Kevin McGroarty is a young artist from Wisconsin who got his start in theater and dance. Being only nineteen years of age he decided to make a crossover to music which he did. He recorded and mixed an album entitled Hands completely DIY style. The production is impressive all the way and got me thinking. When I was his age this type of album would be borderline impossible to make in your basement. Digital was just becoming a thing and almost all home recordists were still using tape.
Hands is an eclectic album which combines multiple styles such as hip-hop, pop, electronic and more. He delivers his vocals in different ways ranging from more classical style singing to aggressive rapping. I definitely had my preferences but more on that later.
He opens with “8thwonder” which is a large sounding song that put the emphasis on production. Bleeps, blings and percussive elements combine, overwhelming the senses while other times are much more subdued. His rapping is solid and had a similar inflection to Eminem. There is similar urgency and aggressiveness to his style. The vocal harmonies towards the end were the catchiest part of the song.
Up next is “Better” which revolves around a lot of layers of synths and heavy beats. During the first half of the song he raps and the second half is a disparate singing/talking style. It made the song feel like two separate halves. You can hear his voice mutating on “Nocturnal Thinking.” I thought the actual singing sounded great. He seems to lose some of the aggressive of his rapping style and I wanted to hear more of that. He sounded natural, loose and vulnerable in a good way.
“Insomniac” has a unique vibe. There is some really interesting things going on here and the way he blends multiple styles. A lot of the remaining songs have a pretty unique vibe all onto themselves. I preferred the more natural sounding vocals on songs like “Screaming Eyes and “Like Clockwork.” A sparse song like “Out” came out of nowhere and you would never guess it’s the same artist on a song like “8thwonder.”
That's the one thing I think McGroarty needs to give some thought to. It seems obvious he is wrestling with his own signature sound while trying to combine multiple others. This is evident in the myriad of vocal styles alone.
He has a boatload of talent in multiple areas but he is jumping around a lot and arguably trying to fit too much in. Anyway you look at McGroarty, he has all the time in the world to develop and Hands is unequivocally a great start. It's full of hooks, cutting edge production and unique ideas.
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