Category: reviews

Why You Should Listen To: Björk’s Post

Why You Should Listen To: Björk’s Post

Daniel Lester 

October 9, 2018

Welcome to the weekly-series “Why You Should Listen to”, where we will discuss great albums worth every music lover’s attention. In today’s society, while we do have all the possible access to everything and anything on the Internet, it can often happen for us to miss some music we would love to hear. That’s why we will try to help you discover some awesome music in this series of articles. The focus will mostly be on studio albums, be it classics or underrated gems and records that have been forgotten by time. Our focus will also stretch out across the world, from the USA and UK to the African continent, Latin America and even the Balkans. The first in the series is Björk’s fantastic sophomore album “Post”. Enjoy!

The Icelandic singer and producer Björk Guðmundsdóttir, who is iconic in the underground and avant-garde music scene, is probably one of the few artists who has reached both critical acclaim and mainstream success. Most of us could agree that she is the type of artist you either “get” or “notget” (reference intended). Her music output over her long career has been nothing but vast and inventive. From an early age, she has been exposed to music via her classical piano and flute classes, and at 12 she had already released her first self-titled album. She was seen as a sort of wunderkind, a fact that her family wanted to use from this early age to their benefit, but Björk would only later reach that targeted level of success. After years of singing in many underground projects such as Spit and Snot, Exodus, JAM80, Tappi Tikarrass, Kukl and the cult Icelandic band The Sugarcubes.

Needless to say, the avant-garde pop queen has been busy with music throughout her life. We strongly recommend listening to her pre-solo work, especially The Sugarcubes, one of the rare instances you’ll hear Björk’s iconic voice paired with typical rock band instrumentation. However, she decided to distance herself from that sound in 1992 when she moved to London in pursuit of a new sound and a proper debut solo album. After being exposed to the sounds of house music, techno and trip-hop and meeting Nellee Hooper, she released her proper fantastic debut album, ironically titled “Debut”. Her new experimental blend of pop, techno, experimental and traditional Icelandic music would start to develop here. Her next album “Post” however, is when she really hit the ball out of the park artistically.

“Post” is a truly interesting listen, not just because of the myriad of influences and sounds, but also because of the stellar songwriting and melodies. The most known two tracks off this album are most definitely “Army of Me” and the cover of an old jazz song “It’s Oh So Quiet”, which Björk quickly made her own. The screams and overall vocal delivery on that song is a show of Björk’s eccentric and lovable personality. Not to mention the iconic music video paired up with the song. While her albums are usually coherent in sound and theme, “Post” sounds more like a fantastic collection of songs, that, despite their differences, gel together perfectly across its runtime. “Army of Me” is the industrial banger that kicks off this masterpiece of an album with a dark, driving synthbass, punchy drums and Björk’s angry delivery of the lyrics that deal with a relative of hers stagnating in life and pestering her for help to get his shit together. This aggressive side of Björk was not very present on “Debut”, so to have this as the opener on “Post” must have been a surprise for first-time listeners. 

The song that follows is called “Hyperballad”. Now this, this is truly a musical masterpiece, and for a variety of reasons. Not only is this one of her most classic songs, but is truly timeless and genreless. It is a song with so much power and beauty at the same time, the lyrics of which talk about a situation in which Björk and her lover live on a mountain. One morning she wakes up before him, and pushes random things off and watches them fall, reminding her that life is anything but safe and certain. She then blasts into a super-emotive chorus about how, despite this creeping feeling of uncertainty, she feels safe in her lover’s presence. A truly honest and one-of-a-kind love song. If you listen to nothing off this album, at least give this one a shot.

The song “Isobel” is another powerful, bustling song that combines more traditional instrumentation with Björk’s techno-tinged sound. It was composed by her on a portable Casio keyboard after inventing the melody on a Christmas visit to Iceland. She worked hard on the song, inventing the character of Isobel with the help of Icelandic poet Sjón. It’s a track about the clash of nature and modern civilization, this duality originating from Björk’s early life spent in nature and moving to big cities. Thus, Isobel is portrayed as a second Björk on the single cover art for this song. The sounds coming from the speakers when listening to this put you in a sort-of dark forest and you feeling a strong spirit approaching you, but you are not sure if it’s welcoming or hostile.

One of the most saddest songs I’ve heard in the longest time lands on this album under the title “Possibly Maybe”. It is such a chilling ballad about a break-up, it truly hits hard. It is quite mellow with a simplistic, bassy melody that echoes as Björk reminisces about a break-up with Stephane Sednaoui. Phones ringing in the background and Björk’s beautiful vocal harmonies in the chorus truly give this song its weight. “You’ve Been Flirting Again” is similarly dark-sounding, but a nice breather of a song in the constantly fluctuating tracklist. It is thematically about the playfulness of flirting and the game of push-pull with the person you’re attracted to. It’s a perfectly peaceful interlud between the hard-hitting mammoths that are “Enjoy” and “Isobel”.

Speaking of “Enjoy”, it is one of the heaviest songs on the album, with awesomely weird horn samples and Björk’s soaring vocal delivery. It seems to be about exploration with one’s senses, the ability of sensing things and dealing with what you feel, whether you like it or not. The message seems to be “just enjoy the sensations and explore them without fear”. “The Modern Things”, along with “Army of Me” is one of the first songs Björk created, even before “Debut”. These two songs, along with “Hyperballad” craft such a strong trifecta of intro tracks that will instantly hook you to this album and imprint it in your head and ears. “The Modern Things” combines English and Icelandic into a tune that deals with modernization of society, despite what has happened before. The modern things will always be on the horizon, meaning that humans will always continue to evolve their society, and she seems to be at peace with that.

“I Miss You” is another banger with tribal percussion and driving horn sections. It tackles the topic of knowing your perfect lover, despite meeting them. While the song itself is quite lovely, the animated music video (created by “Ren and Stimpy” creator John Kricfalusi) makes it even more special. “Cover Me” is the quieter moment of the album, dedicated to its co-producer Nellee Hooper, for helping Björk deliver not one, but two masterpieces to the world and leaving her fingerprints on music history. The closing track “Headphones”, co-produced by Björk’s ex Tricky, who is a trip-hop legend in his own right, is one of the most artistic moments on the album. If you want to get the most out of this beautiful song, you have to wear headphones. It is just that detailed and pretty, that it serves as a perfect finish to a near-perfect album.

This record, overall, is perfect for people who are open-minded and love groundbreaking music projects. Björk’s enchanting and unique voice may be the center of the album, but the instrumentation and lyrical themes keep this an amazing front-to-back listen. Sounds best in autumn or winter, especially at night. Hope you will enjoy it!

Brockhampton is raw and energetic on ‘Iridesce…

Brockhampton is raw and energetic on ‘Iridescence’

Sarah Beckford

“I’m so accustomed to flames I couldn’t tell you it’s fire.”

It’s a considerably ambitious line from Brockhampton’s opening track ‘NEW ORLEANS’ for their fourth studio album, iridescence. The highly anticipated record serves as the boyband’s major label debut for RCA, after a whirlwind year following last year’s SATURATION trilogy. Released via Question Everything/RCA, the album spans fifteen tracks, recorded in a window of ten days at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. The real question is, does this body of work actually hold up aside from fan attention and praise?

This record is one that puts you into the band’s mindset. You feel their high points and their low points, and even some non-categorizable points, like the transition from ‘NEW ORLEANS’ to ‘THUG LIFE’. These two songs are practically fraternal twins in sound- the only thing holding theme together is Brockhampton’s self-sample of bearface’s ‘NEW ORLEANS’ verse. The frenetic energy in ‘NEW ORLEANS’ and ‘J’OUVERT’ is practically tangible. ‘J’OUVERT,’ the record’s surprise and singular lead single, takes its name from Caribbean tradition, with the main part of the beat hailing from Grenadian soca song.

Brockhampton’s willingness to make a record that’s experimental and honest both lyrically and emotionally is something that deserves applause. ‘WEIGHT’ serves as the dramatic climax of the album. It follows several high-energy songs, yet throughout its course, it journeys from reflection to genre-bending within its four-minute span. ‘SAN MARCOS’ and the previously introduced ‘TONYA’ also remain in the vein of reflective, raw songs, both of which make good use of quieter instrumental elements.

Much of the record makes use of some elements that don’t initially make sense, like the drilling drums near the end of ‘DISTRICT,’ but iridescence feels more conceptual in nature than purely cohesive at some points. (An example is JOBA’s giddy “Dollars!” refrain on BERLIN, which is followed by an instrumental reminiscent of something from alt-J’s Relaxer.)

Each performer of Brockhampton further displays their abilities and extends it on this record, and we get a few surprises as well. Bearface displays some newfound rapping skills, which is unprecedented considering we’ve only previously heard him sing singular tracks or interludes in songs-like Brockhampton’s summer singles, ‘1998 TRUMAN’ and ‘1999 WILDFIRE’. JOBA and Dom McLennon are the album’s heavy hitters, along with the album’s surprise feature appearances, like serpentwithfeet and Jaden Smith. Dom McLennon has a number of quotable lyrics, and needless to say, JOBA takes no prisoners with his verses- the prime example being J’OUVERT, in which one has little room to be left unimpressed. Surprisingly, Kevin Abstract steps into the background on this record, lending his voice to a few hooks and his ode to Jaden Walker, ‘SOMETHING ABOUT HIM’.

This is Brockhampton shattering expectations in the unique way that they only know how to. They have taken what we expect, what we’re used to, and elevated it. Having established themselves creatively, and also re-centering themselves as well, they’ve gifted us with a taste of their very essence- their driven work ethic, relentless creativity, and lyrical honesty.

Psych-prog magicians ORB return with new LP ‘T…

Psych-prog magicians ORB return with new LP ‘The Space Between’

Maxwell Denari

September 17, 2018

Australia has had a relatively seasoned history with producing worldwide Rock and Roll acts and in this current decade that remains very much the same. In the last 10 years, we have been witness to some of the biggest and most prolific bands to come out of Australia… in addition to a plethora of bands that have made a name for themselves by putting out a quality record after quality record. Bands like ‘Pond’, ‘Total Control’, ‘Tame Impala’ and ‘King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’ all come to mind when you think of Australian musical relevance in the 2010’s.

ORB are a band who are contributing to this culture, massively. Signed to Flightless Records, the brainchild of ‘King Gizzard’ drummer Eric Moore, they share a platform that houses some of the best Australian talent of the current moment. With their third and latest record, The Space Between, ORB have set the bar higher than ever before.

This new record in comparison to their previous two, Birth (2016) and Naturality (2017), incorporates more synth-laden production. Tying together heavy, deep bass lines with springing, bouncing synth work. Resulting in acid-washed Funk along with Prog infused Psychedelia and Heavy Metal. The Space Between is the most fundamentally ORB album yet, as the three-piece have truly come into the most original nature of their work thus far. Everything about this seven-track album is well-implemented, well-produced and is a pure showcase of how this group have grown sonically over the last handful of years. This group has done nothing but expand themselves throughout the entirety of their discography and their experimentation and musicianship have resulted in a fantastic new record.

The Growlers display their powerfully unique a…

The Growlers display their powerfully unique and authentic style on ‘Casual Acquaintances’

Dylan Harkin

For more than a decade now, The Growlers have been the best-kept secret in indie rock. Despite the act’s diligent, unrelenting approach to both touring and recording, which has resulted in their current boasting of a dedicated cult audience, many members of which enthusiastically gather at the group’s D.I.Y. music festival Beach Goth yearly, commercial success has proved elusive for the California-based act. As the not-so-gradual evolution in approach to the production choices and overall aesthetics of The Growlers’ last few albums reveals, this has certainly not been for lack of trying. Their unique style, which the moniker for their festival is borrowed from, is simultaneously anachronistic and forward-thinking, sounding something like The Doors backing a lead vocalist reminiscent of a fuller and much more ravaged voiced Bob Dylan with lyrics written by Johnny Cash if he had developed a penchant for consuming a variety of psychedelics.

After honing this ‘Beach Goth’ genre to blissfully bizarre perfection on their third official LP, 2013’s Hung at Heart, the group purposefully inflated and polished their aesthetic on the relatively streamlined Chinese Fountain (2014). This move toward something tauter and bolder was echoed on their (to-date) only release on The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records, City Club (2016), an album tinged with African, electronic, and 60s pop inflections which instantly proved divisive amongst Growlers fans due to its inherent nature as a departure from the original lo-fi and idiosyncratic sound of the group.

Having served as a co-producer of the album, Casablancas’ enthusiastic approach for injecting strange (and often compelling) throwbacks to 80s pop, more straightforward rock, and obscure harmonic elements is unmistakably apparent on City Club. This fact provides the basis for much of the derision for Casablancas by the album’s detractors; simply put, many view the blending of The Growlers and the larger, more streamlined and familiar sound as disappointing and destructive of the purity and specialness the group’s sound. Casual Acquaintances, consisting of tracks that were created without the involvement of Casablancas, and which ultimately went unused for City Club, offers an entrancing offering of a matured Growlers sound largely untouched by the production and songwriting choices incorporated in both Chinese Fountain and City Club to make the group’s work more likely to succeed with a larger, more mainstream audience. In other words, the release treats fans with the Art in a cleaner form, one unimpacted by the decisions necessitated by Commerce.

Opening with the tantalizingly-short, bouncy overture ‘Neveah,’ Casual Acquaintances is, both musically and lyrically, an addictive and comforting exploration of the struggles inevitably encountered with the passage of time, especially with regard to dedicating one’s life to ‘outsider’ endeavors such as artmaking. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen, a fine melodist and poet, expresses himself eloquently and interestingly lyrically, displaying a wearied, yet hopeful, approach to his toil, often celebrating the struggle itself as a triumph, warmly elucidating the small pleasures which accompany and define its endless nature:

‘Problems come in threes, then we beat ‘em down

It’s nothing when compared to the hangovers we’ve shared

But rent’s on time, we’ve got cigs and cheap red wine

Come on and share my table and pour your heart into mine.’

The inarguably authentic nature of Nielsen’s laconic words is crucial in a cultural landscape where the messages, and the way they are expressed, in the works of not only the major pop stars, but the alternative stars championed by outlets such as Pitchfork, seem far too contrived, too hollow, too inhuman. When was the last time a musician, especially one in their early thirties who has toiled on the road for a decade – most of his youth – sang with relief about something like the fact that the rent is not in arrears (the obvious implication being that he does not even own a house after all of his endeavors), let alone meant it? Nielsen refreshingly reminds us of sacrifice and struggle, singing only of what he knows, not what he knows sells. Vapidity and ego is erased and the genuine and grounded is all that remains. If that is not enough to inspire envy within lyricists everywhere, Nielsen also accomplishes this gracefully and entertainingly, using highly-inventive and colorful imagery to do so (‘I spread the shards of vanity causing me such agony’, ‘I am the dancing bear, this song’s my gypsy’, ‘Darley had her own views/Downloaded through hesitation’).  

The tight grooves and retro riffs, supplied by lead guitarist and co-chief songwriter Matt Taylor, are also highly impressive, often brilliant. As always with The Growlers’ music, one of the chiefs draws is the creativity and playfulness that shape the arrangements. Here, the basslines are as locked-in and melodic as they’ve always been, the drumming as appropriate and restrained, and the guitars as biting and lovely. Each element is so cleverly chosen and delightful that the work proves rewarding and pleasurable throughout more than multiple listens. There is a beauty, a complete ignorance of prevailing trends, especially on this new release, something gorgeous and unbelievably organic. Unusual touches like the synth countermelodies on ‘Drop Your Phone in the Sink’ that echo those played on the theremin on The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ are just the icing on the cake. When things get heavy as on ‘Thing for Trouble,’ or modal and odd with ‘The Pavement and the Boot,’ one’s appreciation for the group only increases as we recognize their skill manifested in musical diversity. Truly, it just becomes apparent that The Growlers are undoubtedly one of the most hardworking (‘I would never even think to blame this all on luck,’ Nielsen sings dryly at one point) and talented groups existing today.

The Growlers, as reflected by Nielsen’s lyrics, lust not after ultimately-worthless social status and commodities, instead demonstrating a valuable and inspiring dedication to their music, returning and clinging to everything that rock and roll, as an art form, promised to deliver in the first place – unabashed freedom and a right to defiantly express one’s beliefs, to relish in being an outsider – before it was corrupted by the larger forces at play, before everyone, including the music makers, lost sight of it. As succinctly conveyed in the lyrics of the dynamic ‘Thing for Trouble,’ which may be the best song on the album, conformity is stagnation and sticking to one’s guns is progression, the real growth: ‘I could never grow up but I don’t feel stuck.’ While the group have, perplexingly, been snobbishly dismissed, or at least largely ignored, by most of the major publications, organisations, and independent reviewers who possess the ability to get the word out about new music and to help to create visibility of acts, one hopes that the reach of the band somehow increases via their perseverance, that the ‘labour of their love,’ as Nielsen phrases it, soon rewards both the group and audiences, even if this requires more tweaking of the formula. In the meantime, purists have ten great new cuts to enjoy.

Casual Acquaintances is highly recommended. It is a fantastic album by a miracle of a band whose vocalist believes that he’s still ‘gonna miss the struggle if it all pans out.’ Let’s hope it does.

Bring Me The Horizon returns with ‘Mantra’

Bring Me The Horizon returns with ‘Mantra’

Bring Me The Horizon is back. There’s simply no other way to state that the UK quintet is back after their 2015 release That’s the Spirit. Unlike the more synthesized sound of their previous record, their new lead single off the upcoming amo, ‘Mantra,’ is a furious and energetic anthem. ‘Mantra’ opens with a thundering percussion and bass combination, before leading into the main introduction of the song. Oli Sykes, BMTH’s frontman, sounds like himself again on this song, with the band’s edge clearly restored on this song. He uses his voice quite masterfully, dodging between the lower end of his register to raising it to make his point. He even does a little bit of screaming in between the first chorus and second verse, even though it is mostly in the background. ‘Mantra’ is a call for people to wake up and get off the mundane, and Bring Me the Horizon makes that clear. It’s a song about being ones instead of following the culture, a fitting message that echoes a band that’s made music that deviates from the norm yet still stuns the masses. The track is a blend of raw energy, time-tested musicianship, and a little bit of electronic elements as well. Bring Me the Horizon’s return, much like other scene heavyweights Underoath, is on their own terms, and they choose what metaphors and symbolism are in their art in order to make it how they want it. It wouldn’t be surprising if ‘Mantra’ is part of a larger conceptual arc, but that’s up to the band to reveal in the time leading up to amo’s release.

Bring Me the Horizon’s ‘amo’ arrives January 11

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”