Last time we checked in with local greats ANR, it was early September and the group had just released a new mixtape/album hybrid, Pat Riley. After a few months of relative quiet, with that effort, the group ushered in a fairly ambitious project: a free album a month until a new “official” full-length in early 2013.
Okay, so it’s been more than four weeks since Pat Riley now, but ANR has just met its end-of-month cutoff with a new installment in the series, Tobe Hooper. Appropriate for the month the album’s namesake is, of course, the horror director behind iconic fright fests like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. The rest of the album follows a similarly Halloween-ish theme — and yes, this plays like a proper album.
Sure, the guys have sprinkled in some creepy mini skits, werewolf sound effects, and even a cute cover of “The Monster Mash,” featuring vocals by artist Jillian Mayer. But under all the seasonal trappings, Tobe Hooper boasts some of the best new ANR material released lately. Pat Riley was all about feeling and mood, with the group nimbly mixing up genres into a slinky slab of future soul.
This album, instead, is far more song-oriented. The guys of ANR hold “day jobs” as engineers and songwriters at Honor Roll Studios, crafting production music among other projects. That means necessary sharp songwriting skills across genres, something that duly shows up here. Early track “Waking the Dead” is a slick, slowly building piece of electro-pop-soul, while “Heatseeker,” a little later, shows off MJ’s impressive R&B-style crooning skills. Later, “Fear’s a Man’s Best Friend” goes almost glam-rock with rollicking piano, and “Fool For a Blonde” is just a weird outlier — a catchy, acoustic ditty that almost sounds like a Disney musical B-side.
As with Pat Riley, though, it all makes sense, thanks to an overall cinematic approach to album structure and a glossy, but slightly dark production. Download and stream Tobe Hooper below — and let’s hope they can keep the momentum going and deliver another too-good-to-be-free November edition.