Weekend Watch: Reviews from the Week of 10/16By Music Staff | 20/11/15 5:00pm
Grimes – Art Angels (4AD)
By Max Gowan
Appealing, Heavily-Produced Pop
A few years ago I saw a Nardwuar interview with Claire Boucher where she claimed that Mariah Carey was her favorite artist in the world. This statement seemed surprising coming from the dark, alternative pop personality that is Grimes, especially since I found her previous LP Visions to be so twisted and quirky (although still quite catchy). That album wove its way into my head through its complex beats yet brilliantly simple melodies. Art Angels, however, turns out to be a much better indicator of Boucher’s major-league ambitions as an artist, and she still mostly manages to do a great job of achieving them.
After the almost classical-sounding intro track “laughing and not being normal” fades quickly down, Grimes punches through with the up-tempo and infectious “California” which left a strong impression on first listen. I was a little freaked out at first because this sounded nothing like the old Grimes that I know and love, but the rest of the tracks provided a nice balance between dancey EDM and total bizarreness. Boucher is clearly proving here that she can write and produce in the same league as the hitmakers topping the charts, but she still does it in her own way. Strong standouts include “SCREAM” which features the Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, the punchy “Belly of the Beat” and the single “Realiti” which all add depth and dimension to an already well-defined album. Although this may not go down as my personal favorite work of hers, it’s a clear step forward for Grimes as an artist and it’s a release for her to be proud of.
RIYL: Bjork, Chvrches, Katy Perry, Mariah Carey, FKA Twigs
Modern Baseball- MOBO Presents: The Perfect Cast EP featuring Modern Baseball (Lame-O)
By Rebecca Jacobs
Emo folk pop punk
Modern Baseball’s most recent EP is noticeably darker and more emotional than their last album, You’re Gonna Miss It All. It makes for an interesting prelude to Holy Ghost, the band’s upcoming third album due spring 2016. MOBO Presents: The Perfect Cast EP featuring Modern Baseball was written and recorded at a pivotal time in the lives of all four members. Lead singer Brendan Lukens has recently addressed and began receiving treatment for his depression, a theme that is addressed continuously throughout the EP. The boys of MOBO all have one or two semesters left at Drexel University, making the release of Holy Ghost the band’s last hurrah, culminating their college experience.
The Perfect Cast EP opens with an approach typical of MOBO: a question. It’s a cry to a friend in need of help, reflective of Luken’s emotional conflict over the past year. On this EP there are no references to Facebook and virtually no cursing, making it noticeably more mature than Sports or You’re Gonna Miss It All. The EP’s finale, the mature rock track “Revenge of the Nameless Ranger” ends with the repetitive chanting of “I’m just not the same”: indicative of all four members apprehensive approach towards graduation.
RIYL: Joyce Manor, The Front Bottoms, Hop Along
Recommended: 2, 3, 6
Shocking Pinks - Dance The Dance Electric (A Low Hum)
By Maya Simkin
Beach punk music played at a sad disco hall
This album, remastered since its release in 2004, has been re released and still has a nostalgic 2004 sad kid punk vibe that is ready to groove. “Lovehate” is a punky, fast-paced track for intense dancing. The vocals are screechy undertones to tambourines and electronic noises. “It’s Hard to Breathe” relies on electric guitars, deep and hidden vocals that sound like The Smiths, and intense drumming. It has a high-toned part that it just awesome and makes the track three-dimensional. The disco vibe really gets picked up in “Mirror” while still maintaining the rock and roll base. The entirely instrumental song is infused with cymbals and 80s spirit and bass. “Nostalgia” is a simple yet powerful anthem with a repetitive, slow tune. When both sets of vocals come in, the song gets a lot of strength. Dance The Dance Electric definitely has a ton of variety and employs aspects from an assortment of genres. It has a punk attitude with rock enthusiasm and a funky soul.
RIYL: The Smiths, Deerhunter, Surf City
Recommended Tracks: 1, 3, 8, 12
Wolf Eyes- I am a Problem, Mind in Pieces (Third Man)
By Danny O’Sickey
Noisy composition made more accessible than Swans
I am a Problem, Mind in Pieces is a good album. Wolf Eyes’ Third Man debut sees them settling on 7 minute tracks rather than the 25 minute dirges of past releases. The album’s energy and tension rise and fall evenly throughout the album. It begins and ends with echoing, spacious vocals reminiscent of Suicide and pained howls reminiscent of Swans. Screaming guitars build the aggression on “Twister Nightfall” and “T.O.D.D”, peaking with “Aspestos Youth” and “Enemy Ladder.” The album resolves, releasing tension gradually in the final track “Cynthia Vortex AKA Memory Trip II.”
The use of nearly inhuman vocals and screaming guitars to develop a story-like album constantly brings to mind the two most recent Swans albums. Wolf Eyes improves upon the Swans formula by limiting the duration of the tracks. While many may find it taxing to listen to 18 minutes of a song largely defined by repetition, especially when that repetition is devoid of catchy phrases, many people could find themselves able to last through a 7 minute track, noisy as it is. Also similar to Swans, it would be unfair to listen to this album in anything but its entirety. There is to be no shuffling of the album, and no skipping of tracks.\\
Beyond Swans, influence can be found in Suicide through the echoing vocals and instrumentation which appear periodically in the album. Incidentally, if one were to want to listen to Suicide’s 1977 debut while simultaneously listening to ~~I am a Problem, Mind in Pieces~~ it would work pretty well for the first 15 minutes.
RIYL: Swans, PiL, Suicide
The Hempsteadys- EL Amor De Los Muertos (Telegraph)
By Jess McGowan
A ska-punk + reggae rock opera narrating monster love and violence
I don’t think I have ever had this much fun listening to an album before. The Hempsteadys have such a unique and enjoyable sound that I find it hard to say negative things about their new album El Amor de Los Muertos. Not only is this a concept album, it is essentially a rock opera about monsters. I still cannot get over how creative that idea is, in addition to how well it is executed. Opening with the stormy night of “The Wizard Manifesto,” The Hempsteadys slowly welcomes their listeners by easing them into the album with punk vocals, mellow yet plunking guitar rhythms, and prominent horns before smoothly transitioning into more upbeat songs. In fact, overall, El Amor de Los Muertos has very smooth transitions, especially from “Teen Wolf 2012” to “Pharaoh,” which is where the pace, energy, and momentum really pick up and creates a “plot twist” within the album’s storyline. One of the most artistic songs on the album would be “What Do We Do Until the Drugs Kick In?,” where it starts out with the plunking bass guitar (imitating boredom) until the instrumental speeds up and creates a psychedelic trip of music. This album also has its moments of complete hilarity in the three “Black Belt Has A Posse” sequences, in which these completely instrumental numbers combine stereotypical posse music with ska, punk, and reggae. Songs like “Bela Lugosi’s Ghost” and “Long Drop Back” give so much life to the album with the melding punk vocals and jazzy horns. Overall, this album is awesome. I would highly recommend listening to the whole album straight through. Just do it. It is so much fun and energetic, and the songs make much more sense when listened in sequence. I look forward to see what else The Hempsteadys come out with next.
RIYL: Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash
Recommended: 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12
Rustie – EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE (Warp)
By Matt Reise
Frenzied-Pixie Atmospheric Electropop EDM that did like 17 lines of coke
wOW THERE IS SO MUCH ENERGY IN THIS ALBUM, HOLY COW. GRAB YOUR PINK PIXIE WIG AND YOUR FAIRY FRIENDS, WE’RE GOING TO THE DANCE PARTY IN THE CLOUDS. FLASHING LIGHTS, ALL THE TURQUOISE AND YELLOW AND ORANGE AND PINK. GLITTER IS FALLING FROM THE SKY!!!??!? BUT WE’RE IN THE SKY??!?!!!? THE BEAT IS SO FAST, OR WAIT IS THAT ACTUALLY MY HEARTBEAT?! THE DANCE FLOOR IS RISING, THE TILES ARE SINGING. THE AIRS GETTING THIN, BUT IT ONLY MAKES THE MUSIC LOUDERRRR. THIS SONG HAS SO MUCH TREBEL I THINK MY HEADS GOING TO EXPLODE. STARDUST!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT FEELS LIKE HOT SNOW!!!!! WHATS THE LOUDEST YOU CAN SCREAM??!!?!? YAAAAAAAAAA WE’RE GOING TO LIVE FOREVE--
RIYL: sugar, being hyper, music that literally peels the wrinkles off your skin
Recommended: 4, 5, 10
Rare Monk – Rare Monk EP (B3SCI)
By Krystal Chong
Once upon a time five Portland boys made some music about an apocalypse
UK alt-rock bands got nothing on Portland-based, Rare Monk. It’s got angst, it’s got punch, it’s got spunk, and it’s got a message that it wants to send. And damn are those violins? Rare Monk knows the right buttons to push that make me die for.
In a rally against apathy, Rare Monk’s first track “California (Will Burn)” takes a jab at mankind’s exploitation of the planet. They sing of the lack of urgency to fix ourselves where ‘The riots started when the water was gone. The children learned how to kill’ and by then ‘California will burn’. Irony? Check. Rare Monk is able to deliver this through a mix of winding guitars, humming bass, and gritty vocals. “Light Tricks” is more smooth and slow moving, blending in synths with violin strings. “The Only Reason to Tour the Midwest” jumps right back to blaring synths with its gutsy message singing, ‘Orlando is sinking underwater. San Francisco too.’ “Warning Pulse” can be summed up in three words: air guitar madness.
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Telekinesis
Recommended: all of them!
Gavin Turek & TOKiMONSTA- Hemisphere: Remixes (Young Art)
By Calkie Fisseha
Remixes for the dancer in you
Before this EP, I made sure to not listen to the original track Hemisphere, because I didn’t want to subconsciously compare the remixes to it. I certainly made the right choice because I was only able to compare them to each other.
There are 3 reworks of Hemisphere are all vastly different from each other, but the Blackbird Blackbird Remix (Track 1) comes out on top. Although it does have an electronic aspect to it, I can still bop my head along to Gavin Turek’s talented voice and Blackbird Blackbird’s production skills. It gives me a wide range of sounds that aren’t as noticeable in the other two remixes
The second track, Hemisphere (KRNE Remix) is perfect for a rave or anyone who is really into EDM. Although I don’t call myself a big EDM fan, I do appreciate the cool beat drops in this track.
The Beat Ventriloquists’ remix is not to be overlooked, since it is more funk influenced than the other tracks. It is a lot slower than the Blackbird Blackbird and KRNE track, but this gives you the opportunity to listen to the lyrics, unlike the others. Towards the end, the speed picks up with a few beat drops, but it doesn’t retract from the simplicity of it.
RIYL: Aluna George, Ellie Goulding, Halsey
Recommended Tracks: 1,3
Black Masala - I Love You Madly (Self Released)
By Jason Tillotson
Too many “things”
For starters, Jazz music, at it’s roots is a dynamic blend of sounds and uses a tonnn of instruments but this project takes what the mainstream Jazz community defined as “a lot of sounds” to an entire, new and untapped level. In every beautifully concocted track there is a loud, constant bass drum, with some kick thrown in there, trumpet, saxophone, smooth vocals and tambourine, as per the usual for the jazz genre. However, if you listen closely you here some banjo here and there, along with some synth in tracks such as “Devil’s Sunset” and “Cool Breeze”. That’s probably what got me the most interested in this work of art; the use of synth and artificial effects in most of the tracks. I mean, isn’t just supposed to be a guy with a saxophone? I suppose not.
Lyrically, there is little that separates this work from others in this genre but with the gorgeously tasteful instrumentals, can we really complain?
RIYL: Red Baraat, Soft Cell
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 6
Aquila Young - Distance Echoes EP (Self-Released)
By Samantha Young
This fearless girl can (indie) rock
Aquila Young is a triple threat— Musician, filmmaker, and photographer. She forays bravely into music with her debut EP, Distance Echoes, a dark indie pop dream. Young sings of overcoming obstacles in life and empowers the listener— the line “We all fall down, but we rise from the ground” in “Stagger” sums up the EP’s overall message quite precisely. Her edgy yet distinctly feminine voice wails over pianos, beating, deep drums, and ambient electric guitar. “Vagabond” is definitely the most polished, convincing tune on the EP, however “Resistance” slows it down a bit and showcases the raw emotion Aquila pours into all her music, ending in a display of Aquila’s pipes as she wails and riffs. She has potential, but it’s obvious she hasn’t reached her full musical maturity yet. The songwriting allows space for improvement, and her voice is a bit over stylized. However, I’m excited to follow Aquila’s future musical endeavors and I believe she has a bright future in front of her.
Recommended: 3, 4, 5
RIYL: Band of Horses, Alessia Cara, My Morning Jacket