Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club

by Kyle Kersey Rating:9 Release Date:2018-08-17
Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club
Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club

It’s a shame that nobody outside of New Zealand knows about Tom Scott. His work as the ringleader of the conscious rap collective Home Brew drew several NZ Music Award nominations, even winning the award for “Best Urban / Hip Hop Album” for their critically acclaimed self-titled album in 2012. But while Scott’s style in Home Brew was characterized by clever wordplay and a satirical approach, Avantdale Bowling Club is painfully vulnerable. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful Jazz rap release; the opening notes echo those of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The instrumentation is organic, the sound unique, the experience unmatched.

“Years Gone By”, the opening song, is the most gripping. A documentation of Scott’s life through a year-by-year index, it effortlessly introduces Avantdale Bowling Club’s 60s Jazz sound while showcasing Scott at his most somber. Nowhere is he more somber than when he recounts “Then '06 my homie hung in the park where we all hung / Yeah my shit got fucked up that year, my shit got real rough that year / Horsed it on my bruv that year, fuck that year, fuck that year.” For 7 minutes, he lays his heart on the table, detailing the lows of addiction and self-loathing that came before the highs of his marriage and birth of his son. It’s as cerebral as it is emotional.

“F(r)iends” is a high point on the album, and it shows Scott’s willingness to express vulnerability. In one verse, he relays the story of a friend bedridden in a hospital because of his drug usage, before delivering the line “But I gotta be straight to ya, because I’m the one who introduced ya.” His history of drug addiction is on full display, as is his wistful view of the past and his hopeful outlook on the future. His message is clear: he’s finally home.

This is the kind of stuff you’re getting with Scott these days. He’s as quick-witted as ever, and now that his hellraising days are behind him, he’s delivering hip-hop of a more sobering variety. The last three songs are purely instrumental, making this a rare treasure that appeals to both jazz purists and hip-hop heads alike.

When we think of New Zealand, we don’t really think “hip-hop”. Perhaps now we should.

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