Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Talent's Year End Catch Up: 2013

Now that I finally have some free time, I've spent tireless hours listening to some of the most talked about albums of the year and some that maybe weren't talked about as much. So before I release my best of 2013 list's, here's one last catch up on what I missed.

8.8 [MUST LISTEN]
Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe (Nov. 12th): 
With an excellent blend of R&B and Hip-hop,
Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe is on of the most
pleasantly surprising records of the year.






 9.0 [MUST LISTEN]
Death Grips - Government Plates (Nov. 19th):
The title of the final track on Government Plates,
Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching), is probably
the best example of what this album is. Death Grips
don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks, they are
doing whatever they want with their music, and they
are doing it well.



8.5 [MUST LISTEN]
Darkside - Psychic (Oct. 8th):
A very unusual, but well-done album. Nicolas
Jaar’s Darkside project’s dark and mysterious
tones will win you over.





9.1 [MUST LISTEN]
Julia Holter - Loud City Song (Aug. 20th):
From start to finish, Julia Holter’s unique
sound and melodies move fluently and
gracefully in Loud City Song.






8.2 
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels (June 26th):
Killer Mike and El-P come together in the
creation of Run The Jewels, a smart and fun
mixtape.





 
8.9 [MUST LISTEN]
Baths - Obsidian (May 28th):
It sounds like a Passion Pit record, but far
darker and a bit more thought provoking. 







7.6
Disclosure - Settle (May 31st):
Everyone’s favorite dance record of 2013
delivers some excellent singles, but becomes
somewhat repetitive and boring near the end.






7.7
Iceage - You're Nothing (Feb. 18th):
They’re no modern day Sex Pistols, like they
seem to be so desperately going for, but it’s
certainly not working against them.






9.7 [MUST LISTEN]
Savages - Silence Yourself (May 6th):
An epic
debut that will never be forgotten and might just
positively change your opinion on all girls, post
punk revival bands, that is, if you even had an
opinion to begin with.



7.0
Best Coast - Fade Away EP (Oct. 22nd):
As fun and peppy as all of Best Coast’s past
records, just shorter and less interesting.







7.5
Pusha T - My Name Is My Name (Oct. 7th):
With the masterful production from Kanye West,
Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name will not disappoint.







8.3
Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time (Oct. 29th):
She’s no pop icon, nor does she aim to be. Night
Time, My Time combines strange/interesting lyrics
with a peppy upbeat sound that come together
wonderfully.





9.5 [MUST LISTEN]
Danny Brown - Old (Oct. 8th):
Danny Brown loves music. So often these days we
see artists that make music for many reasons, but
the love of the craft doesn’t seem to be one of them.
"Make some songs, throw them together and call it
an album." Old takes on the aesthetic of a double
LP and delivers a true music lovers, two sided album.



8.8 [MUST LISTEN]
Paul McCartney - New (Oct. 11th):
Paul hasn’t lost a step. New is a great display
of a musician who’s really done it all but still
wants more.






9.7 [MUST LISTEN]
Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Oct. 29th):

When a band consistently puts out great records,
you have to eventually ask, when are they going to
pull a Zeppelin? Reflektor’s interesting tactic of inco-
rporating Haitian percussion certainly set the band
up for failure, but instead, just helped the band create
something totally new and dynamic.



9.0 [MUST LISTEN]
Beyoncé – Beyoncé (Dec. 13th):

Before this album, I was one of the very few people
who didn’t idolize Beyoncé. I always thought she had
some nice, fun songs, but she was nothing more than
a top 40 artist. Then she dropped this. This album is
so perfectly crafted and well put together, and it is
clearly a very personal album for her, and that really
shines through her lyrics and the selection of audio
samples from the past that are added into some of the tracks.

6.5
Big Sean - Hall Of Fame (Aug. 26th):
Sean is a great artist to hear featured on a song, and
puts out great singles, but his albums just seem to
leave me feeling somewhat unfulfilled.






8.4
Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse (March 5th):
Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse will leave you
feeling like you just listened to MGMT’s new record,
if it were actually good.






8.6 [MUST LISTEN]
Childish Gambino - Because The Internet (Dec. 6th):
This record is a lot like it’s title. It maybe wasn’t what
you were expecting or really wanting, but you’re not
upset about it.






8.1
Walk The Moon - Tightrope EP (Jan. 18th):
The follow up EP to their fantastic self-titled 2012
album. You get the title track, an acoustic cover,
some great new songs, and then an epic live cover
of the Talking Head’s Burning Down The House.
How fucking cool is that?!




8.2
Cults - Static (Oct. 15th):
It may not be as unique as their previous self-titled
debut, but it is still as relentlessly catchy.







9.3 [MUST LISTEN]
Chvrches - The Bones Of What You Believe (Sept. 20th):
Chvrches delivers one of the best electronic pop songs
of the year, and maybe of all time, with The Mother We
Share, and several other fantastic tracks on this album.






6.3
Polica - Schulamith (Oct. 18th):
2012’s Give Up Your Ghost was something special.
Something you couldn’t really compare to anything.
2013’s Shulamith seems to capture that once again,
but this time around, it doesn’t feel as special.





8.0
Daughter - If You Leave (March 18th):
An album filled with heart wrenching melodies
and devastatingly beautiful lyrics. Daughter’s If You
Leave is almost guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.







6.8
Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals (Oct. 4th):
Their first album, Treats, was almost nearly perfect
and so aggressive; their follow up seemed to tone
down the aggressiveness, which was its Achilles
heel. With Bitter Rivals, they attempt to bring back
that non-stop aggressive sound, but it just doesn’t
have the same magic as it did with Treats.




-The Talent

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Talant's Catch Up: July-October 2013

It's been a busy year for music and a busy couple of months for yours truly. Lot's of albums have come out and I haven't had the chance to give a proper review to them, so here are their scores and a short synopsis of my thoughts. I also missed a few albums in the last catch up, so the list isn't exactly true to it's title of "July-October", but I'm sure you'll get over it.



7.0 
Christopher Owens - Lysandre (Jan. 15):
Former lead singer of the San Fransisco band
'Girls' delivers a solid, but sadly short solo
debut.







7.5
Deer Tick - Negativity (Sept. 24): Deer Tick's
latest effort measures up to be one of their best
records of their career.








9.2 [MUST LISTEN]
Deerhunter - Monomania (May 6): Deerhunter
crushes it yet again, this time with a lo-fi, garage
record that make you want to jump around and
break shit.







9.3 [MUST LISTEN]
Drake - Nothing Was The Same (Sept. 24): Once
again, Drake delivers another stunning, fresh,
and exciting album. He continues to show why,
behind Kanye, he's the best in the game.







4.6
Grouplove - Spreading Rumors (Sept. 17): A
very disappointing follow up to their debut. With
only three notable tracks on a thirteen track record
Grouplove hits the Sophomore slump hard.







8.0
Iron & Wine - Ghost On Ghost (April 16): Samuel
Beam's fifth studio album under the name Iron &
Wine may not be his best effort to date but is still
one of the most beautiful displays of songwriting
of the year.






8.3
James Blake - Overgrown (April 5): Blake is
an innovator. He is single handedly creating a
new genre and he is doing it in a breathtaking
fashion. First with his masterful self-titled debut
and now with Overgrown.






5.0
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
2 of 2 (Sept. 30): JT's second chapter to the
earth shattering 20/20 Experience doesn't
measure up to it's predecessor, it doesn't even
come close. It's long, tired, and sexy in a
strangely annoying way.





7.4
Miley Cyrus - Bangerz (Oct. 8): No, this is
not just some big prank Miley was playing
on us. Bangerz is for real. It's one of the
better pop records that I've gotten the chance
to listen to this year. Put a side the controversy
and give this album a chance, even the biggest
Miley hater might just find themselves bopping
their head



8.8 [MUST LISTEN]
My Bloody Valentine - mbv (Feb. 2): The
unexpected return of one of the greatest
progressive rock bands in history gave us
mbv, and damn it, was it worth the wait!







8.4
The Vaccines - Melody Calling EP (Aug. 12):
After their interesting Sophomore album
Come Of Age, fans were't sure what to expect
from the band next. The Melody Calling EP
seems to hint at a return to the sounds of their
excellent debut album What Did You Expect.





8.7 [MUST LISTEN]
Dr. Dog - B-Room (Sept. 30): After last year's
fantastic Be The Void, I had no idea how Dr. Dog
was going to follow up after such a short break from
the studio, but the managed to exceed my exceptions
with the mysterious B-Room.






8.8 [MUST LISTEN]
Haim - Days Are Gone (Sept. 30): Girls. Girls with
guitars. Girls with amazing song writing skills. What's
not to like about the Haim sisters? I sure as hell don't
know.







8.2
Panic! At The Disco - Too Weird To Live, Too Rare
To Die (Oct. 8): Too Weird is short, sweet, and to
the point. Panic! is back, but they're not the band
you knew back in the Fever days. This is a pop album
and it's fucking awesome.






2.3
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks (Sept. 3): Trent
Reznor used to have so much worth wining about in
the 90's,  but now that he's an Oscar winner and avid
film scorer, it just seems annoying and the obnox-
ious icy synths that show up far too often don't help
either.






6.4
The Weeknd - Kiss Land (Sept. 10): The hype may have
gotten to Abel Tesfaye's head on this one.









-The Talent

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Door Cinema Club - Changing Of The Seasons EP

8.7 [MUST LISTEN]

Not too long ago, we were blessed with the glorious news that, after a year of the release of Two Door Cinema Club's second studio album Beacon, the band would be releasing an EP titled after their upcoming sing Changing Of The Season. That day is finally upon us. Though I'd already gotten the chance to listen to the title track/single several times and 90 second previews of the other three tracks, I was still unbelievably excited to listen to this EP and I was not disappointing in the slightest.

The EP kicks of with it's title track. In the song lead vocalist Alex Trimble begins the song with "So it's over? I didn't realize / It's so much colder / But it was no surprise" referring to a past relationship, he compare the changing of the time (seasons) to his development in thought of his former partner, "'Cause every day since you left me / I've thought less and less of you" "Could be the changing of the seasons / But I don't love you anymore"

Track two, Crystal, Alex's soft vocals are accompanied by a beautiful string section, something the band has yet to have done. Alex sings repeatedly "I should have kissed you". The song is a reflection, a look back at the mistakes he has made and the regrets he holds. "Sweetness suspend me in crystal" ends the song through an angelic harmony.

Golden Veins and Changing Of The Seasons (Monsieur Adi Remix) finish off the EP in style. Golden Veins brings us back from the sorrowing melody of Crystal with an opening riff that sounds very similar to the bands track The World Is Watching (With Valentina). Hip Hop synths and percussion stream in creating yet another fun Two Door dance track. The Monsieur Adi Remix of Changing Of The Seasons takes the track and doubles the length in time. It's your typical remix track, but it does what all good remixes should do; it creates a new dimension of the song and it's themes and not completely transforming the song itself. If this a sneak peek of what the young Irish rockers have in store for us, you can color me interested.

-The Talent

Monday, September 16, 2013

MGMT - MGMT

6.8

MGMT's new self-titled LP is their third, and it is truly an album of a band that is trying to cover it's tracks. The band is very well known for the singles Kids, Time To Pretend, and Electric Feel off of it's very good, debut album Oracular Spectacular, but if you ask MGMT about the songs they'll likely scoff and attempt to change the subject. It's this sense of defiance towards the bands old selves that really seems to be holding this album back. No doubt about it, there are still some very sold songs featured on the album (Alien Days, Mystery Disease, Your Life Is A Lie, Plenty Of Girls In The Sea), but even in those tracks you can still hear the distracting anti-pop undertones. This is not to say that the only way for MGMT to create a collection of successful songs is for them to go back to their old Oracular Spectacular roots, but, perhaps trying to not be overly psychedelic and experimental may be a start. Now before you get the impression that I am not in favor of this album or the band, I'll have you know that MGMT is one of my favorite groups and are one of the first bands that really allowed me to start obtaining a great care for music. So it just pains me to see a band with so much potential hold itself back.

Luckily, if you're also an MGMT fan, like myself, you'll still be able find the light in dark and see why there are still many reasons to like this album. First of all, you still have the freaky-ass synths that shine in both Oracular and Congradulations, which is also a miraculously underrated album. You still have Andrew and Ben's keen strive for narrative through each song, and we still have front man Andrew VanWyngarden's chilling lyrics. In the albums opening, and best track, drug themed Alien Days, which sounds like an acid trip in itself. VanWyngarden sings, "When the peels are down it feels like travel / Annotateing in style / You don't need wings to hover forty ton stones for a mile" the vocals are cushioned around large amounts of reverb and the ear-crunching synths as VanWyngarden explains that everything in life is open ended and should be experienced in several ways. A message concerning the state of MGMT? I guess that's for them to know and us to find out.

-The Talent

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Janelle Monae - The Electic Lady

8.6 [MUST LISTEN]

Pop music these days is getting a bad rep. If you were to ask a pretentious snobby music critic like myself, "What is your opinion on pop music?" You might hear in reply, "it's nothing but top 40 shit from Katy Perry or Lady Gaga." Which in a sense is true. Pop these days is represented by female artist like Perry, Gaga, P!nk, etc. Who's lyrics are lackluster and formulas are almost identical to one another. Luckily for us pretentious kids who still like to shake our hips and not hate our selves for doing so, there's Janelle Monae, who most might now as "the female vocals from Fun.'s We Are Young." But did you also know she is the proud owner of both 2010 and now 2013's best pop/r&b albums?

2010's The ArchAndroid received massive, and well deserved critical acclaim. The album tells the story of an out of place Droid trying to chase her dreams and make her way through a world full of humans that look down on her. The newest album The Electric Lady, which follows the theme of ArchAndroid and 2007 EP Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), features connections in the story lines during the albums three interludes featuring a radio DJ. The theory is that The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady are the same droid, but the DJ has no interest in discussing this idea when it comes up. It also contains Suits IV and V, following behind Metropolis' Suite I and ArchAndroid's Suite's II and III, which are the album's beautiful, orchestral transition pieces.

Once again, Monae rocks us with a record filled with numerous fun pop tracks like Dance Apocalyptic, Q.U.E.E.N., We Were Rock & Roll and incredible r&b ballads with collaborations like Give 'Em What They Love featuring Prince, Primetime featuring Miguel, and Dorothy Dandridge Eyes featuring Esperanza Spalding. Monae once again raises the bar for todays pop stars. Your move, Rhianna.


-The Talent

Volcano Choir - Repave

8.5 [MUST LISTEN]

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver side project with members from All Tiny Creatures and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees titled Volcano Choir return with the bands second LP Repave. It comes four years after the bands very good debut 2009 LP Unmap. The band spent the four years working on the new LP off and on again while also working on their other musical projects, but recently came together to put on the finishing touches.

The bands strays slightly away from the rapid experimental sound that was highlighted in Unmap to focus on a more constructed, tuned product. With Vernon focusing purely on lyrics and vocals and the rest of the group concentrating on the instrumentals, Vernon's story telling shine like never before. For instance in the albums strongest track, Byegone, Vernon tells us of the times of old friends together out in an isolated northern cabin, sharing "enough keif / You could really bore somebody"

With Volcano Choir we don't quite get the unique, sorrowing, flavor of despair that we ironically love with Vernon's Bon Iver. But the beauty of the hooks and choruses will show you that Vernon and friends are more than just a side project.

-The Talent