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Kydd Jones, Odd Complex, Arson Optics, and Notes Floats

Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., June 22, 2012

Phases & Stages

Six tracks from Kydd Jones' The Sounds in My Head Pt. 2 deserve regular rotation at barbecues clear across the Capital City this summer. And if you're smoking, make it eight. The second installment from the local rapper's mixtape series, launched in 2008, ushers in a new era of local rap, one in which guest spots just as often come from national hot spots like Los Angeles (Pac Div, "Now & Then"), New York City (Skyzoo, "It Was All a Dream"), and, well, Alabama (Yelawolf, "Hall Pass") as they do from inside the Lone Star state. ATX reps itself dutifully, with contributions from soul machine Cory Kendrix and beatmaker Haris Qureshi both adding to Kydd's slacker charm ("Jungle"). Less accessible is Odd Complex's January release Complex Atomicus, an amorphous LP that flips dub-hop, blurry industrial breakbeats ("Dope Springs Eternal"), and hard-nosed rapping cut from the Doomtree mold. Clever stuff, but at nearly an hour – and with the sonic orgy of "Track .x53x." taking up almost 11 minutes – Atomicus can be a real bear to get through. Better structured is the latest effort from ATX vet Arson Optics, whose DJ Rapid Ric-mixed Another Day Another Dollar pumps dirty stank and southern dirt through the Mixtape Mechanic's rock solid filter. Assists from the Bavu Blakes ("King of the World") and Melodic Science centerpiece Mirage ("Gold Medal") make Another Dollar a welcome throwback to River City's Mercury years. The dark horse of the lot: lively rapper Notes Floats, whose sophomore album The Transfer arrives both funked-up ("The Transfer") and souled-out ("Continue"). Throw the piano-sampling "The Whole Time" on the same mixtape as those Kydd Jones jams. That's the stuff to keep Austin cooking this summer.

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