Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Graphic

Reviewing albums you never heard of by musicians you may not know about. 
Buy New Mexico Music, 2.2 million New Mexicans can't be wrong

Flow Nice- Listen Closely
2005 World Records Music
Flow Nice brings groove-based beats to the local hip-hop scene. The gang bang boogie has long been the favored style around here. Gangsta rap, thoroughly lacking in an understanding of beat driven music, yet rife with macho posturing. The first thing you notice about Flow Nice is that they are.. intrepid beatmakers. This is not a crew of wall taggers or pseudo street thugs spitting out rhymes. This is a musical collaboration between two musicians reacting to the sounds reverberating in their chosen genre. "Listen Closely" was released six years ago. It's almost nonsensical to state that it doesn't sound dated because, it was essentially retro to begin with.  

Flow Nice is a duo from Santa Fe, Funkshin and DJ C-Darth have worked together since 2001. They're a nice throwback to the days of MTV Jams and lyrical gangsters, when rap was intelligent and relevant. They smartly blend turntablism & samples with smooth straightforward vocals to skirt the boundaries between the old and new. For their live performances they've been known to set aside the canned beats for the live backing of La Junta, a Santa Fe group with a similar style.

Only a crazed completest would break down all the tracks on this album individually. The intro is familiar (like a good friend) "These Kids" swaggers to a hypnotic repetitive beat as it flows into "Hit the Mic Right" which has an infectious pulse flowing behind the vocals. They crack about dumbing it down "we rhyme the best and our English is the wors-est."  But, you can't disguise the lyrical genius at work here. With "Hey Hello" they change up the tempo without missing a beat. "So Happy" is a declaration of independence "I need to learn how to unlearn school" 

"That Place" floats on a Beck Hanson experimental groove. "Me Saboriar" has a danceable latin beat designed to placate your dance floor needs. I could go on... but simply put, there's not a bad track in sight!  Flow Nice has a firm grip on the conceptual aspect and execution of their music, which is rare with local hip-hop acts. This duo has a knack for sample chopping, most culled from sources known only to them. Their acumen for lyrical continuation (flow) is highly developed and unmatched on the local scene. No false advertising here, they do Flow Nice!
Rate It: +1

The Alumni- Perfect Man
2011 Pro Legend Records
I'll be upfront, this is not my cup of tea. Christian music in my opinion is the musical equivalent of all these non- denominational storefront churches that keep popping up. A generic leap of faith for those who prefer their religion lite, and see church service as a perfect opportunity to network. The genre is inferior to secular music, be it pop, rock, rap or country. (all those style are lumped together as Praise Music) The strident dogma appeals only to true believers and born again Christians. It's an affirmation of righteousness without resorting to speaking in tongues or handling snakes. 

The Alumni view themselves as a hip-hop act that's crossed over to praise music. They're a duo made up of David Lucero who calls himself "Madik" and Josh Peterson known as Sevr 1 (how's that pronounced? Serve 1, as in serve one god, if that's the case wouldn't it be Serv 1, or is it Severe 1, God's lyrical assassin?) These smug overgrown Menudo rejects are quick to glorify their meager accomplishments (so much for being humble servants) In my view (narrow as it may be) misguided promotional hype, is the worse sin of all. They boast of national radio play and Billboard rankings, almost like we're obligated to believe them. 

The intro resembles a Nazi youth rally and it's all downhill from there. The album is chock full of uninspired, nondescript, generalized rap music, no brand entertainment at name brand prices.  "Perfect Man" the so called "single" starts with a bizarre interlude where these two douchey fucks go on about how they're not treating their wives with enough respect, set to a backdrop of solemn piano music. "I didn't do anything stupid or like major" It's so ill conceived and phony that it just spikes the song straight into the shitcan.  The album quickly goes out with a whimper of weak hip hop beats, boy band posturing and preachy "you gotta believe" admonishments. Good Lord!
Rate It: -1

Sticky Pistil- Hi Fi Superfly
1999   Vinyl Grooves, Inc.

 I'm fully cognizant of the fact that it takes more than cartoon cover art to add irony to music. Spinal Tap is a prime example of "irony meets music", Sticky Pistil was certainly not Spinal Tap. In the interest of fairness, objectivity and what not, I went back and gave that Taos band's 1999  eau de funk "Hi-Fi Superfly" another spin. Mr. Humorless, Scott Kesson the band's guitarist and resident killjoy, had decided to set me straight on a few matters. One of which is his claim that this album was oozing with irony and that I had failed to see that. 

At first listen, I actually liked the album. It was only after repeated playbacks, while writing a profile about the band, that I reversed my opinion. It seemed that with each subsequent listen it became more apparent that these jokers were faking it. The funky pimps of Taos  were pushing phony funkadelia, if that's irony then this is a fucking masterpiece. The contrite lyrics and funk by the numbers musical morass wore thin in a hurry. My search party of one was exhausted, I abandoned my quest for Kesson's lost irony. 

I have to wonder how his band mates felt? They were working hard to become the next Limp Bizkit or Red Hot Chili Peppers while Scott was flitting about being ironic. The only irony to be found, is that he thought it was ironic in the first place. Crimey! no wonder they never got down off the mountain. And yes, I'm fully aware that they played on a minor stage at Woodstock '99. Which turned out to be the music festival equivalent of a concentration camp. PANick! no more.
Rate It: -1