Whole Wheat Bread

Hearts of Hoodlums

Written by: PP on 17/02/2009 14:30:35

I'm puzzled over how exactly to pigeonhole Whole Wheat Bread's music. Should I call it surfer music, beach music, reggae pop punk, R'n'B punk rock, Hip-hop hardcore, rapcore, or something entirely different? If that sounds strange to you, then consider this: all genre tags are equally valid, as are tags like hardcore punk, pop rock, and a bunch of other genres you never thought would go well together. "Hearts Of Hoodlums", the sophomore album by the trio, is evidence that it is indeed possible to plausibly combine what seems impossible at first - but I guess it did have to take three black guys to fuse hip-hop seamlessly into pop punk.

Lets take the album opener "Bombs Away" as an example. It opens with a typical punk rock bass-line intro for the first 20 seconds or so, then Aaron Abraham's (aka aka Nasty Nigga Fleetwood) hip-hop inspired vocals arrive that remind you of any chart-topping RnB songs first verse, and twenty seconds later, Frazier/Largen back up vocal combination brings some hardcore punk yelling to the chorus. Sounds weird? You bet, but it works brilliantly. "Throw Your Sets Up" begins with a classic rock guitar solo, which all of a sudden translates into a hip-hop styled beat and another RnB chorus, which is backed by heavily distorted guitars. Think Hed Planet Earth here or something - or alternatively pull out your Hawaiian shirt, a cocktail glass, and party away under the palm trees, that's the impression you get from the song.

Considering how weird the hip-hop background/pop punk instrumental combination is already from the beginning, some humour isn't spared either. "Girlfriend Likes This" sounds like it could've come from any Shaggy album (remember that "It wasn't me" song?) - this both lyrically and instrumentally: "I don't care if it burns when I piss, I've never had no girlfriend like this, I don't care what nobody says, if you don't like her you're probably gay". There's an overall cheerful vibe that's perfect for sunny day on a beach full of bikini-clad women and beach volley fields. "Lower Class Men" is equally funny: "Look at meee... I got money... Look at meee... I'm all right... you're a paid motherfucker with a maid and a butler" before it explodes into a street-punk themed aggressive chorus that recalls bands like Street Dogs or The Briggs soundwise, with the chorus bringing bands like Pepper into mind.

Then all of a sudden the band explodes away from the surfer/beach vibe into breakneck speed hardcore punk with the album's best song "I Can't Think". Then even more suddenly, the song transforms within a second into a harsh (gangsta?) rap section, before morphing back into hardcore punk. I'm just thinking what the hell is going on, because this has the be the most original music I've heard in years now. How exactly it works this smoothly I have no idea, but by God is it awesome, and this coming from a regular hip-hop hater such as myself. Next comes another track with a distinct punk rock base, "Ode 2 Father", which could've been on a Patent Pending album. To mix things up even more, "Staying True" is an acoustic ballad normally found on the softer pop punk releases, and even here the hip-hop background of Abraham is shining through his singing style. It sounds so weird on paper, but it really works, I guess you need to hear it to believe it. "Every Man For Himself" brings a ska-like sound to the band's incredible mix of a million genres, and "New Age Southern Baptist Nigga From Da Hood" starts out with a screamo-styled breakdown, proceeding into heavy metal vibrato and hardcore yelling. What the hell, right? Then comes "Catch 22", which sort of reminds me of "From The Ashes"-era Pennywise or something, before the album's closed with a reggae-rock-hip hop song "Stuck In Da Dark".

If by the end of this review you're sitting with a facial expression such as O_O, you're not alone. "Hearts Of Hoodlums" is the strangest album I've had the pleasure of reviewing in recent memory. It's so original it hurts. But most of all, it's a statement to everyone who wants to make music that you shouldn't ever care what people tell you will work or not in music, because sometimes even the most unexpected genres can be combined with great success.

8

Download: I Can't Think, Lower Class Man, Catch 22
For the fans of: Ermm... Hed Planet Earth, Patent Pending, The Briggs, Zebrahead
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.01.2009
Fighting Records

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