(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, January 26, 2009

CD Review - MTHDS, Music That Heightens Different Senses

When I caught MTHDS earlier this month, I didn't get enough of a feel for them. As I mentioned, they came across as mostly a rock/funk/rap hybrid, which didn't match the sound on their site. Or at least, it was just a piece of the whole. I'm sure that if I could have stayed later, I'd have heard more of the reggae/ska influenced jams they do, too. On the positive side, I did pick up their EP, Music That Heightens Different Senses. I'm glad that I got this. It's a nice little 6 song slice of party music.

MTHDS is reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spacefish (here's a great review of that relatively unknown band), or Infectious Grooves: laid back funk with lyrics half rapped/half sung. Several of the songs bring in a ska backbeat to get that extra skanky feel. So, I wouldn't quite call this hip hop, even with the rap lyrical delivery.

Since this is a short one, let's take it track by track. First up, What Yall Want. This is the most hip hop of the tracks. This introduces the band and talks a bit about what they bring:
What yall want
What you want it, we got it
Probably droppin' the hardest of our performance edit
What yall need
What you need is provided,
We dreamin' schemin and plottin', leavin' demons in coffins
Sure, it doesn't make the most sense in the world, but it kicks. Just listening to it, I want to shake it a bit. The guitar covers a choppy groove during the verses and throws up an assertive breakdown lick at the end of each chorus.

Chuch is where we start to get into party mode. I can imagine the band pumping this out at a house party and getting everybody dancing. This has a stronger RHCP sound than the first one, although there's also a touch of De La Soul in the vocal approach. These guys are having a great time and you can really tell.

Next, we slip into a ska groove for Wicked Style. Sure, this has that blue-eyed reggae feel, but it's okay: they're having fun and they're willing to share. The last section of the song kicks into double time, then a little arena rock and, finally, a bit of dub.

Time to Ride is the song that reminds me the most of Spacefish. It's balances between a bouncy stream of consciousness riff and a more open, funky chorus. With this and a couple of the other tracks, you'll be reminded that these guys come from Vail, tied into the ski culture.

Back to the outskirts of ska-ville for Riot Joint, a story about a lovers' triangle conflict that escalates into a bigger riot pitting the band against a crowd. The thing I like the most about this song is that it evolves through a number of separate sections, each with their own vibe. There are also plenty of dynamics with the music dropping out periodically but a big rock chorus.

Pritty Slizzes heads back to the party zone. It's sort of a Smash Mouth kind of song, but with a rolling rap delivery. A paean to the pretty party girls and the singer's lack of success with them. Hope (and sexism) springs eternal but it creates a mood and it's perfect to fade out on for this short party album.

This takes me back to many of the live band scenes that I've been to and played at. Snotty boys with guitars and a party attitude: it's all fun. I'd really like to see what they could do with a longer disc. In the meantime, I'm guessing that live shows are their strength, so I'll keep an eye out to catch them again.

This one has to be paired with a pony keg of whatever was on sale and you don't care 'cos the room is hot and everybody's dancing.

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