Sunday, 28 November 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: A_Rival - 8-Bit Pimp

If you leave aside the brilliant Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, video games and hip-hop don’t often go together. Now, as you’ve probably guessed from that introductory line – or if the title of the album wasn’t a big enough give away – 8-Bit Pimp from A_Rival combines the fields of Hip-Hop with the 8-Bit sounds of NES games. And do you know what? It actually works.

OK, so you’re going to have to be pretty clued up about video games in both their current and retro forms to truly appreciate A_Rivals’ rhymes but you can’t deny the Californian is a talented wordsmith. As you’d expect, the subjects covered throughout 8-Bit Pimp are based around video games and geek culture, and if you’re a gamer you’ll love a lot of the rhymes and references: I knew he had me hooked in the prelude to Show Me Girl in which A_Rival is trying and failing to impress a girl after mentioning video games. Let’s just say given my day job, it’s something that truly reached out to me (making it probably the first time Hip-Hop has directly reached out to me).

The whole concept may sound quite gimmicky, but music infused with sounds which wouldn’t sound out of place in Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda or Megaman actually sounds really good. In fact later tracks on the album, including Higher, with a more electro-house feel are really enhanced by the input of 8-Bit sounds. Imagine Pendulum but with much geekier influences and you’ll be about right when it comes to how some of the latter parts of 8-Bit Pimp sound.

A_Rival shows a true passion for video games and geek quirks and culture throughout 8-Bit Pimp and therefore it probably isn’t for everyone. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t know their Mario from their Luigi or their Sonic from their Knuckles then you’re not going to ‘get’ most of A_Rivals’ lyrics. However, if you’re into discovering strange new sounds, then 8-bit infused hip-hop comes highly recommended.

Essentially, if you’re the sort of person who enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, then you’ll love it.

Released 22/11/10 through bandcamp

(Originally written for Gobshout)

SINGLE REVIEW: David E Sugar - Flea Market

I got a bit of a surprise when first listening to 'Flea Market.' The artist is on Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best Label, so for the single to be acoustic electro pop was unexpected to say the least.

Still that doesn’t mean that 'Flea Market' isn’t a decent single, but neither is it particularly outstanding. It provides what most successful electro pop does in having a nice, but not memorable, beat which will have you tapping your toes but not much else.

'Flea Market' is following the pattern that has brought success the likes of Vampire Weekend –with the single seemingly having a fair share of influence from both the New Yorkers vocal and instrumental style – in that it’s pleasant enough but inoffensive. Some would say bland.

Fortunately, 'Flea Market' also comes with the brilliant 'Medicine' which offers the electronic sounds expected from the title single. The electronic dance beats can easily get the listener moving and it’s easy to see Medicine being big on the electro club scene. Sure, the lyrics aren’t exactly deep, but who actually listens to electro for the words anyway? You’ll want to strut your stuff on the dance floor over singing anyway.

The single also comes with not one, not two but five remixes of 'Flea Market'. Again, these all make the original track sound much more like something you’d expect from Rob Da Bank’s label. They’re rather groovy.

The title track of 'Flea Market' might not be that outstanding, but the B-Side 'Medicine' and the sheer amount of remixes make David E Sugar’s single worth a listen. It’s only 99p, so why not give it a go?

Released through Sunday Best on 15/11/10

(Originally written for Gobshout)