Bravo and DJ K-Nyce
Before the Standing Ovation
A mix CD put together by Bravo and DJ K-Nyce, Before the Standing Ovation is a rollicking, radio-friendly collection of head-bobbing club tracks, echoing hip-hop of the late '80s and early '90s — think A Tribe Called Quest or Pharcyde. In fact, one of the strongest cuts is "Passin Me By," a tune that doesn't so much sample as remake the Pharcyde classic of the same name. Formerly of local hip-hop ensemble G.I. Joez, Bravo is a solid lyricist with an easy, yet intricate verbal style that melds seamlessly with Nyce's clean, dependable beats. As a result, "Ignoramus," which samples the Isley Brothers, is a surefire club banger, as is "Big Deal Freestyle," a tune featuring rappers 65 and Mot. Like many local CDs, Ovation is peppered with unnecessary verbal skits and interludes, a trend that will hopefully die a much-deserved death. But these are rare missteps. — Michael Oatman
Recorded in Akron at two local-band-friendly studios (Audio Eagle and Wooly Mammoth), Thunder$troke finds this Kent band polishing up its songwriting. The title track features harmony vocals and cascading guitars so pleasant and easy on the ears, it could pass for a more melodic Modest Mouse tune. The same goes for "Gyro Quake," which slowly builds in intensity. The spoken vocals on "I'm Not Asking for the Moon" are evocative if inscrutable, and the instrumental intro to "Mr. Thompson" belongs on the soundtrack to a hipster art-house flick. Psychedelic rocker "Halo V"'s distorted guitars represent what the band does best: evoking classic's rock lysergic past while blazing into an uncertain future. — Jeff Niesel
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