Friday, June 21, 2013

The Talent's Catch-Up: January-June 2013

We're about halfway through the year now, and there's been quite a few albums I haven't gotten around to reviewing, so here are some brief reviews along with a my usual rating of the album:

Twenty One Pilots - Vessel (Jan. 8): Some strong
tracks (Ode To Sleep, Holding On To You, and Guns
For Hands), with a wide variation of sounds and style.
Overall, Vessel is a solid record to kick back and jam
out to.

A$AP Rocky - LONG.LIVE.A$AP (Jan. 15): An album
filled with smart rhymes, and excellent craftsmanship.
Every track is important to the album. Even the fun, almost
generic hip-hop/rap track Fuckin' Problem fits in perfectly,
and even with the chorus reading "I love bad bitches that's
my fuckin' problem" it still creates an extended depth to

Local Natives - Hummingbird (Jan. 29): An excellent
follow up to their outstanding debut LP. Hummingbird
brings back the unique harmonies, hand claps, and stellar
guitar riffs that we heard on 2009's Gorilla Manor. The
fifth track on the album Breakers is one of my top favorites
from this year.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II (Feb. 5): II falls short
of the bands previous self titled debut, but still deliverers
a few good psychedelic tunes (From The Sun and Swim
And Sleep).

Foals - Holy Fire (Feb. 11): Yet another amazing
record from the British band. Holy Fire delivers
exactly what their first two LP's did and then some.
A fantastic ratio of slow tempo tracks (Late Night,
Stepson and Moon) and upbeat/heavy tracks (Inhaler,
Bad Habit and Milk & Black Spiders). One of the better
albums of the year.

Atlas Genius - Atlas Genius (Feb. 19): A very impressive
debut from the Australian duo. Very smart lyrics as well
as great production work on the tracks. A lot of the tracks
share a similar sound and the album lacks depth, but the
groovy hooks keep you interested and your toe's tapping.

Keaton Henson - Birthdays (Feb. 25): Yet another
unforgettable album from the UK singer/songwriter.
His voice and lyrics hold so much emotion and beauty,
anyone who has experienced serious heartache will
connect with his songs.

David Bowie - The Next Day (March 12): It's hard
to believe that after releasing countless amounts of
amazing records since the 70's that Bowie would still
be doing it, but believe it or not, he's is.
The Next Day proves that he's still got it and that the
rust still hasn't hit.

Wavves - Afraid Of Heights (March 26): I like to put
Wavves in the genre of Coke-rock. These guys are
crazy, and it shows in their music. Really great riffs
and hooks bring Afraid Of Heights to life.

Cold War Kids - Miss Lonely Hearts (April 2):
An extremely weak effort from this group. Nothing
about this album really stands out. It just feels like
the Cold War Kids were uncomfortably forced to put this album out.

Tyler, The Creator - WOLF (April 2): Odd Future's
rambunctious leader's WOLF is really something
special. Tyler always has a great story to tell, and this
is one of his most intimate and detailed. He brings
something very unique and fantastic to the Rap genre.

Kid Cudi - Indicud (April 16): Probably the weakest
of Cudi's three LP's. Still very well crafted and produced,
but the lyrics don't hit quite as hard as on his
Man On The Moon's.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito (April 16):
One of the best efforts from the band. Karen
O's dynamic vocals and the amazing production
help deliver a very good album.

Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap (April 30): A very
pleasant surprise. Chance has something really special
going. Not only are his verses smart, but his music is
crafted magnificently. Acid Rap may be a mixtape, but
it should be treated like a finely crafted album.

She & Him - Vol. 3 (May 7): One of my favorite
collaborative teams. Zooey and M.Ward deliver
another excellent album. Full of catchy tunes and
fun hooks, Vol. 3 is a fantastic listen.

30 Seconds To Mars - Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams (May 17):
A very tired effort from a band I've enjoyed very much
over the years. The band seems to be over expressing the
albums theme instead of letting the listener discover it
from subtle hints.

The National - Trouble Will Find Me (May 20):
Another incredibly written album by The National.
Matt Breninger's voice and lyrics compliment the
keyboard, drums and guitar so perfectly. Don't Swallow
The Cap, I Need My Girl and Fireproof impressively
stand out most on this album.

Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends (June 4): An
outstanding and blindsiding album. I was so pleasantly
surprised with how much I loved this album. I had like
their previous LP In The Mountain, In The Cloud, and
expected this to be about the same, but it completely
blows it out of the water. Insane hooks and melodies,
flawless production, incredible lyrics, and great depth
make Evil Friends one of the years best.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kanye West - Yeezus


"How much do I not give a fuck?" Mr. West asks in On Sight, the first track of Yeezus. The answer is clear. The question is quickly followed with a familiar College Dropout sample sounding tune that goes on to say "He'll give us what we need / It may not be what we want." Which, is the perfect way to describe what this album is. Not something we want(old Kanye) but something we need(New Kanye).

If you thought Kanye was giving the middle finger to the mainstream music scene with his 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, well it looks like he's just thrown up his other middle finger. Kanye has talked a lot about how on this album he really wanted to create music that he really loved weather or not it was the kind of music that would bring in the big money. Similar to how he felt with Twisted Fantasy, which only had on major radio hit, but was praised by critics everywhere though to date it is his lowest selling album.

Yeezus is the perfect blend of the powerful and emotional sound of 2008's 8o8s and Heartbreaks and the masterful lyricism and execution of Twisted Fantasy. Ye' explorers ideas of how the African-American community is seen these days in modern America with Black Skinhead and New Slaves. Also speaks of his history with addictions and loss in tracks Hold My Liquor, I'm In It, and Blood On The Leaves. But still gives us a taste of old, goofy, witty Kanye with Bound 2, and Send It Up.

A hot topic about the album has been its title 'Yeezus', and the track 'I Am A God'. Both would seem like very narcissistic things to say, and of course we've known Kanye to have giant ego. But as he also did on Twisted Fantasy, he's not so much preaching about himself as he is expressing his recognition of this god complex he's seemed to bestow upon himself. He mentions how being a "god" would be stressful and that it's not something he particularly wants, but has also unfortunately been put on that pedestal by critics and fans a like. "I am a god / Even though I'm a man of God / My whole life in the hands of God / So y'all better quit playing with God." Yeezus shows how Kanye continues to reinvent himself and discover more about himself, and the world.

Kanye drafted yet another star studded collaborations team on the album which includes Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, and fellow Chicago rappers King L and Chief Keef. Rick Ruben and Daft Punk also helped produce the album.

-The Talent

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pacific Air - Stop Talking


The duo from California, formerly known as KO KO finally released their highly anticipated debut album, Stop Talking. This coming out several months after their Long Live Ko Ko EP release, which, for me, was one of the best EP's of 2012. All four of the tracks from the EP, including the very popular Float, were all added to the album, along with eight others. Releasing this in June was a very smart game plan by the band, for this is perfect summer music. Listening to it will get you aching to get outside, driving with your windows and top down on your way to the beach on a beautiful sunny day. The sound of most of the songs have a very medium tempo, are very melodic and ambient at times. They combine simple, reverbed guitar riffs, synths, whistles, wind pipes, basic drum patterns and heavy echoed vocals to create this very fun and enjoyable 12 track LP. Lead singer, Ryan Lawhon's lyrics on this album seem to reflect on indecisiveness towards love and life. He sings "I don't want to be young / But I don't want to die" mystically in Float. "If we both get old / Will you let me float away?" Stop Talking contains such a diverse compilation of tracks, lyrically. The sound of a lot of them seem to be quite a like each other, but the slight repetition in sound happens to work splendidly as the duo's tunes have you tapping your toes, whistle along, and dreaming of summer.

-The Talent

Surfer Blood - Pythons


Surfer Blood is back with their Sophomore effort, Pythons. The Alternative/indie-rock Florida band returns after their stunning 2009 debut album Astro Coast. The band jumped onto the scene right away before the release of the album itself. Their first single Swim, which they released several months before the album dropped, got the buzz about the guys going. Again, this time around, they released a single before the release, as most bands do. This single however just seemed to be missing something, something I can't quite put my finger on. Their first LP had it all, cool guitars, great riffs, awesome vocals, and so does all of Python, but this time it just seems tired. As if they didn't just take a four year break between albums. Astro Coast gives off this fresh, exciting sounds, where as Pythons just seems to lack newness. Pythons does take on some new, adventures lyrical styling. They seem to be digging deeper into ideas of looking beyond what your eyes see, and becoming more in tuned with life and death. Though this album, duller than their previous, still includes some groovy jams such as Demon Dance (The Single Mentioned earlier), Squeezing Blood, and Phantom Limb (Bonus Track). Surfer Blood seems to hit the Sophomore slump a bit with this LP, but avoids getting consumed by it completely thanks to front man, John Paul Pitts fascinating lyrics, and the bands still radical sound, tired though it may be. Still a very strong album.

-The Talent