Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Busdriver - Roadkillovercoat

(01.2007, Epitaph)
Verdict = Enjoyable and stacked with potential

Busdriver is one of those overly charismatic personalities that are somehow both nuts and likable. Roadkillovercoat is my first Busdriver album though I have been familiar with him and caught him live with Islands a couple of summers ago. It’s fitting that he toured with them - assisting on the superb “Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone” aside – as his unconventional approach to hip hop practically begs for crossover success and the likely dismissal from more mainstream hip hop circles. Busdriver sprays rapid-fire, slap stick lyrics crammed into off kilter, poppy beats. It is ridiculous the amount of control Busdriver maintains while dropping his verbal bombs at breakneck speed. It is most certainly his most defined feature as an emcee. Yet, on Roadkillovercoat, Busdriver is most successful when he forces himself into slower territory. In the first three tracks Busdriver seems more of a novelty paraded for his distinctiveness rather than for how enjoyable he is. It is only when Busdriver slows it up a bit on “Secret Skin,” “Sun Shower,” and “Go Slow” (with a wonderful guest spot from Blanca Casady) that he begins to corral some really terrific gems. While the album doesn’t reach mind blowing territory, it is still coherent enough to be ridden from start to finish and doesn’t contain any segue tracks (my pet peeve in hip hop)! Roadkillovercoat simultaneously treads some standard B level backpacker hip hop while reaching some heights that place him, oddly, next to LCD Soundsystem and Panda Bear (a hard air to define). The album is definitely worth the price of admission and more than hints at a potential that could have Busdriver recording future classic that reaches beyond the perimeter of hip hop.

-Mr. Thistle

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