“A collection of profound and epic album reviews and musical articles by former astronaut and brain surgeon, Alasdair Kennedy. Reaching levels of poetry that rival Keats and Blake, the following reviews affirm Alasdair to be a prodigy, a genius and a god whose opinion is always objectively right. He is also without a doubt the most modest man in the universe.” - Alasdair Kennedy
rising to fame on the back of singles and EPs, the most hated man in dubstep
has finally got round to producing his first full-length. What can be expected
from this album? Well, it’s Skrillex, which means lots and lots of impressively
irritating electronic noises.
opening track “All is Fair in Love and Brostep” kicks the album off with a slice
of signature Skrillex – a salvo of shrill, sonic squeals (too much alliteration?).
I was half-expecting the album to keep following this formula, but the producer
shows that he has a multitude of noises to offer. There are squeaky fart synths
such as on the track “Stranger” and robotic poodle barks on the track “Try it
out”. Then there’s the track “Doompy Poomp”. I don’t know what’s going on here
but it sure isn’t pleasant on the ear.
Skrillex doesn’t set out to create warm, ambient landscapes. His music is
designed for thrill-seekers. Its endorphin-releasing, speaker-testing noise for
drunk people who can’t dance and rebellious teens who want to alienate their
be content with this it if it wasn’t for the fact that this album is so unfocused. Yes, as diverse and creative as
the various sounds are on this album, none of the tracks feel all that
connected or fleshed out. He’s thrown all his ideas on the canvas willy-nilly without any care for the overall picture and what’s
left is a half-arsed mess. I expected something cleaner from the man who is secretly a mop.
Skrillex in both forms
wasn’t very nice Alasdair. Skrillex isn’t a mop, he’s a human being. Indeed, I’ve heard he’s one
of the nicest and most genuine people in the music industry that you're likely to meet and so I feel almost bad for
writing this negative review, but the truth is this album isn’t very good. Any
record with a track called “Doompy Poomp” on it is bound to be garbage. Even the
guests can’t salvage most of the record. Chance the Rapper lays down an embarrassingly
poor verse on “Coast is Clear” and the Ragga Twins offer some of the
most forgettable vocals in the history of mankind. Overall, Recess is an annoying ambling incohesive
muddle that’s likely to sell thousands of copies because, well, its Skrillex. The
greatest compliment I can give this album is that it’s not nearly as awful as that
Jezebels record I listened to the other week (Review here).
Freddie Gibbs? Hell, I don’t know. I listened to this album for beat extraordinaire,
Madlib. Transporting the listener back to the birth of hip hop, Pinata offers a backdrop of choppy, jazz
samples that conjure up images of the seventies. It’s a
style of beat that is uniquely Madlib’s – unoriginal to his fans perhaps, but
super-original in comparison to every other beatsmith around. The
only form of unoriginality on this album comes in the form of Freddie Gibbs.
Who’s Freddie Gibbs? I’ve told you already, I don’t know. Hang on a moment
whilst I do some research... #wikipedia
Gibbs grew up in Gary, Indiana. In 2006 he moved to California, after signing
up with Interscope records. He’s released five EPs, three LPs and a ton of
mixtapes. Some of his music was featured on the Grand Theft Auto V in-game
Grand Theft Auto V
This was my first exposure to Freddie Gibbs. He hasn't blown me away, although there's no denying he has talent. He's adept in
his flow and ability to rhyme and his lyrics show a refreshing degree of realism that's rare in the rap game nowadays. Still, I can’t help but feel
his subject matter, as genuine as it is, is a bit dull. His tone of delivery
isn’t very original either. Guest emcees such as Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt
and Raekwon showcase this – their individual and unique style of spitting making
his voice comparably bland.
could do with finding his own motif. He should try throwing in some more
tongue-in-cheek singing. His rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls” at the end of the
track “Robes” is hilarious.
“Sell that fix, throw it cross the map/push
my penis in between her lap/put my semen all down her throat/til’ Tito kilos
come off that boat”. Yeah, Schoolboy Q ain’t no William Blake. This record
is straightforward, boom-bap gangsta rap for blowing out Cadillac speakers. Granted,
not all the tracks are aggro, thug-life trap. There’s a definite diversity to the
beats demonstrated by some of the slower numbers such as the blazeworthy
“Collard Greens” featuring Kendrick Lamar. There’s even an unexpected love
track on here, “Studio”.
However, despite its deviancies into prettiness, the
tough guy image is where Schoolboy Q clearly feels at home. Of all the rappers
signed up to Top Dawg Entertainment, Schoolboy Q has the meanest and ugliest
delivery. He revels in gritty, gangster imagery and he knows how to lay down a
head-bopping hook. Unfortunately, there isn’t much novelty to his subject
Oxymoron’s a fun record for the most part, with some tracks that I’m
sure to return to (“Collard Greens”, “Hoover Street”, “Break the Bank”) but overall
it just isn’t my jam. All the guttural “yawk, yawk!” screams and penis
references are silly and just make me blush. I can’t play this stuff loud. What
would my neighbours think? What would my parents think? I need poetry and
introspection. Call me a nerd. That’s just how I roll.
Vincent is a Caribbean island, the largest island in St. Vincent and the
Grenadines. It is a major exporter of bananas and is known for sporting both white
AND black beaches. Its multiracial sands are not the only reason you should
visit St. Vincent this summer. Do you like turtles? Why not try scuba diving in
the island’s lush, blue waters?
This is a turtle
Vincent is also the fourth self-titled studio album by indie pop musician and Theremin
player, St. Vincent. I understand some of you may be more interested in this
St. Vincent rather than the Caribbean Island, which is perfectly reasonable
since this is a music blog.
a music video, which you can choose to watch if you so desire. Alternatively,
you can choose to ignore it. It’s a free world.
Clarke (AKA St. Vincent) has always been a bit left-field - her lyrics consistently
quirky, her multi-instrumentalist talents never going to waste. This time she’s
decided to really push the boat out musically. The oom-pa-pa trumpets and
parping bass in the track included above demonstrate this. Her new sound is a
strange and jarring musical experience that might leave an odd taste in some
people’s ears. However, the groove is undeniable and Annie’s lyrics, seemingly
nonsensical at first, swiftly reveal a deeper context that is fun to decipher.
for example, does she mean by snorting a piece of the Berlin wall? Lines like
these conjure up absurdly entertaining imagery, many employing peculiar
juxtapositions “fake knife, fake ketchup”
(so the knife is fake, but the ketchup is actually blood?). Most lyrically bizarre
of all however has to be the ballad “I prefer your love” in which she declares “I prefer your love to Jesus”. An
anti-prayer song it seems, she is declaring her love for her mother’s advice over
that of religious guidance.
over odd Bjork-like mishmashes of instrumentation with an infectiousness and
repetition of the likes of Annie Lennox, the lyrics have an abstract
feel that is also enjoyably poppy in tone. The freakish circus of sounds never
loses its sense of rhythm and songs are kept to a simple and modest four-minute
length. In essence, St Vincent is pure,
unadulterated art pop. Forget Lady Gaga’s cannibalisation of the term. This is
the real deal.
G.I.R.L is ten tracks of smile-inducing,
breezy, funk-pop and doesn’t try to be anything more. If you’re looking for
jazz flute solos, crazy time signatures and lyrics as deep as Atlantis then look elsewhere. The only experimental moment on this album is the
almost-eight-minute “Lost Queen”, which is really just two songs lumped
together under the same track title with some ambient wave noises thrown in the
This lack of pretentiousness is what gives
G.I.R.L its charm. There are also a lot of big names on this record to gawp at:
Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake. This isn’t much of a
surprise coming from Pharrell. Over the course of his career, the
N.E.R.D-rapper-turned-r&b-singer-and-producer has managed to work with
every musician in the known universe (probably musicians in unknown
universes too). Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, Azealia Banks, 2 Chainz, Cee-lo Green,
Mike Posner, Nelly, Hans Zimmer and Gary Glitter are just a handful of the
artists he worked with last year alone. Okay, so I made up the bit about Gary
Glitter. The point is, Pharrell has connections.
It was a daring choice to include Miley Cyrus
on this album, considering how marmite a musician she is. She stars on the
track “Come Get it Bae” which is an ode to the British aerospace company.
BAE = British Aerospace Engineering (that's what 'bae' means right?)
Now, as some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of
Miley. You only need to read my review of Bangerz to realise that (read here). Understandably,
some listeners will see her presence on this album as a pitfall. I don’t see it
as a pitfall. There are far greater flaws with this album.
Yes, that’s right, I think this album sadly has
flaws. This will ruffle a few people’s feathers, but I think the production is
an issue on G.I.R.L. Everything is a little too clean for my liking. I’m well
aware of the reputation Pharrell has as a master producer, and, yes, he knows how
to polish up sounds and make them crisp. However, keeping the album sounding
human is important, and some of instruments have been so overproduced on this
record that they might as well all have been programmed by computers.
The lyrics also get a little too dumb in places – even by
pop standards. There are corny lines littered throughout this record and whilst
the majority of the tracks stay classy, even Pharrell can’t make the image of a
“gushing” pussy sound smooth.
Saying that, this album’s overarching
positive aura cannot be ignored. If you’re feeling down in the dumps and you
want something cheap and cheerful to lift your spirits, this album is the
perfect prescription. “Happy” is, in my opinion, this album’s highlight and one
of the best pop singles to hit the radio in months. The appeal of this record can also be enjoyed by multiple generations. The album's got a definite retro funky flair but is equally modern through its use of urban slang and pop culture references and use of current guest stars.