Friday, 29 January 2010

Egyptian Hip Hop/ Is Tropical

Hello lovers, here is a little piece I wrote for Crack Magazine about Egyptian Hip Hop and Is Tropical. Enjoy!

So whenever the ‘industry’ claims to have found the next big thing, alarm bells start ringing. Yes, Egyptian Hip Hop have great hair, they also have great high-tops. Oh and the songs are quite good too, so maybe these 17-year-old scuzz-grunge-doss-wave-pop nerds justify the hype? This bunch of teenagers is certainly too cool to watch ‘Skins’, they’d watch French art-house cinema instead and it shows in their incredibly suave tunes, which range from math rock and melodic noise to, ermmm, something approximating psy trance. Once Egyptian Hip Hop have assembled the scenesters of Bristol at Start the Bus, they launch straight into an unpolished onslaught of rambling guitars, indecipherably atonal vocals, most possibly about teenage angst and girls, and last but not least, exceptionally dynamic melodies.

Even though Egyptian Hip Hop are prone to some long-winded guitar-wanking, they play a tight set brimming with their very own trademark of inventive, colourful and refreshingly chirpy freak-pop. The drummer, who is sporting the ‘it’ accessory of the season - a Guantanamo Bay style bag over the head is a machine of vigour and vitality, which shows especially on first single ‘Rad Pit’ (bless them). It’s a lush melodic gem bursting with the youthful energy of wide-eyed teenage boys, who have just discovered that twiddling the knobs on a vintage keyboard is way cooler than playing on their brother’s X-Box. ‘Rad Pitt’ is marrying a somewhat nostalgic and alluringly aloof Beach Boys vibe with a highly contemporary potpourri of electronic bleeps and syncopated off-beat drumming. More importantly, the single showcases a musical maturity that betrays the band’s age. Egyptian Hip Hop might just about have enough stage presence to fill my mum’s kitchen, but they sure as hell have enough tunes to fill Wembley. Their songs are as unpolished and scruffy as their looks, but that’s the beauty. You can tell that underneath the often clumsy, hyperactive and mostly noisy surface lays great melodic splendour. Especially the enticingly dreamy quality of set closer ‘Heavenly’ is a reminder why we love Egyptian Hip Hop. If The XX and Chapel Club are making ‘doom pop’ massive right now, Egyptian Hip Hop are already on to the next big thing: ‘happy grunge’. In your face Kurt.

Second band on the night are the equally ‘scene’ Is Tropical. Half of Is Tropical used to play in the now defunct legendary Libertines-esque South London squad-riot-troupe Ratty Rat Rat, but they have since left the squad, cleaned up their act and thankfully their songs too. Presenting the indie elite of Bristol with a literally tropical mixture of ridiculously playful lo-fi, obscurely Tetris-sounding tunes, and reverb-heavy hissed out/blissed out vocals, they showcase their unique brand of laid-back, fuzz layered pop. Each track of the unfortunately too short set is a winner creating an animated atmosphere somewhere between a warehouse fluo rave, a crack party and washing the dishes. Demos ‘I’ll Take My Chances’ and ‘Seasick Mutiny’ are gems in the rough and one can only hope that there is more where they came from.

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