I'll be the first to admit that I didn't hear all the good releases that came out last year. As usually happens, I'll probably still be catching up with things that came out well into the middle of the year, and the cycle repeats itself until I find myself with a want list 100 titles long. Out Hud is one of those groups that I heard plenty about, but finally got around to ordering with some extra holiday money, and I'm glad that I finally did. Easily the funkiest thing that the Kranky label has ever committed to wax, Street Dad is one of those releases that snuck up on me rather slyly and has found itself stuck in my head since.
To be completely honest, the 6 tracks and just under 40 minutes of music on the release didn't really do a whole lot for me the first time I spun the disc. Having heard !!! (the group that Out Hud shares members with), I think that I simply wrote it off as a slightly more adventurous version of that group, but only days later found myself letting it play through in its entirety 2 or 3 times in a row. While that's possibly due to the shorter length of the release, it also has something to do with the rhythms and sounds on the release that simply burrow into your head.
The disc opens with "Story Of The Whole Thing," and doesn't really look back from there, as minimal guitar melodies ring out over backing percussion that changes every couple measures. At times, it sounds like a crappy drum machine, while at other times it pops into sort of an acid-house groove, and at other times it simply trundles along while a solitary cello plays. The hilariously-titled "Dad, There's A Little Phrase Called Too Much Information" kicks it up another notch, again building tension as quiet melodies sift around ever-changing percussive elements. After sounding like the track is going to bust loose into EQ-shattering noise, things quiet down and roll with warm keyboards and guitars before busting into an almost tribal groove, again slowly bringing bits of caustic beats and guitars in ocassionally as a jump start, before a hilarious bridge with a fruity little keyboard solo and slammin' beat programming.
So it goes with nearly every track on the release, and the mentioned running time is actually somewhat misleading once you start delving into the unfolding layers of the release. "Hair Dude, You're Stepping On My Mystique" again mixes cello and some almost funky guitar over beat programming that buries the levels ever so often before loping back into a hypnotic groove. The absolute epic of the album is the 12-minute blowout of "The L Train Is A Swell Train And I Don't Want To Hear You Indies Complain," as it throws just about every style of music into the mix and somehow comes out the better for it. Unlike some of the other more dynamic tracks on the disc, it unfolds at a slightly slower pace, but as all the layers shift and swell and progress, it ropes you in and makes you want to move your azz.
Sheesh. That last line is something I thought I'd never find myself saying about a Kranky release (known for their drone dou jour), but Street Dad is one of the coolest, most fun releases that I've heard in quite awhile. Part of that infectious energy has to come from the fact that the group seems to have thrown caution to the wind in creating the release, as it eschews pretty much any label you want to give it and just plain goes where it wants then drags you along for the ride. When's the next tour?