K. Dutch Always Home (Self-released)
K.Dutch is a part of of Santa’s hip-hop scene. No, homies, he doesn’t live at the North Pole, but rap’s been heating up New Mexico’s capital city for a few years now—as if a thousand varieties of cover bands and VU emulators wasn’t enough—and K.Dutch is at the forefront. His debut album Always Home, reflects a keen interest in production standards, veering toward the now uber-popular R&B-soaked vocal style with optional autotune that currently dominates the American top 40. There’s plenty of decent pop on this record (Viz.: “Photograph”) as well as innovative compositions like “The Future.” Some great instrumental tactics—
Zealous Grooves Reason In Ruin (Third Eye Studio)
The new album by Zealous Grooves adopts a gritty, bluesy, rock-as-confessional feeling right from the beginning. “Without You” has some sneaky, arpeggiated guitar references framing a tune that seems to have a Beatles-like bridge and hook at its center. This syncopated string technique gets full attention as the work proceeds. Similarly, vocalist Shanahan Wood seems to grow more confident, even petulant, as the record proceeds through six tracks that could be mistaken for ordinary, old-school rocanrol if not for the bits and pieces that frame the work as solidly post-modern, like the jazz-meets-blues riffage on “Valeríe.” The only drawback about this awesome second album: the way the drums were mixed, overloud and probably compressed, was very distracting as I listened, looking for meaning under all that popping percussion.