Undersound is Gareth Evans, a Welsh producer bringing 90’s styled hip-hop back with latest album No More Shooting Stars.
You know the sound – funky, with DJ scratches and slower, enunciated rapping. Think along the lines of Jurassic 5.
Reading Evans’ bio reveals that he used to play in ska bands. He’s clearly put that experience to use, adding gorgeous horn sections to some of the songs. This is one of Chance The Rapper’s signature – adding trumpet to everything he touches, and Evans is wise to replicate the idea. If you browse his Facebook page you can see clips of Evans recording multiple instruments, including trombone, trumpet and french horn, as well as guitar and piano.
There’s a fair bit of variety on the album: from the eerie, mystic “Intro”; to the funky horns and jangly guitar the typifies many of the songs; to the samples and scratches of “Party Arrangements”, to the more down tempo title track that segues into a piano intermission.
In fact, this title track shows a mature aching that stands out from the more party hip-hop feel that many of the other tracks exude. Evans also sings on this one, unlike most of the other songs that he raps over.
The best track is “Another Catastrophe”, a fun number with carefree rapping that revolves around brass hooks. The slight shuffle on the drumbeat makes it feel more laid back, while smooth basslines and faint organ bring Motown to Cardiff.
Another favourite is “No More Lies”, reminiscent of Kids These Days – the under-rated Chicago group that spawned the likes of Vic Mensa and Donnie Trumpet. The laid back beat and brass section atop gospel organs and soulful singing provide a wonderful feel. Ben Thorpe helped out with trombone and singer Bella Collins sang vocals that are especially similar to the KTD song “A Man’s Medley“.
Collins also features on album closer “Should’ve Known Better”. In fact, Evans recruits half a dozen collaborators to add different influences to the album. Some add soulful feel, like Collins and Harri Davies. Others distinctive hip-hop parts, like the scratches courtesy of MC Sober, and rapping from Redeye.
No More Shooting Stars is a fun, funk-lite throwback with good vibes. It’s hip-hop that subtly borrows from other genres to enhance the music, and works wonderfully to offer laid back listening.
NextGen music: https://www.nexgenmusicgroup.com/artists/undersound