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Trip Seven
Trip Seven
Trip 7 Productions

Someone needs to have an intervention with Trip Seven. The Arkansas-based trio’s press materials lament the label of (gasp) “jam band,” adding that, really, if you listen very carefully, they’re actually so much more than that. It’s the ol’ we transcend all genres self-description that proves true about as often as rumors of a GNR reunion.

Well, I listened carefully and tried to give the guys the benefit of the doubt, but if it jams like a Phish and sings like a Phish, it’s a jam band. Consider: On a 13-minute-plus jam-heavy O.A.R.-esque tune titled “Solar Reign,” lead guitarist and singer Joey Farr offers: “We knew when that rain was in the air/If we didn’t get too high there could be rainbows everywhere.” The second track, “Little Ball Sparkle,” combines funkified String Cheese Incident instrumentals with Jack Johnson-like vocals. Then there’s the 14-minute-plus “Alpha/Human B,” which opens with a quick riff reminiscent of Van Halen and then spirals into something that belongs on The NeverEnding Story soundtrack, awkwardly alternating between the two for the duration.

Trip Seven may hit the occasional power chord and strive to rawk, but if the band looks hard in the mirror it’ll find a young-sounding jam band with an undeniably talented lead guitar player still finding his way. Embrace it, brahs. It’s not a damnable offense. (Skylar Browning)

Trip Seven jams at the Top Hat Thursday, June 1, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.

Brightblack Morning Light
Brightblack Morning Light
Matador Records

Lilting string tones, chiming percussion and general languid breeziness lend a spooky but decidely unsinister quality to Brightblack Morning Light’s eponymous album of hippie-crystal trance music.

Slide guitar harmonics augment unhurried Fender Rhodes electric piano chords—both wafting melodically over mesmerizing cymbal work that supplies the music with ethereal momentum. Adding to the hazy sense of progression are vocals that sound as though they’ve been processed through a water-filtered cloud of vaporized hashish, or maybe just a session with Mazzy Star’s recording engineer.

It’s the perfect soundtrack for a lazy hour in a pillow-filled wall-tent furnished with hookahs but lit by fiber-optic cable. For while a premodern sensibility of caravan meandering resides in its seductive and dulcet tones, the Arabesque tableau shimmers unsteadily before a tingling perception of technology that’s inescapable, given the heavily altered acoustics of the vocal tracks.

Instrumentation aside, the compulsively laid-back tempo of Brightblack Morning Light’s music is the songs’ characteristic feature. Those willing to surrender will undoubtedly be swept away, but a listener could just as easily step out of the current entirely. (Jason Wiener)

Brightblack Morning Light plays The Loft Saturday, June 3. Doors 9 PM. Cover TBA.

Pep Love
Ascension
Hieroglyphics Imperium

Just because certain types of music are labeled “underground” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most interesting or innovative. Never is this truer than within the various strands of underground hip-hop, and Pep Love’s solo debut Ascension is a perfect example.

It’s not that Pep Love—a member of California’s acclaimed Hieroglyphics crew—doesn’t have talent as a rapper; it’s evident he’s spent countless hours refining his sensible, straightforward rhymes. The problem is that his precise delivery and smooth cadence is so refined it’s boring at times. And his lyrics, which cover such mundane topics as loving life and taking responsibility for your actions, follow suit—never reaching for colorful metaphors or intricate storytelling.

What’s frustrating is that Ascension does have a few tracks that hint at Pep Love’s greater talent. “Act. Phenom” is a highlight, especially with lines like: “Get a clue or get ridiculed when I spit a few/hollow point verbs that’ll riddle you pitiful punks/with chunks ripped from your body.”

But otherwise the album seems mired in middle ground, treading lightly on terrain already well-worn in the increasingly crowded underground hip-hop landscape. (Ira Sather-Olson)

Pep Love plays with DJ Lex Friday, June 2, at The Loft. Doors 9 PM. $8.

Old Time Relijun
2012
K Records

Musical chaos, if not carefully crafted and syncopated a la the madness of Tom Waits or the distortion of Sonic Youth, often comes across as nothing more than just that—chaos. Old Time Relijun’s latest offering, 2012, takes a bold and at times maniacal stab at synchronized discord, yet unfortunately falls short of making the whole thing work, settling for untenable chaos instead.

The album is reportedly named after the mythically apocalyptic date when the Mayan Long Count calendar ends, and so it is fitting that 2012 is space-agey and futuristic. Overall, it’s a ballsy and creative effort, but ultimately almost to the point of pretension. The songs play out seemingly without structure, which is presumably intentional, yet the cacophony often seems too forced, and the songs grate irritatingly.

The lyrics of vocalist/saxophonist/guitarist Arrington Dionysio are candid and often funny, but he moans and screams like David Byrne being castrated. Old Time Relijun’s attempt at an otherworldly sound is successful, but it’s not clear at what expense. Collectively, 2012 meshes less like a futuristic dance party and more like the reek of a head-aching hangover. (Rachel Carlson)

Old Time Relijun plays The Raven Cafe Tuesday, June 6, at 10 PM. $6.

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