Monday, 30 December 2013

Review of "Beyoncé" by Beyoncé


Well done Beyoncé for becoming a mother, but did little baby Ivy Blue really need to make a vocal contribution on the final track? Did we really need another duet between you and your darling husband, Jay-Z, to show us how “Drunk in Love” the two of you are? Did I really just hear you utter the line “Can you lick my skittles?” on the track “Blow”?

This latest album by Beyoncé (entitled Beyoncé) is certainly not short of corny moments. However, to call it a bad album would certainly be an insult. The rock-loving, pop-hating part of me that values its masculinity wanted to dislike this album. Beyoncé writes songs about women ruling the world and all that other stuff that men fear. Perhaps it was the lack of bra-burning and the greater focus on sexiness that made this album largely enjoyable to me. Maybe it was the fact that musically, this album was actually pretty damn decent.

The pop shackles have been broken and this new album sees Beyoncé taking a freer, less commercial approach to music, much like Lady Gaga did on her recent release, Artpop. Tracks such as Haunted break the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure, whilst incorporating a wide array of R&b, hip hop and electronic instrumentals. Unlike Artpop, however this record contains charm. Lyrically, each track is introspective and meaningful. Although the songs lack a certain catchiness, they make up for it by employing an infectiously positive aura that makes it impossible not to feel proud of Beyoncé’s life achievements and proud to be alive.

It’s a sugary album, sometimes sickeningly sugary but overall gratifying. 


TRACK TASTER:


Friday, 20 December 2013

Review of "Because the Internet" by Childish Gambino


Childish Gambino is the hip hop stage name used by American actor, writer and comedian, Donald Glover. Not to be confused with Lethal Weapon actor, Danny Glover.

“Rap music? I’m too old for that shit.”
There seems to some confusion over whether Childish Gambino is a character devised by Glover or just a guise to conceal the celebrity’s true self. I will admit, it’s hard to connect with Gambino’s lyrics when you’re not sure how “real” he is. This is how I see it: Actor, Donald Glover (not to be confused with Danny Glover), has become a rapper taking on the stage name Childish Gambino, in which he plays the persona of a rich kid who is in turn pretending to be a kid from the ghetto. Have I got that right? Probably not.

Let’s put all identity issues aside and focus on the music, because the music’s the important part. This second album sees Glover getting a little less self-deprecating, overall creating a more fun listening experience. The lyrical theme throughout the record seems to be “the internet”, as the title “because the internet” suggests, with Glover filling each track with plenty of witty computer-related references and wordplay. Glover’s humorous and intelligent ability to play with language is just one of multiple talents. He raps like a true pro and even has a pretty sweet singing voice, altogether not too dissimilar in tone to that of Frank Ocean.

The smorgasbord of different flavoured beats is without a doubt one of the album’s greatest highlights. From the jazzy guitar arpeggios on “Shadows” to the bouncy synth chords on”3005” to the loopy, murky bassline on “No Exit”, the album stays captivating. It can get almost irritating how often Glover interrupts the flow of his verses and instrumentals in order to chuck in a quick quip, a obscure sound or a choppy cut. At the same time the jerky edits do add a certain aesthetic style to the album. Gambino needs his own style, as at times the album can feel all a bit messy, as if Glover is trying to throw too many ideas into the mix and they won’t all fit without spilling over the sides.


TRACK TASTER:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review of "Aleph" by Gesaffelstein


Aleph is a cold and dark techno journey through futuristic hell. The Dr Frankenstein behind this brilliantly evil creation is a Frenchman named Mike Lévy (aka Gesaffelstein (I hope I've spelt that correctly (lots of brackets!!!))). He produced two tracks on Kanye West’s Yeezus. It seems I can’t write a review nowadays without Kanye’s name making an impromptu appearance.
 
Yo Gestaplestein, i'm really happy for you and i'mma let you finish but Yeezus was the best album of ALL TIME!
I first discovered Gewafflestein after being exposed to his bass-heavy monster of a track, “Pursuit”. The impressive music video with its slow, suspenseful zoom-out shots might just be my favourite music video of the year. However, it’s the menacing nature of the music that helps the video to be as powerful as it is. I’m used to metal bands like Meshuggah and Rammstein chugging out such aggressive melodies. The ability to create such melodies electronically is clearly Gelatospleen’s signature.




Every beat on Aleph feels as if it were punched out on an assembly line in some dimly-lit dystopian factory. Even the softer tracks such as “Nameless” and “Values” with their brooding instrumental build ups still seem to carry a largely robotic pulse. Vocalist, Chloe Renault, offers spoken word soliloquies on two of the tracks, her lyrics made up of abstract imagery. Combined with her strange accent (what is that? Parisienne-American?) it has quite a disorientating effect.

The album is an intense listen – perhaps a little too intense as a whole. All the tracks carry good ideas, but some of these ideas could be trimmed down into two-minute teasers in order to make the entire album more digestible in one listen. Brevity is the soul of wit. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2013

The year is coming to an end and its time to have a look back at 2013's greatest albums. Here are 20 of my personal favourites.

20 – 10

20. Incitare – Volto!

Prog rock/jazz fusion album, featuring Danny Carey - the drummer from Prog metal band, Tool. Its pretentious, instrumental show-offery but I love it nonetheless.
Favourite tracks: “Drumbeaux”, “Tocino”

19. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 – Eminem

Shady’s back, bringing with him hyper-speed flows and brilliantly entertaining wordplay. The legend reaffirms his position as king of rap - or should I say, “rap god”.
Favourite tracks: “Love Game (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”, “Evil Twin”


18. Drenge – Drenge

This is angst-ridden, moody, British grunge. I like my rock n roll to be rock n roll and this holds back no punches, teeming with raw riffs to smash up your bedroom to and utterly unromantic track titles like “People in Love Make me Feel Yuck” and “I Want to Break you in Half”.
Favourite tracks: “Bloodsports”, “Let’s Pretend”

17. Abandon All Life – Nails

Only 17 minutes in length, Abandon All Life makes up for its brevity by cramming its 17 minutes with some of the heaviest, loudest, most brutal grindcore ever created. A face-melting, bone-crushing thrill ride that will probably just sound like plain, old noise to most sane people.
Favourite tracks: “God’s Cold Hands”, “Suum Cuique”

16. The Night’s Gambit – Ka

Thinking man’s hip hop. Ka delivers some truly poetic wordplay over dark yet subtle beats. Definitely give the last track, "Off the Record", a gander if you’re a hip hop fan. It’s an entire song made up of famous rap album titles.
Favourite tracks: “Jungle”, “Off the Record”

15. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

If you haven’t heard of Daft Punk, JUMP OFF A CLIFF!!!! (I'm kidding, but honestly...) The French house music giants have been stealing the radio airwaves this year, reviving disco music. A great album to chill and unwind to and a fantastic tribute to the roots of electronic music.
Favourite tracks: “Doin ‘ it right (feat Panda Bear)”, “Contact”

14. Anything in Return – Toro y Moi

Chillwave - the happy-medium between house music and lounge music - is a genre that Toro y Moi is the master of. The album makes for perfect, soothing background music with enough of a subtle groove to get the head bobbing.
Favourite tracks: “Harm in Change”, “Say That”

13. Target Earth – Voivod

Prog/thrash metal full of strange and dissonant chords and riffs that make me want to scrunch up my face like I’m eating sour sweets. Despite losing lead guitarist, Piggy, the band have managed to maintain their signature sound and honour his memory.
Favourite tracks: “Target Earth”, “Mechanical Mind”

12. Overgrown – James Blake

Ethereal, soft, electronic r&b with some beautifully tortured vocals from James Blake, drenched in ghostly reverb.
Favourite tracks: “Overgrown”, “Retrograde”






11. Government Plates – Death Grips

As forward-thinking as ever, Death Grips continue to pump out their brand of experimental, hyper-aggressive hip hop, this time making the instrumentation the emphasis. The beats are more "noided" than ever.
Favourite tracks: “Anne Bonny”, “Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)”


10 – 1

10. Like Clockwork… - Queens of the Stone Age

Stoner rock band, QOTSA, get a little gloomier and less aggressive, delivering what might be their best album yet in my opinion. No track feels redundant and Josh Homme really plays with his vocal range.
Favourite tracks: “The Vampyre of Time and Memory”, “Kalopsia”, “I Appear Missing”

9. The Next Day – David Bowie

Whoever said getting older makes you less creative was wrong. At 66, Bowie shows he’s still full of musical ideas. He merges together every style he’s ever experimented with, topping it off with newly edgy lyrics and a uniquely hazy production style. Ignore the silly album cover.
Favourite tracks: “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, “If You Can See Me”, “Heat”
8. Wolf – Tyler the Creator

The Odd Future, cockroach-eating rapper is still as obnoxious as ever but I think you’d be equally obnoxious to ignore his talent. Two of the tracks see him really getting fairly emotional and there’s none of the OTT “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School” shock value of Goblin. His jazzy, melancholy beats are brilliant too. I'm slowly becoming a Tyler fanboy.
Favourite tracks: “Jamba”, “Answer”, “Tamale”

7. Nostalgic 64 – Denzel Curry

Floridian new-kid-on-the-block rapper plays with hard-hitting trap and cloud-rap beats, spitting some truly gritty bars. “Your mama ain’t shit, your daddy ain’t shit, and then you realise that life is a bitch”. Pretty dismal but a refreshing break from all the glorified gangsta arrogance of other current hip hop artists.
Favourite tracks: “Parents”, “N64”, “Denny Cascade”

6. MBV – My Bloody Valentine

This is the shoegaze rock band’s first album in 21 years (that’s my entire lifetime!). Loud and distorted guitars play beautiful melodies creating a dreamlike state that no other band can imitate. Listening to this, I imagine myself stood on a clifftop, the music echoing at me across the sea from God’s 300ft speakers. These dudes overwhelm me.
Favourite tracks: “Only Tomorrow”, “Who Sees You”, “Wonder 2”

5. The Terror – The Flaming Lips

Hands down, the trippiest, goddamn thing I’ve ever heard! The album lives up to its name, The Terror, playing out like a nightmare. Psychadelic rock group, The Flaming Lips, are known for their avante garde tendencies, but this is on a separate plain of reality.
Favourite tracks: “Look… the Sun is Rising”, “Be Free, a Way”, “You Lust”
4. Altered State – Tesseract

Tesseract take the dissonant prog metal style of “djent” and manage to make it so melodic, that at times it feels almost ambient. The band do away with cookie monster vocals, employing new vocalist Ashe O’Hara. His clean, high register vocals expertly contrast the bassy, highly distorted guitar riffage. Metal album of the year.
Favourite tracks: “Nocturne”, “Eclipse”, “Singularity”


3. Settle – Disclosure


Disclosure revive the feelgood factor of 90s house and garage music, giving it modern production, to create some awesome, summery, glossy, energetic, babymaking music. The synth chords are smooth and sweet as hot chocolate and the vocal contributions are all flawless.
Favourite tracks: “When a Fire Starts to Burn”, “White Noise feat. AlunaGeorge”, “Voices feat. Sasha Keable”

2. The Electric Lady – Janelle Monae


Dizzying in its sheer variety, Janelle has managed to make an r&b odyssey that plays out like a movie, interspersed with orchestral interludes, comical robot radio station skits, epic guitar solos, rapped verses and whatever else she can throw at the listener. It’s a truly impressive record, due to Janelle’s divine ability to replicate pretty much every r&b vocal style out there, and it’s so fast paced that it never grows dull.
Favourite tracks: “Electric Lady”, “Dance Apocalyptic”, “Ghetto Woman”

1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (MY ALBUM OF THE YEAR!)


This hip hop masterpiece is the work of El-P and Killer Mike, two veteran underground rappers who have decided to team up for double-awesomeness. The flows on this thing are insane, the lyrical quips are witty and the beats are massive. There are no money-making gimmicks or attempts to be preachy. The album stays fun throughout. The duo have already suggested doing more albums together in the future under the same name. I’m psyched to hear more from them!
Favourite tracks: “Banana Clipper feat. Big Boi”, “Ddfn”, “Sea Legs”

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR?

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

13 - Black Sabbath
Comedown Machine - The Strokes
Doris - Earl Sweatshirt
One of Us is the Killer - The Dillinger Escape Plan
Acid Rap - Chance the Rapper
Vexovoid - Portal
Vapor City - Machinedrum
Ed Rec, Vol. X - EdBanger Records (Various Artists)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review of "Bangerz" by Miley Cyrus


OMG!!!!!!1!!1! NEW MILEY CYRUS ALBUM *FAINTS* #DIEDANDGONETOHEAVEN. HAVE SPENT THE LAST 2 MONTHS LISTENING TO IT 24/7 AND IT RUUUUUUUULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’VE BEEN A MILEY FAN SINCE THE HANNAH MONTANA DAYS. SHE’S MY IDOL #GOD. SHE CAN ACT. SHE CAN SING. SHE CAN TWERK. MILEY HAS THE FULL PACKAGE. I’M MILEY’S BIGGEST FAN. I HAVE ALL HER MEMORABILIA. I HAVE A MILEY CYRUS TOASTER. I HAVE A POSTER OF HER ON THE CEILING ABOVE MY BED. SHE FILLS MY WAKING THOUGHTS AND MAKES UP MY DREAMS. I DOWNLOADED HER ALBUM THE SECOND IT LEAKED. I PREORDERED IT ON CD AND HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO IT EVERY DAY SINCE. I’VE PREORDERED 5 COPIES OF IT ON VINYL. I DON’T EVEN OWN A RECORD PLAYER!!!!!! #LOL #ROFL #ILLUMINATI

SO LIKE THIS ALBUM’S BEEN OUT FOR LIKE 2 MONTHS NOW AND I THOUGHT I’D LIKE GIVE MY OPINION ON IT AND DO THIS REVIEW SINCE I AM MILEY’S BIGGEST FAN AND THEREFORE AN EXPERT ON ALL THINGS MILEY CYRUS RELATED SO LIKE LETS BEGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE ALBUM STARTS WITH MY FAVOURITE TRACK CALLED “ADORE YOU”. ITS A BALLAD. ITS BEAUTIFUL <3 XXX J IT ALSO MAKES ME FEEL SAD BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT BALLADS DO.

THE SECOND TRACK IS CALLED “WE CAN’T STOP”. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS SONG!!! IT’S PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM. ITS ALL ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO STOP PARTYING BECAUSE PARTYING WITH MILEY IS SO FUN AND IF I WAS INVITED TO ONE OF MILEY’S PARTIES I’D NEVER WANT IT TO STOP. IT’S A SONG ABOUT NOT WANTING TO FACE THE END. LIFE’S TOO FAST. BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT #deep #YOLO

THE THIRD TRACK WHICH IS PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE IS CALLED “BANGERZ”. IT HAS BRITNEY SPEARS IN IT. SHE’S THAT SINGER WHO WENT CRAZY AT ONE POINT BECAUSE SHE GOT FAMOUS TOO YOUNG. THE BEAT IN THIS SONG IS BANGING #AMAZEBALLS #SWAGGALICIOUS

THEN THERE’S THE FOURTH TRACK WHICH IS CALLED “4X4”. IT HAS NELLY IN IT. HE’S THAT SINGER THAT THINKS ITS GETTING TOO HOT IN HERE SO EVERYONE SHOULD TAKE OFF THEIR CLOTHES #GLOBALWARMING. MILEY SINGS ABOUT HOW SHE’S DRIVING SO FAST SHE’S GOING TO PISS HERSELF. ITS MAGICAL. PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM

AFTER THE FOURTH TRACK COMES THE SIXTH TRACK. THIS ONES CALLED “WRECKING BALL”. EVERYONE’S HEARD THIS SONG. ITS WITHOUT A DOUBT MY FAVOURITE. HERE’S THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR IT. MILEY GETS NAKED AND RIDES A WRECKING BALL #SAUCY





AFTER THE TENTH TRACK WE GET THE SIXTEENTH TRACK WHICH IS CALLED “HANDS IN THE AIR” AND WHICH IS WITHOUT A DOUBT MY FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM. IT MAKES ME WANT TO PUT MY HANDS IN THE AIR. I PLAY THIS SONG CONSTANTLY, WHILST DRIVING, WHILST AT AUCTION THEATRES. THIS SONG WILL BE PLAYED AT MY WEDDING THE DAY I EVENTUALLY MARRY MILEY CYRUS.

OVERALL THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME EVER IN MY OPINION. ITS BETTER THAN PINK FLOYD’S WHITE ALBUM. IT’S THE BEST ALBUM SINCE JUSTIN BIEBER’S BELIEVE. I CAN’T RATE IT HIGHLY ENOUGH. FIVE STARS DOESN’T LIKE GIVE IT JUSTICE SO I’M GOING TO GIVE IT 6 STARS!!!

 OOPS THATS SLIGHTLY MORE THAN 6 STARS OH WELL WHATEVER #CARPEDIEM #YOLO #TROLOLOLOL...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review of "Artpop" by Lady Gaga


This meat-dress wearing alien from planet MTV, Lady Gaga, has rapidly mastered the art of making cookie-cut pop for the masses. She knows how to make her music catchy, fun and danceable. I’ve never liked Gaga BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING HIPSTER. Well, to be totally honest, I have had the odd track burrow itself in my brain and induce humming in the shower but no-one needs to know about that little secret (oh …darn it! too late…)

Gaga’s last album, which I didn’t listen to, managed to sell pretty well I believe. Gaga even had surgery before the album’s release, transforming herself into a half-motorbike, half-human mutant. The things people do for their fans.

Kill it with fire!

Now, Gaga has decided to release Artpop, her third studio album. She’s had the genius idea of merging art and pop (because no-one’s ever tried that before…).

To give her some credit, Lady Gaga is an intelligent girl. I’ve seen interviews with her and I get a sense she’s brimming with creativity, but that she chooses to pump this creativity into her image rather than her sound. Artpop sees her coming out of her shell a bit, playing with odd instrumentals such as on the title track “Artpop” and 80s inspired electro sounds on “Do What U Want”. However, when it comes down to the lyrical content, Gaga is still choosing to play it dumbed down, clinging onto her pop sensibilities with choruses like “Mary Jane Holland”. I get it, it’s a song about smoking pot in Holland and oh, songs about drugs are soooo controversial, but what's it all really about? Where’s the poetry? The depth? The answer is that there isn’t any, because Gaga fears that her mainstream listeners will abandon her if she gets too poetic, if she gets too deep.

I think sometimes it works to have a song that’s straight to the point. Sexxx Dreams is very daring in this respect, lacking in innuendo, going for a succinct approach to sex. Men are always getting overtly sexual, and the moment a female artist tries to tackle the same slant, they get slut-shamed. Props to Gaga for having the guts to do it.

I did like some of the tracks, namely the club banger “Swine” and funky, girly, guilty-pleasure-of-a-track “Fashion!”. They were both pretty fun. That’s what this album does well: its fun. However, none of the tracks speak to me in the way I like music to. Gaga has tried to make her sound meet her wild image, but it still feels very restrained. 



TRACK TASTER:

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review of "Government Plates" by Death Grips


Death grips are a type of lethal technique that ninjas and Vulcans use to kill people.


Death Grips is also a hyper-aggressive, experimental hip hop group from California. We’re going to be focusing on the latter in this review.

Subtlety has never been one of Death Grips’ most prized assets. The album artwork on their last record, No Love Deep Web, consisted of a giant erect penis. Here’s a censored picture of the album cover:



Here’s an uncensored picture of the album cover:


Oh sorry, that’s actually a picture of me. oops...

Before releasing No Love Deep Web, Death Grips released an album entitled The Money Store. It had a gimp with boobs on the front of it.


Their latest album, Government Plates (the album we'll be focusing on in this review), has a government plate on the front of it and is therefore not as controversial or interesting as its predecessors, and therefore A TERRIBLE ALBUM.

Album artwork for 'Government Plates'



END OF REVIEW.


just kidding, just kidding, jeeeeeeez...


Musically, Government Plates is everything you can expect from Death Grips. In other words it’s totally unpredictable and utterly unmusical in every way possible.

Death Grips lavish in trying to be as disorientating and ugly as possible. They are the death metal of hip hop. Here, the group continue to push boundaries, experimenting with new musical ideas and obscure sounds never experimented with before. The emphasis on this album is on the crazy instrumentation rather than the crazy vocals, making this more of an experimental electronic album than an experimental hip hop album. Producer, Flatlander, forges some of his most abrasive beats, swamping them in digital effects and distortion. So much is going on musically that it feels almost impossible to keep up with it all. This overwhelming, dizzying mood is what I love about Death Grips. Here, they’re at their most dizzying and overwhelming.

The first track and the last track are arguably my favourites. The first is the ridiculously named “You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It's Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. Vocalist, MC Ride, turns batshit insane rapping some of his most frantic verses to date, each verse split up with pummeling, headbangable bass breakdowns. Meanwhile, the last track, “Whatever I Want” is schizophrenic house music for aliens on ecstasy. It contains perhaps the only vocal hook on the album “fuck who’s watching!!!”, hammered at the listener over and over again in an almost comical fashion. Perhaps the album’s one only pitfall is its lack of MC Ride throughout the remainder of the album. He has much fewer verses on this album and the few contributions he does make are overly edited, chopped and screwed with, removing the human element. He helped the noise on previous albums have context.

Saying that, this is still essentially Death Grips and they continue to blow my mind with their originality. It’s incredible that this is their fourth album in three years and that they’re still progressing and still oozing with creativity that no other musician can rival.

Kanye, take note. 



TRACK TASTER:

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Review of "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" by Eminem


Guess who’s back? Back again (Yes, I had to use that opening line!).

This is the eagerly awaited comeback-to-a-comeback-to-a-comeback album, the final attempt of Eminem’s to put his white ass back on the hip hop throne. Relapse and Recovery, his two previous releases, failed to recapture the real slim shady. As Mathers states on the first track of this record “last album now because after this you’ll be officially done”.

Most artists come to a point where they accept they've passed their peak. Not Eminem. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 sees him with a belly full of fire, eager to prove he’s still got it, that at forty he’s still the best, that he’s more than the best, not just a rap king, but  - as the already-hit single clearly states - a “rap god”.

The last musician I heard claim that they were a "god" was Kanye West on his previous album Yeezus. I slated that album on this blog – mainly because I detested Kanye’s arrogance. If you call yourself a god you have to be prepared to prove that you are more than talented, that you are exceptional in every way.

Can Eminem get away with such a claim? Is he exceptional in every way? Arguably, yes.

The track “Rap God” is a master class on flow. Eminem’s ability to spit bars at speed whilst staying intelligible and conveying emotion is an ability that I think no rapper equals. The rest of the album proves Eminem has the full package. He puts his creativity and talent into really entertaining his listener at every possible second. The second track “Rhyme or reason” kicks off with some disturbingly hilarious imagery “It’s like handing a psycho a loaded gun/Michelangelo with a paintgun in a tantrum/bout’ to explode on a canvas” and then heads without warning into a verse delivered in Yoda-speak. When Eminem isn’t playing with shock value and comedy, he’s tugging sharply on the heart-strings with emotionally-charged tracks like “Headlights”. His mother, who he’s spent his whole career dissing for his tough upbringing, gets a truly poignant apology. It is Em’s ability to invoke such strong emotions through rap that makes him a God.

Perhaps my favourite track on the album is “Love Game” featuring Kendrick Lamar. This generation’s greatest rapper teams up with the original greatest rapper and instead of transforming into what could have been a rap battle between old and new, the song comes across a playful, fun collaboration between generations. Kendrick uses his verse to show the influence that Eminem has had on him, experimenting with different voices in a Slim Shady fashion.



It’s all been compliments up until now. Eminem undoubtedly proves himself to be the perfect rapper, which might suggest that this is the perfect hip hop album – but no it isn’t. Nearly, but not quite.

Musically, there are a few little potholes in the road, those being the beats and hooks. Some of the choruses such as on “Asshole” are just a tad too cheesy for my liking, as well as the instrumentation used on tracks like “Survival”. Also, Eminem’s singing voice can come off a little like a dying cat dragging its nails down a blackboard, such as on the track “Stronger than I Was”.



Stick to rapping, Em. You’re much better at it.

Nonetheless, I’m not going to let the odd cringe-worthy moment ruin an album for me that in other parts proves itself to be exceptional. Take this album from a rapping perspective and there’s little to fault. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Review of "MellowHigh" by MellowHigh


This album’s DOPE. I can’t rate it HIGHly enough. Okay, that’s enough dreadful weed-related puns.

Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Left Brain – three members of the rap collective Odd Future – have teamed together to create this new project, MellowHigh, hip hop designed specifically to get baked to. The beats produced by Left Brain are chilled as bongwater. Whilst on occasions they can come across as a little clunky or simply uninspired, other tracks such as the smooth “Yu” with its sampled piano chords show Left Brain has beat-smithing talent. Hodgy and Domo spit some killer lines over the top. Subject matter is largely limited to smoking up, but the two rappers offer enough creative imagery and quips to keep things interesting. What they sadly lack is their own personality. Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt stand out from the Odd Future crowd because of their characteristic identities. Hodgy and Domo give me no hint as to who they really are. Yes, they’re stoners, but that's hardly a personality trait.

The album definitely has its own sound – drowsy and aptly mellow - and there are no tracks that I think are downright terrible. However, overall, it just doesn’t grip me all that much, perhaps because of a lack of hooks and personality. 


TRACK TASTER:


Friday, 1 November 2013

Review of "Melophobia" by Cage the Elephant


This alternative rock act from the tobacco-smoking, bourbon drinking, fried-chicken-famed Bluegrass State of Kentucky have always had the potential to be complete and utter nutters, but they seem to have squandered this potential. I received a similar feeling of slight disappointment on their last record, Thankyou, happy birthday. The Jello-Biafra-style warbles and screams and the dark and visceral, Pixies-influenced instrumentation made the album feel absolutely and beautifully chaotic in parts. However, there seemed to be an equal amount of tracks that came across as boringly sane.

Cage the nt elepha?
Melophobia suffers from the same amount of tedious sanity. The band have definitely grown more musically varied, incorporating horns and falsetto vocals, but amongst the mad moments (the piano freakout at the end of Its Just Forever comes to mind as well as the skippy moment in Spiderhead that made me think my computer had crashed) there are parts of this record that just remain bland. The last track, so forgettable I can’t remember its name, comes as a giant anti-climax after the whacky screwball of a track, Teeth, which features a zany sax solo and a bizarre spoken soliloquy. I know that for some people the lighters-up ballads will be the highlights, but I prefer the unhinged side to this band because personally it’s more interesting to me (probably because I’m a little unhinged myself).

This album has its brilliant moments but it could be made better if the group embraced the psycho-Mr. Bungle in them. 


TRACK TASTER:

Monday, 7 October 2013

7 Big New Genres in Electronic Music

Human beings have always had an OCD tendency to label things into neat little categories. Since 2010 there has been a rise in new music genres. The revolutionising seems to all be happening in the electronic music scene. Here are a few new supposed genres that are being proclaimed as “the next big thing”. Whether they will become the next big thing is a subject of debate. Personally, I reckon half these genres will be buried and forgotten in five years time. Still, knowing about them is fun.

Trap               

Run da TRAAP! Damn son where d’you find this? Trap is probably the biggest, most popular, most credible genre on this list. You remember that little thing called the Harlem Shake?





Instrumentally speaking, trap is a mid-tempo dance genre characterised by its use of skittery hi-hats and deep, resonant bass drums. 2013 has seen the genre particularly take off with acts like Baueer and Flosstradamus spearheading the movement. Many are heralding it as the new dubstep.

Trap began as a form of hip hop in the noughties. American rappers employed bassy, obtrusive beats to accompany their aggressive, drug-addled lyrics. This style of trap rap has also seen an upsurge in popularity this year. Notable artists include A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Denzel Curry and Wokka Flokka Flame.





Chillwave

I’ve heard people describing this as a hipster genre but I suppose people will prescribe that term to any new musical genre that thinks outside the box. The moment I heard chillwave was a hipster genre, I stopped listening to it, because I’m no hipster. I WAS INTO CHILLWAVE BEFORE IT WAS COOL. PERFECT MUSIC TO LISTEN TO ON THE WALKMAN WHILST TAKING THE SEGWAY TO THE THRIFT STORE

Anyhow, Chillwave (also known as glo-fi) is a smooth, electronic, synth-heavy genre often smothered in effects processing to create a glossy, ambient feel. Its stuff to chill to, as the name chillwave suggests. Dance music meets lounge music. Notable artists include Toro y Moi, Washed Out and XXYYXX.

Give this track a whirl. It’s the bomb!





Future-garage

Counterculture’s response to all that noisy dubstep and glitch-hop stuff. Future-garage places melody over trying to be loud and in-your-face. It’s a cool, new dance genre that takes influence from deep house, UK garage and trip hop, throwing in a bit of a retro vibe.

You’ll find a million debates online surrounding what and what isn’t future-garage. Other names for the genre include Chillstep and Post-dubstep. Pedantic dance-music-Nazis will argue that chillstep and post-dubstep are separate genres. Some artists that I personally think fit the bill include Disclosure, Burial, Joy Orbison and SBTRKT.





Again, this is being labelled as a hipster genre. I’LL START LISTENING TO IT WHEN ITS NO LONGER POPULAR #past-future-garage#irony#i’m so ironic that I no longer know what ironic means

Witch house

This is where we start venturing into the less credible genres, the genres that are unlikely to build up any Beatles-sized following, the genres that - as a principle - just sound stupid.

Witch house is occult themed house music with a dark ambient feel. Artists use pretentious Unicode symbols in their names such as and in the hope of keeping the genre underground. It’s a silly genre that comes across as a little dull to me. Hype over the genre seems to have already faded suggesting the microtrend is thankfully already on the decline.

Notable artists include Salem, oOoOO, AIMON and †‡† (Ritualz).





Vaporwave

Cheesy sampled music taken from eighties TV ads and video game menus, looped and screwed with a bit. Its blatant nostalgia, slightly slowed down and distorted to sound a little bit more nostalgic. Tim and Eric spoofed this kind of music in their comedy TV series and now there’s a serious genre for it.

Some artists include Internet Club, James Ferraro and Mackintosh Plus





Seapunk

Contradictory to what you might expect, Seapunk contains no elements of punk whatsoever. More of a fashion fad than a music genre, fans of seapunk dress in aquatic colours and worship Ecco the Dolphin, a 90s Sega Genesis character of whom I’m too young and baby-faced to remember. Musically, the genre is a blend of 90s house and garage with lots of trap-influenced sub-bass thrown in. Many songs have lyrical themes centred predictably around water and the sea.

Notable artists include Zombelle and Drexciya. Rihanna and Azealia Banks have even given the whim a go.





Slimepunk

Seapunk's bastard son. Fans dress in shades of snot-green. The music sounds like seapunk but slimier.


As for snowpunk, well, let's not even go there.


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Review of "Nostalgic 64" by Denzel Curry


Forget those dumbed-down dudes in A$AP Mob. This is how trap rap is done properly.

Up-and-coming, Floridian rapper – Denzel Curry – manages to pinpoint the niche between high brow and low brow. Beneath lashings of ultraviolence and excessive barrages of n-bombs lie moments of clever imagery that prove Curry is more than your run-of-the-mill Lil Wayne. Not only does his lyricism demonstrate this, but so does his flow. He has speed, clarity and more importantly rhythmical variation. The instrumentation, however, is what really captivated me on my first listen. Creepy horrorcore meets Nintendo, topped with skittery trap drumming. The first half of the album tests the subwoofers. Bass drums are left to resonate like muffled explosions. The second half meanwhile takes the listener above the clouds, incorporating sweet chords and distant, echoing synths.

This is an album that I can see myself being hooked to for a while. I think Curry shows real potential. If he can improve upon his vocal tone, which has a slightly generic feel to it, he could really make a name for himself. 


TRACK TASTER: