WECB Music Staff is here to bring you their highly solicited opinion on what's new + not yet reviewed...ish. If you've got stuff you would like to send our way, go ahead and email music(at)wecb(dot)fm ;-)
**btw- all opinions author's own//duh**
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Concert Report: Mr. Carmack @ The Sinclair, 02-18-18
Even as a longtime fan of Carmack’s music, I still had no idea what to expect going into one of his live shows. Hawaii-born, L.A-based producer Aaron Carmack’s music defies prototypical genre conventions of electronic music, incorporating plenty of smooth, live instrumentation into his tonally-diverse discography. With such a heterogeneous catalog of music, the idea of Carmack doing justice to his entire body of work with a live performance seemed borderline impossible to me. But within the claustrophobic confines of The Sinclair Theater, Carmack did just that, performing a microcosm of the jarring tonal shifts seen from album to album, opting instead to incorporate these abrupt shifts from track to track. Down to the intricate lighting setup that corresponded perfectly to his beats, Mr. Carmack’s show was devilishly well structured.
The opener, Tsuruda, put the crowd in a frantically energetic state right off the bat, thanks to his indescribably complex experimental electronic bangers. After his set, the crowd was absolutely buzzing, primed for a Pay for What-scored moshpit fever-dream. However, with what was to be the first of many abrupt tonal shifts, Mr. Carmack opened with something he had never performed, neither live nor in-studio; singing. With his first three songs, to nearly everyone’s surprise, Carmack flexed his muscles as a vocalist to dazzling effect. Clearly familiar enough with his instrumentals to expertly work his own vocals into them, Carmack absolutely commanded attention right out of the gate, and the once mosh-ready crowd stood in a stunned stupor, entranced by this new side to Carmack’s already complex music. From that point forward, Carmack had the audience in the palm of his hand, expertly curating the highlights of his discography into a two-hour showcase of his pure musical ability. While the crowd was obviously engaged with Carmack’s performance, it was clear to everyone that there was one glaring omission for a majority of the show; his ubiquitously known trap-influenced super-banger, Pay For What.
As the show drew to a close, the crowd was chomping at the bit for a mosh-worthy Mr. Carmack song, and when he announced his departure from the stage, individual voices rang throughout the venue, clamoring for Pay for What. With a smile reaching ear to ear, Carmack gave the audience what they were begging for, and the room completely exploded into a state of animalistic chaos. I saw three separate people get punched in the back of the neck, every drink held in the pit go flying, and a guy with a broken leg ruthlessly moshing, using his crutches as brutally effective melee weapons. I bumped into Mr. Carmack at the merch table after the show. He was beaming, and just as sweaty as everyone in the pit. I told him how the show completely blew me out of the water, and me between laughs and necessary sips of water he thanked me and remarked on how much work he and his team put into the show. I didn’t necessarily need to hear him say it, it was abundantly clear that the show was carefully planned in every aspect, but it only increased my level of respect for him and his music. If you ever have a chance to see a Mr. Carmack show, don’t hesitate a second and buy your tickets as soon as you can. It’ll be well worth it.
Words: Liam Thomas // Images:
Review: Dom O Briggs - Dante Hall
Brooklyn raised rapper Dom O Briggs shares little with the other MCs from his area. Whether this speaks to the homogenized nature of a lot of rap in the age of soundcloud or not, is up to you. “Dante Hall,” released on his own label, Squadly Records, this past December is by no means the type of track that will blow up his fledgling career, but one that signals hope for his future. Dom comes off as a decent lyricist, not afraid to employ common rap and hip-hop tropes and make them his own (“I feel like Dru Hill how deep is your love for me? Shit. [What that mouf do.]”)
More often than not, his quip laden bars hit, and the corresponding adlib does just as well. His voice and delivery are also unique enough to make him stand out from the constant onslaught of hungry soundcloud and bandcamp rappers. It’s raspy and unconcerned, and it fits his lackadaisical flow. The production, which according to Genius, was done by Pi’erre Bourne, the man behind Carti’s adlib holy text “Magnolia,” leaves a lot to be desired. It’s typical trap fare: 8th note hi-hat throughout, gummy bass that bounces at the beginning of each bar, and a music box melody to top it all off. Besides a brief reversal halfway through the track, the beat stays the course and it sounds lazy. This wouldn’t be the case if there was anything particularly special about it, but there really isn’t. It sounds less stylistically sparse, and more empty and amateurish. The track is not a complete wash however; Dom is very much so the focus and his lyrics do enough to hold it down for its 3 minute run time.
- Mateo Rispoli
Review: Roo’s - Selkie
Roo’s single “Selkie” opens with a fairy tale-esque yet dark piano signal, like watching Alice fall down the rabbit hole in slow-mo. That's fairly indicative of the entirety of Roo’s discography: quirky, uncomfortable, captivating, intimate and, as described by the band themself, “stalker-pop”. After the emotionally-rich piano solo opening, listeners are again transported, this time to a happier, more optimistic tune. This transition, however, is seamless and efficient in telling listeners a story without having to use any words.
Katie, one half of the dark-pop duo, eventually accompanies the piano. Katie’s hauntingly angelic voice illuminates the constant piano rhythm, a captivating and slightly dark ballad. Joining her is the other half of Roo, Dean, harmonizing with Katie to offer a deeper, equally-impressive component to Roo’s vocals. Though the piano rhythm played in this single is somewhat constant, it allows for the focus to remain on the narrative Roo conveys with their moody vocals. Together, these two self-described “rock ratbags” coalesce into a soulful sensation of sound that is sure to be a unique experience for all listeners.
- Emily Bunn
Listen to: “Selkie” off of Roo’s new EP “Bansidhe”
Review: Streetlight Boutique - Streetlight Boutique EP
There’s no shortage of musical ideas mixed together in Street Light Boutique, the self-titled debut EP from the husband/wife Brooklyn duo, whose sound is nothing if not eclectic. In any given moment, Street Light Boutique’s tracks could feature ambient samples weaving their way through repetitive 808 beats, while their whispered rhymes float atop the track. Sadly, more often than not, the group’s ideas are overambitious and their sound becomes cluttered and unrefined. While their boutique’s items are distinct, Streetlight fails to illuminate ideas well enough to make a sale.
The duo, comprised of members Rahlou and Que Sera, split the vocal and production duties down the middle. But while their voices are distinct and complementary, their flows lack in creativity, verses often are centered around a single rhyme. The vocals are more reminiscent of UK grime verses than they are more contemporary US hip hop as their online bio suggests.
While their lyrical stylings don’t manage to impress, the production is where Street Light excels. The EP opens with a tune called “Get Your Life,” whose bouncing bassline (almost reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Apollo) evolves into an ethereal yet danceable groove, supported by quick and textured drums. “Banana House” is another stand out track. Somewhere in between house and boom bap, the tune’s relentless bass and and puncturing snare beg for an excited vocal energy that unfortunately, neither Rahlou or Que Sera decide to give it.
Creativity is abound, but the tunes on the album become scattered by way of ambiguous production and old school drum sounds not quite used expertly enough. Where SLB could have spent time finding their own sound, they seem to have been compiling proverbs from the last three decades of hip hop and electronic music. The structure of the songs on Boutique are conducive for club music but the vocals give the compositions a different vibe altogether. Perhaps the marriage of the instrumentals and the vocals are a meditation on what it means to be in a band with one’s spouse. Two distinct facets are brought together in the EP, but like in any relationship, compromises must be made to create real unity.
- Samuel Stroup
Review: Lord Huron - Ancient Names (Part I)
Starting off with a mellowed out melody, Ancient Names (Part I) by Lord Huron, introduces a track that will be anything but that. Around 1 minute in the song does a 180 and becomes an upbeat, groovy, track with bass, drums, and guitar. The chorus is catchy and repetitive, making it a candidate for a popular radio song, quite like their 2015 hit, “The Night We Met,” made popular by Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. The concept of having to escape and “get out of here, get away from her” is a break from their last album, which revolved mostly on the concepts of love, hinting that their upcoming third album might cover heartbreak or endings. The 6 minute song mellows out again towards the 4 minute mark including some interesting faded out, inaudible dialogue that sounds like it’s coming out of an old radio. Overall, a promising future for Lord Huron.
- Lis Steinberg
Review: MAST - Thelonious Sphere Monk
MAST, known offstage as Tim Conley, is a jazz and electronic musician proclaimed for mixing both of these genres seamlessly. In his new album, Thelonious Sphere Monk, he reinterprets the iconic 60’s jazz pianist Thelonious Monk’s oeuvre, mixing the old jazz with electronic music, offering a fresh new take.
The album is complete with both fast-paced intense tracks like “Bemsha Swing” and smoother, slower tracks like the classic “Round Midnight”. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the combination of these two styles of rhythms, which while polar opposites throughout the tracklist, come together well in the overall of the album. One could sit down and vibe to this piece of work easily. The bits of electronic (when not incorporated too harshly like on certain tracks) moved the jazz in an overturning era, a new era, it renovated it. So while the piece of work was mostly sampled, it felt new, like a breath of fresh air.
The artist made a great choice to sample Thelonious Monk’s work and tweak it in order to take it up in his own way--no better way of honoring such a legend.
- Danna Kahn
Review: Gil Hockman - Becoming
Gil Hockman is a neo-folk singer-songwriter hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa. His new album, Becoming, is his second full length work. As foretold by the album art which pictures an x-ray of a bird in embryo, Becoming features tracks about introspection, self-actualization, and how we all change and develop throughout life. From the beginning of the album, one may think that this album is an classic folk work, and that Hockman is just an ordinary folk singer who can strum an electric guitar. However, that’s soon disproved as Hockman introduces synth waves and drum machine patterns into the songs, making an interesting dichotomy--Hockman’s monotone and somber voice, as well as his gentle guitar playing bring out sensual and sentimental tones, while the synths and drum patterns make songs more danceable and fun.
A standout track on this album would have to be “Untitled.” A simple but catchy guitar riff runs through the entire song, with solo guitars, bongos, and a live drum kit working their way in as the song progresses. Hockman’s voice builds a dreamy atmosphere when paired with the serene instrumentation.
Ultimately, this seems like an album that a more folk-inspired Gen-X’er would enjoy and appreciate more than the average millenial. Despite his insertions of more contemporary and experimental instrumentation, Hockman’s style aligns more with the sounds of Richard Thompson, Drive-By Truckers, and even Jack Johnson but he definitely does do something different with this record.
- Adam Barlyn
Review: Rock Mecca - Ironworld
Rock Mecca emcee from Queens, New York just released their new album Ironworld. The album, unfortunately is filled with familiar tracks and a lack of transition. Every song seems to be based on the same formula: 18 or so line verses and a 4 line chorus. Now, I’m not a rap fan so maybe it’s just me, but I’d like more going on in the songs I listen to. I felt like I kept waiting for the beat or sound to change, and for the song to transition into something I could really bump to but it didn’t. Rock Mecca has some strong suits of course, his lyrics are good and his rhythm clean, he tends to mix in some interesting sounds and clips of speech, but without more to his songs his album is basically a collection of weak spoken word poetry laid over a track.
- Carly Thompson
Review: Queens of the Stone Age - Feet Don't Fail Me Now
With a chaotic entrance into their new song, Queens of the Stone Age usher in their dedicated fanbase to their new song “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.” Stylistically, the combination of instruments works well with the chorus and following verses, but creates an adverse effect of cacophony in the beginning for listeners. The guitar solo occuring in the middle does not bring forth any interesting elements into the song, but rather puts a damper on the song as a whole. With so much experience and talent, the meager notes strummed amidst the heavy rock seem elementary.
- Gabi Mrozowski
Review: Machine Age - FIGHTING
Machine Age’s single “Fighting” invites listeners to feel his frustration through his music. With sounds reminiscent of early 2000s alt rock decorated with modern day electronic effects, Machine Age finds the perfect sound that truly represents a tone of fighting for what he wants. As we are introduced to a distorted guitar and a fast drum beat, it’s obvious this song is no relaxing listen; this a song of disappointment and heartbreak. The lead singer has a certain quality in his voice that makes it obvious he is longing for something more. Finally, it’s truly the lyrics that solidify the frustration of this song- “I don’t wanna be here anymore.”
This song is incredibly energetic and enjoyable to listen to. The guitar distortion and overpowering snare drum sound are elements commonly found in bands like Royal Blood, Silversun Pickups, and even Arctic Monkeys; but Machine Age manages to take it to a completely new level. The added electronic sounds not only change up an otherwise ordinary and overdone beat, but create this discomfort in the rhythm. It seems to be symbolic of a sort of “glitching out” throughout the song. Whether or not this symbolism is actually purposeful on Machine Age’s part, it still adds so much meaning to the song and makes it that much more interesting to listen to.
- Victoria D’Angelo
Review: Darien J - Future EP
Darien J’s Future EP is an easy, if not particularly interesting, listen. Darien’s music is neither as intriguing as IDM nor as exciting as most EDM. It’s hard to imagine listening to the Future EP for any reason other than to create ambiance. The EP’s two tracks each span just over seven minutes but it takes less than three minutes to forget that there is even music playing. The songs are so unobtrusive that they fade into the background as if they were engineered for that singular purpose. Darien J couldn’t have made more functional background music if he tried.
Both tracks are slick, smooth, and easy on the ears. There’s nothing in the way of huge bass drops or flashy production. The songs come in quietly, build and develop slowly and just as quietly as they came. Though nothing in either track is immediately attention grabbing or interesting, Darien J deserves credit for constructing them to be as smooth as possible.
The first track “Future” is somewhat, but not overwhelmingly eerie. It maintains a steady tempo throughout with a simple, driving 808 drum playing on almost every beat. It has just enough personality to peak interest but not nearly enough to maintain it. The EP’s second and final track “Drift” is more sonically varied but accomplishes little more than establishing the same slightly eerie aesthetic as the title track.
Darien J’s Future EP sounds like it’s stuck in an unfortunate middleground between Boards of Canada and Deadmau5. The EP is not quite intriguing enough to be an enjoyable close-listen or exciting enough to work on the dance-floor. Instead, it seems to be stuck in a purgatory where it will be condemned to the function of background music.
- Owen Murray
Review: Low Cut Connie - Beverly
The new age rock band Low Cut Connie recently released their new song Beverly off their EP Dirty Pictures, pt. 2 which comes out in May. Low Cut Connie is a Philly based band formed in 2010 that is known for their live shows. Their last album Dirty Pictures, pt. 1 earned them national praise.
The band has an interest mix of 70’s age rock and modern alternative rock, which has recently come back into popularity in the music industry. However Beverly has a strong presence of piano which seems to differentiate it from others of its kind. The song is easy to listen to and does not provoke a particular mood. It's more elevated and mature sound than what they have put out before and I have high hopes that the rest of the EP will follow suit.
- Emily McDonnell
Review: Veislakt - Klovnene
I don’t know where the clowns come in. When promising an underground circus, consisting of what I assume to be fear and terror, I expect there to be at least a recurrent theme of a haunting merry-go-round. Yet we only hear typical punk and metal motifs: shouting chorus and ordinary power chords. The artwork suggests Pennywise-esque horror, but all we are left with is high energy and aggression. As a single for an upcoming album, Veislakt fails to give us an indication at comedy, clowns, or blood.
Klovnene, or clowns, alone do not offer us enough visceral, gut-wrenching subject matter to wear the crowd or the at-home listener begs for mercy. This general lack in vocal-instrumental songwriting leaves us with clean, head-banging, mosh pit fun and nothing more save for beer sprays and sweaty hair slaps. For us non-Danish speaking listeners, we need to be cued in on the macabre features that exist in the underground circus world they’ve so distastefully created for us.
- Chad Bauer
Review: Daniel Correra - The Wraith
Singer songwriter, Daniel Correra, is a twenty-year student at University of Miami Frost. Correra has already dropped three albums, Progressions (2015), Polluted ( 2016), and Melodramatic (2017). His newest release was the upbeat single “The Wraith.” It felt extremely “pop-y.” The opening of the song sounded exactly like a Target commercial. Luckily the beat shifts later in the song, it still gives off an upbeat feeling, but not as strong as the beginning. Correra voice matches what a pop singer is supposed to sound like. He did a combination of rap and singing, on this track. It reminded me of the way Ed Sheeran sings. Daniel sings about former lovers coming back into his life, but they aren’t good for each other, a basic topic of a song in this genre. Nothing felt extremely special, but if Pop is your forte, lend Daniel Correra an ear.
- Gianna Bellomo
Review: Ravyn Lenae - Crush EP
Ravyn Lenae is a brilliant young vocalist with a keen eye for detail and a genuine appreciation for musical cohesion. Lenae’s emphasis on synergy within her releases is explicit; her first two releases, 2016’s Moon Shoes EP and 2017’s Midnight Moonlight EP were entirely produced by fellow Chicago native and Zero Fatigue collective member Monte Booker. This consistent collaborative spirit between Booker and Lenae not only helped her cultivate a distinctly recognizable sonic identity, it yielded some of the most intricately crafted neo-soul in recent memory, with Booker’s spasmodic beats starkly juxtaposed against Lenae’s gentle, sultry voice. However, throughout Lenae’s early discography, there’s an underlying feeling that Monte Booker’s beats were the true star of the show. His fitful, otherworldly production tends to steal the spotlight from any artist who can’t fully match its eccentricity, and there were defined moments on Lenae’s early EPs where the beats are simply running circles around her. That being said, Ravyn Lenae’s Crush EP displays a degree of vocal confidence only seen in flashes throughout her early work. Her penchant for cultivating a singular musical identity within a project hasn’t changed, but her producer has. Crush is entirely produced by The Internet alumni and wunderkind bassist Steve Lacy, and his tight, soulful production accommodates Lenae’s vocal style to perfection. With Crush, we are witnessing two young, expressive neo-soul upstarts at the height of their powers, adding to and improving upon their respective musical identities to a dizzyingly successful effect.
The most pronounced difference between Crush and Lenae’s early work is the elimination of the barrier between producer and vocalist. Even at their best moments, Midnight Moonlight and Moon Shoes rarely achieve the same feeling of complete integration between the instrumental and Lenae’s performance that is present on Crush, due in part to Lacy’s vocal contributions to the project. Additionally, the shift from the unhinged complexity of Monte Booker’s production to Steve Lacy’s simple, effective instrumentals offers Lenae more room to focus on her lyrical content. Her songwriting has improved a great deal from her last EP, and her explorations of young love in the modern world are finally given room to breathe on Crush.
The release of Crush offers an introduction to a new, more confident Ravyn Lenae. A far cry from the soft-spoken, unpredictable charm of Midnight Moonlight and Moon Shoes, the Crush EP is Ravyn Lenae fully realized. It’s the perfect synergy of two charming, chameleonic young musicians reinventing the neo-soul format in their own image while remaining grounded in their influences.
- Liam Thomas
Review: Househats - Stop
Househats is a trio indie-punk group, from Melbourne, Australia. Their second single, “Stop”, opens with a loud and blaring guitar riff that lasts for a long 25 seconds until the lyrics finally kick in. The lyrics are fairly engaging and relatable, expressing the idea of life moving too fast and getting away from you. However, the vocalist yells “stop stop” after every phrase and almost ruins the effect of every lyric sung. There is hardly any change in the melody, which results in a song with no build or direction. If “Stop” were a shape, it would be a straight line. “Stop” certainly isn’t bad enough that you would skip it the first time you heard it, not good enough that you’d want to listen to it again. The semi-unique voice of the vocalist is arguably redeeming. The song ends abruptly with the vocalist yelling “stop” which would have been more effective if they hadn’t already yelled it several times throughout the song. “Stop” is a decent song to play in the background of a rager, but that’s about its only listening purpose.
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Review: My Riverboat - Nicholas Krgovich
Beginning with a Bossa Nova style, Nicholas Krgovich’s My Riverboat evokes a vast amount of emotions throughout. It has a solid production value being that everything is melded together with extreme precision, like when we’re introduced to the a choir of women add backup vocals to Krygovich’s voice. The trumpet and maracas add a dramatic tone to the song, adding an interesting dynamic overall to Krgovich’s vocals. It is notable to add that the music video adds an interesting touch to the song that transforms the way you interpret Riverboat. At first glance it can be assumed that the setting of this song is on a riverboat, however, it is eventually realized that riverboat is just a way for Krgovich to symbolically represent his life moving and growing to be more than what is had been before—stagnant. The only thing up for debate may be his vocals. Krgovich at times seems as if he is abnormally hitting notes that don’t quite fit into the song. The melody is hard to pin down because of this, making it something that is a little difficult to ‘groove’ to.
- Lis Steinberg
Review: It Must Be Dark Tonight - Ryan Driver
In a Jack Johnson style of soft rock, Ryan Driver’s single “It Must Be Dark Tonight” presents a pleasant reminder of a been-there, done-that genre of the 2000s. The acoustic-driven melody provides a calming listening experience. Stylistically, the song does not offer anything new or exciting. A lack of diverse instruments gives the song a disadvantage in its genre that had its heyday that already ended. His duet with Tamara Lindeman is a perfectly acceptable inclusion and even executed well. However, in a dying genre, having a nice duet does not differentiate this single from its predecessors. This song does not provide much as the opener to Driver’s newest album, and in fact, can discourage from listening to the whole album. By lacking in new elements, Driver does not provide enough encouragement and incentive to convince the listener to listen to the rest of his music.
- Gabby Mrozowski
Ryan Driver is an artist from Toronto whose style is described as uncontainable—at least by his label. His repertoire bounces from jazz folk music influences. In his song It Must Be Dark Tonight, featuring Tamara Lindeman from the band The Weather Station, he even leans more towards folk than in most of his other music. The guitar picking is quite beautiful, creating a strain of melody that sounds fluent but also changes throughout the course of the song. His and Tamara’s voices meld seamlessly in what can only be described as a romantic duet. The song was nice and sweet, something I wouldn’t be opposed to falling asleep to. But that could be good thing or a bad thing. His music truly shines when it showcases alternative instrumentation and a jazz quartet. That said, this is a good attempt at creating something quite romantic.
- Carly Thompson
Review: You’re Not Alone, Kid - WILLN’T
WILLN’T is a New York based artist. “You’re Not Alone, Kid” is his first single and he plans to release the debut EP in early 2018. The song has a similar vocal style to 80’s pop music—think Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, etc—and the synths sound like College & Electric Youth, “A Real Hero” in particular. Lyrically, it is full of cliches and instrumentally, it is a mix of 80’s music meets the Drive soundtrack. Nothing about it was new and I feel like I’ve heard the it before even though this is my first listen.
- Tasha Skotnicki
Review: Over Blues EP - Banner.
Banner. is a dutch singer/songwriter from the Netherlands. His EP Over Blue has found moderate success in his home country and has been featured on Dutch National Radio. A few tracks off this EP have been on the Dutch Spotify New Music Friday Playlist. Since then, he has released a new single named In My Mind.
Banner. has a really beautiful voice. It’s easy to listen to. The small, soft guitar solos fit the song nicely and keep the listener engaged. The lyrics throughout the song aren’t cheesy and allow the song to flow nicely. This is a solid song, a great piece of music and something I would recommend to those who enjoy pop/folk music with a talented singer. Check out their single In My Mind on Soundcloud.
- Angela Rath
Review: Storm - Austen
Brisbane-based artist AUSTEN released a new single, “Storm”, which is almost identical to indie-electronica inspirations Broods, Banks, and Halsey. This single encapsulates the brooding-indie-singer-conveying-distress-over-a-soft-electronic-beat vibe, which so many artists, and specifically female vocalists, tend to follow. While other artists may have built their fan base around this concept, it has much more of a distinct sound and deliberately placed emotion than AUSTEN seems to convey.
While the lyrics may hold some deeper personal meaning, it is almost completely lost while AUSTEN tries to navigate her way around the beat. She is almost working too hard to sound like Lana Del Ray or Banks, so much so that it ends up sounding over-produced and cliche. The whirls of synths and dark bass heavily collide with such ethereal and almost whining vocals. Combined with the beat that sounds so similar to any other indie-electronica song, and you aren’t left with a fresh new artist, but simply more of the same, a repeat, one that doesn’t stand out in the context of her own sound.
- Claudia Bennett
Austen’s new song Storm has a very dark, brooding tone. It is a feeling which evokes a sense of being unsure, but not angry. It is a feeling of questioning oneself and being critical. The emotions Austen conveys in this song come through crystal clear—it’s done perfectly.
Influence from Banks can most definitely be heard in this song. The dark, critical emotion is strongly present in this song; an obvious influence on its own. It’s not harsh or edgy, which is a good thing, as it doesn’t need to be angsty. If it was angsty, it would surely hurt the song much more than it might help and opens the piece up to a more mature audience. While not objectively about love, lyrics could easily allude to a relationship. It’s not strictly about the lyrics, though. It’s about the emotion behind them which can be felt no matter how the song is interpreted. Austen’s song Storm fits right in there with other emotionally driven electronic female vocal indie pop. This isn’t to say the song gets lost in a crowd, however. Solely based on one song, it’s hard to say what Austen’s sound is. She has the potential to develop a unique sound with more emotionally—driven music to keep the listener wanting more and I certainly do.
- Jim Macolini
Review: Even More - Ani DiFranco
Ani Difranco has always based her musical identity in folksy antiestablishmentarianism. Difranco’s anti-corporate attitude has found her a special place amongst folk-rock fans, and she has become somewhat of a cult hero over the course of her impressive twenty-five-year career. While Difranco’s older works employed sarcastic, witty punk-influenced songwriting over dreamy acoustic instrumentation, her newest track Even More off her most recent studio album is a delightful change of pace. On Even More, Difranco has distanced herself from the fiery cynicism of her earlier work for what seems like a more palatable sonic identity.
While some of her core fans may disagree with Difranco’s new artistic direction, I personally believe that her music has never sounded more expertly conceived. The uptempo instrumental elevates Difranco’s already charming voice in a unique way, and anytime the instrumental start to feel repetitive or uninteresting, a gloriously conceived horn section snaps the listener back to attention. Even More is a disarmingly honest and charming love song, with a wonderfully arranged and extremely diverse instrumental that serves as a plush cushioning for Difranco’s lovely songwriting about long-term relationships.
- Liam Thomas
Background music never hurt anybody. “Even More” is a swinging rustic cut off of Ani DiFranco’s June release and 20th studio album, Binary. It’s hard to have too strong a reaction to a song about having a crush on a boy with blue eyes — it’s been done all too many times to still get a response out of me. The instrumental features swaying strummed guitar chords and standard high-cut drums that follow the swing. Piano riffs closely chase the melody and rhythm. It feels like DiFranco wanted this song to be dusty, but polished. It rides that fine line the whole time. If the song leaned in either direction, it might be more impactful and interesting, but I get the sense that Ani didn’t want to risk losing any radio appeal.
“Even More” feels like the musical equivalent of a pre-thrashed flannel — I see the rustic, well-worn look you’re going for, and it’s not doing much for me. If you’re going to buy mangled clothing, I want to see a long-sleeve that’s just sleeves and tube socks with burn holes. You get it — go all out. While there are in fact many radio stations that prefer to play more middle-of-the-road songs, like “Even More,” I think the future of radio lies within distinct personalities. Nowadays, people will to listen to a radio station if it has something interesting to offer; it’s longer the go-to for background music, people use streaming services for that.
- Gabe Allanoff
Review: Breaking Wind - Miguel A.F.
Russian-based, small-scale record label Polyptych released a new EP from Spanish Sound Producer Miguel A.F.. The two-track EP, Breaking Wind, features songs “Mysterious Breeze” and “Hot Sand”, both of which might be mistaken for the other if played back to back. So-called “progressive house” music, the electronic beats do nothing for the listener besides provide a repetitive and uninteresting sound. “Mysterious Breeze” sounds almost like a score to a low-budget action video game, complete with a strange trumpet section in the middle. “Hot Sand” takes listeners through a psychedelic tale, almost sounding like an off-putting remix to the Stranger Things theme song. Fans of repetitive, stagnant house music may find this interesting, but for the daily listener, the beats feel boring and unoriginal.
- Claudia Bennett
Review: She Loves Kissing Girls - Greg Hudik
“She Loves Kissing Girls” by Greg Hudik sounds something along the lines of Bon Jovi under a strong country influence. If you are a fan of both, check out this track. Otherwise this song is sub-par. The lyrics tell the story of his interest in a woman but he is not her type. There is an overwhelming repetition of the line “she loves kissing girls” and it becomes tiring. It reminds me of what a band would play at two in the afternoon during the summer at a New Jersey boardwalk bar.
- Gianna Bellomo
MD's note: An embed version of "She Loves Kissing Girls" was removed from the blog at the request of Greg Hudik's management.
Review: Right Beside You - Sweetwood
Sweetwood, a collaborative group from the Amsterdam-based music collective known as Voice Calling, produces self-described “feelgood music” that blends familiar instrumentals from varying genres to a dizzyingly effect. On their most recent track Right Beside You, the band is clearly taking instrumental influence from a wide variety of genres, but these choices do not necessarily result in a “feelgood” track. Right Beside You feels like a Frankenstein's monster of overdone genre-specific instrumentals. Sweetwood’s sound borrows heavily from pop-rock, progressive house, and funk, but the producer behind Right Beside You selects some of the most overused sonic choices from these genres. Additionally, for a band who so earnestly refers to their music as “feelgood,” the lead singer’s voice and lyrical content are devastatingly monotonous. Sweetwood’s frontman wearily crooning “I need to fly away, and drift out of cyberspace” directly preceding an instrumental spasm of high-hats, electro-house trumpets, and jangly disco-reminiscent guitar riffs is a tonal shift abrupt enough to cause the listener whiplash. Sweetwood’s Right Beside You is a track that manages to sound equal parts cluttered and stale, without, at any point, sounding particularly “feelgood”.
- Liam Thomas
Review: The Eyes of the Sun - OTIS
OTIS’ music is pleasantly surprising--probably because it isn’t really country music. Yes, they're from South Central Kentucky but their sound is something alternate and original. It really can only be described as Southern Blues Rock. I imagine if the Foo Fighters and Garth Brooks collaborated it would sound something like OTIS. Their guitar work has twang and class at the same time, it really lays down a great baseline sound for every song. It gives you that urge to mime an air guitar and swing your hair around like you use to do as a kid when listening to any Bon Jovi hit. For a band that only has one song on Spotify, they're also strangely high production. Their second album, The Eyes of the Sun was released by Purple Pyramid records on September 15th. The record was produced by suppose Blues/Rock guitar legend Paul Nelson who is best known for his work with the late Johnny Winter. Regardless of the presence of a semi-famous producer, OTIS has a sound and the ability to blend music styles to take that sound to a whole other level.
- Carly Thompson
Review: “Magic” (feat. Bram Wesdorp) - Single Pilot
“Magic” is a single by the two-man project from Amsterdam, composed of Matteo Iannella (keys) and Jeroen van Leeuwen (drums). Reminiscent of Passion Pit and Foster the People, Single Pilot offers a refreshing pop ballad, though Single Pilots identifies as an “electronisch, funk, dance” group. Interspersed with catchy electronica beats, melodic synth beats, and playful lyrics, this single could definitely be a club hit. The track sounds professionally mixed, and is definitely an upbeat track that will appeal to pop fans. Already in the Netherlands, another single by Single Pilot- “Miracles” reaches #16 on the Viral 50 and even climbed to #6 on the iTunes electronic chart. That being said, however, this track doesn’t particularly stand out from anything else that may be played on the radio. Overall, ‘Magic” by Single Pilot “ is an ebullient bop will leave listeners bobbin’ their heads, though probably won’t differ from whatever else listeners have danced to before.
- Emily Bunn
Review: You Can Have It All - Big Greg
While 2017 has hosted a fruitful comeback for early 2000’s Emo music, we may not be ready to revisit 2009. Big Greg’s new single, ‘You Can Have It All’ is an uncomfortable reminder of how corny, formulaic, and predictable mainstream Hip Hop was eight years ago. With unmistakably Drake-esque “yeah”s, Lil Wayne’s love-song rasp, and an instrumental that sounds like it didn't make the cut on T.I.’s Paper Trail, Big Greg comes with a track so middle-of-the-road that it’s cringy.
Although ‘You Can Have It All’ features the bright synths that helped burrow “Right Round” in your head for a summer, Big Greg lacks the charisma that his influences depended on. Thus, we get a song that tries to be catchy, but comes off dull. ‘You Can Have It All’ for example, isn't particularly flawed, it just doesn't come with a lot of originality, and the synth-heavy surface-level romance rap song is not ready to make a comeback. What makes a throwback successful is when it contrasts heavily with modern music and when enough time has passed for it to be obvious that it’s intentionally dated. I can’t tell if Big Greg is trying to make a 2009 throwback radio ballad, or is just still living in the world of cocked fitteds with the tag still on, oversized white tees, BBM, and DGK. Even though Q-Tip did say that “things go in cycles” in regard to trends, some trends need to lie dormant a little longer than others.
- Gabe Allanoff
Review: Passenger Side - Wilco
Wilco, an alternative rock band from Chicago, presents us with a song about an angsty, drunk who got caught driving while under the influence and surprisingly so, yearns for more control of his life. Throughout the song the narrator tells the driver to learn how to steer so he doesn’t “spill his bear.” Metaphorically speaking, these lyrics hold great value and resonate deeply with many people who feel as if they are incapable of making a change in their life and want to travel in a new direction. Released in 1995 while Wilco was in the middle of transitioning from a country alternative band to, as their Spotify biography claims, an “eclectic indie rock assemble,” Passenger Side still embodies their pre-eclectic phase. Instrumentally, there are acoustic guitars as well as a dobro present and lyrically, the song is about beer and driving in a truck -- not to be too stereotypical, but pretty country. All in all, I’m not a huge fan of the message or the instrumentals, but it by no means is a bad song.
- Lis Steinberg
Review: Let it Be a Dream - Silver Torches
Let it Be a Dream is a the new album from Seattle band, Silver Torches. It was release on October 6th and they are currently touring it, having just played the Sinclair in Cambridge. The new album is reminiscent of The War on Drugs album, Lost in the Dream. It has similar elements of indie rock and songwriter. “Keep the Car Running” and “If I Reach” were standouts from the album, where they incorporated synths and other electric instruments which they had not done as much on the debut album. It’s more interesting to listen to than just guitar and it makes for a very good album. I’d definitely suggest checking out Let it Be a Dream if you’re looking for some new music.
- Tasha Skotnicki
Review: Holy Mountain - Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher, most notably known for being a member of the band Oasis, has released this new song “Holy Mountain.” This song, however, doesn’t sound anything like “Wonderwall,” and that’s a good thing.
“Holy Mountain” has more of a blues-rock alternative/indie kind of sound. It’s not a bad song. It’s well written, musically and lyrically, and it is performed well. However, nothing about the song sticks out. It doesn’t even sound very modern. It sounds a lot more like a song that would have come out between 2010 and 2012. That isn’t to say it’s a style of music that only could have come out between those years, it’s more that it sounds somehow dated despite being new.
Ultimately, I did not really care for this song. I used to really like blues rock music, and there’s a bunch that I still do like. But, in 2017 when indie music has moved beyond this kind of sound, I think it stands out, and not in a good way. I think Noel Gallagher will attract a loyal audience with “Holy Mountain,” but I don’t think he’ll be necessarily gaining any new fans.
- James Macolini
Review: Day of the Guano - Slipknot
Slipknot, in my opinion, is one of the greatest metal bands of this generation. Slipknot originates from Des Moines, Iowa. The band was started by Shawn Crahan, otherwise known as Clown and Joey Jordison, who played drums.The band features 9 members, however, some of the original members have changed. Paul Gray, the former bassist, passed away in 2010 due to an overdose and drummer Joey Jordison left the band and was ultimately replaced by Jay Weinberg son of Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Even though the band has gone through some rough patches, they’ve never given up on doing what they love most, music. The members of Slipknot are hardworking and always striving to push themselves further. Lead vocalist, Corey Taylor, seems as though he never stops working as he not only front Slipknot but also fronts the successful band Stone Sour as well as works for various other acts from Disturbed to Korn.
Slipknot has always maintained creativity throughout their career, such as their use of masks. Each member of the band has their own unique mask that represents their identity on stage. The masks change with each album to represent their image for said album. This idea started when Shawn came to rehearsal one day wearing a clown mask. From then on, the band started using individual masks, thus setting them apart from other metal bands. The band is also known to do some crazy and mostly disgusting things both on and off the stage. Slipknot members will sometimes vomit into their own mask before going on stage to help get them “in the zone”. Another example is their use of lighting camel poop on fire for the festival Knot Fest.
Their new album “Day of the Guasano” is a live recording of their show in Mexico. As someone who has seen Slipknot live before, I’m well aware of what their shows are like. It’s an experience like no other. There is so much going on from mosh pits, to fire, to screaming. The band does a great job of keeping their audience engaged and moving.
After listening to “Before I Forget” off “Day of the Gusano”, I can tell that the band can still rock harder than any other metal band out right now. Even though original drummer Jordison, is out of the picture, Weinberg can still keep the drums tight and together. The guitars do a great job maintaining the heavy tones that are known in metal music as well as shredding from time to time again. The band as a whole sounds extremely together. Every part working like a machine to produce great live music. Corey’s vocals are clear and on pitch throughout the entire song. It’s clear to see that those who’ve mixed the recording did a great job as live recording can be tricky to capture.
Slipknot may be getting older, but their energy isn’t. “Day of the Gusano” shows that Slipknot is just as good live, if not better than they are in studio. If you can’t make it out to a see them live, which I highly recommend you do, then “Day of the Guasano” is a perfect substitute. In an age where it seems rock and metal are slowly dying, it’s nice to know that bands like Slipknot can still keep people engaged and always coming back for more.
- Angela Rath
Review: Life is but a Dream - Betty Moon
Betty Moon is a Toronto born music composer/ songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist/ former teen model and her sound is exactly what you’d expect from that description. If you’re a Tov Lo or Charli XCX fan then Moon is probably right up your alley. Her sound is very pop electronica and is definitely something you might end up hearing sampled by a DJ at a club. That said, I don't know if I would willingly listen to more than one of her songs consecutively in the span of a couple days. Her new album Chrome came out earlier this year and is filled to the brim with easy to dance to and upbeat tunes. Some are catchier than others, I personally prefer Life Is but a Dream over her other single Sound. Waste Your Time is quite frankly a waste of your time because it sounds like a bongo-ed out version of the other two. After listening to the whole album, I think it’s fair to say that cherry picking the ones you like is the way to go. Parachute has some interesting bass work but other than that I don’t have much more to say about the rest of the album. The songs started to meld together a bit the more of the album I listened to. Betty Moon doesn’t have that originality I usually look for in an artist and sounds like any new and up and coming pop singer I’ve heard on the radio in the past year. With a deep dive, you can find some semi-hardcore rock going on in her older music and, honestly, I liked that better than her newer pop-ier sound. I guess going pop, while it worked for Taylor Swift, doesn’t work for everyone.
- Carly Thompson
Review: of Daniel Jeremy Meyer’s Demolishes Love
Singer-songwriter Daniel Jeremy Meyer describes himself as a perfectionist, describing his process for writing songs as agonizing and obsessive. He cites country music legends Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton as his biggest inspirations. Meyer is a simple family man, who writes and produces all of his music as a hobby in the basement of his house trying not to wake up his neighbors.
Meyer first came through with his debut album Summer in Canada first released in 2015. This acoustic guitar-heavy album sounds sometimes sounds like the early work of Atlas Sound, but without the unintentional DIY and lofi sound, and at other times a boring Americana album with terrible vocals.The spacey synths that can be heard in some of the songs work well with what Meyer was trying to go with, but listening to the album in one listen is not an enjoyable experience.
Meyer released his second full-length album, Demolishes Love, four months ago through Soundcloud and has a physical release planned for November 10th. Right from the first track it is evident that he has improved drastically his production work, adding more depth to his instrumentation and overall improving the sound quality. No longer does Meyer’s music sound like a lofi album, as he has fully embraced the Americana and classic country style, however not to his advantage.
Meyer proves himself to be very versatile instrumentally. He mentions in a description of himself that he plays “real” piano, as well as “real” guitars and “real” drums. And must I add that he is skilled in all of those. Meyer also adds violin and organ to some of his songs, and most times it sounds OK, like in “Summit Road” and “On the Way to 13.” Yet, there are other times where it would be better for him to stick to his guitar.
The worst moment in the album comes from the song “Auburn & Crimson.” Near the end of the song, there is an awful out of tune, out of key, organ solo that sounds like nails going through a chalkboard. There is nothing redeemable about it, and the album would be much better as a whole without that song.
His lyrical content is pretty simple. Meyer sings about love, falling into it, falling out of it, even falling for the wrong person. The love songs, such as “My Gemini” and “Let’s Fall in Love” are more uplifting instrumentally, yet there is still a disconnect with the vocals. Meyer tries to sing in a raspy and whiny voice, like whom he cites as his contemporaries, Jeff Tweedy and Elliot Smith. However, as he acknowledges himself, he ends up sounding like “a wailing monkey”.
Meyer still has a lot of improving to do regarding his vocals.
To sum it up, Demolishes Love is a bland country-rock album with some moments of enjoyability, however out of key solos and terrible vocals completely ruin the experience.
I hope, despite negative criticisms, that Daniel Jeremy Meyer continues writing and releasing music, constantly improving his skills and going on more experimental routes. There certainly is some great potential, especially with his sound in Summer in Canada, and his evident musical skill. Hopefully, in the future, we get to hear a great album by Daniel Jeremy Meyer.
Best songs: My Gemini, First Day
Worst songs: Auburn & Crimson, It's All Temporary (All I Want Is Music), One More Morning
- Patricio Gil Barrera
Review: Dusk Till Dawn - Brooks Remix
The Brooks Remix version of “Dusk Till Dawn” by Zayn featuring Sia takes you on a trip back in time. The beat is overwhelming and straight from the early 2000s. It feels like a heavily remixed Cascada song. Also, the vocals are hard to decipher who is who. There is a large amount of sound coming from this track and not in a good way. It feels like you are waiting in line for King da Ka. The original song is a much better compilation of the two artists.
- Gianna Bellomo
Review: This Was Once Home - Bad Suns
Released Friday, October 6th, Bad Suns’ new single “This Was a Home Once” certainly evokes a mellow, Los Angeles vibe, perfect for cruising down the coast on a sunny day. The song is somewhat reminiscent of the alt-rock music on their debut album Language & Perspective, released in 2014, while also incorporating influences from their 2016 follow up Disappear Here. This classic “Bad Suns” sound is what truly separates them from other bands in their genre. The group is always fully prepped with insanely catchy guitar riffs that blend beautifully with the upbeat drumming of Miles Kottak. One of the most distinguishing factors of their sound is Bowman’s incredibly unforgettable lyrics, reaching new levels of introspection and self-reflection as their career progresses, especially in their new single. Bowman’s ability to produce such intricate lyrics is one element that makes their sound stand out, never sounding over-produced or fabricated. Rather, the band manages to bring a modern sound to their predecessors and obvious-influencers, such as The Cure, Rooney, and The Police.
Their new single certainly leaves listeners wanting more, with its catchy, sunny riffs and unbeatable melodies. The song perfectly evokes a nostalgic atmosphere with honest lyrics about moving on and growing up. Lead singer, second guitarist, and lyricist Christo Bowman delivers a beautiful story, with the promise of more new music in the upcoming week as they begin their Love Like Revenge fall tour across the United States. The band will be playing in Boston on October 27th at the Paradise Rock Club.
- Claudia Bennett
Review: Trombone Shorty - Where It At?
Obviously, being under the label Blue Note, it can be inferred that there are some ties to jazz in Trombone Shorty’s style. Even more evidence of these ties is Troy Andrews’ artist name of Trombone Shorty. It all points towards a New Orleans brass jazz background that is abundant in Where It At? Music with deep jazz roots has been largely absent from the mainstream since the 1970s and 80s with the untimely death of disco in 1979, which funk had very close ties to as well. Of course, the music continued to exist, but it never had the same popularity. It’s quite possible things are changing, as rap and R&B, two other genres descended from jazz, dominate the charts today.
While Where It At? is not a song I’d listen to very frequently, I really do like it. I’ve always liked funk and jazz music, and this song is no exception. I love the sound of the horn instruments with the guitar and organ combined with vocalization and phenomenal singing ability. Each part fits perfectly in its own place and contributes well to the collective. I don’t necessarily expect this song to be a chart-topper, but I do hope that Where It At? can continue to influence new great jazz and funk music, which has seemed to be gaining a revival. Perhaps with last year’s release of Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love” and the single Redbone were the best examples of this funk revival, but Trombone Shorty’s Where It At? is absolutely furthering the proof that new funk music is here to stay, and I most certainly welcome this new funk arrival.
- James Macolini
Review: The Chris Paterno Band- EP
Chris Paterno, from the Chris Paterno Band (native to Philadelphia, PA), is an eight piece pop-rock band. Their release, “The Chris Paterno Band- EP” provides easy-listening tracks with upbeat, pop tunes that are easy to sway along to. The Chris Paterno Band’s songs are all soulful, catchy songs, such as “Gorgeous” and “Unfaithful”. The band effortlessly includes a horn section, like in “Every Head” and “Time To Move On”; tracks that youthfully describes love and enjoying life. Likewise, the track “Brighter Days” sticks with to the formula, while incorporating group vocals and grittier, grungier vocals. Later on in the EP, songs such as “Don’t Wanna Be In Love” and “Farther (...We Grow)” take on a more somber, slow tempo; yet still remain poignant and young. All of The Chris Paterno band’s tracks are emotionally-strung tracks that sound incredibly professionally recorded, due to their clear sound and how smoothly the transitions run in between each track. This EP is definitely worth listening to.
Listen To: “Time to Move on”, “Unfaithful”
- Emily Bunn
Review: God the Radio - James Tristan Redding
God the Radio is the newest album from Boston-born songwriter, James Tristan Redding. He sticks strictly to the traditional folk style and has not strayed from that with his new album. The opening track, “Heavy Smoke From the Home on Granville Road”, sounds like a nostalgic song about one of the places he grew up. I am not entirely sure where Granville Road is but he spends most of the song listing different places and people from that place with some questionable sound effect backing, including a dog barking and what might be a child screeching. The rest of the album follows this same style and there is not a whole lot of distinction in sound between each song.
Overall, “God the Radio” could have packed more of a punch. Redding has not grown much from his previous folk work and, despite playing a variety of instruments, he fails to utilize any of them to his advantage in this recent album. While his folk music falls flat, he does a lot of other producing. I fished through a few of those albums and found some stuff that was worth checking out.
- Tasha Skotnicki
Review: Euphoric Line EP - Eigner Wille
Euphoric Line is the latest EP by German artist Eigner Wille. The Album is an Electronic and Progressive House style with three songs at around 7 minutes each. Each song on the EP had dynamic beats and a fresh and crisp sound. It’s easy to listen to and is versatile in its tone and mood. However, while listening to the whole EP, the tracks get a bit muddy and difficult to differentiate song to song. That said, there still was not enough distinctiveness among the three songs for the EP to appear cohesive. After listening to some older tracks by the artist on Soundcloud such as The Long Journey to Your Own I, it seems that the Artist has a narrow and refined style that showed throughout his songs. I would love to hear more from Eigner Wille, especially with some more diverse tracks.
- Emily McDonnell
Review: Deep Water - Desert Moons
‘Deep Water’, the new single from up-and-coming Australian band Desert Moons composed of Jake and Simon Dobson, provides listeners with haunting and powerful harmonies and a melodic synth beat. The simple beat plays off of a pattern of major chords, adding light synths and hi-hats to create a fresh, city sound. Haunting vocals compliment the elementary beat, certainly securing their spot in the indie-electronic genre of music. Jake Dobson, the duo’s front man, describes the song as more of a metaphorical journey; taking risks outside of your comfort zone, and taking a step into deep, uncharted territory, like that in the ocean. It represents, as Dobson stated, “facing [your] demons head on”.
The Dobson brothers merge to form Desert Moons, based in New South Wales, producing and recording their own music in a house studio. While both brothers have toured with different bands, their recent collaboration is the first time they have created music together. ‘Deep Water’ is their second track, following another light-electronic song ‘Rough Trade’, which first put them on the map for some minor labels, local radios, and global blogs. The brothers performed their first live show this past week on September 29th, at a small art gallery bar in Sydney. Their music is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes.
- Claudia Bennett
Review: Something New EP - Makeup Girl
If the indie genre was a supermarket, Makeup Girl would be the off-brand cereal that expired two years ago. Yes, Frosted Fakes may be cheaper than the real deal, but people trust their Frosted Flakes and are happy to pay twenty cents more for quality that they can count on. Plus, those Frosted Fakes have been sitting on that shelf for way too long to still be edible - they don’t have a chance. And if mom or dad comes home with a big box of Frosted Fakes, little Jimmy is going to be pissed. He wants his name brand Frosted Flakes and will accept nothing less. He’s not going to waste his one sugary breakfast for the week on an inferior product.
What can make knockoff items appealing, though, is when they offer something different than the original. Just making a watered-down version of something successful is never a marvel or a feat; and that’s exactly what Makeup Girl does.
On their recent Something New EP, the Washington D.C. natives reel out predictable song structures, basic chord loops, and cliched lyrics. Makeup Girl is the Frosted Fakes and Mac Demarco and Homeshake are the Frosted Flakes. The wailing, nasal vocals on tracks 3 through 5 blatantly mimic Demarco’s signature inflection. But Makeup Girl’s vocalist lacks the personality that Mac Demarco radiates. Similarly, tracks 1 and 2 copy Homeshake’s simple and clean production method with smooth chords and drums that sound like they were syncopated automatically from a GarageBand stock setting. Very few musicians can pull this off. One thing that makes a successful attempt at incorporating ironically crappy drums is when the other instruments shine effervescently, making it clear that the percussion is intentional. With Makeup Girl, I can’t tell if the drums are ironic or not because the other instruments’ performances are just as dull. For their next project, I hope the band develops more of an identity, takes more risks, and creates a sound of their own.
- Gabe Allanoff
Review: Money - (The New) Elektrisk Gønner
Elektrisk Gønner was formed in 2010 when producer Benjamin Løzninger teamed up with a fresh unknown Danish singer named MØ. After the release of their album, MØ was signed to Sony. Benjamin decided to relocate to Brooklyn where he recruited singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Skyler Cocco. Together they released the track “Money” as the new Elektrisk Gønner. The older Elektrisk Gønner had more of a techno sound. “Money” brings on a fresher happier feeling. It is an electronic pop song with a very noticeable eighties feel. Skyler Cocco’s vocals are sweet and soothing and fit into the bass perfectly. “Money” has a unique renewed sound making it stand out from other pop songs. It is worth checking out.
- Gianna Bellomo
Review: White Wing Dove - Priest
Priest’s newest single, “White Wing Dove,” reveals a less than subpar side of indie electronica. Paired with basic synths and a poorly executed gated reverb, the song comes off as a cheap shot of Grimes. Not fitting completely into indie nor into electronic, the song awkwardly fits into the two.
Stylistically, the song changes beats from one to another, none that work well with one another. On top of that, their electronically enhanced voice during select pieces is not done tastefully.
Overall, “White Wing Dove” presents some challenges toward realistic appreciation. As an unoriginal piece, the listener waits dully for it to end. No new elements are introduced, and therefore, the artistic performance and capabilities aren’t fully developed.
- Gabriella Mrozowski
Review: She - Malachi McNeill and The Necessary Evil
Malachi McNeill is from East Stroudsburg, PA a little down in Northern Pennsylvania near the Delaware Water Gap. He dabbles in folk/rock, which is apparent in his song “She”. The song starts off slow with a sort of indie rock feel. The guitar keeps the song moving throughout the piece. Malachi can sing very well and his voice never is off pitch. However, the one thing I really did not like about the song is the fact that it never really goes anywhere. It stays slow throughout the entire piece. When listening I kept waiting for this build-up to reach a climax, but it never does, leaving the listener unsatisfied. The sound throughout the piece stays the same with nothing really standing out to me except a small guitar solo near the end. The drums never do anything interesting and neither does the bass. The lyrics are sweet and seem to be about a love he misses, but once again, nothing that really stands out to me as a listener. I feel that he has a lot of potential, but needs to continue on working on writing and working on building his sound. It seems like he’s just starting out at being a musician and with that, he has a long way to go to figure out what sound he wants to take on and how he can make it something unique and something his own.
- Angela Rath
Review: All About Love - Ronny Morris
All About Love is a song capable of making a bad a day feel just a little worse. Yet, that might be its strength. It has a very melancholic sound and tone. From the weepy vocals that try to make sense of the present, to the crying strings that draw these emotions right out.
Morris’ background in how his music was used, such as by Greenpeace for “Save the Arctic,” certainly seem to fit a more somber tone. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with Greenpeace using his music. What this does do is provide some better sense of the style of music Morris is trying to compose.
All About Love is not a sappy song. It’s certainly not the angsty teen breakup song. Not being able to totally make out the lyrics, I can’t say what it is exactly about in terms of a love song. It is, however, for a more adult rather than teen audience. It feels much more mature, genuine, and from the heart, coming from a place of hurt and possible despair. It’s perfectly appealing to a young adult audience who feels lost and confused in their emotions about love and of life.
It’s easy to like, but not to love. This is mostly due to the style of the song just not being the depressive-dissociative synthpop/jangle-pop/indie music that I go for. That said, it’s well composed and well mixed, and I think that Ronny Morris has great talent and skill that is sure to gain him some popularity.
Will I come back to this song? Maybe. I think I’ll be on the lookout for if any other songs by Morris catch my ear, and I hope that this song gets more people’s attention.
- Jim Macolini
Review: Listen - Jayson Bratten
Jayson Bratten is an Irish songwriter from Longford who recently released his double A-side single release on September 8th, 2017.
“Linda” is the first song listed on the single release, a poignant track with lyrics just as powerful as the accompanying instrumentation. His lyrics tell a story, imbued with a familiar romance, common in country music. String instruments create a dramatic tone, relevant to Bratten’s tale of heartbreak. “Linda” carries a slow, sultry melody that ends on a somber, final violin fermata; signaling the end of Bratten’s lonely tale.
The second track, also by Bratten, is entitled “Listen”. In contrast to “Linda”, “Listen” has a more upbeat, rockabilly vibe and immediately attracted this listener by opening up with a series of rhetorical questions: “Do you what's in store? Have you forgotten your past?”. In the chorus, a hypnotic cycle of guitar riffs is to be heard, broadcasting Bratten’s grungier bravura.
Though Bratten started his venture making music through busking the streets of Galway, the songwriter has also become increasingly popular in Germany, Belgium, Canada, and Australia; though it can be assured that Bratten’s rising popularity isn’t finished. Bratten is supposed to have begun recording his next album this past September (2017) with producer John Henry, in the Grouse Lodge in Westmeath. Only good things are to be ahead for this impressive young talent, and his fans will excitedly await new music from Bratten, though out-doing his previously released tracks will be a feat to be seen.
- Emily Bunn
Review: Hell to Pay - Hold/Transfer
When I listened to Hold/Transfer’s song Hell to Pay, the first thing I thought of is how adults stereotypically call rock or punk music noise. I never really understood what they were talking about- music to me was very obviously not noise. But, Hell to Pay as well as Cemeteries (two out of the three songs the band sent the station to play) are very close to what my grandparents might call simply noise. There’s just so much going on, a lot of percussions, and the vocals are practically drowned out by instrumentation.
Now, I know the unknown SoundCloud band self-identifies with the genre “shoegazing.” Until I googled that term, I had no idea what it was. To those readers who may also be just as clueless, the website Allmusic.com describes shoegazing as, “…overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other.” Taking this definition into consideration, I can almost understand why Hold/Transfer’s music sounds the way it does. But, the saga continues. The website previously mentioned also cites the bands My Bloody Valentine and Lush as examples of this revolutionary style of music from the late 80s and early 90s. So, naturally, I looked them up on Spotify and listened to their most popular songs.This is when I really began to understand the mission of shoegazing and I liked it. Every sound was equal, nothing was background, the guitar or the bass and the percussion and the vocals were all the same level and seemed to effortlessly meld into one another. Going back and listening to Hell to Pay, I realized what the difference was. Instead of all the sounds in the song melding together, the percussion and other instrumentation were straining to drown out the vocals. In the process, this created a very staticky uncomfortable sound for the listener. Resentment (the third song the band sent) was a little more successful in the shoegazing goal, had much more of a melody, and was sans angry white background noise.
Ultimately, I think this band has work to do. They need to find a balance between their vocals and instrumentation for the music to be truly enjoyable. I would recommend giving Resentment a listen and even some of the other songs on their new album, Warning Labels, but maybe leave Hell to Pay and Cemeteries off the mix.
- Carly Thompson
Review: Nothing Bad Ever Happens to Me - Brett Staggs
I’m ashamed to admit that Brett Staggs is from my home state of Pennsylvania. Although the country artist knows how to play his instruments well enough and the song “Nothing bad ever happens to me” is certaining catchy, I just can’t take it seriously. The lyrics just seem as though he’s bragging that his life is so great, let’s hope it’s ironic. Or is this just his particular niche of Country Music? Notable lines include “I’m always on time / never drink too much wine / I never hang out in a bad neighborhood” and “The babysitter never cancels on date night”. The song “Home is where the party is” is just as promising as it sounds. As catchy as it is, I can’t get over the lack of interesting lyrics. The songs are repetitive and unoriginal which only makes me want to listen to it less. Even if country music was my prefered genre, this is still hardly bearable.
- Kaycee McKee
Review: Apple Pie - Rafferty
One of the first things I thought of this song was “goddamn this dude likes the Black Keys”, and although that’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s a little too similar. Rafferty is clearly influenced, both aesthetically and musically, by hard-rocking leading men like Lou Reed and Tom Waits but lacks the substance to back up the persona. “Apple Pie” is a simple jam about the timeless struggle of trying to have sex with someone that you like. The instrumental aspects of the song are pretty good with a nice clap-drum percussion set-up and a nice crunchy guitar to add some flavor to it. The subject matter of the song is nothing new and the lyrics aren’t going to win any awards, but they’re easy enough to sing along to if you’re drunk enough. Overall, this is a nice song but not something I would listen to again.
- Jimmy Randall
Review: The Grove and the Thrive - Jason Scolnick
My first impression when listening to the album “The Grove and the Thrive” by Jason Scolnick was that it was lacked any depth or creativity. There were generic guitar solos and loud, forceful exhales on the sound “Ah” at the end of each phrase. His lyrics had no point. In one song he just listed a bunch of musicians that he liked. He came across as the type of guy who starts every sentence about music by saying, “Listen, I’m a rock n roll guy...” That’s how I viewed him until I scrolled through his website, down past collage of awkward photos, all from the same dumb photoshoot, down to his bio and did a complete one-eighty. In the first sentence of his bio he says that he has, “Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features.” He then talks about how he went to Harvard and is a genius. So ignoring the probability that his bio is completely made up I’d like revise my review. These songs that all share the same four chords with the same tempo and time signature are actually the work of a misunderstood genius. I just don’t have the perspective to see that yet.
- Billy Behman
Review: So They Say - The Mysterious They
The album begins with an atmospheric song, Dawn, that features an angelic voice which makes you feel like you are transcending into heaven. Around a minute into the song a mysterious language is sung which contrasts with the woman singing. At first it feels almost unnatural but then the differentiation between the voices’ pitches becomes extremely soothing. The next song, Always Free, begins with a calming stream trickling as well as an inspirational saying about life followed by an assertive, “for real” which adds enthusiasm to the woman’s message. A rhythmic tribal beat then comes in almost out of nowhere and is surprisingly catchy. The instruments are mostly woodwind which makes the song feel folk-like. Creator Destroys is next which has a much different feel leading with a violin as the main instrument. Gracefully Dancing Energy sounds just as you would expect. There is a soothing aura carrying through the song combined with brass instruments such as a trumpet which again is a surprisingly satisfying combination of sounds. The woman chants words over the melody in the middle of the song that adds to a melodramatic feel. Gratitude and Awe closes the album with a euphoric vibe that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. Although the words are almost unidentifiable, you somehow feel like you understand everything the woman is singing. A rainstorm closes the song making you feel reborn. Again, there is a man chanting a poetic verse that paints a beautiful picture. Overall, this album is about combining sounds you would not typically think blend together with the main goal of surprising its audience with how great it ends up working together.
- Elisabeth Steinberg
Review: The Sedonas - The Sedonas
“Their music revolves around a mixture of various Rock and Americana roots. Their sound: organic and pure. They are The Sedonas out of Knoxville, Tennessee. One would think a band needed more to accomplish such a unique sound. However, The Sedonas pull it off with only the bare essentials, a minimalist stance in a complex world.” This description pulled from the Sedonas’ website would make you think that you would be listening to something completely new, but that would be a stretch. The band features members Connor Wike on vocals, Travis Anderson on bass, Rondo Johnson on guitar, and Casey Green on drums. From listening to their first album one can see the Tennessee influence as all their songs do have an underlying country vibe, with a strong guitar coming through every song. What is harder to see, however, is how their music qualifies as “organic and pure”. All of their songs have a very similar sound to them, so much that they all begin to blend together without any clear beginning and end. The album does offer a nice mix of slow and faster songs to give the listener an idea of what they have to offer; even though the offering is limited. A notable exception, “Better than the same” features a solid guitar solo that allows the track to stand out amongst the otherwise homogenous album. There also is a nice range of instruments and sounds to the songs with what appears to maybe be a harmonica in “Blues ‘16” and keys in “Light”.
- Scout Watkins