Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Album Review: Le Vice (Self-Titled)

The words “live band” and "organic" have become increasing rare in describing R&B and hip hop acts, as many artists have journeyed into the land of Auto-Tune, drum machines, and purely electronic production, never to return. San Francisco-based foursome Le Vice seek to bring live music lovers back to the promise land however, blending sampling and DJ techniques with a sound that combines dance grooves and indie rock guitars. Hip-hop hipster funk if you will.

After getting off to slow start with a skip-worthy intro, the band hits its stride with dance floor gems “Say A” and “Hard 2 Be Ill.” The former features sharp drums with bluesy guitars and trippy keyboard effects, while the latter rides a deep bass groove and a funky, muted guitar riff during the verse and chorus before being washed in a wave of synthesizers and DJ scratching at the bridge. Both tracks find vocalist Alex Lee in braggadocios mode, describing herself as a “Bad mama jamma,” who's “Less Pussy Cat Doll/Little more Benita” and “Killin' them boys like Jeffery Dahmer.”

“Uh-Huh” finds Lee in a sexy, uninhibited mood singing “I wanna bring you joy/Wanna make you noise/I wanna be the one/To have your baby boy.” “I'm a perfect 10 on the scale/You don't need nobody else,” she sings, showing her brazen confidence is still on full display. Musically the band is tight and precise but still manage to sound exciting and fun, providing a good backdrop for Lee's tales of cool shy guys and wild party girls. The band also adds life to tracks like “Why Fight,” which ends with a fiery guitar solo, and gives “She Wanna” a nasty, gritty swagger with atmospheric keyboards and a fuzzy, distorted guitar.

“Everytime,”another standout track, reminisces about a teenage love affair, with memories of getting blazed, making out and watching MTV. Over a sparse, muscular groove Lee tells a story of love found and lost. “I thought it'd last forever/I still remember the baby names we thought of together.” It would have been great to hear Lee unleash her inner MC Lyte and stretch her storytelling muscles more on the album. Moments like these are in short supply however, as the band are more interested in getting the party started than exploring the past. Fortunately, Le Vice are well-versed in that.


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