Hip-hop debut proves neither easy to face nor difficult to hear.
The 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers scare just a little. The band's debut record, The Slow Twilight, develops a dangerous atmosphere set around a killer moving toward his own death, and the Sergio-Leone-via-Quentin-Tarantino track "High Noon" should make you glad you're not the one getting shot. But while it can be menacing at times (the VU-sampling "No Resolution"), it's more a smart record than a violent one, combining the two with lines like, "I got the shit that makes Anton Chigurh shiver." Rapper Zilla Rocca and producer Blurry Drones (Douglas Martin) combine their indie-rock love (check the sampling of the Unicorns' "Inoculate the Innocuous" in the memorable "Rabbit Season" or Elliott Smith on "Stay Clean") with an underground hip-hop mentality. The beats owe some influence to RZA, with its atmospherics, but Martin's not afraid to stretch himself a little, keeping it interesting without becoming obscure or unwieldy. The resulting album is less a matter of whether the disc has double the appeal (it should) then about the facility with which the duo works with two fields. There's neither hipster cred nor street cred at issue here; the 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers just pound away, doing its own thing while making music that's neither easy to face or difficult to hear.