ALBUM REVIEWS: WRITE MINDED- EYE ABOVE

BY: JEREMY FLEISCHER

3.5/5 stars

There once was a term tossed around in Colorado: “hippie-hop.” It described a certain style of band – now largely extinct – that combined jam rock and hip-hop. It was a terrible sound; no one could pull it off. But it did contribute to some incredible live band hip-hop, like Peace Officer and The Flobots. Well, now we have Write Minded.

The Fort Collins troupe, which traces origins to the Def Rhymes Divine hip-hop collective, just released its first LP, Eye Above, and it’s a slick collection. Whereas hippie-hop desperately wanted to combine two sounds that don’t belong together, Eye Above builds its musical strength on sounds pertinent to hip-hop: reggae, jazz, funk and soul. Even when it does wander into rock, it does so by drawing on hard-rock’s blues foundation, while also adding a bit of psychedelia.

While much can be written about the band – there’s some wonderful work on keys and drums here – the vocals, shared by Sam Mouton and Jesse Neth, take center stage. Mouton’s soulful, R&B vocals are an inspiration, a perfect compliment to Neth’s staccato rhymes, which have great flow but could use a bit more rhythmic variety.

Far from hippy-hop, and equidistance from the awful hip-hop influenced nü metal, Write Minded show what a live hip-hop band with rock influences can and should be.