From hip-hop to pop punk, three’s a charm

First there was the crunk movement from the South, now from San Francisco comes hyphy. Bay Area hip-hop trio Federation, brings the hyphy culture of music, dancing and stunt-pulling car shows to the masses with its new album, It’s Whateva, which, after months of being pushed back, was finally released this month.

"Playtime is Over" appropriately opens up the record with a west-coast anthem warning listeners that Federation is serious. The clever rhyme scheme and the Dr. Dre inspired beat of "Playtime is Over" aren’t repeated throughout the rest of the album, though.

Instead of the triumphant flow that opens the record, the rest of the album features rhythm and blues hooks and songs geared to be club or radio hits. At times, the distracting pop choruses bury the group’s rhyme skills.

The group departs from pop with the gangster-sounding "We On Yo Line" and the rock-infused "Black Roses," which are both refreshing changes of pace. The Bay Area is the focal point of tracks such as "From the Bay," "Scraper 2 a Benz" and "My Rimz." "Bang Bang" and "Break Your Face" wrap up the album and are the hardest tracks on it.

Produced by Rick Rock (Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes), It’s Whateva features cameos by Snoop Dog, E-40 and the versatile drumming of former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.

With It’s Whateva, Federation will definitely get respect among it’s hip-hop peers, but don’t expect the group to dominate the airwaves since it lacks a mindless hit such as Soulja Boy’s "Crank That."

Blast from the past

Listening to The Pipettes is like taking a time machine back to the time of poodle skirts, milk shakes and leather jacket-clad guys.

The all-girl three-piece from England churns out throwback pop tracks that mix doo-wop with soft rock and roll. "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me" is the first single off of the album, We are the Pipettes, released in the U.S. this month, and draws instant comparisons to The Go-Go’s.

The Pipettes even make emotionless hook-ups seem romantic with catchy melodies and vocal harmonies on tracks such as "Sex" and "One Night Stand."

The group certainly has the hooks and the looks to be marketable and accessible, but is the mainstream music spectrum ready for a 1950s revival? If this were 50 years ago, this band would be a worldwide hit. Unfortunately, it will likely suffer the same fate as The Donnas: a small stint in the mainstream and an eventual dropping from its label. The Pipettes have the looks and the talent, just not the timing.

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