When bands decorate their albums with laughably elaborate skeletons and demonic violence, they want you to think they sound like Mastodon: metal, with classic riffs shaped into honest-to-god notes, but whose proggy leanings don’t drift into ’70s-cheese territory. There’re no demons here, but check out “Circle of Cysquatch,” which sounds like the vocal track was laid down by Satan himself after a lifetime of unfiltered Camels. Closer “Pendulous Skin” sounds like
Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd playing at full volume from the same speaker, which may be the perfect description of the album.
In a lot of ways, Food and Liquor is exactly the sort of rap album you’d expect to be released in a flood of blogger hype. Immaculately produced, with horns and lounge music backing him, Lupe is the MySpace-addict’s rapper, winning over most Gen-Y-ers with his GI Joe-quoting alone. (“Knowing is half the battle.”) But it’s the hokey grandstanding of that cartoon’s PSAs that weaken his debut. He gives lip service to the common hip-hop sermon topics: crack, Bush, the projects, but sounds most believable when he’s echoing suburban tween angst: blaming a deadbeat dad for a failed test, or complaining about the lack of places to skateboard.
Q: How long will the freak-folk trend last?
A: It depends. How many cute-animal band names are left?
Scratch “Grizzly Bear” off the list — the name is taken, if not so cute. You won’t find any growling or bloody jowls on Yellow House, so the name seems inappropriate. The only danger in this mellow album would be listening to the aptly named “Lullabye” on a late-night drive.
Tracks like “Easier” and “Knife” offer deceptively poppy ’60s-surf-rock harmonies with a strange, folksy undercurrent, constantly threatening to tear your clothes and drag you off into the woods to join the hippie drum circle. Maybe “Grizzly Bear” is a good name after all.