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Album Review

In the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy's "Music and Politics," Michael Franti laments about his inability to focus on anything other than those two subjects. The Herd have a slight dose of the same problem — it's track six before there's a song about any other subject — and thank God for that, because the denseness and quality of their political content is what makes Summerland an exceptional album. These unsettling anthems for troubled times come from a variety of points of view: a terror suspect; a troublemaker student; an Israeli soldier; a Palestinian worker. Every one of them makes its points without ever becoming a lecture. All of the criticisms their choice of dominant subject matter might attract have been anticipated, confronted, and defused in "When You Escape (Music vs Fashion)." Over a sleepy beat, Urthboy casually dissects the escapist tendencies of pop music and finds them wanting, while simultaneously admitting with refreshing honesty that "I'm not so tragic I think this music is our savior." He's helped by Jane Tyrrell on the chorus as she smoothly makes the transition from her previous guest appearances to become a full-time member of the group, singing most of the album's hooks. When they're not in full-on campaigning mode, the Herd do find time on Summerland for less serious fare like "Zug Zug," a catchy catalog of their touring adventures and misadventures with handclaps and guitars, and "A Few Things," which is another one to add to the long list of hip-hop songs about not having enough time in the day to get everything done. When the Herd are at their best, though, is when they're like Howard Beale in Network: mad as hell and not going to take it any more. That's what makes Summerland such a breath of fresh air in an all too stagnant scene.


Formed: 2001

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

The Herd were a major part of the wave of hip-hop acts that emerged from the Australian underground in 2001 and gained national airplay and crossover success. They later solidified their position, and that of the genre, as more than just a novelty act by making cutting political statements in their music and nurturing a stable of quality acts on their label. The original lineup of the Herd consisted of three eclectically named MCs -- Urthboy, Ozi Batla, and Berzerkatron -- as well as a full band...
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Summerland, The Herd
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