesn't even seem that odd if you know where he's coming from. The psychedelic pop album is full of Casio synths, catchy hooks, tight beats, and Ramos's surprisingly versatile rap vocals. Kyle Field, the Little Wings' songwriter-turned-contemporary-artist, contributed some of his mind-blowing drawings for the album, which should be released next month. Wyatt Williams
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Eliot Lipp draws his tracks from the dusty era of analog synths, conjuring futuristic visions along with a dose of Ed Koch-era New York hip-hop. Lipp, who currently resides in Brooklyn, debuted in 2004, thanks to Scott Herren of Prefuse 73, who put out Lipp's first record on Eastern Developments. Lipp's releases since have further explored his abstract take on hip-hop and earned him a few fans around the XLR8R office. The Outside is his first record for Mush, and it pushes Lipp's past-future compositions to a new level of forward-looking analog nostalgia. Wyatt Williams
2008 has already been a momentous year for Montreal-based trio Plants and Animals, with the band joining The Whigs onstage, playing SXSW, and releasing Parc Avenue this past March on Secret City (The Go! Team, Miracle Fortress). With lead vocalist Warren Spicer's recognizable voice leading the album's musical trajectory, the band delves into soft, acoustic ballads, post-rock numbers, and intricately crafted tracks that call to mind '70s rock songs.
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Bird Peterson is native Texan who's been pushing tracks on blogs almost as hard as his B-more influenced beats, getting attention for a spread of leftfield remixes that include everyone from Lil Wayne to The Who. The internet has helped with more than just promoting his tracks though–Peterson learned his remix chops from the producers posting on Hollerboard. Though he lives in Austin, he speaks with a lot of respect for Maryland's biggest export: "There is a real art behind making a really good Baltimore club track." On "Bills," Mugsy Flowz handles the mic duties while Peterson uses his art skills and makes this track a thick, stuttering banger. Wyatt Williams
"Get Bitches" comes fresh off Guilty Simpson's Ode to the Ghetto release, and we didn't lace you with the clean version of the track either. Here, the Detroit native raps about baby mamas, smoking the good shit, and getting rich, while heavy beats and some seriously bad ass handclaps pound in the background. The album, which marks his first for Stones Throw, lies somewhere between indie hip-hop and gangster rap, and is, of course, thematically concerned with his hometown. Photo by Eric Coleman.
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