Category: reviews

After 3 years The Internet are back with ‘Hive…

After 3 years The Internet are back with ‘Hive Mind’

Daniel Lester

After 3 years and a lot of solo projects, the funky soul band from the enormous Odd Future collective is back with a new release. “Hive Mind” is the band’s 4th studio album and sees the young musicians in a much more uniform and confident light, as they deliver some of the grooviest, funkiest and smoothest material of their relatively short discography.

Originally conceived as an electro-soul duo by lead singer and audio engineer Syd and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Martin in 2011, as one of the many projects associated with Tyler, The Creator’s Odd Future collective. The band has since expanded, at one point even including Jameel Bruner who is a brother to bassist-extraordinaire Thundercat, and now is a fivesome of skilled musical minds. Their 2015 release “Ego Death" received a lot of praise and acclaim, and is the first album to feature the young, up-and-coming guitarist and producer Steve Lacy.

The new album boasts 13 songs that all feel very connected and consistent. The production has improved drastically, the instrumentals have a lot more flavor to them and Syd sounds more confident than she has in the past. Lacy also joins her as a vocalist on this album in a few spots. The singles "Roll (Burbank Funk)”, “La Di Da” and “Come Over”, together with the opener “Come Together” make such a strong first impression, with catchy hooks, incredible basslines and a great vibe overall. Syd sounds as flirtatious as ever on tracks such as “Stay the Night” and “Mood”, where she delivers subtle, yet captivating hooks and lyrics to her lover that makes the listener want to stick around for the
entire duration of the record without a complaint.

The very comforting and smooth song “It Gets Better (With Time)” is one of the most memorable and catchy songs on the album, full of beautiful arrangements and Syd’s always impressive falsetto. The joint track “Next Time/Humble Pie” is quite interesting in its own right, clearly boasting two different song ideas, but still carrying them out effectively. The two closing tracks feature Lacy and Syd respectively and are woven with mantras repeated by each singer. “Beat Goes On” is a nice build-up to the incredibly sensual and satisfying “Hold On” delivered in a soft and vulnerable way.

The tracks “Look What U Started”, “Bravo” and “Wanna Be” are not the most immediate and memorable, but certainly don’t weigh this album down in any way, as the group is not one of those bands with arena-packing choruses, dramatic instrumentals or iconic evergreen hits, which seems to work perfectly for The Internet. The only problem to be had with this album is the drum production in certain tracks, as the sampled and treble-y snares tend to feel to skeletal for the smooth and atmospheric vibes of the guitars, synths, and basslines. It may be the band’s aesthetic, but it seems to hurt the quality of some songs.

Overall, “Hive Mind” is a fantastic release, and probably the strongest one yet for the LA funksters. While not as “orgasmic” as similar releases in this style such as “Flower Boy” or “Isolation”, it is an album that keeps your attention in a very relaxed way. It’s sexy, appealing and most of all gives good vibes, which is perfect for either a summer album or an intimate playlist for steamy summer nights.

Dirty Projectors share ‘Lamp Lit Rose’, an ecc…

Dirty Projectors share ‘Lamp Lit Rose’, an eccentric record homologous to their iconic 2009 album

Daniel Lester

It’s only been 18 months since the last album released by Dirty Projectors, and here we are again, presented with a brand new one from the experimental rock project led by David Longstreth. This time around, however, things don’t sound nearly as somber. In fact, long-time fans of this indie rock project might find a lot of similarities between this record and their magnificent 2009 release “Bitte Orca”, the album which caught the eyes and ears of music fans and critics alike nearly 10 years ago. This time around though, things are a lot different.

Firstly, the female vocalists of the group, Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian are not present on the album. With them being one of the key
components of the legendary 2009 album, it is obvious that “Lamp Lit Prose” carries only the sonic aesthetic and vibe, with new twists and numerous guest spots. Longstreth adds a lot of famous friends to the mix to add their unique voices and give variation to the tracklist. The first highlight of the project is the opener “Right Now”, featuring the sensual, breathy vocals of Syd from The Internet. Her chilled out delivery is a nice juxtaposition to Longstreth’s high and yelping delivery. It’s a blissful acoustic track that gives a nice start to a varied collection of songs. Another track that stands out is the single “That’s a Lifestyle”, which has slight political undertones and is the most “Bitte Orca”-sounding song on here. It brings a sense of familiar, and Longstreth’s vocal delivery is as strong as ever.

The song “I Feel Energy” is probably the liveliest song on the album, as it has a slight funkiness to it. Amber Mark’s voice only strengthens the impact one may feel whilst listening to the track. Also, according to Longstreth himself, there is a strange cricket sound buried in here that was sent to him by his former collaborator Bjork.“What is the Time” has a very old-school aesthetic to it, featuring amazing harmonies, bouncy guitar chords and very smooth jazzy piano stabs. It certainly sounds retro, in a very positive way. Definitely a standout on the latter half of the record. “Blue Bird” is a breezy spot that has a very calming sound and is the only song that sounds like it could be listened to at the beach, on a lazy summer afternoon.

While all these songs mentioned so far are quite admirable and uplifting, “Lamp Lit Prose” suffers from one major issue, and that is an abundance of corniness. The first instance of it is on the first single “Break-Thru”. While its instrumentation is superb, fresh and quite intriguing, the lyrics ruin the feel of the song. Longstreth offers a song about a girl that is so amazing to the point where he doesn’t shy away to give awkward-sounding shout-outs to Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, and even Archimedes and Fellini. The song “Zombie Conquerer” is also unremarkable and has its fair share of corniness. Another lukewarm moment comes in the form of “You’re the One” featuring Rostam and Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. The guest stars do bring nice vocal harmonies to the mix, but overall the song is quite unremarkable and
forgettable. The closing track featuring Dear Nora is a very calm, but ultimately bland song that ends the album on a kind of a low note, not really adding to the overall vibe of the full project. “I Found it in U” is probably the least likable and interesting track of the bunch, and easily gets forgotten nearing the end of this record.

While this album seems very unfocused, it certainly has blissful and charming spots on it which may give fans a taste of what made the band so appealing ten years ago. Yes, it still sounds like music that a hipster shepherd may listen to whilst looking at a far away city from a hill, featuring David Longstreth’s eccentric vocal inflections and folky, mutated guitar playing. However, the rest of this album sounds like a mixed bag of ideas and just an indulgent collection of tracks that do not offer anything new or refreshing.

Key tracks: “Right Now”, “That’s a Lifestyle”, “I Feel Energy”, “Blue Bird”

Billie Eilish thunders on new track, ‘you shou…

Billie Eilish thunders on new track, ‘you should see me in a
crown’

Sarah Beckford

Billie Eilish’s newest
single is a blend of magnificent punchy lyrics and perfectly blended sounds,
and it’s certainly well-produced. It’s a clear demonstration that her future
music, much like her current catalog, is chock-full of creativity and her
unique energy.

The song begins with
near silence, which then fades into Eilish’s opening lyrics. She sings quietly
but with authority, forcing you to listen to what she has to say. The song
begins with minimal instrumentation in order the main focus to be on Eilish’s
voice, but the song’s momentum begins to pick up in order to usher in the
chorus. Much like her songs ‘Bellyache’ and ‘COPYCAT’, Eilish blends her
personality with the character of the song, adding depth to the track. ‘you
should see me in a crown’ is a song of authority, celebrating Eilish’s ability
to command a song and the setting it creates. With each reprise of chorus,
especially near the end, more background elements, like vocal echoes,
harmonies, and added instruments come in, which add a finalizing touch to the
song.

The song’s lyrics are
pointed in their structure and in their delivery as well, which is what makes
the song so great. Billie plays with the way she sings the notes, which gives
the song an unpredictable nature, so that one can’t really tell where she’s
going to go with it. This is apparent on the second verse, where she sings, “Count
my cards, watch them fall/Blood on a marble wall/I like the way they all/Scream.”
When she sings the scream lyric, one would expect her to say something else, or
sing it differently- but she doesn’t, once again shattering the listener’s
expectations in the best way possible.

Through ‘you should see
me in a crown,’ Eilish is cementing her rule as a force to be reckoned with in
music. She’s not here to entertain the constructs and assumptions people have,
but rather, to astonish them by being herself.

Twenty One Pilots thunders back with ‘Jumpsuit…

Twenty One Pilots thunders back with ‘Jumpsuit’

Sarah Beckford

Usually when a band returns from hiatus, fans typically
theorize how they’ll sound after being away. The same can be said for Twenty
One Pilots, who disappeared for a year after their critically acclaimed record
Blurryface shot them to fame, and brought their spirited fanbase into the
spotlight as well. A new era has now begun, and ‘Jumpsuit,’ one of two lead
singles from their upcoming record, Trench,
proves that.

Jumpsuit is part of a larger story, a story that’s highly
suspected to be part of the universe of cryptic images, messages, and
billboards that have hinted at Twenty One Pilots’ return. Despite all of this,
‘Jumpsuit’ is a track that not only drives one to write a thousand theories of
its meaning, but it also sounds stellar as well. It opens with a bass heavy
industrial sound, and flows well, peppered with traditional Twenty One Pilots’
sonic trademarks- high energy, cinematic soundscapes, lyrical symbolism, and
the exhilarating twist and turns that occur when one masterfully blends soul,
hip-hop, and rock elements. 

‘Jumpsuit’ urges you to wake up, as Tyler Joseph says at the
beginning of the song’s music video. Through the song’s lyrics, Joseph speaks
of feeling pressure, and appealing to his jumpsuit t act as a safeguard from
these pressures. These pressures could either be society, the music industry,
insecurities, or simply Dema, a mystical land/governmental force that’s
mentioned in ‘Nico and the Niners,’ the album’s other lead single. The song’s
bridge is strikingly soft, backed by soft percussion and high harmonies, before
a guttural and exciting reprise of the chorus. It’s here that the listener can
hear Twenty One Pilots’ hard rock influences, and it’s done in such a way that
one genuinely feels the catharsis and energy with which Joseph is singing.

‘Jumpsuit,’ with all of its complex elements, is a piece of
the larger puzzle that’s been created by mysterious nature of we know and don’t
know about the band’s upcoming record. Nevertheless, it’s an energetic track
deserving of the hype it’s been given. With this and the reggae-infused ‘Nico
and the Niners,’ Twenty One Pilots has returned not just for the fans, but for
themselves. At their core, they’re storytellers, and this shows that they know
how to tell one.

Let’s Eat Grandma is captivating and innovativ…

Let’s Eat Grandma is captivating and innovative on new album, ‘I’m All Ears’

Daniel Lester

So far, this year has been one of the most intriguing years for music in recent history. We’ve heard so many great albums that mark the sound of this decade, we’ve seen a gauntlet of mostly top-notch albums released under the helm of Kanye West, SOPHIE’s triumphant debut album that sounds like music from another world and even electronic-psychedelia pioneers MGMT return with their first amazing album since 2010, amongst many other remarkable releases. This year is truly gearing up to be an amazing year for music. However, most of the records of this year featured mostly sounds present throughout this decade; namely trap rap, bouncy tropical EDM, and watered-down alt-rock.

However, there is still plenty of time for carving out a new sound straight into the 2020’s. Some of the previously mentioned records such as Sophie’s debut, Kanye’s Kids See Ghosts project or Charli XCX’s future pop efforts and even last year’s incredible sophomore album by Lorde – “Melodrama”. The last album on that list is the one that could be compared most to the latest album of electropop duo Let’s Eat Grandma – “I’m All Ears”. The group formed by childhood friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth caught the ears of the industry with 2016’s debut “I, Gemini”, and intrigued many listeners and brought hints of a fresh pop sound that was yet to find its wings. Their latest effort sees them doing exactly that.

This album is amazingly captivating and unlike anything, you will most likely hear this year. The single “Hot Pink” could probably serve as a great introductory song to this album, even though it follows the curious opener instrumental “Whitewater”. The former is a stellar pop tune features strong vocals, interesting songwriting, and production by none other than future-pop producer extraordinaire – SOPHIE. The beat, while carrying her synthetic and rubbery signature, gives more spotlight to the duo’s strengths, delivered on the amazingly catchy chorus. The song “It’s Not Just Me” is also produced by SOPHIE, but still proves that Let’s Eat Grandma is the main act on this release and their melodies and vocals are attention-grabbing at nearly every point on the album. The song “Falling Into Me” is also a shiny pop tune with great production that just adds to the list of standouts. The 9-minute “Cool & Collected” has a slight 90’s vibe, but the emotion exuded by the girls more than makes up for this and brings an interesting song with a certain level of depth. Also, the explosion of sounds, in the end, is quite a welcome shift in such a long track.

Some other tracks like “Snakes & Ladders” seem to be a little less remarkable, but still very good listens. The main critique of this song stems from the likeness it has to other artists’ sounds, namely Lorde, Fiona Apple and, by vocal delivery, even Bjˆrk. The slightly grunge-sounding chord progression delivered via an overdriven guitar and the trip-hop production reinforces the previous point. “I Will Be Waiting” is also very similar to most cuts on Lorde’s “Melodrama”, which is not too bad considering that this song has quality. However, the girls start the album off with a very original and interesting vibe, to the point where these songs seem to be slight blemishes on that “progressive” pop sound. “Ava” is a more typical 2010’s sounding ballad with squeaky emotional vocal-inflections with a strong British accent, a piano-led instrumental and reverb.

The closer “Donnie Darko” lasts for 11 minutes and is an interesting cut, namely because it starts out with a similar vibe to the few previous tracks but introduces a 4-on-the-floor kick and a lot of smooth and spacey synths that make it a blissful note to end the album with. It probably best sums up this record’s overall tone at the end of the journey. It’s also worth mentioning the two strange interludes “Missed Call (1)” and “The Cat’s Pyjamas”, that seem to connect the songs’ narratives.

Overall, this album is still a very fresh listen that shows a band that is slowly, but surely, carving out their own sound which will hopefully change the course of modern music and usher into a new era of pop that is exciting, innovative and unique.  

Key tracks: “Hot Pink”, “It’s Not Just Me”, “Falling Into Me”, “Donnie Darko”, “Cool & Collected”

Florence + the Machine’s ‘High As Hope’: a vas…

Florence + the Machine’s ‘High As Hope’: a vast musical landscape that is deeply poetic and personal

Zachary Royal

Florence + the Machine’s fourth album is a vast musical landscape that effortlessly manages to shift from soft murmurs and quiet confessions to skyscraping vocals and chill-inducing ululation. The poetic, deeply personal lyrics, backed by a lush arrangement from co-producer Emile Haynie and contributors such as Kamasi Washington and Jaime XX, make this album a stunning experience.  

High as Hope is the fourth album from Florence + the Machine, as well as the band’s most personal LP to date. It’s been 10 years since debut album Lungs was released, and gone are the days of synth-heavy pop anthems and grand metaphorical lyrics, detailing the chaotic turbulence of frontwoman Florence Welch’s complications in life and love. Now, Welch has toned down her sound and crafted an album rife with deeply personal confessions and stripped back production. This album is by no means dull, however. Instead, Welch presents a vast musical landscape that shows off her vocal abilities perhaps more prominently than any previous LP. Welch’s soulful voice manages to transition effortlessly from the soft murmurs of quiet confessions to the glass shattering howls that her iconic voice is so known for. Only this time, instead of covering up herself in layers of metaphors and layered choruses, Welch presents herself in a raw and vulnerable state that she had never been able to achieve before now due to her chaotic lifestyle.

After the touring for her third LP, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence Welch stopped drinking and partaking in the wild shenanigans she had been so accustomed to up until that point. In various interviews, Welch stated that she gained a clarity she hadn’t had before she stopped drinking and partying her emotions away. With this new mindset, she was finally able to write and sing about herself in a naked light, unshrouded by the mystical and magically religious imagery she had used in her previous work in order to hide her true messages. Lead single “Hunger” begins with the line “At seventeen I started to starve myself/I thought that love was a kind of emptiness.” With this cry of confession, there’s no longer any room for interpretation, and Welch saturates the album in personal confessions and truths of a troubled past. “South London Forever” is a poetic wave of nostalgia as Welch details the places and people she grew up with and the transformative moments of her teenage years. “We were high on E and holding hands/With someone that I just met/It doesn’t get better than this.” Although her youth was a time of chaotic experiences, it formed her into the artist she is today, and she acknowledges this fact and appreciates her formative years for what they were. Welch analyzes her own thoughts and experiences in the latter half of the song, crying “But did I dream too big?/Do I have to let it go?/Oh God, what do I know?” She isn’t only detailing the raw expressions of her past, she’s accepting them for what they are and using them to become a better person in the present. This new writing style is refreshing from an artist who’s used to belting vocal lines about witches, cathedrals, and all forms of mythical symbolism, and it allows Welch to distance herself from her powerful musical persona and be seen as human; as deeply flawed and remorseful as the rest of us.

Although the lyrics on High as Hope are much barer, the production quality is just as lush as ever. Welch worked with co-producer Emile Haynie who helped with the sweeping orchestral backings, as well as artists such as Kamasi Washington, Sampha, and Jaime XX who peppered the album with small moments of jazz instrumentals and woozy synth vocals featured in songs like “June”, “Patricia”, and “Big God.” The latter track is a slow burner that eventually explodes in a sultry force that beautifully encapsulates the mixture of anger and self-realization that comes from being ghosted. Despite the new, more introspective sound of the album, this is still Florence Welch we’re talking about, and she leaves enough room on the album to blow the roof off. Standout track “100 Years” is reminiscent of her early work, complete with hand claps, wailing howls, and earth-shaking drum beats that could topple a building. And pre-closer “End of Love” features a sprawling layered vocal chorus that could melt even the hardest of hearts.

Everything comes down to the closing track, however. “No Choir” is the shortest song on the album, but it’s the most impactful. Welch sings about the fact that, through the past 10 years of chaos, heartbreak, and self-destruction, being happy is the one thing she can’t blow out of proportion. The entire Florence + the Machine discography is a grand cathedral of sound that explodes with pain, heartbreak, and love. But “No Choir” is more than just an end to an album, it’s an end to Florence trying to push past her emotions, and instead, let the moments of bliss come and go; accepting them without all the pomp and circumstance of trying to understand them. The album ends in the same way these past 10 years have ended for Florence Welch; with her humming quietly along to her own happiness.

Gang Gang Dance make their comeback with ‘Kazu…

Gang Gang Dance make their comeback with ‘Kazuashita’, a fusion of cultures and sparkling eeriness 

Daniel Lester

After a long hiatus of seven years since they released their acclaimed album “Eye Contact”, the Manhattan band Gang Gang Dance has released its comeback record "Kazuashita”. This Japanese-named record marks the sixth studio release of the legendary band since its inception in 2001. Known for their strange, yet satisfying, fusions of several music styles from around the world, Gang Gang Dance combine these elements here as well resulting in a beautiful and sparkling, yet eerie and uneasy-sounding unit of songs.

The album kicks off with a strange and short instrumental titled “( infirma terrae )”, that features heavily manipulated vocals. This achieves the desired effect of setting the eerie mood of the record as the song segues into one of the more prominent tracks – “J-TREE”. At first, it sounds like a rip-off of the cult hit “Heartbeats” by the legendary duo The Knife. The chord progression and tempo follow a similar pattern to the 2003 hit, but soon enough, the song diverges and develops into its own beast. The vocalist Lizzi Bougatsos’s singing here sounds like an otherworldly blend of voices of Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon and Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins, mentioning in her lyrics “tata”-music. This could be a reference to an Armenian style of music, which judging by the band’s love for foreign sounds, wouldn’t be much of a surprise. The lead single off this album “Lotus”, is even more lovely, as Bougatsos’s vocals compliment the dreamy, distant instrumentation backed by a reverberating guitar sound similar to that of Romy Madley Croft of The xx. It has a very captivating effect that seems to reflect the majestic cover art of this album the most.

Another thing to note here is that this is a pretty record that tries to be political. On the song “J-TREE”, the ending is marked by an excerpt of an interview during a protest about a pipeline in an Indian reservation in 2016. With this, and the interlude “( novae terrae ) ” the band uses spoken word as a manifesto for these troubled times we live in. But, the album’s overall atmosphere doesn’t give off much of a political vibe. The lyrics are, most of the time, hardly intelligible (and I mean it in a positive way), which makes Bougatsos’s voice sound like an additional instrument, rather than an articulate human vocalization.

The most politically charged song would have to be the lovely-sounding “Young Boy (Marika in Amerika)”, a track that seems to target America and its constant issues with racism. The lyrics “Young boy in the daylight/ You look so pure just playing/ Young girl so innocent/ Beat by big hands for no reason” seem to be a reference to the police brutality people of color face quite often in the US. The following track “Snake Dub” is another instrumental track, that reminds one of a trippy, experimental take on an M.I.A.-type beat. Utilizing a myriad of sounds such as doors screeching and birds chirping make this a standout track.

The other three songs are also quite good but do not capture one’s intrigue as much as the previously mentioned ones. The title track is a sprawling 8-minute track that sounds quite bi-polar with the crazy beat coming in after a few minutes of ambient synth sounds. The song and album’s title “Kazuashita” is a nod to the band’s frequent collaborator Taka Imamura, whose child bears the same name, carrying the meaning of “peace tomorrow”. This ties in with the band’s approach to current-day politics on this album and explains a lot of the speech excerpts and lyrical meanings.

The songs “Too Much Too Soon” and “Salve on the Sorrow”, while pleasant, are slightly less memorable than the rest of the material. This is not much of an issue, however, as the flow and atmosphere of all the tracks together flow seamlessly and brings forth one unified experience akin to those of more ambitious bands such as Pink Floyd. The main concern one may have with the album is that it is not very gripping, and it takes repeated listens to discover all the beauty in it. Luckily the band makes it so that the music here evokes so many powerful and contrasting emotions that makes “Kazuashita” a truly memorable record, if not for basic listening pleasure, then at least as some next-level background music for chilling out. It is a release that open-minded music fans should not miss this year.

Key tracks: J-TREE, Lotus, Snake Dub, Young Boy (Marika in Amerika), Kazuashita

Gorillaz return with 40-minute synth-funk and …

Gorillaz return with 40-minute synth-funk and pop odyssey, ‘The Now Now’

Daniel Lester

June 30, 2018

After a year of relentless touring, everybody’s favorite animated bunch has unleashed a brand new studio effort in the form of “The Now Now”,a 40-minute synth-funk and pop odyssey that serves as a follow-up to 2017’s comeback album “Humanz”. A lot has changed in the timespan between the two albums, mainly the shift in the band’s leadership as Murdoc Niccals, the infamous bass player and mastermind of Gorillaz got arrested at the start of 2018. Taking over is the band’s blue-haired frontman 2D who saw fit to try a different approach with this new album, marking a complete shift from the guest-heavy, and futuristic “Humanz”. Of course, in true Gorillaz fashion, this new phase for the band comes with a few surprises of its own, namely the new bassist of the group Ace. Infamous for being the leader of the notorious Gangreen Gang, criminals who were on numerous occasions apprehended by the ever-so-loveable Powerpuff Girls. Ace seems to have settled down and is the replacement for Murdoc, and his presence can definitely be felt in this new record.

“The Now Now” is the polar opposite of Gorillaz’ previous effort in nearly every way. Firstly, there are only 3 guest appearances on this album. The first single “Humility”, a summer bop tune full of warm synthesizers and lyrics talking about isolation, features warm guitar licks by none other than the jazz legend George Benson. This unlikely collaboration results in a song that may surprise many Gorillaz fans, who expect the band’s “dark pop” sound found on the majority of their releases. The second, and final song, to feature any guests is “Hollywood”, that contains spoken lines by Chicago house veteran Jamie Principle, and of course, Snoop Dogg. The song itself features quite heavy and bassy instrumentation that perfectly contrasts 2D’s moody voice when delivering the refrain about Hollywood and jealousy. The instrumentation becomes even wackier and ear-grabbing beneath Snoop Dogg’s lines as he raps, contrary to 2D’s criticism of jealousy “I put the cake on the plate/Jealousy and me?/Oh, we’re making a date”. The only weak point for the song is Jamie Principle, with his corny lines about Hollywood being his mistress, sounding like an out-of-place 80’s hype-man, who turned up for the wrong performance.

If there is one word that one could think of when listening to this album it would be “warm”. This is mostly due to the highly synthetic and bassy production, courtesy of Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, the producer behind the latest album of another beloved British primate collective, the Arctic Monkeys. 2D’s melancholic croons over the songs “Sorcererz” and “Fire Flies” give the impression that they could have been part of a dystopian Stevie Wonder compilation. Gorillaz are a band that is known for their enticing instrumentals that pull inspiration from many styles, but one key part of their recipe is the simplistic, yet highly memorable basslines. All the bass-playing on this album is reinforced by a filtered, 70s synth bass sound that further contributes to the “warmness” of “The Now Now”. However, they are not as memorable as on previous releases, which brings us to the biggest drawback of this record; the lack of memorable tunes. “Tranz” sounds like songs that one would find in a 2000s rock playlist, hinting at Mando Diao and The Killers, rather than Gorillaz. While one of the more memorable songs it certainly doesn’t feel like a Gorillaz song. Other songs on this album also feel like they would have fit better on certain Damon Albarn’s projects, the long-time collaborator and mentor of the band. “Magic City” sounds like a long-lost Blur B-side, while “One Percent” could have fit snuggly onto Damon’s 2014 solo effort “Everyday Robots”. If there is one song that one could say ruins the entire experience and flow of the album, it would have to be the snoozer “Idaho”. The song’s opening features an acoustic guitar that sounds like it’s setting the mood for Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian’s vocals, rather than the Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn-sounding frontman. The chorus also sounds like a throwback to Albarn’s solo material. The song “Kansas” is also incredibly moody and forgettable, despite its impressively bouncy instrumentation.

While many tunes may not be “attention-demanding”, the instrumental song “Lake Zurich” is certainly a welcome break from the breezy, warm compositions that occupy most of the album’s runtime. “Souk Eye”, the latin-influenced closer brings something newer to the table and is a solid way to finish off a sleepy, melancholic album like “The Now Now”.

This is not the mainstream Gorillaz-fan album and seems like it would please only hardcore fans. While not bad or mediocre necessarily, it does lack the usual punch, innovation, and catchiness of a Gorillaz record, and seems to be more applicable to late night drive-playlist, rather than for a consistent experience for people who enjoy interesting songwriting, unique instrumentation and dystopian-sounding bangers and genre-defying tunes.

Best songs: Humility, Sorcererz, Fire Flies, Lake Zurich  

Clairo’s enthusiasm shines on debut EP, ‘diary…

Clairo’s enthusiasm shines on debut EP, ‘diary 001′

Sarah Beckford

Clairo is one of the biggest, if not most relatable young artist whose name and art is the subject of cover stories, artists to watch lists, and on the lips of her fans, who know every word of her growing catalog. She’s graced us with her short and sweet debut EP, diary 001, a compilation of songs that acts as her official introduction to the world, released via the FADER label.

The EP opens with ‘Hello,’ a soothing song that mixes Clairo’s sound with house music tones and pop. Much like Billie Eilish’s party favor, hello opens with a ringtone and a greeting. It’s Clairo, allowing us to listen to her own internal conversation, which is much like the ep itself- an introduction, a time capsule of sorts as Clairo properly introduces herself to us. Rejjie Snow, a member of the same music scene Clairo is in, offers a quick bit of his talents as well. It’s an honest love song, one in which Clairo provides her insight and questions on the internet’s impact on her wondering about love and how real the love she has is.  ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’ is, besides ‘Pretty Girl,’ is one of Clairo’s more notable songs. It reflects not only her youth but her trademark lyricism, which evokes nostalgia and youthful dreams, which makes for a soft but fun song. The song’s instruments also contribute to its light atmosphere as well, which is an even mix of light synthesized piano and percussion. After ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’ is the upbeat ‘B.O.M.D,’ a light and airy track that’s an ode to Clairo’s boy of her dreams, and it’s a song that instantly radiates joy amidst the many questions that Clairo poses to the subject of the song. To her, it’s simple how wonderful this boy is, and she wants us to know how simple it is to recognize it as well.  

‘4EVER’ is the funkiest song on the EP, blending lo-fi with a disco and new wave vibe, and it’s a song that feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in a movie. After that is the song that brought Clairo into the spotlight, ‘Pretty Girl.’ This song is popular for good reason. It’s a song that simple in its construction, instrumentation, and lyricism, but still has its own distinct vibe that makes it special. This is Clairo at her most honest, and her honesty is real. Much like Soccer Mommy’s ‘Cool,’ it’s defiant and it’s Clairo saying that she is who she wants to be. Clairo’s debut closes with ‘How’, one of Clairo’s demos. It’s trancelike, and her vocals are far more prominent due to the hazy and layered backdrop that the song’s backing instrumentation provides.

Clairo’s official debut EP is a perfect self-portrait because of its simple and sweet honesty, though it does leave a little to be desired It features catchy choruses, sweeping beats, and simple, stripped-down storytelling that fits Clairo perfectly. With this introductory EP, Clairo is ready to move beyond the sound she has so far, and she most definitely is capable of growing even more.

The 1975 is bright but not entirely impressive…

The 1975 is bright but not entirely impressive on new song, ‘Give Yourself A Try’

Sarah Beckford

If 2016’s ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It’ wasn’t reflective and touching, then the 1975’s newest track, ‘Give Yourself A Try’, is nothing new. ‘Give Yourself A Try,’ The 1975’s first song since their hiatus, is interesting as best. The song is part of a trend though, as the other two groups of the seeming indie-alternative rock trinity, the Arctic Monkeys and the Neighbourhood, have released records that are deviations from their former sound, yet still within the vein of what they make. With ‘Give Yourself a Try’, Matty Healy is at his most reflective yet Bowie-like state visually and sonically, as he sophisticatedly and frantically pleads for the culture, and this generation, to go outside and get off their phones. He darts between a number of important topics, like drugs, STDs, and suicide, albeit too quickly for us to sit and reflect- which may very well be satire of our culture’s attention span. As Healy speaks on his own ongoing renaissance and experiences, as well as the wisdom he’s gained from the passage of time. Though the subjects he speaks on and the advice he gives is great, it’s drowned by the bustling guitars that make it hard to focus, making Matty sound like a melodramatic grandfather who wants us to actually run around his lawn for our own good. Though that description may seem harsh, it’s definitely hard to see how exactly this fits into the new music and era that The 1975 has started. Ultimately though, Matty Healy would just like for us to care a bit more about ourselves and attain some type of self-love and appreciation in the midst of all that’s going on, despite how saturated our culture can be with the opposite. So, quite possibly, there’s a metaphor to it, a despair in the message- because what happens after we give ourselves a try, does it matter anyway? It seems Healy and Co will tell us soon, or just leave the question unanswered.