Midweek Mic Drop: Turning It Up With The Mouse Outfit, Mk.Gee, Deux Trois

When it comes to the middle of the week, I seem to be sitting on a pendulum that’s liable to throw me into positivity or land me in an unimaginable world of hurt. But right here, right now, the only thing that makes me laugh is quoting Jesus Jones lyrics. See what I did there? As I sit here I have a number of things I want to blow out of proportion but instead, I and my team will just leave you with a few things you might find interesting. If you don’t, it’s ok, it’s not the end of the world. If you do, enjoy and just play the repeat buttons. It couldn’t hurt.

THE MOUSE OUTFIT – JAGGED TOOTH CROOK (TMO Records)

The Mouse Outfit hails from South Manchester and Jagged Tooth Crook is the band’s third studio long-player and I’m just surprised with the band’s release and how long it’s taken me to discover these veteran players. The Mouse Outfit was formed by key members Chini and Defty whose grand scheme was to take Hip Hop to another level as a live band. While conceptualizing a band isn’t something new in Hip Hop (see: Roots, Crown City Rockers, etc.) the group has a singular feel-good vibe and neo-soul aesthetic throughout, and the sound of the new album? Let’s just say the fiery laidback output throughout the 17-song deliver on Jagged Tooth Crook, is easily accomplished. While eyebrows may be raised at the thought here, this recording isn’t anything to scoff at. Here we have over 29 musicians, vocalists, and producers that were involved in the album, including Sam Vicary, known for his production and bass work of the astounding Cinematic Orchestra. But by the looks of things, for this go around, the core membership rotates around 6 – 7 musicians. It’s no matter because The Mouse Outfit doesn’t cease to amaze from track to track.

The lavish “Cut em Loose (Feat. Berry Blacc, Kinkai +Layfullstop)” is like nothing you’ll hear, whether today or tomorrow, with sultry grooves, atmospheric horns, smooth bassline and easily and addictive lyricism we can all get with. But seriously, those words from track to track are heady, savvy, and deal with reality. On the groove-centric “Money (Feat. Berry Blacc, Dubbul O +T-Man)” gives a quick nod to both Wu-Tang and LL Cool J but there’s no copycat effect here as the lyricists volley their words around one another while allowing that beat to slink through from beginning to end. Whichever direction the group is moving in, whether on the sultry “Flex With Ya (Feat. KinKai)” or the hard-hitting “It’s Just Like That (Feat. Black Josh + TrueMendous),” The Mouse Outfit is always on point. We’re only halfway through 2018 and they’ve set the bar pretty high with Jagged Tooth Crook, a journey into a soundscape that only few dare to tread. I’d be hard-pressed to find even a few artists on their level and that’s not a simple boast.

MK.GEE – PRONOUNCED “McGEE” EP (Orchard Ears)

Ever find yourself stuck in a never-ending cyclone that literally remains in an altered & warped limbo? That seems to be where I find MK.GEE and his latest effort, Pronounced “McGee.” The artist, known to friends and family As Michael Gordon and originally from New Jersey, made his way to Los Angeles a couple of years ago pursuing a degree in music. But a couple of months ago he released these tracks which he recorded and mixed in his own bedroom. No one should confuse this with 90’s era bedroom trackers (i.e. Sentridoh, Sebadoh, East River Pipe) because in 2018, recording in the confines of your own apartment isn’t unheard of, even for this style of music, which seems to morph from beginning to end. MK.GEE is more than adept at what he does here, as he opens with “If He,” which is reminiscent of just about any 70’s soft rock gems, but presented with a syncopated drum machine beat. But that drum machine seems to take on a number of forms throughout the record here, especially on “Roll With The Punches” where it’s front and center, keeping the indie jam strolling along here. Gordon seems to find his way through, crashing through a Prince-like kaleidoscope of sound with an R&B rocking sound on “I Know How You Get” and then softly frolics with a purplish endeavor on “You.” But he comes into his own on “Unaware,” taking what he knows and making everything his own, continuing on an R&B tip. And then there’s “Annabel” which is groove-heavy and atmospheric, all the while easily captivating. Listening to MK.GEE all anyone can probably think is, “shit ain’t half bad” but not truly warranting repeated listens. Though occasional ones yes.

DEUX TROIS – HEALTH EP

When something seemingly comes out of nowhere, that’s the moment you give it a shot because hey, you never know. Deux Trois is actually a duo from Kingston…Ontario. Is it a side project? Seems like it although vocalist Nadia Pacey fronts Konig, who I’ve never heard of, Benjamin Nelson comes outta PS I Love You, and Ben Webb is of Carvings. Yeah, I’ve never heard of those musical projects either but that’s not a surprise. There’s a lot of never heard of, but there’s no pretense here, and I’ll obviously admit to it because who has time for false posturing? But we’re not here to discuss Ben and Nadia’s other endeavors, we’re here to focus on Deux Trois and the newest release Health, they recently dropped. It’s an 8 song expressive EP that musically, is pretty badass. On the opening “Don’t (Be Good To Us)” Nadia’s voice sounds…powerful. While the band sounds nothing remotely like the Banshees, I can’t help but find the similarities between hers and that of Siouxsie Sioux, who would sing, projecting that power that comes from a nether region, pulling it to the surface effortlessly for audiences to take in. The band remarkably utilizes that power of her voice and wraps tightly knit songs around them for something harsh, melodic, and downright beautiful. All that is wrapped up in “Salt,” a bass-heavy track that’s unrelenting. “Late Night Girls” repeats, reduces, and rapes instruments into submission. That’s a good thing. I feel dirty. I feel energized. I feel like I want to listen again! Then on the title track, they take a different approach as Nadia sings to a bassline and ethereal noise in the background for over a minute and a half only adding a modicum of percussion, but it works to the song and the band’s benefit as they show the ability to do more with less. The song itself requires explosive acronyms like WTF! and OMG! because the masked beauty isn’t lost on me and it shouldn’t on anyone else. The glorious background vocals I’m enamored with. I just may have to pick up the vinyl on this album because yes, it’s that fucking good. Now to wait for the full-length.