For over a decade hip-hop duo Atmosphere have been writing, producing and performing thoughtful underground rap. Their most official release titled When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold was a turning point in the group's musical and lyrical direction; with the introduction of far more melodic beats and extroverted storytelling. The track Painting tells the tale of a tired, possibly old man gathered in nostalgia, thread-bare hope and social separation.
RA Scion, the hip-hop artist, is currently involved in a solo project that explores the territory founded during his time with Common Market. The hip-hop duo group, featuring RA Scion and Sabzi of Blue Scholars, frequently questioned the submissive acts of conformity and stressed the importance of individual identity. The track Push exemplifies this stance and strengthens the message with an assertive, in-your-face beat and convincingly bold lyrical tones.
Every year hip-hop artist Macklemore grows in popularity and appears suspended on the verge of breaking through the underground. Perhaps it has something to do with his assertion on musical integrity, or perhaps it is his very real practice of maintaining integrity throughout his various works. Whatever the reason is, his place on the Seattle music scene and to some extent the Northwest music scene is cemented by the loyalty of his fan base. B-Boy is a lesser known, yet nevertheless compelling track of his 2005 release Language of My World.
Jay Electronica is a New Orleans based hip-hop artist that is, despite his name, a very convincing member of the national rap scene. Although labelling anything other than an underground musician would be blantanty false, he has collaborated with well-known artists such as Nas and Mos Def. His odd stylistic tendencies are shown to good extent on the song Eternal Sunshine which has a beat without a drum (yup). His rap flow is unaffected, however, and he is able to create a consitant and layered tempo with his voice alone.
Some of them are from Russian, some from Ukraine, some from the Americas, an Ethopian and a Scottish woman, The world-representative nine-piece force Gogol Bordello have magically been able to touch the surface of popularity without actually ever becoming popular. Their odd sound (gypsy punk) is admittedly odd to swallow for the average young western ear, however the catchy dance-beat elements to some of their songs and the sparking fiddle and accordian melodies are compelling enough for many otherwise unfamiliar people to gain access to their style.
The Toadies hail from Texas and take a quite modern, Primus-esque approach to Southern Rock. Moments of comfortable eccentricity litter the song I Came From the Water, playing back and forth between a driving energetic tempo and dead-pan silence. In fact it would be quite difficult to describe the song without alluding in some way to the act of driving, since the pace set and rhythm created move quickly and with abundant vigor.
Speakeasy Tiger added vocalist Katrina Stone to their line-up earlier this year and have since begun recording new material to continue riding their success with previous frontwoman Kyle Simmons. The Public, which was the sole LP release during Kyle Simmon's time with the band, calls for a re-evalution of the idea of poprock and how experimental it really can be. Up In Armor is the wonderfully climatic resolution to the album, featuring touches of arena rock and stylistically classical tonalities.
Handful of Luvin's most recent effort, Life in Between, has a lot of tender moments of stolid introspection. Their usual folk-esque acoustic rock style is not highly prevalent in the two tracks The Pilgrimage (Into Choas) and Harry Met Rona, however elements to them display the thematic nature of their work. There is a play on recovering through hardtimes in a lot of their songs, and in this particular instance, the 'recovery' is a pre-emptive enjoyment of life before it is too late.