Track Reviews

‘Contra Mantra’

Army of the Pharaohs

enemy soil/ babygrande

How many artists mob the stage with three or eight microphone-toting homies and nothing interesting to say? But when a super group of musicians who are all on point collaborate, it can be beautiful. Army of the Pharaoh’s crew of East Coast underground MCs — assembled by Jedi Mind Trick’s Vinnie Paz — present a diverse sound but stay connected lyrically, spitting bars on the state of hip-hop and the rise of the underground. Starting out with just a break beat, the piece gets super thick as DC the Midi Alien layers haunting piano and guitar samples, matching the serious tone of the verses. Raw vocal scratches help the artists’ message sink in as the beat rides out.

— Janani Sridharan

Senior Staff Writer

‘Crash Years’

The New Pornographers

matador

After the restrained lulls present in their last album, Challengers, The New Pornographers try to prove they can come back from the lucrative trough of their bygone pop wave. Neko Case’s joyful vocals, backed by the finely-tuned instrumentation, harmoniously lace up latest single “Crash Years”. The pairing of drums and low-toned strings is entrancing at the opening and close of the song. Coupled with jingling bells and infectious whistles, it’s reminiscent of their earlier work, which will have long-time fans in a tizzy. Case and company captivate like a multi-car pileup, but you’ll be swaying with a smile rather than rubber-necking with a grimace.

— Andrew Tieu

Staff Writer

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