Record Review: Boulevards' Hurtown, USA Inches Toward Timeless Classics | Record Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Record Review: Boulevards' Hurtown, USA Inches Toward Timeless Classics 

1220music_reviews_boulevards.jpg

Smuggling heartbreak into feel-good pop is a delicate art. There are the classic examples: Morrissey's doom and gloom over Johnny Marr's sunny guitar lines, or Mark Morrison's scorned confidence on "Return of the Mack." Raleigh's Jamil Rashad is certainly inching his way toward timeless classics in this vein. Hurtown, USA, his new record as synth-funk alter ego Boulevards, will set any party on fire if you let it. It might also make you cry.

As with past releases, Hurtown, USA works because Rashad is the real article, a mini-superstar. His ability to deliver golden hooks, his ostentatious fashion, his athletic live shows—everything about him demonstrates an effortless charisma. On this record, he takes things deeper than ever. The track "Hurtown" in particular is a disorienting rush of R&B radio gold. Over a thick disco bass line and bright Chic guitars, Rashad conveys emotional distress via the image of driving blackout drunk one night.

In a surprising turn, Alan Palomo, of synth-pop outfit Neon Indian, handles production duties on "Nu Burn Ave (Intercruise)." In case the pile of other local allusions on the record don't alert you, the title is a reference to Raleigh's New Bern Avenue. Palomo's music has long been steeped in the Nile Rodgers land of the good groove, and here, his slinky post-disco production drops in effortlessly. Elsewhere, producers Adam Rich (aka Rollergirl) and Secret Attraction deliver pitch-perfect funk accompaniment, not to mention Raleigh vocalist Laura Reed, who gives an electrifying performance on several songs.

Is there room for improvement for Rashad? A little. Occasionally the loose, seemingly improvisational bridges, like the one toward the end of the otherwise excellent "Hurtown," can feel undercooked and out of step with the rest of the song. But it's not enough to derail Boulevards' boogie. At this rate, Rashad is on schedule to deliver a classic record before we know it.

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Most Recent Comments

Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Remember that time the "journalist" took to the comments section to fire off a snarky response when called out on …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure that if the press release we received had mentioned Chris Grubbs, the article would have reflected that crucial …

by David Klein on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure John Meier hasn't been in this band for quite some time and Chris Grubbs wrote and recorded this …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation