Local disc roundup.

Around Hear 

Local disc roundup.

Although coverage of CD-release celebrations and other fatigue-defying feats has pre-empted our reviews of local releases during the past few weeks, all area artists who submit their work can rest assured that a write-up will eventually appear. But given that the stack of local releases grows larger on a daily basis, patience is a relevant virtue. This week's column, devoted to recent releases by local musicians, should whittle down the pile a bit.

DJ Booth
Home Improvement
A fixture on the local rave scene, DJ Booth is known for his charismatic presence: He teaches crowds by example, dancing to his own grooves from behind the turntable. On this recorded effort, Booth starts with a steady beat, then gradually adds elements while maintaining the same pulsing backdrop throughout the album. Along the way, he injects jazzy touches and plenty of sampled vocals, including an amusing appropriation of "Horny" from the South Park Chef Aid compilation. Some sounds are pushed so deep in the mix that listeners might start searching their rooms for the source, fearing a scampering rodent or a malfunctioning appliance is behind the barely audible squeaks and groans. For best inspection of the total spectrum, listening to Home Improvement on headphones is a must. However, for those who just want to get their parties jumping, pump up the volume and the dancing won't stop until this 74-minute epic finally winds down.

Mark Reynolds
Music for Enemies
Some might find the metronomic thump of dance music monotonous, but for a true definition of that term they need look no further than Mark Reynolds' brilliantly titled double-album, Music for Enemies. Each disc is 74 minutes long, and, in the spirit of Lou Reed's alternately praised and maligned Metal Machine Music, melodic variation is minimal. The first disc supplements a fuzzy drone with mild tonal variations and occasional industrial blasts, while the second uses a slightly more ambient buzz as its foundation and weaves in and out, slowing to a whisper before blazing back. As the title ingeniously suggests, this is the perfect record to leave playing on repeat setting if you go out of town for a weekend and hate your neighbors, or to play in the car without comment if you're looking for a date to end quickly and painlessly. Reynolds, who has mined this territory previously, has now reportedly returned to the comparatively tangible world of acoustic guitar music -- look for a review of his latest disc in this section in the near future. Until then, brave souls can take Reynolds' advice from the back of the album cover: Listen to this maddening hum "at top volume and in its entirety."

Verbal Contact
Poetical Checkmate
Eminem took Will Smith to task for claiming that the erstwhile Fresh Prince didn't have to curse in his rhymes to go platinum, but even the self-proclaimed "meanest MC on this Earth" probably wouldn't rip on a duo such as Kansas City's Verbal Contact, who keep the rhymes clean but avoid polishing them with pop gloss. Lyrically, the group focuses on Midwest pride, vowing to put K.C. on the map and declaring that if America's the body/the Midwest is the chest. The beats are tight throughout, and Verbal Contact, unlike He Who Gets Jiggy With It, doesn't use samples. Rather, The Saint and Blaze-1 match thumping bass-filled beats with symphonic keyboard hooks, with "This/That" and "1845" providing the finest examples of their smooth sound. However, these two can also get rowdy, shouting DMX-style over raucous backdrops on "Give Me the Bomb" and "Going Midwest," or kick something for clubgoers, such as the dance-floor dynamite of "Bounce for Me." Staying profanity-free doesn't have to mean going the route of Young MC -- N.W.A. delivered radio-friendly tracks on Straight Outta Compton ("Express Yourself," "Quiet on tha Set") that hit as hard as its gangsta-flavored material. In that proud tradition, Verbal Contact offers a hip-hop-head-tested, mother-approved album that listeners can feel free to play while their parents are around -- without performing do-it-yourself censorship with the volume knob.

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