Saturday, 10 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 10/03/2018: Sal Dulu, serpentwithfeet, Oliver Tree and more...

NME may have ended its printed edition this week, but Music Related Junk is just getting started! Get your 500-page papyrus-paper hand-written-in-human-blood monthly magazine at your nearest newsagents.


‘Tyko’ – Sal Dulu

Dublin producer Sal Dulu delivers this dreamy synthscape laced with oriental vocal samples and other hallucinatory sounds. It’s the kind of futuristic ambient music that I could imagine hearing in an aquarium on Mars in two centuries time.  

 ‘bless ur heart’ – serpentwithfeet

Eccentric soul artist serpentwithfeet is back with an epic beard and a new beautiful single titled ‘bless ur heart’. It starts intimately with pianos and a lone kick drum, but ends with a triumphant finish as big as the musician’s beard. However, the most captivating feature has to be serpentwithfeet’s vibrato vocals – I’m not usually a fan of this style of singing, but serpentwithfeet makes it sound so controlled.  

 ‘All That’ x ‘Alien Boy’ – Oliver Tree

California weirdo Oliver Tree is in a lane of his own - and not just because of his wacky appearance and wacky music video (yes, he’s holding a bazooka on a horse). ‘Alien Boy’, the second track in this video, is like nothing I’ve heard before. It’s like hearing a male Katy Perry over synthfunk.

‘It Runs Through Me’ – Tom Misch ft. De La Soul

Hip hop veterans De La Soul have long rapped over jazzy beats, so they’re the perfect choice of guest for Tom Misch’s latest groovy jazztronica song. As always, Tom’s voice and silky guitar playing are delicious. The artist has a new album coming out titled Geography scheduled to be released on April 6th.


 ‘Morning is Coming’ – Sting & Shaggy

Whilst the idea of a Sting and Shaggy collaboration is entertaining, the result is disappointingly bland. Apparently, they’ve got a whole reggae album planned together. Coming to a bargain bin near you.

‘Been Ballin’ – Lil Uzi Vert & Steve Aoki

Generic trap rapper and generic EDM producer collide to create a generic party anthem.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 03/03/2018: Young Fathers, Jack White, Voids and more…

Lots of bubbly and bizarre tunes this week as we say bye bye to winter.


‘Toy’ – Young Fathers

Young Fathers aren’t really a rap group anymore. They’ve morphed into their very own species of musician. With its skittering bouncy beat and cartoonish vocals, ‘Toy’ is a playful new song with all the energy of a kid on a sugar rush. Their new album Cocoa Sugar is going to be exhilarating stuff.

‘Over and Over and Over’ – Jack White

Whilst the kooky operatic vocals do start to get a little grating towards the end, I’m happy that this is a yet another excitingly weird track from the Tim-Burton-esque rocker. It’s got a driving riff propelling it along, which is certain to appeal more to Jack White’s old skool fanbase than, say, his recent electronica meanderings (which I personally liked, but others weren’t so keen on).

 ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’ – Voidz

Julian Casablancas of ex-Strokes fame is also continuing to deliver a steady stream of weird shit with the help of his new band the Voidz. Whilst not as demented as previous single ‘QYURRYUS’, the digitally warped vocals and proggy synth meandering still make this a thrillingly original and eccentric track. It’s hard to believe this is the same dude who brought us ‘Last Nite’.

‘Love Is Good, It’s #1’ – Grey Watson

The lyrical sentiment of this song may be soppy and straightforward, but I can’t help but feel the love. The Seoul-based artist seems to be drawing heavily from Revolver-era Beatles, with some sunny glimmers of surf pop and soul thrown in too. It’s so ridiculously happy it makes me want to dress up in harem pants and a bandana and offer free hugs to strangers.

‘Gummi’ – Gibberish

The LA duo take us on a new psychedelic adventure that sounds like Washed-Up-meets-Animal-Collective. Angelic vocal harmonies glide through a cloud of gloopy synths. It lives up to its name by being as sugary as a mouthful of gummi bears.


‘Cookie Dough’ – BRAIN$

Because kids with guns are sooo trendy right now…

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Review of ‘Masseduction’ by St. Vincent and ‘I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life’ by Tune-yards

Indie weirdo-esses St Vincent and Tune-yards both release their poppiest albums to date.

Both St Vincent and Tune-yards first made a splash in the late noughties, capturing the attention of Pitchfork-loving hipsters like myself for their eccentric sound. Since then they’ve been slowly trading out guitars for more electronica. Are their new albums too poppy? Is there still enough weirdness to give them their edge? What's wrong with showing one's face on an album cover? Should St. Vincent's album have been called Asseduction? It's time for a deep analysis.

Let’s start with St Vincent’s new album Masseduction, which is hardly ‘new’ any more given it was released in October (that’s ancient history in blogging terms, but I’ve always been fashionably late when it comes to reviews).  St Vincent’s 2014 self-titled album was my favourite record of the year – it was catchy and equally experimental, modulating guitars to sound like synths whilst containing bizarre lyrics about snorting a piece of the Berlin wall and taking out the garbage and masturbating. I hoped Masseduction would be just as captivating, but sadly it’s not.

St Vincent has decided to play it safe with more poppy song structures and lyrics that are more personal but not nearly as kookily memorable. There are too many wishy-washy ballads for my liking such as ‘New York’ and ‘Slow Disco’. Annie’s voice is still powerful, but it’s her weirdness that I fell in love with and this is lacking. Instead, we only get glimpses of this weirdness such as the incredibly fun track ‘Pills’ with a nursery rhyme style chorus and epic Paranoid-Android-style outro. Title track 'Masseduction' is also one of the better cuts if only for it's raunchy earworm of a chorus 'I can't turn off what turns me on'. Whilst I don't usually celebrate artists for their edginess, I feel that's the missing ingredient on many of the other songs.

I was worried the new Tune-yards album I Can Feel You Creep Into My Life would fall trap to the same flaws. She too released her last album back in 2014 – a frenetic mix of African tribal rhythms and catchy pop hooks. The lyrics were equally weird, including interludes about breaking a rocking chair and cannibalistic grandparents. As with St Vincent's latest album, it feels like this new Tune-yards album takes a departure from wacky lyrics, instead settling for more serious and personal themes. White guilt seems to be a particularly major lyrical theme, as on ‘Colonizer’ in which she sings 'I use my white woman's voice to tell stories of travels with African men'. Having borrowed elements of African music and culture throughout her career, I can see why she wanted to confront the troublesome topic, although she treats the subject matter as if she's been parading around in blackface (which she hasn't - that's Iggy Azalea's job). Personally I prefer the lyrics about broken rocking chairs and cannibal grandparents that graced her last album.

As for the instrumentation, Merrill hasn't lost her weirdness. In fact, musically it’s even more eccentric and fun than its predecessor. Whilst there may be more dancey elements, evident from the likes of demented disco tune ‘Look At Your Hands’, there are still creative ideas being thrown around. The most interesting songs are in the second half such as ‘Private Life’ with its creepy dissonant melodies and ‘Home’ with its Gregorian choir vocals. Other than the incessantly groovy basslines, there are no guitars in sight. But even if the rock elements of Tune-yards first works are gone, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Life could never be accused of being play-it-safe, making up for it’s loss of guitars with electronic experimentalism.

Masseduction by St Vincent 
I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune-yards 

Friday, 23 February 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 24/02/2018: Higher Brothers, Father John Misty, All Hail Hyena! and more…

This week I explore popular genres such as Chinese hip hop and queer hardcore punk.


‘Trickery’ – Higher Brothers

If you’ve ever wondered what Jamiroquai would sound like with Chinese rapping over the top, well, it’s your lucky day. Backed by a deliciously funky bassline, these fun-loving Far East rappers deliver some smooth bars and a catchy hook (I say ‘catchy’, although I’d probably struggle to sing along to it).  If you like this song, you should definitely check out some of the other Asian acts currently being pushed by music marketing group 88rising. I predict an Asian invasion of western hip hop in the imminent future.

 ‘Black Professional’ – N.ave

Philly artist N.ave works in a professional office environment by day, whilst crafting hip hop music by night. There aren’t many rappers who’ll admit that. In fact, I’m sure few upcoming rappers can make such a claim. With his new track ‘Black Professional’, the title track from his new EP, N.ave confronts the obsession with wanting more from life. It’s a track that many of us can relate to, accompanied by a gorgeous beat.

‘Mr Tillman’ – Father John Misty

Josh Tillman (AKA Father John Misty) has written a new song about himself seemingly going through a mental breakdown, delivered from the perspective of begrudging hotel staff: ‘oh, and a reminder of our policy/ don’t leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony’. The lyrics contain Tillman’s signature mix of humour and depression. It’s definitely got Elton John vibes too.

‘Capitulate’ – Hit Bargain

Self-proclaimed queencore act Hit Bargain hail from LA and write songs that confront queerness and sex. This new dark and urgent song tackles consent, sung from the desperate voice of someone reluctantly giving in to sex whist frantic dissonant guitars play out sinisterly in the background.

‘Stranger’s Song’ – All Hail Hyena

The pyjama-wearing indie punks are back with a new drummer and a new video for their single ‘Stranger’s Song’. Short bursts of guitar make up the catchy verses, accompanied by typically barmy lyrics.


‘Bastards’ – Machine Head

Political folk metal is a bold new direction for Machine Head and one that I never hope to hear again.

Friday, 16 February 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 16/02/2018: Topaz Jones, Mabuta, Natalie Portman and more…

Some fresh new music to consume with your pancakes and Valentines chocolates.


 ‘Zoom’ -  Topaz Jones

I’m loving the soulful way in which this New Jersey rapper rhymes ‘voodoo’ and ‘tutu’ and then ‘couscous’. He may well be the only hip hop artist I know spitting bars about couscous. It beats rapping about codeine. The groovy beat’s pretty cool too.

‘In My Dreams’ – Show Clothes & Gavriella

This tune with its symphonic strings is so sauve that I feel like I ought to be listening to it dressed in a tuxedo whilst playing blackjack. It’s made all the more gorgeous by Gavriella’s jazz-pop cadences. Some nonsensical perfume ad needs to use this song in the background and give it the recognition it deserves.

 ‘Tree of Love’ – Auramancer

The moody QOTSA-like vocals and carnivalesque guitars kick this track off to a great start. But the song really hits its stride with that soaring chorus. The Belgian rockers have an EP out titled ‘The Only Way To Fail’ for those that love this song and want more.

‘Welcome To This World’ – Mabuta

Mabuta is Japanese for ‘eyelid’. This is the length that people go to nowadays to find original band names. Sadly I couldn’t find any more ‘eye-opening’ facts about this jazz quintet. I don’t usually dig jazz instrumentals, but this gliding track is absolutely hypnotic. I can almost imagine myself flying when I close my eyelids.

 ‘Natalie’s Rap 2’ – Natalie Portman


I would pay good money for a whole rap album from Natalie Portman. Following her 2009 Lonely Island collaboration, Natalie has decided to return with another hilarious single this time making Black Swan references and defending Jar Jar Binks. Also, Andy Samberg is back dressed as a Viking.


‘Whiteboy’ - Tom Macdonald

This dude is brave, I’ll give him that. But a rap song about ending white guilt seems a bit insensitive given that hip hop was born out of black struggles.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

INTRODUCING: Dopest Gringo Alive

Meet DGA (Dopest Gringo Alive).

He’s a Latino DIY noise-rapper from California who self-describes himself on his Bandcamp page as ‘the last son of Krypton and the patron saint of blast-out rap’.

Whilst there are lots of rappers out there currently barking over noisy beats, DGA’s idiosyncratic style is totally his own. His self-produced beats comprise of murky samples and distorted drums, but carry a mood more similar to extreme metal than trap rap. His bars meanwhile are a mixture of punky sociopolitical commentary and grungy personal anguish, whilst others are comically berserk. Take 'Fuego Sus', which sees the rapper uttering lines like ‘Hold my Prozac, let me go bust a nut on my soul’, before breaking into a dark interpolation of the Cha Cha slide. You can stream his latest album Fuego Sus below.

Eager to get to know this eccentric rapper, I decided to arrange this interview and ask lots of ridiculous questions about pizza and what it would be like to wake up as Ariana Grande.

If DGA was a pizza, what toppings would it have?

Figs and bacon maybe.

Alright, so we know you’re the first dopest gringo alive – who is the second dopest gringo?

My concept of gringo is pretty specific but maybe Johnny Cash? But he’s quite dead. Tom Hardy is DGA’s dream boy so maybe him. BUT - the main point is that I don’t have much competition because - you heard it here first - white people suck! :)

I’m loving your noisy and raw production style. Who are your influences production-wise?

Summing this kind of thing up accurately is a terrifying task because what if I say the wrong thing? No no no, better to say nothing.  (Guerilla Toss, Death Grips, and everything El-P produces are some noisy shit)

There’s some incredible sampling on your album Fuego Sus. Where do you find your samples?

My samples come from a lot of everchanging sources but the mainstay are my friends’ music and demos, with permission of course.  All my best stuff comes from them.

Some of your lyrics are very dark. How personal are your lyrics? Or is more of a case of trying to create a mood?

My lyrics are 100 percent hella personal but I’m mentally unhealthy so their delusionally dramatic darkness is more from that than reality.  Also I just say sicke shit so people can get boo-boos on the edge.  

‘Ariana Grande SEO’ is a bizarre little track about wanting to be Ariana Grande. What would you genuinely do if you woke up and you were Ariana Grande?

I would be perfect.  I wouldn’t have to do anything except be Ariana Grande.  Everything would be A okay.  I would continue to layer sarcasm with continually less meaning!

You’re trapped on a desert island and can only bring three personal items (let’s say, you’ve already got food and the bare essentials to survive). What three items do you bring?

2 15s and something to play out them.  I’ve never had 2 15s but Big KRIT does so I think that’s cool.

You have to share your desert island experience with one of the following people – Donald Trump, Logan Paul or MC Ride? They each have rabies for some reason. Who do you choose?

For the sake of brevity - Stefan can get it.

What music are you listening to right now? What were your favourite songs and least favourite songs of 2017?

I’ve been listening to King Krule’s 2017 album The OOZ a shitton.  Bay area slaps.  Indigenous Mexican music.  Folksy cowboy music.  Grindcore/Breakcore.  Those are just some interesting maybe unique things.  I don’t keep up to date with music very well.  A strange album I recommend is Touchy by Luie Luie.  Its very uncomfortable but I love it - “I made these recordings all by myself!”

What does the future hold for DGA?

A lot a lot a lot of hard work to improve and make something I can call dope without hesitation.  I’m hoping to make a lot more music videos since I loved making the video for “Stitched Up” and for better or worse I made exactly what I pictured.  I’ll say there are a lot of singles coming up because if I tell people there are then there will be.  When I drop another album I promise it will be good or your free download back.  Much love, kiss kiss.

Follow DGA at 

Friday, 2 February 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 02/02/2018: James Blake, Let’s Eat Grandma, Von Sell and more…

Eccentric envelope-pushing tunes from James Blake, Let's Eat Grandma, Von Sell and more...


‘If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead’ – James Blake

James Blake’s atmospheric electropop has always been fairly left-field, but the choppy and distorted vocal editing that he brings to this song is truly ground-breaking. It stutters along in a panicky manner (the lyrics the lyrics repeat repeat like this like this), perfectly fitting the song’s theme of life speeding ahead. Will James Blake be releasing an album soon of similar-flavoured stutter-pop tunes? I hope so (although I can imagine a whole album of this might give me an anxiety attack).

‘Hot Pink’ – Let’s Eat Grandma ft. SOPHIE

Creepily-named alt-pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma take things in a more dancey direction on their latest single ‘Hot Pink’, teaming up with banger-crafting producer SOPHIE. In fact, the combo of Brit-inflected vocals and EDM instrumentation remind me a lot of AlunaGeorge.

‘Hell No’ – Von Sell

This Brooklyn-via-Germany musician almost had to give up his career as a vocalist after suffering vocal chord pain and discomfort which left him unable to sing. Fortunately, after over a year’s break from music, Von Sell has managed to make a recovery and bring his dream career back to life. His new single ‘Hell No’ is quite the comeback – it’s a melancholy electropop single with a soaring groovy chorus and unusual progression that keeps you hooked. It gets a big 'hell yeah' from me.

‘Comet Tails’ – Filthy Kitsch

Joe Shackleton is another artist who has had to battle through injuries to keep his music career alive. Once a drummer for several indie bands, the Stockholm musician had to give up after suffering several joint problems. Whilst his days playing percussion in live shows may now be over, this hasn’t stopped him recording new material under a new alias Filthy Kitsch. ‘Comet Tails’ is a stomping triumphant song made up of driving guitars, bright synths and cheery ooh-la-las. It’s an excitingly fresh indietronica sound that proves a debilitating injury needn’t be the end, but instead the beginning of something new.

‘Baby I’m Bleeding’ – JPEGMAFIA

This beat is absolutely bonkers. At first you wonder where its heading with its looped juddering vocal sample. Then JPEGMAFIA starts angrily spitting over it, some bass and a snare come in, after which it turns into a mean head-bobbing banger. The experimental hip hop artist has a new album out titled Veteran full of similarly crazy sampling for those hungry for more.  


 ‘Supastars’ – Migos

Migos are masters at creating middle-of-the-road trap rap. I can't bring myself to listen to their new two hour album. I'd rather wipe my butt with sandpaper.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Is Asian Hip Hop About To Become Huge In The West?

The west has never really embraced Asian music. Sure, there are a few diehard weeaboos out there that could probably tell you every song right now in the Japanese charts. But the majority of us know only novelty hits like PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ and perhaps an anime soundtrack or two.

It seems however that things are about to change. Asian music if finally starting to break into the west – and it’s mostly hip hop. Asian rappers are appropriating the sounds of the west, but they’re also throwing in their own local influence.

One such rapper is Indonesian emcee Rich Brian (formerly known as ‘Rich Chigga’). He first attracted widespread attention in 2016 with his video for ‘Dat $tick,’ which sees him boldly choosing to wear a pink polo shirt and fanny bag whilst spitting mean bars over a hard-hitting trap beat.

The video has amassed over 80 million views and prompted the likes of Ghostface Killah to get in touch for a collaborative remix. Rich Brian’s humorous personality has only led him to become more successful, taking to Twitter to write hilarious posts and creating a number of wacky Youtube videos, including one in which he microwaves bread and proceeds to stare awkwardly into the camera.

Rich Brian isn’t the only Asian hip hop artist making waves right now. Another artist is Japanese-Australian rapper Joji – formerly known as the youtuber Filthy Frank who has birthed a number of memes including creating the crazy dance to the Harlem Shake back in 2013. Only recently has he got more serious as a musician under the pen-name Joji.

It’s easy to see why both artists have blown up, given that they both rap largely in English and are as much comedians as they are musicians. However, other artists are now starting to blow up that rely less on being memes, whilst rapping largely in their native tongue such as Chinese rap group Higher Brothers. Their biggest hit is ‘Made In China’ - which jokes about the fact Western audiences refuse to listen to Chinese rap due to the language barrier. 

Meanwhile in New York, female artists such as Yaeji are spitting in English and Korean. Her glossy bangers blend rapping and singing, whilst her geeky-girl image is entirely unique. Like Rich Chigga, she’s reinventing swag and showing that ‘realness’ can mean ‘being yourself’ – you don’t have to be gangster from the projects to be considered real.

The influence is starting to have a reverse effect already and rappers from the West are teaming up with Asian rappers and borrowing beats and lingo. Just listen to this loud posse cut featuring the likes of A$AP Ferg...

Is this the beginning of an Asian revolution in western rap? Will we be hearing these kind of songs on the radio soon? It would certainly seem the language is no longer a barrier. We've already got half-Spanish singles like 'Despacito' dominating the airwaves, plus it's not as if most Western rappers are particularly lyrical is it?  It could be an exciting new direction for popular music as a whole. 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 27/01/2018: Jack White, A$AP Rocky, Justin Timberlake and more...

Jack White embraces electronica and Justin Timberlake goes country.


‘Respect Commander’ & ‘Corporation’ – Jack White

Bluesy singer/guitarist Jack White has been doing some pretty audacious stuff recently, including banning phones from his live shows. He’s also released two experimental, largely instrumental new singles that seem to be pushing rock in new directions. ‘Respect Commander’ opens with sped up drums, orchestra hits and electronica before transforming into a muddy blues rock anthem. ‘Corporation’ meanwhile centres around a groovy riff that sounds like something between Deep Purple and Steely Dan, closing with some eerie shrieking and rambling about corporations. It’s not stuff for your average rock fan - it's weird and straight up my alley.

‘Window’ – Christian Besa Wright

With it’s lazy guitars and layers of sunny vocal harmonies, this track from LA singer-songwriter Christian Besa Wright is as soothing as a summer’s day. It’s what’s needed to cheer up these miserable winter months.

 ‘QYURRYUS' - The Voidz

The Voidz, fronted by Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, have been releasing increasingly more bizarre songs. Their latest song sounds like a synthwave war chant topped with squealing guitars and even some autotuned warbling towards the end. When it comes to weird moments of the week, it's up there with Oprah Winfrey's third hand and that Sting/Shaggy collaboration (which wasn't good or bad enough to feature in this week's selection). 


☆☆☆☆☆ 5IVE $TAR$’ – A$AP Rocky

This is distinctly average music from the flamboyant rapper. Three stars would have been generous. Where is Rocky’s energy? He sounds like he’s just had a rough night’s sleep in a one star hotel.

‘Say Something’ – Justin Timberlake ft. Chris Stapleton

Timberlake seems to be going for a more mature country/gospel sound here and, well, it’s bland. Chris Stapleton’s vocals are the most interesting thing about this song and that’s saying something. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review of 'Revival' by Eminem

The new Eminem album is a disaster.

It’s usually a bad sign whenever Eminem titles an album Re-something. Both Relapse and Recovery were big duds in the rap icons’s career. Then the Marshall Mathers LP 2 came along in 2013 and seemed to restore Eminem’s legacy – whilst I may have been a little forgiving of the corny choruses and bland beats in my review, the album had enough head-spinning flows and choppy rhyming to make up for it.

Sadly, Revival is a big backward step – Regression would have been a better name for it. It’s not that Eminem isn’t trying new things. He boldly addresses race politics, spends a whole track attacking Trump and even incorporates some trap-flavoured beats into the mix. He even takes the brave step to confess about the way he used to treat his ex Kim, having spent numerous tracks in the past throwing death threats at her. All of this, I respect – but why is it all so badly executed?

Honestly, I like a good bit of Trump-bashing, but ‘Like Home’ is just Em spewing out insults we already thought up ourselves, peppered by corny puns such as ‘Like a dictionary, things are looking up’. This isn’t even the corniest line on the album – this award has to go to ‘I’m looking at your tight rear like a sightseer/ your booty is heavy doody like diarrhoea’, which had me sighing out loud.

The lyrics aren’t the only source of corniness. Hearing Eminem pull out a trap rap flow on ‘Chloraseptic’ makes him sound like Migos crossed with a muppet, backed by the blandest trap beat available so that the whole thing sounds like a parody. Then there are the multiple rock instrumentals as on ‘Remind Me’ and ‘Heat’, which only serve to make each track sound like some terribly dated Beastie Boys song. Then of course there are the countless mushy choruses from guest pop stars such as Ed Sheeran and Beyonce, taking away any intimacy from Em’s bars (there’s even a track almost entirely dedicated to Pink - is this really what Eminem thinks his fans want?).

The rapper might have created a less messy album is he hadn’t tried to appeal to so many audiences at once. He seems to be out to impress everyone from mainstream pop fans to rock fans, whilst covering subject matter as expansive as sociopolitics to poop jokes. There are so many incarnations of Eminem on this album that it’s like listening to a compilation album, when all you want is the real slim shady.

It’s irritating, because there are glimpses of brilliance on Revival that could have been the entire premises of the album. If all the tracks were like ‘Bad Husband’ and ‘Like Home’ without the corny choruses and corny lines, this could have been Eminem’s long-awaited grown-up-rapper album – similar to the recent confessional Jay-Z album. Alternatively, I would have loved to have seen an experimental album from Em, as the track ‘Offended’ gives us a taster of. The crazy rhyme schemes, avant-garde beat and playful nursery rhyme chorus show that Eminem still has the talent and innovation in him. Even the celebrity disses in this track are funny (I chuckled at ‘like R Kelly with a full bladder’). A whole album of similar songs probably wouldn’t have got much radio airplay, but it would have impressed people enough to restore his legacy. Instead we’re left with a tin of corn with bad beats and no focus. 


Friday, 12 January 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 12/01/2018: Halo Maud, Tune-Yards, Gibberish and more...

Celebrate the new year by bumping these fresh new tunes in your car whilst a newly recruited Logan Paul serves you at the drive-thru.


‘Baptism’ – Halo Maud

This French indie singer-songwriter could be mistaken for a child with her eerily high-pitched vocal tone. The spellbinding harmonies from the backup singers and strange Wicca dancing in the video make it all the more hypnotic (the French seem to love zonked-out dancing in music videos).

‘Heart Attack’ – Tune-Yards

Speaking of wacky dancing, art-popper Merrill Garbus (AKA Tune-Yards) has a new upbeat single out titled ‘Heart Attack’ accompanied by a video containing all kinds of freaky moves. With it’s rhythmic claps and identifiable chorus it’s one of Merrill’s more straightforward songs to date.

‘Yellow’ – Tiedye Ky

The sexy synth chords opening the track immediately lulled me in, but it’s at 1:17 that the song enters a whole new dimension with those detuned stabs. ‘Yellow’ is one of multiple tracks named after colours on the Philly singer-producer’s new EP Color Palettes.

‘Feet Wet’ – Gibberish

‘Feet Wet’ takes you through a hazy mist of ghostly guitars, vaporous vocals and spacey synthesizers. A pounding drum pushes the song along further into the psychedelic fog. The LA band have a new record out titled Kneehigh.

‘Weather’ – Adrian Underhill

Canadian singer-songwriter Adrian Underhill displays an eccentric mixture of sounds on his new single ‘Weather’. I particularly like raw drum loop in the background. It shouldn’t fit with the warm piano and digital synth bass, but surprisingly it all blends together beautifully like Turkey and cranberry sauce (as opposed to pineapple on pizza - the food of the devil).  


‘This is Me’ - Kesha

I was never a Kesha fan, but I’ll take her squawky dance tunes any day over these try-hard epic pop ballads.  

Friday, 5 January 2018

Review of 'No-one Ever Really Dies' by N.E.R.D

N.E.R.D are back sporting a less poppy, more political Pharrell Williams.

Alternative hip hop/funk/rock/whatever-genre-they-can-throw-at-the-canvas group N.E.R.D formed in 1999. Their last album was released in 2010, after which frontman Pharrell moved on to get involved in a number of pop hits including Daft Punk collaboration ‘Get Lucky’, solo single ‘Happy’ and more recently a Calvin Harris hit ‘Feels’ featuring Katy Perry and Big Sean.

Have made his millions as a mainstream artist, Pharrell has now decided to reform with his ex-N.E.R.D members to get back in touch with his alternative side. Chad Hugo is back providing extra production and instrumentation, whilst Shay Haley is also doing his thing (what exactly does Shay Haley do again?). It’s the comeback album N.E.R.D fans has been waiting for, only it doesn’t feel much like a traditional N.E.R.D album at all.

For one, the rock flavourings have gone. It’s all highly-polished digital sounds on No-One Ever Dies with a heavier hip hop influence more similar to Pharrell’s early Neptunes work. There are rumblings of digital sub-bass and spiky synth chords on almost every track giving it a definite style. Almost every song also contains a beat change to makes things grippingly unpredictable from the groovy breakdown of ‘Lemon’ to the full-on trippy metamorphosis of ‘ESP’. Occasionally songs get a little too cluttered such as on ‘1000’. And whilst many of the abrupt beat changes come as a fun surprise, a few slow transitions here and there might have helped to make the production a little less start/stop.

As for the vocal performances, Pharrell gives his shaky falsettos a break for a more varied delivery. At times it veers off into cartoonish territory (I can picture him voicing a talking animal in a Disney movie at points), but it aids the animated beats in most cases. Some of the tracks are party anthems, but there are also some great political rallies on this record such as ‘Don’t don’t do it’, which explores the lose-lose situation of racial profiling and anti-Trump tune ‘Deep Down Body Thurst’.

The guest stars are well placed for the most part too. I rolled my eyes at the boastful parade of big names such as Rihanna and Ed Sheeran, but both artists actually meld well into their respective songs. Who knew Rihanna could rap? Or that Ed Sheeran could sound tasteful on a trap-reggae beat? Kendrick Lamar and Andre 3000 are reliable as always, even if Kendrick’s encore on ‘Kites’ feels a little excessive. The only disappointing guest is Future, whose auto-tuned warbling isn’t welcome on any album I listen to, but sounds especially hideous on the already ugly ‘1000’.

With all comeback albums, the biggest question is always ‘do they still sound relevant?’. In the case of N.E.R.D, they certainly succeed on this album and not just because we’re so used to hearing Pharrell on the airwaves. The guests are all current and expertly placed and the beats are thrillingly innovative despite being occasionally messy. It might not sound much like the group’s traditional sound, but it’s all the better for it.