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“Hyperview” Title Fight

Title Fight

Hyperview Album Review (Click here to stream)

ANTI- Records

Released February 3, 2015

Genre: Indie Rock, Shoegaze, Punk (not too much)

Progression can be a great or terrible thing. For Title Fight on their third LP Hyperview, progression is a step sideways. The transition from melodic punk to dreamier-sounding territory has been noted throughout the band’s recent output (Floral Green and then Spring Songs). While this new record meets some of the good expectations from Spring Songs, odd production choices and a number of boring songs bring this record away from greatness.

Title Fight achieve a sense of spaciness with loud and bright reverberating guitars that are often affected by flanger and phaser effects. The tones and flavors on Hyperview for these guitar sounds are pleasant, but they drown out the drums and vocals for much of the album, which are muttered for most of the record. The problem with so much emphasis being on the guitars is that some of the riffs aren’t engaging in the slightest. The last four tracks are pretty forgettable because of too much reliance on one riff (“Dizzy”) or too many riffs that sound the exact same (“Trace Me Onto You” and “New Vision”). This gives the album a detached vibe for many of the songs. “Detached” isn’t bad, but boring is. The drums can’t propel any energy into the song, and the vocals are already borderline mutters. This does work, however, for the first track (“Murder Your Memory,” which has an intoxicating riff to justify the production choices) and “Your Pain is Mine Now,” which is a beautifully melancholic track.

There are a few more great tracks amidst the mediocre tracks besides the aforementioned two standouts, like the song “Rose of Sharon,” which channels the aggression that made past Title Fight outputs so great. Furious drum fills and loud yells and bass grooves mix well into this song, commanding the listener to pick out what’s going on with each sound. “Mrahc” has a very interesting chorus, with a very tasteful chord progression thrown in.

Fans of Title Fight’s old material will be divided by this album, as it’s even further down a different path than their past projects. It has ups, but the downs disappoint so much. In all, Hyperview is a surprising release; despite the divisive reactions it will cause, Title Fight has flexed their muscles in a new territory leaving their future material capable of going in so many directions.

FAV TRACKS: Murder Your Memory, Mrahc, Your Pain Is Mine Now, Rose of Sharon

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Trace Me Onto You, Liars Love, Dizzy, New Vision

SCORE: (6.4/10)

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“Uptown Special” Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson

Uptown Special Album Review

Columbia Records

Released January 13, 2015

Genre: Funk, R&B, Pop, 70s soul revival

When “Uptown Funk” first infiltrated the airwaves, I was surprised for two main reasons. First, at how catchy, upbeat, and groovy the track was and second, how absolutely no one had even heard of Mark Ronson before then. Ronson’s work has been prominently overlooked by the public eye, yet there’s one song of his that many a radio fan has found themselves humming every now and then. Remember Amy Winehouse’s cover of The Zutons’ “Valerie”? Ronson’s soulful and exquisite touch and production shines all over it, and Uptown Special merely advances a decade further, moving from 60s swing to 70s soul.

If Ronson’s previous albums proved that the producer had a robust vision, then Uptown Special is Ronson’s most conceptual and comprehensive release to date. Reportedly Ronson “enlisted novelist Michael Chabon to pen pulp-novel-like lyrical vignettes of crime and passion on the outskirts of Las Vegas and hipster identity crises in L.A., providing the album with, if not a linear narrative, then a recurring motif of dislocation” giving the album a meatier and thorough feel, light years ahead of the songs that “Uptown Funk” is competing against on the Top 40 list as of now. Mars’ hyped coax from the ending of the tasteless “Feel Right” into “Uptown Funk” makes the song feel like the center of the party, and in many ways it is. But Ronson has many tricks up his sleeve to show he’s more than just a hit-maker.

There’s the cosmic funk of the Kevin Parker featured “Daffodils”, perhaps one of the best songs on this album. Then the one-and-only Stevie Wonder guest stars on the closer “Crack In The Pearl Pt. II” lending his vocal and harmonica abilities, to sweetly close out the album. Beforehand, the ethereal “Leaving Los Feliz” finds Parker’s voice crossing the line between atmospheric and robotic. “In Case Of Fire” starts the song off strong with an incredibly catchy bass riff, before it’s garnished with Nile Rodgers-esque riffs and Prince-like vocals from Jeff Bhasker. The song feels like it was pulled straight from the 70s and feels great against the backdrop of the collection of modern and “retro” tracks that Ronson has compiled here.

Overall, Uptown Special is a surprising release from Mark Ronson, who has merely been a ghost under the public eye. The album has its perks, and incredibly strong moments. Yet, the album suffers from its attempts to bridge modern music tropes with epithets of 70s soul/R&B. Ronson over compensates his nostalgic touch on his music, by interjecting his soulful and conservatively mixed songs with some aspects that range from cringe-worthy to ambitious. I applaud Ronson for having a variety of styles on this record, but in the end the mix is just too much over its head. As a concept record, Uptown Special is a peculiar one; one that knows its expectations yet still struggles to reach them.

 

FAV TRACKS: Summer Breaking, Uptown Funk, Daffodils, In Case Of Fire, Leaving Los Feliz

LEAST FAV TRACK: Feel Right

Score: (7.0/10)

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“B4.DA.$$” Joey Bada$$

Joey Bada$$

B4.DA.$$ Album Review

Cinematic Music Group

Released January 20, 2015

Genre: Rap, Boom Bap

Let’s just get this out of the way: this is good. This is really good. This is rapper Joey Bada$$’s most consistent release to date, and represents the young spitter’s ability to grow exponentially skill-wise in the future. All previous mixtapes and singles aside, Joey Bada$$ drops one of the most impressive rap debuts of the nascent year.

Lyrically, Jo-Vaughn throws ingenious punch-line after punch-line, peppy flow after flow, etc. What he’s been admired for in the past is evident on this full-length, but, of course, on a grander scale. Every song on this 17-track affair packs lyrical heat, with endless poetic nuggets to be found. Enumerating all of these creative lines is nearly impossible, but a favorite of mine is “They say money is the root of all evil/…money is the route of all people” off of “Paper Trail$,” as well as “Got dragon b***s like my name was Vegeta” off of “Christ Concious.” There are call-outs, similes and homages galore, each one totally different from the last in context, but similar enough in delivery to keep the record cohesive.

Beat-wise, every-sample, every boom-bap loop, every synth meshes well with each other element on every single track. It doesn’t feel too dated throughout, but there are total throwback beats (A Tribe Called Quest used the exact same sample on Joey’s “No. 99” in another song) for the old-heads, and hype beats for the younger listeners (“Escape 120”). The skits spread out through the track-list also add to the aesthetic, a story of Joey’s rising popularity and reputation.

One minor issue that I have with the LP is that some of the songs, although well-written, jump topics too much or are raps about rap. “Paper Trail$,” while I enjoy it, jumps from being wary of money to being lady-obsessed almost sporadically. “Like Me” falls into the same trap as well but isn’t quite as gripping as “Paper.” “Christ Conscious,” another song I enjoy, is another rap about rap. I can overlook this to an extent, but this may bother other listeners to no end. There are plenty of topically focused tracks like “On & On,” which deals with death and destiny, and “OCB,” which stands for Only Child Blues.

This will not disappoint any fans of Bada$$, and it probably won’t offend newcomers either if listened to in whole. I say offend in reference to the last paragraph, because this is definitely not a “safe” album or anything like that. This is solid, consistent and fiery hip-hop. And you know what’s crazy? This is just the debut; this is just the beginning.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: No. 99, On & On, Christ Conscious, Paper Trail$

LEAST FAV TRACK: Like Me

SCORE: (8.8/10)

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"Void" RL Grime

RL Grime

Void Album Review

Wedidit Records

Released

Genre: Trap, EDM, House

Henry Steinway is an LA based producer known under the pseudonyms Clockwork, his electro house project, and RL Grime, more focused on hip hop and trap music with VOID is his first full length album under either alias.  RL Grime first started to gain popularity with his remix of “Mercy” by Kanye West and singles including “Grapes a la Vodka.”  His first major success came with the release of his High Beams EP on Fool’s Gold, which reached #1 on the iTunes Dance/Electronic chart.  When paired with periodic remixes released for the likes of Chief Keef and Benny Benassi, Grime has grown as one of the best known names in the trap industry.

This first album, released on his WeDidIt collective, is Steinway’s twelve track exploration of the deep sea, the void of the ocean.  This album opens with the ominous, bass heavy “Always” essentially holding that theme until the climatic ending of the album.  While this LP continually impresses the listener with stellar production throughout, some of the tracks on the album, including “Always” and “Julia,” do not feel incredibly original, lacking any sort of signature from Steinway.  The album also runs into trouble when RL Grime shares the stage with one of his four featured artists.

“Danger,” the second track on the album features the German producer Boys Noize, and if the incredibly annoying vocal of the song’s title echoing incessantly throughout doesn’t make you want to stand up and turn off the record, then the disappointing and out of place house that composes the rest of the song will.  Big Sean is the next and arguably biggest feature with “Kingpin,” a song that, if you force yourself to suffer through Sean’s singing will display RL Grime’s impressible ability to produce great hip-hop.

When featuring How to Dress Well in “Reminder,” another forgettable beat plays the backdrop to HTDW’s smooth R&B voice with a surprisingly bad falsetto from the singer sprinkled generously throughout.  The only shining light in the features is his pairing with Djemba Djemba in “Valhalla,” a track that displays Steinway’s trademark ability to write music with bowel-shaking bass lines.  When coupled with two of the singles “Core” and “Scylla,” this album has some incredible bangers that show why RL Grime is at the forefront of his genre.  The final song, “Golden State” brings the entire album to absolution, shedding the warning tone of the rest of the album and giving way to a sort of euphoria, ending the album in incredible fashion.

When all is said and done, this record is a good overall electronic album.  It has everything expected of a contemporary dance album, but because of that, Steinway makes concessions on his ability to produce spectacular trap music in order to explore other areas of the expansive genre that is modern EDM.  When sticking to his guns, Grime does not disappoint in this album, with around half deserving of high acclaim, but the other half forms an anchor, preventing him from completing his deep sea adventure, keeping the LP from fully entering the VOID.

 

FAV TRACKS:  Scylla, Core, Let Go, Golden State

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Danger (feat. Boys Noize), Kingpin (feat. Big Sean)

Score: (6.5/10)

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“Nonstop Feeling” Turnstile

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Turnstile

Nonstop Feeling Album Review

Reaper Records

Released January 13, 2015

Genre: Hardcore Punk

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Turnstile has always delivered music chock-full of interesting grooves and spunky attitudes. However, on their debut full-length, Nonstop Feeling, the band delivers mediocre lyrics, misplaced clean vocals and uninspired riffs.

Lyrics are my main gripe on this record. The choruses on most of the album are just boring repetitions of random phrases. “Gravity” repeats “I keep me down” way more times than necessary, and “Out of Rage” just repeats “out of rage” a few times each chorus. “Addicted” rehashes every cliché line that could possibly be in a song called “Addicted,” like “Give it to me! Give it to me!” Musically, a select few of the guitar and bass riffs stand out (i.e. Drop), but most of it is too bland.

The groove saves the day for a few tracks, however. “Can’t Deny It” follows a great opening riff with funky riffs and spunky lyrical delivery. “Bleach Temple” has a great riff as well, and showcases the band’s ability to play tightly. “Love Lasso” is a total oddball, since it’s pretty much an instrumental classic Soul track, but it’s lovable nonetheless.

This isn’t terrible, but it does feel like some of the spice from previous efforts is missing.

FAV TRACKS: Can’t Deny It, Bleach Temple, Love Lasso

LEAST FAV TRACK: Gravity, Bad Wave, Addicted

SCORE: 4.9/10

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“Fashion Week (Instrumentals)” Death Grips

Death Grips

Fashion Week Album Review

Thirds Worlds Records

Released January 4, 2015

Genre: Experimental Hip Hop, Instrumental Glitch Hop, Industrial, Instrumental Hip Hop

Let’s face it: All Death Grips fans are DYING for Jenny Death to come out, and not just to fully complete the power that b, but to hear the last release from the late experimental hip hop who supposedly “disbanded” in the summer of 2014. But come January 4, 2015, when I’m relaxing and watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, Death Grips decide to drop one of the craziest instrumentals – and albums- of the year (considering the year is only four days old, well six now). It appears that physically, they’re over. However, that won’t stop them digitally.

An instrumental album from Death Grips is exactly what you’d expect: insane beats without MC Ride yelling in your ear. And while that premise takes away from the charm of a normal Death Grips record, Fashion Week isn’t without its perks. Think of Nine Inch Nails’ Ghost I-IV, a vocal-less instrumental release from one of rock music’s most notable groups. While the album took away from the industrial nature of the band, the album provided listeners with a kaleidoscopic view into where the band can go instrumentally. Same goes for Death Grips.For one, the album’s beats are superb, probably some of the best instrumentation that this group has ever put out. But what they lack in vocals, they make up for in sonic instrumentation that, for all their efforts, still continues to enthrall no matter the redundancy.

A big difference from albums like Government Plates or the heralded The Money Store is the lack of electronic dissonance. While the tracks here, cleverly named JENNY DEATH WHEN, are jammed packed with ideas influenced by a broad range of artists from Trent Reznor, Skrillex, punk rock, and even acid house, they are nonetheless some of the most accessible beats that the band has come to deliver. Fashion Week is the most straightforward this band has been, stylistically, and that goes to show how this band has grown since their Exmilitary days.

The synth melody in “Runway Y” sounds like a glossy, 8 bit rendition to The Shining’s Dies Irae, which therefore evokes a satirical look at the aggressiveness that this album “supposedly” may have, considering the band’s track record. Tornado sirens ring about on “Runway A” and “Runway E” (of WHEN) features very atmospheric synths and effects. ‘Runway H” (of WHEN) samples a guitar riff that I’m pretty sure is from Kiss’ “Shout It Out Loud’ and Death Grips stich that with some operatic vocals and heavily distorted base. So while this album can be a bit overwhelming at times, you will no doubt find a variety of sounds and styles, laid over Death Grips’ sonic experimentalism and nature.

Given the release of “Inanimate Sensation” and the lack of MC Ride’s vocals on this LP, Fashion Week is still as adventurous and astonishingly dark as their previous releases. No doubt this album will stand as a big change of pace for the band, but all in all, this linear and straightforward instrumental release has only grown the anticipation for Jenny Death.  The songs on here, at the end of the day, have pretty basic structures but some very interesting beats – a jittery, creative, and ambitious release from a very unpredictable band. Yes, some of the rhythms and grooves can be redundant, and maybe some parts can be omitted/added. But with this release, Death Grips prove that they are the most mysterious band out there. Are they done? Or is there more material headed on the way? All I can say is: “JENNY DEATH WHEN?!?!”

 PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Runway J, E, N, N, Y, D, H, W, H, N

LEAST FAV TRACK: Runway T

Score: ( 8.0/ 10)

FULL BONNAROO LINEUP ANNOUNCED!

The Tennesee festival has just announced its full lineup via a silly, and very lucrative 1-800 hotline method where fans share the lineup online. That’s the poster above and the full list of bands on the roster is below. Buy tickets here.

The festival begins on June 11th and end on the 14th. Tickets go on sale on January 17th.

LINEUP [last updated @ 8:49PM EST]:
Against Me!
Alabama Shakes
Atmosphere
Atomic Bomb! Who Is William Onyeabor?
Bahamas
Bassnectar
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Belle And Sebastian
Ben Folds
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
Benjamin Booker
Billy Joel
Bleachers
Brandi Carlile
Caribou
Childish Gambino
Courtney Barnett
Dawes
Deadmau5
Florence + The Machine
Flume
Flying Lotus
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
G-Eazy
Gary Clark Jr.
Glass Animals
Gramatik
Guster
Houndmouth
Hozier
Jamie xx
Jerry Douglas Presents Earls Of Leicester
Jon Cleary And The Absolute Monster Gentleman
Jungle
Kendrick Lamar
Mac DeMarco
Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood
Moon Taxi
Mumford And Sons
My Morning Jacket
Odesza
Pokey LaFarge
Punch Brothers
Rhiannon Giddens
Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters
Rudimental
Run The Jewels
Ryn Weaver
SBTRKT
Shabazz Palaces
Shakey Graves
Slayer
SOJA
Spoon
Strand Of Oaks
STS9
Sturgill Simpson
Sylvan Esso
Tears For Fears
The Growlers
The Very Best
The War On Drugs
Tove Lo
Trampled By Turtles
Twenty One Pilots
Tycho
Unknown Mortal Orchestra

MATT AND KIM ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND SHARE "GET IT" LYRIC VIDEO

Indie pop duo Matt and Kim have announced their new album, a follow up to 2012’s Lightning. It’s called The New Glow and it’ll be out April 17th via Harvest Records.  They’ve also revealed the lyric video the their latest single from the LP, “Get It”. Watch it below along with some tour dates for the spring and the track listing.

New Glow:

01 Hey Now
02 Stirred Up
03 Can You Blame Me
04 Hoodie On
05 Make A Mess
06 Killin Me
07 World Is Ending
08 Get It
09 Not Alone
10 I See Ya

TOUR

04-15 Norfolk, VA – The Norva
04-16 Columbus, OH – Lifestyle Communities Pavilion
04-17 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
04-20 Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
04-21 Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theater
04-23 Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre
04-24 Dallas, TX – House of Blues
04-25 Houston, TX – House of Blues
04-27 Phoenix, AZ – Marquee
04-28 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
04-30 Santa Ana, CA – Observatory
05-01 San Diego, CA – North Park Theater
05-02 San Francisco, CA – The Warfield
05-04 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
05-05 Denver, CO – The Ogden
05-08 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
05-09 Nashville, TN – Marathon Sun
05-11 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05-14 New York, NY – Terminal 5
05-18 Toronto, Ontario – Danforth Music Hall
05-19 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
05-20 Detroit, MI – Royal Oak Music Hall
05-21 Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
05-22 Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights

Taken by Michael White at a dimly-lit bar in Webster Hall

Interview with Dylan Walker, vocalist for Full Of Hell

Above the checkered-walled unisex bathroom in Webster Hall in New York City, neon signs provided the sole source of light in a dark bar. The place looked abandoned, almost completely vacant and very gloomy. It’s macabre tone weighed down on the eyelids of Dylan Walker, vocalist of Full of Hell, noisy patrons of “artsy grind core.” The band closed out 2014 with a bang, releasing the well-received Full of Hell and Merzbow collaborative LP. Full of Hell shows no signs of slowing down, evident by the fact that it’s January 2nd and they’re playing at the largest venue they’ve played in the United States, opening for Bostonian legends American Nightmare.

“I’ve been listening to American Nightmare since I was a kid,” the singer said. He also hinted at more 2015 plans, saying, “We’re gonna tour a lot, release more records, go to new parts of the world.”

After finishing a set that closed as bombastically as 2014, and witnessing his friends in Code Orange rip Webster Hall a new one, Dylan sunk into a seat next to my equally-tired cousin Brendan and me. The way we positioned ourselves was akin to a therapy session, Dylan staring at the ceiling, Brendan and I looking inquisitive.

“My mom and dad were into punk,” Dylan revealed, “Bad Brains, Ramones, Sex Pistols…I kept digging into punk, and I had friends in my hometown [that were into it.] That’s probably where I got into extreme music.”

He delved deeper into his history with extreme genres: “I listened to a lot of bands on this label when I was a kid called Hydra Head Records. There were bands like Daughters, Godflesh and Discordance Axis…That label put out a lot of weird bands.”

Hydra Head, as well as his hometown scene and other artists, influenced Dylan to eventually join Full Of Hell: “There was this band in my hometown I saw when I was like 12. It was a metal band that has this sound kinda like Cryptopsy. It was like a weird mix between slam and technicality… I didn’t think that kids could make that kind of music. And then I was hooked on metal.”

The extreme acts he later encountered due to his newly found obsession with metal especially inspired his musical journey. “Full Of Hell is a tribute name to an Entombed song,” the vocalist told Brendan.

While the Entombed song focuses on being literally “full of hell,” Walker’s band takes a different philosophical approach. When asked by Brendan about the main motif in his music, Dylan replied that “through all the horrible images we use, the main thing is to respect life…just all life. I try to live my life with respect for the world.” Full Of Hell has never been a band to shy away from complexity, so the dichotomy between the invasive and unsettling noises they produce and the peaceful undertone helps them to define themselves as a band.

Full Of Hell also differentiates itself through its musicality and live shows. The intensity is too otherworldly to warrant moshing for some crowds, and that’s just fine with Dylan: “If I was watching a band like Full Of Hell I would want one gigantic aural experience. Maybe not like something I could pit to…but like a real artistic expression…if it’s like a hardcore punk band, I wanna pit, I wanna feel whatever it is they’re singing about.”

Contributing to the experience as a concertgoer is part of the fun for Walker, possibly reminiscing over his pre-teen years at street punk shows: “It’s fun to be a part of the show, that’s the cool thing about punk. There’s no divide between the band and the crowd. Nobody’s above each other.”

Dylan predicts that 2015 will be a big year for other bands besides his own. “Code Orange,” the singer initially mentioned. “I think anyone can say that they’ll do well. The Body will do really well” he said. He believes that extreme music’s quality is going on an upward trend, with the future destined to provide more innovative bands. “People that complain about the internet ruining things are morons,” the singer unabashedly declared, “there’s more bands doing interesting things now than ever.”

The therapy program is over. There were no problems to diagnose in the first place, but there was a story to be told. Full Of Hell/Merzbow is out now and is a must-listen.

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