Street Sweeper Social Club – The Ghetto Blaster EP
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Record Label: Street Sweeper Social Club, Inc.
In 2006, Street Sweeper Social Club was formed by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Boots Riley (The Coup). In 2009, the band released their self-titled debut and opened up for Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. The band brings an intriguing blend of hip hop, funk, metal and rock and even a dash of Rage Against the Machine nostalgia. Sound good yet?
To be frank, I have yet to give their debut album a listen. The first time I heard of the band was when Nine Inch Nails posted the NINJA tour sampler and I was only interested in the NIN part. Yet, as I spin The Ghetto Blaster EP I am tempted to listen to the band a little more. Perhaps, I'm drawn to the Rage Against the Machine guitar or the often contagious delivery of Boots Riley.
The Ghetto Blaster EP was produced by Tom Morello and also features Dave Gibbs on bass (Gigolo Aunts), Carl Restivo on additional guitar (Satellite Party), and Eric Gardner on drums (The Motels). Musicianship wise, the band has a lot going for it. So let's dive in!
The extended play opens with "Ghetto Blaster", a blend of raging, funky guitar and Riley announcing that "We're cannon fodder for dollars/Both under Bush and Obama" and that he's "…from the land o' free labor/That planted the plan of the/Black-and-branded to scram it/Over to Canada". I'm a sucker for political lyrics and there are a lot of clever, politically charged lines on the EP. Other times, there is shining social commentary. It makes the lyric booklet for an interesting read, whether or not you can get into the music. Anyways, "Ghetto Blaster" is pieced together well and when Riley gets on a roll, things sound grand. Yet, there are certain snags, such as the chorus or the bridge where he cries "Help me out!" They seem a little impractical here and are not very fascinating.
"Everythang" arrives with a groovy riff and more severe-yet-amusing lyrics. The chorus is a little more fleshed out and catchy than "Ghetto Blaster" and it still contains the same elements as the previous track. However, "Everythang" is undoubtedly the better tune and even occasionally sounds like the intro to "Guerilla Radio" guitar wise.
Next up is the cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" is basically a step-by-step reconstruction of the original with the twist of Morello's guitar style and Riley laying down the lines effectively. It's very likable and easily a standout on the EP. "The New Fuck You" opens with pounding drums and locks into a conventional groove. The infectious chants of "Fuckin' is the new 'How do ya' do"/and revolution is the new fuck you" bring a playful angst. Still, the mood created by the constant groove and danceable riffing grows a little wearisome after awhile. Despite the great lyrics and redeemable sounds, the tunes begin to blend a little.
"Scars" comes along and is not very attractive. Musically, it's tight yet the word play isn't as interesting as "Ghetto Blaster" or "Everythang". What's more, the refrain is faintly agonizing. I'd rather not "hold that pose" for longer than a minute and move on to "Mama Said to Knock You Out". "Mama Said…" is monotonous at times and there are even more snags created by Riley trying to lay down hooks but fall a tad short. The next tune is a remix of "Promenade" which is a very catchy and good song to close the album on. The tune is a parody of dance songs that instruct the listener in a certain dance pattern but are replaced here with social observations.
Overall, the EP provides some good lyrics, great dancing music and some standout songs. On the other hand, even in the short space of seven songs, it can get repetitive and suffer from unsuccessful hooks. "Paper Planes", "Everythang" and "Promenade (Guitar Fury Mix)" are easily the standouts and will provide a pleasurable listening experience to those who enjoy a good mash up of funk and rock.