Anti-

“Anti” Rihanna

Rihanna

Anti Album Review

Roc Nation

Released January 28, 2016

Genre: Pop, R&B, Dancehall

When I first saw the promotional photos for Rihanna’s new (or should I say Neu to be more cutting-edge) one thing was apparent. America’s favorite Barbadian pop star was going to try VERY HARD on the next album. The hazy finish of the photo, the odd hairstyle…Rhi Rhi was pulling all the stops to be as 2016 as possible, 2016 being a continuation of 2015, the year of A E S T H E T I C. It reminded me of what FKA Twigs has been doing with her image for most of her career. However, FKA Twigs’ sound and visual style consistently matched well. Anti is a disjointed and half-baked attempt at imitating the PBR&B trend.

The album starts out promising, with “Consideration,” a nice duet with SZA. The two sound slightly similar so they meld together well. However, the next song (“James Joint”)  contains some of the dumbest lyrics I’ve heard this year: “I’d rather be smoking weed whenever we breathe/ Every time you kiss me/ Don’t say that you miss me/ Just come get me.” Did Wiz write this? The album continues with this drab lyricism, coupled with surprisingly uninteresting production. “Needed Me” has a very non-Mustard-esque DJ Mustard beat that sounds nice, but this is an exception. The chorus on “Work” gets annoying very quickly, with the overly repetitive beat. The only saving grace is “Love On The Brain” which is only interesting because it sounds exactly like an Amy Winehouse track.

Rihanna is a talented singer, don’t get it twisted. She’s convincing with her lyrics and sounds natural over these try-hard beats. However, what she’s saying is so mundane that it can’t save Anti from being Anti-fun.

FAV TRACKS: Love On The Brain

LEAST FAV TRACK: James Joint

SCORE: (4.0/10)

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JULIAN PATRICK QUINN RELEASES MUSIC VIDEO

Last year, Julian Patrick Quinn dropped his debut album. He’s just released the music video for the track “Surrealism: I Am All Yours” off of his debut Lovers Telepathy. The music video was directed by Jhad Francis and assistant directed by co-founder Jon Birondo. Watch the video below and support Quinn through BandCamp.

 

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“Prayers/Triangles” Deftones

Deftones

Prayers/Triangles Track Review

Reprise

Released February 4, 2016

Genre: Shoegaze Metal, Alternative Metal

Sacramento alternative-metal mainstays Deftones are back with a new single in preparation for Gore, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Koi No Yokan. “Prayers/Triangles” is a deviation from the heavy guitar riffs on Koi, but it’s an interesting preview for what’s to come on Gore. 

The performances from the band is tight but not robotic as Chino Moreno delivers soaring and mystic lyrics about gods and angels. The lyrics are very ambiguous and could use slightly more explanation or at least more words to get a sense of the picture Chino is trying to paint. Stephen Carpenter’s guitar melodies are entrancing per usual, while Sergio Vega’s bass digs into the soundscape. Abe Cunningham’s drum performance isn’t as flashy or fill-laden which would’ve been nice but at least the drums aren’t distracting.

According to the track listing, this is the first song on the album. This feels more like an interlude track, but maybe Deftones are going for a more subdued album OR Gore will increase in heaviness and intensity as it progresses. The ambiguous lyrics might be explained too.

 

SCORE: (7.1/10)

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“Adore Life” Savages

Savages

Adore Life Album Review

Matador

Released January 22, 2016

Genre: Post-Punk, Noise Rock, Indie Rock

Savages’ debut Silence Yourself is one of the greatest albums to come out of the 2010s era. Its volatile combination of noise rock, gothic rock, and post-punk, all led by a vocalist who evokes Annie Lennox in a brooding fashion, slapped many faces with tracks like “Husbands” and “Shut Up”, the latter being an apt title for what the album eventually did to audiences in 2013. What was most captivating about Silence Yourself was its relentless onslaught of grit & fury, of grace and emotion; Silence Yourself gave everyone huge expectations for Adore Life. However, after being promised a “beast of a record”, we’re met with one that abandons most of the grit and noise, and focuses more on songwriting – to an underwhelming effect.

Songwriting is an important aspect to focus on, and Savages do just that here – focusing on love and life. Savages look at love as a “disease” and as something dark yet powerful. It’s an interesting perspective to look at for the album as a whole is undeniably romantic, but with a much more darker tone. Yet the songwriting fails to carry the album’s weight. Much of Silence Yourself‘s success can be owed to the band’s bravada, all-women lineup, and heavy distortion. Adore Life is still an exciting and enjoyable record, but the tone has shifted away from what people grew accustomed to with Silence Yourself.

Savages can still put out a record with grit and fury, but the severe lack of punch that songs like “City’s Full” and “She Will” provided on Silence Yourself, just left me yearning for more sonic ambition and abuse. In the end, I just went back to Silence Yourself, clearly seeing how diminutive Adore Life is of its predecessor.

FAV TRACKS: The Answer, Adore, When In Love, T.I.W.Y.G

LEAST FAV TRACK: I Need Something New

SCORE: (6.5/10)

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“PILLOWTALK” ZAYN

ZAYN

“PILLOWTALK” Track Review

RCA/Sony Music

Released January 29, 2016

Genre: R&B, Downtempo

Zayn Malik, former member of the infamously derivative boy band sensation One Direction, completely takes me by surprise with his first solo single. Since leaving One Direction, Zayn has dropped his last name – garishly stylized as “ZAYN” – and hasn’t shifted far from love long/torn romantic lyricism that has resonated so deeply in cheap emotions of young teenage fans everywhere. However, “Pillowtalk” is a different change of pace for the singer/songwriter. While the downtempo R&B instrumentation is rudimentary at best, it’s handled with great grace and care. Zayn’s voice is crystal clear but with some subtle vocal strains, a FANTASTIC departure from the super duper polished and clean bastardizations that have corrupted and skewed so many vocal performances of pop musicians (Justin Bieber, One Direction, Charlie Puth, Meghan Trainor, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes [cringe], Halsey, etc).

Long story short: it’s not boring, bland, or uninspired! There’s some unexpected nuance and passion within his voice and combined with the urgency and evocative instrumentation, ZAYN (please change this man) has me anticipating what he has to offer next. Not going to say that this is “Best of 2016” stuff (time will tell), but I won’t deny the countless replays of this song I’ve had and the shattered expectations that I was rewarded with. If only pop artists now can take that big risk and step in their music careers, without holding the hands of and smothering their fans with cheap and insignificant album after album, then pop music can surely climb its way back into the importance and relevancy of our culture, in a deeper and meaningful way. For now, listen to this and hope change can come quick.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

SCORE: (7.5/10)

Courtesy of Hot New Hip HOp

“Purple Reign” Future

Future

Purple Reign Mixtape Review

Freebandz

Released January 17, 2015

Genre: Hip-Hop

Download the mixtape HERE

2015 was an incredible year for Atlanta’s purplest rapper Future. After releasing the beloved DS2 album, he dropped the acclaimed collaborative tape with Drake, titled What A Time To Be Alive. This tape had hit singles that dominated and continue to dominate the airwaves, as well as the Soundcloud playlists. It seemed as if Future was unstoppable, incapable of dropping overlooked material. However, 2016 may not be as fruitful of a year for our beloved Future Hendrix. Purple Reign may deliver the codeine-infused moral depravity that is expected from a Future project, but with extremely disappointing beats and boring flows, this tape falls flat.

DJ Esco and Metro Boomin usually give Future great beats separately, but their collaboration on this tape as co-executive producers is sub-par. A lot of these beats are static and sound half-baked, like “Salute.” Even the Zaytoven-produced “Bye Bye” grates on the ears after one minute.

Future drops the ball lyrically. There’s not a single line I haven’t heard before on one of his previous projects. His delivery is repetitive as well, like in the song “Inside The Mattress,” where he just lifts the flow from “March Madness.” There are a few lines that will induce laughing fits, like on “Wicked” where he says he’s been with every attractive girl on Instagram, but there are too many generic “I used to slang” bars. We know you hustled, Future. We know.

Purple Reign will appease hardcore fans of Future, but for those wanting another DS2, the same sense of urgency and hard-hitting beats, will be disappointed.

FAV TRACKS: Wicked

LEAST FAV TRACK: Bye Bye

SCORE: (4.0/10)