2ru3s “Lil Sumthin ‘” (self-published)
Find it: 2ru3music.com
Columbia rapper 2Ru3’s new release “Lil Sumthin ‘” is undoubtedly the most accurately titled album of 2020.
There are 10 tracks in the collection, and the longest is a minute and five seconds. Which means your entire “Lil Sumthin” experience will be about ten minutes, or the average length of a song by Swans or Godspeed You! Black emperor.
In a way, it’s an engaging approach. 2Ru3 worked with a different producer on almost every track (only 6pointsmusic produces more than one song) and developed a remarkably consistent quick hitter. The songs feel connected to each other thanks to the deep carpet of bass and beats, and the arrangements (sudden slowdown, acoustic spider guitar, creepy keyboards) are just strange enough to grab your attention.
With this kind of cohesion in production, “Lil ‘Sumthin” plays an extended suite rather than a single collection of songs.
And 2Ru3 is a remarkable moderator. Its flow is unobtrusive, reserved, hypnotic and quiet. The way he slips in and out of his verses is like listening to snippets of conversation on the street as you walk by. In a world where rappers often boast exaggeratedly or immerse themselves in the marble rap madness, 2Ru3 is a breath of fresh air at the microphone.
This also applies to his texts. He focuses on repetition to bring his points home and hits important lines like “I am not only talking about the physical but also about the spiritual senses” (“Going dark”) or “I pray every day and every night to the Lord He will bless you and keep you ”(Hold U Down) to present his positive but cautious worldview.
But the amount of talent that is in front of the mic and behind the boards on “Lil Sumthin ‘” begs the question: why can’t we hear anymore?
There’s nothing wrong with keeping things short – the Ramones made a career out of it. But 2Ru3 and his crew made this album so short that it’s difficult to get a handle on anything. These tracks often whiz by in less than a minute before they can fully bloom, which is frustrating.
It’s not a bad idea for a performer to make people ask for more, but “Lil Sumthin ‘” is ultimately too short to really vibrate the way it should. VINCENT HARRIS
Longshot Odds “So Far Away” (River Monster)
Find it: longshotodds.bandcamp.com
Can a punk rock guy find love and happiness? The answer, Longshot Odds singer and lyricist Patrick North seems to be saying, depends on when you ask.
So Far To Go, the Columbia punk rock quartet’s first full-length album, traces an idiosyncratic journey toward personal growth amid music that is also at the height of transition.
The rhythm section of bassist Kellen West and drummer Cory Wittmere rages like a tank division, while JJ Dunlap IV flies with the corkscrew lead guitar. The resulting art-punk amalgam hints at a sharper, funnier Green Day facing a ’70s rock guitar god like Tommy Bolan.
Meanwhile, keyboardist North’s gruff and snappy vocals lament his rock and roll lifestyle as he tries to turn a new page.
“Hold your nose on the grindstone until it drags you back,” mocked North “Damaged Goods,” as massaged guitars grind away in response.
North admits that he wants to press the reset button of life on “VCRs and Mixtapes,” which combines pop-punk with Dunlap’s southern rock pyrotechnics.
Unexpected musical grace notes abound in Longshot Odds’ melodic punk buzz sawing. Cheesy Kids show synthesizers threading their way through squalling guitars in “Dream”, while squawing hair metal guitars thunder through “I Just Want More”.
The foursome makes its promised transformation on the title track, which sounds like nothing else on the album. As North’s gruff voice fades over the gently lapping acoustics, he sings about finally finding his better self. But then a fit of laughter ends the song and the album.
There’s a lot more to this journey, Longshot Odds seems to be saying, and in the end it could be nothing more than a joke. PAT MORAN