Saturday, 24 October 2015
‘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
‘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
‘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.
Thursday, 15 October 2015
'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.
'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
'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 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
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'.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
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? If Settle was a roller-coaster then this follow-up album is a teacup ride. You could dance to Settle. You can’t dance to this album. You can barely stroll to it.
Instead of catchy house anthems, Caracal offers a series of slow synth swells that build but never erupt, accompanied by largely forgettable vocal performances.
Considering the star-studded cast of guest singers it doesn’t make much sense. Miguel is on this album. So is The Weeknd. And, oh lordy, so is Lorde!
These are big exciting names that should have provided big exciting vocals. Instead they come across sounding like lifeless and indistinguishable nobodies. Only soul artist Gregory Porter offers any heart into his performance. The rest of the guests sound like they’re only there to pick up their pay cheque.
And maybe money is wholly to blame here. Everyone on this album is coasting on their fame, lazing back on their wads of cash waiting for more to come flooding in. There are no attempts to do anything vibrant or new. Disclosure’s blend of deep house and garage has always relied on retro ideas, but on Settle it managed to feel fresh. It provided a sweet antidote to the robotic fart music dominating the clubs at the time.
Two years have passed and the EDM landscape has changed. No longer are Disclosure the sole owners of their niche. A hundred copycats have sprung up around them – the like of Shift K3Y and Gorgon City and Duke Dumont – and Disclosure have done nothing to stay ahead of the game and stand out.
Only the funk-flavoured ‘Masterpiece’ and deluxe-version-only semi-trap number ‘Moving Mountains’ try to take a new direction. Otherwise, the Lawrence Brothers seem to just be churning out the same house songs as before, but with less fire in their belly.