Monthly Archives: July 2014
The story behind Malibu Shark Attack is as fascinating as anything found on their debut album. The band consists of Belfast based Producer Rocky O’Reilly and Atlanta based vocalist Tribe One. Rocky had found some success in his previous band Oppenheimer whose music has appeared on such shows as Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother. Tribe One had previously fronted hip-hop act The Remnant. These two people had never met.
As quoted from their official bio ‘as one uploaded tunes and hit the hay, the other would wake up and start recording lyrics and stories’. By the time I discovered them supporting MC Lars in London they had been in each other’s company for exactly four days. Considering the fact that I immediately went over and bought the album after their set, you would never have known it. What they have created is an album of heartfelt and intelligent, yet joyous and uplifting indie hip-hop. Rocky’s 8-bit bouncy synth tracks beautifully complimenting Tribe One’s considered lyrics, perfectly balancing each other, never allowing the songs to become too maudlin or too light in touch.
The album launches from the gate with a triptych of upbeat, toe tappers. ‘Better Of As Friends’, with its wonderfully self deprecating lyrics, humbly explains the new project to the most stubborn fans of their previous acts (‘This isn’t rock n roll, it sounds so thrown together, what happened to Oppenheimer? I liked they’re old stuff better’). Stomper ‘Yo Into New York’ with its driving synth bass hook and shout along chorus and ‘Doing It Wrong’, an uplifting yet laid back ode to following your dreams, set the precedent for what’s to come. This may be upbeat but MSA are no novelty act. They share as much with artists like Sage Francis and Atmosphere as they do the ‘nerd hop’ scene of MCs Lars and Frontalot. There’s a melancholy but it’s an optimistic one.
Things do get serious though as the following two tracks show. ‘Back To The Start’ is an ode to lost friends and the beautiful ‘Internal Organs, in which Tribe One, at his most bitter, decries love and the pain that it causes (‘They say it’s better to have loved and lost, I say it’s better if we’d never been involved. Cos it doesn’t make it any easier to shrug it off knowing our connection will eventually dissolve‘). The song plays like a beat poem performed over and eerie children’s song, eventually reaching a stirring finale of guitars and mariachi trumpets. It is a beautiful high point on the album.
This review is in danger of turning into a track by track account and that’s just lazy journalism, it’s just so hard to leave any of them out. I will however spotlight two last high points of the album. Firstly the eponymous Malibu Shark Attack. If Better Off As Friends is an apology then MSA is a joyous celebration of their collaboration, with its shimmery synth riff and so many quotable lines it seems churlish to single out one. If I was the sort of guy who liked to wave his hands in the air like he just didn’t care, this would be the song I’d do it to.
Lastly there’s Plans For The Weekend. Words cannot describe how much I love this song. It has become the anthem of my summer. A celebration of the simple joy of asking out someone you like (and them saying yes), it is so unremittingly upbeat it would have Edgar Allan Poe dancing. it also showcases just how good a rapper Tribe One is. The way he spits out the rapid fire chorus while still imbuing a warmth and passion would put some much bigger rappers to shame. It also contains the only use of the term ‘YOLO’ that hasn’t made me want to claw my own eyes out (‘And there’s just so much that he don’t know, what if she won”t go and he’s stuck solo? What if she doesn’t even answer the phone though? Only one way to know, so fuck it, YOLO’).
Oh yeah, and that’s Ash’s Tim Wheeler on guitar. He appears on several track alongside a number of guest vocalists including Jesse Dangerously and MC Lars himself.
So there you have it. It’s Hip Hop you can dance to but made by two intelligent and talented individuals who have clearly put their hearts and souls into this project. I’m so chuffed to have seen them live as I imagine it can’t be easy to get the pair together. Hopefully they’ll come to London again soon.
There really are far worse ways you could part with £7 – http://malibusharkattack.bandcamp.com/releases
Here’s the brilliant Better Of As Friends featuring Belfast based vocalist Bee Mick See, who does appear on the album, just, er, not on this track.