Blades of Steel Like a Calf in a Tubesock

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Sports-obsessed rapper Ricca Razor Sharp joins with occasional collaborator SoLeo and a backing band to form live hip-hop group Blades of Steel, named after Konami's classic hockey videogame. Blades of Steel musicians Smokin Jay (drums), Jonny Vincent (guitar/vocals), Roopert El Toro (keys/production) and Al Caissie (bass/vocals) attempt to maintain the breakbeat style of hip-hop, but with a looser sound and the freedom to drop into solos. Their debut five-song EP opens with "403°," an homage to their hometown of Calgary, AB, heavy with hockey references and braggadocio. A groovy, upbeat number with an abundance of drum and guitar, it has an old school Beastie Boys feel that readily pulls listeners in. Following track "Stream of Consciousness" slows down the tempo and softens the sound for a mellow jam about a lot of things and nothing in particular before the pace picks up again with groovy synths and rockin' guitars for "Contract" and "H.E.M.P.," the latter an album highlight promoting responsible marijuana sales. The record concludes with a live rendition of Ricca's biggest hit, "Do You in the 80s," the group doing a fine job of interpreting the electro-influenced hip-hop beat. It shows the band are likely most fun live, but if you like guitars with your hip-hop, you'll likely enjoy Like a Calf in a Tubesock. (Independent)