Review: “Moon Tunes,” by the Spacetones

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Success in hip hop is like balancing a pin on its head–the slightest miscalculation can send everything down the slippery slope to flopdom. As a result, the most common course to take is one that requires no calculations at all; just copy what someone else successfully did and watch your own pin stand up, too, albeit for less time than the original. Then there are those delightful mavericks who don’t care if the pin stands up at all, since they’ve already bent it into a pretty shape of their own and it looks just fine laying down, thank you. Consider the Spacetones members of the latter group.

From the outset of Moon Tunes, the group flies in the face of every convention it can find. Beats made to play in the club? Nah. Southern-drawl lyrical delivery? Pass. Instead, rapper Tahmipee, beatmaker Casey and turntablist DJ Geeg craft an album as agile and cohesive as anything the local hip hop scene has produced while laying out a soundscape as expansive at the group’s name suggests. There are a lot of nods to old-school artists on this album, such as A Tribe Called Quest to Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and with many P-Funk-influenced guitar tones and vocal treatments to round out the early-’90s feel. It’s shameless homage that varies enough to avoid feeling derivative, which is a coup for a group just two years into its existence. The space theme suggested by the group name and album title is present but not pushed to excess, which is nice since work this good shouldn’t be dismissed as a gimic. The Spacetones have the goods to make music that bends their pin however they want, and in doing so it frequently stands up.

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