Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bring it On (Path to the Mind and the Soul and the Spirit)

Song: Bring it On (Path to the Mind and the Soul and the Spirit)
Artist: Stereo MC's
Album: Emperors Nightingale

If you're like me, you fondly remember Stereo MC's one big international hit, "Connected" from the album of the same name back in 1992, but haven't realized they've been releasing records ever since.  Who knew?  I actually only just got that full album a little over a year ago when I was doing research on Mercury Prize winners/nominees of the past.  That album was actually pretty good, and didn't sound as dated as I'd expect.

As much as I loved "Connected" the song back in the day and for a good spin now and then as it's such a party starter and one everyone knows, the album didn't blow me away enough to look into what they'd been up to, but they've been consistently releasing records and are about to release their 7th proper album, and fourth post-"Connected."  "Emperors Nightingale" is set for release later this month, and I took a listen out of curiosity and was surprised by two big things... one, it was a pretty enjoyable listen from start to finish, steering clear of the British Rap style that grows pretty grating.  But second... and this is a big second for me, they managed to take my least favorite new style of music, Dubstep, and used it sparingly to create a rather nice blend of "now" production and electro-pop songwriting.  Nice.

While there isn't anything as immediate as "Connected" here, the album remains strong and consistent throughout.  I liked the tempo-hoping first track "Boy" featuring Jamie Cullum, as well as the more hard-hitting "Manner" and groovy "Far Out Feeling."  "Feeling" is also notable because it not only incorporates Dubstep, but another, thankfully dying, genre I couldn't stand from the past... Drum and Bass.  But what is so masterful, in my opinion, is that they were able to use these sounds sparingly to the song, vs. making them the song.  It really works.  "Bring it On (Path to the Mind and the Soul and the Spirit)" is the most "Connected"-like track and also sparingly uses the Dubstep... it sounds as if on a see-saw with sounds from the past and the present.  It's the one that could nab them another worldwide hit.

This is a groovy little record from a band that's still got it.  It's not mind-blowing enough for me to go back through their discography to see what I missed, but I think it's worth a listen if it comes to you.  Nice.


Bring it On (Path to the Mind and he Soul and the Spirit)

Far Out Feeling

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