Life is Still Sweet (Orange)

White Hassle 

Life is Still Sweet (Orange)

Proving that it's possible to sound both hip and organic, the duo White Hassle adds turntable scratches to straightforward folk songs without sacrificing its earthy appeal. Marcellus Hall contributes nasal, Dylan-esque vocals and a few fiery harmonica solos, while Dave Varenka turns the bluesy stomp "Futura Trance" into a stirring showcase for his percussion skills. They make appealingly rough-edged tunes, and their lack of production polish actually enhances the album's effectiveness. White Hassle adds a DJ, a violinist, and programmed drums to its rendition of the golden oldie "Let It Be Me," but the tune's low-key harmonies and lazy pace make it seem like a stripped-down remake instead of a revamped model. Instead of painstakingly re-creating sounds from the past or drenching its songs with intrusive electronic elements, White Hassle creates a unique fusion of eras that celebrates both while compromising neither. Sweet, indeed.

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