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Music Review: Halou – Sawtooth

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The music of Halou is as varied as the cast of characters they’ve worked with or performed with: DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, Frank Sinatra, Galactic, Blackalicious, John Cale, Low, No Doubt and even a Rod Stewart remix which hit #1 on Billboard. The band's music was included on one of TV’s hottest shows, CSI, and they’ve scored two award-winning films.

On the other hand, the music is easily identified as trip hop, a name that a number of the groups so tagged and I share a dislike for, although I’m not sure if for the same reasons. The tag of trip hop apparently evolved from hip hop’s migration to the UK, and their musicians putting a local spin on the music. Ergo, trip hop. At least that’s what Wikipedia says.

As a rule, there’s very little hip hop which I care to hear. To be sure, I usually switch the station if I hear it. Trip hop, however, is in no way connected with hip hop that I can see, at least nothing readily identifiable, and I occasionally listen to it. I listen to it less than I like, since there seem to be so few places on the radio dial to hear it. The proliferation of Internet music, however, has changed that for the good. We can all listen to much more of the music we prefer now, rather than what some marketing wonk dictates. I think it’s time for somebody to come up with a different name for this genre of music, something more fitting. Electropop doesn’t quite fit, although it’s probably closest.

Overall, this CD is a very easy listen, with remarkable voice, electronics, backup and engineering. The combination of synthesized and organic music is weaved to perfection, with just enough new wave and dance beats. The group deserves wider distribution and listening.

Halou has been together for a dozen years and I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of them until very recently. When I first saw the name in print, I had to look it up simply to see what kind of music they play and to listen a little. I was sold before I’d read 100  words and completely without listening to samples. Since I’m a card-carrying, registered Cocteau Twins junkie, it was a done deal before it started.

Halou’s first recording was released in 1999 to accolades from areas scattered over the West Coast, along with spotty nationwide praise. The Midwest, where I’m located, seems to be an area where this genre of music has to be stalked by listeners, as I have yet to find a local station that plays more than one or three selections a day from the genre. [I realize BlogCritics is worldwide, but since I’m in the U.S, please excuse the geocentricity in my writing.]

Halou consists of Rebecca Coseboom, Ryan Coseboom, and Count. This EP also includes guest spots by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame, and from Zoe Keating of Rasputina.

Don’t miss this EP as it’s a sure winner. And the price is right, at less than two lattés at your local coffee shop.

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About Lou Novacheck