Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Worst Songs of 2015


2015 has had some great musical moments. But every year has its lows. It's time to rummage through the garbage. I wish I could say that there was some positive goal behind this list, but there isn't - we're all sadists who love to indulge in a brutal panning now and again. Praise is boring.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2015

Here it is - my favourite albums of 2015 BC! What a great year for music! The Ancient Egyptian lute scene was at it's peak. What do you mean they didn't have albums back then? Not even vinyl? Then what the hell am I supposed to write about? You want my favourite albums of AD 2015? Oh, alright then...

20-11

20. Butter Fly - Lee Scott

Butter-obsessed UK rapper Lee Scott combines entertainingly oddball rhymes and warped jazzy beats on this quirky record.

Favourite Tracks: 'Don't Make Me', 'Eight O'Clock In The Morning'



19. Sour Soul - Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD

Playing out like a Bond movie soundtrack, this epic collab between Wu-famous rapper Ghostface Killah and Canadian jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD has grown on me. Excuse the 3 star review.

Favourite Tracks: 'Gunshowers', 'Ray Gun'

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Review of 'Garden of Delete' by Oneohtrix Point Never


Experimental US producer Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) has delivered this new electronic epic inspired by hypergrunge band, Kaoss Edge.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Review of 'Product' by SOPHIE



What's that below, you ask? I'll tell you what it is. It's a 'skin safe odourless and tasteless platinum silicon product' of course.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Top 10 Most Bizarre Christmas Albums


Tired of hearing the same Christmas songs year after after? Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas’ no longer invoking those feelings of festive nostalgia but rather encouraging feelings of PTSD? In need of some alternative yuletide anthems? Why not give these records a gander. The perfect accompaniment to your roast goose. Or roast turkey. Or roast ostrich if you're really dead set on taking this alternative Christmas thing to the next level.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Review of 'AQUARIA' by Boots


Boots (not to be confused with Little Boots, Moon Boots or Puss in Boots) is an American singer and electronic producer. Some of you may know him as the dude who produced Beyoncé’s ‘Haunted’. Some of you may now him as the dude who produced that recent FKA Twigs EP. Some of you may know him as the guest vocalist on that Run the Jewels track ‘Early’. Some of you may not know him at all, in which case don’t despair, I’m here to fill you in.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Review of 'Purpose' by Justin Bieber


It's 2015 and Justin Bieber is no longer that mop-haired squeaky-voiced Canadian kid singing schmaltzy love songs for fourteen-year-old girls. No, he's now a fully-grown adult male human being with tats and a six-pack making club anthems for his fellow twenty-something drinkers.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Review of 'Me' by Empress Of


This new avant-garde dance-pop album is the masterful work of Honduran-American singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez AKA Empress of.

Empress of what? I tried googling an explanation behind the artist's name but came back empty-handed. Unsurprisingly, a lot of fans have been asking the same question, so much so that Lorely almost titled her album 'what? lol' so that the album text would read 'Empress of what? Lol'.

However, for better or worse, she decided against that idea, instead titling the album 'Me' as to read 'Empress of Me', which is fitting considering all the songs on this record are about taking charge of oneself. Following a personal breakup and produced and written in the solitude of her Mexico City lakehouse, 'Me' is an album inspired by being left on one's lonesome. The lyrics see Lorely indecisively coming to terms with her newfound single-ness, mourning the loss of her ex one moment and fiercely embracing her independence the next: 'Can I get up off my knees and find a rhythm of my own?'. It's an album about letting go of that bae that used to whip you, whilst at the same time wanting them back. It's an album about being your own empress but not quite knowing how.

Empress Of  looking troubled


Vocally, Lorely captures this inner turmoil well - sounding both positively bouncy and dejectedly sighful. This inner turmoil is also reflected in the quirky beats (produced by Lorely herself!). The energy is upbeat and danceable but the sounds used are twisted and pained, comprised of over-distorted digital drums and sour synths. The most noticeable example of this is the track 'Water Water', which starts with sad wails over dissonant chord splodges, later evolving into a bright house tune of sorts.

Clearly the aim is to create a confused mixture of emotions. The result is a sound that is entirely unique. To some degree you could call these pop songs - they're catchy and charmingly simple in structure. However, the strange palette of sounds and the tortured lyrics add a complexity that prevents any of these from being radio-worthy, appealing more to underground junkies like myself. I guess there are slightly Bjork-ish tones to her voice, but otherwise she's the empress of her own musical style.


TRACK TASTER:


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Review of 'Delirium' by Ellie Goulding


Ellie Goulding has a voice like a cartoon mouse on helium. I’m not sure it’s a cadence I’m entirely keen on, but I respect it’s individuality. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Review of 'The Anthropocene Extinction' by Cattle Decapitation



San Diego deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation have dropped the hippy ethos. No longer are all their members vegetarians and no longer do they write songs about mankind's mistreatment of animals. Instead, they've turned to psychopathic songs about their hatred of humanity.

Their last album contained romantic song titles such as ‘A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat’ and ‘Dead Set on Suicide’. This album meanwhile settles for less explicit (but equally misanthropic) titles such as ‘Not Suitable For Life’ and ‘The Burden of Seven Billion’. Fittingly evil lyrics ensue - all to the accompaniment of blast beats, machine gun riffs and bowel-emptying breakdowns. 

Cattle Decapitation have never been softies sonically. On this record they attempt to show off their entire arsenal of extreme techniques. Most metal bands favour a certain pace but Cattle Decapitation seem to be both masters of breakneck speed and crawling sludge. Their vocalist Travis Ryan also shows impressive versatility – alternating between death growls, black metal screeches and a unique semi-sung snarl that sounds like its being delivered by a toothless pirate. 

Occasionally, the band don’t quite know how to integrate all their ideas into a flowing song – shoving riffs and  interludes together in a start-stop motion. This makes it a little messy at points. But it's still very exciting. 




Saturday, 24 October 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 24/10/2015: Drake, Boots, Savages and more...

THE BEST:


‘Hotline Bling’ – Drake



Yes, I understand this track’s been out a couple months now, but have you seen the new visuals to go with it? Drake visits a James Turrell exhibition and gets his dad dance on. Watch here.

 ‘C.U.R.E’ – Boots


There’s an almost sleazy tone to Boots’ sing-rapping that I’m not 100% keen on, but the hard-hitting beat makes up for it. The US singer and producer has been touring with Run the Jewels recently and I can see some of El-P’s influence creeping through in his production.

 ‘Dairy Queen’ – PWR BTTM



Brooklyn queer punk band deliver this eccentric rock song about being preoccupied in the shower. One line contemplates going to Disney world to ‘fuck shit up’. Is there a meaning to it all? I don’t know.

‘Gold Coat (ft. Cuushe)’ – IGLOOGHOST



The second ALL CAPS artist to feature this week – UK electronic producer IGLOOGHOST – delivers this glitchy maze of woozy synths, 808s and pitch-shifted vocal clips. IGLOOGHOST has recently been signed to Flying Lotus’s label Brainfeeder. FlyLo fans may notice a resemblance in sound. 

‘The Answer’ – Savages



The latest track from all-female post-punk band Savages is indeed savage – the wild guitar riffage and machine-gun-like snare rolls make me want to start up a mosh pit right here, right now, in my bedroom, with my cat. IT'S HAPPENING

THE WORST:


 ‘I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed’ – Simple Plan ft. Nelly



Remember Canadian pop punk band Simple Plan from the early noughties? This is what they've become. Listening to this song without the Baywatch-inspired visuals, I can’t even tell which verse is Nelly. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Review of 'V' by Wavves


My head huuurts’ and ‘everything sucks if you don’t get your way’ make up some of the moody hooks on this new album from San Diego rock band Wavves. If it weren’t for the ridiculously bouncy instrumentals, I’d think frontman Nathan Williams was a right sourpuss. Instead the unfittingly upbeat surf rock guitars turn the whole thing into a fun downer mockery – a woe-is-me album that seems to rejoice all of Nathan’s grumbles.

Admittedly, there isn’t much to distinguish one song from the next –the majority of the tracklist melding into a blur of stroppy exclamations and twangy riffs. Only the track ‘Pony’ delivers both a memorable melody and message - a breezy breakup anthem that pokes fun of fake optimism with the line ‘It gets better’, whilst simultaneously seeming to embrace that sentiment.

Overly-polished production remains the only the other issue. Wavves have come a long way since the sloppy, lo-fi fuzz of their debut (which sounded like it had been recorded with a potato), and whilst I do like the tight groove that Wavves’ newly-found shiny production brings, some of it also makes these songs feel a bit stiff. More moments such as the crackly effects found on ‘Leadhead’ could have countered this.

TRACK TASTER:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 15/10/2015: Formation, Kelela, Raury and more...


THE BEST:


'All the Rest is Noise' - Formation



South London brotherly duo, Formation, drop this groovy pop number punctuated by bright chord stabs, fat synth-bass and cowbells. It’s just the kind of track needed to brighten up these grey October days.

'Rewind' - Kelela




Breathy vocals ride a futuristic 808-heavy beat on this new glittery pop song from US singer Kelela. Fans of FKA Twigs may dig it – imagine her style made danceable.

'Dead to Me' - God Damn



‘YOU’RE DEEEEAD! DEEEAD! DEEEAD! DEAD TO ME!’ screams frontman, Thom, his vocal cords at tearing point. This new loud and angry track from Wolverhampton rock duo God Damn has all the subtlety of a punch in the face. All you Coldplay-loving softies can fuck off. This is rock with ten ton testicles. This is rock for beating your chest to. This is rock for beating your wife to (whoah! Maybe that’s taking things a bit far! And, to be honest, I don’t mind Coldplay.)

'Forbidden Knowledge' - Raury ft. Big KRIT




Do we have too much access to information in the internet age? Are we using it to better ourselves instead of bettering everyone around us? Atlanta hip hop/folk musician, Raury, seems to think so in this thinking man’s rap piece, delivered in a pensive flow that clearly takes influence from Andre 3000. Speedy Mississippi emcee, Big KRIT, also contributes a verse towards the end. The instrumental’s also pretty sweet.

'Painted White' - Woozy



‘Sadgaze/Bummercore’ – that’s the genre that these guys label themselves under. I couldn’t describe this New Orleans group’s sound better myself. Beginning as a fuzzy and garish riff fest, this track slowly dissipates into a soft hypnotic lull – the vocals shifting from punky yelling to stoner groaning to breezy sigh-singing. For three minutes, it’s quite a journey.

THE WORST:


'Hen and Cookies' – OJ Da Juiceman & Benzino



‘Hen’ is short for ‘Hennessey’ and ‘Cookies’ is slang for weed (I looked it up on Urban Dictionary – I was curious). Otherwise there’s nothing interesting to report on this track. Just another generic party rap tune. Move along.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 08/10/2015: Drake, Tom Misch, Hopsin and more...

THE BEST:

'Can I' - Drake ft. Beyonce 



Bey fans don’t get too excited. The pop queen’s contribution in this song is literally one line ‘Can I, baby?’ looped over and over again. Still, the way in which it is weaved into both Drake’s bars and the slow, gloomy beat makes for a hypnotic and creative song idea. Let’s hope this is the full version (it does seem a little short) and not another unfinished leak.

'High' - Tom Misch



Mmm those chords. They’re like caramel. Excuse my munchies. This London producer's latest chill-out piece has made me feel just like its title.


'No Words' - Hopsin



Having never been keen on the garbled rap style of Young Thug and Future, I’m glad this satirical diss-track has been made. I’m also glad that the sometimes all-too-serious Hopsin is able to show a sense of humour for once. Also, THIS SHIT GOES HARD BRUH

'Six Mil' - Sam Carter



This bedroom-produced electronic instrumental features some intense percussion layering that had me hooked. The ‘#footfetishwork’ Soundcloud tag also made me chuckle.

THE WORST:


'The Love Within' - Bloc Party



I’d almost forgotten about Bloc Party. Sadly, this isn’t the raw and upbeat indie rock I remember. Lead vocalist, Kele, sounds like he’s singing a nursery rhyme and that tuneless gaudy synth makes me want to puke.

'Something’s Not Right' - Lily Allen



I’d almost forgotten about Lily Allen. Sadly, this isn’t the feisty pop diva I remember. The whole thing sounds like a corny kids movie ballad. Oh wait it is

Monday, 5 October 2015

Review of '100% Electronica' by George Clanton


The title isn’t a lie. This is 100% electronica. But not the bargain bucket house music that the plain title seems to suggest.

 Brooklyn vaporwave producer and singer George Clanton definitely has his own unique style going on – a hypnotic and warped emulation of eighties nostalgia. New-Order-esque croons ride woozy synths and echoey eighties drums. What makes it more than simply another retro album is the bleary-eyed effects layered over the top. Lashings of reverb and wobbly detune leave each track feeling dreamy and hazy like a mirage. 

There’s a vivid neon brightness to it all that makes me picture myself in a smoky night club surrounded by perms and bandanas. However, under the happy brightness lies a dark undertone, sonically evident in the 8-bit droning intro of ‘Warmspot’ and the brief broken vocals of ‘Bleed’, but more obvious in the melancholy lyrics which tell stories of heartbreak: ‘Someone else can make you happy/ Someone else can show you a good time’. True nostalgia is as depressively longing as it is beautiful after all and George Clanton captures the true essence of this, also throwing in some dark and sexual humour reminiscent of Ariel Pink as to not come across as too sentimental: 'Someone else can bite until you bleed'. 

TRACK TASTER:



Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review of 'Caracal' by Disclosure


The warm chords are back as found on ‘Hourglass’. And the percussion is still as old skool as before, as evident on ‘Jaded’. This is undoubtedly the same UK EDM bro duo that gave us Settle. But where is the energy? 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 29/09/2015: Wavves, Pope Francis, Isaiah Rashad and more...


THE BEST:


'Pony' - Wavves

It gets better’ sings frontman Nathan Williams in a tone that is as hopeful as it is doubtful. If all the tracks on this San Diego band’s new album are of the same quality as this bouncy, breezy breakup anthem then pin me down cos this record’s going to blow me away!

'Wake up! Go! Go! Forward!' - Pope Francis


The pope is releasing a rock album later this year. The actual pope. I’m not kidding. It’s going to feature excerpts from speeches he’s done over predominantly rock instrumentals. Here’s the first taster, a proggy King-Crimson flavoured number, and it’s actually surprisingly good. Horns up in appreciation (wait, is that blasphemous?). Listen to it here.

'The Lavishments of Light Looking' – WOKE (Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces & Thundercat) ft. George Clinton


Avant-garde electronic producer Flying Lotus, experimental hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces, slinky bassist/singer Thundercat and funk pioneer George Clinton all team up for this warped jazz trip. I’m still trying to dissect my way through the labyrinth of instrumental layers. The fact that there is still a groove beneath it all is quite a miracle. Who knows what this supergroup have planned next?

'BBQ Grill' - Jon Oh



I can barely make out what this dude is spitting about? The monstrously bassy beat somewhat buries him but, oh well, I do like a bit of monstrous bass. My neighbours hate it.

'Nelly' - Isaiah Rashad


This Tennessee rapper is the master of smooth. His velvety sing-rapping in this song accompanied by the smoky beat is enough to make me forget all my troubles. Not that I have any troubles. I AM PERFECT

THE WORST:


'My House' - Flo Rida




The piano beat is straight out the cookie-cutter, as is the materialistic drivel over the top. ‘Open up the champagne, pop/ It’s my house, come on, turn it up!’ If you want to try and serenade me Flo Rida you’re going to have to try harder than that. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Worst Types of Music Fan



I like music. Some of you who regularly read this blog may have realised this. It's always nice to talk to people who share my passion for music. However, there are some fellow music fans who are not a joy to talk to. You've probably come across them before. Here is a spotter’s guide:


THE CAVEMAN


The caveman gave up listening to new music in 1990 but still believes themselves to be an authority on the current state of the music industry. They take great pride in discussing the good ole’ days, back before all that ‘rap crap’ and ‘thud thud club music’, back when musicians actually played instruments and didn’t just fiddle around on a computer, back when you could still smoke in pubs and smack children. Trying to convince them that there’s still good music out there is futile. They don’t have time to Google search ‘Royal Blood’. They don’t fully understand the internet and still type with one index finger. Their favourite band is Queen.  Your dad is probably one of them.


Your dad



THE NEO-CAVEMAN


The neo-caveman similarly despises all modern music, despite being born after 1990. They believe themselves to be the sole guardian of a lost art, regarding the rest of their age group as ignorant One-Direction-loving Eloi. ‘Have you heard of the Rolling Stones?’ they ask. They expect you to have never heard of the Rolling Stones. ‘I was born in the wrong generation’ they lament. 'My generation sucks'. Rather be born in the sixties, eh? Throw away your smartphone then. Throw away your laptop too, the laptop that you use to stream all that sixties music you listen to.








THE HIPSTER


The hipster only listens to music you’ve never heard of. They used to be a fan of The Atlanta Spoon Project, until you started listening to them. Now they consider The Atlanta Spoon Project too popular, too mainstream. ‘They’ve sold out,’ they tell you, sipping on a smoothie made from fruits you’ve never heard of, which they bought from some vegan café you’ve never heard of. ‘I liked them before they were famous, back when they only had 50 Youtube views. I liked them before they were even musicians. In fact, I liked them before they were even born’. Hipsters pride being individual over being themselves. Fortunately, with ‘hipster’ becoming such a dirty word, this species of music fan has become virtually extinct.




THE METAL ELITIST


Hipsters of the heavy metal universe, the metal elitist only listens to metal bands you’ve never heard of. They live by a strict code, only listening to demo tapes from Scandinavian black metal groups with unreadable band logos recorded in someone’s shed. Any band that doesn’t fit this criteria – any band that has any kind of mild popularity – is deemed ‘poser metal’. This includes anything from Limp Bizkit to Slayer. None of this is ‘true metal’. As for the whole Satanism shtick, the metal elitist naively thinks it’s all serious.   


Band logo must be unreadable


THE POSER


They’re wearing a Nirvana shirt they bought in Primark, despite never having listened to Nirvana. ‘I saw them live in 2009,’ they tell you. ‘Kirk Coltrane is my idol.’ Their efforts to impress you are adorably embarrassing. You wish they’d just admit they don’t like Nirvana, that they prefer Calvin Harris. Give it a week and they’ll be donning a Ramones tee, telling everyone how punk they are.




THE STAN


Isn’t the weather beautiful,’ they say whilst waiting in the line at the Post Office. ‘that reminds me of my favourite song, You’re Beautiful’. I do like James Blunt. I happen to have all his albums. CD, vinyl and cassette. Got a lot of his merchandise too. I ordered a James Blunt Monopoly board today. Waiting for it now. I’ve even got a tattoo of his face on my butt. And a tattoo of his butt on my face! I know everything about James Blunt. I know his favourite ice cream flavour, the primary school he went to, his shoe size, his blood type – you name it! I hope to meet him one day. Got an engagement speech planned and everything. Can you guess what my pet dog’s name is?’. A combination of the word ‘stalker’ and ‘fan’, the stan couldn’t be more polar opposite to the poser. Their James Blunt tee is torn and faded. You will never be as big a fan as they are. To them, you might as well be a poser.


A typical James Blunt stan

Monday, 21 September 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 21/09/2015: DOOMSTARKS, Guerilla Toss, Meow The Jewels and more...



THE BEST:


'Lively Hood' - DOOMSTARKS



How much longer must we wait? These balls can’t get any bluer. It’s been almost ten years since veteran rappers Ghostface Killah and MF Doom announced they’d be teaming up for an album under the alias ‘Doomstarks’. Finally we have ‘Lively Hood’ – a collaborative single with a badass orchestral beat that may possibly be a hint that the new record is at last in the pipeline. I can just picture the deadly duo in their volcano lair laughing sadistically at the steadily growing impatience of their fanbase.

'Polly’s Crystal' - Guerilla Toss



New York noise punk band Guerilla Toss have a twisted sound that slowly sucks you in against your will like a tornado. Bleepy synths and unsettlingly dissonant guitars ride a hypnotic groove in this new seven-minute psychotic carousel ride, topped with some unhinged female sing-shouting. Can you believe the frontwoman used to be in a gospel choir?

'Dream' - Long Beard



‘Dream’ certainly lives up to its name. The New Brunswick band combine distant vocals and reverb-soaked guitars to create a lulling atmosphere that’s as warm as your childhood bed. You’ll want to curl up and suck your thumb.

'The Nile' - Kisses


Here’s some indie disco for all your indie disco needs. It builds up subtly from a galloping funky bassline, climaxing with some pretty horns. Is ‘The Nile’ title a reference to Nile Rodgers?

'Oh Darling Don’t Meow' - Meow the Jewels


US rap duo, Run the Jewels, drop another cat-noise remix. Yes, the beat is made entirely of meows and yes, somehow it still bangs as much as the original.

THE WORST:


'Ride' - Lowell (feat. Icona Pop)



An overdistorted bassline and a sweary chorus make this the perfect track for any teenage rebel looking for a brattier version of Charli XCX.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Review of 'Beauty Behind the Madness' by The Weeknd


 ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ is the kind of funky, feelgood love song that momentarily restores your faith in the radio. Sadly it’s also the only song of it’s kind on this album.

 The rest see Canadian r&b singer Abel Tesfaye (AKA The Weeknd) continuing his love for moody odes to self-indulgence, only this time coated with a sterile pop sheen. The instrumentals do try to be diverse, some borrowing from eighties synthpop such as ‘In The Night’, others from modern trap such as ‘Often’. There’s even an acoustic duet with Ed Sheeran shoehorned in the mix. However, this sonic smorgasbord is rendered flat and monotonous due to the forgettable vocal melodies and moany lyrics layered over the top. These tracks seem to have none of the catchiness or energy of ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, Abel resorting to a soft whimper whilst whining about the amount of non-committal sex he has. Indeed, clearly some listeners enjoy Abel’s confessions of a man-slut, but I am neither seduced nor sympathetic. Instead I am just left bored, and sex should never be boring.

TRACK TASTER:

Saturday, 12 September 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 12/09/2015: Oneohtrix Point Never, Nick Brewer, Miley Cyrus and more...


THE BEST:

‘Please Eloise’ – Flyte



Eloise isn’t a name I’ve come across before. I guess nowadays you’ve got to get creative given almost every other female name has been taken and used in a song. Anyhow, all that aside, this is a damn good indie rock track packing some serious groove and an explosive chorus you’ll inadvertently find yourself singing the next morning in the shower. This London band could be ones to watch.

‘I Bite Through It’ – Oneohtrix Point Never




Never one for conventionality, US electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never delivers this digital glitchfest. It ski-ski-skips along like a scratched record, whilst skilfully managing to be both melodic and emotive. A full album, Garden of Delete, is set to drop soon.

‘Myths’ – Frank Gamble



These vocals sound bloody awesome. Is this even a dude singing? I mean, I don’t know many chicks named Frank, but that range is extraordinary. The glittery semi-trap instrumental is pretty awesome too.

‘Talk To Me’ - Nick Brewer


I know the beat’s stolen from Crystal Waters’ ‘Gypsy Woman’ and I know T.I. already sampled it, but UK hip hop artist Nick Brewer’s smooth rapping still manages to bring a new sense of life to it.

‘Ready Aim Fire’ – Lexi Scherr



Don’t we have enough eighties nostalgia floating around right now? Probably, but this Chicago singer’s new upbeat single trumps most of them.

THE WORST:

Dooo it! – Miley Cyrus



Why they put the dick in the pussy?’ See my Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz review. Although you probably have ears so no doubt don’t need me to justify what’s wrong with this song.

Review of 'Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz' by Miley Cyrus


That's it. I’m throwing my Hannah Montana DVD box sets in the skip. Who does this outrageous woman think she is, poisoning the minds of children? Does she not think of the children? WILL NO-ONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Review of 'Pathology' by Trails and Ways


I’m glad Trails and Ways aren’t another depressing wannabe-Smiths indie band. I’m also depressed that it’s taken me until September to give this album a listen when it could have been fuelling my summer.

Pathology is music for dancing on the beach to. Sewn into the band’s breezy rock sound are jaunty flecks of funk and lilts of Latin that transport the listen to foreign white sands. Vocalists Keith Brower Brown and Hannah Van Loon meanwhile provide a winning male/female combo, singing breathily over the dainty instrumentation. Lyrics dabble in Portuguese, which might sound pretentious but instead only adds to the exotic, sunny feel of the album.

The tempo is pretty similar throughout which leads to a certain degree of sameyness, but there’s enough dynamics in the texture of each song to counteract this. Songs like ‘Mtn Tune’ are more flamenco-influenced, whilst ‘Heavy Sleeper’ has more of a dreamy warped power-ballad feel.

Entirely bedroom-produced, Pathology manages to sound glossy and anything but amateurish. Let’s hope these guys can become more than the local Cali band they are at the moment and attract the ears of listeners worldwide as they justly deserve. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 4 September 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 4/09/2015: Macklemore, George Clanton, Battles and more...


As usual, I single out my favourite and least favourite singles from the last seven days. This week Slayer sing about getting stoned and Macklemore muses about mopeds.


THE BEST:


'It Makes The Babies Want To Cry' - George Clanton



Is this vaporwave? Chillwave? New wave? I don’t know the difference any more (I never knew). In any case, this new single from Brooklyn artist George Clanton is a hellload of fun. Shimmering synth stabs and distant vocals make for a sparkly eighties-inspired pop track complete with worn, bleary-eyed production. Let it wash over you like a wave, whatever –wave that may be.

'Cast the First Stone' - Slayer



Tuned down to drop-z, Slayer’s latest single is a ten-ton sludgy monster of a track that will rumble around your bowels. I’ve kind of got used to the metal veterans churning out identical breakneck thrashers year after year, so it’s nice to see the band trying something a little different (relatively speaking).

'Downtown' - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Eric Nelly



Lyrically it’s not as witty as ‘Thrift Shop’ – mopeds aren’t as funny as hipsters. However, the funky bassline and groovy agogo bells more than make up for this. Ryan Lewis has composed a killer beat here. I’m still warming to the flamboyant chorus, sung by guest singer Eric Nelly – its all a bit cheesy and theatrical. Still, US rapper Macklemore has definitely put together a fun pop song here, the constantly shifting instrumental keeping the listener guessing as to what will come next.

'Floored' - Priscilla Sharp



New York underground artist Priscilla Sharp provides breathy vocals over a glitchy electronic instrumental. The moments of silence are deafening and make for some serious suspense.

'FF Bada' - Battles



Also hailing from the Big Apple, experimental rock three-piece Battles tease the build-up to their new album La Di Da Di with a new characteristically-intricate instrumental, ‘FF Bada’, accompanied by some more foody artwork to drool over. Their last single ‘The Yabba’ struck me as a bit too noodly, but this new track seems to be just the right balance of complexity and cohesiveness.

THE WORST:


'Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)' - Felix Jaehn ft. Jasmine Thompson


The Chaka Khan original was feelgood. This cover is depressing and Jasmine Thompson, whoever she is, sounds like she’s trying far too hard to be an Ellie Goulding clone.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Review of 'M3LL155X' by FKA Twigs


Accompanied by an artsy music video in which Twigs gives birth to rainbow ribbons in the back of a van amongst other surreal scenes straight out of Salvador Dali’s nightmares, this latest 16-minute EP sees the London-born experimental singer continuing to alienate pop fans in pursuit of her own weird and wonderful style. 

Her 2014 album, LP1, witnessed her rasping cryptic sexual lyrics over abstract and minimal beats. This latest EP sees her ultimately getting darker, becoming less cute and more creepy, less sexual and arguably more feminist. ‘Doll’ is a statement on the way in which women’s bodies are treated, whilst ‘Glass and Patron’ is seemingly all about how women’s bodies are viewed, a twisted version of Madonna’s 'Vogue' featuring the hook: ‘hold that pose for me’. Twigs voice meanwhile feels more manipulated – pitch-shifted at points and sped up and slowed down to create a more disorientating listen. 

Adding to the unsettled atmosphere are the instrumentals that are even more complex than before. There are no steady beats, no simple structured songs like ‘Two Weeks’ on her last album. Mazes of digital percussion and glitchy electronic sounds make up the beats instead. Catchiness suffers as a result, but the complexity does give way to eerie suspense, each track shuffling along into the gloom uncertainly.

Ultimately its this unpredictability and unique flair that makes M3LL155A constantly engaging. I can’t wait to hear Twigs evolve even further with time (she’ll have to rename herself FKA branches).

HEAR THE WHOLE EP HERE:


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 26/08/2015: Boots, Deafheaven, Carly Rae Jepsen and more...


I single out the singles that made the biggest impression on me. This week Boots gets brilliantly bizarre, Deafheaven get darker and ditch the daintiness and Carly Rae Jepsen cuts the cuteness settling sadly for cookie cut crap.

THE BEST:

'Aquaria' - Boots ft. Angel Deradoorian



To a backdrop of jittery dark electronic sounds American producer/singer delivers this creepy yet alluring new song. Squelching bass and industrial clicks weave in and out of one another whilst Boots shifts from semi-rapping to groovy singing. I picture a handsome psychopath seducing his prey whilst listening to this. Cali rock singer Angel Deradoorian offers some brief female guest vocals.

'Brought to the Water' - Deafheaven


I find it very hard to feel happy when someone’s screaming at me. Deafheaven’s cheery approach to black metal on their last album Sunbather didn’t click very well with me for that reason – I need a bit of anger and gloom to accompany my shrieks and blast beats, otherwise it’s as confusing as watching Freddie Krueger in a rom com. This new track thankfully seems to be less happy and more in keeping with the evil metal spirit I’m used to. Eerie church bells kick off the track followed by a series of melancholy riffs. Admittedly, the mood turns happy half-way through the track, but contrasted against the gloomy opening it gives the band’s happier sound a new dimension.

'Juniper' - Amanda X



Philly all-female rock trio serve up this ode to unrequited love. Sour guitar melodies and an old worn production style reminiscent of The Cranberries adds to the tortured vibe of the song. Its an aesthetic that has me hyped for their upcoming EP, Hundreds and Thousands.

Listen to the track here over at Stereogum.

THE WORST:


'Watch Me' - Silento


Stop deliberately using slang that nobody understands! What the hell is a nae nae and why would I want to break my legs? I can’t dance to these instructions if I don’t understand any of them, and yes, I’m too ignorant to want to understand them.

'Your Type' - Carly Rae Jepsen



 ‘Call me Maybe’ and ‘I Really like you’ were both cute, but now the sugariness is starting wear off and Carly Rae Jepsen is starting to sound like a stale second-rate Taylor Swift.

'Flodgin' - King Louie


His squeaky vocal inflections remind me of how my voice sounded when I was going through puberty, and I’d rather forget about that awkward phase in my life, as would we all.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

THE BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 12/08/2015: Roisin Murphy, Foals, Aston Merryweather and more...


Once again, I round up my favourite and least favourite singles from the last seven days. This week, the chick from Moloko gets weird and the dude from JLS gets stupid. 

THE BEST:


'Evil Eyes' - Roisin Murphy



One half of the nineties dance-pop duo Moloko, Roisin Murphy delivers this new weird and wonderful solo track. It’s a sonic journey consisting of electronic bleeps, massive chord splashes and funky guitars accompanied by slightly-occult themed lyrics about love. The music video is a bit of a trip. What’s the chicken-eating scene all about? 

'Pet U' - Curl Up


Dedicated to his pet cat, this cute EDM instrumental from New York producer Curl Up combines shimmering guitars and vibrant synth stabs. The result sounds like something out of a brightly-coloured Japanese video game. A video game, I can only assume, containing lots of cats. Clearly Curl Up is quite fond of felines – his facebook profile picture even has him cradling one.

'A Knife In The Ocean' - Foals



Oxford rock band, Foals, have exchanged the groovy funk rock sound of their last LP for a more slow and brooding sonic feel. The reverb-drenched guitars make this track sound absolutely colossal. I picture myself standing on a cliff whilst listening to this, hearing it echo at me from across the void.  

'Real  Joy' – Fono



Get your Zoolander ‘Blue steel’ face on and start vogueing. The wavy detuned fifth chords make for perfect catwalk material. I first heard this song whilst being dragged round New Look so maybe that’s why all I can think of whilst listening to this is clothes and fashion.

'Hidden' – Chagall


Amsterdam-based singer and producer Chagall crafts this gloomy and atmospheric experimental pop song. The scary flecks of industrial electronica peppered throughout had me poised on the edge of my seat, half-expecting the whole thing to plummet into some freaky dark techno breakdown. I’m a little relieved it didn’t.

THE WORST:


'Get Stupid' - Aston Merryweather



It’s impossible to hate this song because it’s so stupidly feelgood. However, Aston Merryweather sounds so stupidly similar to Bruno Mars and the instrumental sounds so stupidly similar to Blurred Lines and the title sounds so stupidly similar to 'Get Lucky' that I can’t help but get annoyed by how stupidly derivative it all is. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Review of 'Free Weezy Album' by Lil Wayne


Woo this that shit you didn’t want me on’ the Louisiana rapper opens the album with to the accompaniment of a soaring choral beat followed by some genuinely tight flows. For a brief moment I was genuinely excited. Lil Wayne seemed to have upped his game, finally scrapping the bland poppy beats and actually riding these beats instead slurring over them like a drunkard.

But then the tracks began to progress and slowly, alas, I realised that this wasn’t some divine new rebirth – that even though musically there are some clear improvements, Weezy is still clueless when it comes to writing lyrics. From front to back, FWA is a whole load of puns and not much else. Some tracks attempt to take a theme like the awkward love song ‘Thinking Bout You’, but there others like the impressively ignorant ‘I’m That Nigga’ and ‘I Feel Good’ which any fourth-grade wannabe rapper could have written (although the James-Brown-borrowed beat choice on the latter is pretty cool).

I didn’t expect Lil Wayne to start spurting socially conscious poetry, but he needs to find some kind of interesting subject matter. Everyone wants to hear him get personal – a full-out attack on Young Thug and Birdman might lose him his record contract with Cash Money Records, but it would make him an exciting character again instead of the bland hip hop template that he’s become.

Even the instrumentals and flows, as much of a refreshing face-lift as they are, aren’t enough to truly get rid of the wrinkles and make Lil Wayne sound fresh again. He’s trying to keep up with current trap rappers, when really he should be trying to carve out his own lane. 

TRACK TASTER: