Friday, December 5, 2014

Glitch Tape Surprise

I thought I could give my tape player a rest after Demo Week, but apparently not quite yet. This is a brand new release from a group that's a brand new discovery to me. They're called Glitch Mouth, and this is ostensibly their first release. You can find older releases from them online, but they're now calling those demos and this their first official release.

Glitch Mouth is essentially a two-man group, consisting of producer Kid Presentable from Brooklyn and Murmur, an MC from Connecticut. There's also a third person down, the questionably named Sister Snowbunny, but she's only on a couple of songs (literally two), singing hooks and back-up. Don't get me wrong, she's got a great voice and actually sounds quite good when they pull her into the mix. But think of it this way: nobody ever listened to 36 Chambers and thought, the only way this album could possibly be better is if Mary J. Blige would pop in to sing a chorus every two and a half minutes! You know, the occasional sung hook can be a powerful thing, but too much dilutes the hip-hop. And these guys find just the right balance.

So what are Glitch Mouth like? Don't let their weirdo cover art here, or even the group's press photos online, mislead you. It's east coast hip-hop. Vocally, the one guy kinda sounds like Cadence with a really nice rhyme flow, but the Raw Produce comparisons definitely end there. Instrumentally they're pretty forward thinking, with a lot of varied samples and sounds woven together, and none of that jazzy vibe. It's more down the Prince Paul road, without much by way of recognizable samples, except for a recurring theme of soundbites from the old Richard Matheson film Last Man On Earth. And lyrically, they're actually pretty old school and straight forward. Not like Sugar Hill Gang old school, but like... Showbiz & AG? Yeah. If you imagine someone like that produced by Prince Paul, you're at least in the sonic ballpark.

Of course, that's some big names I'm comparing them to: Prince Paul, Wu-Tang, DITC, Mary J... I'm sure if they ever read this they'd think, wow, I'll take that! Well, look. I'm not putting these guys on those guys' level. .But I am saying these guys are good. And stylistically, they echo those greats... You know like MC Rell as compared to Rakim.

I think I can break it down better for y'all by going off on self-indulgent tangent. Maybe I'm cynical, but the impression I get reading most music reviews these days is that the writer listens to something once or several times, and then makes a decree not so much based on his or her own genuine reaction to the music, but more based on what he thinks people should feel about it. So, for example, they might watch a rapper's youtube video and say, "these guys are kind of breaking the mold, or at least mildly leaning against the envelope, and they have a good message - FIVE STARS!" But, then, for their own personal listening enjoyment, they'll never go back and listen to that song again. Like, when I say I love "Ain't No Half Steppin'," I mean I have played that song a million bajillion times over the years, I drive around playing it and rapping the lyrics along with it. And while I don't love every song I give props to on this blog to the same degree I love a real classic like "Ain't No Half Steppin'," I do want to say that if I say I like something on here, I like it more than in that hypothetical, disposable way that seems to be prevalent. That's why you don't see me getting hyped about a new kid every other week and then forgetting about them like so many other blogs... I'm talking about the shit I'm really listening to.

So, that was a long way to go to say this. I'd never heard of Glitch Mouth until I was hit off with this tape. But now I'm telling you this is good to the point where I will definitely be playing this tape more after I hit "Publish" on today's post. And I'm going to be googling around and checking out their older releases, too.

Only one song falls short for me: "Understanding." It's got an interesting enough sound - one of the base samples is a piano riff that reminds me of the Valentina theme song (which I like 'cause I'm a weirdo), and Snowbunny sounds great when they fade her up out of the background. But lyrically, it's a relationship song by somebody who doesn't sound mature enough to be writing relationship songs; so you get lines like, "I never could believe she'd be the one to do me greasy; I couldn't see the writing on the wall... in graffiti, sayin', 'leave, G.' You see, to me, she's even more dreamy than a genie." And seeing that written out, you might think that's not so bad for a silly, pop-rap kind of song like "Party Line" or something, but he's delivering it all in a tragic melancholy "Never Seen a Man Cry Until I Seen a Man Die" tone. But that song's the only weak link.

And yes, I do keep referring to this as a cassette tape. Naturally, it's available in the generic, digital way from all the usual sources. But there's also this limited edition cassette release, which not only features all the songs as the online version, but also has all the instrumentals exclusively on the B-side plus two more bonus instrumental songs. And it's only five bucks, so I seriously recommend heading over to their bandcamp and copping it before it becomes just another mp3-only release; I think you'll be surprised. I'm genuinely glad to have my copy.

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