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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

HypeCast: Casting our Perfect Superhero Movies

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we play Movie God, and ramble endlessly about the creative talent we'd like to see involved our upcoming Superhero extravaganzas. The conversation covers Collin's outed distaste of all things Zack Snyder, and even features Tyler going full-on archaeologist, and excavating the bones of Timur Bekmambetov's career. Before diving into Nerd Nirvana, we discuss a few movies we've both recently seen, ranging from great to good, to bad, and, finally, to Joe Dirt 2. And... yeah... we talk about comic book movies for way too long. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
4:31-9:03---Revisiting Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World
9:04-17:02---Joe Dirt 2: A Beautiful Loser
17:03-23:46---A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
23:47-1:31:13---Our ideal/fantasy-world picks for who would star and direct any number of upcoming Superhero flicks

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trainwreck (Release Date: 7-22-2015)

        Amy Schumer is scorching hot right now, and Judd Apatow is cold as ice. The actress, comedian, and star of Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer currently possesses a career trajectory that points straight to the stars, her fame and popularity growing more pronounced each day. Apatow, on the other hand, has fallen in a rut from which he can't seem to escape. By any popular measure, the auteur's last successful directorial outing was 2007's Knocked Up, a film that's now nearly a decade in the rearview mirror. In case that doesn't strike you as all that long ago, consider that all four Transformers movies are more recent, Christopher Nolan was still just 'the guy who made Memento' at the time, and George W. Bush was still in office. In the interim, Apatow has seen his clout as a producer wilt away into almost nothing (Thanks, Drillbit Taylor!!!), while the two films he helmed in that period, Funny People and This is 40 Minutes Too Long, have already been largely forgotten. Trainwreck represents Schumer's first leading role in a theatrical release, but don't be fooled; Apatow needs her far more than she needs him.

        The movie is so eager to promote its star that it refuses to even provide her character with a different name, perhaps because the Amy of Trainwreck so closely resembles the Amy of her television show. Gleefully promiscuous, brazenly inconsiderate, and an avid enthusiast of both weed and booze, Amy is living out the end of her 20's as an endless series of one night stands. Working as a writer for an openly classless men's magazine, Amy is tasked with composing a profile of Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a celebrity surgeon who primarily operates on professional athletes. Despite starting off on a sour note, the two strike up an unlikely friendship that quickly morphs into romance, forcing Amy to consider, for the first time in her adult life, the possibility of monogamy.

        If that all reads like Knocked Up without the ticking time-bomb of impending parenthood, you're not far off. Both movies are pure romantic comedies, and both derive their main narrative thrust from the maturation of their protagonists. One could argue that the raunchy humor featured in both features sets them pair apart from the Kate Hudson/Meg Ryan school of chick flicks, but in terms of both plot mechanics and social stances, they all come equip with the very same blue print. The primary difference between the two Apatow features is in the gender of our lead actor; Schumer's Amy may harbor the same vices and comedic energy as Seth Rogen's KU character, but the fact that we've been so culturally inundated with females in this type of role causes Trainwreck to feel much more familiar. At the end of the day, this is another movie wherein a career-focused magazine writer must learn to open her heart to a sweet, caring man, and no number of joints and sex jokes can change that.

        And good lord, there are a lot of joints and sex jokes. While Apatow is far from our most consistent creator in the field of American comedy, the director has yet to craft a laugh-less movie, and Trainwreck continues this streak. LeBron James and John Cena, both star athletes making turns as thespians, perform nicely in underwritten roles, and more than a few scenes of improv watch chuckles grow into knee-slappers, like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up speed and mass all the while. The true high points, however, are few and far between, the majority of the film's jests resulting in silent, polite snickering. The screenplay, written by Schumer but obviously adorned with innumerable passages on-the-spot tomfoolery, is simply inconsistent, and marred with a trademark Apatow failing; outdated pop culture references. Back in 2005, he was still writing jokes about Survivor, and in the year 2015, the star athlete whose career Conners seeks to salvage is Amare Stoudemire. Some things never change.

        Amy sure does, though! The movie assigns Schumer any number of parts to play through-out its two hour runtime, calling to mind the schizophrenic comedy whirlwind of mid-90's Jim Carrey. Experiencing an actor pour about 16 different personas into one single character is much easier to take when said character is a manic pet detective, a lonely cable guy, or a comic book super villain. Schumer is playing a modern woman, so watching her swap out one persona for the next on such a regular basis is hugely distracting. The only thing that truly unites the many facets of her performance is brutishness: she's rude, inconsiderate, self-obsessed, and riddled with substance abuse problems. These are the only traits we can honestly latch on to, and when the movie ultimately requires her to sand down her many faults and weaknesses, we're left wondering who, exactly, the person is that we just spent the last 120 minutes with. It's a classic example of having too much of a good thing; Schumer's dexterity as a comedian causes the film at large to lose the thread of what might make her unique. Hader fares even worse, saddled with a part that asks almost nothing of him, and hides away his immense odd-ball talents. Anyone could have played Aaron Conners, and that's because he's not a character. He's an idea, and a vehicle to get this 'trainwreck' of a woman a few steps closer to walking down the aisle.

        In an odd and nearly unmissable way, the movie is both a comeback and a coming out party, but Schumer is essentially a lock to break out eventually, even if it's not in this movie. Apatow's prospects look entirely more dubious. Funny People was an ambitious failure, and This is 40 Minutes Too Long strove for lesser heights and achieved lesser results. Trainwreck hardly aspires to anything more than a couple of good hours at the flicks, and if it realized this goal more fully, perhaps I wouldn't be distracted by all the minutia. But it doesn't, and though I enjoyed myself for stretches of the film, I couldn't help but focus more intently on its listless editing, desperate reliance on celebrity cameos, and regressive gender politics. I'm excited to see what Schumer can do with the rest of her acting career, and will always be enticed anytime that Hader's face is set to light up the silver screen. Apatow is on probation at the moment; he can win me back, but it'll take some heavy lifting.

Grade: C-

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

HypeCast: Ant-Man and Trainwreck

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss a pair of box office winners that were just released this last friday. The conversation covers Marvel's latest brazen attempt to make you care about a character you've never heard of (Ant-Man), as well as Judd Apatow's latest romantic comedy bawdy laugher (Trainwreck). Collin is revealed to be a complete and total sour puss, and we discover that even Tyler has limits where superhero movies are concerned. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-4:20---Big Brother (?!?)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ant-Man (Release Date: 7-17-2015)

        All movies, from heartfelt indies to calculated mainstream cash grabs, are products. They are commodified, distributed, marketed, and sold to the public based on the success of their advertising, and perceived merit. Good movies have a way of making us forget this fact, whisking us away on some grand adventure or sincere tale.  Ant-Man, as well as May's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, are not so good at disguising their commercialization, and while you'd have to be pretty unfamiliar with the industry at large to expect otherwise, 2015 marks the first year where Marvel's seams are really starting to show. Those endlessly willing to indulge the studio's comic-based output will perhaps be able to focus on the narrative at hand, but for everyone else, the behind the scenes story takes precedent almost immediately.

        The plot presented on screen involves one Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a cat burglar with a passion for stealing from the rich who, as the movie opens, is just finishing a stint at the local jail. After a scene of painfully obvious product placement that takes place in a Baskin-Robbins, Lang decides that the straight life isn't cutting it financially, and sets out to rob the estate of one Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). What seems like an easy score turns out to be a game of cat and mouse, Pym entrapping Lang into participating in yet another heist, this one set at Hank's old place of work. The new boss in town, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is on the brink of selling a new and dangerous type of technology to whichever military group turns out to be the highest bidder, forcing Pym to entrust Scott with his most treasured invention; the Ant-Man suit, capable of shrinking its wearer to the size of its titular insect while only bolstering their strength.

        Ant-Man gets a lot of things wrong: Peyton Reed's direction is as flat as a week-old soda, the screenplay fails to surprise even once, and as capable an actor as Rudd is, believing him as a Robin Hood-style vigilante who survives prison without a scratch is a leap too far. Mostly though, the film just struggles to make you care. The preparation for the burglary, always one of the highlights of any heist flick, is not only rushed, but conveyed with as few specifics as possible. The effects, while serviceable, seemingly press pause on the narrative happenings in order the go into some kind of video game inspired coma, and there's no amount of tongue-and-cheek delivery that will make multiple scenes of riding on the back of a flying ant go down any easier. There's also a subplot about Rudd trying to make things right with his young daughter, which would theoretically be the emotional heart of the movie if Ant-Man was capable of making us invest in any form that isn't monetary.

        Ant-Man was originally set to be directed by Edgar Wright, the comedic genius behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. He and writing partner Joe Cornish were attached to the project for nearly a decade, and while both maintain a writing credit, their creative differences led to them abandoning the film. The movie we got instead constantly reminds one of what could have been; the myriad of jokes that fall flat could have easily been inflated by Wright's manic presentation, and though the existent version of Ant-Man is knowingly silly, there's little doubt in my mind that Wright would have wisely pushed the movie even further in that direction. It is undoubtably unfair to judge a movie by its troubled backstory, but there's just no ignoring the wasted potential of the still-unmade iteration, as Wright's words and narrative structure are relayed in the most banal fashion imaginable. In the end, I guess Payton Reed's Ant-Man did get us to care abut something; the fact that we traded in something that could have been great for the safest film of the summer.

Grade: D+

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

HypeCast: True Detective, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sequels

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss a slew of movies we've both recently seen, including Magic Mike XXL, Wild Tales, and Terminator Genysis. The conversation then moves to True Detective, a show that, half way through its second season, is now officially on life support. Finally, we take a stroll down memory lane, and discuss the short list of movies that have never received the sequel they deserve, as well as the endless list of sequels we wish had never seen the light of day. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Podcast Itinerary:
0:00-7:28---Magic Mike XXL
7:29-12:17---While We're Young
12:18-14:38---The Gallows
14:39-18:33---Wild Tales
18:34-28:27---Terminator Genysis
28:28-41:32---True Detective

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hip Hop Flip Flop: How Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky Switched Coasts

        Nearly two years ago, Big Sean dropped a song entitled Control, a three-verse banger that set the internet ablaze literally over-night for reasons that had nothing to do with the track’s credited author. The MC’s bars are nice and all, but it was Kendrick Lamar’s explosive lyrics and fire-breathing cadence that brought the crowd. Not only did the up-and-comer name-check a bundle of 12 well-known rappers whom he sought to lord over, the Compton product referred to himself as, “the king of New York,” perhaps the single greatest form of hip-hop blasphemy a West Coast native could commit. The drawing of regional lines has always been integral to the rap game’s identity, from KRS-One declaring the Bronx’s supremacy over the other NYC borrows on The Bridge is Over, on down to the famously tragic spat between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. There’s virtually no chance that Lamar didn’t know he was picking at a scab when he lyrically laid the East Coast crown upon his head, his words provoking responses from innumerable rhyme-smiths who all had an opinion on the matter, proving that, even in the year 2013, people still cared about the birthplace of a rap song. Regional styles are still being waved like flags, but while fans of the genre’s 90’s heyday still associate G-Funk with the City of Angels, and Boom Bap with the Big Apple, the coasts are switching sides right beneath them. Kendrick might as well be the king of New York; the city’s would-be champion, A$AP Rocky, is too busy kicking it on the golden coast.

        Even in the early 80’s, a time when nearly all hip hop came straight from The City that Never Sleeps, your zip code was important. After all, New York isn’t exactly what one would describe as ‘small,’ and the multitude of attitudes contained within its vast city limits could never congeal into one singular identity. Less than a decade into the genre’s existence, songs were already being written about one providence’s superiority over another. The aforementioned The Bridge is Over represents only a single chapter in a squabble between KRS-One and The Juice Crew over the true birthplace of hip hop, the MC’s representing The Bronx and Queensbridge, respectively. While these pioneers were engaging in close-quarter turf wars, a slew of artists from the Pacific Time Zone were on the come-up, the Los Angeles rap scene finally taking over the spotlight with the 1988 release of N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton. The likes of Snoop Dogg and Tupac were quick to follow, and all of a sudden, California had wrestled control of the genre away from its place of origin. The last thing a think-piece about Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky needs is a full-force digression into the ins-and-outs of mid-90’s hip hop, but any discussion of the difference between the two coasts would be wise to include the history listed above; West Coast is essentially New Money, having risen to the top on the wings of vastly different approach, while the East’s Old Money paradigm invites a sense of resentment at having been first to the table, only to find their meal being eaten right in front of them.

        If there’s one thing that A$AP isn’t, it’s old money. His debut studio LP, 2013’s Long.Live.A$AP, was defined by its overwhelming willingness to outsource. It featured countless rappers from all over the Northern America, was produced by innumerable names deriving from similarly diverse backgrounds, and received additional assists from such outside-the-box choices as M.I.A., Skrillex, and Florence and The Machine’s Florence Welch. The plethora of cooks in the kitchen helped make the disc a raging success, but also robbed it of any singular identity. Not only did it render any attempts at coastal distinction superfluous, its ceaselessly eclectic tracklist essentially argued that A$AP Rocky was a pop star first, and a rapper second.

        At.Long.Last.A$AP is much more cohesive, but the drug-addled wooziness that embodies the disc is lightyears removed from hard-hitting sound that defines the East Coast. The Pacific Ocean sparkle isn’t limited to the sonics; it boils over into the album’s guest spots, references, and cadence. While artists like Future, Kanye West, and the returning M.I.A. stand outside of the argument due to their global positioning, the first non-A$AP bars are delivered by Schoolboy Q, about as West Coast an MC as you’re likely to find. His naughty, nasally flow calls to mind a young Eazy-E, the Compton-born ‘Godfather of Gangsta Rap,’ while UGK’s late album feature plays as yet-another reference to California’s Pimp C. Bare in mind, Rocky is the figure-head of the New York-based rap collective A$AP Mob, yet none of his cronies show up on the entire hour-plus LP. If you think this a mistake, or that he simply lost every number in his phone for half a year, I’ve got some ocean-side property in Montana to sell you at an impossibly low price!

        A$AP Rocky’s birth name is Rakim Mayers, his mother titling him after legendary Long Island MC Rakim, an artist cut from an unthinkably different cloth. While the elder-statesman employes a silky smooth pace and intonation, Rocky’s flow is full of peaks and valleys, is if he recorded while going over an endless string of speed bumps. He seems eager to shed this association at every waking moment, preferring Snoop Dogg’s ‘G’s Up, Hoes Down,’ manifesto to wordy, lovelorn cuts like Rakim’s What’s On Your Mind. The song L$D even calls specific attention to this juxtaposition, the rapper admitting “I wanna tell you that I love you, but I ain’t into making love songs.” It’s clear that Mr. Mayers would much rather be associated with 2Pac, as evidenced by his citations of both Fuck the World and Hit ‘Em Up, the latter being a song that directly and belligerently attacks both The Notorious B.I.G. and the East Coast as a whole. As recently as a decade ago, this would have played as hip-hop sacrilege of the most dubious sort.

        Lamar also can’t contain his fondness for Mr. Shakur, even blocking out the last 6 minutes of his 2015 effort To Pimp a Butterfly to resurrect the Death Row Records signee for a plainspoken conversation about race, violence, and wealth disparity. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Butterfly’s incessant inclusion of West Coast legends, Wesley’s Theory containing a phone call from Dr. Dre, while Snoop Dogg makes a brief cameo on Institutionalized. While the presence of the icons listed above shows a healthy reverence to the past, it’s worth noting that only one of them actually raps on the MC’s new record, and even he’s shown the door with the greatest of haste. It’s not without reason; their voices would be entirely ill-suited to the album, largely because Lamar is simply nothing like them. In terms of worldview, imagination, flow, production, and cultural impact, Kendrick derives from the very same mold as Nas, their debut studio albums (Good Kid M.A.A.D City and Illmatic, respectively) still actively compared to each other on a regular basis.

        Nasir Jones is something of an outsider, his linguistically deft flow often describing violence and corruption from an outsider’s prospective. Mr. Lamar takes this thesis one step further, narrating from a myriad of different perspectives including family friends, a metaphorical Uncle Sam, and even his grandmother. Intellect and grandeur are perhaps his most defining features, both of his studio albums playing like novellas or one-man stage plays (Good Kid even sports the subtitle A Short Film By Kendrick Lamar). While many rappers, West Coast especially, model their epic pseudo-lives after Tony Montana, Kendrick and Nas are on their James Joyce. If you require proof, look no further than Matt Daniels’ brilliant distillation of Hip Hop’s vocabulary, wherein he measures the number of unique words utilized within a long list of rappers’ first 35,000 lyrics. Nas falls just a hair short of the collective wording featured in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, As You Like It, Winter's Tale, and Troilus and Cressida. Give Lamar a couple more albums, and he’ll be right there. He’s already named his sophomore effort after To Kill a Mockingbird, for Christ’s sake...

        As stated in the documentary Time is Illmatic, Jones’ father was a jazz musician, and the inspiration for the beat behind Life’s a Bitch. In fact, jazz music is a defining feature behind much of 90’s East Coast Hip Hop, from RZA morphing billowy sounds into The Wu-Tang Clan’s banging, clanging backdrops, to A Tribe Called Quest’s revolutionary sampling styles. This would all stand as an aside if it weren’t for Butterfly’s omnipresent utilization of the genre, undoubtably the jazziest mainstream rap record of the entirety of the 2000’s. Producer Terrence Martin’s free-flowing background on For Free (Interlude)? would almost be enough to earn that distinction all by itself, but it’s paired with Flying Lotus’ madcap production, as well as an assist from the legendary George Clinton. Everywhere you turn a live horn is blaring, or a tactical drum is rolling; Lamar himself might idolize Tupac Shakur, but his music sure as hell doesn’t.

        In case you are concerned by this point, I am aware that it is the year 2015, and have access to both clean water and the internet. Yes, The Coast War is over, but that doesn’t render the act of declaring your allegiance completely obsolete. Earlier this year, Joey Bada$$ cited Mobb Deep, Biggie, and Wu-Tang within the first 10 minutes of his album, B4.DA.$$, while Heems went as far as to claim “I’m so New York, I still don’t bump 2Pac.” Territorial lines, though largely faded, still exist in the rap game, which is why it’s so jarring to have our most commercial up-and-comers liberally pillage the stylings of their assumed rivals. Rhyme-smiths should be free to say what they want to say, and conceive their sounds in a way that feels natural to them. There’s just no avoiding the fact that the two most prominent young genre figures of the last several years want next to nothing of their home turf. And maybe both are better for it; I just can’t believe we all haven’t noticed.

Monday, July 6, 2015

HypeCast: What to Watch on Netflix

        Hello, and welcome back to the HypeCast, a film-centric podcast hosted by Collin Sherwood Elwyn and Tyler Mitchell. Today we discuss the veritable buffet of films that are available to stream on Netflix Instant Watch as of this very moment. The conversation includes Collin and Tyler's mutual affection for the modern Aussie Horror masterpiece that is The Babadook, a brazenly rushed discussion covering a slew of all-time classics, and shameless chiding of the you STILL haven't seen that? variety. For anyone who has ever uttered the words 'there's nothing to watch on Netflix,' this podcast is for you. Warning: a few naughty words are contained within. Continue at your own risk. Here We Go!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Leftovers: June 2015

Leftover Movies (now Available at Redbox):
While We're Young:
        If one Woody Allen movie per year simply isn't enough to satisfy, may I introduce you to Mr. Noah Baumbach? Now exactly two decades into his filmmaking career, Baumbach is the modern poet laureate of New York's upper-middle class, having delivered such Big Apple-based wonders as The Squid and the Whale and Frances Ha. He adds another winner to his canon with While We're Young, the story of a middle-aged couple (played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who become infatuated with a younger bohemian pair (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) to the point where the millennials' social paradigm starts to rub off on their own. This marks Stiller's second collaboration with Baumbach, and while the movie asks less of him than the affectionately bitter pill that was Greenberg, he's fine once again, as is the entire cast. WWY is perhaps the writer/director's funniest film to date, thanks in no small part to its cutting honesty, and unique outlook on generational divides. Not to belabor the point, but Baumbach is an artist cut from the very same cloth as Allen, and if the Woodman isn't really your flavor, you might be wise to pass on this one. For lovers of Annie Hall and Manhattan, however, While We're Young is not to be missed.

Wild Tales:
        You know all that subtle, incisive social commentary I was just describing? Take that, wad it up, douse it in lighter fluid, and blast it with a blow torch. Wild Tales, the Argentinian Best Foreign Film nominee at this last year's Oscars, is as deranged as it is hilarious, a comedy about righteous indignation that never stops raging. Composed of six short films that each stand completely separate from one another, writer/director Damián Szifrón's nutso anthology picture is best viewed without pre-existing knowledge of its distinct brand of mania. The tales here live up to their billing, each opening with a simple problem or misunderstanding that eventually balloons out into sheer madness, like a mushroom cloud expanding upon impact. Some have compared it to Tarantino, while others say the Coen brothers, but a worldview this fully formed doesn't exactly need predecessors. This is an electric, unpredictable ride, bursting with gonzo energy from first frame to last.

Leftover Music:
In Colour---Jamie XX
        At long last, In Colour has arrived... and it is glorious. Jamie XX is a British electronic producer best known for his construction of the minimalistic, nocturnal atmosphere that powers The XX. His own star has been in ceaseless ascension for the last decade, powered by his work with the aforementioned outfit, the excellent Gil Scott-Heron remix album We're New Here, and a plethora of EPs. In other words, he's been making us wait on a proper solo album for years now, but it only takes one listen to IC to know that it was worth the delay. His debut LP covers a myriad of genres over its 11-track, 42+ minute runtime, the smattering of textures most aptly described by the kaleidoscopic album cover to the right. His XX buddies each make an appearance, and while Oliver Sim's outing is one of the album's lower points, Romy Madley Croft's gentle whisper gives Seesaw its beating heart, and turns Loud Places into a Song of the Year candidate. Their vocal longing is matched by Jamie XX's lush, evocative work on the soundboard, and it's a testament to his strengths that some of the album's most emotional moments happen without the aid of words. In Colour might have arrived later than expected, but it stands as proof that Mr. XX is here to stay.

Summertime '06---Vince Staples
        While we're on the subject of youngsters who have been on the come-up for a while now, let's explore the dark, seedy ocean of anxiety and violence that is Summertime '06. Once considered a periphery player in the Odd Future scene, Staples rode the buzz of his stellar verse on Earl Sweatshirt's Hive into last year's more-than-promising EP Hell Can Wait. That said, even the most avid of supporters could not have predicted '06, a descendant of Kanye West's immortal Yeezus that actually sounds like... you know... a rap record. The album will play nicely blaring out from car speakers, but is ideally suited to headphones, which bring the doom-laden sparsity of the production to the forefront. Norf Norf drips down your back like a cold sweat, while the leering, clanging beat on Street Punks proves downright infectious. Staples lyrics are focused and his flow is confrontational, trading in flowery wording and imagery for plain-spoken realism. This is Parental Advisory rap at its finest, with a no-B.S. author taking you on a tour of his mind's most frightening streets and alleyways. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Surf---Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
        As bright and hopeful as Summertime '06 is dark and seething, Surf is a record that would be completely out of place in any other season than summer. The group features Chance The Rapper, whose much-lauded mixtape Acid Rap has allowed this outfit much more attention than previously seemed possible. If Surf is any indication, they deserve every last beam of the lime-light; the 16-track delight is packed with endless detours and surprises, all in the name of bliss and love. Busta Rhymes checks in for a characteristically bombastic verse on Slip Slide, Noname Gypsy goes full-on spoken word on Warm Enough, and Joey Purp comes correct for his moment in the sun on Go. This album is so generous that even Big Sean impresses with his bars on Wanna Be Cool, and despite the fact that Chance affords the disc so much immediate attention, he's only present on about half the songs. The titular bugler is a more consistent player, even going solo on the thematically bookending duo Nothing Came to Me and Something Came to Me. Surfing on an enormous wave of self-love from first track to last, the LP crests on the beautiful rally cry that is Sunday Candy before misting out of existence on Pass the Vibes. Don't wait until the weather turns to check out Surf. This is audio sunshine.