I’m sure if you remember this album at all it’s more for Jim Carrey’s brutally hilarious takedown “Imposter” than the original #1 one hit wonder which was “Informer.” But for an 11-year-old gangly white kid in small-town Indiana, there was nothing cooler to blast from a boombox than 12 Inches of Snow, unless you count the UB40 album Promises and Lies which equally burned up the pop charts at the moment. I didn’t care at the time whether Snow’s sound was at all authentic. I just loved the beats, damn it, and having yet to immerse myself in the world of hip-hop, this dub-meets-Toronto hybrid had the right mix of percussive simplicity and lyrical complexity to keep me pressing repeat constantly. Listening to the album with a decade and a half of space between me and my early-90s self, I have to admit the album sounds as dated as expected, yet “Runaway” and “Informer” still hold up well as pop singles, instantly flashing me back to those days when I’d obliviously walk up and down a mile-long stretch outside our rural home annoying farmers with my flawless imitations of the epic, indecipherable chorus.
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A hat-tip to Starstorm over at Mixed Tape Masterpiece, whose constant stream of retro reminders will keep you flashing back to the glory days of alt-pop radio cheese thanks to his shoeboxes full of mix-tapes he’s rescued from his childhood. So far as I know, he has yet to find “Informer” on one of his tapes, but it can’t be more than a matter of time …
This isn’t your dad’s Neil Young, but if this teaser is a true hint of what’s to come with Gitar’s Seen As Unclean later this year, the results should be impressive. Toronto’s Gitar exists to bring eclectic beats into the world of rock and roll, which is certainly a worthy endeavor. On “Hippie Dream” we’re hit immediately by fuzzed out bass and popping synth percussion, as Mikhail Galkin layers his off-kilter vocals into the mix, the entire affair sounding as though it takes place in a world where we’re about half a minute away from succumbing to drowning — though that’s certainly not a terrible effect, once you’ve heard the whole thing and hit repeat a few times.
Hell, it’s a step up in pace from the lugubrious original by Young, which features slowed-down bass oppressive enough to fully suggest the death of the hippie aesthetic. According to the band’s press materials, this is the first time they’ve dared to take on the music of a Canadian legend. The finished product showcases their ability to live up to the challenge, and one hopes this won’t be the last time they throw caution to the wind and reach for something legendary. At the very least they don’t lack for balls.