Sunday, 25 September 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 23/09/2016: Danny Brown, The Weeknd, Pool Art and more...

Whilst you’ve been busy sobbing about the Brangelina breakup, I’ve been doing more productive things. Like sobbing over my existence. And discovering new music on the internet. Here are my findings.


‘Don’t Feed Me To Them’ – Pool Art

This new noisy single from emerging Manchester pair Pool Art is terrifying to put things mildly. The calm way in which the singer purrs ‘don’t feed me to them’ is already unsettling enough, but it’s nothing compared to the latter half of the track which swiftly plummets into a Satanic abyss of blitzkrieg percussion and eerie ascending guitar squeals. If this is ‘dream’ pop, it’s clearly the nightmare variety.

‘Fresh Hell’ – Greys

Inspired by the acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi and the death of Rob Ford - two people who frontman Shehzaad has referred to in a press statement as ‘total pieces of shit’ - this track sees Toronto punks Greys letting out their anger at the brainwashing of the Canadian public, one minute hating a public figure, the next minute sympathising over them. As you can tell immediately, most of the rock music I’ve been favouring this week isn’t the soft variety. These dissonant guitars are downright ugly and the production’s so filthy you’ll want to take a bath.  

‘Poppies’ – KNGDAVD

One of the less moody selections this week, funky distorted synths and theatrically buoyant vocals make up this new single from mysterious Soundcloud entity KNGDAVD. Further research suggests they are in fact a duo from New York. Clearly they don’t like talking about themselves - they don’t even feel comfortable putting the letter ‘I’ in their band name.

 ‘Really Doe’ – Danny Brown ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt

Backed by a beat made up of sinister pitched bells, Danny drops a single squawking verse before buggering off, handing over the rest of the track to his awesome entourage of guests. Guests like Ab-soul, Earl Sweatshirt and some guy you may have heard of called Kendrick Lamar. It’s an impressive line-up with impressive results. I’ve never been all that hyped about the gap-toothed pill-popping Detroit rapper before, but his upcoming album is looking damn exciting.
'Starboy' - The Weeknd

The title isn’t all two dissimilar to a certain David Bowie song. And I was expecting Daft Punk’s contribution to be more than brief robotic backing vocals. But even so, this is catchy stuff from the palm-tree-haired pop singer.

Hear preview here.


‘I’m Vegan!!! Die, meateaters’ – Misha

Protesting against the killing of animals by promoting the killing of human beings seems somewhat hypocritical, but I guess this militant vegan is only a kid so his sense of logic hasn’t fully developed yet. That said, I’d quite happily watch this tuneless brat get slapped round the face with a leg of ham. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Double Review: 'Blank Face' by Schoolboy Q and 'The Sun's Tirade' by Isaiah Rashad

Kendrick season is over. You can stop doing naughty things to your hard copy of To Pimp A Butterfly. Instead, Top Dawg Entertainment has two new albums you should be getting stupidly excited about, Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade.

Bucket-hat-wearing gruff-speaking promiscuity-preaching gangsta rapper Schoolboy Q and laid-back weed-worshipping young father Isaiah Rashad are two very different breeds of emcee. However, they arguably both appeal to the same breed of hip hop head, shunning the arty-fartyness and sociopolitics of backpack rap, but simultaneously bringing more sophistication than your average babbling trap-loving Young-Thug-wannabe.

Previously, I’ve been lukewarm on both individuals' lyrical content, Isaiah rapping far too much about his love of the herb, Q spending way too much time rapping about the size of his dick. However, their inventive delivery and colourful beat choices have often made up for this. Personally, I was more keen on Isaiah's last record Cilvia Demo than Q's last album Oxymoron, the former sounding more focused. 

This time around things seems to have reversed - Q seems to have really stepped up his game with Blank Face, whilst The Sun's Tirade seems to lose its way a little. 

A change in lyrics isn't to blame - there's still very little poetry being recited by either artist. Q does dip his toes briefly in political issues on 'Never Change' and 'Black Thoughts', but the remainder of the record is a hamster wheel of money and hoes. That said, Q's gangsta persona is so cartoonish that none of this matters, dumb lines like 'straight ballin like a biiiitch' squawked out with such infectiously ridiculous emphasis you can't help but fall in love with them. In the end, it's the guests that offer the most embarrassing contributions - the uninspired 'I’m gonna fuck right now' hook on ‘Overtime’ sung by Miguel and Kendrick being one of them, Kanye’s ‘okay, okay, okay, okay, okay’ blathering on ‘That Part’ being the other. 

Isaiah meanwhile seems to have thankfully cut down on the reefer-references on The Sun's Tirade, at parts even turning drug-adverse as demonstrated in later verses of 'Stuck in the Mud' with mumble-rapped line 'pop a xanny, make your problems go away'. Some of this clearly draws from personal experience, Isaiah having admitted to struggling with addiction for the last two years. However, rather than fuelling the album on this rich subject matter, Isaiah seems to sidetrack topics altogether, going for a more abstract approach to songwriting. In fact, rather ironically 'Find a Topic' seems to be the only topical track out of the bunch, a song about dismissing the need for subject matter. The lack of topics certainly gives The Sun's Tirade a more druggy and freeform feel. However, at times it can also just sound like a whole load of meandering waffle.

That said, this could be more to do with the energy of Isaiah's bars, the rapper at times sounding like he just broke his xanax withdrawal.  Whilst Q's creative hooting an cackling works like caffeine, Isaiah's experimentation with sleepy murmured flows on tracks like 'Bday' are sedative enough to lull a SAS sniper into a stupor. It's a shame, because on previous track 'Park' Isaiah shows he can be quite lively when he wants to be, spattering out each line with the truculence of a spitting cobra.

On the plus side, the beatsmiths over at TDE do a great job of showing off their production wizardry on both albums. With the exception of Mike-Will-Made-It produced 808 banger 'A Lot', The Sun's Tirade takes a laid-back jazzy route that'll have you feeling more chilled than the Dalai Llama. Blank Face meanwhile offers a spicier and more uptempo palette ranging from the funky-sax-and-bells of 'Big Body' to the groovy-synth-bass-and-electric-guitars-outro of 'Know Ya Wrong', certain to get you busting moves around your bedroom like Big Quint.

Both artists certainly feel like worthy Top Dawg inductees, both finding their own unique style and voice and running with it. It's just unfortunate Isaiah's lethargic persona is less compatible when taken to the extreme than Q's gangsta guise.



Monday, 19 September 2016


Meet Ehiorobo.

He’s a DIY soul/electronic/art rap singer/songwriter/producer from New Jersey who describes his music as ‘tunes for the groovy folk. Also space koalas’.

His kooky style of music blends sweet Sampha-like singing and humorous semi-rapping, all set to a self-produced backdrop of quirky digital percussion sounds and jazzy Odd-Future-esque chords.

Limeade is his latest LP, lyrically centred around love and infatuation, but more importantly food.  Track titles include ‘fondue’ and ‘artichokes’, filled with lyricism involving bruschetta and burning the egg salad. Need some romantic music to accompany that next dinner date with that cute space koala from next door? Look no further.

Soulful without being soppy, comical without being crude, intricate without being irritating, Ehiorobo's sound manages to balance out every sonic flavour perfectly. Hungry to know more about the man behind the music, I decided it would be best to chew the fat with him, to cut the mustard and delve into the nut behind this smart cookie in the hope that he may spill the beans on some hidden juicy truths (basically, I decided to interview him). Read on for drum machines, comic books and more space koalas...

If your sound was a pizza what toppings would it have?

E(Ehiorobo): Definitely mushrooms, garlic, grilled jerk chicken bits, and maybe an occasional squeeze of lime juice for well deserved tang

Where does the name Ehiorobo originate from?

E: Ehiorobo is my full first name, it's very Nigerian haha. Benin City, Nigeria to be specific. I was there this summer actually, visiting family

Your new album Limeade is full of weird and wonderful food references. Were you hungry whilst recording Limeade?

E: I was forsure thinking about flavor palettes making that thang. I'd have these super long days in sr. year of high school (when I started working on the album) where I'd watch what I'd eat because of intense track workouts, go to work at a skate/surf clothing shop, and then I'd stay up late making tunage all night. Snack of choice being saltine crackers and cherry limeade

How do you go about creating all the complex instrumentals? What production software do you use and does the percussion usually come first or the melody?

E: Really I kind of just mess around until I have something that interests me. Starting off with a chord progression that excites me, and then I'll build everything around that in layers, building different sections based off where I want those layers to go. It's a bit more fun letting yourself explore like that in my opinion. Also, I've been using Native Instrument's Maschine since I was about 16, because I was fascinated with the idea of using a drum machine as the centerpiece to the setup. I perform with an SP-404, so I think that's me still being a drum-machine diggin' boy at heart

I love the mix of digital and live instruments. The sax solo on ‘Gilderoy Lockhart’ is delicious. Who are all the guests on the album and how do you know them?

E: Yoooo thanks, yeah I definitely wanted to have a wide sound spectrum on the album. As for the sax solo on "Gilderoy Lockhart", the way that came together was insane. I made the instrumental, and got my friend Noel Gordon Jr. to come to my house and record in my basement (which is where I tracked & produced the project). I hummed the basic melody idea, and he tracked it, plus did this insane freestyle all in one take, and that's the exact take we kept. Pretty magical when I think back on it haha

All the guests are either friends from my hometown near the beach in New Jersey, or friends from school: Ashley McKinley (Voice Acting + Vox), Joe Lobosco (Bg Vox, Bass, and Guitar), Dan Desantis (Synth), Noel Gordon Jr. (Sax & Piano), Nick Barcia-Dimeo (Bg Vox and Piano), Mike Rose (Live Drums), Karlito Almeida (Viola and Violin), Alex Nelson (Cello), Jacob Gabriel (Voice Acting), and Dan Mattia (Trumpet, Trombone, & Slide Trumpet)

Super super super glad to have homies so down to put time into something like that. I'd produce tracks, and then call them over to track live things on top of stuff, but it all felt organic and kinda like just hanging out

Biggest vocal inspiration?

E: A few of my biggest vocal inspirations are Sampha, Jesse Boykins III, Pharrell, Jamie Lidell, Nai Palm, and Milo. 

Biggest production inspiration?

E: Bo en, The Neptunes, Maxo, Diveo, Grynpyret, Monte Booker, Tyler the Creator

I read in another interview that you’re a comic book fan. Ultimate question – DC or Marvel?

E: Honestly that's super tough, but I'm gonna have to go with Marvel. I have super large respect for the Batman franchise, but the Marvel Universe is just way way more immersive for a boyo like me

How are your art skills? Better still, do you have MS Paint? I’m curious to know what a space koala looks like. Fancy drawing a pretty picture of one for me?

E: I used to wanna be an animator haha. I later discovered that there are other things that I enjoy making a lot more, so naturally, that wasn't pursued to heavily after a while. But in my own mind, I was nice as heck at sketchin'
(Also, nope, don't have MS Paint. But I was tryna get it for a while) 

What does the future hold for Ehiorobo?

E: Definitely more tunage in the upcoming months. Working on 2 separate collaborative projects that I'm super excited about, as well as some songs coming out with people in between. Then, working on another project of sorts. During all of that, there'll be shows

Also, looking to make my way to both LA, and also North Europe within the next year for shows and working with people. Generally, just tryna do more, explore, and feel good.

Follow Ehiorobo at @mrehiorobo

Friday, 16 September 2016

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 16/09/2016: Creature from Dell Pond, Teksti-TV 666, Valborg and more...

Lots of noisy guitars this week. If you don’t like noisy guitars then y̶o̶u̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶u̶s̶s̶y̶ this week’s audial assortment may not be for you…


‘32 Regis Rd’ – Creature from Dell Pond

'I don't know how to love myself'. With their depressive lyrics and melancholy semi-dissonant chord choices, oddball Chicago rockers Creature from Dell Pond make most grunge groups seem upbeat. Gloomy as they are however, they're also teeming with energy, accelerating into each verse and then slamming on the brakes for the chorus in an excitingly erratic fashion. 

‘Kuustoista Vuotta Sitten’  - Teksti-TV 666

Still need more noisy guitars in your life? Try this crazy band on for size – they have five guitarists and their latest single is eleven minutes of hypnotic axe-noodling. Yes, their band name sound like a gamertag, and yes, the lyrics may require you to brush up on your Finnish, but instrumentally they make up for it, using their guitar quintet to employ some creative and mesmerising harmonies.

‘Portland Vase’ – Hollow Mask

I told you there were a lot of noisy guitars this week. Bristol duo Hollow Mask start things off tame with some dreamy vocals and a simplistic screeching riff. But then the whole track becomes lost in a thick haze of shoegazey distortion. 

 ‘Ich Bin Total’ – Valborg

Christ, you can’t possibly want more noisy guitars! Very well, soak up this riff-fest from German death metal band Valborg. Ich bin totally addicted to it.  


‘Dangerous Love’ – Sabrina Sabrok

I haven't been keeping abreast of this lady's career. Is it the two big genres that she plays with - metal and pop - drawing listeners in? Or is her huge personality the main appeal?Personally, this kind of music just gets on my tits...

‘Fat Faded Fuck Face’ – Die Antwoord

Rumours were circulating this week that South African rap duo Die Antwoord might be breaking up. Sadly, these rumours were untrue.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 09/09/2016: The Vanity Project, Swet Shop Boys, Machinedrum and more...

Photo by Anna Ward

There really is no escape from One Direction.


'Graduation Blues' - The Vanity Project

Manc experimental indie duo The Vanity Project deliver this brilliantly wacky anthem about leaving uni and inevitably becoming the boring, conformist, tea-drinking drone you always told yourself you’d never be. All in all, the perfect song to play at your grad ball. There’s also some mention of wanting to be a member of One Direction. I can relate to this, having tried to join 1D only to be rejected, of course, for being too handsome.

'Zayn Malik' - Swet Shop Boys

I am a cool guy/ I’m good at rapping.’ Heems certainly isn't spitting poetry here, but I figured he gave up after hearing fellow rapper Riz MC's verse: Zayn Malik got more than 80 virgins on him/ There’s more than One Direction to get to paradise’. How do you follow a bar like that?

'Bright Lights' - 88 Palms

I'm feeling lazy, so I'll let the electro duo's magnificent Facebook bio do the talking: ‘Cocaine and Piña Coladas. Sex on the Beaches. Sunsets in Slow Motion. Miami with the Top Down. A Secret Beach in Mexico. A Disco Love Safari.

'Do it 4 U' - Machinedrum ft. D∆WN

The US electronica maestro contrasts soft sugary synths with some hard angry percussion for a formidable combo. Some chick who's so indie she has a triangle in her name meanwhile provides raunchy vocals on top.

'Holla' – LANKS

Melbourne producer LANKS equally has an ear for cool musical contrasts – slimy sawtooth bass and vocal chops making room for pretty piano chords and some haunting singing from Mr. LANKS himself.


'Recepie' – Unicorns Killed My Girlfriend

Young-Thug-style-warble-rap forms an unholy alliance with Myspace-era-crunkcore. And he tops it all off by not even being able to spell 'recipe'. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Review of 'Blonde' by Frank Ocean

Hooks? Percussion? Who needs that shit? Not Frank Ocean.

It’s been four years since the Odd-Future-member-turned-indie/r&b-icon graced us with his last album Channel Orange. Since then he’s been in hiding, rumours of a new album circulating for the last 48 months, false release dates being constantly announced, missing posters going up around NewYork City. There’s been a dangerous amount of hype. If Frank was ever going to emerge back into the sunlight from his recording studio/nuclear bunker, he would have to come through with something pretty damn special.

And that he has certainly done. In the space of a week, he’s dropped not just one, but two new albums, Endless and Blonde/Blond (spelt two ways to be edgy and to confuse fans). For this review, we’ll focus purely on the latter, since this seems to be the main attraction, Endless serving more as a side-dish in the form of a giant avant-garde music video (a ‘visual album’ if you want to get all technical about it), although sonically there isn’t really much difference between the two – both consisting of slow r&b ballads largely devoid of hooks and percussion, punctuated by massive wtf-moments.

‘Nikes’ kicks Blonde/Blond off to a rather sour start. Delivered in an annoying pitched-up chimpmunk vocal tone, Frank offers some stream-of-consciousness babble that sees him noting his likeness to Trayvon Martin and confessing his love for a mermaid version of FKA Twigs, also briefly uttering some nonsense about ‘rain’ and ‘glitter’. The track sets the tone with its pretty chords and meandering lack-of-structure, although thankfully is the only case where Frank adopts robot-on-helium vocals.

Excluding a random skit of Frank’s mother telling him not to be ‘a weedhead’, the next few tracks are all intimate ballads that see the singer showing off his sweet voice over beautiful percussionless chord arrangements. ‘Solo’ stands out as a highlight with its gorgeous organs and intriguing lyrical ambiguity – (is it ‘solo’ he really means, or ‘so low’?). It feels like one of the few moments where Frank isn’t trying to pass off gibberish as poetry, having abandoned the vivid storytelling of Channel Orange. ‘Skyline To’ meanwhile stands out as another highlight, set to a Tyler-the-Creator produced instrumental of melancholy guitars, with emotive crooning over the top.

About midway through the record, Frank then full on loses his marbles. An entire track dedicated to Andre 3000 speedily spitting over pianos is followed by  ‘Pretty Sweet’, which opens with the r&b singer yelling over a cacophony of dissonant strings. Following this is an excerpt of a heavily-accented man refusing to friend someone on Facebook. It’s all very confusing, although reassuringly seems to only be a temporary bout of madness, Frank returning for some more percussionless ballads towards the close of the record including ‘White Ferrari’ with its miasmic detuned synths and ‘Siegfried’ with its acrobatic vocal performance. Here the beauty of Blonde/Blond really shines through. It’s just a shame Frank has to ugly it all up at the very end by dedicating the last four minutes of ‘Futura’ to experimental clutter, tailing off the record by forcing the listener to scramble for the mute button.

Indeed, you’d be ignorant to dismiss this entire album as pure garbage. There are moments of pure artistry on Blonde/Blond, not all of which reveal themselves on first listen. ‘Pretty Sweet’ seems to sum up this concept – opening to complete chaos before slowly dissipating into something truly tuneful.

Of course, to call it a masterpiece would be just as rash, as there are as many obnoxious parts as there are sophisticated moments. The ‘thought of becoming a dream’ stoner babble at the end of ‘Siegfried’ and aforementioned ‘rain, glitter line in ‘Nikes’ feel like moments that could be humorous if Frank accepted they were gibberish. Instead, he lets us believe there’s some divine deeper meaning, which only frustrates me into thinking other messy moments aren’t as intentional as they seem. What if Frank simply forgot to insert the drum tracks into most of these songs? What if ‘Solo’ only has a solo meaning and no other interpretations?

Frank certainly tries a lot of daring things on this album. But sometimes it feels like he’s throwing random ideas at the canvas and seeing what sticks. Because he can.