I guess this the first time we’re having a group like this on our pages, as far I can remember. I wrote tons of reviews for hip-hop recordings, but this one unquestionably stands out from what I experienced since I started running this blog. Back Alley Sound is a relatively new group by Shark Parker, a prolific lyricist, and rapper emanating from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He decided to work on something completely fresh and unique, far away from his previous music endeavors, so he gathered experienced musicians such as Myles Mahoney on guitars, Christian Petrozza on keyboards, Sam Kisic on bass, Jordan Bosland on drums, and Robert Ruffner on saxophones to fill in the remaining spots in the group. They clicked almost immediately and started working out on what will become their debut full-length album called I Wanted To Be. Today, I would like to talk a little bit more about this specific release.
I Wanted To Be carries eight marvelous compositions that are going beyond Shark Parker’s previous recordings. Of course, you’ll notice his recognizable lyricism transmitted through skillfully written lyrics, but the music of Back Alley Sound goes way beyond classic hip-hop. This group explores various music genres to construct thoroughly detailed sonic imagery that vividly illustrates a serene atmosphere. Besides hip-hop, you will stumble upon soul, funk, jazz, rhythm and blues, alternative, and indie rock. Each ingredient has its purpose in this recording, and the group paid a lot of attention to the details. It’s nearly mindblowing how smooth their orchestrations sound on every composition, and the atmosphere is relaxed during the entire material. Nevertheless, the group doesn’t seem predictable, repetitious, and monotone. The calmy aesthetics of the album are providing more room to these experienced musicians to improvise, experiment, and deliver more sonic delicacies you could possibly imagine.
The musicians behind Back Alley Sound took their professions seriously with this material. Therefore, the entire group contributed to the songwriting, composing, recording process, but judging by their articulations and ambiance, I can only assume these individuals are breathing like one during the entire album. The guitars are delivering calmy melodies, harmonies, and other maneuvers, which are one of the main characteristics of soul, funk, and jazz music. The keyboards and saxophone are equally present in the mix like guitars, and both instruments also contribute to this material with equal amounts of polyphonic tones. The bass guitar supports these maneuvers with warm-sounding low-end tones, and you will also hear every bassline included in this material. The excellent drumming performance holds everything in line with detailed rhythmic sequences, accentuations, and fills. Last but not least appears Parker’s tremendous lyricism and rapping that comes like a cherry on the top over the abovementioned orchestrations.
I Wanted To Be is the album for all moods and seasons. Besides being a calmy material, this album carries conscious lyrics and a meaningful message. It’s one of those recordings you should definitely pay attention to if you’re into the intelligently performed fusion of various genres that operate together as a piece of singular machinery. I Wanted To Be is available on streaming services such as
Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube.