Music Review: Buddakao – “Hand Over Hand”

buddakao_album_front_cleanEvery summer, I get be the beneficiary of being one of the primary reviewers of the music that might make its way into rotation.  In my most recent batch of music, I heard the unique sound of Buddakao, an alternative/hip hop four-piece band from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The band is fronted by Mike Athorn, a.k.a. Buddakao.  Joining him is Tom Woodling, Alex Kim, and Matthew Keseley.

The latest album from Buddakao is “Hand Over Hand”.  They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I always set up expectations of how good or bad an album may be based off the cover.  However, the album cover for “Hand Over Hand” really gave me no indicator on what to expect.

And just like the opening track, “Theory“, it is hard to describe what Buddakao really is, sound wise.  “Theory” is hard hitting track that features great guitar and drums accompanied by Buddakao’s hard hitting rap style.  But just when you thought this was a rock album with rap vocal overlay, track #2, “Work”, makes you wonder if you really figured it out.  “Work” is a softer, smoother track with lyrics that many twenty-something-year-olds could relate to.  “Work” features another side of Buddakao’s more jazzy, funky side.  The next track, “EAT” then goes full blown funky, reminding you of your parent’s disco collection.

So how would I describe Buddakao?  Well, the band summons memories of many elements of bands and artists I’ve listened to over the past two decades.  Athorn himself flows with a style and sound very similar to Slug of Atmosphere.  But in the same respect, it may be similar to the vocals that come from Flobots and some tracks from Gorillaz.  Overall, the band as a whole does remind me of Flobots and Gorillaz.  But as I was finishing the review, I thought of Limp Bizkit as well.  Overall, its a hodgepodge of elements, styles, and messages that gives them a certain fondness of bands of yesterday, while giving them a sound so just them that no one really compares.  And, it is put together so well that it simply is just good.  There’s no other way to say it then that.

At the moment, they are not on tour, however you can vote for them to win the chance to perform a week on Warped Tour 2014. You can stream all of “Hand Over Hand”  (and hopefully eventually buy it) on their bandcamp page.  You can also purchase the album on iTunes or Google Play, and many other of the standard digital sources.  Follow them on Facebook too!


Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp, a.k.a. DJ Mappquest, hosts a variety of shows.  His primary show is Wubshack, hosted on every Thursday from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM PST.  Mappquest specializes in electronica, but has a soft spot for his roots in hip hop and alternative.  Follow him on Faceboook and Twitter for more of what he’s up to.


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