Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Oct 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

All Grown Up

music_atmos1Indie-rap crew, Atmosphere, shows signs of evolution in sound and maturity
Upon listening to the latest effort from Minneapolis indie-rap crew Atmosphere, the word "maturity" comes to mind. And while it is arguably a fair adjective to describe the new album, The Family Sign, the group's front man, Sean Daley, doesn't like it.

"I make rap music, so 'mature' is kind of a bad word," says Daley, the MC better known as Slug. He prefers the word, “evolved.” "Ultimately, this is music for kids," he explains.

The group's sixth LP has passion, machismo and plenty of snark—only in a more grown-up kind of way. And Slug is fine with that.

"I can't freak the funk," he says. "I can't make another God Loves Ugly"—2002's ode to debauchery and depression, wherein Daley bemoans the loss of his fictional muse, Lucy Ford, while drowning in booze.

In fact, at this point in Daley's life (he's nearly 40), it wouldn't really make sense for him to drop another Sevens Travels, either. While it is a fantastic record packed with plenty of brilliantly caustic revelations on human nature, and while Slug manages to move beyond his lovesick lamentations, he only does so with the help of more drink and a steady stream of women who clearly mean nothing to him.

But, by the time Atmosphere released When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold in 2008, something had changed. Slug, as a narrator at least, had given up binge drinking and sleeping around, and Atmosphere producer, Anthony "Ant" Davis, had begun experimenting with live instrumentation—both in concert and in the studio.

Still, there were traces of the old Atmosphere in Lemons. The record made a stylistic break from prior albums, at least lyrically. On "Your Glasshouse," for example, Slug paints a morose, hellish picture of alcoholism—a far cry from "Shoes" off of Sevens Travels, which makes light of blacking out, then passing out, in a strange girl's apartment.

However, as Daley points out, the new musical direction wasn't as zeroed in on Lemons as it is on The Family Sign. While Davis' production embraced live instruments, Daley says, "Ant was still using instruments like samples"—chopping up bits of guitar here and piano there.

music_atmos2On The Family Sign, Daley's more “evolved" lyricism meets production that has managed to do something very difficult: make band-backed rap that doesn't sound tacky.

"Shit," Daley says. "If we did do that, it was accidental." Taking on a tone of modesty, the MC explains that he, Ant and the band (Atmosphere now has a permanent keyboardist and guitarist) simply attempted to capture the sounds from genres they love—like blues, country and rock—and stir it all up in a way that made sense to them.

"We were just trying to capture moods and vibes like we would if we took them off a record," he says.

The result is an album that straddles genres in a very compelling and innovative way, taking rap in a direction that is both new, but also familiar.

Daley is now a married man with children, and that is very apparent on The Family Sign. The track "She's Enough," is a oath of fidelity to his wife—a definite head-turner in a genre that prizes notches in the bedpost.

All the same, as Daley says, perhaps he is evolving more than he is maturing. There are definitely vestiges of the old Slug—the one who made God Loves Ugly—the one who is self-absorbed, cynical and perpetually drunk.

On "Bad Bad Daddy," one of The Family Sign's standouts, he croons about bringing a group of children to the bar. It's not a song about deadbeat dads, he explains. It's a metaphor for all the indie-rappers he has sired—all of whom have lost their way.

"It's me talking about all the other indie-rappers that came out of my balls," he says. "That song is basically saying that I gave birth to you, and I'm looking at you and I'm disappointed."

Now that is the Slug we all know, and sometimes love.


Atmosphere plays at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $41.75. For more information, call 420-5260.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay