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Hayden Thorpe - Diviner Music Album Reviews

The former Wild Beasts singer embarks on a new direction on his soul-searching solo debut, stripping back his songwriting to a reverent hush.
The British singer-songwriter Hayden Thorpe released “Diviner” in late February 2019, just a year after the final performance of his band Wild Beasts. From its stark opening chords and breathy first line—“I’m a keeper of secrets, pray do tell”—the song sounded markedly personal. With little more than his stately countertenor and humble piano, Thorpe harnessed the energy of quiet solitude and proceeded to pitch that emotion skyward until the music felt bathed in a dim light. After more than a decade with Wild Beasts, “Diviner” pointed to a different direction for Thorpe.

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BandGang Lonnie Bands - KOD Music Album Reviews

The BandGang crew is at the center of Detroit’s rap renaissance, and Lonnie Bands’ latest is a great showcase of its sound and energy.

The timing has never been right in Detroit. In the late 1990s, the Eastside Chedda Boyz established a sound with funky basslines true to Detroit’s Motown roots, deliveries inspired by Bay Area rappers like Too $hort, and rough, boundary-pushing lyrics that spoke to the hustle of the city. The collective became local legends, but through a combination of tragedy and the hip-hop world criminally overlooking regional scenes, the Eastside Chedda Boyz never had their breakout moment.


Then, in the 2000s, while that bleach blonde rapper became a phenom, Doughboyz Cashout began to build on the street rap foundation laid by the Eastside Chedda Boyz. They managed to attain a major label record deal through Jeezy’s CTE World Print, but that contract only halted their momentum and they too had to settle for Midwest fame. But thankfully, through the rise of YouTube and SoundCloud, cities that have been historically ignored—like Milwaukee, Baton Rouge, and Orlando—are receiving attention without the assistance of a major label. Which brings us to BandGang—a group of twentysomethings, lead by the mush-mouthed BandGang Lonnie Bands—who are at the center of Detroit’s rap renaissance.

KOD is BandGang Lonnie Bands’ latest album, a 21-song epic told from the perspective of a sedated Lonnie Bands as he rushes us through days filled with drug dealing, pimping, and scamming—where other rappers flex their cars and jewels, Lonnie brags about his credit cards. There’s a steady tension throughout the project set by the manic energy of the piano melodies and the Lonnie Bands storytelling that could double as a Harmony Korine script.

Each song on KOD is its own rapid-paced scene. “KOD” is the exposition, an introduction to Lonnie Bands, who is a traditional Detroit rapper in his lingo and humor who was just raised on the internet: heavy breathing, ad-libs, and a narcotized delivery are abound. “Press Me” is the album’s most action-packed sequence, as Lonnie balances a relationship with his ex-girlfriend and her best friend, sells fake pills, and ends up in Philly just to make a drug deal. He also comes away with one of the album’s many essential one-liners: “Bitch I’m the scam man, how you gon’ scam me.” Then, on “Shredgang 1.5” the RJ Lamont piano puts you on edge like you’re in the backseat of a drug deal gone wrong with Lonnie Bands at the wheel acting extremely calm.

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At 55 minutes, KOD drags a bit, but Lonnie Bands injects periodic life into the album with a revolving door of guests. There are his game-obsessed Detroit peers like a slightly horny Sada Baby on “Weird,” the degenerate youthfulness of Drego and Beno on “Come Here” and “10 Freaky Hoes,” and some assistance from his BandGang crew members like a disgusted BandGang Javar on “Mines”: “You one of them dirty ass niggas people ain’t want in the pool.” Lonnie also revives the connection between Detroit and the West Coast, most notably with L.A. producer Ron-Ron, who contributes some of his menacing beat-making. These West Coast additions peppered throughout prevent KOD from becoming yet another Detroit album to exist within a self-contained bubble, and importantly, they aren’t forced. For once, everything in Detroit hip-hop is clicking, and KOD is a step closer to Lonnie reaching a breakthrough that so many Detroit icons before him couldn’t.


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