When it comes to finding new, awesome music, I try to be as proactive as possible. I’ve checked out bands/albums because of reviews I’ve read in magazines (both positive and negative), TV appearances, ads online, and even patches on jackets I see at concerts. One thing that I am notoriously bad about, however, is taking personal recommendations.
I’m a notorious reader and my office is filled with books that people have given me that I simply “must read.” I try to get around to them eventually, but I’m fickle when it comes to doing things I “have” or “must” do. It goes the same way with music. Since starting DAR, I’ve had more than a few people I both know and don’t know try to give me music I “must” hear. There’s only a handful of people who can tell me to listen to something that’ll actually convince me drop what I’m doing and put headphones on: one is an Uncle in Tennessee.
Anyway, I was on Facebook and a friend of a friend that I’m somehow friends with (ah, the digital age) posted a link to a Kickstarter fundraiser for his brother’s band. They wanted to go on tour and were trying to raise funds. I like the idea of Kickstarter, even though I’ve only contributed to one (now two) so I checked out the link. And thus, I was indoctrinated into the world of New Fad Zoo.
People are always surprised when they find out I listen to rap (or country for that matter) but the truth is there isn’t a genre of music I don’t like or listen to. I will say that I’m not as much an authority on rap as I am on rock, pop, and blues. But I do like rap, in fact, many current readers might be surprised to know that the very first album review posted on this blog was a review of The Beastie Boys HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO.
But I digress. New Fad Zoo are a quartet of dudes living in Atlanta whose first album, FERAL is the real deal. What sets New Fad Zoo apart from the mob of pretenders is a knack for strong hooks and a razor sharp wit. I was blown away by how musically diverse/textured FERAL is. Now, I realize that today’s generation of rappers are just as likely to know music and/or play an instrument, but I still feel like many (especially in the underground) still don’t place enough emphasis on music. A beat is important, but if you can create a musical hook equal or greater to a lyrical hook—then you have a million dollar song.
New Fad Zoo doesn’t just have a few million dollar songs—they have a couple of billion dollar ones, too. The heart-felt “Smile 4 Me,” the club-thumping “Ima Needa,” and “Love is Wild.” I would like to go on record and say that “Love is Wild” is a number 1 record. Period. The record industry is all screwed up today, so it might not happen, but some savvy film producer or commercial director place that song in their film/ad it would sell 5 million units on iTunes. “No Such Utopia” and “Me Against The World” take a break from the fun and are poignant, painfully honest songs about grief, fear, and anger. In the context of the album, these harder-edged, serious songs provide much needed balance that many artists fail to achieve.
This balance only further underscores the fact that New Fad Zoo are a serious music force. One that not only gets your head bobbing, but is able to get their songs implanted deep into your brain.