EAR TO THE GROUND: The Underachievers emerge on the New York rap sceneThe Underachievers are a duo emerging from the already flourishing “new” New York rap scene, home to other newcomers such as Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew, Flatbush Zombies, and the A$AP Mob, led by A$AP Rocky.
By: Tom Carbone, Grand Forks Herald
The Underachievers — “Indigoism” (Feb. 5) 4.5/5
The Underachievers are a duo emerging from the already flourishing “new” New York rap scene, home to other newcomers such as Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew, Flatbush Zombies, and the A$AP Mob, led by A$AP Rocky.
The Underachievers bring an energetic-yet-druggy aesthetic to the New York scene, or as they like to call it, the “Beast Coast.” Issa Dash and Ak showcase their intricate wordplay brilliantly across all 17 tracks on “Indigoism,” most notably on “Maxin’ Out” and “Herb Shuttles.”
Their video for “Herb Shuttles” has already surpassed 1.7 million views, a metric that is becoming increasingly important in the era of freely downloaded music and piracy. While a vast majority of their lyrics deal with drugs, The Underachievers also explore topics such as meditation and spirituality, which sets them apart from a lot of what’s coming out of New York right now.
Ak exclaims in “Herb Shuttles”: “Esoteric tattoos, mad jewels, cash rules, married to the blind/ I’m on another plateau, camels get the cash ghost, how I Rose, Derrick in his prime” I don’t remember the last time a song referenced esoteric tattoos and the Chicago Bulls in the same line, but The Underachievers aren’t your typical rap group. I expect these guys to get big in 2013.
BEST TRACKS: “Maxin’ Out” and “Herb Shuttles”
Beach Fossils — “Clash the Truth” (Feb. 19) 4/5
“Dream, rebel, trust, youth, free, life, clash, truth” is a line that Dustin Payseur repeats a couple of times on the first track of his new album of the same title, “Clash the Truth.” The line sums up the record well.
Formed in 2009 as a solo project of Payseur, Beach Fossils has turned into a full-fledged rock band, now based in New York City. From the beginning, Payseur always had a knack for creating songs based on catchy guitar riffs and vocals that find a way to stick inside your head for days at a time. “Clash the Truth” is no different.
With a full band backing him now, Beach Fossils take more of a punk approach on the new album, with strong bass lines and crunchy drums. “Generational Synthetic,” the second song on the album, showcases this well. “All my friends are far away/ leaves my head in disarray. I can’t help but to forget/ what is now and what is next,” is a line that leaves the listener longing for something they might not even know they missed.
February seems like an odd time for this album to come out as most of the tracks have a distinct warm, summery feel to them. “Clash the Truth” will get a lot of plays for me as the snow starts to melt and the trees start to get their leaves back.
BEST TRACKS: “Generational Synthetic” and “Birthday”
Beach Fossils - Generational Synthetic
Youth Lagoon — “Wondrous Bughouse” (March 5) 3.5/5
Trevor Powers came on to the music scene essentially out of nowhere in fall 2011 with his critically acclaimed debut “The Year of Hibernation.” The dreamy, lo-fi pop album was a yearlong reflection on failed relationships, isolation and growing up in the small town of Boise, Idaho. After a healthy diet of touring in support of his debut album, Trevor Powers, stage name Youth Lagoon, went back to the studio — this time with a little bit of money and a producer to help him get more out of the recording experience.
The result is “Wondrous Bughouse,” a fantastic follow up to the stripped down “The Year of Hibernation.” Powers utilizes an arsenal instruments and new production capabilities to create an expansive record that lets him tread into new territory. While Powers experimented heavily with “Wondrous Bughouse,” he stays true to his core lyrically and aesthetically. His high-pitched, nasally vocals and reflective lyrics are still present, but sonically, his songs are just plain louder. The second track, “Mute” follows Powers’ formula of starting quiet and ending loud. The track, clocking in at just about six minutes, is Powers’ longest track to date. “The devil tries to take my mind/ but I can't quite get inside,” he says, towards the beginning of the song. From there, it just gets louder and louder.
BEST TRACKS: “Mute” and “Dropla”
Youth Lagoon - Dropla