This project kicks off with "Radical Ish," a tribute to Orwell's 1984 – the work from which the band draws its name. It's a frantic pile-on of live instrumentation, NES-based chiptunes and Mikal's own hip-hop delivery. It's dense and weighty, but never off-putting.
From there we transition to the lo-fi chip-funk of "Warp Zone," an explosion of guitar noise and game-centered lyrical aggression. "We," the EP's center point, proves an unexpected highlight, with a piano-backed lead-in that quickly transitions to a full-on electronic assault. The beat is undeniably forceful and aptly supplemented by its delicate melody, but its' kHill's frank exposition regarding the decay of a relationship that provides its true power.
Likewise, "Roll for Initiative" is a musical highpoint that should serve as a textbook example of The ThoughtCriminals sound. A hodge-podge of organic soul-rock, electronic drones, hip-hop politics and geeky swagger, it's a fantastic fusion of underground indie and straight-up nerdcore.
Closer "God vs. PlayStation" is actually an acoustic reworking of a song from Mikal's solo effort This is Not an Entrance. From its scratchy vinyl intro and delicate key lead to kHill's fierce, almost slam poetry-style delivery, it's a solid closer. Sure, the vocal harmonies are a tad flat at times, but it's still a great way to wind down a really interesting, fairly eclectic effort.
The ThoughtCriminals always put on an inspired live performance, but this sadly makes it a bit difficult to capture that experience on wax. Their 2009 self-titled debut (while an enjoyable album in its own right) caught the crew in flux, so the disconnect between what you heard at a show versus the album experience was a bit striking. Still Standing, by contrast, features a selection of newer material more tonic to the band's current setup. And fuck – you can't beat the price!
If you're a fan of unique underground hip-hop, well-rounded fusion instrumentals or chip music, The ThoughtCriminals are for you. And if you like all three in equal measure, prepare to have your playlist assailed by Still Standing.