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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Homespun: Dylan Brady, All I Ever Wanted

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 9:08 AM

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A slight young man with long blond locks and a scruffy red beard, Dylan Brady crouches on the cover of All I Ever Wanted amid a monochromatic set awash in blue. The cover is both artsy and simple, and the azure palette hints at some of the moodier moments of this hip-hop producer's slow, syrupy, stretched-out tracks. Brady has made music under the name Lil Bando (his old handle is referenced on the track "Little Bando," wherein an untethered voice implores, "Don't play that shit"), but this album serves as the debut under his given name. He has gained some underground cred along the way from hip-hop blogs and garnered the attention of vocalists who sing the hooks on his songs (Night Lovell, Saputo and Ketema); he even has a few annotations for some of these tracks on Genius.com, where you'll learn the provenance of some of his sound samples (Dune, James Bond and Wes Anderson films).

What's more striking than any of that ephemera is Brady's reliance on a few production techniques that turn these tracks into a sometimes-narcotic, sometimes-repetitive slurry. It's nearly impossible to know the true quality of his guests' voices — or his own voice — because every performer is slowed down and Auto-Tuned into a digital flutter. In a way, the choice is symbolic of the personal disconnect at the heart of some of these tracks: Brady's characters crave human connection while their producer keeps them encased in a robotic veil. But what begins as a compelling disorientation becomes too much of a crutch as the album goes on.

The moody nature of these tracks is reflected both in production and performance. His beats are spare and airy, and what melodic textures exist often come in the form of hard, metallic pings. The echoing title track has the rhythmic zen of a dripping faucet backed by a clanging pipe. "Yee," featuring Nok from the Future, hits harder with distorted snares but still finds space for choir-like a cappella breaks. Not a lot of hip-hop artists will cop to being Elliott Smith fans, but "Trailing Some New Kill," with Ravenna Golden and Kevin Abstract, both quotes Smith's song "Angeles" while embracing some of that performer's heart-on-sleeve ache. Brady carries that through to the soulful "Finale," which finds him singing a snippet of Marvin Gaye's "You're the One for Me" as the brassy, synthy track decays around him.

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