Tag Archives: New Fad Zoo

FERAL II: WILDLIFE by New Fad Zoo

New, New Fad Zoo

Barbeques, pool parties, hot chicks, cool dudes and everything in between: welcome to the world of New Fad Zoo.  The Atlanta-based rap group’s second album, FERAL II: WILDLIFE, is another trip down the rabbit hole of expertly crafted music.  Just like on their 2011 debut record, New Fad Zoo blur the lines of genre.  The band expertly marries thoughtful, sometimes funny, lyrics with top-notch musicality.  These guys can do it all: write catchy hooks, pivot from jesting to serious philosophical musing, and create a musically diverse album. 

I was initially skeptical when I saw that band had chosen to name their second album FERAL II.  The idea of sequels, in any media, usually conjures thoughts of desperate cash-ins and creative bankruptcy. Fortunately, FERAL II: WILDLIFE takes the focus and energy of FERAL and expands upon what New Fad Zoo has already done.  Not only did the band avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, but they managed to surpass their first record in every respect.

The delightfully cheeky album opener “Party Animals” asserts dominance over the listener with its funky groove and big cat growl.  New Fad Zoo tosses this goodtime party song off effortlessly, as if writing a fun song were breathing.  The moody “Strobe Lights” explores the darker side of love and the desire for fame and has a hauntingly cold, electronic sound that recalls Kanye West’s 808s AND HEARTBREAKS. Meanwhile the album closer “You Are Loved” is a tender ballad that manages to combine late 1980’s Billy Joel and Outcast (and that’s a good thing).  Any band would be lucky to master one style, New Fad Zoo is adept at all three: modern party song, moody electronic rap, and classic R&B.

FERAL II presents the listener with the complicated worldview of talented young men.  The band’s attitude towards drugs, alcohol, and women schizophrenically seesaws over the course of the album.  Like all good heroes, the boys of New Fad Zoo are complicated–sometimes falling into the trap of objectifying women yet also acknowledging on the track “Triangle” that: “if I had a daughter, I’d surely be pissed if a nigga dared harmed her, but that’s the world we be living in.” The song interestingly asserts that there are three groups in the battle of the sexes: Men, Women, and Bitches.  The song’s hook is sung by the angelic Melanie Annabelle who proclaims, “Women hate bitches, bitches hate men, men want the bitches, and women want men.” New Fad Zoo don’t pass judgment other than to point out that “it’s a fucked up world.” Indeed.

Will Rap 4 Food

New Fad Zoo’s first album had what I proclaimed to be a billion dollar single with “Love Is Wild.”  That song sadly failed to get snatched up by Madison Avenue ad executives or the numbskulls at Clear Channel.  I foolishly didn’t think they boys had it in them to craft another perfect single, but once again they surprised me and minted another $1B song: “Luv Is.”   The hauntingly beautiful hook, provided by Melanie Annabelle, and the awesome Beatles shout-out sold me on the song.  After listening to “Luv Is” a dozen times I’m confident in saying that this is the best song not on the radio today.

It’s easy to gush about FERAL II: WILDLIFE because like its predecessor, the album is the clear result of what happens when talent people pour their hearts out into their work.  There isn’t a single track that feels dashed off or undercooked.  New Fad Zoo clearly loves crafting, not just making, music and it shows.  No track sums this up like “Want It So Bad.” Part inspirational anthem, part pep-talk to themselves, “Want It So Bad” is the answer to the question of whether or not there will be a third New Fad Zoo album–and I can’t wait.

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FERAL by New Fad Zoo

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.

new fad zoo

“I’m what happens when shooting stars and Mars meet, with the Big-Bang theory heartbeat, in High School I hung out with bullies and smart geeks, stoners and jocks, slut goths and car freaks, I ain’t fitting in I’m an artist.”

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.

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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.

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