Note: The new album is not on Bandcamp and such, but folks can find it on their favorite streaming platforms.
The new Wasteland Hop album is all over the map in every sense of the phrase. The music draws on a vast range of influences from the Pharcyde to A Perfect Circle. To call it rap-metal is reductive and potentially off-putting, but think System of a Down more than Limp Bizkit.
Smooth-flowing MC Mickey Kenny shares vocals with the intense and arresting lead singer Steph Jay, sometimes layering vocals over each other. Jay is equally comfortable as a jazz chanteuse and as a hard rock yowler. Together, they front a solid and hard-driving rock trio on guitar, bass, and drums. And a classically trained violinist adds to their sound.
Their new album is also geographically diverse. The Fort Collins band has been working on these six tracks since 2014 in Colorado, New Mexico, coastal Ecuador, and Kenny’s native Alaska.
They said the travels influenced both the music and the lyrics, with the erosion of glaciers and shorelines feeding the theme “that examines the edge of erosion.”
The album peaks with its final track, “Respect the Dead.” The 6-minute epic slowly builds, opening with a quiet and haunting rap by Kenny that evokes Dave’s “Psychodrama” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Fear.”
Jay joins in, almost in a whisper, which eventually builds into a primal scream over driving guitars and crashing cymbals.
“Waves crash down to the sea, let them carve their way right into us,” she howls in the closing moments.
Wasteland Hop will play an album release show at Washington’s in Fort Collins on Thursday, Nov. 21, and will play at Lost Lake in Denver on Friday, Nov. 22.
— Steve Graham