by Ryan Meehan
Record: Hyper Crush: “Night Wave”
Release Date: 02/07/12
Written By: Steve Love (Donny Fontaine), Preston Moronie (Patrick Ridge), and Angelina Araya (Holly Valentine)
Lately the theme of mixing work with pleasure seems to be coming up in my life more than usual, and this album review is no exception. Although I do find writing for FOH to be pleasurable, keep in mind when critiquing entertainment, we have to be objective here because what we do IS business.
That being said, it kills me to have to give the following review for two reasons: 1) I’ve been a big fan of Hyper Crush for a while now, and 2) They were cool enough to be our guest in 5 Questions a couple of years ago. Portions of this album had been released over the course of the past ten months, so a couple of these tracks I had already heard. Let’s discuss that for a second.
I think that in a strange way iTunes is destroying the record industry. It’s total bullshit. Just about every track hits the internet the second it’s done, therefore ruining the whole surprise of hearing a band’s new album. It may seem cool at the moment, but you KNOW the good stuff always comes out first - and as a result iTunes gets their buck 29 and it makes it seem like everything else you hear when the album comes out is filler. While I was doing this review, by boss Matt and I were talking about the history of singles and how ridiculous that whole thing was. He made the point that “Music doesn’t need trailers”. He’s absolutely right.
My point here is that iTunes, along with the record industry, has essentially made it impossible for anybody to release any record that is truly “new”. The only difference between file sharing and the current iTunes system is that now there’s a multibillion dollar company making scratch every few minutes. And I do understand now after the fact that maybe the mp3 era wasn’t very fair to the artists, but I also understand that those same artists don’t make a whole lot of money off of record sales so I think the issue of the whole file sharing thing was blown way out of proportion from the get-go.
But that’s neither here nor there, this is supposed to be a record review. If you’re not familiar with Hyper Crush, they’re a three piece electronica/hip hop group from Los Angeles that plays this real addictive dance music. What I like about these guys is they make their own reality: In their mind it’s 1989 and it always will be. They don’t think it’s weird that they have a keytar player and no live drummer, because that’s just the way they want it. They’ve been around since ’06 and been putting out killer mixtapes ever since.
This album is not one of them. Let’s break it down track by track.
1. “Werk Me” 9.1/10.0
Although I wasn’t a fan of this track the first time I heard it, it’s grown on me a lot. Holly’s voice is a little bit lower than in previous releases, and everything is pretty consistent. Donny’s fucking on it, maybe they could have come up with a better ending but other than that it hits really hard.
2. “Chrome Pipes” 4.8/10.0
Generally the second song on a record is usually a little bit of a disappointment so you have to factor that in. This song is about fast cars which are supposed to be…well…fast and this is one of the slower moving tracks on the album. It’s kind of nonsense.
3. “Bad Boyz” 6.3/10.0
It’s likely this is all Holly’s doing, which is cool but I’m not necessarily sure this is the type of idea that we want to be selling to the next generation. This whole concept of “Bad Boys are hot” seems to be working I just can’t help but think maybe that method of thinking is the reason that seventeen year old kid in a Phoenix Suns jacket with his hat tilted sideways is going to steal your car stereo tonight while you’re sleeping. I don’t hate this song, but the subject matter ruins everything here. (in fact, the chorus is pretty tight, you just wouldn’t want your daughter singing it)
4. “Fingers Up” 6.2/10.0
Never really dug this song to begin with. It’s catchy, but that doesn’t do the band a whole lot of good if airplay was their goal here, as there’s a pretty consistent “Fuck” right in the front half of the chorus and the song wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense if that was edited out. The bass sounds awesome, and it could be a club anthem if they had put a little bit more instrumentation and changed up the musical phrasing a little bit.
5. “Cheap Thrills” 8.7/10.0
A no bullshit, half time jam. This track is what I think the whole “dubstep” thing was meant to sound like, with the only exception being of course that it’s a kick ass song. I have no clue what the sample in the middle of this song is but it’s awesome.
6. “WTF” 5.9/10.0
WTF indeed. I think this song is about drinking. Predictable and your standard dance album filler.
7. “What Goes Up” 5.9/10.0
This is basically the same exact song as the last track so I’m giving it the same rating. Nothing spectacular and/or memorable.
8. “Maniac” 9.2/10.0
Simple, but easily the best track on the record. The video is pretty hilarious as well. It’s basically about these two people who are cheating on their significant others and because they’re having great sex it’s somewhat acceptable. Here again, not a great message but a nice retro feel to it and although it’s very simplistic it does offer a good beat and a clever “he said/she said” rhyme scheme.
9. “Chead” 4.1/10.0
I don’t know if this is what they’re referring to, but when I typed in “chead” on Google, the first link to the Urban Dictionary, with enough of the definition showing for me to get that it’s referring to a female orally pleasuring a male while also chewing tobacco. I don’t care if this song is about world peace that fact alone makes it just disgusting. There is a good sample here – the speech from Billy Madison where Adam Sandler gets chewed out by the guy that’s mediating the contest at the end of the movie.
10. “Flip The Switch” 7.6/10.0
Yet another track that was made available to YouTube long in advance. Never really struck me as catchy but it’s cool I guess. It’s sort of redundant to say that a dance track seems repetitious, but that’s exactly the word that comes to mind.
11. “The Foundation” 6.0/10.0
Have to be able to close stronger than this. Because of the drum sample, it sounds very close to that “Chead” track just a couple songs back. There’s this sort of African tribesman thing going on here but I’m not so sure it gels that well with such digitized sounding background music. The whole track is instrumental other than that “Cheebobba Oooooooohhh…” that keeps showing up.
Overall Score: 6.8/10.0
This could have been a very good record, but now it’s sort of stuck in this goofy substandard area that pisses me off as a fan because I know for a fact that they’re capable of putting out a better product. This album is a perfect example of why we do track by track reviews – look at how certain songs are in the upper 8 and lower 9 range, but then some of the others are low. Very little grey area here – that means it lacks a certain consistency. It’s missing the sharp wit of the Volume Two mixtape, that’s for sure.
A few things that you should know about this record: The biggest thing that struck me as odd would be the fact that out of all of the material they’ve put out in the past two years or so, some of the best stuff is not on this record. Notable missing tracks include – 1) “Ayo” – a song that I’m not a huge fan of but it was co-produced by Diplo who is one of the most popular DJs in the world at the moment. 2) “Kick Us Out” – a great song that went all the way to number six on the Billboard dance charts and also had a pretty killer video to match, and 3) “Keep Up” - a fucking really great song that features one of the best radio edits in the history of dance music.
Now, likely the reason that these songs aren’t on Night Wave is because of the band’s recent split with Universal Motown, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, which now owns Geffen, A & M, Interscope, as well as your house, all of your personal belongings, and every thought you might have in the near future. But by limiting Hyper Crush from releasing these three tracks on this album, Universal really backed the band into a corner. And it doesn’t make any sense that they would have anything to gain by doing so, because I’m sure all of those contracts are drawn up so that UMG owns the song licensing regardless of what album the band chooses to release it on. In other words, they’re just doing it to be controlling pricks.
Regardless of who’s putting out their albums I will continue to purchase Hyper Crush’s music because I like what they do, I just think that right now they’re in a slump. They’ll get back to it eventually. Hopefully all of this dubstep bullshit will be wiped off of the face of the earth and maybe everybody won’t feel so bad about listening to dance music again. I still consider myself to be in the Zapper Gun Gang and probably always will be.
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