Humility is a scarce commodity in music right now, but if there’s one act using it as a template for incredible creativity, it’s Staunch Moderates. The surprisingly politically correct “Bill Maher,” Staunch Moderates flirt with outsider pop and hip-hop in a way that immediately made me think of DawgGoneDavis, but with slightly less obvious whimsy sewn into the linguistics of the track. This is self-aware songcraft as raw as it comes, and whether you go for this brand of alternative music or not, it’s worth a listen or two if you’ve got the free time this winter.
The rapping in “Bill Maher” is surprisingly solid, and despite a rather loose arrangement these beats end up holding plenty of shape as we inch towards the conclusion of the song. There isn’t a lot of room between the percussion and the bassline, but I don’t think there needed to be; frankly, the vocal fills out the gaps in the rhythm rather fluidly, pushing along the hook whilst agreeably forcing a clash between the melody and the groove. High contrast isn’t something that a lot of pop acts have been experimenting with, but it’s something that these guys want to have in their artistry.
“Bill Maher” is a lyrical tribute to its namesake and rightly sport plenty of humor, but the focus with which they’re being presented to us is legit from beginning to end. They might be having a little bit of fun with these verses, but the acerbic means of their delivery is a testament to how much they really care about the music. This isn’t the kind of material you’re going to see topping the charts, but it’s certainly stacked with enough detail to get music aficionados and intrigued listeners curious about what’s going to come next.
The bass part here is rather minimalistic by design relative to what a lot of contemporary rappers are playing with in 2021, and it suits the structure of this piece remarkably well. It’s clear to me that Staunch Moderates plotted out every intricacy within this performance well before they ever got into the studio to record anything, but rather than sounding robotic because of their tight rehearsing, they sound like a well-oiled machine capable of deviating from a set route when it benefits the content. “Bill Maher” is a statement single, and it’s made to get a reaction out of anyone who gives it a spin.
With a little less cable news and a lot more comedy rap like this, Staunch Moderates are going to ensure that audiences live a more comfortable and stress-free life in 2022. There’s not a lot of music like this currently making it out of the underground, but if you’re sick of the mainstream mundane, what Staunch Moderates are offering up in “Bill Maher” qualifies as the right kind of linguistic relief you’re looking for. These guys don’t take the commerciality of rap seriously, but they value the expressiveness of the medium enough to make a well-rounded composition in this single and its music video.
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