And by the time the drums enter on the opening record, “Destruction Of Self” – I know I’m about to be taken on an epic ride. The duo of rapper Curbside Jones and producer Corey Arnell dubbed themselves, Almost Always near the end of last year as they prepared to work on their joint EP, which at the time was nameless – but featured incredible promise. Corey Arnell was previously one of the very few outside producers on Curbside Jones’ biggest project to date, The Cherry Blossom Effect: Endless Dream Theory. The record “Hot Chicks x Arcade Sticks” was the joint that seemed to spark the musical relationship between the two, so it would only be right the first release from the project would be a the much more melodic, instrument filled sequel “Hot Chicks x Arcade Sticks (Round 2).” The general concept of the album is a question that plagues most people, “If you had a second chance to live your life would you do anything different?” The album takes place behind the eyes someone who has a second chance at life and describes stories, events, and scenarios that he sees differently during his journey. The subject matter consist of- failing to find perfection, getting looked over by someone you are attracted to, abuse, attachment to technology, losing time that can’t be recovered, and how race and religion can affect how one views their life and how others may view them. The promising release is hands down, one of the most refined, exciting independent releases of the year.
“Destruction Of Self” kicks off by the EP with it’s epic build. Tribal drums leading to a climax – setting up the eventual fall into the abyss known as Failed Utopia . Singles, “She”, “Hot Chicks x Arcade Sticks (Round 2)” follow – with the former featuring the soulful, crisp vocals of Jake Lloyd who shines on this tale of infatuation. “Just Maybe (Interlude)”, a solo track sung by SPZRKT transitions the EP into it’s second half, which doesn’t hold onto the same themes of love and infatuation. The song “Lifeless Of The Party” is on bathsalts, “Profile…Pick” advises ladies to, “get off your social network and find your net-worth”, “Casio Watch” gives a blunt views on of the ideals of the younger generation with a thought-provoking spoken word by Rob D, and it caps off with the powerful “Slumdog Pharaoh.” “Shredder Back” is a bonus treat for fans like me, who enjoy the machine-gun, adrenaline fueled record.
The content is supported hand in hand with the stellar production and mixing from the duo. Records put together here are more crisp and refined than most records you may hear out on mainstream radio. The attention to detail, the introduction of subtle elements, every nook and cranny is covered in creating the perfect sound and relaying the right atmosphere for the message the record is trying to convey.
Failed Utopia features basslines contributed by Sam Billew of Decent Fiction (austin tx), vocals from Jake Lloyd of Kicks and Chords (austin tx), vocals from SPZRKT (san antonio tx), poetry from Rob D (dallas tx) and vocals from Knatasha Chambers (austin tx).
They’re saying Failed Utopia is Curbside Jones and Corey Arnell’s best work to date, and I agree. The experience of creating this EP has taken both to a new plateau in song arrangements, writing, and producing.