In this age of music streaming services, re-issued vinyl, Youtube and, dare we say it, illegal torrents, there’s just way too much music for the average Joe to consume on a regular basis. Enter Tobias Handke, your newest Howl & Echoes contributor. Each fortnight he’ll be giving his two cents on a number of new albums, EPs and mixtapes from all genres in hopes making sure you’re spending your hard earned on good tunes.
2 Chainz: Felt Like Cappin EP
Dropping out of nowhere last week, Georgia rapper and sometime philanthropist 2 Chainz delivered the surprise EP Felt Like Cappin. Enlisting a crack team of producers (Mike WiLL Made It, Timbaland, FKi, TM88), this six-track release finds Chainz at his boastful best, adapting his flow to suit the style of each beat maker involved. Far from one of my favourite rappers, you can’t deny Chainz’s witty lyricism and knack for a catchy hook, all of which can be found in spades on this EP.
His lackadaisical flow floats over Mike WiLL Made It’s pipe sampling MF’N before he switches style and gets aggressive on TM88’s trappy Not Invited. The obvious highlight of the tape is the Lil Wayne collaboration Back On The Bullshyt. Both drop rhymes bursting with punch lines but it’s Wayne who shines, reminding rap fans he can still spit despite the shit he’s shifted of late.
Verdict: At six tracks don’t expect too much, but as a stopgap before his next full-length player, this is a worthy addition to 2 Chainz musical catalogue.
Bloc Party: Hymns
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once champions of the UK music scene, Bloc Party are a shell of their former self, having devolved from post-punk pioneers into a boring and underwhelming indie electronic hybrid, failing to capture the magic of past glories with fifth album Hymns.
The band’s rapid decline comes as no real surprise. Since front man Kele Okereke began embracing modern dance culture Bloc Party have been on the decline, made even more obvious on Hymns by the absence of founding members Gordon Moakes (bass, keys) Matt Tong (drums). First single The Love Within sounds like a Kele solo off-cut while The Good News is Bloc Party doing country and as horrible as it sounds. It’s not all bad though. Only He Can Heal Me has enough spunk to light up the dance floor and the doomed relationship played out on Different Drugs is a melodic throwback.
Verdict: Like a stripped back version of their original sound with less emphasis on production, Hymns rarely hits the mark and would be better attributed to Kele’s solo career.
Massive Attack: Ritual Spirit EP
Trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack returned last month with the Ritual Spirit EP, their first record since 2010’s disappointing Heligoland. When I heard the news I was pretty excited, and then almost wet my pants when it was announced Tricky was on board, making his first appearance on a Massive Attack release since 1994’s Protection.
Along with Tricky, English rapper Roots Manuva spits bars on the brooding opener Dead Editors and fellow UK soul maestro Azekel lends his striking falsetto to the mystical Ritual Spirit, but for me it’s Scottish hip-hop act Young Fathers who steal the show. Already making waves throughout Europe with their cross genre breeding of indie, electronic and experimental hip-hop, they sound right at home over the steady percussion of Voodoo In My Blood.
Verdict: Four-tracks isn’t much to go by, but if this is a prelude to what we can expect album wise, put me down for two copies.