January 27, 2020

Hydro – Lateral Thinking – Utopia Music

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 24, 2019

It takes an inimitable talent to take dance music and craft it in a way that works outside of the club, too, but that’s exactly what Hydro does with his first full-length debut album. The DJ has been releasing standalone tracks and other projects for years, but now he’s bringing his own sonics to this set, which also features engineer War. Opening track “Above the Waves” crashes in with several top-notch breaks and booming bass; “New Territories” hits the city with concrete synths; and “Sagarmatha” adds in a little groove. ***

Signals Midwest – Pin – Lauren Records
Signals Midwest’s album title this time around should stand for pins on a map, more specifically where the album members live, since they’re now divided between their hometowns of Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. It’s to be expected that this album is centered around transition, even as they add one more city to their list (Chicago, where the album was recorded.) From the literal (“Time Spent in Transit”) to more pensive takes on the topic (“Your Old New Apartment,” “Sanctuary City”), all tied up in the band’s familiar emo-punk sound. ** ½

NF – The Search – Real Music
Produced by Tommee Profitt and churning together a powerful blend of hiphop, pop, and drama, rapper NF’s (aka Nathan Feuerstein) latest draws upon his own life challenges with a heavy emphasis on relationships. The emotional trap-rap mix of “Like This,” the uncertainty yet determination of “Let Me Go” with its commanding intro, and the unique “Nate” — opening with a group of people singing “Happy Birthday,” followed by NF singing to his younger self — are highlights. ** ½

Monkey House – Friday – Alma Records
Monkey House — Don Breithaupt, Justin Abedin, Mark Kelso, and Pat Kilbride — do a pretty good job, performance-wise, of mixing pop, jazz, and expert musicianship on this set, although too many of the tunes sound like they’re veering a little too far into the Dad-jazz zone. The majority of the songs are originals — one standout being the Broadway-esque “The Jazz Life” (with special guests Manhattan Transfer) — but there’s also a cover of Walter Becker’s “Book of Liars” that’s updated yet nicely true to the original. **


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