The free digital release of Kids These Days’ debut album, Traphouse Rock, dropped earlier this week much to the delight of the band’s avid followers. To no one’s surprise, the young Chicago band did not disappoint with their latest effort.
The band from our hometown kept the making of this album very close to home, making it a true Chicago affair. Chicago rappers Coldhard and a POD-favorite Chance The Rapper are the only featured acts in Traphouse while another Windy Citizen and major music artist, Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco, shared production duties with the band and eventually produced 7 of the 15 tracks of the album.
While we had heard some gems prior to the full-length release of Traphouse, that being the case for the tracks “Who Do You Love,” “Don’t Harsh My Mellow” and “Bud Billiken,” the rest of the album sure delivered on the promise that the previous releases had first shown. One of the best things in Traphouse is that the band’s individual artistry shines brightly and it results in the collective effort a truly great musical experience. The use of the horns was on point throughout the entire album, many times stealing the spotlight from the rest of instruments used on this project. Macie’s piano/keyboard and vocal contributions provide a sweet contrast to Vic Mensa’s rapping. And, as a big fan of Rock, I really appreciated the range and creativity of what Liam Cunningham brought to the table with his guitar work.
The album as a whole is a collage of several music elements and influences. Traphouse starts with “(Intro)mental,” a dark Jazz-y number that gets funky towards the middle of the track and ends with a wailing guitar accompaniment to the original groove. The first song on the album with lyrics is one of the best of the whole lot as it highlights the whole band’s greatest assets and musical abilities. “GHETTO.” samples the solo of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and blends-in funk and even disco elements (both genres serving as backbones in Hip Hop’s earliest days) for a horns- and drums-heavy beat that comes at you as a barrage of musical awesomeness. The ode to music’s favorite plant, “Bud Billiken,” starts with Charlie Brown-esque piano before the rest of the band comes in, later cutting into a trumpeted rendition of the final chorus of Radiohead’s “Creep” (it sounds as cool as you can imagine) followed by a great guitar solo to bring us back to the original beat.
Jeff Tweedy’s influence can be most heard on “Who Do U-Love,” which features a campy piano and Vic Mensa’s funkiest vocals with a chorus that sounds like it’s meant for some serious hand-waving during live renditions of the track. Macie Stewart’s sultry voice appears often on the album, but her excellent part in “L’Afrique” sounds very Régine Chassagne (female lead vocalist of the Arcade Fire) in a song that steers away from Hip Hop but still features a great horns and drums part. “A Man’s Medley” brings us back to the Jazz style found in “(Intro)mental,” with another stunning performance from Macie and a brief sample of the outro of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” surrounding a sample of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
The latest album is yet another great effort from the young Chicago band with a broad range of musical elements coming together to finally give the “genre-less” band an apt name for their sound, fittingly, Traphouse Rock.
Dope Tracks: “GHETTO.” “Don’t Harsh My Mellow,” “Talk 2 You,” “Bud Billiken,” “Wasting Time (feat. Chance The Rapper),” “Who Do U-Love,” “A Man’s Medley”