Record Machine: Hit Factory by Coolzey

Mixing hip-hop, rock, and punk, Coolzey’s 2014 album Hit Factory has the catchiness of a great summer record, lyrical smarts, and a sense of humor. Having seen him live, his recorded self captures the energy of his performances, while still allowing for additional production.

Coolzey - Hit Factory (back cover)

Hit Factory’s opener, “Life Without You,” has Joy Division-esque synths mixed with upbeat drums. I really dig ‘80s alternative rock, and it’s fun to have that thread throughout the album. We hear it later with “Yr Gonna Get Us Killed,” which, despite the Sonic Youth-like spelling of “you’re” in the title, sounds more like Elvis Costello.

There’s lots of waiting
They say get used to it
So tired of waiting
I’m through with it
I saw a sign that said
You have everything that you need
I guess I just don’t know what to do with it

You’ve been squealing all night
Things were going fine until
You just had to get ill
You’re gonna get us killed

“Guitar Hero” is one of the hip-hop tracks, a danceable tune about taking a chance, with lines like, “You ask me I say of course you should sing / Don’t be ashamed / It’s a natural thing.”

And beyond the lines that reference emotional turmoil, that’s the theme of Hit Factory: Are you interested in something? Go for it. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. Get out there and do your thing. The mishmash of musical influences on this album attest to that.

Last year, Coolzey performed where I live (along with Louis Logic, another great hip-hop artist), and he asked us what sort of show we wanted. My husband and I were the promoters for the show, and he was trying to get a feel for what sort of crowd we’d have. It was in advance of Hit Factory’s release, which he said was more guitar-centric than his previous albums. Did we want straight hip-hop, or did we want more rock? Or just a weird mix of everything?

We are pretty much in the business of throwing weird mixes of performers at our audiences, and he did not disappoint. The fire pit at the venue made for some amusing performance/photo opportunities, and though the crowd was small, they dug it.

While I could understand the argument that Hit Factory feels like a bunch of different songs just thrown together onto one release, I don’t think that’s the case. This is about going where your interests take you. It’s about embracing your new wave, your contrariness, and the everyday struggle of finding a home in this world. Hit Factory’s multi-genres are the point. You do you. Get on board or step aside.

Coolzey - Hit Factory (vinyl)
(So shiny, you can even see my camera’s reflection in the vinyl.)

Side One

Life Without You
Guitar Hero
Yr Gonna Get Us Killed

Side Two

Pay Me Slow
Want It The Most
Say Cheese
Fish To Sea

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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