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WAVVES & CLOUD NOTHINGS RELEASE COLLABORATIVE LP NO LIFE FOR ME

Like something straight out of a modern indie rock fan’s fantasy, surf rock band Wavves’ Nathan Williams and noise rock band Cloud Nothings‘ Dylan Baldi have announced a collaborative LP entitled No Life For Me. It’s available on iTunes and Bandcamp. It’s out right now via Williams’ label Ghost Ramp.That’s the artwork above and the tracklist below.

On Twitter, Williams answered a few questions about the album and his current plans for Wavves and other projects. He said a joint tour was “not likely” due to his and Baldi’s schedules, though Wavves will begin a tour on September 1 and release a new album in August. Additionally, he said that while the collaborative album won’t get a proper physical release, it’ll be released on vinyl, according to Pitchfork.

No Life For Me:

01 Untitled 1
02 How It’s Gonna Go
03 Come Down
04 Hard To Find
05 Untitled II
06 Nervous
07 No Life For Me
08 Such A Drag
09 Nothing Hurts

Stream the album below via Bandcamp

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"Hurricane (feat. Julien Kelland)" Danny Darko

Danny Darko

“Hurricane (feat. Julien Kelland)” Track Review

Danny Darko Management

Released 2015

Genre: Pop

It’s pretty rare that a single track gets me completely on board with an artist. This does happen; it’s just rare because one song is not usually enough of a sample. Even more rare than that, obviously, is a track getting me interested in following the careers of two artists. I can safely say I didn’t expect it to happen when I started to listen to “Hurricane ft. Julien Kelland” by Danny Darko. There was no reason for me to place that much stock in a song by an unknown DJ and someone else I’ve never heard of. It did happen, though, and this track is something special.

“Hurricane” was put together impeccably well, from all ends. Darko is a talented producer and DJ; the beats and overall mood of the song are perfect, never overbearing. Many new DJs tend to go overboard, making sure that they’re ‘recognized,’ but Darko fortunately knows the true path to recognition is simply creating good content. Of course, the real standout of “Hurricane” is Julien Kelland. While she never has to stretch her vocal muscles too much, it’s clear Kelland’s voice is something special. Soft but never weak, Kelland is unique and has a real future in music.

Quite plainly, “Hurricane ft. Julien Kelland” by Danny Darko is a successful track. After listening to this, I’m interested in seeking out more work by these artists, and I’d definitely love to see more collaborations between Kelland and Darko. No, it’s not a groundbreaking, amazing song that I’ll be listening to daily for the next ten years, but I certainly enjoyed my listen.

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“Everybody Is Going To Heaven” Citizen

Citizen

Everybody Is Going To Heaven Album Review

Run For Cover Records

Released: June 23, 2015

Genres: Pop Punk, Hardcore Punk, Post-Hardcore

This is another case of an album that would’ve hit it HUGE if it had been released in the 90s. There’s the relatively effects-heavy production (which is pretty good overall), the over-emphasized choruses, all the ingredients to an album full of songs that sound like late 90s rock hits. However, other than the sticky choruses, the songwriting on Citizen’s second full-length is just not up to par.

First of all, the lyrics that have been released (my difficulties with auditory processing makes it hard for me to decipher some of the lyrics that haven’t been published online yet) feel so overdone and cryptic for the sake of being cryptic. There are too many lyrics that follow the formula of “verb me/you an indirect object,” like “Spoon-feeding me medicine” and “this glass is colored black so you can close your eyes.” Sometimes these lyrics are at least delivered with conviction, but Weave Me (Into Yr Sin)” and “Ten” feature the edgiest (sarcasm) muttering I’ve heard in a long time. It’s Marilyn Manson-esque but at least Marilyn has a convincingly haunting aesthetic. Besides the detached lyrics, some guitar riffs on this album aren’t gripping at all. The main verse riff on “Stain” sounds like it was written in about five seconds by a person who just started playing guitar.

“Heaviside” and “Ring Of Chain” are two highlights, however, that feel totally fleshed out and are emotionally convincing. “Heaviside is a nice change of pace, much calmer than the majority of the tracklist, while “Ring Of Chain” isn’t as predictable compositionally as other songs on this album, finishing the album with a nicely arranged string section. However, those are two diamonds out of ten total tracks. These other songs aren’t atrocious, but they’re consistently uninteresting. It’s like the primary focus of the album was the semi-nostalgic production and the songwriting took a backseat.

 

FAV TRACKS: Heaviside, Ring Of Chain

LEAST FAV TRACK: Stain, Weave Me (Into Yr Sin), Ten

Score: (4.0/10)

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NICOLAS JAAR RELEASES FREE ALBUM POMEGRANATES

Earlier this year, Nicolas Jaar, half of the acclaimed electronic duo Darkside, created an alternate soundtrack to the 1969 avant-garde Soviet film The Colour of Pomegranates, which was directed by Sergei Parajanov. Today, as a surprise, he shared a download of that soundtrack as a stand-alone album. Grab Pomegranates here, for free. That’s the album art above.

The downloadable file includes the album, some artwork, and a lengthy note from Jaar detailing the album’s origins.

One of the file names is “I think ONE DAY THIS WILL COME OUT ON VINYL,” and the label (below) indicates that it’ll come via Jaar’s Other People imprint. Another file notes that this version doesn’t sync up with the film.

Jaar writes

At the beginning of 2015 my friend Milo heard some of these songs and told me about the film. I watched it and was dumbfounded. I felt the aesthetic made complete sense with the strange themes I had been obsessed with over the past couple of years..I was curious to see what my songs sounded like when synced with the images, which turned into a 2-day bender where I soundtracked the entire film, creating a weird collage of the ambient music I had made over the last 2 years.

The film gave me a structure to follow and themes to stick to.It gave clarity to this music that was made mostly out of and through chaos. It also gave me the balls to put it out… I wanted to do some screenings but the guy who owns the rights to the film only wants the original version of the movie out there. I can’t blame him, I’m sure Paradjanov wouldn’t want some kid in NY pissing all over his masterpiece and calling it a soundtrack! I’ve listened to it a couple of times without watching the movie and I think it stands on its own. Or at least I hope it can!

 

Introvert Album Cover

“Introvert” Respectable Men

Respectable Men

Introvert Album Review

Self Released

Released: May 6, 2015

Genres: Pop Punk, Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Hardcore Punk, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal

There are few music related feelings that beat the high you feel when you discover a new band to connect with. Sure, seeing your favorite group of all time (for me that’s The Strokes) drop a new album is always absolutely thrilling, but there’s something especially exciting about finding something new, something you don’t have any expectations for, good or bad. With their first album in the bag, I can safely say I connect with Dallas based rock band Respectable Men. Though, Introvert, their record, is certainly with some issues, it’s strong nonetheless.

Respectable Men takes an interesting approach by varying musical styles right from the get-go. Introvert starts off with the Blink-182 inspired “We Can Be Punks (Kinda).” It’s a genuinely good song, one that asserts itself as being memorable with its distinct guitar work. As a whole, this piece is a sold display of band lead singer/songwriter/frontman Jack Higgins’ talents. And then, right on track two, there’s a dramatic tonal shift with “Admirer.” I would have enjoyed “Admirer” a lot more had I not felt Higgins’ voice is being drowned out in the chorus. This song is notably more angsty than its predecessor and, while both songs work to a certain extent, it doesn’t wholly make sense to place them right next to each other.

Witnessing this group’s exploration is a lot of fun, but it occasionally leads to a rather inconsistent listening experience, as it does with Introvert’s third through fifth tracks. Number three, “1/5 (feat. Ian Dance),” is honest and wistful, but not unrealistically pissed off. I really dig this pop punk styled song because everything about it feels true. Following this is the raw “Island.” Fortunately, I buy the anger here, in the lyrics, vocals, and the especially strong guitar beats, far more than in most of the other ‘angry’ songs on Introvert. And then we have “Lance.” This track just doesn’t connect with me in the slightest. The breathy “F*ck. You!” feels emotionally fabricated, as does the whole song.

Respectable Men takes another tonal shift at the midpoint of Introvert, this time for the better. The sixth track, “Handshake,” may be a bit over the top (the lyrics are a little too much), but it’s a nice showcase for the technical skill of the band. And there is definitely a lot of technical skill here. “Introvert” is also a really fun rock song, and again, the technical skills of the band are on full display, but we can barely hear any of the actual singing, and this doesn’t feel too intentional.

Closing out their first album, Respectable Men succeed. The eighth track, “Seem Sick,” is clearly borrowing quite heavily from The White Stripes, but this is by no means a bad thing. Hell, it’s pretty impressive, actually. “Sorry, Ma’am, But This Life Is Expired” finishes off Introvert. It’s not perfect, and it’s kind of all over the place (did we really need that screaming), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

I’ll be following Respectable Men in the future. Nobody can ever say for sure with these things, but I truly believe this is a band with a shot at producing some great music. Introvert is messy and it’s obvious that Respectable Men is not a ‘figured out’ band yet, but that’s okay. So check out this album, because who doesn’t like to say they knew of a band before they were cool?

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: 1/5 (Ft. Ian Dance), We Can Be Punk (Kinda), Seem Sick

LEAST FAV TRACK: Lance

Score: (7.5/10)

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“Surf” Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

Surf Album Review

Self Released

Released May 28, 2015

Genre: Hip Hop, Pop, Neo-Soul, Jazz, Doo-Wop Magic

You’d expect from one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, that you’d get something special.  You’d expect from a free album, you’d get more bang for your lack of a buck. You’d expect from an album with Chance The Rapper on vocals that you’d get a more vibrant repeat of his commercial and critical hit (and one of my personal favorites) Acid Rap. You’d expect from a band just starting out, that you’d get a fresh taste of new music that is unparalleled in the current music scene. You’d think for a band that has mastered a magical rendition of the Arthur theme song to make some original magic of their own. You’d expect that with an album PACKED with a slew of talented and iconic guest stars would result in a ton of lyrical and musical surprises. And you’d expect that all these expectations would magically make a vibrant, jubilant, genre-bending, and masterful debut that will be talked about for years to come. Ladies and gentlemen, hype’s a bitch.

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment is composed of Nico Segal (aka Donnie Trumpet), Peter “Cottontale” Wilkins, Nate Fox, Greg “Stix” Landfair Jr., and Chancelor Bennett (aka Chance The Rapper). Landfair and Segal were part of the now-defunct hip hop/soul group Kids These Days (with Vic Mensa) and knowing that it’s easy to see where Surf owes much of its material from. But to judge this album from a hip hop point of view, notably from a Chance the Rapper fan’s point-of-view, is completely unfair. This is Donnie Trumpet’s project and he has the privilege of starting on a completely blank slate, just with Chance on the ride for this one. Given this stand point, this album is still exposed to Chance’s lyrical wordplay, personal stories, and ubiquity, so while a consistent musical style from Chance’s previous efforts can be excused, his songwriting cannot. Moreover, this album isn’t without its hangups.

Surf is an album built upon the foundations of soul, hip hop, pop, gospel, and with some soft hints of rock and R&B. I’ll start with some of the positives; one of the best features on here is Busta Rhymes on “Slip Slide” and it features Donnie Trumpet relishing a fiery trumpet melody that carries the track’s power. Moreover, the supreme track “Sunday Candy” is the band firing on all cylinders as Chance delivers a poignant verse while the instrumentation vacillates between hip hop and neo-soul creating an enthralling hybrid that overflows with joy. If there’s anything worth checking out on this album, it’s this song. However, my praise ends there.

Surf is like an unfinished coloring book: you have a picture of what they were trying to go for, but in the end the result is a bit disappointing. For starters, the production is less than generous for a jazz album as Donnie Trumpet’s less than developed trumpet solos are reduced to irritating shrills or remnants of a solo that is all body but no soul. Additionally, the vocals are sometimes drowned out by the surrounding feedback of the trumpets and they are left either unnoticed or barely heard. Most of the time listening to this album I was busy turning the volume up and down to adjust for the loss of sound. Moreover, the drums overpower much of the instrumentation to the point where the other instruments are completely irrelevant. It doesn’t help either when the instrumentation and ideas thrown together on this album fail to reach expectations or levels of enjoyment shown on tracks like “Sunday Candy” and “Slip Slide”. For an album with an “indie” mindset, Surf is fully loaded with ideas, but altogether it misses its mark, so much.

The word “surf”, in its essence, commonly brings to mind colorful, bright, and sunny moments. The songs, along with the bland and drab album art, fail to associate with the title. Tracks like the hazy “Miracle” and the meandering “Wanna Be Cool” (which has a message that aims for “Be Yourself” but ultimately becomes a “You’ll Never Be Like Me” kind of feel) feel like pictures without any colors, or beach parties in black and white – you have the idea, but the execution is flawed. Chance’s lyrical topics are, arguably, not as intimate or as dark as the ones exhibited on Acid Rap, and that’s completely fine, but they do little to enhance the brightness of the songs here. While some segments of the song, like the last minute or so on “Rememory”, showcase some of the group’s strengths, the album as a whole does little to fully flesh out the potential this band has.

Unlike Kamasi Washington’s epic jazz tribute debut he released this year (I’m not going to be reviewing this, but I will say that the album is incredible. Check it out), Surf is an ensemble album that aims for the stars but can’t quite get off the ground. Production flubs, underwhelming segments, and a lack of memorability and use of star power, Surf is, in my opinion, a disappointment. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment are a talented bunch don’t get me wrong, but this album does little to showcase what they can truly do with their music. The lyrical themes of love, self-improvement, harmony, and camaraderie all hold elements of the vibe that Surf was trying to go for, but the instrumentation, production, and lack of tracks like “Sunday Candy” truly bring this album down.

Surf is wallowing in the shallow end, when it should be conquering maverick waves in the deep; experimenting with different sounds, even experimenting in the slightest, would benefit this more than safe album a lot better than anything I could possibly recommend. Surf is a frenetic neo-soul album that doesn’t quite earn the improvisational jazz label; for now, it’s best labeled as a watered down Kids These Days album.

FAV TRACKS: Slip Slide, Sunday Candy

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Miracle, Just Wait, Go, Something Came To Me

Score: (4.0/10)

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“English Graffitti” The Vaccines

The Vaccines

English Graffiti Album Review

Columbia Records

Released May 25, 2015

Genre: Indie Rock, Garage Rock, Post-Punk Revival

When The Vaccines burst onto the scene in 2011 with their remarkably strong debut studio album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, they were a huge breath of fresh air, just what indie rock needed. Only a year later came their follow up, Come of Age. It wasn’t quite on the level of their first, but Come of Age was an interesting exploration of where The Vaccines could possibly go in the future. It worked. After three years of waiting, we finally have their third studio piece in the form of English Graffiti. While the three years certainly have not gone to waste, it’s difficult to not be slightly disappointed by this record. English Graffiti is a solid collection of music with some real beauty, but the lack of risks taken force the listener to feel as though mainstream success might mean a little more to The Vaccines than the true expansion of talent. *DISCLAIMER: I’m reviewing the Deluxe version of the album, so I’ll avoid writing up a track by track summary this time, opting instead for a general overview.*

An overwhelming amount of English Graffiti is filled with straightforward, ultimately fine rock songs. Some of these feel inspired and genuine, but, to be honest, others appear to be filler. “Give Me a Sign” should be an unoriginal, bland, mid 80s sounding piece, but I actually f**king loved it. Everything about “Give Me a Sign” is familiar, but it’s nostalgic fun. “20/20” is also pretty breezy, and it features some really cool guitar work, but I’ve already forgotten about it otherwise. “Miracle” is most obviously filler. It’s just not anywhere near the best The Vaccines have to offer. “Handsome,” which is our introduction to the record, hovers right in between success and failure. It is undeniably shallow, but it’s also easy to listen to and right to the point.

English Graffiti succeeds most when The Vaccines, who guessed it, are enjoying themselves! Buried throughout the record, in between the songs that could easily be mistaken for songs by any other indie band, are so many cool gems (Look, I hate calling something a gem, too. It just fits here.). Songs like “Dream Lover” and “Minimal Affection” don’t have a shot at Top 40 radio play, but they’re not designed for that. Hell, “Minimal Affection” isn’t even a song that has any logical right to exist in 2015. And that’s what makes it great. The album closes with four alternate versions of “Handsome,” “Dream Lover,” “20/20,” and “Give Me a Sign.” These remixes are, for lack of a better phrase, pretty cool.

The Vaccines are a good band and English Graffiti is truly a good album. Still, some of us have come to expect more than good from The Vaccines. It’s hard not to do so when their whole first record asks us about this. Maybe it’s wrong to judge a band’s latest album by comparing it to their previous work, but I don’t believe anybody can actually put aside their love (or hate) for the old when examining the new. How am I supposed to forget about “Post Break-Up Sex” or “Norgaard?” I eagerly await whatever’s next from The Vaccines, really, and I’m sure I’d love to see English Graffiti performed live. For the time being, though, I’m likely going to revisit Come of Age and What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? a few times before dipping back into English Graffiti.

FAV TRACKS: Give me a Sign, Minimal Affection, Dream Lover

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Radio Bikini, Denial, 20/20

SCORE: (7.0/10)

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“Radius” Allen Stone

Allen Stone

Radius Album Review

Capitol Records

Released May 26, 2015

Genre: Soul, R&B, Pop Rock

Self proclaimed “hippie with soul” Allen Stone returns with his second full length Radius. His self-titled debut exhibited the 28 year old crooner with a knack for formulating smooth, laid back jams with some 70s soul flair. Stone’s tracks felt fully alive, vibrant, and full of, obviously, soul. Although they contained aspects of throwback jams, they were nonetheless catered for the 21st Century generation of youngsters, looking for that new sound. On Radius, Stone keeps his distance once more – standing on the line between nostalgic and modern.

Whether it be strong, yet blatant 70s jams (“Upside”), socially aware observations on society (“American Privelage”), or cheap tunes looking for a hook (“Freedom”), Stone always has something to say, and the tracks thrive on a life of their own. However, memorability is a rare trait on this album as most of these songs fail to be compelling, innovative, or special. Since Stone is dealing with the same formula, a lot of these tracks sounds like B-Sides to singles from his self-titled debut. The one track that shows Stone taking matters into his own hands and actually doing something substantial with it is on the track “Freezer Burn” where his vocals sound Prince-like, and the strings and funky synths just accentuate the song even more as it culminates into a funk/soul romp that is anything but disappointing.

Radius is a good album, if you like no change with a special formula. I agree that Allen Stone is one of the stronger acts to come in the 70s neo-soul/funk genre. Radius is nothing but Allen Stone Part 2, with less memorable hooks and songwriting wrought with cliché comparisons and tropes, but a much more impressive sense of musicianship which I hope only grows stronger when Stone’s third LP comes around.

FAV TRACKS: Upside, Freezer Burn, Where You’re At

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Freedom, Symmetrical

SCORE: (5.5/10)

from the album "The Most Lamentable Tragedy"

"Dimed Out" & "Fatal Flaw" Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus

“Dimed Out” & “Fatal Flaw” Track Reviews

Merge Records

Released May 2, 2015 (“Dimed Out”) & June 7, 2015 (“Fatal Flaw”)

Genre: Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Heartland Rock

If there is any band out there with an abundance of endurance, it’s Titus Andronicus. Catapulted to fame with their magnificent sophomore album The Monitor, a concept album loosely based on the Civil War, an incredible giant of album conceptually and musically. Lead singer Patrick Stickles’ personal stories of struggle, adolescence, angst, and cynicism sung in his raspy, Westerberg-like voice made for an album that would make Holden Caulfield proud with its Civil War meets punk meets Springsteen like ambition. Following the moderately successful third LP Local Business in 2012, Titus Andronicus announced a new record: a 29 track-long behemoth clocking in at over 93 mins entitled The Most Lamentable Tragedy. “Dimed Out” and “Fatal Flaw” are the first previews of what to expect and let me tell you, the hype is real.

“Dimed Out” brings back the familiar onslaught of unadulterated, group chorus fury of their past works. Although it’s no “the enemy is everywhere” level of involvement, and the lyrics do become mumbled every now and then, the track is catchy, consistent, and finds Titus Andronicus returning to some familiar roots while adding some strings into the mix. The track overflows with positivity and an overwhelming sense of freedom; and it goes to show that this record will bring up some familiar feelings of liberation that were so ubiquitous on The Monitor. Stickles’ voice is as raspy as ever and it’s possible to be hearing this song sung by drunk twenty-somethings in a dive bar. Once the song is over, you’ll feel nothing but invincible.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

SCORE: (9.0/10)

 

“Fatal Flaw” is another instance of catharsis and pure unadulterated freedom. The enthralling Glory Days-like chord progression, and the catchy sing-along chorus reiterate the positivity and liberating feelings found on “Dimed Out”. The structure, while traditional, doesn’t take away from the power of the track; an exciting example of heartland rock infused with punk bravada. In the end, Titus Andronicus are having fun, jamming out and making everyone (like myself) happy. When Stickles belts out the final chorus “Let me show you my fatal flaw/ It’s the best thing you never saw,” it sounds more like a rallying cry for those who are feeling down and need a good pick me up. In just 3 1/2 mins the song ends, but that just provokes us to press “play” again.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

SCORE: (8.7/10)