These reviews can also be seen in the latest issue of The Technician.
BOBBY CAPRI – REMOTE VIEWING
Hip-Hop / Rap / Pop / R&B
Charles Morse, WKNC underground hiphop/urban music director
Bobby Capri’s second EP of 2015, “Remote Viewing,” is an entertaining romp through boom bap nostalgia. The Richmond, Virginia rapper has made a lane for himself with his “street-bred white boy” story, backed by fundamental beats and a no-frills flow. However, there isn’t anything very original about this piece of work to make it more than a one-listen novelty. Nineties-esque rap music will probably never die in the underground, but in order to make it sound good, a high level of lyrical ability is needed. Capri does not have that, and a guest appearance from underground rap’s current boss, Freddie Gibbs, couldn’t even make him sound better. In the beginning of the song “Room Full of Strangers,” Bobby says, “I was never mediocre; greatness was immediate.” This is a bold-faced lie. “Remote Viewing” is good for mindless listening as background music, but don’t look for any profound insights from the Richmond rapper.
Recommended Tracks: “Make Moves” featuring Freddie Gibbs, “God,” “Gucci Loafers,” and “Never Fall Short” featuring Michael Christmas
Sounds like: Machine Gun Kelly, Action Bronson
MEWITHOUTYOU – PALE HORSES
Indie / Experimental
Nathan Forbes, WKNC assistant daytime music director
There’s a lyric in a song that goes, “Now it’s just Rival Schools and mewithoutYou on our car rides.” The song is one of my favorites from the band The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. That line kindled a spark of interest in me to dig further into mewithoutYou’s catalog. Since then, I’ve found certain songs by the band really worth clinging to. Similarly to TWIABP, mewithoutYou is a band that I find difficult to categorize. In the band’s earliest days they were making music that was far closer to hardcore punk and screamo than indie rock. Slowly, they became more and more experimental, adding elements of spoken word and post-hardcore. They maintained that punk energy on their most renowned albums Catch for Us the Foxes and Brother, Sister, but on their 2009 album, It’s All Crazy!, mewithoutYou became far more folksy. Only recently has the band returned to the post-hardcore style that they are known for and that has influenced the likes of La Dispute and Brand New.
Their newest album, Pale Horses, dropped just this week, and it’s a conceptual labyrinth. It actually reminds me of Brand New’s highly acclaimed album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. However, if the albums are akin, I would describe Pale Horses as a more mature older brother. Both albums have themes of religion and death, and they even have a similar post-hardcore/indie rock sound. The wordiness of mewithoutYou on Pale Horses is much more complicated though and may be a turnoff for some. The lyrics are loaded with references to classic literature and the Book of Revelation. Reading through the lyric booklet that comes with the album is like reading a James Joyce novel with its stream of conscious writing style and wealth of obscure references. Annotations within the lyric booklet might have been beneficial! However, if you really feel the need to look into the lyrics more, then rock.genius.com is a good place for that. In fact, this album’s lyrics are so dense that many lines in the booklet were appended from the actual recordings.
One of my favorite tracks from the album is “Red Cow,” and non-coincidentally, it is one of the most hard-hitting songs on the album. It’s a blood-boiler that reminds me a lot of their album Catch for Us the Foxes, specifically the inspiring first track from that album, “Torches Together.” “Blue Hen” is another energetic cut from Pale Horses about death’s approach and features a chorus that’s especially memorable.
The album closes with “Rainbow Signs,” a song that evokes images of nuclear war and massive armies. It reaches for the apocalyptic bleakness one might find in a Godspeed You! Black Emperor song. In the lyrics, Aaron Weiss connects personal catastrophe with the downfall that’s predicted to occur in the Bible through the seven seals of Armageddon. The song starts off subtly, but around the halfway point there’s a sudden burst, and a guitar riff comes in that just sounds mean. Then, the heaviness cuts out, and the song and the album end on a personal note for Weiss.
Although Pale Horses may never reach the musical heights of Catch for Us the Foxes or Brother, Sister, the album shows that mewithoutYou is a band still capable of creating lively music, albeit by the use of a slightly outdated formula. Above all, Pale Horses shows that the band is still progressing and exploring new territory, especially through their mystical and imaginative lyrics that extend from their songs like poems.
Favorite Tracks: “Mexicanwar Streets,” “Red Cow,” “Blue Hen,” “Rainbow Signs”
Sounds like: Touche Amore, La Dispute, Brand New, The World Is…