Review of Street Sweeper Social Club's self-titled album.
Since Rage Against The Machine drifted apart back in 2000, Tom Morello has been a busy man. In the last decade he's released 8 studio albums and toured as a part of 4 different bands; Rage, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman and his new project 'Street Sweeper Social Club' alongside front-man and hip hop political wordsmith, Boots Riley. On top of this he has been a major contributor to many activist programs and is Co-founder of the axis-of-justice human rights and activist group. All in all, a highly motivated dude.
'Street Sweeper Social Club' crept into my consciousness just recently, when they issued some free digital demo tracks alongside Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails, during the recent NINJA tour. First song I listened to off the demo was 'Clap for the killers', which is a funk fuelled rap stuffed with big bass beats and choppy interjections of electric guitar. This track stands out like a shark amongst the pigeons in comparison to the Nightwatchman albums.
The album consists of a bunch of hip hop songs inspired by political and social injustice and zaps them in the microwave until they steam and bubble with unpredictable energy. Boots Riley's vocal machinery relentlessly whirrs through a well oiled selection of songs aided by the unmistakable, improvisational sound of Morello's electric guitar.
Some may view this album as a 'Rage Against The Machine' replica and I think those people would be slightly disappointed. True, it has a certain similarity, with its venomous, sharp witted wordplay complimented by a torrent of slides, bends, hammer-ons and strange string manipulation, but I feel that there is more emphasis on the meaning and the message behind the words than on their ability to make you want to dance and boogie in riotous fashion. I imagine it's both a blessing and a burden to be living in the shadow of Rage; on one side you have a devoted fan base who will be excited about your musical activity, but on the flip side, there will always be that air of expectation to outshine the past.
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