The hype hangs around M.I.A. so thick that you could cut it with a knife. She would probably prefer that you use a brightly colored piece of cutlery from some far away indigenous tribe, from whom she has likely already sampled some type of sound. After all, she has been a busy girl lately. She’s been finishing her third album, putting out a hyper-violent video for said album, conducting embarrassing interviews with New York Times reporters, bashing said reporters in mediocre songs, and now preparing for her headlining performances at Hard LA and Hard NYC. Although all these things have made for very entertaining reading, they have not made for the best listening. M.I.A. has been streaming the new album from her MySpace, and this looks to be the least enjoyable set of tracks that she has offered to date. A few songs off of the new album /\/\/\Y/\, such as “XXXO” are almost listenable, and that’s a pretty generous statement. There is a heavy dub-step influence on many of the tracks, but they seem to be lacking something, and I’m convinced that her vocal talents just don’t translate very well into that medium. I listened to the entire album for the first time today, gave some tracks another chance with a second listen, but that will likely be the last time I ever listen to /\/\/\Y/\. As I’m not one to dwell in the negative, lets take a look at what you can actually get excited about if you already bought tickets to Hard LA at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on July 17.
Although their name isn’t in the big print on the flyer, Sleigh Bells could prove to be the best of the evening’s entertainment. The Brooklyn-based noise-pop duo has one of the most unique sounds that I’ve heard in awhile. The juxtaposition of the slapping bass and heavily distorted guitar with the soft voice of singer Alexis Krauss is a feast for ears. The hard/soft combination in their debut album Treats has been my breath of fresh air as of late, and their Hard LA appearance will be their last tour date in California in the foreseeable future. Also, N*E*R*D are always entertaining and they might just play some new material off of their album Nothing, which is set to drop in September. Other acts that will keep the night interesting include the ridiculous and curiosity inspiring electro-rap act Die Antwoord, and tried and true DJs like Destructo and 12th Planet.