Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Music Review: Street Sweeper Social Club - The Ghetto Blaster EP

Tom Morello has been a busy man in the 10 years since rap rock heroes Rage Against The Machine went its separate ways. The first half he spent using his big-sounding guitars to rock the hugely successful hard rock supergroup Audioslave, with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell as frontman and his fellow ex-RATM rhythm section members Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk on bass and drums, respectively.

A few years ago, he quieted down and recorded an album (One Man Revolution) for his Billy Bragg-inspired political and protest folk project, The Nightwatchman. And in the past few years, he and his old RATM mates even found time to do a series of reunion gigs across the world.

It was while touring his folk project that he met up and jammed live with Raymond “Boots” Riley, emcee of veteran Oakland political hip-hop duo The Coup. In 2009, they recorded as Street Sweeper Social Club and released their self-titled debut, billed as “revolutionary party jams” to somewhat mixed but mostly positive reviews.

Released this past week, the follow-up is the seven-song Ghetto Blaster EP, out just in time for SSSC’s August performances at select dates on the Vans Warped Tour and the Rock The Bells Festival with Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan and other acclaimed rap acts.

Compared to Morello’s previous singers (Cornell and Rage’s Zack de La Rocha), as smooth as he is as an emcee, Riley is the least intense and most tame frontman he’s ever worked with. And as a result, Riley’s rhymes and flow didn’t always work and match up with the guitarist’s fiery riffs and rhythms on the ’09 debut, but was done well enough for a majority of it.

“Promenade” was the biggest highlight on it, with its bouncy beats and Morello’s trademark whacky, whammy pedal-powered six-string solos, some of his best and most expansive ones in recent memory. On the new EP, it gets a remix treatment, even though it wasn’t necessary, and quite frankly doesn’t sound much different from the original track.

This article was first published and can be read in full at Blogcritics Magazine

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