“Folk Hop N’ Roll” album by Judah and the Lion review

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Ella Burge

Judah & the Lion’s new album encompasses everything its title says it will; “Folk Hop N’ Roll.” It’s an intriguing and sometimes confusing marriage of their traditional folk sound with staccato-esque hip-hop beats all laid atop deep rock n’ roll guitar riffs, a combination almost as perplexing as their severed fish album cover.

Listening to it, you’re caught between the urges to tap your foot along to the banjo-mandolin duets, intensely bang your head to the heavy metal tones, or bounce along to the hip-hop rhythm. You’ll most likely end up with a shocked-by-what’s-happening-can’t-figure-out-how-to-react feeling.

The album’s namesake, “Folk-Hop Sound,” has a promising start. It’s a guitar-heavy song, faintly reminiscent of early 2000s alternative rock. The vocals resemble those of U2’s Bono, a spoken call answered by the synthesized echo of his own voice. The instrumental bridge, a tactfully plucked banjo, flows with the rest of the track only through the deep kick drum beat and snare accompaniment.

“Reputation” kicks off with an intense Black Keys-style intro followed by old school hip hop beats (synthesized clap included). Wait, is that Eminem and the Beastie Boys’ love child singing plagiarized Macklemore lyrics? Now I’m confused again. And why not conclude with the sound of a rocks tumbling down a hill (am I sensing a cryptic metaphor for reputations)?

Inspiring and positive lyrics do make their appearance on the album, though. “We’re all lunatics, we’re all kind of weird/But when we come together, everything like that disappears,” lead singer Judah Akers sings. Nice, right? Yes, until you reach the chorus, comprised of the repetition of “uh-huh, yeah/Can you feel the connection,” detracting from the powerful message of the song.

This album can go two ways; either it’s an ingenious crossing of genres and sounds, or it’s an unsuccessful lumping of every idea the four band mates have had into 10 songs. 

Regardless, I can only leave you with this warning: this album is not for everyone.

 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons