Friday, 21 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Easter Fallout

It'll come as no surprise to anybody that I didn't get around to a LWRT post last week, but at the same time I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the albums from that Friday so here we are, another bumper edition of this wholly unnecessary feature I keep trying to make happen. Apologies for how Wall Of Text this post is too - still haven't quite figured that one out.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Allan Kingdom - Lines I loved Allan Kingdom's Northern Lights project that he released at the start of 2016 so naturally I was expecting big things from his proper debut album. Overall, it's pretty much a disappointment. Kingdom seems to have dumbed down his material lyrically and his unique vocals and rapping style is far less apparent throughout. We do get a bit of this on opener 'Perfection' but unfortunately it doesn't last. There's really nothing endearing about this record and given Allan Kingdom's potential, it's a real shame. 4/14 tracks added to library.

Bishop Briggs - Bishop Briggs I've never really listened to Bishop Briggs before but it's fairly rapidly apparent that although the music she does is not something I like, she's very good at what she does. She bridges between indie singer/songwriter and alternative pop star which makes for quite an interesting bunch of songs. 'The Way I Do' and earlier single 'Wild Horses' are the standouts for me. If Bishop Briggs is pushed in the right places to the right audiences she could very well be huge. 2/6 tracks added to library.

Blood Youth - Beyond Repair Blood Youth were one of my tips for this year, I think in essence they're one of the best new heavy bands the UK has to offer... but this album is exactly what I didn't want from them. Firstly, I'm quite stumped on the production quality throughout the record because their EPs (at the time at least) sounded really polished, but this sounds like the quartet have reverted back to square one, which is really confusing. I mean, that snare sound from the word go in opener 'Making Waves' is pretty offensive. Whilst this album has received rave reviews from some rock publications, it just does metal "alright" and definitely does not re-invent the wheel. 2/10 tracks added to library.

Cold War Kids - LA DIVINE Cold War Kids are one of those bands I've been low key into for the last ten years but I've never really properly invested in. Well, that's changed upon the lead up to their sixth studio (?!) album. Although at times the tracklisting seems a little peculiar - 'Can We Hang On?' as the second track? - I really enjoyed this album. It's exciting to hear a band this far into their career still able to create a body of work that is this inventive and well-paced. I would very much be up for seeing this band live at some point in the near future. 7/14 tracks added to library.

Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$ - Joey Badass is one of those rappers who I know is good but so often he does hip hop in such a straight up 90s inspired manner that I find it hard to connect with. I'm a fan of the more pop tinged tracks on this album like 'TEMPTATION' and 'For My People'. Joey Badas$$ takes a very political standpoint for much of this record but it's done in a really digestable manner whereby it doesn't feel as though he's preaching the changes he desires on you, the listener. By way of that, a lot of the lyrics in these tracks stand out, for example, "Still got the last names of our slave owners" on 'LAND OF THE FREE', and "No I'm not a chicken, I never listen to FOX News" on 'SUPER PREDATOR'. Although it's not "for me", this is my second favourite hip hop album of the fortnight. 4/12 tracks added to library.

John Mayer - The Search For Everything I'm still quite taken aback that I've found John Mayer material that I like, but that hasn't stopped me from being highly confused about the state of The Search For Everything's release strategy. The first eight tracks were released across two four-track EPs and then the final four were plonked on the end of the album's release. I'll let it slide this time but if everybody could refrain from this in the future, that would be desirable. The acoustic slow croony songs on here are terrible, but the more upbeat pop songs are very good. 4/12 tracks added to library.

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. I don't deal particularly well with Kendrick Lamar's music. I also don't deal particularly well with concept albums of hidden themes and clever shit like that, so going in to DAMN. I knew I wasn't going to feel the same about it at a lot of other people instantly did. In fact, the first third of the album I dismissed entirely on first listen. In a similar vein to Joey Bada$$, Kendrick does a lot of music that has very little pop sensibility to it and I find that quite tough to connect with. Honestly I'm just not the least bit fussed about ever having to hear any of these songs again, although I guess I enjoyed 'LOVE.'. No tracks added to library.

The Maine - Lovely Little Lonely The new and sixth studio album from The Maine is a peculiar affair for a myriad of reasons, most notably is that it isn't bad at all. I guess The Maine were kind of like the LANY of 2008, and in that respect, it's quite impressive that they've matured just the right amount to make a decent pop rock album almost ten years later. In addition to that, this record absolutely flies by, and 34 minutes feels more like 3-4 minutes. I can't imagine many people will pay attention to the existence of this release, but you have nothing to lose in doing so. 5/12 tracks added to library.

Spit Syndicate - One Good Shirt Had Us All Fly 2017: The year I fell in love with Sydney based hip hop projects. This is Spit Syndicate's fourth album (kind of... not including their mixtapes or One Day  (their crew) projects). The thing about this kind of hip hop coming out of Australia is that these artists know exactly how to balance fun tracks like 'Inhibitions' with songs that have a genuine political stance like 'Not In My Name'. This is undoubtedly my favourite album of the month, I'd say. 9/12 tracks added to library.

Tinie Tempah - Youth Sure, we may not have had a proper album from Tinie Tempah for four years, but was anybody really asking for a 17 track record from the guy? Pretty sure we weren't, but it's what we've received. Tinie Tempah is just not an album artist, is he? There are also points, 'Holy Moly' in particular, where I'm like "... does Tinie Tempah reckon he's a credible rapper?" but then there are tracks like 'Girls Like' and 'Not Letting Go' which are undeniably huge pop songs. It's almost impressive how hit or miss the tracks are on Youth because there's pretty much no in between. I don't think I'm even mad about nigh on every song having at least one featured artist, that seems to make sense for an artist like Tinie Tempah but it's emphasised more by the unnecessary length of the album as a whole. 4/17 tracks added to library.

Friday, 14 April 2017

I Opened 'Memories... Do Not Open' So You Don't Have To

It is no secret that The Chainsmokers are the worst pop/dance music duo on the face of the planet at this point in time, and it therefore will come as no surprise to you that I am far from impressed to see that the pair have just released their debut album. The Chainsmokers are Andrew "Drew" Taggart (AKA The Singing Chainsmoker) and The Other One (AKA Alexander "Alex" Pall).  It's important not to forget that this two-piece broke out with their quite frankly abysmal single '#Selfie'. I only mention it because everybody does seem to let that slide, and it's simply unacceptable.

Let's get this torture underway then, shall we? Lord, help us all.

The first three tracks are labelled "explicit" so I'm after some really fucking good swears. Have I heard opener 'The One' before? It's really hard to tell, isn't it, because all of their songs sound so damn similar. I was correct, 'The One' was released as a single a couple of weeks ago but it's pretty lacklustre. This surely isn't something I would release just prior to unleashing my debut album. The swear is good though, I'll say that, along with what I can only assume are co-writer Emily Warren's backing vocals. However, there are some absolute nonsense soundbites that sound as though an 11 year old has gotten a hold of the pre-sets on a keyboard for the first and is attempting to impress their friends in their music class.

Sorry, is The Singing Chainsmoker going to "vocalise" on every one of these songs because I'm actually not sure that's something I'm going to be able to handle. 'Break Up Every Night' features the line "she wants to break up every night, then tries to fuck me back to life". No thank you. Then all of a sudden this song is an electro-indie band track, and it's truly one of the worst I've ever heard, no doubt influenced by co-writers Smallpools. Captain Cuts who I like very much have co-produced and co-written this song too and honestly, I expected better. A real hot mess.

'Bloodstream' opens with the line "I've been jumped three times this week", and when making music as bad as this, can anybody really be surprised by this news? This is one of those songs where the singer just moans about how tough their life is, and you're a bit like... "get over yourself, man". He continues with "I gave up three times this week", and I truly wish he was talking about his music career. He's not. Not even Phoebe Ryan can save this trainwreck.

I really wish that somebody I like as much as Emily Warren wasn't even remotely involved with The Chainsmokers. She's a good singer and a very talented writer of songs but when combined with this pair of clowns things can only get so good. 'Don't Say', the first of two tracks she's a credited featured artist on, is definitely the most bearable song on Memories... thus far but it's dumbed down with it's unnecessary chorus drop. Oh and there's a fucking skit on the end. Cancelled. Sorry Emily. Her second vocal feature 'My Type' sounds very promising... until another unnecessary drop. It's a shame really. Do The Chainsmokers think they need to do this on every song they put out? This is okay though. Thank God for Miss Warren to be honest, she's an unsung hero of so much dance-tinged pop music of the last couple of years. I could invest in 'My Type' being a single, I think, but I'd definitely need them to do some re-hashing of the terrible electronic bits on the chorus.

Hold on. Everybody, I haven't reached the chorus yet, but I think this album has a stand out (whaattt the fuck??) and I think it might be 'It Won't Kill Ya'. Track seven features vocals from Louane, who appeared on France's version of The Voice, and is co-written by serial David Guetta collaborator Sam Martin. I guess this starts off with Louane sounding a bit like Daya, doesn't it? But it's very good. No doubt the chorus will ruin everything. Right on cue. Someone needs to let The Chainsmokers know that sometimes less is more. 'It Won't Kill Ya' does have a very different sound to the other tracks on Memories... Do Not Open, and it'll come as no surprise that there's definitely a more European-EDM feel to the song but it sure is a welcome change to the monotonous drops and melodies The Chainsmokers are accustomed to. I bet The Chainsmokers reckon it's really funny that 'Paris' follows this song on the album.

With 'Honest' we're right back to square one; The Singing Chainsmoker is vocalising, there are terrible electronic noises, and a chorus so flat it's hard to even pick out. Next! I'm not a fan of Jhene Aiko but how on earth did she get roped into this? 'Wake Up Alone' is another Emily Warren co-write but it's not a patch on the two songs she sings on herself. I think I've reached a point on this album that I don't believe anybody else on the planet will get to. Seriously, ten tracks into a The Chainsmokers album, is there really any need to delve deeper?

'Young' opens with an acoustic guitar. We really don't need this, do we? I think this is an attempt to prepare us for the final track which features Florida Georgia Line. Something I'll mention, that I haven't brought up yet, is that whilst The Singing Chainsmoker has a writing credit on every single one of these tracks, The Other Chainsmoker does not, which is something I find quite interesting. I can only assume that he solely works on production, but it's a set up I think is fairly amusing. 'Young's lyrics are just a load of nonsense about things being "hard when you're young" by the way. We're here, the final track, 'Last Day Alive' featuring Florida Georgia Line. This definitely isn't the EDM-country-crossover I was dreading and that's taken me aback quite a lot, but of course it is the typical Chainsmoker formula I've come to expect over the last eleven songs.

There are not more than three tracks on Memories... Do Not Open that I ever wish to hear again. In that respect, I would strongly recommend that we're all better off keeping this album firmly closed for the rest of time, maybe holding it ajar every now and then for Emily Warren to slip out and sprinkle the charts with some good pop music before retreating to the basement The Chainsmokers no doubt lock her up in for large chunks of the year.

Monday, 10 April 2017

WENS - Bleed

I won't lie. When do I? This is one of those songs I added to my blog queue and completely forgot what it sounded like between then and now other than "probably quite good". I don't know when I wrote those three sentences... but I don't remember doing so, so we're keeping them in for comic affect. I've spent a solid five minutes looking at WENS' social media trying to workout 1) where she's usually based and 2) where she is currently. No, of course this doesn't matter in the slightest, but it's one of those things I just like to know. All good sources say WENS is based in LA, it's just that she seems to tweet from/about London every so often and that got me tied up.

Last summer WENS put out her first track (well, according to Soundcloud, at least) 'Bones' which on a refresher listen I seem to vaguely remember, but it's got nothing on new single 'Bleed'. 'Bleed' is dark and moody and great to listen to when feeling even mildly emotional about a love interest of any kind. My current personal preferred love interest is one I am zero percent romantically involved with outside of my head. They are really fun to angrily lip sync the "don't call me baby" hook at. I'm totally living for the harmonies on 'Bleed's chorus too, I love it when solo artists harmonise with themselves on studio versions of things. I guess that happens a lot, doesn't it? It's just done exceptionally here.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Apparently It's April

So much stuff released last Friday, it's Tuesday and I am waders deep in. It's now the end of the week that I've basically culled everything that I thought was even a bit rubbish because you know what? If you're release is terrible, why should I waste my time listening to it? A shocking amount of sub-par nothingness EPs released last week, so much so that I haven't bothered even mentioning them below, but one in a brand new segment that I may or may not bring you every week.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Alex Vargas - Cohere It feels like we've heard a lot of the songs that feature on Alex Vargas' debut album before and this is made even more apparent by the appearance of the single artwork rather than the album artwork on Spotify for a couple of the previously released tracks. I don't even know how one does that and I've been working with release metadata for the past four and a half years. (See above that this has actually ruined the playlist thumbnail.) This is all a bit by the by, although I still reckon single 'Higher Love' is a standout from the record. I'm not a fan of interludes on anything ever but once you sift those out Cohere is very good whilst retaining coherence. I think Alex Vargas may frequently get dismissed as another singer/songwriter type but the way tracks like 'Tidal' and 'Renegade' incorporate dance/electronic elements, for example the DnB feel of the former, does allow Vargas to bring something new to the table. 7/17 tracks added to library - 17 sounds like a hell of a lot, doesn't it? Too many for a debut I think, regardless of interludes.

Carter Reeves - Fresh Fruit EP This is Carter Reeves' first EP, and after falling in love with his debut single 'Fresh Fruit', I had really high hopes for these five tracks but I'm quite disappointed. 'Fresh Fruit' opens the release and it's still as quirky, fun and innovative as the first time I heard it, but the tracks that follow it fall into more typical indie-RnB territory. Fresh Fruit has grown on me a lot though through multiple listens, 'Say Yeah' in particular. Most of all I'm a big fan of the brass elements that run through the tracks; those instruments are used sparingly yet effectively and that's a cool thing to nail. 3/5 tracks added to library.

Charlotte OC - Careless People I'm not sure Charlotte OC is a human whose music I would typically like so listening to her debut album is a bit peculiar. Would I ever actively listen to these songs again regardless of how objectively good they are. And also I'm not having a great deal of fun listening I this, you know? This all implies her album isn't good which isn't true, but it does feel quite sophisticated, a little too much so for me. There are some nice pop tracks on here though including 'Darkest Hour' and 'Running Back To You'. 3/11 tracks added to library.

Chase Atlantic - Part Two I still can't work out if what these guys do is good or not, but it just seems to edge better than average. This is only their second EP with this new musical direction but I'm not sure how long they'll be able to recycle this formula for. The elements that made Chapter One good are still the highlights on Chapter Two, saxophone sections that just work and the vocal balance between the whiney one and the other one. It'll be all about marketing for Chase Atlantic; get that right and they'll be well on their way. 2/3 tracks added to library.

Ider - Gut Me Like An Animal See Ider live. Before you do anything, see Ider live. Go in blind. Have no expectations. Know nothing. Then get back to me. This female duo are not the kind of thing I'd typically like in the slightest but I've witnessed first hand how good they are. Having released a string of singles last year, Gut Me Like An Animal is their first EP and it pretty much covers all their bases. Upbeat song that features a lyric about a "wasteman". Check. A shura produced slow jam. Check. Haunting eerie harmonies. Check. This pair are just the right side of weird to gather momentum amongst the masses and I can't wait to see where their music takes them. 3/4 tracks added to library.

Leah Mcfall - Ink You remember Leah Mcfall, off of that first series of The Voice? It's a shame she didn't get the label and release treatment she deserved because there are some really nice moments on this EP. Because her voice is so wild there are some crazy rad production quirks that use her trills to fill out the track like on opener 'Ink'. However there's obviously a counter to this, and those are average pop songs that don't seem to go anywhere or say anything, see 'Happy Human' or ballad 'Colours At A Funeral'. For an EP no one was particularly looking forward to or hyped about, this isn't a bad effort at all. 3/6 tracks added to library.

Releases I Listened To So You Don't Have To

G-Eazy - Step Brothers Fuck me, just when you thought he couldn't get any worse, he can. This was painful.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

WESLEE - Gassed

Let me tell you about Anchor. Myself and my bros Matthew and Pip (both of The Line Of Best Fit fame) have been dabbling in this Snapchat for radio like platform called Anchor. You have your own radio station where you can chat, import audio from other places, and play tracks from Soundcloud, Apple Music, and Spotify. You can also call in to other user's stations to force them to listen to your thoughts on what they're doing, as well as applaud stations that you listen to. The Anchor app is still only in it's second real iteration so the features are somewhat limited but it's definitely enough to get along with. You can find my station here. "Right, cool, but what has any of this got to do with Weslee?" I'm glad you asked. 'Gassed' was one of the first songs Pip put up on her station and I was so hyped on it that I called in to let her know... I might put that somewhere... because I'm hilarious.

Weslee actually originally put 'Gassed' out six months ago, which is some pretty poor form on everybody I know's behalf seeing as blogs, radio, and Spotify alike didn't start pushing this until about a month ago. I don't know what happened then, but as usual I'm turning up drunk to a party that everybody else has probably already got a hangover from. I've spoken a lot recently about my two favourite things in music at the moment, samples, and stripped back pop songs with tight as hell production. 'Gassed' nails the latter. Weslee's singer whose very secret name I do not know sounds super like Clementine from Kudu Blue at points, and it's taken me so long to work that similarity out I'm pretty pleased with myself. I am and quite possibly forever will be gassed - in a good way.

Monday, 3 April 2017

HANA2K - Jealousy

I was first made aware of Hana's existence way back at the end of 2014 (OH MY GOD!) when she must have been no older than an actual toddler. I genuinely can't believe that it's been that long that I've been waiting for new music from her. Nuts. Anyway so back in 2014 I received a very concise email pointing me towards Hana's track 'I Don't Want To' and I fell in love with it. It's actually one of the few tracks that I've frequently made my way back to Soundcloud's dreaded website to put on repeat. As is the way with most re-launching, 'I Don't Want To' is now no more, but I can only hope it sees a re-work or an update for the current times.

Now at the ripe old age of 17 Hana has returned as HANA2K (2000 is incidentally the year that she was born so that's me just busting your myths about what that means) and you know, I think she's ready to hit the ground running. I'm not sure how detrimental being based in South Wales is for one's pop career in 2017, and I'd assume Hana's working towards A-Levels too, but if anybody can make it work, I reckon she can. Her new single is called 'Jealousy' and although it's not as immediately gripping as I found 'I Don't Want To', it has these super subtle infectious pop quirks that seep into your memory. As pop songs go, 'Jealousy' is pretty stripped back but the production on Hana's vocals is really smooth - my favourite bit is the "a lot of flaws" line, just FYI.

I really hope that we hear more from Hana in 2017 because one song every three years really isn't enough to keep me going, you know? Also, I just stumbled upon this video, which I knew was coming but didn't realise was available yet, and I really love it; Wales looks well nice, doesn't it?

Alexander Oscar - Ocean View

You'll recall this time last week when I said that I was going to blitz through everything I hadn't posted in March so that I could start almost a-fresh in April? Well obviously that has not happened. And so we begin, once again, my quest to just get the hell through songs that have been floating around the world wide web for a month already. The first of these songs comes from Alexander Oliver, a Danish artist who released his debut single 'Ocean View' in March.

I realised but didn't really notice that 'Ocean View' is a song entirely about sex until it was pointed out by Julian on Twitter, and I've honestly had some really mixed feelings about this since. But as songs purely about sex go, this one doesn't come off as particularly seedy or cringeworthy at all. In fact 'Ocean View' does all of this in such an effortless way that it Alexander Oscar pulls off a great pop/RnB debut with no trouble. The video for this track is a strange one though because, personally, 'Ocean View' conjured up imagery of summer and, actually you know what I thought of, the The Chainsmokers lyric video for 'Closer' - that vibe. Also, how much does the video girl look like Lorde's European counterpart! Finally, Alexander Oscar doesn't half have a face for a pop career, does he? An extremely strong look.