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Sole and the Skyrider Band - Sole and the Skyrider Band

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Artist: Sole and the Skyrider Band

Album: Sole and the Skyrider Band

Label: Anticon

Review date: Nov. 16, 2007

Sole and the Skyrider Band - "A Hundred Light Years and Running" (Sole and the Skyrider Band)

Soleís early records inspired me to predict (loudly, to anyone who happened to be standing around at the moment) that much of the early 21st centuryís best punk rock would be delivered in the form of independent hip hop releases. As the musical details of aggro protest music sank further and further into vapid self-parody, leftist hip hop like Soleís emerged as a more forward-thinking alternative to the fast ní loud philosophy which insists on rotting tragically in the sun like a melanoma victim too stupid to stay out of the tanning parlor. In addition to top-shelf beats and a bold lyrical criteria, Sole's Selling Live Water (Anticon, 2003) boasted an awareness of two appealing details that a lot of modern rock music Ė punk or otherwise Ė are sorely lacking: subtlety and nuance.

The brooding, cinematic sounds of Selling Live Water and its 2005 followup (Live from Rome) are further explored on Sole and the Skyrider Bandís self-titled album, with Anticonís moody and orchestral sample-laden sound firmly in check. This isnít the ďconsciousĒ hip-hop of the genreís early í90s renaissance, nor are these tracks the furiously political utterances of artists like Public Enemy or Paris. Soleís rhymes are informed by the geopolitical disasters of the modern age, but he has the good taste not to address them too overtly in his lyrics like some kind of beat-mining Brett Gurewitz. This is the sound and sensation of one manís foreboding traversal of a commercial highway at 4 a.m., the shuttered gloom of big-box warehouse stores and fluorescent mini-malls rising up around him in a grim reckoning of present history.

While the head-nodding groove of the record is comfortable to stand behind, lining it up in comparison to Soleís previous outings reveals the unfortunate truth that not much artistic growth has been going down behind the scenes. Sole and the Skyrider Bandís self-titled LP fires the same cluster of synapses that previous records have already sufficiently stimulated. All of its tracks, while well-put and effectively delivered, seem to come and go with the same results, and with no real showpiece tunes among them, this particular entry isnít likely to cast a new light on the corners of our culture that most desperately need it.

By Mike Lupica

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