Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Witzard Reviews Cheezy & The Crackers' CD.

An eventual Cheezy & The Crackers bio-pic intro voiceover might read a little something like this: Having taken their name from a pimp-rendered piece of "advice," the band was heavily influenced by staples James Brown, Nirvana, B.I.G., and Sublime. Together, Vineland/Millville, NJ residents Cheezy McNasty, Albert (Berto) Trionfo, Randy Richardson, DJ Barely $ober (Mike), and Tom (T-bird) Parker are collectively known as "Cheezy & The Crackers." Over the years, they have built up a strong Tri-state area cult following by playing countless bar gigs [including a bill with Less Than Jake], releasing mixtapes, and recording new music constantly. Their official debut album, Don't Talk About It, Be About It..., will finally see the light of day on April 21, 2011. At its surface, the collection is a blend of Reggae, Hip-Hop, and Rock.

#1.) "When Something Is Not Right" – A straight-forward "rocker," that seems to stand in a class of its own. This track almost serves as an intro to the rest of the album but at the same time, no other track of the bunch really sounds too similar. Therefore, it automatically stands out as memorable/different from the rest of the album after a full listen.

#2.) "Crackers Anthem" – An automatic stand-out favourite that serves as a Crackers mission statement, somewhat akin to Blink-182's "Anthem" and/or "Anthem, Part 2" lyrically. Similar in style to old Ska Incubus, it’s Reggae-infused and sets the listener up for the rest of the album. An instant personal favourite track.

#3.) "Stare at the Dirt" – Right off the bat, "Stare at the Dirt" comes in with that thumping bass. This simple Reggae ditty progresses along, then adding in a swing riff and electronic Caribbean drums.

#4.) "Court Tomorrow" – Goofy story, vocal cop samples (personally reminds me of Sublime's "April 29, 1992 (Miami)" off their 1996 self-titled debut)... A pretty straight-forward Pop arrangement. Definitely a "Summer Jam."

#5.) "B.I.G. with My Currency" – While "B.I.G. with My Currency" has the most noticeable DJ Barely $ober (Mike) touches, it's 5:08 surprisingly take up some of the album's most chilled out moments. With that said, it steadily builds up a "Psychedelic atmosphere" and features some heavy, yet fitting guitar lines towards the end

#6.) "Rhythm Is Light" – One of the most upfront OG Reggae/Ska tracks of the bunch. Even includes a section that can easily be adapted for an optional live "crowd sing-along" section. Another chill song, who’s hook will stick with almost any live audience/listener(s).

#7.) "Amsterdam Everywhere I Am" – Heaviest of the bunch of Reggae-inspired tracks… But yet very chill @ the same time. While "Amsterdam Everywhere I Am" wasn't a stand-out track on my first few album spins, after hearing it live a couple times, it quickly became one of my overall favourite Crackers tracks.

#8.) "Europe" – I feel like "Europe" almost has that loud/soft type of sound to it. This style of composition was popularized by The Cure and The Smashing Pumpkins in the late '80's-early '90's. With that said, this track really sounds nothing like those 2 bands.

#9.) "Empty Seat..." – I’m just gonna go ahead and dub "Empty Seat (Baby, You Can Roll with Me)" the Song of Summer '11. Driving-down-to-the-beach type of music. Direct narrative-esque lines, Pop Culture references, and overall "Summery vibe" made this a favorite track right off the bat.

#10.) "Don't Let Go" – Growing up on bands like Black Flag, Misfits, Minor Threat/Fugazi and Dead Kennedys, when I first heard "Don’t Let Go," I instantly caught its Punk [Rock] vibe. While not entirely "Punk," it definitely meld Old School Punk influences, mid-'90's Pop-Punk touches, along with that Crackers flare.

#11.) "You Already Know" – The second to last track, "You Already Know" is indeed an interesting one. At its heart, Vocoded vocals (Wayne, 808’s Kanye, "Frampton Live") and an underlying, repetitive riff reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and/or Puff Daddy & Jimmy Page's "Come with Me" (Godzilla, 1998).

#12.) "I'm Gone" – This acoustic-tinged track is automatically a "sleeper" because of its placement as the last track. Personally, I think the last 3-4 tracks are very solid... But weren't in my regular album rotation(s) due to the same fact. Needless to say, they sure are now!

- Fans of Reggae, Hip-Hop, Rock, Punk... will thoroughly enjoy this Cheezy & The Crackers album. Be sure to pick up a copy of Don't Talk About It, Be About It... when it's released Monday, April 21st. The album will be available on iTunes, @ Tri-state area (NJ, PA, DE) shows, CD Baby, Rhapsody, Amazon Music, etc.

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