White dude hip hop tends to fall into three categories: second-generation carbon copies (Vanilla Ice, Everlast), freaky art-rap (Anticon, El-P), and rocktronic syntheses (Tipsy, Head Automatica). Rondo Brothers' debut disc deserves the latter classification. It most closely resembles Dan the Automator's Handsome Boy Modeling School project, in that here hip hop serves more as a touchstone than a template. There are plenty of looped beats, wicky-wack scratching, and singsongy wordplay, but there are also warm pedal-steel atmospherics, languid slack-key plucking, and siren-song crooning. The Brothers, both longtime S.F. musicians, have concocted a Hawaiian theme to hold their tunes together, layering hip hop rhythms with loungy instrumentation and sprinkling the stanzas with pupu platters and pineapple wine. Sometimes the style works (the sexy swing of "Evening to Remember," the Beckian strut of "Aquarium Dreams") and other times it doesn't (Glassjaw's Daryl Palumbo's emo mumble on "Whispering Reef"). Give the boys kudos for trying something new, or at least for not sounding as lame as Linkin Park.
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