Review Summary: Overflowing with originality, but try not to drown in it...
Remember these guys? For a while in the mid 2000’s they were garnering quite a following after the release of the well-received “Lines In My Face” with exposure on the mainstream radio, MTV, and a plethora of video games. Then, just as quickly as they had risen they disappeared, and fans began to worry. The band later released some songs on their MySpace (seems like such a long time ago) and fans worry was replaced with confusion and anger, where was the punk-rock influence and the screaming? It was replaced by a new sound the band adopted which drew heavily from electronica and techno instead of rock. The end result is a unique and creative blend of hip-hop and alt- electronic music that was well ahead of its time.
If “Lines In My Face” was swinging the pendulum towards Chronic Future’s extreme of punk-rock infused hip-hop, “This And Of That” is what happened when the pendulum swung all the way towards the electronica end of the spectrum of their new sound before they hit a middle ground with the “Modern Art EP”. With this release the band focused all of their efforts in creating an alt-electronica hip-hop record and for the most part pull it off wonderfully.
The opening song “All Things Considered” lets listeners know straight away that this is a different band with different goals in mind. The electronic acoustic guitar opening leading into a nice little beat before the rapping starts all fits together quite nicely. Vocalist Mike Busse’s performance is something praise, as throughout the album he keeps it fresh and interesting with a good mix of unique flow and interesting lyrics. Some of his ideas fall flat however and lead to some head scratching. Flight of the Birds, for example, literally talks about migratory patterns of birds and concludes with a list of birds Busse loves. Odds are there is a deeper meaning to the song, and like the rest of the album has a good interesting beat, but it still makes one wonder why one of the longer songs on the release would be this one.
The best parts of this record are the unique and diverse song structures, which are unlike anything else out there. The song “Insects” revolves around 5 notes played on an acoustic guitar yet manages to be one of the most original songs I’ve ever heard. Its whispered lyrics in combination with the electronic background all held together by those simple 5 notes is one shining example of the creativity held in this band that was waiting to burst out. “Jupiter (Future Lords)” and “Temper Anthem” are two more examples of original and downright fun songs which utilize strange but not off-putting electronic sounds and arrangements to draw in the listener. All of which are starkly distinct from one another but in the context of this record, all fit together perfectly.
In contrast, as strange as it sounds, the utter uniqueness of these songs also detracts from the overall package. It’s easy to dismiss these songs as just weird without a second thought. “Home Run” is an example of a simpler song in the record yet all of the things going on in the background can turn some people off if they just want to hear a simple song. These problems are purely subjective however as some (like myself) view such originality as good.
In the end, the decline and eventual disappearance of this band is most likely attributed to this drastic change in sound after such a successful outing. I still attest that this record was made with a mindset beyond its time, a time where metalcore and “MOAR BREAKDOWNS!!” were becoming the paradigm in rock music. Those who can give this record a chance will hear unique beats, positive and weird lyrics, and best of all will have fun with it.