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Kids These Days – Hard Times EP [Album Review]

12 Jul

One of my favorite up and coming acts finally released their highly anticipated EP nearly a month ago. One can’t classify the Chicago based group as solely hip hop. Their influences are everything from Jazz, Soul, Rock, Blues, Hip Hop and even more. They basically fuse these main genres together to create a sound that scintillating to any person that is open to real music. This next statement may sound completely moronic but it is almost definitely the truth. It is impossible for you to be a fan of real music and not like any of their work. Even if you’re a self proclaimed hip hop head, you have to find something to like from these guys. I can guarantee that if you were to ask most teenage kids (Which I personally mainly associate with) they’d find these guys unappealing. That’s how you know these guys are actually talented. They are already receiving buzz by artists such as Kidz In The Hall, Rockie Fresh and more.

Alright well enough about saying how awesome these guys are and time to actually review their project. The EP is only composed 5 songs but not one song is lackluster in any way, shape or form. Kids These Days is in a way similar to the former MTV hit show “Pimp My Ride”. They both have a front man that is hip hop inspired. Kids These Days have Vic Mensa and Pimp My Ride has Xzibit. Both just add more and more and more. “Pimp My Ride” is normally consorted with the popular preconception of how Xzibit and his crew would always add more and more to the car and they’d make it work. Kids These Days do the same exact thing. Look at how they add more and more influences from every genre of music. For example, just look at the cover, you’ve got a Trombone, Trumpet, Saxophone, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, a male vocalist, a female vocalist and Greg Landfair on the right is pictured without his drums.. Also, sorry for the cheesy analogy.

Well the project itself didn’t blow me away mainly since I had already heard 3 of the 5 songs but for their first project as a group it was really impressive. The project starts off with a very smooth track entitled “Hard Times”. This track in my opinion features his best vocals on the whole project from the guitarist/vocalist Liam Cunningham. As well as the lonely lady Macie Stewart’s best vocals on the whole project. The track is a bit dragged out but it serves as a good opening track.

To follow up the smooth intro, they transition a little less lax of a track. The 2nd track “Darling” is very similar to “Hard Times”. What makes this track stand out to me is the pretty awesome Trombone that basically serves as a short little interlude. That is what I’d consider the high point of the track. The rapper of the group Vic Mensa also spits some of his best stuff of the whole EP on this track. Personally this track may be my least favorite but that says nothing at all. I still like the track. That speaks to the consistency of the EP. It was smart of them to release a small project like this to start off. It lets the listener get a feel for their music rather than be overwhelmed. I also think that these guys will thrive on smaller projects. One of their issues is that too many of their songs sound similar. A project from these guys with 15 tracks would probably get boring in time for many people.

My favorite track of the whole project is track number 3 entitled “Summerscent”. It plays the perfect role as a very chill summer song but only as Kids These Days can do it. Vic Mensa definitely does his best job on this track which may be why I love this song so much. He has one verse that is surrounded by very blase and mellow instrumentation. The brass definitely stands out on this track as well as the guitar work. Well, every instrument stands out on this one. I absolutely love the main instrumentation line of the Saxophone, Trumpet, and Trombone that lies directly before Vic’s verse and directly after Vic’s verse and Liam and Macie’s symphonic pairing of voices. This track stands out to me more than any other can because everything on the track is done to musical perfection. As well as it being extremely catchy and well written.

The next track entitled “My Days” is all in all a good track but i can easily describe it as being humdrum. It’s a slow track and it isn’t bad at all but after you hear a track like “Summerscent” that is so full of life and your the next track that is just so monotonous and humdrum it becomes hard to like it. The reason I like “My Days” is because this was the first song I heard from them nearly a year ago and I really enjoyed it. But if you’re hearing it for the first time on this project, it is hard to enjoy just solely because of placement.

The EP ends on “Walking Down The Line” which is a perfect song for those listeners that are really into the genre of soul. This track is very slow as well but I don’t find it to be boring at all. It serves its purpose as an outro to the full extent. This track has no traces of Vic Mensa or Liam Cunningham’s vocals anywhere. The track is dominated by Macie Stewart and that is fine by me. Those hip hop heads listening wont be thrilled about it but that’s the way it is.

As a whole, I viewed the EP as a great beginning to what should be a lot more to come from these guys and a girl. They are starting to create a following and it seems like their fusion of genres is definitely acceptable. If I hear more tracks like “Summerscent” from them, they will definitely become a favorite of mine for a long time. Vic Mensa seems to thrive better by with many of his hometown friends than alone and that’s the way it should be. You can cop the EP on iTunes if you are interested in hearing them and I’ll leave you a link to “Summerscent” below.

Rating: 8.4/10

The Cool Kids – When Fish Ride Bicycles [Album Review]

11 Jul

Imagine you’re a kid again and it’s Christmas Eve and the clock is taking it’s sweet time to move to the next minute. You just want to wake up early as possible, no matter what time you went to bed, and rip open those presents. Your parents are excited to see your grinning faces as you find out you got that X3600 toy gun or the Barbies you had been asking for all year. Your dad is a bit upset that you asked for the Barbies but at least you’re happy.

The Cool Kids, Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish, are your parents tomorrow and you’ve been waiting roughly three years to get your hands on their very first album. An album that they’ve been diligently working on on two different fronts.

The first work they put in was to ensure they had control over how the album sounded. In an interview with HipHopDX, Inglish was quoted as saying, “I think our time spent was to protect ourselves from all of the perils of the music industry. It allowed us to keep what we started. There is no third party.” It’s clear in your first time hearing the album that they wanted it to stay true to who they are. The beats are still as funky as ever. The famous Cool Kids swagger is there and you can feel it all the way through from the very first track, “Rush Hour Traffic“, all the way to the last track, “Summer Jam“.

The second piece of work they put in was progressing as artists. The album is not your usual Cool Kids music due to the fact it’s not about the shoes that they wear or anything they talked about on their previous projects. This is where The Cool Kids gain some cheers along with some jeers from myself. The Cool Kids used to be that group you could go to and know that if you were down with the sneaker game you’d be jamming out to their stuff. There was no debating it. It was different and if you rock the hottest exclusives, you’re probably down with being different. It’s not to say this album lacks any of that Cool Kids flavor because it certainly does not.

The album contains eleven tracks and feature some big name artists such as Bun B, Ghostface Killah, Asher Roth, Pharrell, and Travis Barker. Their Pulled Over by the Cops group member, Chip Tha Ripper, also makes an appearance. Maxine Ashley, Tennille, and Stones Throw artist Mayer Hawthorne all lend their voices to the album as well.

“When Fish Ride Bicycles” is easily one of my favorite projects of the year and has some surefire summer jams. The production on the album is top notch and makes it hard to find a sore spot on the album. If the beat isn’t drawing you in to the song, the lyrics will and vice versa. Luckily, the album is mainly made up of songs that have both bases covered.

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