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“Talk To You Soon” Ricky Eat Acid

Ricky Eats Acid

Talk To You Soon Album Review

Terrible Records

Released October 28, 2016

Genre: Ambient, IDM, Experimental

Ricky Eat Acid is Sam Ray, a Maryland-based producer who crafts ambient soundscapes that delve into memories. 2015’s Three Love Songs found him at his career best: a deeply moving and stunningly triumphant collection of tracks that felt like a window into Ray’s emotional state and perspective. Whether it be the diary-like song titles, the field recordings, or the intimate production and endlessly growing soundscapes – Three Love Songs was Ray at his most intimate, hypnotic, and transcendent. While Three Love Songs felt like a haze, Ray’s latest record is more in your face, with aggressive production and more eccentric elements, Talk To You Soon is a collection of haunting vignettes that paint a scatter-brained mind dealing with the dark side of introspection and anxiety. The result is utterly beautiful and shows Ray’s personal issues crafting music that both comforts and warns.

Introspection is both healthy, and dangerous; it’s necessary as well – as the age old saying goes “the unexamined life is a life not worth living”. The album opener is a sudden and bizarre tapestry of ambient and IDM styles fused into a effervescent greeting. So much of Ray’s music deals with memory, and the past, that it’s easy to correlate certain songs with Ray’s approach towards nostalgia, towards HIS past. “This Is As Close To Haven As I Get” slowly trudges through the repeating lyric, becoming more sorrowful than optimistic. Evoking Jon Brion’s PUNCH DRUNK LOVE score (not intentionally, to my knowledge) Ray’s bouncy synths bubble with joy and happiness. Now that isn’t to say that this mood sustains itself throughout the album. The album has its fair share of digressive moments: “On The Floor Beneath the Cross” sounds like an existential crisis amidst a rave, while the Wreck And Reference-featured “As We Speak” opens with extremely aggressive yells and cries of terror, torture, and pain.

It’s impressive to see Ray compile a wide array of emotions on this records, whilst still progressing his sound further. Talk To You Soon sounds more direct and blunt; whereas on Three Love Songs Ray simply hovered his message in the air, Talk To You Soon grabs you by your shoulders and screams, whispers, and gently speaks it to you right in your face. Hopefully Ray’s obsession with the mind, and our constantly shifting ability/inability to control it, will be a subject he continues to explore in full. Introspection is both dangerous and beneficial, above all it’s important. If anything, Talk To You Soon shows its necessity and its effects of contentment and self-identity; but also, how overthinking can lead to a state of panic, anxiety, and dismay.

FAV TRACKS: hey, F*cking To Songs On Radios, Never Alone In A Dark Room, :’)

LEAST FAV TRACK: Nice To See You

SCORE: (7.4/10)

from the album "Cardinal"

“Cardinal” Pinegrove

Pinegrove

Cardinal Album Review

Run For Cover Records

Released February 12, 2016

Genre: Alternative Country, Indie Rock

Combining the earthy warmth of Wilco, with the open-hearted vulnerability of emo contemporaries such as Joyce Manor and Touché Amoré, New Jersey’s Pinegrove expand on their lo-fi debut with a grander, more emotional follow-up that makes for some of the most endearing, honest, and sentimental music you’ll hear this year. Lead vocalist Evan Stephens Hall’s singular drawl sounds like a kind and sincere welcome from a non-specific-geographical location, that provides an unforgettable, and at times self-deprecating, element to Cardinal;
its music and lyrics proving to elevate his voice tenfold.

Book-ending the album, the tracks “Old Friends” and “New Friends” (this one, opening their debut record), feel like two sides of the same coin; both heavily focus on relationships. “Old Friends” laments over death and the missed opportunity of deepening a friendship, while “New Friends” contemplates the regret of focusing too much on one person while ignoring a plethora of other friends of equal to lesser value. “Cadmium” is a patient tune introduced with a simple plcuked guitar, before Hall’s voice crackles out lyrics over the pressure and intensity built up on words that are left unsaid inside a person. Album highlight “Aphasia” takes its name from a speech disorder and sounds like a woozy, hungover victory cry for actually communicating, truthfully, with someone. It’s a blithe feeling Pinegrove manage to conjure, simply on speaking entirely from the inside.

On their Bandcamp, they describe themselves as “music for the promotion of introspective partying!” – a rather facetious motto to base a band off of. But introspection has its moments despite its troubling and inward looking process; and if anyone who has experienced a sudden moment of emotional clarity during a party, one can attest to its intensity on the psyche. On Cardinal, Pinegrove discuss friendships, relationships, and communication. How do we interact with everyone around us, and how we communicate define our relationships with other people. The real question they posit is, how do we make these day-by-day encounters mean something. The answer comes to us neither at the bottom of a bottle nor in one’s room all alone, it comes when we stop thinking inward, and start speaking and interacting outwards. Unity is the best virtue.

But don’t let all this emotional and introspective rhetoric get you down or deter you, Cardinal is one of the best records of 2016 from one of indie rock’s rising stars.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Old Friends, Cadmium, Then Again, Aphasia, Visiting, New Friends

LEAST FAV TRACK: Waveform

SCORE: (8.8/10)

from the album "Nakamara"

“NAKAMARA” Nakamara

Nakamara

NAKAMARA Album Review

Self-Released

Released October 5, 2016

Genre: Hip Hop, Jazz, Indie Rock

Denton has always been the best kept not-so-secret in the North Texas music scene. You can find fantatsic tunes of any persuasion in “Little Austin.” Nakamara is a band bringing old sounds with a new flair. The mixture of indie rock and jazz creates a cozy concoction.

Even though this is an early release from the band, the production is slightly fuzzy enough to be intimate, but the instruments ring out clearly. The silky smooth bass lines sound solid over the demonstrative drums and guitar, while the vocals are peppy. Speaking of instrumentation, Nakamara are all skillful musicians. The drums are flashy, especially on “Omega,” where the drummer peppers the track with frantic cymbal licks. The guitars and bass are dynamic throughout. “All My Sleep” showcases the most entrancing interplay between the instruments. It sounds like what the most aspirational jazz club band would want to sound like, but can’t; silky smooth but fun.The guitars prance over the drums and the bass is driving with verve to an impressive degree.

This is a fun listen and foreshadows great things to come for this new Denton band. We have our BADBADNOTGOOD here in Texas, but it’s cuter. Deal with it.

FAV TRACKS: Pillow Talk, Omega (Hottest Summer Ever)

LEAST FAV TRACK: Silver Linings (The Quintessential Banger)

SCORE: (7.2/10)

from the single "K"

“K.” Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex

“K.” Track Review

Partisan Records

Released November 15, 2016

Genre: Dream Pop, Ambient Pop

The Brooklyn-based “ambient pop” collective Cigarettes After Sex make the kind of music that one can get lost too. Their first EP, recorded in a four-story stairwell at frontman Greg Gonzalez’s alma mater UT in El Paso, presents emotional lyrics in an ethereal manner covering topics such as regret, yearning, unrequited love, and comfort. While the songs the project have recorded differ, they are nonetheless consumed by their fanaticism with relationships in love. It’s emo music slowed down to a tempo meant to complement those nights where curling up into a ball – with headphones on – under the covers seems like the best “activity to do”.

Being one of their longest tracks, “K.” does not stray too far from their sound (probably since this is their eighth [?] song known to be released, with no proper debut LP released…yet). The cold and minimal atmosphere, punctuated by the clean and reverberated guitar lines provide an other-worldly feel. Gonzalez’s androgynous voice makes the track have a sensually ambiguous tone, similar to Silversun Pickups (sans the intensity). The addition of an acoustic guitar, echoing tambourine, and lush synths help create a sense of emotional limbo, like watching a loved one leave. Or longing for a loved one yet to come. It’s simple, seductive, & skeletal. It may be sluggish, but if you get lost in this song you won’t mind the length, or the world that it draws you in to.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

SCORE: (8.5/10)

 

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“American Football (LP2)” American Football

American Football

American Football (LP2) Album Review

Polyvinyl Records

Released October 21, 2016

Genre: Emo, Math Rock

When you create a genre defining record in college, subsequently call it quits, announce a reunion tour fourteen years later, and then announce a second LP sixteen years later, you’re just asking to have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Quite possibly one of the most-anticipated emo records of all time, the similarly (read: exactly titled) follow up to American Football’s seminal self-titled debut isn’t concerned with moving the band’s sound forward, or offering new ideas. The album simply picks up where American Football (LP1) left off, and carries it forward. These nine songs all sound as if they could’ve been on that 1999 classic; and at this point it’s tough to expect anything drastically different from Kinsella & Co. What they do manage to evoke here is mood; whether it has matured or not, that’s up to you.

American Football‘s ability to expertly capture and preserve specific emotions associated with youth, innocence, the looming shadow of adulthood, movement, and summer nights has given the band’s reputation within the emo genre an unexpected sense of hype and importance; an album crafted from four college kids in Urbana, Illinois has become one of the most celebrated emo records – any record, really – ever. This new LP’s title is more of a revisit than a repeat. “Where Are We Now?” revisits the band’s trademark juxtaposition of bright yet sorrowful guitar tones and clear yet nostalgic lyrics – at 2016, the band (now four members strong) still know how to project emotions tangible enough to be recognized and understood. For any fan who has followed them since the late nineties, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotions and feelings their debut so expertly internalized and expressed.

Now, that isn’t to say this album surpasses the debut, it nonetheless falters from a lack of progression, musically. Albeit wrought with vacuous song titles (“Home Is Where The Haunt Is”), Kinsella & Co.’s emo-ballads still manage to hit where it hurts. At 2016, the band have spouses, families, different projects, desk jobs – it’s easy for people like this to get nostalgic and wistful about the past, and they really explore how long those seventeen years have affected the band and their music. The sweeping atmosphere of “Born To Lose” operates as an escape for wistful teens/young adults – Kinsella’s amorous vocals lending the song an introspective tone. The songs on LP2 are not as concerned with directly impacting its listeners, just as “Honestly?” had done. Instead, it creates atmosphere and tone through repeated musical passages. The four-on-the-floor drums of “I’ve Been Lost For So Long” backdrops the intertwining guitar lines, the perfect soundtrack for a lost twenty-something wandering about in the early morning hours of a quiet college campus.

The band has grown up however, that is obvious, visiting darker themes and places. “I Need A Drink (Or Two Or Three)’s” vocals intertwine with the backing vocals to create an ideal space to get lost in the depressive lyrics; it’s three-verse structure shows Kinsella’s emotionally complex progression in his songwriting, where he ends the second verse on the album’s lowest (read: highest) point. “Desire Gets In The Way’s” jangly and upbeat demeanor revisits Kinsella’s pattern of yearning and longing; this time around, he sounds more versed and experienced – as if he’s ready for whatever outcome is to happen. “Give Me The Gun” finds the band in a particularly dark moment; however, its message is clear: human compassion, especially in times of emotional distress, results in a genuine feeling of gratitude, friendship, and love.

American Football (LP2) is nothing new; if you’ve listened to the debut then you know what to expect. But the band is older now, wiser – and experienced in the struggles of that transition from a romantic college student to a pragmatic adult. While the music stays the same, the lyrics offer up new stories, lessons, and tales from one of emo’s impassioned acts to console all of us dealing with young adulthood assuring us that everything is going to be all right. In the end, we just have to stick together.

If you have thirty-seven minutes in your day, get lost in this record. It’s perfect for the worrisome college student aimlessly going through the motions; and if you have been a fan of the band since the beginning, those special moments of your youth where getting lost to “The One With The Wurlitzer” was a daily exercise will feel all the more special. In this busy day and age, with friends moving in and out of our lives, it’s great to have the time to stop everything and take it all in, one song at a time.

FAV TRACKS: Where Are We Now?, Born To Lose, I Need a Drink (or Two or Three), Desire Gets In The Way

LEAST FAV TRACK: Home Is Where The Haunt Is

Score: (7.0/10)

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“Collage EP” The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers

Collage EP Review

Disruptor/Columbia Records

Released November 4, 2016

Genre: EDM, Dance Pop

This EP has no point, and frankly it’s a waste of time. What’s the point of releasing an EP of five songs that you already released as singles? There’s no rational or logical reason behind this other than a nonsensical and devious cash grab. At this point, what is there to expect from The Chainsmokers? A rising EDM duo who create literally the same tune over and over and over. While the EP has its share of enjoyable moments , it is nonetheless riddled with generic songwriting and the most annoying, immature, and laziest arrangements ever put to mp3. The vocal performance from Charlee on “Inside Out” is ridiculously dull offering absolutely nothing to the already abysmally dreadful song. The EP closer “Don’t Let Me Down” features some pretty melancholy lyrics, complete opposite of what EDM songs are about, but the “drop” is ruined by obnoxious horns (?), that completely disrupt the tone.”All We Know’s” hushed vocals are mixed terribly with the acoustic guitar sample, and are a pitch shift away from an ASMR video; the chorus is one of the worst choruses ever, never departing from the verse’s dull tone.

Music is subjective – always has and always will be; and you like what you like. So feel free to listen and attend a Chainsmokers show; spend your money listening to pre-recorded arrangements, and lazily written lyrics on love (as if we haven’t heard them already). Frankly, I do not want to waste any more time digesting and going in on an EP so hell-bent on offering absolutely nothing new, captivating, or original. This EP is literally The Chainsmokers asking for more money (as if they don’t have any already), and purchasing this EP will be the stupidest decision of 2016. I know music is subjective, but aren’t we better than this?

FAV TRACK: Closer (kind of)

LEAST FAV TRACK: Inside Out

Score: (0.0/10)

courtesy of Pitchfork

“Big Baby D.R.A.M.” D.R.A.M.

D.R.A.M.

Big Baby D.R.A.M. Album Review

Atlantic/Empire

Released October 21, 2016

Genre: Pop n’ B, RnB, Soul

Delivery is key. What’s written is important, but how it’s distributed dictates how many ears hear what’s being said and what the reactions are. We’ve seen how important delivery is with the rise of rappers like Young Thug and Future. Lyrically, their music can be repetitive, but how they deliver their sound is unprecedented. Young Thug has completely alien flow, while Future sounds like he’s communicating through a intergalactic communication device, true “Astronaut Status”. Future’s delivery is so signature that Desiigner completely ripped it off and is making a career out of it. D.R.A.M.’s case is different from these rappers because he’s without-a-doubt a singer, but his voice is somehow brash AND tender, restrained AND wild. Big Baby D.R.A.M won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a brand new flavor of Earl Grey.

D.R.A.M. doesn’t limit himself to singing over just one style of production, which is great because the beats on Big Baby D.R.A.M are full of life, track for track. “Misunderstood” sounds like a Journey song, with bright keys that make the song sound extraterrestrial. Young Thug’s contribution make the song sound even more otherworldly. D.R.A.M. does a great job of creating the sense that he’s isolated from everyone else and misunderstood by the world. His earnest and overstated vibrato makes every word more sincere. He even jumps on trap-style production on songs like “In A Minute/In House,” which has a hilarious line about being celibate and celebrating the cessation of being celibate.

D.R.A.M. has such a goofy style that is signature to him. He has such a refreshing sound that isn’t completely groomed yet, but that makes it sound more real. He sells nearly every single song on Big Baby D.R.A.M, even if the song is dumb (“Broccoli”). It just goes to show that how much heart you put into your music does matter.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Misunderstood, Cute, Cash Machine

LEAST FAV TRACK: Change My #

SCORE: (8.4/10)

from the album "People Can't Stop Chillin"

“People Can’t Stop Chillin” Sports

Sports

People Can’t Stop Chillin EP Review

SPORTS Band Ltd.

Released October 21, 2016

Genre: Dream Pop, Indie Pop, Funk, 80s Dreamy Synth Pop Magic

Sports are band from – of all places where good music could possibly originate – Tulsa, Oklahoma. After a sleeper 2015 debut (the superb Naked All The Time) and a single (“Manicure”), Sports have released an EP of tracks that venture into the lush, dreamy, and seductive – evoking a John Hughes film dipped in acid and subjected to reverberated sax solos in that period of the night where there’s a sliver of sun barely on the horizon. It’s the type of music that one person can easily do alone (perhaps a community college vinyl head toying with acid and guitar pedals in his parents’ basement); yet Sports manages to expound this sound among a whole band. By doing so, they dip into the tiny details lost in the reverb and retro sounds. People Can’t Stop Chillin conjures a special type of magic with its singular brand of 80s music, but force us to hear the tiny elements most overlooked due to a monstrous hook. The result is a refreshing and infectious take on this 80s music revival that has been done time and time again. 

It’s fair to say this approach, in all of its nostalgic glory, is a cliché at this point. Yet, there are musicians and bands that have tried, and have succeeded; it’s all in the execution. Naked All The Time, Sports’ debut album, managed to strike that soft spot between summery days and cool nights with verve and dexterity. It’s a summer nights album if we’ve ever heard one, and they progress on this latest EP: none of it sounds summery in the slightest. The night has arrived for these guys, and it’s a magical trip to say the least.

The opener, a spectacular funk romp, treads the same musical and lyrical content of love, anxiety, and paranoia that Unknown Mortal Orchestra so boldly captured on “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”. Where UMO’s track followed a strong groove, Sports do so with synths, saxophones, and vocal pitch changes. At 2:30, the vocals become deeper and a piercing and emphatic sax solo reminiscent of George Michael completely sucks you in. “Manicure” attacks immediately after, musically, which is juxtaposed with the nimble and soft spoken vocals. At times chilling (especially around the chorus), and at times groovy – it’s an intoxicating mix to be reckoned with (especially with its wonderfully surreal music video, enchanting with hands [yes, hands]).

Sports manage to turn these dated tunes into personal moments – diegetic sounds leaking past the music to create a world asking to be inhabited in; take the final (and title) track for instance, a melancholy ballad placed within a bar atmosphere of clinking glasses and mumbled voices. Or “Takin’ a Crusie”, where a sax echoes off into the night spent on a boat; these simple moments help this brief EP feel fully realized, and it’s evident there’s a life behind the 80s veneer. Intersected between these “ambient” pieces are a few ballads (“Drivin’ on by You”), funk romps to endlessly dance too at an after-party with neon lights and baked young adults slouched on a couch, and pitched-shifted romantic odes of fidelity and pleasure. It’s a brief affair that is shamelessly in love with the music it has crafted, and the listeners it hopes to captivate.

People Can’t Stop Chillin’ is a stylish, ethereal, and dreamy record that is all about working past emulation and admiration, and will be popular amongst millennials obsessed with 80s revival music (i am one of these, if i am being frank). However, this is no serious crime against music purists; and I would be lying if I didn’t say that Sports are one of the few bands out there working today taking a genre, that is replete with indulgence and unoriginality, and truly making music wholly of their own without compromise, and without catering to their audience’s needs. They sound like they’re having fun; and if this is what the future of Sports (and 80s revival) sounds like, I see no harm in a few more of these being pumped out every now and then to show everyone how it’s done.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Someone You’d Rather Be Dating, Manicure, Drivin’ on by You, Gotta Know Better (I’m Crazy), Whatever You Want

LEAST FAV TRACK: Takin’ a Cruise

SCORE: (8.5/10)

xx_iseeyou_4000

THE XX ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM; SHARE “ON HOLD”

After releasing a string of brief snippets of possible new music through their studio inspo playlist, The xx have announced the follow up to 2012’s Coexist; it’s out January 13, and titled I See You via Young Turks. That’s the album art above.

The album was recorded between March 2014 and August 2016 in New York, Marfa Texas, Reykjavik, Los Angeles, and London, with Jamie xx and Rodaidh McDonald producing the album. The box set includes three bonus tracks; check out the tracklisting and alternative album art below.

Last year Jamie xx released In Colour (one of our favorite albums of 2015), which featured both his xx bandmates, Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft.

I See You

01 Dangerous
02 Say Something Loving
03 Lips
04 A Violent Noise
05 Performance
06 Replica
07 Brave For You
08 On Hold
09 I Dare You
10 Test Me

BOX SET

A1. Naive
B1. Seasons Run
B2. Brave For You (Marfa Demo)

xx_vinyl_1_2eb26018-f0bc-4888-ad36-2851372309b3

This morning, the band shared a new song. It samples Hall & Oates ‘ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”, interpolated. Check it out below.

awaken-my-love

DONALD GLOVER DETAILS NEW ALBUM; SHARES “ME AND YOUR MAMA”

Donald Glover has detailed his third record as Childish Gambino, the follow-up to 2013’s because the internet and 2014’s STN/MTN & Kauai. After teasing the album art (eerily similar to Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain; that’s the art up above) and sharing a new song, Glover has announced an album name, release date, and track list. It’s called …Awaken, My Love!

It’s out December 2 via Glassnote.

Check the track list and listen to “Me And Your Mama” below.

Awaken, My Love!:

01 Me and Your Mama
02 Have Some Love
03 Boogieman
04 Zombies
05 Riot
06 Redbone
07 California
08 Terrified
09 Baby Boy
10 The Night Me and Your Mama Met
11 Stand Tall