Picture it. It’s the year 4,000. A battle ensues in the cosmos. It’s good vs. evil, light vs darkness. The battle intensifies and in the heat of swords clashing, fireballs, and explosions, the universe’s last hope, George Kilroy Marten, is thrust into 21st century America by his arch enemy The Huntress, Master of Dark Folk witchery. The year? 2016. Location? Barden County, New Jersey. Not only is George sent back in time to unfamiliar surroundings, but his essence is split into five separate entities: Nick “Scatterbrain PG” Garcia, a rapper who flows like the Milky Way; Danny “Young Dan” Kee, a lead singer with well-tuned pipes; Dan “D-String” Ravenda, keeps it low on the bass and misty on the vocals; Mike “Mudd Dogg” Digiulo, kills it on the electric with vocal skills that match his riffs; and Matt “The Hawaiian” Dominno, a drummer who never skips a beat. Together they make up Green Knuckle Material, aka GKM.
GKM is an indie rap/rock band based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. They released their E.P. on 9 December 2017, titled “Renaissance”, through Bad Cat Records and it was produced by Josh Gustin and Mike Ravenda. They also recently completed an East Coast U.S. tour. Their music is a mix of powerful driving rhythms coupled with catchy chorus lines and deep meaningful rapped verses. Their style is reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, and Sublime, and this melange is especially evident in the songs “Soon As” and “Hole”.
“We have created our own unique sound and style of music that really is unlike anything else”, says GKM.
Their sound is unique indeed. It is a studio production that sounds like a basement recording which suits their saying, “It all started in the basement”. It is raw; it’s edgy; it’s professionally made and palatable to the ear.
The most striking of all their songs is “Soon As”. They did an exquisite job pairing instruments and vocals and if you’re a fan of funk, you will be on your feet dancing as soon as the bass and drums kick in. The drummer and the rapper dance to their own tango whilst the lead vocals and electric guitar mimic each other. The guest female vocalist, Jenna Rose, complements the lead vocalist at the bridge and adds a silky touch to an already fantastic song. It is by far the best funk rap/rock mashup I’ve ever heard and a true taste of the potential the group has.
The rest of the tracks have their own identity and they highlight well the strengths and weaknesses of the group. The head bopping vibe of “Hole” demonstrates the bass guitarist’s ability as a lead vocalist and all the instruments capacity to keep up with the tempo shows the musicians’ agility and dexterity in their hands and fingers. Most notably is the guest pianist’s, Isaac Del Rosario, prowess on his jazz improvisation.
“Pictures” implements skillfully the combination of rap and vocals. The way they echo each other makes you excited and impatient to hear the next echo. It is a delectable treat to the ear. The congas and saxophone, played by guest musicians Evelyn de Costa and Dan Rasczyk, add to the smooth texture of the song and when the rest of the instruments join you can’t help but sway to the beat. Its only faux-pas takes place at the end when all the vocalists attempt to harmonize with Jenna Rose, the guest female background vocalist. Evidently, they were stretching themselves as singers and I applaud their effort. With more vocal training, they will be able to master the precision that’s necessary to accomplish a harmonious sound.
“Lullaby” in its stripped down version highlights the lead vocalist’s range and sweet/cool serenade as well as his abilities as a guitarist. He manages to keep a fast rhythm on the acoustic whilst keeping his voice soft and in tune with the melody. In the studio version his voice seemed a bit strained, but the rapper shines as he shows passion and a connection to the rhymes he’s dropping. Out of the two styles I recommend listening to the acoustic version. It’s more pleasing to the ear that enjoys hearing the individual elements of a musical piece come together in a way that accentuates each instrument and vocalist.
The least appealing song on the E.P. is “For the First Time”. The rapper must have had first time jitters leading a song or his style fits better when coupled with vocals. It was difficult to get past his labored raps and listen to the instruments or the lyrics. It is fortunate that the song is fourth on the E.P. That way you get to enjoy the potential the band has and hear more of their musicality before getting turned off by their most apparent fumble.
Overall, the E.P is excellent! They are definitely still discovering their best sound and they possess all the essential elements to make them top stars. They still have many improvements to make as vocalists, but no one can deny the tremendous talent they have as musicians. Best of luck to you GKM!
For the stripped down version of “Lullaby” click here
Enjoy the music!