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Music Review: The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts

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The Go! Team is a band with some really interesting contradictions. Their style is instantly recognizable but it’s also difficult to describe. Their songs often remind you of each other yet they also sound fresh. Their music is unique but also flexible enough that it sounds at home in just about any genre from hip-hop to rock. All these things that make them such a fun band to listen to are in full force on their third album, Rolling Blackouts. They manage to expand their sound while at the same time never losing who they are.

There are plenty of the types of songs that make The Go! Team so enjoyable on this album. The opener, “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.,” is a horn-heavy blast of hip-hop. “Yosemite Theme” is another of those fantastic instrumentals the group does that sounds both current and timeless at the same time. The album’s closer, “Back Like 8 Track,” is a throwback to the sound of the group’s first album, complete with chants by step team The Pink Diamonds.

Like their previous album, Proof of Youth, Rolling Blackouts features a diverse lineup of guest stars. “Secretary Song” features Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki on vocals. The song’s poppy, upbeat backdrop offers a contrast to its job-hating lyrics. Lispector provides the vocals on “Ready To Go Steady,” a full-fledged love song. Inspired by the sound of 1960s girl groups, it’s a cute song filled with wide-eyed innocence. Dominique Unique Young appears on two tracks, “Apollo Throwdown” and “Voice Yr Choice.” She provides a nice contrast to Ninja, the group’s resident (also female) MC.

The wonderful “The Running Range” features the London African Gospel Choir and just comes out of left field. The upbeat nature of The Go! Team’s music and a choir, however, are a natural match. Giving the choir the main vocals (instead of mere background harmonies) is a nice touch. Two of the album’s highlights feature vocals by Bethany Consentino )of Best Coast). Both have a more indie-rock feel to them. “Buy Nothing Day” is the more laidback of the two, with a mellow feel that fits Consentino’s voice well. The title track hits harder with some nice guitar work.

Rolling Blackouts is another great album to add to The Go! Team’s catalog. The band’s leader, Ian Parton, has said that it could be the group’s final album. This brings some conflicting feelings. It might be good for the group to end things before their sound becomes stale. The instrumentals on each of their albums have similar elements, for example. However, this album also shows that they still have a ton of life left. The possibilities seem almost endless. Ultimately, if this is indeed the final Go! Team album, it’s a good note to end on.

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