Russell E.L. Butler - Petty

  • Rough-and-ready drum tracks.
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  • "The kicks are layered and meant to feel like you're dropping a cinderblock on a hardwood floor," is how Russell E.L. Butler describes their new EP. "The bass feels like it could push anything out of its way." They aren't wrong. Petty, the Oakland artist's second EP for Spectral Sound, is one of their most to-the-point releases yet, abandoning the colourful melodies and emotional undertones of their debut album for rough-and-ready drum tracks. "Gulf Stream" begins mid-step, as if it was waiting for you to press play. We're greeted by a misshapen kick drum, the occasional synth sweep and distant, dubbed-out chords. A friend of mine compared the record to some of the earliest and most popular releases on L.I.E.S., and like those records, Petty is both ragged and proficient. "Tree Frog Whistle" seems rowdy and destructive at first, but there's something uplifting about its driving synth pattern and kicks, which cough and sputter. The same goes for "Offset In The Shadow," where a feisty kick-and-snare pattern struggles against brittle arpeggios parked between vintage Luke Slater and Detroit electro. The fight gets nasty towards the end, as the track nearly combusts. "I Know I Am Petty" is the odd one out. Its melodica-style chords are melancholy, rubbing against the grain of the skippy drumbeat. But you get the sense that Butler is resisting expectations on purpose. They named the EP Petty as "a reminder to myself to reject the performance of respectability" that black people are often expected to undertake to succeed in society. This EP is its own form of rebellion.
  • Tracklist
      A1 Gulf Stream A2 I Know I Am Petty B1 Tree Frog Whistle B2 Offset In The Shadow