30 August 2015
B. Dolan - Kill The Wolf
Ok Pip, we know everyone should be listening to it.... sheesh. This is an album which is currently being hyped by the rather talented Scroobius Pip (formerly of Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip) has basically been singing the praises of this man - B. Dolan - for many a moon, he has took him out on tour, but him as the headline act on last year's Speech Development tour, he has played with Sage Francis, his tour history is really impressive. He has been making the rounds for years, he found his own style and has stayed true to what he sees as his own vision; I admire that, he is an artist that does it his way and not going down the route of trying to get to a major label. At present he is getting ready for a world tour for this third studio album, which looks like it is going to be killer. A few weeks ago I put a photo up on my Instagram of the blogs I was going to do and hash tagged the groups and artists that I was going to be review, B. Dolan liked this post and that made me smile; I should have done this a little sooner, but I am doing it now - time to see how the howl the wolf sounds.....
With the sound of a slow guitar, haunting pianos and a cello (I think), we are introduced to "Lazarus". It might start off slow, but there is an explosive energy which is unleashed as the song moves along and the tale about the inevitable and how you also rise from small defeats (as well as the defeat that no-one ever rises from). This song sounds huge, it has a massive hook in it, it will not let the listener stay still and has a sound like reminds me of the aggression and positive sounds from The Prodigy - 'Music For The Jilted Generation' era; it sounds larger than life and for an opening track , that is a perfect way to start an album. With a dirty bass and equally nasty guitar sound, "Graffiti Busters" is about street arts who are treat like criminals; I have never got that as I find a lot of street art to be beautiful (when it is not just Shazza luvs Kylie 4eva & then the name is changed a few times), it can truly be inspiring and it is a very expressive piece of art. The sonnet to the life of a street artist is another fantastic piece that is very hard on the bass, very sharp on the rhymes and to be honest it is a stunning song - could this be the song of the album so early on? With messed up percussions, "Stay Inspired" is very old school and sounds as timeless as anything from Public Enemy and Ice Cube; it is a mean and fantastic rap which is about being inspired and it nails the state of rap and how to take a bad situation and make it a positive. It is another stomping number that has the body moving and also takes the brain from a trip with insightful and killer words.
The fourth track is called "Safety Theater" (that is the spelling on the CD box, that is what I am sticking with - it has a different name on Spotify for some reason) and this takes things down a notch in term of speed, but not in terms of quality. It is still a hard hitting, precision number with a wonderful sense of danger and aggression; the music is a mixture of heavy drums, slow female vocals, pulsing bass and a great mixture of electronics and frequencies mixed into an edgy, perceptive number. After this is "Jailbreak" which features the talents of Dave Lamb, Buck 65 & Aesop Rock, with a sound that feels like a live band giving the backing track instead of the song being performed on a drum machine/sound effects board (both are great and if this is a drum machine/sound effect board combo - it is the best I have heard). With a guitar lick that holds the track together, it sounds incredibly grounded and one of the best tracks of the album. The raps are beautiful and the sound is storming, a stunning number on this album. With a dark, deep bass "Run The Machine" goes for the jugular and reminds me of early Saul Williams in terms of style, delivery and noise; but it is done with his own flavour that keep the listener attention and the dark rhyme aggression is fantastic. A tale about the way of the world, this sixth track is another great example of how rap is still evolving and is not just the mainstream player's that are the people to follow. "Rats Get Fat" starts with a sample of a kid asking for a story, it is a tale about the state of a city and how the wealthy flourish and the rest are treat like scum and worthless. It is a brilliant commentary on hypocrisy and the world at large; full of dark imagery and brilliant music, it just showcases the strengths of B. Dolan.
"Who Killed Russell Jones" is a tribute to Ol' Dirty Bastard, it is both praising and damning rebuttal of the man as well. It does not hide his demons, shows his diseases of the man and his drug past, it is also shows him in glory and that even though he was floored that he was a great artist. It is a haunting moment on the album, one of the darkest songs and sounds as if it was recorded in front of a live crowd. Whatever my thoughts on the ODB, it is a heartfelt tribute to a man who is obviously a hero to B. Dolan. The ninth track is called "Alright", it is the first song on the record that (while sounding decent), it doesn't hit the highs of the earlier parts of the album. I think it is the first tune that does not match the quality of the rap, I guess it had to happen at some point and it does show how much quality is on the album that it takes to this far into the album. The penultimate song is called "Memory of Bombs", it begins with low synths, minimal drums and then a slow, dark diatribe about the state of the world and how it is going to hell in a hand basket and the female vocals are begging for salvation. It is a moody and dark piece of music that keeps up the quality of the album and does not disappoint at all, in fact whilst it takes a while to get going - it is actually one of the most rewarding songs on the album as it keeps on revealing more about itself with each listen; aka the grower track. Ending the album is "These Rooms" which ends the album on a minimal note, the live band vibe is back again, B. Dolan is showing you to the door as he ends his show; it is a retrospective on old shows, the way home and the changeable nature of the music business. Once more, it takes a while to get into the song and much like "Memory of Bombs" it is another grower and feels like the road for B. Dolan has been hard on the man. It is a haunting song, one which ends with sense that the road is not reached its end - however the album has reached its conclusion.
I am glad to report that this album is a top draw release from Speech Development, B. Dolan lays out his tracks with a style and level of confidence that is worthy of the hype. It has an old school style for me in the way the B. Dolan delivers his raps (reminds me an awful lot of Saul Williams and I think that man is amazing), the music is really good and is full of strange beats, crazy rhymes and more hooks than a school cloakroom in the 70's. This album is one of the best rap albums I have heard in years and I can see why Scroobius Pip is trying to get everyone to listen to the album; it is a class release - so long story short - this is a great album and worth the hype.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
Top track - Graffiti Busters
You can purchase the album on Amazon here....
....or you can go to the B. Dolan website here where there is a web store (much better)
You can follow the activities of B. Dolan on Facebook here
You can stream the album on Spotify here
You can stream the album on Deezer here
You can stream the album on Tidal here
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