Album: Welcome To Our House
Sounds Like: A decent amount of Lyrical Awesomeness on way too many leftover studio beats from the House of Marshall Mathers and the Bungalow of B.o,B. and the Trap of 2 Chainz (3.5 out of 5, worth copping the full album on sale if you’re not already a die-hard fan of these fellas or a decent amount of mp3s)
Reviewer: DJ Fusion
Slaughterhouse (the 21st century lyrical coast-to-coast Hip-Hop supergroup consisting of Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Royce Da 5′ 9″) has done a true come-up story for the ages.
The 4 man lyrical wrecking crew came up from the independent Hip-Hop scene as individual MCs known for insane wordplay (with some of the artists having little to minimal success when signed to major labels), combined like Voltron and put out a pretty solid self-titled album in 2009.
Catching the attention of fellow wordsmith Eminem, they’re now officially signed to his Shady Records imprint and have now dropped their official second full-length release “Welcome To: Our House”.
While it’s cool the group has some of the benefits of being signed with a major label, you can see the hands of A&R’s who care more about spreadsheet numbers than sonic adventurousness all over this album.
After a horror movie-esque introduction, the MCs of Slaughterhouse do something that may scare the crap out their die-hard fans – they rhyme over what sound like leftovers from the production crews of Eminem, B.o.B., “Lazers”-era Lupe Fiasco and a Southern Rapper On The Billboard Charts near you for basically the rest of “WOTH”. No classic era sounding Boom Bap here.
While I can’t say the production on the album is bottom of the barrel, most of it is not going to blow people away. Decent to good work is put on behind the boards with the mid-to-high tempo tracks by folks like Swizz Beatz, No I.D., Enimem, Mr. Porter, Streetrunner, Alex Da Kid, Boi-1-da & more.
But – say the die-hard fans – “Slaughterhouse is about the lyrics, Ma, not the beats. How are those?” *
Well…mostly that part of the album on point. All of the guys don’t really B.S. as lyricists with some flavor throughout the majority of “WOTH”, but they do rhyme about most simple-minded topics than ever before. And a lot of the hooks on way too many these songs aren’t killers.
Slaughterhouse trying to go die-hard mainstream topic wise ranges from being awkward (the “we’re verbose lyrical & real drug dealers…get it?!” themed “Flip A Bird”) to a whole bunch of f***ing terrible (see the “dude who drank way to much Tanqueray at the ‘hood strip club talking WAY too much s*** to the ladies on the pole” song “Throw That”**).
:”WOTH” ‘s stand out tracks tend to be what has always been the crew’s strength – introspective tracks (the excellent “Goodbye”) and straight up rowdy, bragging joints (the throw your ‘bows ready “Coffin” with Busta Rhymes and “Hammer Dance”).
The guest appearances on “Welcome To Our House” range from pretty awesome (Busta Rhymes and B.o.B.) to workman-like (Cee-Lo and Eminem) to whatever (Interscope is REALLY trying to make Skylar Gray happen, but it’s not going to help with generic hook work for mad years).
End of the day, “Welcome To: Our House” is a mixed bag of music. Over 16 tracks (or 20 if one gets the deluxe version), Slaughterhouse doesn’t exactly pull a Canibus*** but in the test of time, this is not going to be looked at as the crew’s masterpiece.
Definitely not slacking lyrically (mostly), Slaughterhouse’s major label debut at the end of the day is an overlong audio introduction to the mainstream Hip-Hop masses. It’s a solid piece of work that’s frustratingly so close but so far from just feeling above average.
Some trimming of the amount of tracks on the release (especially with most of the songs being 4 – 5 minutes long) could have helped “WOTH” not feel like the guest who’s interesting conversation gets boring as hell after they’ve overstayed their welcome, tried to hard to fit in & start eating too much of your food. Die-hard fans of the crew will probably cop the album but only so many new fans are going to be down for this awkward piece of work.
Slaughterhouse fell into the trap many lyrical MCs go through once they get the mainstream Hip-Hop label embrace – a staff who want them to succeed but not really put their own voices and creativity out there full blast. If someone can be bold enough to let them do them along with some budget to get the RIGHT beat makers who fit the crew’s style, Slaughterhouse can truly kill it on more levels than just lyrics. Time will tell if this goes down soon.
* I DESPISE this argument from Hip-Hop folks – a dope rap song is a mixture of how an MC rhymes PLUS the production. If it’s just about some freakin’ rhymes with no importance on the backing music behind it, do spoken word and sit down.
** Which also has a hook even 2 Chainz would be like “Really Guys…this s*** is just simpleton nonsense. Ratchetness needs style and some class fam.”
*** A Canibus – awesome lyrics, HORRIBLE songs/song structure, wildly varying production quality
Personal Favorite Tracks: Coffin feat. Busta Rhymes, Goodbye, Hammer Dance, Get Up, Walk of Shame
Music Video: Slaughterhouse – My Life feat. Cee-Lo Green
Music Video: Slaughterhouse feat. Busta Rhymes – Coffin
Music Video: Slaughterhouse – Goodbye
Artist: Matchbox Twenty
Sounds like: Frozen food from Weight Watchers.
As a solo artist, Rob Thomas has three Grammy awards, including honors for song of the year and album of the year for his work with Carlos Santana. Thomas was also the first ever recipient of the Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The band he sometimes sings with, Matchbox Twenty has a People’s Choice Award they won in 2004.
Lead singers catching far more of the spotlight than the bands they are a part of is nothing new in the music industry. Singers after all provide the emotional connection for audiences to the songs that are being performed, and as such oftentimes provide the personality of the band for new listeners. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé for many people are really the essence of what people think of when you say things like The Supremes, The Jackson 5, N’SYNC, and Destiny’s Child – so it’s no surprise that as their individual stars grew, the groups they were initially part of became almost secondary to their overall appeal.
But when you start getting into the idea of bands, especially in rock and roll – the separation is a little harder to come by. Think of occasions where a band loses its lead singer for some reason and attempts to carry on without them. Whether it’s Alice in Chains, INXS, Queen, Sublime, or even Journey – the “replacement lead singer” gambit, regardless of how good it might sound always feels like a bit of a gyp.
The simple reality is that you can have Hootie without the Blowfish, Prince without the Revolution, or Jimi Hendrix without the Experience – but it doesn’t really work the other way around.
The reason I bring this up is that this week will see the release of a new album from Florida soft-rockers Matchbox Twenty — their first true album of all original material in over five years. A break in activity that is almost completely tied to the fact that the band’s lead singer spent the majority of that time promoting and touring in support of the two solo albums he released without them.
Despite selling millions of copies of their first two albums as a group and topping the charts many times over – the band had to essentially stop being a band once Thomas’ solo career took off. All of which seems silly when you consider the fact that almost all of Thomas’ solo work sounds exactly like the milquetoast soft rock that they were putting out together.
Maybe it’s a just me, but I always felt like Thomas hung the rest of the group out to dry. Sure they had money in the bank and gold records– but when you’re in a band you want to play as a band. So for Thomas to essentially split like that at the height of their popularity to pursue a solo career always seemed like a dick move to me. Not to mention the fact that as the years have gone by, the public’s hunger for a new bland and tasteless collection of Matchbox Twenty tunes hasn’t exactly been boiling over.
In other words, Matchbox Twenty can call this a comeback all they like – but the simple fact is that everybody else clearly sees that this is a reunion tour, which makes the accompanying album North a little hard to take seriously. Honestly, if you were to go see these guys in concert and they played a song off the new album as an encore instead of playing “Smooth” I think even the most die-hard of fans would be a little pissed off – so let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this album was ever set out to be anything more than just the reheated leftovers you used to like the taste of.
Even worse, while still hitting all the notes that you would expect to hear from a Matchbox Twenty release (if this album succeeds at anything, it’s in assuring listeners that that same non-threatening, edgeless sound will always be a part of their style) – North makes the unfortunate mistake of taking several stylistic detours that sound an awful lot like pandering to fans of Maroon 5 or Train.
Songs like “Parade,” “Radio,” or even the faux-disco strains of “Put Your Hands Up” attempt to show the band in an enthusiastic and dance-ready state, but they feel out of place with the more familiar style of tracks like “Our Song” or ballads like “I Will” – leaving the entire disc feeling a bit like the diet frozen food section at your supermarket, where the packages say they are filled with enchiladas or pizza or lemon pepper fish dinners, but all end up tasting like lowfat cardboard once you get them out of the microwave.
See what you think, here’s “She’s So Mean”
Album: Tales from the Thames Delta
Artist: The Milk
Sounds like: Sneaking into a Pub to hear some Blue-Eyed Soul
A few weeks back we started a new regular feature here at OHN called Musical MFK. Designed to be a fun way to make new music reviews a little more interactive, it gave readers a chance to give their opinions about new tracks. We’ve had a lot of fun with it so far – but one thing I wasn’t really expecting was to have one band sort of take off with a new fanbase just because of those posts.
But that’s exactly what’s happened with London soul rockers The Milk, who we first introduced to people with this track:
Since then we’ve touched on their sound one or two more times, but in the meantime I’ve been hit with all sorts of emails asking me where people can get their album. Whether it’s the retro-soul jump of their guitars, the bounce in the harmonies, or just the raw edge they inject into their video performances, people have really taken to The Milk, and are eager to hear more from them.
Well good news – because the band’s debut album Tales from the Thames Delta is now on the shelves, and if you liked what you heard before, you’re gonna love what else they have in store for you.
Bright horn section harmonies and squeaky high-hat pedal noises jump of your headphones and instantly get your head bobbing. The Stax records/Motown-infused energy of songs like “Danger (All I Wanted Was..)” and especially the sing along choruses of songs like “Picking Up the Pieces” and “Anytime We Fight” keep the mood going throughout the discs 11 tracks.
But what you might not expect to find along the way are diversions into electronica, ska, and even Doo-Wop (the album’s closing track “Lay the Pain on Me” could easily be a Gospel tune). It’s a boisterous collection of pop songs that flow together so smoothly you are almost disappointed when they come to an end the first time around.
There are times when the sound of lead singer Ricky Nunn’s voice bleeds a little too far over towards the inevitable comparisons to Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine’s signature high-pitched soul, but try not to let that sour your impressions – because otherwise you’ll be cheating yourself out of one hell of a fun ride.
See what you think, here’s “Chip the Kids”
If you like what you’re hearing, you can preview the full album here.