Tuesday, 28 July 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 29/07/2015: Disclosure, El-P, New Order and more...

It's that time of the week where I insult your favourite band accompanied by lots of broken Soundcloud links. Adjust your speakers and belt up.


'Moving Mountains' – Disclosure ft. Brendan Reilly

The UK house duo have slowed things down with this slinky electroballad featuring sexy r&b vocals from London singer Brendan Reilly. The whole song builds up to some tasty but smooth trap flavourings towards the end. I’m now pretty psyched for these guys upcoming sophomore album, Caracal. Check out the track here whilst it’s still available for stream (skip to 1:29:00 to listen).

‘Another Body’ – El-P

Master hip hop producer El-P has recently refrained from making beats entirely out of cat noises in order to deliver this epic instrumental set to appear during the end credits of the latest Fantastic Four film. It isn’t very hip hop flavoured, but still shows off the producer’s talents, composed of cinematic trumpets, fat strings and brooding layers of electronica. Let’s hope the movie lives up to it’s soundtrack and isn’t a pile of wank like the original Fantastic Four film (yeah I said it! Isn’t ‘pile of wank’ such a weird expression?)

'Get Up Get Down' – Mick Jenkins

I guess you could call this a party tune. The hook’s punchy and the beat’s pretty wavy. However, Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins still manages to drop some socially conscious rhymes in the second half, keeping hold of his witty personality and preventing himself from turning into another Drake clone.

'Crackula' – Pizza Tramp

What do you get when you cross a horrible Welsh punk band with zero editing skills and footage shot on a digital camera. CRACKULA.’ That video description alone has won me over.


 ‘Throne’ – Bring Me The Horizon

Once a shitty metalcore band, Bring Me The Horizon have now decided to become a shitty carbon copy of Linkin Park. Too harsh? Life is harsh. Deal with it.

‘Restless’ - New Order

What decade is this? Out of the blue, eighties electro kings New Order are back with a new single. Unfortunately, it isn’t very good. Bernard Summer’s disinterested vocals always had a dark undertone to them, but here they just simply sound disinterested. Also where are the groovy synths? With its flat guitars and strings, the whole thing might as well be a modern U2 song.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Review of 'Currents' by Tame Impala

Aussie psychedelic rock band, Tame Impala, have traded in rugged guitars for shiny synths. The result is a sound somewhere between the Blade Runner soundtrack and those glossy eighties power ballads that I could always picture myself driving down a highway to at night if I could afford a car and hadn’t failed my test five times, but anyway we’re getting sidetracked.

Currents doesn't try to sound very current. It's synth textures sound like something Rick Wakeman might have played with. Digital effects bring it into the 21st Century – lashings of phasering and jarring looping like a scratched record as found on the epic opener, ‘Let it Happen’. Lead vocalist Kevin Parker meanwhile delivers high register singing over the top, swamped in spacey reverb and sighed out with an almost longing regret.

This vocal tone does lead some of the tracks to feel a bit samey, but Kevin Parker’s charming lyrics help to spice things up. ‘Cause I’m a Man’ is an ode to using one’s biology as an excuse for mistakes, that some silly folk are calling sexist (to which Kevin Parker has responded to in this interview). Others such as ‘Past Life’ take the otherwordly idea of meeting a lover from a past life.

Lyrically and sonically, the whole album seems to dwell dreamily and wishfully on the past. There’s an almost – dare I say it – ‘vaporwave’ aesthetic to the whole record. But unlike vaporwave, these are actual well-structured and original songs. The rock element is certainly gone, which may put some people off; most of these tracks are indisputably pop. However, there are still some progressive numbers here such as ‘Let it Happen’ that show Tame Impala haven’t gone all simple and dumbed-down. 


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 22/07/2015: David Gilmour, Young Thug, Little Mix and more...

Cat noises and train station jingles. You can make a song out of anything these days. A lot of this week's music has been pretty strange. It's an even mixture of entertainingly good and entertainingly bad.


'No Chill' - Skrillex & Vic Mensa

Practice? What the fuck is practice?’ Chicago rapper Vic Mensa is sounding ridiculously arrogant here and arrogance usually isn't my thing, but I'm willing to overlook it due to the badass beat. Who knew that the iconic dubstep producer could also make a mighty trap beat? That brass sounds huge. It’s like a fanfare to the apocalypse. Listen here.

'Rattle that Lock' - David Gilmour

If you’ve ever spent time in a French railway station you may recognise the SNCF jingle sampled throughout this song. Personally the sound brings back nostalgic memories, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of French commuters find this rock veteran's new song intolerable.

'Like I Like It' - Vantage

Talking of France, here’s a little disco-house tune from the garlic-and-cheese-loving country itself. The funky middle section is extremely creative and I’m loving the shimmery use of synth vox.  

'Meowrly' – Meow the Jewels

Rap duo Run the Jewels have released a remix of their 2014 single 'Early' made entirely of cat noises. The use of purring as a substitute for bass made me chuckle. I can't believe they didn't think to call it 'Purrly' though...

'I Need Chickens' – Young Thug

After all the unwavering hate I’ve given garbling Atlanta rapper Young Thug on this blog I almost regret admitting that I kind of like this song. I guess it appeals to my goofy sense of humour the same way Riff Raff does. Producer Mike Will Made It delivers a fun beat complete with 808 cowbell, and Young Thug makes hilarious chicken noises over the top (they sound more like pigeon noises to be honest, but let's not get pedantic).


Black Magic – Little Mix

UK girl group, Little Mix, wish they were American whilst promoting the idea that you need to be hot to be successful. That's just the music video.  

Monday, 20 July 2015

Review of 'Surf' by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment

Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment is a Chicago hip hop collective consisting of Donnie Trumpet, Nate Fox, Peter Wilkins, Greg “Stix” Landfair jr and a load of other artists I won’t pretend to have heard of. About the only member I was familiar with beforehand was kooky emcee, Chance the Rapper, who provides bars on most of these tracks.

Together, the collective come together to create the happiest hip hop record you’re likely to hear this year. Chance the rapper scraps commonly found themes of misogyny, materialism and braggadocio, instead preaching wholly positive morals of self-love and individualism. I say ‘preach’ – his method of delivery is anything but preachy. He modestly refuses to be a role model which only adds to his appeal: ‘don’t you look up to me/ don’t trust a word I say’. He also has no interest in being cool ‘I don’t wanna be cool, I just wanna be me’, which conversely makes him all the more cool.

The backing instrumentation is meanwhile provided by the rest of the group’s members - a bouncy mix of soul and jazz with all the air of a childhood summer party. Through the groovy basslines and bright splashes of piano you can taste the birthday cake and picture visualise the balloons.

Sadly this project isn’t without its flaws – despite the bubbly atmosphere there’s no denying that the party can feel overcrowded at times. Alongside the many members of Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment are a horde of guest stars including Busta Rhymes, Big Sean, J Cole, Janelle Monae, B.o.B, Quavo, Joey Purp, Raury, BJ the Chicago Kid and Erykah Badu. Songs like ‘Go’ and ‘Slip Slide’ feel a bit messy because of all the contributors fighting to be heard. 

Other songs contrastingly feel sorely underdeveloped. Songs like ‘Rememory’ never reach a climax or a hook, trailing off rather unexcitedly. The many trumpet interludes peppered throughout the album in which Donnie Trumpet shows off his horn-playing also feel redundant because they don’t really go anywhere.

That said the album does have some moments of perfection, namely the catchy and adorable tracks 'Sunday Candy' and 'Wanna Be Cool'. Here the amount of guest contributors isn't overwhelming and there's a clear sense of song structure and finesse. A whole album of these kind of hits would have made Surf feel much more cohesive.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 15/07/2015: The Chemical Brothers, IshDARR, Diet Cig and more...

As per usual, I round up my favourite and least favourite tracks from the last seven days. Enjoy!


‘Sugar’ – IshDARR

This bouncy hip hop single from Wisconsin newcomer IshDARR certainly lives up to it’s name – it’s adorably sugary. Sweet lyrics ride an uptempo beat made up of bright synths and squeaky pitch-shifted vocals. 

‘EML Ritual’ – Chemical Brothers

Built around a sinister synth riff, this new track from EDM legends The Chemical Brothers is a masterpiece in suspense. I was convinced there would be a drop around the two minute mark, but the Manchester duo keep up the teasing for another minute until finally giving in.

‘Sleep Talk’ – Diet Cig

Few songs capture love with such realistic and idiosyncratic detail as this new indie rock single: ‘I can’t play instruments very well and I eat all your cereal/ but I’ll never be a smoker cos the second cigarette makes me feel like shit’. The New Paltz duo might not be all that instrumentally, but their lyrical wit and charm certainly makes up for it. ‘Diet Cig’ is also one of the best band names I’ve heard all year.

 ‘Raindrops’ – CONFZ ft. Jamilah Barry

East London rapper CONFZ offers some impressive wordplay, although it's not quite enough to distract from phenomenally spacey beat in the background. All that's missing from this track is a hook.

'Impression of You' - Giraffage & Viceroy ft. Patrick Baker

If you're looking for a babymaking anthem this summer, look no further than this sexy electropop tune. Trap 808s, synth-harp arpeggios and woozy chords create the perfect backdrop for Patrick Baker's breathy vocals. I hate the word 'eargasm', but I think I just had one.


‘Stay Up’ – Problem

'Good money, good weed/ that's the way you stay up'. These lyrics are absolute gibberish. It's like listening to a trap rap parody.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Review of 'The Beyond/ Where The Giants Roam' by Thundercat

When you’ve listened to as much soul and funk as I have you begin to get desensitised to the slinky chords and groovy basslines. Everyone becomes another wannabe-Stevie-Wonder, another wannabe-Steely-Dan. It takes an artist like LA producer, singer and bassist Thundercat to prove that funk and soul still has room to evolve.

The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam is barely an album at seventeen minutes in length, but feels grand in scale. Each song, produced by Flying Lotus, feels epic drenched in spooky and huge reverb, particularly the vocals. Stylistically, Thundercat lays down his signature stamp with unique chord progressions, almost dissonantly sour but equally pretty. His lyrics meanwhile are dark and melancholy. ‘Song for the Dead’ is self-explanatory, whilst ‘Them Changes’ is a song about literally losing one’s heart.

The dynamics are brilliant throughout, more so than previous Thundercat albums, making this feel like the most complete release in the artist’s discography. Punchy and concise funk number, ‘Them Changes’, is immediately proceeded by slow and brooding number, ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’, showing that Thundercat can be just as energetic as he can be atmospheric. And yet as dynamic as the album is, the overall sweet and gloomy mood is cohesive throughout. 


Thursday, 2 July 2015

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 1/07/2015: The Game, Toro y Moi, Pharrell and more...

It's weekly roundup time. This week Pharrell gets political, Toro y Moi gets creepy and Puff Daddy attempts a comeback.


'100' – The Game ft. Drake


Whilst The Game still strikes me as a pretty generic rapper, there’s no denying how cool Drake’s passive aggressive sighed guest verse is: ‘I would have all your fans if I didn’t go pop and I stayed on some conscious shit’. The beat is also bloody gorgeous.

'That Instead of This' – Toro y Moi

Continuing to dabble in new genres, singer and producer Chaz Bundick AKA Toro y Moi goes down a brooding electronic route with this new instrumental made up of sinister bass and screeching synths. I wasn’t all too keen on the musician’s recent indie funk endeavours, but perhaps there’s hope with this new darker sonic direction.

'When I Was Your Age' – Mammoth Penguins

Being a twenty-something millennial I’m constantly aware of how little I’ve achieved at my age compared to what my parents did. I don’t have my own house. I don’t have my own car. I’M NOT EVEN POTTY TRAINED (just kidding - or am I?). ‘When I Was Your Age’ is a song that any twenty-something feeling unaccomplished can relate to. Here’s hoping this Cambridge alt rock band continues to put out songs of this calibre.

'Freedom' – Pharrell

Pharrell Williams has dropped his surname and started getting political. 'Freedom' is a far cry from the cheerful sound of 'Happy' (Pharrell even sounds a bit angry as he's screeching the hook) and whilst it isn't quite as catchy as previous releases, it's interesting to hear the singer pushing his lyricmanship.


'Finna Get Loose' – Puff Daddy ft. Pharrell Williams

I was constantly waiting for Puff Daddy to stop rambling over the beat and start rapping. Pharrell's constant yelping in the background is also prety damn annoying.

'Are You With Me?' – Lost Frequencies