Seasoned rock and rap veterans excel

By: Zach Brendza and Sam Fatula | The Duquesne Duke

Pianos Become the TeethKeep You
With their previous release, The Lack Long After, Pianos Become The Teeth garnered the attention of hardcore and non-hardcore fans alike, with their blend of hardcore and post rock. But Keep You, their latest LP which released Tuesday, breaks the mold that the band cast with their previous releases.

The band slows the pace and writes in a simpler way, toning down the chaos found on The Lack Long After and their first full-length album Old Pride. Pianos doesn’t recreate its sound, they refine it. Gone to the wayside are vocalist Kyle Durfey’s screams, so common before on previous releases. On Keep You, Durfey starts singing, but in a way that is still his own. The cream of the 10-track album’s crop are “Repine”, “Late Lives” and “Enamor Me,” tracks that are less rapid and more developed, just a few of the songs that show the band’s change in songwriting.

But this is the same band, contrary to what some may think. This album is a continuation in their progression as a band, with “Hiding” their half of the 2013 split with Touché Amore bridging the gap between The Lack Long After and Keep You, a song with less harsh vocals and clearer song structure.

Keep You took Pianos two years to write and record with the help of producer Will Yip (Circa Survive, Braid, The Wonder Years). From the opening notes of “Ripple Water Shine” to the last cymbal hit on album closer “Say Nothing”, Pianos reinvents itself with one of the best releases this year. If you didn’t like them before, you will now. -ZB

Run the JewelsRTJ2
Southern rapper Killer Mike and Brooklyn-based MC El-P, who form the duo Run the Jewels have teamed up again for a follow-up from their 2013 critically acclaimed self-titled album.

Elements that listener’s loved from last year’s release, including unorthodox hip-hop production mastered by El-P rework their way again into RTJ2 immediately with opening track “Jeopardy”, which grabs elements of trap and a variety of strange synth samples. These beats are complemented well with Mike’s strong and vulgar delivery, which holds the listener’s attention by the throat with authority.

RTJ2 continues its way through the rest of the 12-track album with aggressive production and vocals, which places the overall intensity of the release much higher than its 2013 predecessor, and for the better. Somehow, tracks like “Close your Eyes” and “Blockbuster Night Pt. 2” take classic hip-hop values like old snare beats and record scratches and transforms them into a new, modern beat that is refreshing and enjoyable.

One of the only criticisms of RTJ2 would have to be how some elements do not top last year’s solid release. Some of the production seems recycled, left over from 2013 and used similar to a b-sides track. Additionally, although Killer Mike and El-P share the mic in between verses in tracks, Mike dominates virtually every track. Mike’s delivery, use of innuendo and overall word choice is levels ahead of El-P, though El-P is still the one behind the soundboard on all songs, which evens out the workload. – SF