Brzowski A Fitful Sleep

Portland, ME rapper Brzowski rests comfortably on the hip-hop side of the rap/rock divide, but there's no denying the influence of rock music on the MC, and on this album in particular. He plays rock guitar on opener "Own" and "The Birding," and loose bass on "Covenant," but the influence is most evident on his many choruses, which are composed of hooks readymade for hard rock and metal albums. Frequent collaborator Agent 8, who has his hands in the production of more than half of this album, gives proper attention to the percussion, coming through with appropriately slamming drums on all his tracks, while also providing some of the most rockin' moments with "The Tourist," a straight-forward blues rock jam that will sound great live backed by a solid three-piece band, and album closer "Staring at the Towel," a slow building song that gets more experimental with the addition of electronic influences, spacey synth and glitchy effects. These latter elements also figure more prominently into Agent8's "Nosebleed Seats" and "Queen of October." Further diversity is provided by producer Chris Mick, with "Travelogos," a jazzy jam with live assistance on percussion and guitar that wins thanks to an awesome flute loop, Mike Clouds' "I'm the Atlantic," a drum & bass track with a happy, shiny chorus from soulful singer Ashley Sterling, and "Friendly Fire" and "Easy Angel of Spruce St.," both of which feature more traditional boom-bap beats. But regardless of whether he's rapping fast or slow, Brzowski's raspy voice, angry delivery and politically disenfranchised lyrics and conspiracy theories sound best when paired with the hard rock and dark electronica influences. More of this, please. (Milled Pavement)