Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Can't Do This

I love much about music. One aspect that thrills me is the way that somehow, in some ways, contrasting combinations of sounds and elements can become unexpected partners in perfect sync. (This is, I believe, experimentation’s reward.)

When I saw My Son The Hurricane live about a year and a half ago, I was thoroughly impressed, refreshed and energized by their sound. I witnessed, as I watched all of the action on the stage, the successful partnering of what I had thought were two very opposing musical aspects. My Son The Hurricane is a 14-piece band that incorporates musical elements from two very different spectrums: big band brass and hip hop rap. To date, they have released two albums: Check the Barometer in 2009 and You Can’t Do This in 2011.

I’ve been repeatedly listening to You Can’t Do This lately. For sure, with the combination of a brass band and hip hop, there are many upbeat tracks, such as “Cookie Monster,” “Barrachone” and “Honor Among Thieves.”  Those tracks are balanced with an assortment of more serious tracks, such as “Pushin’ Up Daisies” and “The Life Of An Emcee,” yet what I love about the band’s sound is that even the tracks that have heavier lyrics still manage to have a lightness about them (and don’t make you feel depressed). How can you feel depressed when bright, shiny saxophones and trumpets brighten up the melodies and shine up the lyrics? You can’t deny the light, likeable energy of MSTH’s front man, Jason Bergsma, either, regardless of the mood of the song.

Not only is there a substantial lot of instruments contributing to a full sound but also other instruments and voices get a chance to shine in the spotlight and spice up the songs: a killer guitar solo in “Honor Among Thieves,” mellow, melodic acoustic guitar in “The Life Of An Emcee” and the rich, smooth singing voice so different from the rapping in such tracks as “Pushin’ Up Daisies” and “Barrachone.”

As enjoyable as I have found listening to My Son The Hurricane’s music at home or in my car, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see them perform live. The energy you hear in the recording is multiplied live because theirs is a show that is really fun to watch. When I saw them live, my eyes were darting this way and that, there was so much excitement on stage—so much to take in. Bergsma did not stop moving—he was so full of life—and I could tell he really enjoys what he does. I would have felt tired for him had not the rest of the band members been continually invigorating me as I watched and listened. At one point, the tuba player and his giant tuba parted the audience like the Red Sea and stood there, taking up a colossal amount of space, the player just playing the tuba, surrounded by fans. There was literally no dull moments, with 14 people to watch.

14 [extremely talented] people, clever lyrics, a balance of creativity and control, a balance of brass band and hip hop, light even while serious, a tribute to New Orleans, funky, lively, entertaining, enthusiastic, energetic, even my son loves them, nothing else you've heard sounds the same--

My Son The Hurricane.

“Shout out to all the fellas and the ladies that ain’t givin’ up ‘till they pushin’ up daisies”
-My Son The Hurricane

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