An angry look back from Trails

Mad monks
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  November 23, 2011

As the local hip-hop scene begins to flex its muscles just a bit, the duo of Syn the Shaman and the Lin, a/k/a Trails, play the roles of angry young men. This week, they follow up February's full-length debut with a six-song EP, Trails & Co., that is fiery and aggressive, building on their reputation for outsider lyrics and explosive production.

Early on, the Lin goes for blaxploitation beats, with mean, rumbling bass and wicka-wicka guitar, backing for a modern-day Shaft. It's a perfect bed for Syn's gritty delivery. "I wear my halo around my throat," he growls on "Posterize You," "Always makes me choke." The Lin cuts and crabs, too, a sound that's almost nostalgic nowadays.

And while "using big words doesn't necessarily make you sound smarter" (Syn's words, not mine), I do appreciate the team-up with Ill by Instinct they title "Rasputin's Castration." The Mad Monk was definitely a bad, bad man. So are Gang Starr, who get bit on "Note to Self," Trails' indictment of contemporary (maybe local) hip hop. Over a repeating chime, Syn and guest ALT (he's on half the tracks here) take on all comers: "You'd probably sell your soul for a single."

Eh. I don't think you need to sell your soul for a catchy chorus, and Trails could use a couple more of them. They give a nod to the form with Kristina Kentigian's guest vocals on "Elevator Etiquette," but the hook could be set deeper. This ain't a pop record, though. If you know that coming in, you won't be disappointed.

TRAILS & CO. | Released by Trails | part of Rap Night, Nov 30 | at the Big Easy, in Portland | trailsounds.com

  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, big easy, big easy,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIVING WITH SNAEX  |  November 03, 2014
    Snaex's new record The 10,000 Things is all a big fuck you to what? Us? Lingering dreams of making music for others to consume? Society at large?  
  •   THE BIG MUDDY  |  October 24, 2014
    Some people just want it more.
  •   TALL HORSE, SHORT ALBUM  |  October 16, 2014
    If Slainte did nothing more than allow Nick Poulin the time and space to get Tall Horse together, its legacy may be pretty well secure. Who knows what will eventually come of the band, but Glue, as a six-song introduction to the world, is a damn fine work filled with highly listenable, ’90s-style indie rock.
  •   REVIVING VIVA NUEVA  |  October 11, 2014
    15 years ago last week, Rustic Overtones appeared on the cover of the third-ever issue of the Portland Phoenix .
  •   RODGERS, OVER AND OUT  |  October 11, 2014
    It’s been a long time since standing up and pounding on a piano and belting out lyrics has been much of a thing.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE