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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Alumnus releases first full album

 Alumnus releases first full album
Alumnus releases first full album

Alumnus releases first full album

“I rap in my head all day, every day,” said AndyBothwell, a recent SMU graduate who has released his firstfull-length album You and Yer Good Ideas this month.

SMU has not always been synonymous with the inception ofartfully introspective hip-hop, but this just might do it.Bothwell, better known on the DFW music scene as Astronautalis, hasbeen impressing rhyme-thirsty crowds with his quick-wittedaudience-inspired freestyles and carefully crafted songs for 7years.

Admittedly, I was reluctant to listen to his music on disc. Fromwhat I’d seen, Bothwell’s live performances were fueledby hand gestures, facial expressions and an overall charisma thathyped the crowd, but I was uncertain that those qualities wouldtranslate well to headphones.

This couldn’t have been further from the truth.Bothwell’s personal stories and intricate rhymes impact thelistener as strongly on the 35-minute album as they would from anystage.

The first track, “Gaston Ave,” is a somewhatautobiographical tune about his life in Dallas, and a week inparticular, he says, when he drank alone at Cosmo’s everynight. Don’t expect to find booming beats in this song, or onmuch of the album, actually. Bothwell reveals a more introvertedmelody-driven artist in this release and a lot more singing thanexpected for someone who does not claim it as one of histalents.

Listening further to the album, I found it actually quitedifficult to pinpoint Bothwell‘s style, his unclassifiablesound a mix of country and rap amongst other genres. “Peoplecan call me hillbilly goth, as long as they listen to my music, andit makes them happy,” Bothwell joked.

“I found particular influence from old country andtalkin’ blues. The stories they told in the talking styleseemed like such an obvious step for me,” Bothwell said.”Musically I was drawing from the sounds of old indie andshoe gazer rock, but I didn’t want to make a country album,and I didn’t want to make an indie rock album. I wanted tomake a rap album.”

“Tightrope,” the succeeding track, is indeed muchmore hip-hop driven and almost reminiscent of Canadian rapper Buck65. This track, although less than two minutes long, shows off someof the quick rhyming Bothwell seems to be best at.

The third track, “Oceanwalk,” shows a more pleasant,melodious sound. This song is about Bothwell “learning to rapwhile walking [his] dog in the suburbs” and meshes singing,rapping and a beat you will never get out of your head.

Another impossibly catchy track on Astronautalis’full-length debut is “Somethin’ for the Kids,” asong that includes stories of eating donuts with Tupac Shakur androad trips with Fat Joe and an engaging sing-songy chorus. Thistrack, Bothwell says, was inspired by people who have leftindelible marks on his life without even knowing it, and acollection of strange dreams involving rap stars past andpresent.

Bothwell has never been afraid to stray from conventions andshows this again, in particular on track No. 8, entitled “FaxMachine.” As the title would suggest, this song was recordedthrough a fax machine, an experiment that results in a surprisinglypleasant sound that does not distract from the song’s lyrics,which address an argument he once had with a friend about gaymarriage.

Bothwell saves the best for last on You and Yer GoodIdeas. “Fourth of July,” is a collaboration withFlorida’s Radical Face, and includes, once again a complexlayering of singing and quick rhyming. The song slows down andpicks up unexpectedly, but is consistently coherent, nevercacophonic.

Astronautalis’ You and Yer Good Ideas is one ofthose rare records you can listen to without you index fingertiring of pushing the fast forward button. This impressive debutcan be found at Illmatic Records and Good Records. For moreinformation, visit http://www.modelcitizens.org.

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