Atmospere x Iration
The world is a vastly different place than it was just a few years ago, and Atmosphere’s seventh album, Mi Vida Local, reflects the ways in which the world, and Atmosphere’s place in it, has changed. The idyllic domesticity of their past few records has morphed into anxiety over keeping loved ones safe during turbulent times. Instead of bragging about backstage misadventures it’s about grappling with mortality. The easygoing collaboration between Ant and Slug has started to feel more like the life-or-death intimacy of two men trapped together on a lifeboat.
At times it’s a heavy album (“I might be the last generation of grandparents,” goes a key line from “Virgo”), but it’s far from grim. There are jokes being cracked, joints getting smoked, a little trash talking here and there– after all, it’s still a rap record.
And Atmosphere’s never sounded better.
As the name implies, Mi Vida Local is intensely focused on the place it was created– the southside of Minneapolis– where Slug and Ant work tirelessly in their “beautiful basements”, refining their sound without interruption, save for a handful of friends from the Minneapolis hip-hop community who showed up to contribute. A year of one-on-one collaboration resulting in an album that matches complex subject matter with equally deep beats– ones that show a clear lineage back to the psychedelic funk landmarks from an earlier era where America was going through a post-utopian hangover, and prove that there won’t ever be a time where boom-bap beats don’t sound perfectly of the moment.
Mi Vida Local might be the best album Atmosphere’s ever made. It’s definitely the one they needed to make right now, and one listeners need to hear just as urgently. If it’s sometimes an album about how the fight to find happiness never really ends– even after you get the house and the kids and the artistic freedom to make dad-rap records– it’s also about discovering that there’s happiness to be found just in fighting.
On Passafire’s fifth studio release, Vines, the Savannah, GA based rock outfit continues to progress towards what they feel is their true identity as a band in the reggae rock genre. After starting fresh with several new pieces to the puzzle on their 2011 release, Start From Scratch, they have now teamed up with Easy Star Records (Easy Star All Stars, John Brown’s Body, The Green, Cas Haley) for what the band considers their best album yet. “Passafire continues to stretch Easy Star’s sound and style,” says Lem Oppenheimer, co-founder of the label. “They bring a harder rock edge while still grounding their music in a progressive reggae base. They fit the mold of all of our artists: dedicated, hard working, touring their butts off, and never settling for what people expect of them.”
Passafire was formed in 2003 by students attending Savannah College of Art and Design. Throughout the years, they have become a perpetually touring band playing hundreds of shows a year with bands like 311, Rebelution, Pepper, Matisyahu, Michael Franti, The Wailers and many more. Bowne doesn’t mind the grueling schedule and adds, “Touring is the best way to keep the buzz about the band going. What keeps it fun and exciting is the people we meet and places we get to see. We are in a new city every day so there’s always something to go see or do. If we didn’t tour constantly, we wouldn’t be doing as well as we are. That’s a fact.”