KENDRICK

KENDRICK LAMAR SHARES MUSIC VIDEO FOR NEW SONG “HUMBLE.”

Kendrick Lamar is active again. Releasing his second track in a week, Lamar may be close to releasing his To Pimp A Butterfly follow-up he hinted near the end of “The Heart Part 4”. Mike WiLL Made-It produced the track, and that’s the track art above. The video features Lamar donning papal robes, playing golf on a car, and his head on fire.  The music video was directed by Dave Meyers & the Little Homies. (The Little Homies are the duo of Kendrick himself and TDE president Dave Free.)

Watch the new video here:

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“Hot Thoughts” Spoon

Spoon

Hot Thoughts Album Review

Matador Records

Released March 17, 2017

Genre: Alternative Rock

Spoon having been running the alternative rock gauntlet for the past two decades. The Texas-based group has won over fans by experimenting with many different sounds and this trend continues on this newest album, Hot Thoughts. Although it is impressive that Spoon experiments with enough sounds to prevent them from being stylistically boxed in, this particular brand of alternative rock does not capture my interest consistently.

The title track is multi-layered with pretty simple instrumental tracks, with violins and funky guitars. The vocals are very jumpy, which sounds interesting against this backbeat. It shows that Spoon has cool ideas. I especially appreciate the other songs with funkier guitars, like “Can I Sit Next To You.” This band definitely has a strong sense of groove that propels them through each track. “Do I have to Talk You Into It” features a more aggressive vocal delivery, which sounds nice as well. This song also takes a slight soulful influence.

These other songs aren’t bad, either. It’s just that they aren’t layered with songs that I personally enjoy. Fans of alternative rock in general probably already like this band and will like this album. I guess it just reminds me of all the bad Coachella-flavored new radio alternative rock bands, even though this band pre-dates all of the Foster the Peoples and whatnot. I’m playing the personal bias card, but definitely listen to this one if you think alternative rock music is out of ideas because even I agree that this band proves that thesis wrong.

FAV TRACK: Do I Have To Talk You Into It, Can I Sit Next To You

LEAST FAV TRACK: N/A

SCORE: 6.0/10

the garden

“U Want The Scoop?” The Garden

The Garden

U Want The Scoop? EP Review

Epitaph Records

Released March 3, 2017

Genre: “Vada Vada”, Experimental Rock, Indie Punk, Neo-New Wave (?), Electronic Rock (sorta)

The Garden’s eccentric and volatile take on the punk-duo formula has grown from simple, minute-long garage punk tunes (The Life and Times of a Paperclip) to odd, diverse tracks (haha). On this latest EP of theirs, they take a turn for the corny and disoriented – conjuring up dated sounds from the 90s that render this EP an adrift mess. The opener “Clay” opens with one of the most irritating samples I’ve heard all year: a nauseating “chirp” that is more annoying than eccentric. “Make Yer Mark” falls into the successful formula that The Garden has so vehemently curated, but it falters with the synth tone that they use which, again, sounds more dated than eccentric.

The duo’s odd humor is still present, such as on “Have A Good Day Sir”; the band’s spoken-word anecdotes here are strangely humorous. However, the song is rather repetitive and goes nowhere, overstaying its welcome of over three minutes. “All Access” follows suit with “Clay” where a corny synth lead covers most of the song, making for an annoying experience. The hook on the final track “U Want The Scoop?” is honestly, not that bad, and it shows a subtle progression in the band’s style – with its fusion of the electronic and punk elements that they have stunningly fused in the past.

But with the 90s text on the EP cover and the majority of the tracks suffering from weak ideas and corny elements, The Garden’s latest EP is a shocking misstep in the exciting musical journey for the California brothers.

FAV TRACK: Make Yer Mark

LEAST FAV TRACK: Clay, All Access

SCORE: 4.0/10

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“The Heart Part 4” Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

“The Heart Part 4” Track Review

Top Dawg

Released March 24, 2017

Genre: Rap, Hip Hop

Kendrick Lamar loads all the bases, and teases the pitcher on this new track. One of the most popular rappers in the game, every move Kendrick makes is carefully watched, so every move of his is carefully made. He pulls every punch on this new track, teasing at his new something that should be dropping “April 7th.” He jumps on both quiet To Pimp A Butterflystyle production in the beginning and sinister 2017 underground a la Denzel Curry style production in this song alone. His flow is cold and calculated and his words are caustic. “I prophesied on my last song and you laughed at me.” There is a lot to unpack lyrically here so I won’t bore you because that’s why I posted the song :) Point blank period, Kendrick did it again but left plenty to the imagination. Not too much is revealed, but a whole world of plans is foreshadowed.

“Y’all got ’til April the 7th to get y’all shit together”

SCORE: YAY

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“Drunk” Thundercat

Thundercat

Drunk Album Review

Brainfeeder

Released February 24, 2017

Genre: R&B, Jazz Fusion, Alternative Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz Funk, Electro Funk

Drunk is a night out with the one-and-only bassist Thundercat. Within the record, Thundercat brings in his witty, absured, and existential-laced humor as he offers his perspective on the ups and downs of young adulthood. The album has a clear arc, and its coherent rise-and-fall narrative is well thought out and relatable.The funk-injected tunes are brief, rarely going over the two minute mark, and have a lot of funny and humorous content to have someone throw a laughing fit. However what hinders Drunk more than anything is the amount of filler tracks that are rendered unmemorable, and merely goes to show Thundercat’s idiosyncratic and technical proficiency with his six-string bass.

When the songs are a filler, they are very unmemorable and drag on much longer than they seem (“Drunk”, “The Turn Down”, “DUI”). However, when the songs are strong, they pack a punch. “Captain Stupido’s” masturbation refrence placed right in the beginning is sure to offer many laughs, while the track following (“Uh Uh”) is a bombastic and explosive track which shows great chemistry between the drums and bass. This is one of the instances where an instrumental “filler” actually enhances the album. The Kenny Loggins x Michael McDonald collab is BY FAR the album’s highlight, and is just too smooth to hate. “Bus In These Streets” comments on our Twitter-obsessed culture; “Tokyo” calls out Goku and defends anime; and “Jameel’s Space Ride” is a corny tune about the stars and sky. Even songs like “Friend Zone” make something so disheartening feel so comedic and pleasing, as if to detract from the somber tone of life. Yet, Drunk has its fair share of sorrow.

“Lava Lamp” is a dismal tune and it helps provide a fragile feel to the album’s exterior. It’s a progression from dark isolation to optimism, but that doesn’t mean the deep thoughts won’t pop up in a reoccurring fashion. On this record this structure works for the songs are brief and do not linger longer than they should. So whenever a song gets you down, you can bet that the next track is sure to either offer absurd humor or some smooth bass lines to compensate. That is not enough, however, for Thundercat spends a lot of time on this record crafting more intricate tracks than needed. This is a twenty-three track album that lasts for fifty-one minutes, and it sure as hell lacks a punch for memorability. The go-to combo of complex bass line + soaring, ethereal vocals + jumpy drums happen way too often, and slowly become rather dull. It makes this album feel much longer, and with nothing to chew on.

While Drunk captures the drunken anxiety one will get, it does so in a fashion that hurts and helps itself. Thundercat continually shows talent and he showcases a lot of funk and jazz motifs here to last a lifetime, with some features to make even your dad come in for a listen. But it is simply too long, and too lumpy to be as smooth as “Them Changes”; and it keeps this inconsistent, endearing, and necessary contemplation on the absurdity of life, and how to make sense of it all, pack a weaker punch than it should.

FAV TRACKS: Captain Stupido (feat. Flying Lotus), Uh Uh (feat. Zach Sekoff), Bus In These Streets (feat. Louis Cole), Lava Lamp (feat. Sounwave),  Show You The Way (feat. Kenny Loggins & Michael McDonald), Tokyo, Jameel’s Space Ride (feat. Louis Cole), Friend Zone (feat. Mono/Poly), Them Changes

LEAST FAV TRACK: Day & Night

SCORE: (6.9/10)

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“Chanel” Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean

“Chanel” Track Review

Self-Released

Released March 10, 2017

Genre: Alternative R&B

Frank Ocean has had a busy few months. After coming back from obscurity, Ocean has dropped a visual record, a stunningly released testament of introspection, perhaps THE collaboration of the summer, and now this: “Chanel”. Ocean has repeatedly shown a knack of making these open-hearted songs feel intensely intimate; crafting song that feel that they shouldn’t be released but should be blasted at the highest of volumes. Here he achieves that intangible quality, yet his vocal performance is drowned in effects making this song a hard one to feel the emotion packed within. While the vocals are commanding, they are not as soothing or even interesting to listen to. The braggadocio delivery and the shuffling piano melody are highlights that help accentuate the song’s mood and tone. Ultimately, Ocean’s love for auto-tune muddles up the message and feeling here leaving one distanced, and merely chuckling at the more than clever hook.

Regardless, anything by Ocean is welcome with open arms.

SCORE: MEH

power-trip-nightmare-logic

“Nightmare Logic” Power Trip

Power Trip

Nightmare Logic Album Review

Southern Lord Records

Released February 24, 2017

Genre: Crossover Thrash, Thrash Metal

It’s been almost 4 full years since the last Power Trip full-length. A lot has happened between them for the band:  from touring with heavy metal titans like Anthrax and infamous NPR video segments. In a tumultuous time, Power Trip return with a cleaner, a less reverb-soaked album than Manifest Decimation; but one thing hasn’t changed: the fist-to-the-face aggression is still paramount and the band still rips.

Arthur Rizk is still at the producer’s helm of this project, but his different approach from the cavernous and purposefully overwhelming sound of the last PT album has a positive effect on Nightmare Logic. Every dive-bomb and half-time drum beat is heard loud and clear with just enough echo to have every note stick. Riley Gale’s howling screeches ring out even clearer than previous PT efforts. Power Trip are also experimenting with different types of song structuring on this new album. The title track has an interesting break down mid-song where instead of just slowing everything down the drums play a slow and more methodical beat while the guitars play a mid tempo riff. The effect is ground shaking and groovy as all heck. “Waiting Around To Die” has a bait and switch intro where the hard riff in the very beginning switches before the vocals come in. It also has a great mosh call (Now Watch It Go!).

The album is as fun as a crossover thrash release can be, albeit a little short. It’s eight tracks over a brisk thirty-two minutes, but thankfully not a single note is wasted. Nothing genre-defining is happening here, but it’s more solid than probably any other record of this style in the past few years. Enjoy!

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Firing Squad, Nightmare Logic, Waiting Around to Die

LEAST FAV TRACK: Soul Sacrifice (barely, just not big into the intro riff)

SCORE: 8.8/10