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!

If cutting her hair and twerking wasn’t enough to rile her original fanbase, the Disney Channel sweetheart has now decided to abandon pop music entirely, teaming up with experimental rockers The Flaming Lips and hip hop producer Mike-Will-Made-it to create this left-field psychedelic album lyrically centred around sex, her love of the herb and her dead pet blowfish.

It’s taken me a while to get my head around what the hell is going on here. I can only assume that this is Miley’s way of telling the world she’s no longer a pawn to the pop industry, that she can do whatever she likes.

The album opens with the line: ‘Yeah I smoke pot/ Yeah I love peace/ But I don’t give a fuck/ I’m no hippy’. Here we learn everything - that Miley not only wants to rebel against her status as a pop star, she wants to defy all labels entirely: ‘I’m no hippy’. 

 You’ve got to give some credit to Miley for breaking free from her pop shackles and creating an album that is entirely hers. Even when told by peers that the album was too long, Miley responded by adding another track to the ninety minute leviathan entitled ‘Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz’.

That said, as much of a beautiful expression of freedom this album is, by doing away with editors Miley has now revealed her total and utter lack of song-writing ability.

The tracks on Dead Petz fall mainly into two categories: unlistenably obnoxious and unlistenably boring. The unlistenably obnoxious tracks are produced by Mike-Will-Made-It and see Miley trying overly hard to shock her listeners. The result is lots of gross sexual imagery that no-one wants to hear (‘you fingered my heart’) and lots of use of the word ‘fuck’ because Miley thinks that’s so fucking edgy. In contrast, the unlistenably boring tracks see Miley desperately pushing forward her stoner side to the accompaniment of droning Flaming Lips instrumentals. The lyrics on these tracks are largely spacey babble and are moaned out in a style similar to Lana Del Ray in order to sound druggy or alternative or something like that (I already hated Lana Del Ray. You can imagine how I feel about a cheap Lana Del Ray imitation).

Clearly, Mike-Will-Made-It and The Flaming Lips are also to blame here, as they fail to produce any kind of exciting backdrop for Miley to lay her shoddy lack of poetry over. I guess you could make an exception with ‘Slab of Butter (Scorpion)’, which does feature a pretty groovy guitar interlude that gets the shoulders moving. I also love the trippy sample in ‘Milky Milk Milk’ taken from The Flaming Lips' The Terror (although the lyrics over the top about licking milky nipples kind of ruins the mood).

Overall, there are probably only two good songs on this album lyric-wise (two out of twenty-three - not bad). The first is ‘BB Talk’ in which Miley genuinely comes across as sincere whist discussing previous relationships. The second is  ‘Pablow the Blowfish’ in which Miley genuinely comes across as funny, mourning the passing of her dead blowfish and hoping he’ll find love in the afterlife with a seahorse named Sadie (I admit, it made me chuckle). Both are surprisingly emotional and show that Miley can be endearing when she wants to be.

Sadly, these tracks can’t make up for the rest of the album, which tries so offensively hard to offend that they might as well be cherries placed decoratively on the top of a steaming turd. In fact, the album is so desperately offensive in every way possible, I fail to see any audience Miley had in mind other than herself. It’s lack of hooks and experimental instrumentation deliberately alienates pop fans, but it’s dumbed-down lyrics are just as much an insult to chin-stroking indie fans (e.g. 'Why they put the dick in the pussy?'). Maybe Miley simply gets a kick out of being the sole person who enjoys her music - in which case this is a vanity project and whilst we are left feeling empty, she is left feeling complete. Selfish bitch.

TRACK TASTER:


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.