To All My Friends: The Atmosphere EP's

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Rather than call this 41-minute piece an album, indie hip-hop group Atmosphere declare their 2010 release a "double EP," thus freeing themselves from the usual scrutiny and milestones LPs can generate. Seems strange, since it breaks the 40-minute barrier and everything here is up to the usual high standards, but the good excuse is the unique division between the tracks, with half concerning the positive side of friendship while the other half focuses on the negative. Also of note is that live band feel that's been growing with each subsequent release. Here it is evident right from the start with Duane Eddy-style guitars powering the great "Until the Nipples Gone." Rapper Slug is magnificent and focused on the cut and arguably even better on the slow roller "Scalp," which effortlessly flows along before taking a shocking right turn. Mastering the economical rhyme is a serious evolution in style for Slug -- and extremely beneficial, too, when "Americareful" decides to get flashy with its techno reggae production. Surprising that the man who launched emo-rap all those years ago could be a centering force, but sensible lyrics coupled with adventurous music suit the ever-evolving Atmosphere, and only those craving an over the top therapy session would disagree.

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