Lansing hip hop group Mr. Fox and the Hounds put out their debut self-titled EP last week with a show at Mac’s Bar.

Mr. Fox and the Hounds are: Andy Fox (vocals), Aaron Simon (supporting vocals), Matt Waterman (guitar), Alex Rosendall (guitar), Pat Hogan (bass) and David Del Cid (drums).

Here’s a review.

This Lansing/Grand Ledge-based band, who formed last year, combine all sorts of different styles on their debut effort including ska, punk rock, hip hop and even space/progressive rock to mixed results.

Opening song “Lucy” has a Red Hot Chili Peppers-type feel in the verses. Fox’s rapping flow is pretty consistent. The chorus makes the song take a totally different turn with anthemic vocals and more open production style compared to the verses. The vocals on the chorus sound distant and the guitars sound more powerful while during the verses, Fox’s flow is upfront and the guitars are too. The backing vocals add more depth. The production transitions used make the parts of the song feel clunky when listened to as a whole.

“Countdown to Success” features Fox rapping about sophomoric topics like sex, girls and partying. “One, two, three/Where’s the place to be? Four, Five, Six, Let’s drink some fifths with some chicks” are the lyrics to the chorus. I’m gonna say this song, and the atmosphere and idea behind the band, is partying and having fun so I won’t fault them for the content nor the simplicity of the lyrics. Some of his rhymes seem a bit too fast for the drum beat. Former members of the now-defunct band Jason Alarm make up a majority of the members here, so the fast, shredding guitar solo and chugging guitars during the choruses aren’t a surprise.

The song “Demons” has a neat, delayed guitar intro which adds a somber-like atmosphere given the song’s title. “Stuck on a path of self-destruction/I think I’m ’bout to blow/’Cause no one is trustin’ in me’” Fox raps. I want to try and take Fox seriously with this song but it’s kind of hard. The song is about how Fox has dealt with hard times in his life and that listeners “don’t know where I have been, the things that I have seen and all these demons”, as Fox raps in the anthemic and instrumentally powerful chorus. I have never met Andy Fox nor do I know what his life is like. Maybe he has had some rough life experiences, but so has every other rapper. The originality of the lyrics is pretty poor. He does have a great flow though. That’s pretty consistent throughout this entire record.

“Blackout” has standard upstroke guitars common in ska music in the verses with power chords in the choruses. Again, Fox raps about sex, partying and drinking. This song makes me start to realize something about this band: it reminds me of guitarist Waterman’s just-for-fun side project, The Matt Waterman Revival. The following song proves this. “Friends ‘Til the End”, about friends, partying, drinking and just being hoodrats. The instrumentation on this song is clunky, struggles to keep the beat and the guitars can’t seem to keep up at points. It seems a little bit all over the place. The instrumentation makes this song really hard to get into, let alone listen to. The exact same sentiment can be said for the last track, “I’m an alcoholic”. With it’s shotty, Do-It-Yourself beat of clanging beercans, the lyrics again are about drinking and partying. No surprise given the title. The chorus sucks. It’s a joke song. Take it as you wish.

If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, lyrics about girls, sex, partying and drinking, this record is for you. Again, I’m tending to think this EP is a just-for-fun release so maybe my criticisms are looking too deeply into something that’s pretty light to begin with. On it’s face, it’s great party music. More deeply though, there’s little to be desired, even on the supposedly more serious tracks. Check this out for yourself and download it for whatever price you choose.

Link: http://mrfoxandthehounds.bandcamp.com/