The Lowdown, 2/10/11
So in my many years of shopping at California's trio of Amoeba Record stores, I have spent a good deal of time digging through their super cheap clearance bins in search of the occasional odd gem. These days, those bins will mostly be a mix of great obscure underground stuff that I already own and complete crap that I wouldn't touch with a yard stick, but ever so often there will come a rare moment when I'll discover something that looks kind of interesting that I haven't really heard of before. Most of the time, those risky purchases end up being disappointing or even unlistenable, but once in a while I'll really luck out. Since it's a rare enough occurrence, I figure I'll document some of those finds here.
I picked up Knonam's 2008 album "Length of the Blade" on a whim at Amoeba San Francisco a few days ago for about two bucks. The 80s-inspired album cover stood out a bit amongst the shitty covers crowding the clearance bin, and I seemed to remember someone bringing his name up in a discussion about Minnesota hip hop, which has been an area of interest of mine for the last few years. Anyway, it turns out this album is the most impressive clearance bin discovery I've made since I bought Debaser's "Crown Control" album from the Amoeba Berkeley bins a few years back. Knonam has not only a strong flow, but also some seriously good song-writing ability, with an obvious understanding on how to hold people's attention with a story or pen a catchy hook. He also produced all of the beats on "Length of the Blade," and the music is a surprisingly great tribute to 80s samples and synth lines, which gives the project an element of originality.
Stream-able below is the title track off of "Length of the Blade," which is my personal favorite song on the album and a great example of Knonam's talents. The eerily familiar creeping 80s guitar riff in the background sets the stage for two of Knonam's extremely personal life stories, which are tied together through an excellent hook. Give it a listen and check this guy's stuff out if you get a chance!