It instantly drew me in. Not because it was loud and in your face, but because it was a different rock…and it was ambient…and it was heavy – all at the same time. The array of musical soundscapes I heard coming from my speakers was new to me – in fact – it’s so new that the likes of you have probably never heard it, or heard of it. I’m of course talking about the Toronto-born mystery man ( iago ) and his debut EP release, Wanted.
As a lover of genre-mixing, new jingles and purely the joy of discovering original music, this petrified me to the spot – completely lost in its all encompassing musical vibrations.
Less than a year has passed, as work for Wanted
began in the fall of 2012, with ( iago ) producing and mixing the EP himself, and finishing with the mastering in Montreal, Quebec. Although ( iago ) has resided in Los Angeles since his youth, the talented musical Houdini traveled back and forth to Toronto during the production, and states he has a strong emotional connection to both cities. Oddly enough, the connection can almost be heard, evident in the music if you can analyze it that deeply. It’s indie like Toronto, but very out there and weird like L.A.
During my multiple replays of the 13 minute and 44 second long production, I drew many similarities to other artists; however, I want to be clear in stating that Wanted
is unlike anything I have ever heard before. It’s for that very fact that leads me to believe that Wanted
may become the hottest new release of 2013.
It opens up with “Don’t Let Go”, a Kanye West / Trent Reznor sounding clash-up that makes you really wonder…. What have I just stumbled upon? It begins soft as a rolling hip hop beat chimes with driving drums, underlying as a very muffled voice inputs vocals. ‘Don’t let go’ are the only words clearly audible as these minimalistic lyrics instil a strong importance or theme to its listener, playing with the rhythm of the tune. The song unfolds like an onion, revealing layer after layer as it slowly succumbs to a climax, then abruptly drops off and floats away.
Flowing flawlessly it transitions into “Evolve”, a short minute twenty of ambient tom foolery. Again we hear a simple repetitive piano riff accompanied by crescendo drums before the muffled ( iago ) reappears – sounding as he was broadcasting from a space suit. With either synth work or programming, or some cool rendition work, ( iago ) transforms this track into an eerie space-rock tune.
“Promise” follows suit with a strong rhythm; flaunting fast-grooving drums with time-keeping bass and melodic piano. We hear him show off his falsetto as the vocals become much more prominent in an early, almost a cappela, bridge. He hits the highs like Abel Tasfaye of The Weeknd and growls like Reznor – mixing together to form a ‘grunge-melodic’ singing – as if he were a new age Kurt Cobain. The song stays strong for quite some time after the band kicks back in from the breakdown, and slowly drifts off as we wander out of our bodies and let the music guide or minds.
The daze is quickly broken with the start of “The Chance”, as this different beat grips while you wait for the head-banging, fist-pumping anthem to kick in. It too builds gradually; hosting harsh guitar riffs, grooving jungle drums, and an ambient high-pitched ( iago ). As it continues, cleaner vocals overlay over the muffled and a hint of what sounds like a female accompanist, before it veers into another song from within. This new beat has its own procession, building before looping back to the first riff. The drums change too, with the cymbals similar to that of breaking glass, all together sounding like an angry rampant cry. It is ( iago )’s version of a war song; he’s showing us what he’s made of. This being the debut of his music, it fitting, and one can only think it’s another message to us. He’s going to show us that he is something we need – something our ears will love. It’s aptly suitable for the closing, as Wanted
draws to an end.
On a whole, I get excited thinking about this new artist, as I can’t help but draw similarities to the story of Toronto’s own The Weeknd. Now, ( iago ) is a new musical phoenix, rising from the ashes and billowing the world with mystery as he presents us with the only clue to who he is – his music. Coming out of nowhere, knowing little of him, his background, or his qualifications, he present us with a gift in hopes that we, as hungry guppies drowning in a sea of endlessly similar music – will bite. On a whole, there’s not much I can say about ( iago ) because nothing can be found past these four songs. Therefore, drawing what I can, Wanted
proves to be a strong debut release, and one that (hopefully) can only be proceeded by a widely popular full-length. Nevertheless, from start to finish, Wanted
is sending you a message, a message to any listener. How it’s interpreted… perhaps to each their own. Suitably tag-lined, "I am not what I am and I am not what you see, because I have time but I do not have forever." --by Katlyn Fledderus
For Fans of:
The Weeknd, Nine Inch Nails, M83, Drum n Bass
You can download ( iago )'s Wanted
for free at: www.iamiago.com
It’s the soundtrack to the end of times – Bring Me The Horizon’s fourth studio album, Sempiternal, captures your heart, and steals your soul.
Bring Me The Horizon on the cover of Alternative Press Magazine via facebook
Released April 1st through RCA (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment) Sempiternal
peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 and sold 27,522 copies in its first week. Recorded at the Angelic Studios in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the band again follows tradition by writing in isolation in the Lake District. Produced by Terry Date and mixed by David Benedeth, front man Oliver “Ollie” Sykes stated that working with Date made BMTH sound like a whole new band.
Drawing influences from electronic, dance, ambient, and pop music; these British metalcore rockers have combined the sounds from their three previous works, and created a whole new sub-genre of easy-listening metal. Lyrically it’s negative and tongue-in-cheek, giving the album a sense of euphoric emotion, which is guided and heavily influenced by the addition of keyboardist, Jordan Fish. Fish was noted to be of use to Sykes, who does the majority of the groups lyrical writing, and quoted the album to have a more “considerate, contemplative, and self-aware demeanor” about it.
Extremists were quick to point out the anti-religious connotations within the album, but failed to realize the spiritual and historical references strewn throughout. The album title Sempiternal
is actually an archaic English word – stemming from the Latin ‘sempiternus’ denoting the concept of ‘everlasting time’ that can never come to pass. Not only that, but the artwork displays a pattern known widely as the ‘Flower of Life’. This geometrical pattern has been found all throughout history and has (so far) been dated back to the Assyrian times. (An artifact containing the pattern exists in the Assyrian rooms within the Louvre in Paris.) To say the least, Sempiternal
was a well thought out work of art; from the artwork, to the naming, riffs to the lyrics. It also boasts seemingly flawless mixing and mastering – packed full of layers and distinctive intros and outros.
Opening up we have “Can You Feel My Heart”, a strong, synth-powered tune that drives your soul and gives your head a shake. It pulls sounds similar to the last album “There Is…
”, but with the addition of the keys comes a whole new soundscape. The rhythm section combines to make an awkward ‘alt-rock’ heartbeat that underlies over a beautifully-emotional Sykes as he presses out his words with angst.
Following behind is “The House of Wolves” which – technically – is a masterpiece. The production is on-point and flawless, timing – impeccable; all encompassing, artistic. It’s hard-hitting, shifty, and also has amazing vocal post-recording work. Mosh worthy indeed. “Empire (Let Them Sing)” is the weapon that is in every releases arsenal – a war chant song. Seemingly every artist has some variant of an inspirational cry to ‘battle’, and this is theirs.
Second single, “Sleepwalking” begins very ambient, with driving synth, then morphs into a metal-pop tune as a strained Ollie sings atop heavy harmonious instruments. “Go to Hell, For Heaven’s Sake” is the ultimate ‘tell-off’ rhythm, as Ollie sings while the drums drive hard and the guitars quietly set the undertones. Definitely not mosh worthy – but perhaps the theme song before a match-up fight.
Finally we reach the premier single and debatably the title track, “Shadow Moses”, as it caters to both old and new fans. Opening up in a chant, we see it evolve into the BMTH we know and love, with deep heavy guitars and a strong head-banging, fist-pumping rhythm section. It shifts timing quickly, perfectly balanced between heavy and light, without skipping a beat. Surely Ollie meant it when he sings “We’re going nowhere! This. Is. Sempiternal – will we ever see the end? Over and over, again and again.”
New to BMTH are the sounds from “And the Snakes Start to Sing”. It starts slow, soft, a clear melodic Sykes singing gracefully over dainty keys, and builds as the song progresses. The song drags you into an alternative universe where you’re falling down a BMTH inspired rabbit hole, floating down and down, swimming through a sea of sentiments. Following suit is “Seen It All Before” as this ambient track hosts more synth and clean vocals, as well as a softer tuned guitar. I couldn’t help but draw similarities in the sound to friends and fellow UK rockers, You, Me at Six.
We regain the metal in their third single, “Antivist” as the bold in-your-face tune rips through bold riffs and harsh ‘Johnny Cash’-esk singing. “Crooked Young” sounds eerily comparable to “It Never Ends” off of “There Is…
” but heavier, and of course with an addition of a repetitive synth. A violin adds a nice flare in the intro and again as it comes to a short, sharp ending.
Closing, “Hospital for Souls”, begins with spoken word heard over a spacey ambient intro until it breaks into a deep pounding, drum charging lullaby. It’s raw, emotional, and might possibly become apart of my nighttime snooze playlist despite its heavy peaks.
The physical deluxe edition presents listeners with three bonus songs, while the digital deluxe only offers two. “Chasing Rainbows”, which is only featured on the physical deluxe, is quite similar to the rest of the album except it seems more heavy metal as opposed to metalcore. And Ollie sounds… different… like Fred Durst different. “Join The Club” is no ‘bonus’ at all, but in fact an easily forgotten, monotonous heavy rock song that can be lost amongst the thousands. Lastly, “Deathbeds”, is a complete 180 from the heavy for BMTH. It’s melodic, slow, and very
ambient – similar to the masterings of Toronto’s very own The Weeknd. Nevertheless, it’s a treat to my aching ears, and the added touch of Sykes tattoo-artist girlfriend, Hannah Snowdon’s sweet backing vocals only melts my heart strings.
sends you on a spiritually sensual journey that leaves you with feeling like nothing will ever be the same. It brags so many elements that any easy-listeners can pick up and enjoy. Although completely left-field from Suicide Season
, what it does offer is something new, fun, and refreshing. Any flak the band receives about their shift in tone is only coming from close minded arrogant fans stuck in the past.
Whether aiming to please the masses, or refine those faithful, Sempiternal
marks a whole new beginning for BMTH; with both the addition of keyboardist and programmer Jordan Fish, and departure of backing vocalist and guitar player, Jona Weinhofen. Lead guitarist Lee Malia, Sykes, and Fish have opened a whole new wing in the BMTH house of horrors – and we can’t wait to see how they renovate next! - by Katlyn Fledderus
Can You Feel My Heart, The House of Wolves, Sleepwalking, Shadow Moses For Fans of:
Asking Alexandria, Pierce The Veil, Enter Shikari
Same voice, different vibe. After teasing fans with a handful of mix tapes and leaks, Kid Cudi has finally come out with his fourth studio album, Indicud, which shows off his first shot at producing. And does he ever take you on a futuristic ride with this one. Take out the rock hip-hop sound from his previous songs, such as "Erase Me" and "Day N’ Night", and add in a highly synthesized “out-of-this-world” hip hop beat. It’s positive yet edgy, which is something Kid Cudi hasn't done on much of his past albums.
starts off with a deeply synthesized instrumental song called "
The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi." For the entire song, which is less than three minutes, it shows off his ability to produce an addicting beat and keep the listener entertained.
Bring in the alien spaceship sounds!
The song starts off slow and depressing, but then it quickly transforms into a faster beat, insinuating that Scott Mescudi, who is better known as Kid Cudi, has literally been resurrected in his music. The only words that are spoken throughout the entire song happen in the last 10 seconds. A little boy abruptly says “Once you realize you can do anything, you’re free...you can fly.” And this quote is the path the album walks along.
"Unfuckwittable", the second song on the album again is highly synthesized which seems to be a common soundscape throughout Indicud
. It has the rock vibe during the chorus, similar to his debut studio album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. However, even the bass and guitars have that auto-tuned feel; giving it a newer style and making it work with the rest of the tracks. This song has big potential to be a summer hit.
Several artists are featured on the 18-track album. King Chip, another hip hop artist who has also collaborated with Big Sean, is featured in the third track, "Just What I Am". The song is just about the two boys sitting around and getting high, which is a reoccurring theme throughout Kid Cudi’s music. King Chip brings his rap skills to the song, making it flow well with the music. Since there isn't much meaning behind the lyrics, the beats pick up with the lyrics lack. It has a very futuristic sound with yet again heavy-synthesizers. It’s a sound that can be put on repeat and not get tired of too quickly.
"Young Lady" and "King Wizard" give the album a quick break from all the intense music on the tracks prior. "Young Lady" has a rock sound paired with Cudi’s monotone rapping and folk artist Father John Misty. Misty brings his vocals to the chorus, but doesn't seem to flow with the rest of the song. In dedication to his friends, family, and fans, King Wizard talks about how he can’t change who he is and how he will always have “haters” for it. The song has a marching beat, and showcases Kid Cudi’s raping better then "Young Lady" did. It has less synth, and not a lot of volume to the lyrics.
"Immortal" speaks about Kid Cudi’s battle with depression. The lyrics are powerful, and stand out lyrically from the rest of the other songs. The music is strong as well, giving his fans the message that he is out of his depression and is back to give them real music. "Solo Dolo Pt. 2" is the second part to his Solo Dolo anthem from his Man on the Moon
days. It gets a little spice from Kendrick Lamar, who sounds like a younger, more modern Eminem. Lamar is signed with Aftermath Entertainment, which is run my Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and Eminem, so he has that dark, horror vibe to his lyrics that can be found in Eminem’s style. Nevertheless, it works with Kid Cudi’s lyrics and the dark path the song takes you on, but it may have worked better with one of the original boys from the company.
Lust is in the air with "Girls" featuring Too $hort. Kid Cudi starts respectively raping about all different styles and sizes of woman, but then it shifts to a simple-minded Too $hort as he spits on the track, simply talking about getting it in. It had the potential to be something good if Too $hort wasn't there to ruin the moment. :p
Instrumental breaks were another reoccurring theme throughout Indicudi,
and "New York City Rage Fest" was definitely a pee break for the 18-track album. It showcased Kid Cudi’s ability to texturize his beats and synths in this two minute song. It’s not a sausage fest anymore with "Red Eye" featuring Haim, the indie sister group from California. Surprisingly, Kid Cudi’s voice harmonizes beautifully with these three girls. The sound is raw, goes on it’s own path and doesn't follow the typical style of a song. It boasts different bridges, has less versus', and the chorus is repeated several more times then it needed to be. It seemed like an interesting idea to break out of the norm, however, it ended up sounding confusing.
"Mad Solar" brings on the futuristic sounds with a bang. The song has a reggae beat to it, but still has that new Cudi bold synth style. It has longer versus and a simple chorus; simply chanting “I’m an extraterrestrial,” almost mimicking Lil’ Wayne’s theme of being an alien.
"Beez" and "Brothers" shows more of what the featured artists can create than what Cudi can do. "Beez" should be 'made by RZA' featuring Kid Cudi, since he is barely found throughout the tune. RZA, (who is Wu-Tang’s right hand man) easily makes the song, while Cudi doesn't even try to bring his rap into the song, knowing full well that it wouldn’t mesh. So he created a sound that would caress RZA’s voice, but if this song wasn’t on the album, it wouldn’t have been a make-or-break decision. "Brothers" however did help the album, with verses that give you an in-your-face lyrical hit mixed a calm chorus.
"Burn Baby Burn" seems to sound like an unedited diary entry. The song is one long verse, letting Kid Cudi express his feelings toward people who never thought he was good enough, or who thought he was an intense drug user. And "Lord of the Sad and Lonely" picks right back up where "Burn Baby Burn" ended, except with a cleaner beat and a bit more structure to the versus, bridge and chorus. "Cold Blooded" sounds as if Dr. Dre made the beat, and Eminem wrote the lyrics. It’s a faster tune then expected, and probably shouldn’t have been put near the end of the album. "Cold Blooded" is a diamond in the rough, and should have been placed at the beginning of the album. It’s a good song, but similar to what the hip-hop scene has already heard.
Michael Bolton is featured on the 9-minute track, "Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)" with King Chip. Much like "The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi", it is an instrumental beat. This song however quietly chants lyrics throughout the whole song, by Cudi, Chip, and Bolton. Bolton gives a very powerful bridge to the track, where as Chip and Cudi give it’s volume. It’s a nice break from the rest of the album; although it does have synthesizers in it, their not in-your-face and abrupt like the other songs. It’s more relaxing, and makes you want to sit on the porch in the morning with a smoke and hot cocoa.
"The Flight of the Moon Man", which is the final song, is again an instrumental song. It starts off with crickets, making you imagine yourself outside in a large open field. Then suddenly, a scanner sound takes over the song, as if your satellite feed is being interrupted. Metaphorically, it’s saying that the album may be over, but the captain will return one day to give us something back. And he has. Kid Cudi is already in the works with his next album, Man on the Moon Pt 3. Indicud
is different - it flows to his own style and brings out a more positive Kid Cudi then what fans may be use to. The one negative about this album is the lack of producing experience that was put into it. Since Cudi was the primary producer, and he has little to no experience in that department it made some of the songs feel too raw; almost unfinished. The music seemed less clean compared to his other well known songs, such as Pursuit of Happiness, which was produced by Cudi and Ratatat, a producing company who has been in the business for quite some time. On that note, the songs flow well with each other, and do create a story. This album takes you on a ride with deep, heavy, raw music, letting your mind engulf in the synthesized world of Cudi. It shows the once young kid who went with the flow, has morphed into his own person; his own individual Cudi. Indicud
shows us a whole new world in the hip-hop industry.
- by Jennifer Barr
Favourite Tracks: Unfuckwittable, King Wizard, Immortal, Solo Dolo Pt. 2
Best for Fans of: Big Sean, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Dr. Dre
So. Much. Buzz! Phoenix, the hugely hyped about band from the French suburb of Versailles, had major success with their last album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009). It broke them out of near obscurity and marked their launch into the American mainstream market. Wolfgang Amadeus was not however, their first, but their fourth, and first to be certified gold in Australia, Canada, and the US with monumental singles “1901” and “Lisztomania”. Now back from the whirlwind of three years ago, the electro-pop foursome return with their fifth studio release, Bankrupt!, an album rife with intellectualized complexities that seems more expansive with every listen.
There are a number of singles that could be pulled from this treasure trove of danceablely-rich, pop coated nuggets, all filled with the venomous rot of social commentary. The boys, Thomas Mars (vocals), Deck D'Arcy (bass), Christian Mazzalai, and Laurent Brancowitz (guitarists) have been open about Bankrupt!
being the double-edged sword of success, or what it could become, anyway. Mars, who could likely source some refracted spotlight originating from wife Sofia Coppola, describes the success of their last album as an, "awkward collective hallucination" in an interview with Pitchfork. "Success is boring," stated Brancowitz in the interview, "Shakespeare didn't write about success, and there's a reason for that. For us, the way to keep it interesting is to leave a lot of room for failure, and I think we did that pretty well on this new record."
Strange how, for a band who just described success as “boring” and not being good enough for Shakespeare, they devote a lot of time on Bankrupt!
“Entertainment” tops the track list and is the first single off the record. It intros much of what is to be seen over the course of the album; from the replication of power-Korean-pop instrumentation and use of harpsichord (of which they electronically sampled each individual note), to the polarizing struggle of having success as apart of a popular mass (what Mars refers to in lyrics, ‘What I once refused to be’) versus being an unsuccessful, socially unsullied individual. Mars presents these kinds of dichotomous relationships repeatedly, as if it is one or the other. Yet, the exploration of this struggle documented as Bankrupt!
becomes the arduous attempt at proving how one could exist as both.
The next few tracks fall right in line with the themes mentioned, framing commentary by way of relationships with women. “The Real Thing” talks about searching for just that while, “Trying To Be Cool” exposes the formula as ‘cool’ = aloof + disinterested x acting experienced as hell. But, exacted in the name of someone else, would then be ‘uncool’, rendering any forced attempts (by those following any formula in the first place) as moot. These two tracks flank the gem that is, “SOS In Bel Air,” the shot at decadence form those who are already past the velvet ropes, enjoying the buzz of the crystal while rolling their eyes.
Like “SOS In Bel Air”, “Bourgeois” is another direct hit to society’s battle ship, referring to the class system and those embedded in middle-upper class privilege. Though it does it without the quick tempos of the former, it instead offers a jangly, insecure rhythm, with large, spaced out drums. The breathing room creates a lovely focus on Mars’ vocals as he questions, “Bourgeois, why would you care for more? / They give you almost everything / You believe almost everything”; delving a blow with pity rather than snark.
“Drakkar Noir” vibrates into existence, taking on the cologne of the same name. It is a lament of traversing the ‘Jangle jungle,’ and ‘How I wish I had knew you from before’, hinting at a kind of corruption; of tainting with the stench of this gaudy atmosphere. Laden with strobing keyboards, it bleeds into the sticky groove of “Chloroform”. Originally, I thought “Chloroform” was discussing what his love was capable of being, be it one that is either of longing or of lying; explaining that no one else can tell us how to love someone. However, once you recognize “Drakkar Noir” as its diptych other half, “Chloroform” becomes the result of confused intoxication; of either one or both parties being infected by the more deplorable qualities of society—the Drakkar Noir. It becomes something that isn’t love at all, going through the motions in an unconscious, numbed state; as if under general anesthetic. To which end, it is a relationship that peddles on in a way that could not be bothered to define or commit itself, seen in the lagging chorus refrain, ‘My love / My love / My love is / Cruel.’
Rounding out the album is, “Oblique City,” acting as Phoenix’s slightly optimistic philosophical end point. It is no accident that where “Entertainment” began the album proclaiming, ‘I’d rather be alone’, “Oblique City” now begs, ‘Am I gonna do this alone?’ It spites all the bellyaching and endorsements of isolation the band have sprinkled in “SOS In Bel Air”, “The Real Thing”, and everywhere else on the disc. But even in the end, Mars and the gang aren’t assuring us that having it all in terms of success and self-preservation are possible. That there is still a struggle as they battle with questions, ‘ Is there anything else / Is there anything more for me?’ At the risk of not finding an answer, Bankrupt!
as a title could come to mean a multitude of things, from Phoenix themselves being out of options and out of answers, to it being the general void that success has to offer. Pointing a finger at all of us to steer clear.
The one thing that is for certain is that it will have nothing to do with their bank accounts after this album release. Bankrupt!
is available everywhere as of April 23, and catch Phoenix at either the Grove Music Festival which moved to Toronto at Fort York Garrison Common on Aug. 3, OR mission it to Montreal for Osheaga, happening Aug 2 – 5. Top Tracks:
SOS In Bel Air, Chloroform, Bourgeois Similar To:
Passion Pit, Foster The People, Two Door Cinema Club
- by Michael Natale
It may not be a perfect 10, but lates New Kids On The Block album, 10, still wasn’t a complete and total miss.
New Kids On The Block
The album has as much variety as a boy band can give their audience; up beat love songs and low beat love songs. A lot of the tracks sounded like they were from previous albums that didn’t make the cut. The song We Own Tonight
, the opener to the album, sounds like it could be from their second studio album Hangin’ Tough.
And the song Now or Never
does have that modern beat, but it sounds like it should have been on their 2008 album, The Block.
This original boy band has been around since 1984 and was the spark to the 90‘s boy band craze as well as the ones in the music business today. NKOTB consists of five men; Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood. They have been in the business for almost three decades, and have given their audience a total of 10 albums.
But the band hasn’t always been together making music. After producing four studio albums, the band began to see a decline in music sales, and broke up in 1995. After a 12 years hiatus, the boys came together in secret to produce their 2008 album, The Block
. The Block
was produced by Interscope records and they had help from several different artists, such as Lady Gaga, Ne-Yo, as well as Timbaland to produce the up-beat pop music they’re known for. They had help from people who were in the industry currently, and hoped for that to help bring back the boys.
And it did. For a bit. But the not-so-new boys left the scene faster than you can say summertime.
In the five years since, the band left Interscope records and their big name producers behind. They moved to a european based production studio called Deekay, and went back to a more laid back album, with less flare and no featured artists to put them back in the limelight. Deekay is known for producing some well-known british bands, such as Blue. But have also helped artists such as Diddy and Lil’ Wayne with their music, according to their website.
With the help of a less well known production company, NKTOB were able to hone in on their target audience for this album, the 30-somethings, and not look back.
Although the album as a whole may not have been the best, there were a few songs that stood out from the rest. The one song that is already on the radio and is guaranteed to hit high on the charts is Remix (I Like The)
. It has a distinct rock/pop vibe that mashes beautifully together and is one of the two songs that could indulge the younger crowd.
The other song that may hit the younger audience is Crash
. It has potential, with the european style music that has been hitting the airwaves for years in North America, it has great vocals from some of the stronger voices of the band. This song should be another one to do well on the charts not just here, but across the globe.
To keep us entertained, the band kept one song hidden from iTunes. You had to buy the whole album to hear this song. Attached to their final track, Survive You
, was a song called Let’s Go Out With A Bang.
It’s a cute, upbeat song, and a good way to complete the album. But again, there was nothing intriguing or different about this song than the rest of the tracks.
To sum it up, the album is mediocre. The pop style is the typical boy-band sound, much like Backstreet Boys or One Direction, and there are a few hits on the album. But the album had little to no variety, and each song seemed to sound a like after a few listens. If you were a NKOTB fan from the get-go, this album is for you. However if you just started listening to them when they hit the scene again five years ago, you might be a tad disappointed. Top Tracks:
Remix (I like the), Fighting Gravity, Crash For Fans of:
The Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Justin Bieber
- by Jennifer Barr
Back in ’94, rolling off of the exposure that a guest feature on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York afforded—the Meat Puppets released their eighth studio album, Too High to Die. Fast forward nearly a decade and you’ll find that title still applies to the laidback yet relentless Kirkwood brothers.
With their fourteenth studio album, Rat Farm
, that dropped April 16th, the band has offered up a solid collection of slightly bent folk songs. While being more polished than the seminal lo-fi masterpiece Meat Puppets II
, the band has gone on to prove they hold equal strong footing in creating memorable, bare-boned songs.
As Curt Kirkwood said of the process,“ I tried to write stuff that would be kind of easy to learn and easy to play, try and get it to stand on its own that way - just the chords and the melodies, and play it kind of straight. I think [those were] the guiding boundaries that I gave myself
The 12 song long LP begins fittingly with the title track (because I can’t be the only one wondering why they would name their album that). In classic Meat Puppets fashion, not even one number in and listeners are thrown through a loop. From the misleading initial feel of the song to the left turn ska/reggae rhythm on the verses and the country/gospel feel on the chorus; if anything, ‘Rat Farm’ is an exercise in keeping up with the ever-evolving genre-bending that the Puppets have mastered over the years. In all honesty, it’s no easy feat for the unprepared new Meat-head; who at this point is probably wondering: “If ‘Rat Farm’ is what happens when the Kirkwood brothers try to strip it down, what exactly are they holding back”?
Perhaps sadly, for those interested in music that pushes past the boundaries of categorization that is a question that will largely go unanswered based on this release alone. However, it is also perhaps to the album’s benefit in that it manages to be a relatively welcoming and accessible experience overall.
No argument could be made for the accessibility of Rat Farm
that would top the evidence provided by ‘One More Drop’; which features a crunchy, power-chord intro indebted to the Misfits, a free wailing solo that lingers and sauntering vocals that roll on top of it all. The song would have fit quite nicely on 1991’s Forbidden Places
alongside the likes of classics: ‘Sam’, ‘Nail it Down’ and ‘Popskull’.
From ‘Down’ onwards, the remainder of the album sounds bled from the same vein. While the “guiding boundaries” to which Curt referred were not so present on the first two track, the rest of the album does feel very restrained (for the Meat Puppets at least). However, while offering a similar relaxed, yellow-hued atmosphere, each track is also individualized with enough distinctive oddities to refrain from feeling repetitive. Whether it’s ‘Leave Your Head Alone’ with its characteristically classic rock sound, ‘You Don’t Know’ a straight forward folk ballad with added Shoegaze touches or ‘Waiting’ with its dreamy layered vocals, sometimes metronomic percussion and channeling of what can only be described as medieval folk-pop.Rat Farm
is noticeably a labour of love for the band. However, it doesn’t quite hit all of the right notes. Save for the sole true standout ‘One More Drop’, Rat Farm
’s consistency is both its strength and weakness.
Does Rat Farm
hold a torch to the likes of classic Meat Puppet albums: Meat Puppets II
, Up On The Sun, Huevos or Too High To Die ?
Not quite, but it does hold up a lighter and nod to them all respectively. This is not the Kirkwood Brother’s jumping ship on their old sound and thankfully this isn’t them piggy-backing on it either. It is a solid album featuring the distinctive, loveable and often unconventional aspects of the band. The magnetic passion that lingers behind even the most subtle and pokerfaced of their songs has all the draw of an ocean’s undertow. The one constant from this Darwinian, eclectic band is that when they put out music, you can tell it is done for the love of it all and no reason else. Top Tracks:
One More Drop, Time and Money, Sometimes Blue, River RosesFor Fans of:
Dinosaur Jr., Scratch Acid, Creedence Clearwater Revival
- by Laura Molinaro
It’s hard to believe that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs broke onto the scene way back in 2001 because the immediacy of their music often strikes as both present and timeless. One need only listen to the at once hectic and playful ‘Art Star’ from their debut EP to understand the bipolar dynamic that would go on to define the band. The rowdy and manic art-rock trio from New York have since been praised by just about every major media outlet, garnered three Grammy nominations and above all have been embraced for their rambunctiously entertaining live shows.
Their latest effort, entitled Mosquito, was met with much buzz when the band revealed the off-putting album art a few months back.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Thankfully, what lies behind the goo-covered, nightmarish troll doll is an album that features a marked boundary-push on the band’s part, along with stellar tracks that will soon be live-staples.
The album begins with the perfect balance of tranquility and rising anticipation. Being the first single and the opening track suits ‘Sacrilege’, as once it is fully unleashed; it is perhaps the most immediate track on the album. The bombastic, overwhelming chant of a chorus is every bit enjoyable. In many ways it comes off as the culmination of 2009’s It’s Blitz’s
finer moments. On top of that, actually managing to make choirs sound badass is no small feat. Hats off!
Following is the more delicate and introspective ‘Subway’ which creeps in with a sample of a train pulling past. Karen sounds quite fragile in this track. Unlike ‘Sacrilege’ the chorus is not so overt but the two tracks do share an ethereal and spacey atmosphere. The quiet feel of ‘Subway’ is later invoked on the album’s love ballad counterparts ‘Always’ and closer ‘Wedding Song’.
Title track ‘Mosquito’ is both infectious and absurd. Karen O’s biting whispers and buzzing noises above the track make the song morph into another beast entirely. Lyrically, this is the most Fever to Tell
-esque. It is ridiculous and simplistic; so much so that you begin to realize it’s actually metaphorical. Strange lyrics aside, this song is a riot and you can’t lie, that “suck your blood” chorus is venomous.
As is becoming evident, the once “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde” aspect of the band has evolved into a “Sybil” plethora of multiple personalities; each the more severe than the next. Delivered under the same persona of ‘Mosquito’ is ‘Area 52’. A track suitably deemed by guitarist Nick Zinner as “the ultimate B-side”. It is fun enough but suffers from the addition of tacky alien-like samples and effects.
‘Under the Earth’ at once shakes with prominent bass; a new feature for the trio who were famously bass-less for many years. Reverb doesn’t hurt either. The feel of this track is shared with the equally subterranean ‘Buried Alive’—a track which marks the first on-album collaboration for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While the Dr. Octagon
feature was an interesting choice, it is rather O’s vocals that shine through.
‘Slave’ comes on and manages to be sinister and loving simultaneously. This song is perhaps the most overtly electronic of the album and also the most danceable if you are so inclined. With a chorus that sounds like Metric
and a breakdown that sounds like Crystal Castles
this song is so insanely catchy that it makes up for the filler/failed experimentation that is ‘These Paths’. Mosquito
’s most straight forward, stripped down ‘Despair’ is perhaps the most poignant moment on the album. Anthemic and yet laidback, ‘Despair’ could have fit quite nicely on 2006’s Show Your Bones.
Not to discredit the song as if it were a rehash but rather to compliment it for striking a level of emotional earnestness, the band hasn’t produced a song this touching since perhaps ‘Maps’.
Never ones to shy away from experimentation; this album clearly demonstrates that the band is continuing to find ways push their sound further with each record. Mosquito
seems to represent a transitional period for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; a work that is now looking like both a spring-board and sampler for what can be expected for the future. Though hard to pin down due to its eclectic nature, Mosquito’s
shining moments hit like blinding high beams. Top Tracks:
Sacrilege, Under the Earth, Slave, Buried Alive, Despair For fans of:
Metric, Crystal Castles, MGMT
Order the album at www.yeahyeahyeahs.com/ - by Laura Molinaro
This weekend someone had pointed out (hint, hint, wink, wink) to me that a band called Wooly Mammoth from Perry Sound, Ontario had just released a new album on April 2nd. Raised eyebrows, intrigue gauged. Jessiah Devine (Vocals, Guitar, Keys, trombone) and Paul Vroom (Drums, bass, keys, vocals, trumpet) were in the neck of the woods for what seems like all of March where they had the opportunity to record, in my opinion, a very enjoyable record.
Wooly Mammoth - North Shore
True North has moments on the record where it relies on a very melancholic, nostalgic tone. There are familiar moments in the melodies, the ghastly, echoing vocals found on their second track “Nevada,” as well as simple empty moments within each song that allows the listener to paint their own picture on those short lived empty canvasses. If I were to describe this album with a texture, I’d say wet. Something you can listen to on a grey, brisk, spring morning, wet from the previous night’s rain. As well, if I were to describe the feeling of the album with just one song, I’d pick out Reverie Sound Revue’s “One Marathon.” Wet, comforting, headspace material.
The record doesn’t shove anything in your face and neither do the two dudes behind it. It’s genuine material taken for what it’s presented as, a simple musical arrangement that encapsulates a moment in time, perhaps a sad, dark, but hopeful time, expressed through two musicians, Jessiah Devine and Paul Vroom. Although simple, the music gives space for the listener to breath and comprise both an internal reflection of self, and an external reflection of the world, something not a lot of local acts (to me) are able evoke. North Shore is catchy, simple, and genuine.
Check out their new record on their bandcamp. If you like it, pay whatever you like for it to support the two gents.
- by Robby P
If you happened to be one of the select few 108 million viewers of the 2013 Super Bowl, you might have garnered yourself a tantalizing but widely misleading sneak-peak as to what the upcoming year of music would offer. I am, of course, referring to The Flaming Lips’ Hyundai Ad (sorry Beyoncé!). Sure, the fact that the song was called ‘Sun Blows up Today’ should’ve been a tip-off but amidst all the family fun and energetic optimism I seemed to have ignored the warning signs.
The Flaming Lips. Photo by Jon Behm
, on which `Sun Blows Up Today’ is both a bonus track and an anomaly, is to be released on April 16th in North America. The album is what you could call the follow up to 2009`s Embryonic--
that is, if you don`t count the thousands of cover albums, collaborations, 24-hour songs encased in human skulls and gummy fetus EPs between the two.
With their seemingly endless output dating back to their conception 30 years ago, The Flaming Lips
have consistently put out eclectic albums that draw from their progressive, experimental and neo-psychedelic inspirations; with each album becoming an evolved take on that sound.
The latest extension of their sound comes not in the form of extended jamming, nor through the addition of a one-off gimmick but rather through the decided choice of an overall darker perspective. This outlook creates both a lyrical and musical experience more bitter and downcast than the band has ever offered.
With an intro that sounds like Radiohead
covering The Gorillaz
; The Terror
opens with ‘Look…The Sun is Rising’, which at once instills a sense of innate anxiety that seemingly will not subside. In fact, the track seems to almost bleed its chaotic murk straight into the following track ‘Be Free, A Way’; a song which at first comes across as sweet and drowsy however, as it carries on Wayne’s voice seems more defeated than merely tired. The lyrics: “Be free and go. Our days are empty. Is the love the god that we control?”
mirror the confusion and fragility that the music provides.
‘Try to Explain’ is a mesmerizing and lush but bleak experience that ends with what sounds like a sample from Lana Del Rey
`s ‘Ride’ narration. The thirteen minute long ‘You Lust’ follows. While the track does offer some subtle surprising moments, the running time seemed to shroud them in a blur. The instrumental moments recall Pink Floyd
The title track, ‘The Terror’, instills the image of an enveloping, dense fog refracting broken sunrays. This song is definitely a highlight of the album. Following is the less than stellar ‘You Are Alone’ which starts off with ominous intrigue but soon grows repetitive despite being the shortest track on the album.
‘Butterfly (How Long It Takes to Die)’ is definitely a lyrical high point for the album and potentially for the band as well. The sun as a symbol is clearly in thematic focus on this album and it is beautifully captured in the lines: “If you've ever really seen the sun rise; you will see how many times it tries”. ‘Turning Violent’ whirs in like helicopter blades with a cathartic midway lash-out that lets out the built-up ennui just enough to loosen the reins for what is to come.
“Always There…In Our Hearts” is an entrancing mantra that is the most sinister song on the album. It is also the magic of this closing track that makes the whole experience feel so rewarding. By the end of the taxing experience of being sucked into the desolate landscape that is The Terror
, ‘Always There…’ seems to bring things full circle. Embracing the “evil…sorrow and sadness” within us all, becomes an odd and inexplicable cold comfort by the end of the album.
Though not blatantly a concept album, The Terror
feels like an album that should be enjoyed in its entirety. Despite its minor blips, The Flaming Lips
have put out a record that has managed to tackle existential anxieties and the downside of highs with both sophistication and focus.
Like all albums that outlive their times, The Terror
is a grower. It seems with each consecutive listen, new intricacies are revealed. Perhaps it is the way the album encourages the mind to weave in and out of focus at ease. Perhaps it is the time of day or the space in which you are listening to it. Maybe it is the circumstances that are currently surrounding you. Perhaps it is all of the above that makes The Terror
so immense and overwhelming at certain instances and so minimal and withdrawn at others. Whatever it is, The Terror
is an enigma—a multifoliate, atmospheric experience of muddy drones, obscured dissonance and mesmerisation. Its lack of immediacy may seem off-putting however the complete surrender The Terror
offers, warrants the multiple listens it requires. Top Tracks:
Look...The Sun is Rising, The Terror, Turning Violent, Always There...In Our Hearts For Fans of:
Sonic Youth, Spiritualized, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine
Order the album at www.flaminglips.com/ - by Laura Molinaro
After a seven year hiatus, musical mastermind Justin Timberlake is back and taking the R&B music scene by storm.
With his third studio album, The 20/20 Experience,
J.T. has proven himself as a driving force in moulding the industry with his classy style and expertise. It is a combination of his first and second album, Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds, mixed with a mature and new beat.
It doesn’t follow one style of music, but it seems to work for him. The theme however follows a movie. With songs that portray a story and relate to each other, and ends off with a beautiful song that would be similar to the credits at the end of a movie.
Timberlake has created visual music with this album. His lyrics and beats are so soulful you can picture exactly what he intended; almost like you’re listening to a 70-minute movie without looking at the screen. His lyrics are less about teenage-boy come-ons like in his world-known song “Sexyback”, and more about true love in “Pusher Love Girl” and “Mirrors”. [Watch "Mirrors" Music Video
With the exception of Jay-Z on his hit song “Suit and Tie”, there are no other artists featured on his tracks.
When J.T. went solo in 2002, he was a young twenty-something trying to keep his old N’sync fans, but create is own identity. His second album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, had to be very sexual and sensual to get his own identity. By then he was in his mid twenties, not married, and still trying to isolate himself from the 90s boy band days.
Now, after almost a decade of his fans begging for him to return, he changed his style, and become more aware of what vision he wanted to show his audience.
With this album, J.T. is in his early thirties, married, and ready to create real music. He has shown the world a wide array of music, bringing back old school R&B and jazz style beats to the forefront with The 20/20 Experience
. Mellow and soulful, Timberlake has shown to himself and the industry he has grown up and away from his original boy band beginnings.
The album begins with “Pusher Love Girl”; an eight minute song that expresses his obsession to a girls love, insinuating the love he has for her is like an addict to his drug. This song is bold, much like all his other albums beginning songs, such as “Senorita” from his first album. The deep bass and background music gets the listener entranced, not realizing how long the song was until it’s over.
Another song that resembles his Justified days is the song “That Girl”. It starts with someone introducing the boy “all the way from Memphis, Tennessee...” which was the opening to Senorita. However there is no latino music, but instead a barber-shop-quartette vibe that plays along a big brass band.
J.T.’s well known high pitched voice is recognized instantly, and the flow continues with the rest of the album.
Several musical transitions flow each song together, allowing songs with a more hip-hop foreign beat to kind of fit with the rest of the album. “Don’t hold the Wall” starts off jazzy, then completely transforms into a Bollywood style dance song, with deep drums and rain sticks to give it an eastern sound. That deep bass is found again throughout the song like in the rest of the album, however this song is similar to his old stuff and it doesn’t fit well with the classy sound that follows. However, exactly 4:20 into the song, it does a complete 180 to a stronger, manlier sound, fitting perfectly with the new style of music on The 20/20 experience
It’s detailed, original, and takes you on a ride. But it took a few listens to understand everything that was crammed into the seven-minute song.
This is the same with the song, “Let the Groove Get In.” This latino beat is just that -- a beat, and nothing else. There are no meaningful lyrics or beautiful alliterations, but a lot was happening for the music itself to be original. The lyrics were just ignored. There are maybe 50 words in the whole song that get repeated for the seven minutes it’s on. It still fits J.T.’s style, but it’s a different beat on a different drum.
“Tunnel Vision” plays on the title of the album. It shows an old school version of Timberlake, but with a techno melody in the background. The song is very similar to his 2006 song “What Goes Around Comes Around.” The song refers to a movie, which is perfect for J.T. to sing about, since he to create his movie career.
This album was produced over a five year period by RCA records in collaboration with several producers, including Timbaland and Jerome “J-roc” Hermon. The 20/20 Experience
is another masterpiece that was well worth the wait. Forget sexy back, Justin Timberlake is bringing classy back. Top Tracks:
Don't Hold The Wall, Mirrors, Tunnel Vision For Fans of:
Usher, Bruno Mars, Timbaland - by Jennifer Barr