Posted by: Necci – Aug 18, 2010
Just Plain Sounds’ prolific beat making impresario, Just Plain Ant, returns with a vengeance on his latest guest laden full length release. Ant’s signature style of jazz infused hip hop is strongly on display and more eclectic than ever as each track is taken in a new direction by a cast of some of the area’s best MCs. The album’s bass-heavy jazz sampling hearkens back to the early 90’s positivists hip hop movement, fronted by acts like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, while also sounding entirely contemporary and progressive in its embrace of grander melodic progressions and themes in the songs themselves. The early album track, “No Title For It (feat. Ohbliv and Gordy Michael),” is an anthem to musical nonconformity that rises to inspiring heights. Funky organ samples give way to a sea of rising and swooning strings that swell under a distorted chorus, sounding like a hip-hop-militant protesting the record industry, standing with a megaphone atop a burnt out car. The sheer multitude of local talent on this release is staggering, perhaps even more impressive considering the fact the each MC does one of the most difficult tasks imaginable in hip hop--sounding like they belong on a record with Chuck D. The Public Enemy legend makes his mind boggling guest spot on the album’s eighth track, “Way Back When (feat Chuck. D)”, a disco-infused Michael Jackson-sampling boogie that finds the acclaimed MC taking us back in the day to the music of the early 80’s, when life was about house parties, roller skating, and above all getting down. With guest spots from the likes of Joey Ripps, Black Liquid, Draztiq, and Sleaze, among many others, the album is a nonstop best of Richmond’s hip hop underground.
The music of Chicago’s Shawn Rosenblatt, the one man touring machine known as Netherfriends, is a sonic dedication and celebration of all things indie pop. Berry and Sherry, the artist’s most recent release, is a deftly orchestrated album of reverb drenched pop songs, beginning with the opening track, “Bret Easton Ellis Novel." The song’s ambulation from its strident click-clack rhythms into a wall of explosive distortion and echo sets the tone for the majority of the album. “More Than Friends Who Like Good Music,” the album's brightest and happiest moment, starts as a Burt Bacharach light-jazz swing, flourishing into a sentimentalist’s rant about backyard delights and frugal wisdom. Rosenblatt’s lyrical stylings are best described in the line “I’m gonna start singing like the way I talk," from the album’s second cut “I’m Gonna Start." It’s a style that serves him well, especially on the grand and haunting piano centered ballad, “Lead You Through the Misty Fog of Milwaukee Ave.” Berry and Sherry is an album about the life of someone unsure if they are going to reach the finish line they’ve set in front of themselves. The entire album is an outstanding summation of youthful desires, fears and uncertainty, in a world that puts obstacles in the way of your dreams.
By B.I. Black