Hearing Aide: B. Chaps ‘Clips’

I really have nothing bad to say about B. Chaps’ debut album, Clips, which released April 18, 2018. In fact, when I first turned it on, I was surprised at how much I liked it straight out of the gate. I love music more than anything, but it’s rare that this happens.

On the first track, Chaps announces that he “was created to create;” but this is an understatement as this album covers multiple genres, lyrical topics and stylistic choices. Aside from this, it includes diverse and often surprising production choices, mostly written and performed by Chaps personally, who is gifted as a producer and recording engineer at Foster House Studios in Albany, NY.

Clips had me hooked within about ten seconds of the first track, “Morning Music.” It begins with a wavy synth plus a soulful, jazzy set of guitar riffs sitting on a slanted electric piano. “How long I gotta wait?,” Chaps asks, correctly wording the feeling of anticipation that the instrumental gives the listener. But what works so well for this song is not the overt melodies or musicality, but rather all the subtleties that made me want to listen a few times — there’s a piano played backwards, a tape playing sound effect to add some nostalgia, and other little things that end up adding a lot to the overall mix.

Some of the strongest aspects of Clips are all the subtleties in each song which, together, add greatly to the album. While guitar riffs (performed by Matt Dalton, Kevin Bohen and Pat Flores) and piano decorate this work, it’s the little stuff in the background that earn Chaps the win.

In “Dip,” the third track, we hear the sounds of traffic mixed with a trippy beat played between a xylophone and an 808 type drum kit. Chaps credits Kevin Bohen for performing the guitar part on the song, and the stuttering beat creates a perfect bed for hip-hop vocals that dance on the edge of catchy and chaotic. “I’m so spaced out in my UFO / Haven’t seen the ground in a year or so.”

I’m surprised that I haven’t heard “Blow My Money” on the radio just yet, but it won’t be long. This song works so well because it starts out with a sugar – dipped melody (with backing vocals by Valerie Barbosa) and includes relatable lyrics, but has enough obscurity to draw attention without being a distraction. He also stays away from false claims and keeps it honest, “Money ain’t a thing / ‘Cause I ain’t got shit,” he admits.

Chaps states that he is “from another planet,” which is verifiable, but also causes me to ask the question: why isn’t this the name of the album? I avoid backseat producing at all costs, but this seemed like the one missed opportunity. I can easily forgive this because the album appealed to me on all angles. Influence wise, there’s something here for everyone. I’d be genuinely surprised if someone told me they couldn’t listen to this at all.

“Feel Something” would be a great number live, especially for dancing. It starts out with a presto, hurried Latin beat on horns and bongos, but it also twists ears by going back to that 808 sound heard earlier in the record and completely changes the direction that I thought the song was going. Likewise, “No Sneakers” has more of an underground hip-hop sound, including more bass and samples — with a sound reminiscent of Weerd Science.

Overall, I’m excited to hear more music from B. Chaps. Clips is a solid first effort — having a diverse and listenable sound — and I would not be surprised if this launches a full scale career with more albums ahead. Until then, I’ll be playing this album around the pool and barbecues this summer.

Clips is available digitally through all major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

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