Feb 162005
Authors: Nicholas LoFaro

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, "Worlds Apart"

Checking The Vital Statistics In Rock

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead rises from the same Texas scene that birthed At The Drive In, and its similar trash-and-bash music style is what the group is notorious for. During a live show, the members are known for destroying stages while at the same time changing instruments without losing the band's definitive sound. It is rather difficult to classify Trail Of Dead, for the group's music encompasses so many different elements from its influences, and virtually every single song on "Worlds Apart" sounds different.

Each member sings, and although they all have winded, strained and borderline-whining singing styles, the album is packed with diversified sound structures. Think old school, punk-aligned independence, injected with scholarly minds and a heavy dose of enlightenment. Part progressive and part pop, Trail Of Dead's closest comparisons might be targeted under the Who, Sonic Youth and the Stooges, if at all.

Actually, the band doesn't really sound like anyone. Trail Of Dead is aggressive but in a very beautiful way. The sound is not spacey or otherworldly, and it's not even jammy or psychedelic. It is rock 'n' roll that is tormented and optimistic at the same time.

The two songs that open up the album are instrumentals that are by no means considered hard rock, but it is as if the Trail Of Dead's members play their instruments very violently. The piano work flows gently even though the keys are being pounded on, and the guitars and percussive work are hardly even distorted or crunched. The sounds are quite complex for violent players, and Trail Of Dead had once even referred to getting beaten up in high school as good inspiration.

But don't think that "Worlds Apart" is too serious; before one track, a member of Trail Of Dead shouts the "F" bomb and then there is a clip of little kids laughing hysterically. For an album that is so deep, it's nice to see that the members have a sense of humor.

The Roots, "Present…"

Live cuts from some of Hip-hop's finest

Now slow down. This is not a new Roots album, but it is a live one. While this live set of hip-hop contains groups that you will not see on MTV, and maybe not even on MTV 2, and maybe not at all, don't let that discourage you from listening.

The Roots, who are unarguably one the greatest hip-hop groups ever, host this live instrument and vocal recording. It is a collection of songs that have never seen the No. 1 spot on the billboard charts, but they have been huge in their success in the underground scene.

The first thing that listeners should probably note is that The Roots "Present" is live. Live hip-hop is frequently seen live but seldom ever is it recorded live and further released on an album. And why is that? Well, hip-hop is a studio genre, usually characterized by samples, electronic beats and countless other sounds and instruments that can only be played live if the music is a background track to the vocals.

Most live hip-hop acts are vocally performed over recorded music, so in essence, the voices are the only thing that is live. So, in come the Roots and friends. The Roots have always had a band for their music and have always had a sort or raw garage sound to benefit from, so they sound live when they play live. The Roots contribute three of their jams to the album, and one that is accompanied by Jean Grae. Grae is without question the sickest female emcee not named Lauren Hill, and for some reason has yet to see No. 1. But in the underground scene, she is queen.

The Rocafella Records-signed act Young Gunz contributes two tracks and does its thing to please the crowd. Another legend in the game is Mobb Deep, who is on two tracks as well. The Jazzyfatnastees kill Britney Spears with their rendition of Spears' song "Toxic," although it is sort of a strange addition to the collection, and Martin Luther breaks his "Daily Bread" on one track.

Remember that this album is a live one, but also that its significance surpasses its content: Bootlegs and live shows are not material goods that are distributed among hip-hop culture. Overall, The Roots "Present" is not an incredible must-have hip-hop record, but for fans of any of the album's contributors, it will be a comfortable fit in their collection.

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