Saturday, 28 April 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 28/04/2018: Machinedrum, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and more...



Truth be told, it’s all been a bit crap this week…

THE BEST:

‘Hype Up’ – Machinedrum


After much searching, this was the only track I could find that I genuinely enjoyed this week. Alternating between slow swells and energetic spikes, these synths certainly do get you hyped. I’m been loving the upbeat tone of Machinedrum’s recent singles – they’re more immediate and infectious.

THE WORST:

‘Let’s Party All Night’ – Three Beat Slide


Corny family projects like Three Beat Slide make me want to vomit. Why can’t they just stick to karaoke? To be honest, ‘Let’s Party All Night’ could have had the potential to be a fun Junior-Senior-like party track – but there’s no forgiving those vocals.

‘German’ – EO


Do you remember ‘German Whip’? Well, this track by EO is pretty much a watered-down version with some auto-tune slathered on top. To make matters worse, EO doesn’t even drive a German car – he’s only 16 and doesn’t even have a provisional license.

‘Lift Yourself’ – Kanye West


Kanye has been spending the week on Twitter posting some pretty controversial things, declaring his love for Donald Trump and even posting a picture of his MAGA cap. When I heard he’d released a new single last night, I thought perhaps this would be his redeeming moment, but no it seems like he’s still intent on trolling us. After a long build up of soul sampling and digital drums, ‘Lift Yourself’ sees Kanye dropping his first verse of the year, which turns out to be a load of gobbledegook: ‘poopy-di scoop/ scoop-diddy-whoop/ whoop-di-scoop-di-poop’. Whaaat?

Listen here.

 ‘Herojuana Blunts’ – A$AP Rocky


Part of me wants to enjoy this new trippy single from A$AP Rocky – the detuned lo-fi production is certainly interesting. However, the garbled druggy nonsense that makes up the lyrics just doesn’t do it for me (at least it's more comprehensible than that Kanye track).

Sunday, 22 April 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 22/04/2018: Ariana Grande, Empress Of, Janelle Monae and more...




Ariana Grande pulls her own face off in her new music video and Janelle Monae sings about vaginas. This week has it all…

THE BEST:

‘Sooner’ – Soft Science


Shoegazey guitars, dreamy vocals and groovy bass come together in this new shiny single from Californian indie act Soft Science. Most of these dreampop/shoegaze/dreamgaze/postgaze bands (I’m not sure what the correct genre label is here) rely on atmosphere over catchiness, but this single feels both atmospheric and immediately catchy.

 ‘Bad Faith’ – Dove House


These Brighton lads have one of the more exciting sounds I’ve heard in indie rock recently. ‘Bad Faith’ comes off their new EP Teeth and is a stripped back mix of groovy bass, punchy drums and a explosion of guitar during the chorus, topped with slick and infectious vocals.  

 ‘Trust Me Baby/In Dreams’ – Empress Of


LA artist Lorely Rodriguez (AKA Empress Of) is back with some more sophisticated electropop, this time featuring bilingual lyrics that switch between English and Spanish. Unlike her previous material which has all been self-produced, this tracks sees her teaming up with beatsmith Cole MGN – although it still feels distinctly like her type of production.

‘No Tears Left To Cry’ - Ariana Grande


‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is a response to the tragic bombing that took place at Ariana’s Manchester concert last year. I was expecting a mournful slow ballad – but this single is anything but. Spiky synth chords and uptempo drums kick in and make way for a defiantly feelgood dance-pop anthem about recovering and staying positive, topped off with an infectious hook ‘so I’m picking it up, I’m picking it up/I’m loving, I’m living, I’m picking it up’. It comes accompanied by a trippy music video, which sees Ariana dancing atop skyscrapers in a Blade-Runner-esque metropolis and pulling off her face.

THE WORST:

‘PYNK’ – Janelle Monae


I don’t really have an issue with the subject matter and imagery, but for someone’s whose music is usually so eclectic in sound this feels very generic. If it wasn’t about vaginas, it could be a Fifth Harmony song.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review of 'Cocoa Sugar' by Young Fathers




Eclectic Edinburgh experimentalists Young Fathers attempt to make music that’s more ‘normal’.

I still haven’t listened to Young Fathers’ 2014 Mercury-prize winning album Dead. You’d think someone who claims to be a music connoisseur would get their act together and listen to such a noteworthy album, but I’ve been too busy juggling the responsibilities of being a brain surgeon and astronaut on top of running this humble blog.

Anyhow, I wasn’t going to let this new album slip by me. The singles leading up to this release all sounded very different, so I had no clue what to expect – whilst ‘Lord’ seemed to be piano gospel interspersed with ominous bass blasts, ‘Toy’ was a mix of jittery synths and cartoonish hybrid rap-singing that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Gorillaz album. And this album, according to a Skinny interview, was supposed to be their attempt at ‘normal’ music?

The songs are normal only in the sense that they follow familiar verse-chorus-verse-chorus structures (for the most part) and rarely break the four minute mark. Other than that, they’re still making nutty genre-bending music. Whilst often described as a hip hop group, there’s little rapping or conventional beatsmithing to be found on Cocoa Sugar. Their sound is a cocktail of styles containing hints of indie, r&b and electronica. It’s streamlined in it’s poppy structuring, but similarly more diverse than ever in its palette of sounds.

Ally’s vocal delivery meanwhile is excitingly creative. He deliberately stammers the word ‘stammer’ on the purposely playful and fidgety track ‘Toy’, whilst letting tremolo effects distort the chorus of ‘Tremolo’. At times, the delivery brings a whole new meaning to lyrics, as on ‘Wow’ in which the uttering of ‘it’s so amazing’ is distinctly monotone as if mocking people’s growing boredom with the amazing world around them. Young Fathers tend to not shove their beliefs and opinions in your face – they prefer to leave things up to personal interpretation. It’s quite refreshing to hear a band that can be deep without feeling that they need to preach something.

All in all, there isn’t much to fault on Cocoa Sugar. Young Fathers have shown that they’re definitely one of the most orginal acts out there nowadays, and that original can still sound accessible. 

TRACK TASTER:

Saturday, 7 April 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 07/04/2018: Denzel Curry, SOPHIE, Drake and more…



Get ready for your ears to be ringing with the sound of distorted bass and rattling hi-hats - it’s mostly trap bangers this week.

THE BEST:

‘Sumo’ – Denzel Curry


Did someone steal all of Denzel’s Easter eggs? Did he step on a Lego brick? The Floridian father of Soundcloud rap is sounding mighty angry on this new heavy banger ‘Sumo’. As with many of Denzel’s songs, it’s packed with obscure cultural references from Prince Zuko to Chad Hugo.

‘Watch Out!’ – Rich Brian


The shrill synth in the beat is absolutely menacing – this might be Rich Brian’s hardest track to date. The funeral scene in the music video accompanied by the line ‘I just killed that pussy, send your thoughts and prayers’ also did make me chuckle. The Indonesian rapper may be trying to move away from his meme-y origins, but I’m glad he’s still keeping some humour in there.

‘Faceshopping’ – SOPHIE


If you were to film my expressions whilst listening to this new SOPHIE single, it probably wouldn’t be too dissimilar to the warping face in the music video. The gender-blurring banger-producing experimental EDM artist seems to be commenting on the way we all distort out physical appearance to please others. As per usual, the instrumental is a clanking mechanical monster of a beat that itself is continuously mutating.

 ‘Nice For What’ – Drake


Drake’s still harking on about how he hasn’t found a woman who’ll treat him right, but at least his production is fresh. It’s less moody than his previous couple releases and more triumphant, backed by Kanye-esque sampling and punchy 808s.

‘Moon Undah Water’ – Puma Blue


And now for something completely different. This Parisian band’s lo-fi jazz sound has me hooked – those raw detuned guitars and smoky vocals make me feel like I ought to be in a French café sipping coffee and eating croissants.

THE WORST:

‘Push Back’ – Ne-Yo ft. Bebe Rexha & Stefflon Don


Ne-Yo is back and he’s jumping on the Afropop bandwagon. It’s basically what Drake was doing two years ago.