Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hollywood Undead: Notes From The Underground - Unabridged

All right!  Obviously, I haven't posted much in the last two weeks.  I am proud to report that this is ENTIRELY due to the lack of new albums (at least new albums featured on Rhapsody), and not my own inherent laziness, or the fact that both of my kids have been home all day for the same amount of time (usually, the three-year-old goes to preschool for half the day).  And it seems that the the new-music-machine is whirring to life slowly: this week, there are only four new full-length releases on the Rhapsody roster, so I should be able to manage, even with my rusty fingers/ears/brain parts (dude.  with as much Blue's Clues as we've been watching in the last couple of weeks, I am definitely dumber.  also weirdly more attracted to Steve.  the husband's less happy about that part.) (but did you know that Steve's now an indie rocker?  how people change!).  And this week's new selections are eclectic at best, beginning with the newest rapcore gem from Hollywood Undead.

To be fair, I'm not sure this record is actually a gem, but it's definitely rapcore.  And while I've never actually heard of Hollywood Undead or their music before, it took only a quick gander on Wikipedia to learn that they're a six-man group based out of Los Angeles, who, like so many other highly-respected musicians and/or clowns, wear masks and go by aliases (which, in their cases, are Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Danny, Funny Man, J-Dog, and Johnny 3 Tears.  personally, I'm most interested in Da Kurlzz.  do you think he has curly hair?  where [winky face]?  and how do you think he settled on TWO z's instead of just one???  inquiring minds want to know.)  I also dug up a couple of interviews, one with Charlie Scene on Bloody Disgusting where I learned that their drummer digs Miley Cyrus and that Scene himself likes "seeing people get killed and seeing trippy shit" (these waters run deep!), and one with Johnny 3 Tears on Noisecreep where he talks about the band's evolution and how far he can throw a football.  Oh - and that's the other thing I thought I'd mention.  Obviously, since I'd never heard of these guys before today, I've never listened to any of their music.  That being said, after reading the interviews, as well as the stuff on Wikipedia and Rhapsody, I get the distinct impression that this band has grown beyond their roots, which seem to have first grown in violent, sexist, dick-joke-making soil.  For, while there are elements of all of these things on this new album, these are by no means words which encapsulate the sound.

Unfortunately, if I were to try to find words which actually DO encapsulate the sound, I would have to use the whole damn dictionary because WHOA! this shit is all over the place.  The first track on this album, "Dead Bite" made me think of what would happen if "Bawitdaba"-era Kid Rock, Korn, and Insane Clown Posse sewed together a couple of kitten skins and animated the beast with an unholy tonic of their musical essences, with '90s rapcore beats and lyrics like "Let me buy you a drink/How about a roofie gin and tonic" (dance, kitten, dance!).  And this track segues believably into second song "From The Ground", which adds hard guitar elements, but otherwise follows the same formula with a sweet-ish, sung chorus, and most of the song delivered in rap-lite.  That, however, is where any attempt at cohesiveness ends, since third track "Another Way Out" goes all Miley-Cyrus on our asses with a poppy, upbeat tempo and all kinds of woo-hoo-hoo-ing.  Then we have a rapcore version of a piano-ballad with "Lion" ("I am a lion/And I want to be free/Do you see a lion when you look inside of me"), a rapcore version of club-banging hip-hop with "Pigskin" (with a chorus of "Go on girl let me touch that body/You know I like it when you drop it low/Hike up that skirt get naughty/Hut one hut two hut three go" and FINALLY a requisite dick joke "Yeah I'm the guy who talks about his weenie").  And if that isn't mash-uppy enough, "Rain" reminded me of Butthole Surfers (plus rapping!), "Believe" had a touch of Owl City (plus rapping!), and "Up In Smoke" combined elements of Cali rap and swing into an ode to fucked-up-ed-ness ("I sip Patron then I chase it with SoCo/Pants so low got my balls in a choke hold/Bitches getting naked and then posin' for photos").  I believe the word you're looking for is "huh?".

Oh, and before I forget - the reason this album calls itself "unabridged" is due to the addition of three songs - "Medicine", "One More Bottle", and "Delish".  And while I wish I had something neat and creative to say about each one of them, they are some of the most average tracks on the record, and follow the band's generic formula more closely than most of the others.  And what IS the band's generic formula?  Although I have talked more about the songs' differences than their similarities, that doesn't mean they don't have any.  Namely, they are fairly derivative, whether they're pulling their inspiration from Insane Clown Posse or today's Top 40 (a stated influence in the interview with Charlie Scene), and also, for the most part, pretty damn catchy.  Furthermore, although the Rhapsody description of the band scared me into thinking it would be a misogynist gore-fest, it's pretty horror-light, compared to some of the other stuff I've listened to since starting this blog.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that this album elicits almost NO emotional response in me, good or bad, and while I certainly don't think Hollywood Undead has made a creative masterpiece with this record, it's also a decently fun listen (if vapid, even on the "serious" tracks).  Basically, this album is the guy you date that you don't really like all that much, but still can't think of a single valid reason to dump.  Except he's wearing a mask. 

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't bother to watch the video I posted below, although I hear it has a man on fire and Clown from Slipknot.  So there's that.

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