Friday, 22 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 22/09/2017: Bjork, Rapsody, Iglooghost and more...


New tracks from Bjork, Rapsody, Iglooghost and more...

THE BEST:

‘Power’ – Rapsody ft. Kendrick Lamar & Lance SkIIwalker


Is there a week that goes by in which Kendrick isn’t dropping a guest verse? This time he’s spitting Patois-infused bars alongside North Carolina emcee Rapsody – some of you may know her from her incredible feature on Kendrick’s 2015 TPAB track ‘Complexion’. Rapsody herself is phenomenal rapper with an old-skool flow that’s nice a break from all the female trap rappers. The funky beat is also extremely satisfying.

‘Teen Dream Woman’ – Bad French


This strange duo claim to be from Paris, Australia. Geography was never my strong point at school, but I’m pretty sure that’s not where Paris is. ‘Teen Dream Woman’ sees singer Daniel Forsyth singing seductively over spacey lounge bar electropop. Some chick starts speaking French towards the end of the track and there’s some freaky interpretative dancing in the video to top it off. What more could you possibly ask for?

‘English Weather’ - Fick as Fieves


‘English Weather’ is the perfect song to celebrate the spectacularly shite September we’ve been having. But honestly, I’m not interested in the lyrics - have you heard the riffs? It’s like Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ just collided with an Arctic Monkeys track. Plus, there’s a cool part where the guitar sounds like a harmonica. It’s bluesy indie at its best. 

‘Whatever Forever’ – Sego


Bored of doing the same things over and over again? LA rock group Sego’s ‘Whatever Forever’ perfectly captures this sense of cyclic ennui accompanied by a restlessly looping riff. It’s both frustrated and apathetic, which is basically my permanent emotional state.

 ‘White Gum’ – Iglooghost


This hectic EDM mindfuck from Iglooghost is likely to be too much for some people. It’s a trap-garage-glitch hybrid that refuses to sit still for a split-second, throwing pitch-shifted sped-up rapping, digital percussion blasts, melodised clangs and all manner of other noises at the listener. You’ll either be mesmerised by it, or it will give you an anxiety attack.

THE WORST:

‘The Gate’ - Bjork


Hookless warbling over unmelodic directionless electronica is a step too far even for a pretentious blogger like myself. The video is pretty captivating though – it’s a healthy alternative to LSD. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 16/09/2017: Giraffage, Silver Liz, Cosmo Calling and more…



New music from Giraffage, Silver Liz, Cosmo Calling and more…

THE BEST:

'Him' - Silver Liz



This new single from shoegazey Chicago duo Silver Liz is barely two minutes. Some shoegaze songs have intros that are longer than that. But two minutes is all Silver Liz need to piece together an epic build-up. Tremulous chords follow an unpredictable chord pattern whilst Carrie’s ghostly voice hangs in the background. These then break away for a huge climax of howling guitars.

'Like Lightning' – Cosmo Calling



This is some highly danceable indie rock. Danceable, but without a synthesizer in sight. The bouncy vocal harmonisation and slick guitars that this Manchester-based band play with are enough to make you want to get up on your feet and spill your beer everywhere. Using synths to build grooves is for amateurs. Fuck synths (he says before featuring two EDM singles).

'One Life' – SHVRDZ (ft. Aerborn)



This Brisbane producer/singer pairing recorded and mixed this hypnotic EDM banger in the space of two days with nothing but a laptop and a mic. The shrill wubs caught me off guard – the beginning is so melodic that I wasn’t expecting such a stupendously filthy drop.

‘Maybes’ – Giraffage ft. Japanese Breakfast


The bizarrely-named Californian producer Giraffage has teamed up with equally-bizarrely-named indie songstress Japanese Breakfast. The dreamy opening chords drew me in and are probably the best bit, although the distant vocals and twinkling synths that follow are definitely pretty too.

THE WORST:

‘Wit it’ – Lanze


SOMEBODY GIVE THIS DUDE AN INHALER. This Cincinnati rapper sounds exhausted and after a minute of listening to him I feel exhausted too. That said, his asthma attack flow is creative and I can see all the mumble rap fans bumpin’ this in the whip in months to come.

‘90s Kids’ – Shamir


Shamir’s written some groovy tunes in the past and upon hearing the Windows 95 startup sound I was pretty psyched for something cute and nostalgic, but sadly this song ends up just being a corny millennial whinge-fest that irritates even a 90s kid like myself.  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review of 'Villains' by Queens Of The Stone Age



QOTSA’s new album is badly-produced Bowie-worship.

Okay, that description’s a tad harsh. ‘Bowie-worship’ makes it sound like I don’t enjoy the fact that Josh Homme now sounds like Bowie, when in fact that’s one of the highlights of this record. As for ‘badly-produced’, well, I have a feeling Mark Ronson didn’t just so happen to fuck up the mastering by spilling coffee on the mixing board. The production is intentionally supposed to sound this tinny and some listeners don’t seem to mind it. But for me, it’s a real barrier.

Villains follows much in the same vein as the rockers’ last album Like Clockwork…, which saw the band trading in catchy crowd-pleasing guitar anthems for meditative gloomy dirges. The lyrics continue to be as dark, lingering on topics of death but with a touch of humour behind them. They’re some of Homme’s most inventive to date – the singer even going so far as to invent his own words on numerous occasions to get his point across such as ‘macaberet’ and ‘screwicide’.

Homme’s lyrics aren’t the only aspect that’s more creative. Instrumentally, these songs are also kookier, as exemplified from the start with opener ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, which begins with sci-fi synths and a hammering drum like some mutated version of the Flash Gordon soundtrack, before erupting into a stomping guitar groove. ‘Head Like A Haunted House’ meanwhile is a Dead-Kennedys-like punk jam, whilst ‘Hideaway’ rides a Bowie-esque synth sporting a spacey ‘Ashes to Ashes’ feel (there’s Bowie vibes all over this album).

Of course, the band have also decided to get creative with the production, which is where my praises for this record end. The second track ‘The Way You Used To’ feels like it could have been an upbeat dance-worthy rock gem if it wasn’t over-compressed to sound as flat as a toad on a motorway. And then there’s the end of ‘Un-Reborn Again’, which sees all the instruments coming into the mix for what could have been an epic crescendo if Mark Ronson hadn’t dampened it by turning down the volume knob.

This is the producer who gave us ‘Uptown Funk’, so there’s no reason the production should sound this flaccid other than Mark wanting it to sound like that. Josh Homme and crew must have decided they liked it too. And some fans and critics don’t seem to be phased. To me, it may as well be a tasty spicy dish with a jar of cream dumped in – it’s got no kick. It’s a hypercar with a speed limiter on it. It’s Floyd Mayweather with no arms. It’s a decaffeinated espresso shot. It’s sex in the dark. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 8 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 08/09/2017: Death From Above, Kaytranada, St. Vincent and more...



THE BEST:

'What You Gonna Do' - Nemi



What you gonna do? Preferably hit that play button - because this song's quite something. Its a moody electro-pop song of sorts with an almost avant-garde beat and wispy vocals that will make you think you're being possessed. It's fucking weird and totally my thing.

‘My Body’ – Saunas



My Hawaiian t-shirt is on. As is my hula dress. I don’t care if summer’s over. From the opening tropical percussion, I knew this single from Nashville indie pop act Saunas was going to be fun. CORRECTION: it’s ‘beach-wave’ not indie pop. Get it right, Alasdair.

 ‘Holy Books’ – Death From Above


I don’t go for no holy books/ Those ancient rhymes, they ain’t got no hooks’. Fuzzy-guitar loving duo Death From Above certainly aren’t the first rock band to bash religion, but they’re still able to give it their own spin with a marvellously witty chorus. The riffs meanwhile make me want chop logs with my bare hands.

‘2017 07 04’ – Kaytranada



The Canadian-Haitian producer just released three untitled beats on Soundcloud and they’re all pretty damn sexy. This one is my personal fave. Aside from the slinky bassline and glistening chords, it’s got a nice rough edge to it. The king of smooth production has sandblasted his sound and it still bangs.

 ‘Los Ageless’ – St. Vincent


St. Vincent has gone full-on pop. This latest groovy number didn’t really hook me for the first minute (staring at a butt can be distracting), but then that lavish chorus came in and reeled me in. It’s a vast improvement from her previous single ‘New York’. Annie has also released the tracklist for her new album and not all the song titles are inspired by US cities. I have a feeling it will all be devoid of distorted guitars, but if it’s more pop jams of this calibre I don’t mind.

THE WORST:

 ‘Goofy’ – Lil Durk ft. Future & Jeezy


I’m gonna pretend Future’s warbling about the Disney character, because no way is ‘goofy’ the new street slang term.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Review of 'Everything Now' by Arcade Fire



Arcade Fire get groovier and goofier on their new record.

The long-time fans don’t like it. But I’m not a long-time fan. The band’s early indie stuff – the anthemic guitars and woo chants – always struck me as a little toothless and dreary (sorry). It was only on their last LP Reflektor that the group converted me by slipping on their dancing shoes and embracing disco. Almost half the songs were two minutes too long, but they made up for it with satisfyingly sexy grooves.

On Everything Now, they’ve trimmed down the songs. They’ve also gotten groovier and goofier. The Pitchfork-loving purist indie kids have been turning their nose up at it - what’s Win Butler doing singing ‘I’ll be your Peter Pan’ over half-distorted reggae? I can understand why they don't dig it, but for me it's a huge improvement. From the Bowie-esque inflections and shining piano riff of ‘Everything Now’ to the hypnotic synthline and Abba-like chorus of ‘Put Your Money On Me’, these are some of Arcade Fire’s most infectious and colourful tunes to date.

I’ll agree, some of the political messages are a little ham-fisted. ‘Creature Comfort’ begins bleakly and bluntly with the lines ‘Some boys hate themselves spending their lives resenting their fathers/ some girls hate their bodies, stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback’ – something you’d expect from an emo band, certainly not accompanied by danceable electronica. The lyrical content of ‘Infinite Content’ meanwhile is ironically very limited.

Fortunately, these lyrics don’t distract from the album’s sense of fun. Even if Win is singing about suicidal teens over upbeat synthesizers, it doesn’t feel like he’s preaching at us or making light of the subject – it just feels slightly jarring at worst. Judging from the way people are talking about this album's lyrics, you'd think they'd just listened to the new Lil Yachty album. Trust me, that isn't the case - it's probably just too poppy for the indie kids. There aren't enough dreary guitars and woo chants for them. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 1 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 01/09/2017: Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Caro and more…



THE BEST:

 ‘Eyes on the Ground’ – Caro


This groovy off-kilter rock song comes courtesy of Leeds trio Caro. I was already satisfied with the skittish guitars and vocal earworms and then that section at 1:06 came along and gave me an out of body experience. I have a feeling this band have an album on the way, so I’m keeping my ear (and my eyes) to the ground.

‘Exclusivity’ – Leonie Sherif


Over a frenetic instrumental layered in synths and 808s, UK alt R&B singer Leonie Sherif lays some infectious and breathy vocal harmonies. The result is like listening to Destiny’s Child over futuristic production.

‘Houses’ – The Duke Spirit


Longing vocals and psychedelic guitar twangs make up this beautifully haunting song from London rockers The Duke Spirit. There’s a sense of nostalgia to it, but it’s a nostalgia for an experience I never had. The random retro footage of people dancing helps.

‘Provider’ – Frank Ocean


Is you a natural blondie like Goku?’ I don’t know what Frank is harking on about but he sure makes it sound good.

THE WORST:

‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – Taylor Swift


The chorus is catchy but only because the melody's stolen from ‘I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt’ (which is all I think about when listening to this now). And this whole new bad bitch act from Taylor is about as easy to swallow as Katy Perry’s recent wake-up-sheeple phase.

 ‘Masturbation’ - Princess Vitarah


This monstrosity of a song is enough to put anyone off masturbating for life.

Friday, 25 August 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 25/08/2017: Clipping., LCD Soundsystem, Robert Plant and more...


New music from Clipping., LCD Soundsystem, Robert Plant and other human beings.

THE BEST:

‘Looking Glass’ – Lone


Lone’s discography is so vast and yet so consistent in quality. This latest house single pounds along before slowly revealing some magic sparkly chords along with some surprise ray gun synths breaking out over the top.

‘The Deep.’ – Clipping.


The Californian experimental hip hop project are showing off again with a track that continuously speeds up. Produced to sound like its underwater, the beat builds pressure with each verse, whilst Daveed Diggs accelerates the tempo of his flow. Could there be another Clipping album on the horizon?

 ‘tonite’ – LCD Soundsystem


This year, we’ve already been blessed with two singles ‘American Dream’ and ‘Call the Police’ from the synth-rockers. Their latest track centres around a pulsing electro beat and is accompanied by a video which sees the band playing live whilst James Murphy swaggers around them singing into the camera.

 ‘The May Queen’ – Robert Plant


By this point I thought the Led Zep frontman would be past it. But he’s still managing to release interesting solo stuff, this time mixing folk with flecks of electronica. His voice meanwhile has aged like fine wine.

‘Like I Always’ – Kev Minney


From his upcoming astronomically-themed album, Kev releases this new single ‘Like I Always’. The track blends acoustic guitar and digital percussion topped with some hypnotically emotive vocals. 

THE WORST:

‘Footprints in the Sand’ – Ian Erix


Corny emo vocals and overblown EDM are a match made in Hell. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Review of 'Lust For Life' by Lana Del Rey



Lana Del Rey’s latest album isn’t a total downer.

Just as the rest of the world has grown pessimistic, pop's most forlorn femme fatale has rather ironically decided to cheer up. She's even managed to break a smile on the album cover (I didn't think she was capable of that facial expression), not to mention the album title itself.

But fans of her sad side needn't worry – she hasn't embraced ukuleles just yet. Most of these tracks revolve around familiar melancholy tales of unrequited love. However, there are rose-tinted glimmers of joy this time around. ‘When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing’ is a rally to keep on being happy despite current events, whilst closing track ‘Get Free’ sees Lana singing ‘I want to move out of the black into the blue’ with a sense of joyous liberation.

Sure, there could be a sly cynicism behind it all – it’s hard to tell with Lana – but even so it’s given Lana’s lyricism a new dimension, which makes this album more enjoyable that its predecessors.  It’s also a lot more instrumentally interesting.

2014’s Ultraviolence wasn’t just depressing but impressively dull largely down to its drab production. Honeymoon contrastingly saw Lana embracing a Bond Theme-esque backdrop of exciting orchestration topped with smoky crooning in the style of Dusty Springfield. Now on Lust For Life, the instrumentals are even more diverse, dabbling in hip hop on ‘Summer Bummer’ and ‘Groupie Love’ whilst taking on pianos and guitars and string sections.

The vocal guests are a disappointment for the most part. Whilst A$AP Rocky's performance is average, Playboi Carti’s auto-tuned whelps on ‘Summer Bummer’ are plain irritating. Stevie Nicks meanwhile oversings her duet with Lana as if trying to outdo her younger version, whilst Sean Ono Lennon just sounds like he’s trying to be his dad (can’t kids of famous musicians carve out their own sound?).

Fortunately, Lana’s newfound vocal agility makes up for this. 'White Mustang’ and ‘In My Feelings’ are some of her most beautifully sung ballads to date, whilst ‘Get Free’'s chorus is her most sunshiny (even if the opening chord progression is ripped straight from Radiohead’s ‘Creep’). 

TRACK TASTER:

Monday, 21 August 2017

INTRODUCING: Pool Art



I take the time to talk to Mancunian experimental rock band Pool Art about fidget spinners, nuclear war and their new ethereal EP.

Titled Chamber Piece, Pool Art’s new EP certainly seems fit for a torture chamber. Its 5 songs are drowned in reverb and distorted in all kinds of ghastly effects. The result is music so dark you can barely make out the hand in front of you. The mixture of melodic vocals and dissonant guitars show clear elements of doom metal and shoegaze, but whilst such genres tend to be long and meandering when it comes to song-writing, Pool Art’s songs feel very succinct and even punky as is certainly the case with ‘It’s A Hatewatch’.



The result is a rock sound that’s fresh. And yet the duo still manage to find an equilibrium between having a distinct sound but still making each song diverse enough from the next. Opener ‘Misery Porn’ is comparatively upbeat and groovy, whilst ‘It’s a Hatewatch’ and ‘Died Off Screen’ are more frantic pieces made up of harsh squeals and clangs (with the exception of the latter track’s rhythmic outro). Closing dirges ‘Gender Balance’ and ‘Don’t Feed Me To Them’ meanwhile explore the band’s slower and more ambient side, both landing up in the chasms of Hell as they devolve into noisiness. The swamp of reverb makes it hard to distinguish most of the lyrics, but from the track titles alone you can sense that it’s gloomy and agitated stuff.

Frontman Scott Fair was able to take time out from crucifying his guitar to answer a few questions about the band’s music and the process behind these creative sounds…



If Pool Art was a pizza what toppings would it have?

It'd probably have like a Marmite base with some other polarising food as a topping, maybe something unusual like 90% cocoa dark chocolate.

You guys have a sound that’s hard to pin down. I hear glimmers of everything from shoegaze to doom metal to grunge to ambient in your sound. Is it safe to say you have a lot of influences?

Yeh, I think most interesting artists do. We like listening to lots of new things and discovering old things and I think we do make a conscious effort to combine music that excites us in an obvious way, we wear our influences on our sleeves. I think our stuff is interesting because it's varied and these elements we bring together, although on paper they may clash, actually can work interestingly together on some level.

What’s the creative process behind these nightmarish guitar sounds? Do you spend lots of time playing around with effects and pedals until something sticks? Are there tapes of other experimental recordings?

I do tinker with pedals a lot, but I don't have a big selection of them and I like creating within that limitation. It's really great when you start to re-use an unusual sound or combination of effects across your writing, as it ends up being a thread that ties things together. I do make slightly less accessible stuff with my other project Of The Antarktik, which is a solo venture. I'm not sure how "experimental" anything that we're doing is as I think the term has adopted quite a different meaning for music in recent history, I feel the people who make the pedals that I use are the experimental ones.



You guys have recorded music in art galleries and warehouses. What’s an unusual location that you’d love to record music in?

Buildings that have a story are cool because it feels like you absorb some of the history of that space in the recording. There's a video of a girl singing down a well that's been doing the rounds online and I was really impressed by the reverb that this well produces, I think it was recorded on a phone too, so unexpected places would be most exciting. I remember hearing this weird almost robotic slap delay in my stairwell and trying for a while to capture that without much success.


Can we expect any music videos one day? I’d love to see these sounds visually complemented.

We have a video for 'It's A Hatewatch' coming very soon, it was made by the exceptionally talented Will Shields, who has also snapped some amazing photos for us. He has a great eye and wanted to do a one take video in a dark and creepy location, it turned out great. He loves black and white too. It's quite a subtle video, which is an interesting marriage with what is a very unsubtle song. Hatewatch is the song that has had the worst response from people so it made sense for us to focus on that and really force it down people's throats.

What music are you listening to right now? Anything fans wouldn’t expect

So much, it's too easy to find amazing music these days, which arguably sours the reward a touch. In terms of unexpected stuff though maybe 'clipping.' is the one that stands out. I remember a friend of Lee mentioning them some time ago and months later I stumbled on this KEXP session they did and they are all so talented. I really love Wriggle and their latest Splendor & Misery is something very special. Definitely watch that KEXP performance.


If Pool Art owned a swimming pool what would it be like?

Probably filled with blood that moved gently and in slow motion. A pool designed by David Lynch!

When are Pool Art fidget spinners hitting the shelves?

Still trying to shift T-Shirts so they're probably a way off. I did see a Simon The Magpie, who makes pedals, using one in a pretty interesting way recently though.



Who will win in the imminent nuclear war – Kim Jon Un, Trump or Pool Art?

If it happens, no-one. I hope it never happens.

What else does the future hold for Pool Art?

I'm genuinely excited about what comes next, I've truly enjoyed everything that's happened so far and can't wait to share more music and get in front of more audiences. We're going to take a little break after Chamber Piece though, but we'll be back soon.

Follow Pool Art at https://www.facebook.com/poolartmusic/ 

Friday, 18 August 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 18/08/2017: Ariel Pink, Brockhampton, Saba and more...



Don't get depressed over dumb terrorists and stupid Nazi rallies. Cheer yourself up with these tunes.

THE BEST:

‘Feels like Heaven’ – Ariel Pink


Eccentric experimentalist Ariel Pink is sounding less noisy than he was on ‘Time To Live’, instead giving us some reverb-soaked lovesick New Wave. The haze of rose-tinted guitars and sunny synths are so beautiful that I’m willing to bask in the schmaltziness of the lyrics.

‘Fathers Day’ – NONA



BUT FATHER’S DAY WAS TWO MONTHS AGO??? Alright, keep your hair on, this isn’t a Father’s Day anthem per se, but more a reflection on fatherhood as the LA band’s frontman looks back at his own relationship with his dad. The pensive tone is backed by rose-tinted guitars, just in case you needed an extra fix of rose-tinted guitars this week. It's encouraging stuff from this new wistful indie act.  

‘Junky’ – Brockhampton


This Texas collective of oddball rappers, self-described as the ‘internet’s first boy band’, has been releasing a steady stream of ultra-cool visuals. The music itself has been fairly decent too, but I’ve been waiting for them to wow me enough to jump aboard the hype train. Well, on this single they’ve converted me – set to a tense beat, the members spend each verse of this song digging up their insecurities. They’re all kooky characters and here their kookiness is allowed to shine through.

‘There You Go’ – Saba



Introduced to us via Chance the rapper, fellow Chicago hip hop artist Saba has been working on his own brand of feelgood rap. His beats keep getting jazzier whilst his flow is smooth like butter - or to quote the opening line’s South Park reference: ‘I’m butter like Leopold’.

‘Scars’ - T H i S


I DiD THiNK ABOUT WRiTiNG A WHOLE REViEW LiKE THiS, but thought better of it. Thankfully, the weirdly-stylised band name isn’t the only thing unique about these Welsh rockers. The riffage in this menacing single is pretty creative, particularly the schizopherenic section at the end.

THE WORST:

 ‘Empty Barn 3’ – Roro Perrot


This guy has three ‘empty barn’ songs on his channel of him howling horribly whilst savagely strumming an out-of-tune acoustic guitar. It’s not exactly a single, but I thought I ought to share my bafflement with the world. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Review of 'Scum Fuck Flower Boy' by Tyler, the Creator



Tyler quits trolling and shows us his serious side.

For years, the class clown of the rap game has been showing us glimpses of his serious side as on gems such as ‘Bastard’ and ‘Answer’. It’s hard to invest yourself in these touching moments when the rest of the songs are loaded with masturbation references and ‘golfwang’ chants and rape jokes.

On Cherry Bomb it seemed we were getting a more mature Tyler once and for all. The flows were tighter too and the production was some of his most soulful yet. However, despite the graceful female vocal harmonies and motivational lyrics of a track like ‘Find Your Wings’, there was still a track like ‘Blow My Load’ crass enough to reset the tone back to rock bottom. The mixing was also off in places and Tyler’s attempts to sing were plain awful.

By contrast, Scum Fuck Flower Boy – in spite of its title – may just be the rapper’s most sincere work. He’s taken off the clown costume and decided to open up about all his insecurities without the slightest smear of irony. The headlines have all been obsessed with Tyler’s coming out, and whilst he does reference his sexuality with several lines throughout the LP (‘I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004’), it’s the way Tyler tackles the theme of loneliness and heartbreak that really leaves a mark. 

Flower Boy shows the introspective side to being an extrovert with Tyler’s most personal verse coming towards the end of ‘911/Mr. Lonely’ with confessional lines like ‘the loudest in the room is probably the loneliest in the room’.

Most the instrumentation is heavily jazzy. Tyler’s beats have always relied heavily on jazz-flavoured chords, but here he seems to be weaving intricate compositions out of jazz ideas, peppered with other stylings from electronica, trap and neo-soul. One of his most detailed beats is the labyrinthine backdrop of ‘Garden Shed’. It meanders off in all directions, but rather than feeling messy like many of the beats on Cherry Bomb, there’s a sense of clear direction from start to finish.

And of course there are still some fun bangers in the mix such as ‘Who Dat Boy’ and ‘I Ain’t Got Time’ where Tyler gets confrontational over distorted tuned kick drums. These are less obnoxious than previous Tyler bangers (no ‘golfwang’ chants in sight) but still just as cartoonishly playful as is traditional Tyler style.

The rapper could still improve by taking a few singing lessons, as this part of his musicianship still leaves a lot to be desired. The shaky crooning on the likes of ‘911’ and ‘Glitter’ give Flower Boy an amateurish feel that isn’t charming – it’s just painful on the ears.

Shaky singing aside however, the remainder of the music is proficiently handled. For once Tyler is sounding like a professional, dropping speedy flows and making lyrical quips that aren't just there to shock. His beats meanwhile are masterfully crafted – quite possibly some of the best beats we’ll hear this year. If you’ve previously dismissed Tyler as a troll, now may be the time to start paying attention.


TRACK TASTER:

BEST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 11/08/2017: Kelela, Everything Everything, Avicii and more...



I really tried to hate on some songs this week, but nothing stood out to me as particularly hateable. Consequently it’s all tracks I loved in this week’s selection.

‘Can You Talk To People Around The World On The Internet?’  - Hot Dad


This is such a stupidly ingenious song concept, made better by the beautifully retro synths and vocoders. I do hope Hot Dad’s dreams of communicating to people around the world on the internet come true. 

 ‘Hey Ho’ – oscar oscar


Is ‘ground-breaking’ too hyperbolic a word to use? That's certainly the way I feel towards the alien clicks and chimes kicking off this track. And if the production didn't bring enough of a unique flavour, the Brisbane artist then decides to top it off with a matchless vocal style made up otherworldly quivering falsettos. It’s wonderfully weird – the stuff us bloggers get off to.

 ‘LMK’ - Kelela


I couldn’t be asked to set up an Apple Music account, but nevermind, I can finally join in the hype now that there’s a music video on Youtube - and what a cool music video it is! The alt-r&b songstress parades through a futuristic nightclub whilst donning a myriad of different coloured wigs. Her sound meanwhile continues to be a more danceable version of FKA Twigs, whilst also serving as a more eccentric version of Tinashe. It's the best of both r&b worlds.

‘Without Love’ – Alice Glass


Alice Glass was formerly frontwoman of an electropunk group called Crystal Castles. Now the singer is going at it solo to a backdrop of equally glitched out and warped electronica beats. She’s planning on touring with Marilyn Manson, who may well have been an influence on the creepy video, which sees her writhing around like she needs an exorcist surrounded by vines.

 ‘Desire’ – Everything Everything


There are some parts of this song that are startlingly Muse-like. But these UK indie rockers have always been more silly than melodramatic, allowing them to pull off the theatrics more tastefully. I also don’t know about you, but that fat guitar tone is delicious.

‘Lonely Together’ – Avicii ft. Rita Ora


Avicii claimed he was retiring from the music industry last year and yet has decided to release a new song. I’m not mad at him, largely because as EDM bangers go, this new single ‘Lonely Together’ is pretty damn good. Rita’s voice is nothing special, but the reverb-soaked synths vibe with me. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 28/07/2017: Lomboy, 50ft Warrior, Kesha and more...



Bringing you shamanistic rock, sunshiny pop and shitty hip hop.

THE BEST:

 ‘Loverboy’ - Lomboy


This video is aesthetic as fuck. Combined with the hypnotic glitched-out delivery and creepily clingy lyrics, it’s gorgeously unsettling. I can find very little about the artist other than that s/he’s from Tokyo, which may well be a complete lie. Nothing is real.

‘50ft Warrior’ – 50ft Warrior


Having always been a fan of Siouxsie Sioux and her witchy vibes, it’s great to see a band like this Liverpool 5 piece pushing this sound to new supernatural levels (it's ‘shamanistic’ rock to quote the band). There’s enough reverb to fill the Grand Canyon on this chick’s voice and I’m loving the way she incants the word ‘warrior’ as if it’s one syllable.

‘The Beautiful Game’ - RAC ft. St Lucia


This song is so summery I feel I ought to be bouncing a beach ball around whilst listening to it. It features two indie pop Pollyannas, RAC and St Lucia (who have collaborated before), throwing their catchy and springy vocals over a tropical mixture of sounds.

‘Just So You Know’ – Holy Oysters


You might as well slap on some factor 50 sun cream given how sunshiny this week's songs have been. This disco-flavoured indie single has it all from funky falsettos to sugary synths and comes courtesy of Parisian band Holy Oysters. The band amusingly decided to get rap outfit Alliance Crew to pretend to be them in the video. I admit I was fooled at first.

THE WORST:

‘Marmalade’ – Macklemore ft. Lil Yachty


Twee pianos, auto-tune and Lil Yachty make for a mixture that’s about as enjoyable as toothpaste and orange juice. Although got to agree with Macklemore - Toy Story 3 was a good movie.

‘Learn To Let Go’ - Kesha


I wish I could say I missed Kesha, but I really haven’t. No longer crafting annoying party pop, she’s now turned schmaltzy and bland, which is arguably worse.    

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Review of '4:44' by Jay-Z



Sensitive Jay-Z is better than Show-off Jay-Z.

The US rap icon has never been shy about his success. He’s spent the last thirteen albums bragging about how he’s made it. Whilst there’s no denying his accomplishments as a rapper and businessman, his more recent albums have started to feel like a broken record. Magna Carta Holy Grail was pretty much nothing but him harking on about the money and expensive paintings that he owns. We get it Jay-Z, you’re richer than us.

Expecting 4:44 to be more repetitive rodomontade, I was certainly shocked by what followed. Jay-Z has toned things down quite a notch. In fact, he’s done more than that – he’s torn the arrogant façade entirely away.

The opening track ‘Kill Jay Z’ is pretty much an unfiltered and savage diss track aimed at himself. Gone is the glitzy production, replaced by spliced soul sampling and a crappy microphone. It’s raw and intimate and self-deprecating - pretty much every adjective that I would have never associated with the rapper.

This song sets the tone for the born again humble Jay-Z that follows. If ‘Kill Jay Z’ wasn’t exposed enough, ‘4:44’ (the song everyone’s been talking about) serves as a complete outpouring of shame regarding his rumoured affair – not only does he admit to it but publicly apologise for it letting his flow disintegrate as the song turns into a deep confession. I didn’t think there was an honourable way to address infidelity, but Jay-Z has done it.

Not all of the album is utter self-loathing. In fact, he’s back to bragging about his fucking paintings on the ‘story of OJ’ – the only difference here is that he justifies his pride. The song delves into the fact that all African Americans descend from slaves, and therefore achieving what he has achieved is pretty damn great and worth bragging about. It’s more of a poignant statement on black success than his success alone.

Meanwhile, the likes of ‘Legacy’ explore fatherhood in a way that isn’t ordinarily cringeworthy on a hip hop record, instead exploring the idea of giving what his parents couldn’t give. ‘Family Feud’ and ‘Moonlight’ meanwhile explore generational differences as he looks upon the current rap game as an old hip hop head, laying the barbed bars we’ve always loved from the rapper: ‘please don’t talk about guns/ that you ain’t never gon’ use’.

Whilst the likes of Kanye have seemingly become more obscure and less relatable by pushing arrogance to comical extremes, Jay-Z has marched defiantly in the opposite direction, coming across more human than ever whilst still keeping glimmers of his old charm through wordplay and humour when appropriate (e.g. ‘I’m not black, I’m O.J… okay?’). It’s the best version of Hova we’ve heard in years.

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 21 July 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 21/07/2017: Lana Del Rey, Tyler the Creator, Low Chimes and more...



UPDATE: Both Tyler and Lana’s new albums are out now!

I’ve still got so many records queued up to get through. HELP

THE BEST:

‘Blood Orange’ – Low Chimes


This band’s press photos give off such a just-another-breezy-indie-band air that I almost didn’t bother listening to their material, but I’m glad I did. Folksy vocals float over glistening guitars and a rolling bass riff. It's uniquely hypnotic. Rock may be facing it’s retirement stage right now given recent stats (hip hop is now officially more popular than rock in the US), but I’m glad newcomers like this are proving that guitar music still has places to go.

‘Groupie Love’ – Lana Del Rey


These new 808 flavoured tracks that Lana’s been releasing as of late feel like some of her most upbeat music to date - relatively speaking of course. I mean, it’s still got that longing sighed-out borderline-suicidal mood about it, but the beats and A$AP Rocky’s presence make it feel more urban and energetic. It’s as if the femme fatale has moved onto wooing traplords now. And it hasn’t got Playboi Carter throwing auto-tuned yelps over it like previous single ‘Summer Bummer’.

 ‘Ain’t got time’ – Tyler, the Creator


Can we get over the fact that Tyler may or may not be gay and instead appreciate how fun this upcoming album is likely to be? His beats are only getting more wonderfully whimsical – in this case seemingly blending trap and tango – and the ‘I ain’t got tiiiiiime’ refrain is stupid but brilliant, as has always been the style of hip hop’s loopy class clown.  

‘What Is This’ – Machinedrum ft. Rosie Lowe


What is this? A certified banger m8!!! Dreamy vocals ride some sharp chord stabs accompanied by smatterings of hard percussion. It’s the producer’s usual snazzy work – ecstasy pills on a plate served under a cloche.  

THE WORST:

‘Big B’s’ – Chance the Rapper ft. Young Thug



Thugga is up to his usual sporadic spluttering and Chance sounds out of tune. You don’t need this in your life, trust me.