M c THE FRONT Signs Of Life (Sound in Front) Rating: NNNN
I was ready for these Vancouver guys to be like most live funk/jam-band hiphop groups: creamed corn. But the Front pull the subgenre off real classy, with nice, minimalist beats and understated but strong hooks. No overworked slap bass or annoyingly insistent saxophone here (when used, both instruments are employed with taste); no desperate need to force home the fact that, yes, they use real instruments. And the lyrics sound more like well-thought-out rhymes than some excited MC freestyling poorly. Oh, and the mix is incredibly right. Closer to Blackalicious, Lyrics Born and Jurassic 5 than the Roots, the Front have made a simple record with respectable lyrics and refined musicianship.
The Front play downstairs at the El Mocambo tonight (Thursday, March 4) at 1 am.