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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 31, 2014

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In Music

The Cranberry Show's latest release, "Paranormal Karaoke," shows a wealth of maturity compared to previous albums.

The Cranberry Show is spooky good on new album Paranormal Karaoke


Hip-hoppers Young Focus and Arcane have been a part of the Milwaukee hip-hop scene under the moniker The Cranberry Show for years, but it hasn't been until recently that the group was able to really make an impact with their music.

In 2010 they finally released a proper album called "Sex and Pencil Shavings" that was thematically low-brow and musically bass heavy, a trend that was really gaining a lot of steam as a new crop of kids looked for their punk rock – or rather, a music that was deviant and encouraged them to follow their desires and lusts.

While "S.A.P.S." never went as far off the deep end as the music created by artists like Lil B and his group The Pack, The Cranberry Show's project was definitely for an audience that was still discovering themselves.

The duo went on to release several mixtapes, one for each major holiday that passed, and then put a moratorium on releases to begin work on what would become the recently released the free album "Paranormal Karaoke."

On "Paranormal Karaoke," the group's sound shows a wealth of maturity, and the songs on the project are put together more carefully while still holding the identity of the group.

While there are relapses into immaturity on the album and some of the ideas don't come together 100 percent, the album shows a lot of promise for The Cranberry Show.

Young Focus and Arcane discussed "Paranormal Karaoke" with OnMilwaukee.com and also shared their plans for the future.

OnMilwaukee.com: On the new album, it seems like crafting songs instead of putting verses and choruses together was a major focus for you two as a group. What were the song-writing sessions like for this album and how did the specific songs come together?

The Cranberry Show: To be honest our main focus was replay value, and focusing on that made everything else just fall into place. Our writing and song creation is kind of weird, actually. Focus usually comes up with a crazy topic/idea or hook/bridge that is totally out in space, then presents it to Arcane and he reels it in a bit, then Focus hones it down to a finer idea. After that, we write our separate verses. As far as the instrumental part of it, we usually get with producers and build instrumentals from the ground up. If instrumentals are sent to us we have the producer tweak them a tad to our liking so the song fits strictly into the parameters of what we think TCS should sound like.

OMC: The maturity of the album is like that of nothing you've previous done. What led you guys to really develop your style and the scope of what you bring to the table musically?

TCS: Well, we decided to step back from releasing music for a while because we knew we wanted to discover a new sound for ourselves, which happens to be more mature musically but creatively it is the same immature attitude that birthed the concepts and songs on PK. We were careful to keep the original integrity of the group.

OMC: One of the highlights of "Paranormal Karaoke" is the song "Sail," which is an adaptation of the Awolnation song of the same name. What drove you to want to adapt that specific song for your album?

TCS: Arcane brought the original song into a studio session one day and told Focus that he had to hear it. Focus was blown away and told Arcane it should be remixed and used on the album because the song, and Awolnation's visual for it, just had a "Paranormal" feel.

OMC: You worked with four different producers on "PK." What were they each able to bring to the table that led you do multiple tracks with most of them?

TCS: After we knew what we wanted PK to sound like our next task was to think about who knew us well enough to bring it to life. At the same time we only wanted to work with producers who could make a "big" sound. We wanted the album to be very theatrical so we thought about whom we've heard make those types of instrumentals and is easy to sit down with, because we wanted our input on the beats. Those three things are what each producer was able to bring to the table for us.

OMC: As a writer who contributes to DJBooth.net regularly, I understand the importance of having a site like theirs behind an artist. What led you to want to get hooked up with them for the release of "PK" and what do you hope to gain from the eyes that might not have navigated your way at this point without DJBooth's stamp of approval?

TCS: It was mostly Chad over at Donutsandmilk.com that got the DJBooth thing popping. Chad was one of the first people to see the potential in our sound and brand all the way back to our "$10" music video. He posted us regularly and invited us to perform at a lot of his events. In the music world where everyone has a baseball bat made of opinions that they're ready to whack you over the head with at any given time, he checked his swing. Actually, he bunted, and that nudged us in the right direction as far as letting us know the pros and cons of our music. What we hope to gain is fresh ears along with old ears willing to be refreshed. We want new fans to know us from this point and old fans to respect this point as growth. Huge shout out to Z over at DJBooth for giving us the chance.

OMC: When people talk to me about their favorite hip-hop groups in Milwaukee it seems that The Cranberry Show is consistently on the list of those in their teens or early- to mid-20s, while not being mentioned by those in their later 20s and older. If you could give the demographic of people that don't listen to you one reason to listen to The Cranberry Show, what would it be?

TCS: We wear purple headbands and do cool sh*t.

OMC: What's next for TCS? Do you have any plans for the spring or summer yet?

TCS: Yeah, we have a plan laid out until August. We have another project dropping mid-summer and two tours it's looking like that we're going to be a part of. Of course, a million more shows and a few hot videos are going to be lined up. We're never stopping!

"Paranormal Karaoke" can be downloaded for free at djbooth.net. TCS's website is thecranberryshow.com.

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