MAD MAX = Real Eyes + Burnell Washburn + The Flobots
A hip hop record that uses all-live instrumentals usually falls to one end of the spectrum: either really awesome or really bad. Combinations of rock music and hip hop are even less reliable—certain elements of live rock seem to clash with some of the other components of hip hop, like clear vocal delivery and danceable rhythm. That being said, the efforts are always interesting. LOVE LIFE is an extremely well produced record. I can hear every musician in the large collaborative cast of players and the emcee’s gritty Buck 65 vocals come clearly over all of it. The drums and guitars are solid, the jams are tight; there are loud, shouty choruses and raspy breakdowns. But overall, something is missing. It might be the style of trying to live-sample classic ’80s rock (Great White’s “Rock Me”) under pick-up line rhymes, or the overall metal feel of a record that really wants to be hip hop. LOVE LIFE comes off a little flat without enough new ideas to make the energetic combination interesting. This is a first effort and I think this local artist can only get better as he gets more comfortable. Keep it up, dude—I’ll keep listening.