The Gangsta Rabbi – Psycho At The Hospice Gates #34/72 – Album Review
I’ll let the man in charge here explain this one in his own words to start…
“I continue to seek my sound in my last days. I want this to be anarchopunk with a big ass lower brass section to provide so-called symphonic qualities. Trying to be more accessible to all but I’m still putting out crap only I like and pushing it vainly on everybody else.”
That’s more for you…so you know what you’re in store for…this would be my sixth review on The Gangsta Rabbi’s music…I’m well-familiar with him by this point; whereas many people might not give his style/sound a fair chance, I’ve found that being real with The Gangsta Rabbi from day one has led to a genuine respect on both sides. I listen…I try to figure out the changes he’s made in between hearing him in the present compared to the past and how he’s evolving his music…I greatly understand his sense of urgency in putting out as much music as he can before he can’t anymore. Like it or not – take a look at this dude’s body of work and the sheer size & scope of it all…he’s spent a lifetime dedicated to his art – and he’s had fun the entire time along the way. Whatever you think about the music – that’s more than commendable and we should all be so lucky…his relentless pursuit is constantly inspiring & admirable to say the very least. Let’s see how Psycho At The Hospice Gates #34/72 turned out for him…
“Hey, Pete Townshend!” begins the record in the usual style of The Gangsta Rabbi with a lot happening in the mix & melee of instruments thrashing together…that’s just how the man does his thang. If you dig it, I’ve got great news for ya – there’s LOTS of it; on this album alone there’s about an hour & a quarter of new music for ya. I can admit there seems to be a bit more clarity in the production here…I dig the bass solo around the three-minute mark and how the instrumentation takes over for a minute or so in the song’s middle – it’s got all the signature hallmarks of The Gangsta Rabbi’s natural penchant for a whole bunch of noise with the melody buried in there as deep as it gets. There are more drumbeats in this song than you’ll find throughout the Rolling Stones entire career catalog. Dig the ending of this opening cut and the different direction it takes from the rest over the shape and transition of the final minute in “Hey, Pete Townshend!” but as usual, it’s all pretty damn demanding to listen to.
Like…there’s no way you could get away with just having “Aaron Judge Rookie Card” on in the background and just go about crocheting your sweater for grandma like the good people you are – with the furious intensity in the way The Gangsta Rabbi combines his sound together, believe me, you’ll pay attention one way or the other. He tends to give you really large doses of his music; not just big albums but big songs that hover in the 5+ minute range…and much like progressive music, it’s extremely demanding on the listening ears to absorb it all – combined with his punk tendencies, it’s the equivalent of a Subway franchise, not just a Subway sandwich – you feel me? The thundering of that kick-pedal on “Aaron Judge Rookie Card” is relentless! I’m just saying…if ‘the butterfly effect’ is any kind of real thing – The Gangsta Rabbi has sent shockwaves all around the world as a result on a constant basis; I’m starting to think the only reason the tides of the ocean go in and out is because he takes the occasional break to go get himself a drink & a sandwich or breath of fresh air. He’s got some pretty rad guitar tones in the mix on this track though…I’ll give him that; it’s as full as a mix and song can get, but you can still latch onto enough to grasp onto what he’s going for on “Aaron Judge Rookie Card.”
I found the first two songs to have a somewhat similar vibe…felt like “We Have No Rights!” shifted the direction of sound a bit here…there’s still a lot of drum-beats happenin’ but he’s backed that off a bit on this tune, which allows for more clarity overall. Sounds like he might have thrown an effect or two on some of the vocals along the way which gives some of the layers a bit of added personality…not that this is a place where you’d find The Gangsta Rabbi ever lacking. I maintain, say what you want or feel how you might about his music – it can take some bands and artists a lifetime to discover a signature sound if they ever do at all – and I’d be willing to bet that each and every one of you would be able to successfully identify The Gangsta Rabbi’s music were you to hear it again after listening to one album. Inside of the layers and depths of “We Have No Rights!” you do get a tiny window into the skills he’s got when it comes to the bass…I’m almost surprised that you’ll always find it so deep within the mix of his music when it seems to be the most reliable tool in his shed! The punk spirit rages loud’n’proud on “We Have No Rights!” with The Gangsta Rabbi fully ready to tell ya exactly what he’s got on his mind.
“Thrashed About By The American Youth” is one of the more solid tunes in his catalog…I felt like the vocals on this one came out well for him, you can hear the lyrics pretty clearly, which is fairly rare for The Gangsta Rabbi. It’s also cool in the sense that he didn’t go about it by cranking himself above the rest of the mix; it’s a more controlled performance and smart mix that leads to that clarity, even with the bombastic proclivities of the music firing on all cylinders. He might have a lot going on here as usual – but he’s given himself a bit more space in the music and mix to allow some of this madness to sink in. There’s definition in the verse, chorus and instrumental sections surrounding it all and admittedly, it’s kind of nice to have a listen to a track from The Gangsta Rabbi and come out still knowing which end is up afterwards…it’s all a bit more straight-ahead on “Thrashed About By The American Youth” and…yeah…it’s kinda nice to be able to absorb a bit more of what he’s doing through the added space in the mix.
I have no idea…what…what is that? “Monty Hall Gave Me A $5 Bill” has like…a really cool sound that starts this track up…it’s like an overblown part of the brass or something…it’s got a real hum to it that sounds pretty gnarly at the beginning of this tune. The Gangsta Rabbi – listen to this guy will ya? He’s coming out of his shell vocally just a bit more here – and I think as a result, he experiences better results in the vocal-department overall. He’s got some pretty rad parts around the three-minute mark once again here as well with like, harmonics and all kinds of crazy badass stuff happening in the high-speed approach he takes to his music. There are moments where the tones of the brass section sag a bit – but for the most-part, I’m actually not complaining about this one…I think he’s come up with some rad textures and wildly unique sounds here that I’ve never heard before and will probably never hear again from any other artist out there on the planet. That’s how different The Gangsta Rabbi can truly be.
“(Losing My Mind) In The Psych Ward” starts to get pretty lean & mean just past the two-minute mark – you can almost always hear the influence of The Who in The Gangsta Rabbi’s music and this track is no exception to that rule. I’m always fascinated by the way that Steve Lieberman must hear sound…I honestly believe he’s capable of taking-in more than the average human-being by at least ten-fold. Around this point on the record, I’m looking for that vocal-flow to change up just a bit more to differentiate itself from the rest…The Gangsta Rabbi can fall into a few of the same patterns in his writing and approach that can make the experiences from track-to-track become more similar than he might like…suppose that’s what I’m sayin.’ Other than that, he does seem to give it a genuine effort here in creating an established verse & chorus that have their own definition in each part; I still have the feeling that for many people out there, “(Losing My Mind) In The Psych Ward” might come out sounding like one BIG moment to listening ears.
Dig the beat of “Dorothy” and the supporting bass that goes with it…like the slightly-tinny approach you can hear in the vocals and production of this tune…I like the fact that you can hear a bit of real melody within the punked-up mayhem upfront on this tune as well. As indicated by his own words in the beginning of this review, it’s rare for him to create those moments of accessibility for all…but for those that dig their punk roots…you might just be surprised by this cut. I think it’s certainly one of the tightest performances by The Gangsta Rabbi that you’re likely to find…I really dig the solo around the three-minute mark where he loves to switch it up and how it heads into a seriously clever breakdown right after. It’s completely rock without being too-rock if that makes any sense. It’s like he’s got all the grittiness and energy required to kick all the ass…but then takes it all in the opposite direction by taking any low-end nearly right out of this one and putting “Dorothy” into an odd tin-can atmosphere. For whatever reason – this all seemed to work with me – I thought this was a strong tune on Psycho At The Hospice Gates #34/72 and one that stands a good chance of being able to pull a few people in to The Gangsta Rabbi’s musical-universe.
Production, mix and performance-wise, he reaches for something a bit different on “Jeremiah Of Anatoth,” which features what you could likely call one of the most prominent melody-lines you’ll hear in the swirl of musical-madness from The Gangsta Rabbi. Credit to some of the bass-lines on this particular track…it can be real tough to always pick out certain sounds in the mix of his music, but if you catch what he’s doing here, it definitely does display there’s a real technique and talent rooted deep in there. I like the reverbed-out sound to the vocals on this track and think it leads him to a different sound that helps “Jeremiah Of Anatoth” stand out a bit further from the rest to be a lot more defined. You might even accuse The Gangsta Rabbi of creating audible hooks that you can hang on to here!
“Outside The Hospice Gates” sounds like it naturally picks up where “Jeremiah Of Anatoth” leaves us – in a way, it’s noticeably more mellow than you normally find The Gangsta Rabbi creating his music, tempo-wise…sound wise, it’s prrrrrrrrrrretty much just as full as the rest. There are less notes being played perhaps, but that all-inclusive approach he tends to bring to his work is still prevalent here. Even though that approach to the final line in each stanza follows a similar inclination in his vocals, there’s perhaps more of an attempt to sing this one out than you’ll find in his other tunes by drawing out the pace and allowing those words to hang around a bit longer than his usual punk-shouts of sonic-fury. So in that sense, all things considered, “Outside The Hospice Gates” is somewhat of a unique experience by comparison to the rest of the tunes on Psycho At The Hospice Gates #34/72.
One of the album’s longest cuts ends up being one of my favorites this time around – I liked a lot of what he’s doing on “Assisted Suicide.” You can hear he gets right into groove-rock for a minute or so at the beginning of this track – and it’s those kind of differences that have us listening to the transition from song to song as opposed to feeling like it’s one giant experience. All depends on what you’re going for of course, but it works to his advantage at the beginning of this tune. Now…that being said, where The Gangsta Rabbi could potentially improve upon the first half of this tune in the vocal-melody, is watching those similarities in his cadence…quite often that last line in the set raises-up in its inflection, and the result can be that no matter how different the music might be, it begins to head back to sounding the same. So…you know…I suppose what I’m saying is when switching up the sound of the music like he does on both halves of “Assisted Suicide,” it would also be a perfect time to be switching up the approach to the vocals and how they flow. Just so happens that they kinda fit this tune – but there’s no doubt about the similar approach you’ll find he takes to many a verse & chorus, which is risky.
If my ears don’t completely deceive me…The Gangsta Rabbi’s getting a bit down & dirty lyrically on “Crank That Kosher Boy.” The up/down nature of the scales and sounds of his music pretty much stomp and storm through this one with reckless abandon and there’s a bunch of added craziness in the thick of it all. Around the infamous three-minute mark, I like the additional sound he’s brought in there…not quite sure what’s making that happen, but it adds another unique layer into the mix. Other than that – I’d say that this one sticks pretty close to the script for the blueprint of The Gangsta Rabbi’s music…the main differences that come through this particular track I’d say comes through the lyricism and vocal-clarity compared to what you generally know from this artist. He’s out to include the kitchen-sink on “Crank That Kosher Boy” and make sure he’s being heard…and overall, there are enough slight differences to the approach in the vocals here that seem to make this track stand-out from the rest.
He digs a bit more into a rock-gear on “I Wish I Was Hot 1” and puts a few more chops into this cut where you can hear that stop/start of his approach. What I thought was really interesting in this tune was that point around the three-minute mark where The Gangsta Rabbi likes to change things up, you can audibly hear the music back-off in a strange fade, but the results actually speak for themselves…in doing so, he found a great level for his vocals to sit within the music. He gives himself more room to get creative vocally at this point on “I Wish I Was Hot 1” as well…I think the benefits are there on this one through the tangible differences that give us something unique to hear in this one that you won’t find in any other track on this album. It’s rambunctious as you’d expect a song from The Gangsta Rabbi to be – the man has enough ambition and energy in his music to power the electricity of a house for a full year. Overall though – I could certainly hear an argument for “I Wish I Was Hot 1” being the most accessible tune on the entire record; I have the feeling it would be.
“Should Have Been A Nazarite” might get closer to its own defined sound than many of the tunes on the album do…but I’m not so sure it’s not fully-overstuffed at times. I like hearing the flute sounds break through the mix and could have stood for a few more of those…maybe a break from the storming kick-drum at times *cough *cough dear Rabbi. The three-minute mark seems to be a prevalent turning point for many breakdowns and transitions throughout this album…I like what he’s done here with letting those beastly notes ring out for a moment or two around that point on “Should Have Been A Nazarite.” Between the flute and the differences made by the reverb-laden vocal sound…and truly the structure and pacing of this tune when it comes right down to it – it all establishes each moment enough to find something to latch onto & listen to.
MAN this guy likes his drums. That kick-drum just keeps on a poundin’ away…and from where it left off with the furious thumping in “Should Have Been A Nazarite,” he continues full-speed into “Mr. Bible.” The brass section has a tougher time out on this track…as impressive as it may be that The Gangsta Rabbi creates all the sounds you hear from beginning to end every time no matter how many there might be…sometimes we gotta stand back and recognize a few flat tones when we hear’em, Rabbi included. “Mr. Bible” has its best moments outside of the brass and on the bass when the clarity breaks through the madness for a minute or two to reveal the intricate nature of the musicianship and boldness in its tone. More bass, less brass, as far as this particular cut is concerned…that’s my thoughts on “Mr. Bible” overall.
Oddly enough…or perhaps predictably…I thought the best track on this album might be the largest departure in sound that comes through the final song on “Unfortunately Your Song Stinks.” It’s just so strangely-yet-wonderfully different from the rest of what we know The Gangsta Rabbi’s music to sound like that it’s impossible to ignore the uniqueness of the last tune on Psycho At The Hospice Gates #34/72. I think it worked believe it or not…I think this final track has a lot to offer by being so different from the rest and really ends the experience on a note you’ll remember. I mean…you’ll ALWAYS remember what The Gangsta Rabbi sounds like after you hear him…but you get what I’m saying. “Unfortunately Your Song Stinks” is a cleverly deceiving title that keeps you from seeing this one coming – and I think that was a satisfying twist that pays off at the end of the album…it was a solid final move to make that added impact and potentially bring the people back to experience the madness all over again. You never know when it comes to music…this might be exactly what you’re looking for or have been looking for all along…point being, you’ll never know unless you give it a shot…so do that…with this, and with all music out there my friends.
Find out more about the music of The Gangsta Rabbi at the official site: http://www.gangstarabbi.com
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