Rondo Brothers

Seven Minutes to Midnight

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The Bay Area duo Rondo Brothers (Brandon Arnovick and Jim Greer) initially made their name working with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura on such inspired DJ projects as Handsome Boy Modeling School and Dr. Octagon, before Nakamura made his name loom even larger in the cartoon collective Gorillaz (under the Svengali-like workings of Damon Albarn). The Rondos debut was a (gulp) Hawaiian-themed hip-hop album in 2005 that, despite some fine moments, never really gelled as well as one would expect from a duo with this kind of pedigree. (Though there was some inspired use of ukulele and lap steel in the mix.) Fresh off of touring with Nakamura, the Brothers returned to the studio, sans Hawaiian theme, and began putting together Seven Minutes to Midnight, a far better and more cohesive album of electronica, trip-hop and breakbeat. From the grand, sweeping, beat-heavy epic opener "Intro" to the stylish, slinky, alt-hop of "Dune Stalker" (featuring the vocal stylings of Dirty Little Pedro) to the dizzying Euro-pulse of "Still Your Ghost," a diverse, slightly challenging, and highly enjoyable vision emerges here, one that sets the Rondo Brothers apart as a distinct entity and not simply satellite players in a larger universe orbiting around the Automator. Besides frequent appearances by Dirty Little Pedro (aka sometimes-actor Pedro Shanahan), another vocal highlight includes silky voiced house music star Latrice Barnett on the drag-tempo, trip-hoppy, "Hooked on Hookers," which calls to mind the Bristol, England, sound of Portishead, Tricky, and Massive Attack. This is a strong, fun effort from the Rondo Brothers that while not terribly re-inventive, does work subtle shifts and originality into an established idiom.

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