from the album "The Life of Pablo"

“The Life Of Pablo” Kanye West

Kanye West

The Life Of Pablo Album Review

GOOD / Def Jam

Released February 14, 2016

Genre: Hip Hop, Experimental Hip Hop, Trap, Pop Rap

 

Kanye West is riding a thin line; ever since the polarizing yet enthralling Yeezus, Kanye fans have been divided into two groups: those who still see him as an unpredictable and brilliant genius, and those who are utterly confused with his creative process. After a tumultuous, confusing, and messy release procedure that included a fashion show, inconsistently leaked tracks, and album leaks, West’s So Help Me God SWISH Waves The Life Of Pablo is here; and boy is it a f**king chaotic mess. Not that any of West’s past works haven’t been messy, there was just always a prevalent logic laced through tracks (Yeezus’ self indulgent noise hop, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s self-aware culmination of years of success and sudden introspection). Here, West experiments with different styles and tastes, hoping to find that middle ground between ambition and nomadic inspiration. While he succeeds on some tracks the ones where he fails, he fails terribly.

Messy albums are always a risky move, but if done right they can yield great results. The go-to “messy” album leads straight to The Beatles’ White Album, where the Fab Four go ape shit on their music. While the songs are spatially different from one another, they nonetheless clash in an enthralling way, complementing each others’ different styles while simultaneously shedding light on a new side of The Beatles’ music. The Life Of Pablo is Kanye at his most incoherent yet; he flows through acid house to experimental rock to trap to pop rap like draino, and no, the songs do not support each other. It’s Kanye’s clunkiest album to date, and that’s saying something considering his past six records have single handedly reinvented West’s music each time. That isn’t to discredit the great moments on this record, for there are some.

The Vine sensation of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” is an absolute banger; the track is an odd middle ground between restrained and maximalist production, with razor sharp high hats muted to a pulsing beat at Kid Cudi’s enthralling vocals. The Taylor Swift line that EVERYONE freaked out about on “Famous” is, in my opinion, one of the funniest moments on the album (more on why later). Around the 1:49 mark West gives my personal favorite moment on the record as he lays out a zany and out of nowhere sample that is, for lack of a better word, just f**king great. If West’s discography was looked back (which it will be let’s be honest), this is one of his brightest moments of brilliance and true artistry.

“Feedback” has a more polished take on some Yeezus-inspired beats which clashes with West’s brash and gaudy lyrics. Young Thug brings an effervescent vibe to “Highlights” which is complemented to West’s absolutely hilarious Ray J line. However, West’s absolutely terrible lyric (hint: Go-Pro) keeps the track from being a standout; regardless, it still goes hard. Arguably the best track on here, “Real Friends”, is Kanye at his most open, vulnerable, honest, and real on TLOP. With a dreamy atmospheric beat, West perfectly channels that middle ground lyricism that both sheds light on his pros and cons in the best way.

What makes a lot of Kanye’s lyrics hilarious here, rather than offensive, is his ability to convey them as self-aware. West is obviously aware of his narcissistic nature (“I Love Kanye”) so it thus renders anything that may come off as offensive (the Taylor Swift line) moot. Biblical analogies are made (Pablo represents Paul [aka Saul], the historic Biblical figure); Kim K and Kanye as Mary and Joseph, respectively, on “Wolves” (this version being worse for the lack of Vic Mensa and Sia and the addition of an unnecessary Frank Ocean feature and a new West verse) Update: With Kanye’s recent album update, Sia & Mensa have been restored onto the original track. so we get his indulgence, but with some premeditated intelligence and class – some nuance for the fans. Kanye attempts a ridiculous take on “Jumpman” (“FACTS”); lyrically West is all over the place here – honest, provocative, audacious, silly, gaudy, vulgar, and personal. Yet, none of these lyrical approaches connect in an explicitly logical, or coherent, way – they’re just there. The track listing carries some thematic significance, with a debatable “Act” breakdown; but even so, the lyrics and musical styles on TLOP are simply chaotic and incoherent.

At its worst moments, West does a pretty good job at screwing up the trajectory of his experimentalism. “Ultralight Beam” is the cheesiest song that he has ever put out, hands down. The gospel features feel contrived, and the Chance feature is incredibly misplaced, the musical equivalent of kid playing basketball in 7th grade trying to keep up with in an NBA game. Not to discredit Chance’s talent, but his particular vibe does not mesh with West’s vibe at all. The Weeknd’s high pitched vocals offer practically nothing to the track other than sheer annoyance and irritation. What saves “FML” is the experimental art rock final minute that reminded me of some moments from Radiohead’s classic Kid A, with its scattered and filtered vocals flying in the air (yes, I know TheNeedleDrop said this. And to be honest, he’s right. It sounds a lot like Kid A. Listen closely.) “Waves”, with its maximal and absolute emphatic instrumentation has the best use of Chris Brown in the last five years.

The Life Of Pablo disappoints mainly due to the lack of one thing: coherence. These songs are plastered and mashed next to each other arbitrarily, and it’s not even enthralling experimentally. It’s befuddling, irritating, and confusing to say the least.  A wise friend once told me that Kanye West needed a “NO” man: someone to tell him “No, don’t add another track!” or “No, don’t say that!” or “No, that interlude is a waste of time!”. West has steadily built himself up on a throne of royalty that he’s, for most of the journey, earned. He’s reinvented himself on nearly every record, going from old school hip hop to baroque rap to noise hop in the steadiest of progressions, none of which have been this grand of a smorgasbord as The Life Of Pablo.

With all of West’s records, there was always a mystifying allure that beckoned more and more listens. There were songs that grew on many, and of course songs that stick in your head for years, or forever. With TLOP, West really needs to look around and see what he is creating here – an album that is honestly too chaotic for its own good. The only purpose The Life Of Pablo serves is to show that Kanye West has brilliant ideas. If he can flesh out these ideas, trim the fat, and think about what he’s doing, then we may have a true Kanye West record (this summer maybe?) – one that prides itself on its brilliance, ingenuity, and audacity to reinvent.

FAV TRACKS: Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 (featuring Kid Cudi), Famous (featuring Rihanna), Feedback, Highlights (featuring Young Thug), I Love Kanye, Waves (featuring Chris Brown), *only the last minute of* FML (feat. The Weeknd), Real Friends (feat. Ty Dolla $ign), Wolves (feat. Sia & Vic Mensa), No More Parties In LA (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Ultralight Beam (ft. Chance the Rapper and Kirk Franklin),

SCORE: (6.9/10)

Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival

KANYE WEST ANNOUNCES SWISH RELEASE DATE

Kanye West has finally announced a release date for his highly-anticipated seventh solo LP, SWISH. He announced the album release date after releasing “Real Friends”. The track follows the singles “Only One”, “All Day”, “FourFiveSeconds”, “Wolves”, “Fade”, and the underwhelming “FACTS”.  The album is due to be released February 11, 2016.

West releasing the songs on a Friday follows a similar pattern he followed when releasing the critically-acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

 

Listen to “Real Friends” below:

 

 

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All That Power: Five Years of Kanye West’s masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is an undisputed masterpiece. An album that culminates and compacts everything West has done into a sixty-nine minute album of hedonism, excess, debauchery, self- exploration, introspection, idealism of the American Dream, ego, and unabashed, brutal honesty. Numerous publications, and even Mr. West himself, have given Kanye the designation as “the greatest artist alive”. While that designation is highly subjective, and completely depends on what you think of him, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a strong case for such a title.

Everything we have come to know and love about Kanye West is in this album, and blown up on a Super Panovision screen: old-school soul samples from The College Dropout; baroque and string arrangements a la Late Registration; flashy production like on Graduation; auto-tune and self deprecation from 808s & Heartbreak – it’s all here, with a new form of maximalist production that makes a majority of these songs light years away in style and concept than most hip hop albums in recent memory. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s magnum opus – a grandiose vision from one of the 21st century’s true auteurs.

When approaching this album, one must keep in mind the time it came out: Kanye’s relationship with super model Amber Rose was dissolving, the 808s & Heartbreak tour was overworking West’s routine, and as a result this led to an outburst during the 2009 MTV VMA Awards. Shunned by friends, the public – hell – pretty much everyone, West took a self-imposed exile to Hawai’i where he began work on what would be known as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, formerly known as Good Ass Job. Little did we know was that West’s fifth album would be a game-changing blueprint for the future of hip hop, an album that took more risks than it should and payed off better than expected.

“Dark Fantasy” opens this album up with a fairy-tale narration from Nicki Minaj and ends with a Gil Scott- Heron poem, a glimpse at the scope of what this album encompasses. The feature roster here flexes its muscles with some of the talented artists of our day: Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Pusha T, RZA, John Legend, hell even Bon Iver finds himself on here. While some of the artists have provided some lukewarm material, the performances that they deliver on this record transcend their usual material. It’s as if MBDTF is a movie, and Kanye is the director, then Mr. West has pulled the greatest performances from his “cast”. The balance between West pointing the spotlight on him versus the consideration for the amount of help he gets on this album is ridiculously equal for you never linger much on one artist, but you always know West’s power (no pun intended) seething underneath the layers of sound, music, and composition. It’s an impressive feat no doubt, and one that pays off with every listen.

To say that this album is narrow-minded is a naive observation. West assembles different sounds, samples, and beats into a massive collage of influences that maximizes the potential of the typical hip-hop record. Maximalism is key; everything on each track is busy, consuming, and not a beat, note, or sample goes unwanted. The samples here are eccentric, covering many genres in the best way: there’s the King Crimson sample (prog rock) on “POWER”, the Aphex Twin sample (IDM) on the haunting “Blame Game”, and the soulful “Devil In A New Dress” samples Smokey Robinson in a gritty and subversive way. “Iron Man”, the iconic song that’s been sampled loads of times gets maliciously twisted into a melody about fucking a porn star – a lyrical awakening in the middle of a heavy and vivid album.

http://i2.wp.com/40.media.tumblr.com/fb6f4d126ac9780bffde443debc98329/tumblr_mj839uADn31roa9tdo1_1280.jpg?resize=347%2C244While 808s and Graduation provided some electronica samples, and while Kanye has sampled multiple source material in his early work (Chaka Khan still hits it out of the ballpark), MBDTF finds West twisting the sounds and making them solely his own – a tapestry of work indebted in the mind, wisdom, and knowledge of himself. Among the knotted and complex arteries of this body of music lies the personality and inner thoughts of an arrogant yet genius producer who, midst the chaos and full-throttle rise to a new level of fame and controversy, stopped and looked around for a while and took everything in as it came. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s album cover is blood red for a reason. To further this notion of MBDTF being the special album that it is, West went all-out with the eccentricity: strict recording rules, idiosyncratic samples, and a 35 minute short film accompanying a nine minute songs. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is truly a bold and ambitious project, album, and statement. It’s a fully realized and wholesome expression that, for all its criticism, features some of West’s best work.

Yet at the end of the day you have an album, an album that for all it’s worth, is an extension of Mr. West himself. All the vile mannerisms, eccentric inspirations and samples, maximal production, and hilarious and clever wordplay are snuggled up nice and tight into the seconds and minutes of MBDTF expansive sixty-nine. Crafted by an emotionally unstable artist, the album is surprisingly substantial and comprehensive, packing in years of social and cultural commentary and http://i2.wp.com/circlesquaretriangle.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/kanyeallofthelights.jpg?resize=508%2C265observation (“Sex is on fire/ I’m the King of Leona Lewis”). 2010 marked the beginning of Kanye’s major stylistic shift – a amalgamation of everything he was known for, in music and in life, converged into a magnum opus that started the new decade in flames.

Here we are in 2015, and many of us are still analyzing, listening, and dissecting the cavernous lines of wit and samples of brilliance hidden in the nooks and crannies of this undisputed masterpiece of a record. We’re still listening because in it, we find parts that have laid the blueprint for future classics to come; good kid, m.A.A.d city’s deeply personal narrative, channel ORANGE‘s sturdy yet penetrable vulnerability, To Pimp A Butterfly’s comprehensive social commentary, delivered with pomp and bravado, and Modern Vampires of the City‘s embrace of growth and change, Lonerism’s extended adventurous song structure, and many more. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is both an achievement and a landmark – an album that took years to make, took many risks, and eventually stuck the landing. The new decade began with a burst of visceral creativity that still burns with us today and still begs the question: “can we get much higher?” For Kanye, the answer could be anything; he’s accepted who he is, what he’s done, and what he can do. So at this point, nothing is stopping him from creating another MBDTF, a strange occurrence in music that rarely happens and one that should be celebrated to ubiquity. So what are you waiting for? “You might think you’ve picked the scene. You haven’t, the real one’s far too mean. The -“

 

 

And the rest is history…

http://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/Power_Kanye_West_music_video.png?w=640&ssl=1

 

SCORE: (10/10)

Author’s Note: Commentary and debate is encouraged in the comment section below.

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LISTEN TO TWO NEW KANYE WEST SONGS NOW

Kanye West has dropped two unexpected tracks from his HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SWISH. One is a new version of “Say You Will,” with additional vocals from Caroline Shaw, and the other is his own version of the Weeknd​’s Tell You Friends,” which ‘Ye renamed “When I See It.” The songs sound like a grander and more fully realized version 808s & Heartbreak . IBNJasper shared the news on his Instagram, but didn’t go into detail as to why Kanye decided to drop the two songs today. Listen below.

“Say You Will”

“When I See It”

 

Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival

KANYE WEST RELEASES STUDIO VERSION OF "ALL DAY"

Kanye West has finally released the finished studio version of “All Day”, featuring Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom. It premiered on L.A. radio station Power 106 and New York station Hot 97 this afternoon.

The track will be on the highly anticipated So Help Me God, out later this year.

Listen below:

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KANYE WEST ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM TITLE

Kanye West has announced the title of the followup to 2013’s Yeezus.

The album will supposedly feature the tracks “Only One (feat. Paul McCartney)”, “Wolves (feat. Vic Mensa and Sia)”, and “All Day”. The release date is still unknown as West revealed on The Breakfast Club that the album will be a surprise release.

Watch his interview with The Breakfast Club:

Listen to “Wolves” (starts at 8:26):

Listen to “Only One”:

rihanna-fourfiveseconds

"FourFiveSeconds" Rihanna and Kanye West and Paul McCartney

Rihanna and Kanye West and Paul McCartney

FourFiveSeconds Track Review

Westbury Road/Roc Nation

Released January 24, 2015

Genre: Pop

“FourFiveSeconds” is a fully executed, well thought out piece of country-tinged, minimal pop. Stripped to simple guitar parts, bass, and the versatile vocals of Rihanna and Kanye West, this track is simple, melodic, and confessional at its core, and showcases a different side to the artists’ usual club ready hits.

Right as it begins, the song hits us with an incredibly simple, and incredibly catchy, chord progression. Once the chorus rolls in, the song’s full potential becomes recognized, led by Rihanna’s emotive and wonderfully strained vocals. The song does a wonderful job at showcasing a new side to Rihanna’s voice with its distinctive timbre and delivery. Rihanna’s lyrics are empowering, wonderfully bringing out the same emotional themes last revisited on tracks like “Stay”. While it still revolves around the “sorry for partying” motif, you can’t help but feel her conviction.

Kanye’s vocals, on the other hand, are perfectly juxtaposed with the acoustic simplicity, riding the fine line of “being out of key” as he delivers lyrics that basically explain why he needs auto tune. In many ways, having auto-tune on this track for him would’ve helped balance out his choppy singing, but that would’ve added some superficiality to this wholesome track.

“FourFiveSeconds” finds two artists, delving into a minimalistic field of their career with one of the most important musicians ever. While the song can be forgettable for some (not me), the song is held up by two things: vocals and power. Despite having two heavy weight musicians tagged onto the song credits, THIS is nonetheless Rihanna’s song. And she owns and delivers on every level.

 

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

SCORE: (8.5/10)

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The Best of 2013

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR*

Of the 55 album/EP reviews we did, these are the highest scoring ten. Of course they’re all…”Pretty Neat”.

10) “Settle” Disclosure

91C4ByfzfUL._SL1500_A smart, hook driven record that can move a dance floor in any era; a timeless achievement that accomplishes consistency, memorability and audacity. Take it for what it is: one hell of a debut.”

9) “Jake Bugg” Jake Bugg

jake bugg BIG“Bugg’s raw, natural talent and skill flow like a Johnny Cash record in 2013: nostalgic, heartfelt, bold and magnificent. At this point, that’s exactly what it is”

8) “Yeezus” Kanye West

yeezus-new-cover” No one is making music like this anywhere, where else can you find an artist mashing together Nina Simone and TNGHT?!”

7) “Modern Vampires of the City” Vampire Weekend

vampire-weekend-modern-vampires-of-the-city “Any doubts about adulthood are brushed away and replaced with hope and promise on this coming of age album”

6) “Psychic” Darkside

DARKSIDE-PSYCHIC “Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington destroy the line between rock music and electronic music as they change the shapes, textures and sounds into imaginative landscapes.”

5) “Reflektor” Arcade Fire

130909-arcade-fire-reflektor-album-cover-art-cropped-hi-res “A masterful transcending of genre, Arcade Fire have cultivated a danceable yet introspective record; a magnum opus for a new age of music.”

4) “Sunbather” Deafheaven

deafheaven-sunbather-cover“A landmark feat in music that few metal bands accomplish: to turn music expected to be angry into something beautiful and leaving a lasting, sonic legacy in the process. This is what music should ALWAYS strive to do”

3) “…Like Clockwork” Queens of the Stone Age

like-clockwork-hd-2-626x626“A rock album that never hesitates to blow your brain up to astronomical heights”

2) “Get Wet” Krewella

Krewella-Get-Wet-album-artwork“The party shouldn’t stop and “Get Wet” is that polemic argument that keeps it going and going and going.”

1) “Is Survived By” Touché Amoré

Is_Survived_By“Introspective yet abrasive; challenging yet melodic, this is a band that took it to the next level through all the challenges. Well done.”

TOP 5 TRACKS OF THE YEAR*

*Yes we are aware that the list is under par. There were much better tracks released this year. But of the ten we reviewed, here are the top 5.

5) “Rap God” Eminem

Eminem_Rap_God“Eminem’s speed and wit still maintains it’s fresh and appealing enigma after all these years.”

4) “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” Cults

cults-i-can-hardly-make-you-mine-new-song“Cults’ trademark sound gets stabbed at by semi-rough chords and it still stays dreamy enough to be called a Cults single.”

3) “Mankind” Doomriders

dooomriders-grandblood” A sludgy, dark single that progress and succeeds in finding the light at the end of the nightmare it has lingered in”

2) “Reflektor” Arcade Fire

Reflektorsingle ” A post-disco epic that climaxes into a tunnel of dance; a crowning achievement in their discography.”

1) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” Drake

Hold-On-Were-Going-Home“A single that transcends Drake’s musical range and yet he manages it to seduce it into his control.”

To Everyone,

Thank you for your support over these past four months. Honestly we never envisioned us making it this far. With over 28,000 page views and numerous followers, likes and relationships with record companies and bloggers all over the world, we’re still shocked at the success of Pretty Neat Grooves. What started as a simple idea from Michael and Jon, turned into something greater and as long as we have your support, we couldn’t ask for anything else.

We will return on January 13, 2014 with more reviews and interviews, more praise and criticism to fuel your eclectic musical desires. 2013 was a great year for music and we were glad to share our experiences with it with you. Be prepared for 2014, big things are gonna happen. Also thanks for putting up with our grammar mistakes. We promise we’ll be more careful next year. :)

We send our thanks to our friends and family, as well as Will Butler, Fevers, Gatherer, Deathwish Inc., Topshelf Records, Derek from Sub Pop, Got Wrong Records, 7stbaby, Hunter Hauk, Weebly, Stephanie Marlow, Throatruiner Records, Cruel Hand, Slingshot Dakota, Sleigh Bells, A Silent Film, We Are Twin, Noise Trade, Ray Ricky Rivera of Amoeba Music, CSR FM, TEAM and everyone else that gave us a chance. Stay gold.

Keep listening to music, keep searching for new music and keep expanding your musical horizons. But always #KeepItNeat

Take Care and Happy Holidays,

The Pretty Neat Grooves Team 2013

CEO/Co-Founders
Jon Birondo
Michael White
CFO
Jimmy Merkel

Senior Editors

Jon Birondo
Michael White
EDM Correspondent
Drew Curran
Staff Writers
Jon Birondo
Drew Curran
Michael White
Associate Staff Writer
John Jackson
ADVERTISING/BUSINESS
Chris Ayres
Jimmy Merkel
Michael White
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Chris Ayres
Will Butler
Nick Eastep
Madeline Flores
Martin Flores
Noah Frey
John Jackson

YEEZUS

My 2013 in Music: Jon Birondo

 


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Most Overrated Artists of 2013
6) Hoodie Allen
I don’t think his flow is great or his lyricism, but the whole vibe of his songs are really fun. But in the end, they’re forgettable, meaningless and the hype he’s received over the past year is undeserving. His album? Underwhelming. Sorry.
5) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Their pop-rap hits such as “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”, I have to admit, are catchy as heck and they’re talented without a doubt. But with the level of hype they’ve garnered over the past year, their debut album, The Heist, was a bit underwhelming for the filler tracks outweighed the hits. I’m still looking forward to their future projects but they’re overrated nonetheless.
4) The Knife
There’s nothing artistic, appealing or memorable in their music. It sounds like they left video games, National Geographic documentaries and fourth grade recorder recital tapes on all at once and they keep yelling for someone to turn it off with their esoteric and annoying vocals. Please do, it’s not music. It’s a manic drum circle that lasts for an hour and a half.
3) The Neighbourhood
Their debut is composed of cringe worthy lyrics, tremolo turned up to 11 and weak hooks. I don’t see the big hype over them, honestly. Other than “How” and “Sweater Weather”, both decent tracks, the rest is as forgettable as the Ferris Bueller TV Show. That’s right, they made it a TV show.
2) Imagine Dragons
Their calculating fusion of electronic rock and alternative rock sacrifices everything that makes rock what it is in order to just appeal to pop culture and it’s something I cant deal with. The styles on Night Visions are very different stylistically, leaving you with a very disjointed experience. With only a few tracks to really enjoy, their hype is overrated. Plus I believe the radio killed them too, hearing “Radioactive” and “Demons” 1,000,000,000,000 times a day makes me hate those songs so much more.
1) Lorde
I just don’t see the appeal in an artist who creates forgettable songs with little to no musical elements and esoteric, sarcastic lyricism. “Royals” is probably the most annoying song of 2013, period.

Revisited Oldies/ Past Albums of 2013
*Some old albums that I dug up this year that are worth the time, money and listen. Yeah I listened to A LOT of albums this year. This isn’t all of it.

  • “good kid, m.A.A.d city” Kendrick Lamar
  • “An Awesome Wave” Alt-J
  • “Late Registration” Kanye West
  • “Paul’s Boutique” Beastie Boys
  • “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • “The Wall” Pink Floyd
  • “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” Wilco
  • “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” Neutral Milk Hotel
  • “Kid A” Radiohead
  • “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” The Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Turn On The Bright Lights” Interpol
  • “Bloom” Beach House
  • “Strange Mercy” St. Vincent
  • “Dirty” Sonic Youth
  • “The Year of Hibernation” Youth Lagoon
  • “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” M83
  • “Celebration Rock” Japandroids
  • “Lonerism” Tame Impala
Most Dissapointing Albums
*face-palm*

“Comedown Machine” The Strokes 

They can’t find a step to progress from their last album, Angles, and frankly that depresses me to no end. Forgettable rock tune after forgettable rock tune. Come on guys!
“Magna Carta…Holy Grail” Jay Z   
Way too long, nothing authentic with the lyricism and Jay Z is still rapping about his money and riches. However, the instrumentation and production is solid.
“MGMT” MGMT    
Nothing memorable or catchy from them here; almost feels like they’re deliberately pushing everything we love about them away. Big disappointment.
The 20/20 Experience-2 of 2″ Justin Timberlake   
An album filled with a bunch of forgettable, lazily written, overdone and lengthy B-sides that was both a waste of JT’s time and ours. SMH JT, SMH.
Most Played Songs of 2013
*”On repeat! On repeat”
Has to be either “Dream House” by Deafheaven or “The Wire” by HAIM. On “Dream House” Daniel Tracy’s drumming still astounds me, if I can play on the drums, then I’m set. His speed is lightning fast and overall drumming, dexterous and his fills, oh his fills! On “The Wire”, the hooks are so catchy it’s ridiculous and the R&B induced vocals meet Fleetwood Mac vibe is nostalgic and great. Also maybe “I Wanna Be Yours” by the Arctic Monkeys. Upon first listen I hated it but the haunting vocals and subdued tempo are some aspects that I find calming and worth the repeated listen.
Guilty Pleasure Songs of 2013
*There’s no explanation as to why I love these songs. Just accept it and listen to them, they’re all really, really good. I have no shame in liking these songs. Whether it be satanic, hedonistic, cheesy, corny, arrogant or just plain wrong, I still love it for an apparent reason I can’t seem to find.

  • “We Can’t Stop” Miley Cyrus
  • “Blurred Lines feat. T.I. and Pharrell” Robin Thicke
  • “Applause” Lady Gaga
  • “Berzerk” Eminem
  •  “Chocolate” The 1975
  • “Cruise-Remix” Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly
  • “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” Portugal. The Man
  • “Infestissumam” Ghost B.C
  • “Story Of My Life” One Direction
  • “Timber” Pitbull feat. Ke$ha
  • “Honeymoon Avenue” Ariana Grande
  • “Work Remix” A$AP Ferg (feat. A$ap Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James, French Montana)
  • “Pom Poms” Jonas Brothers

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Honorable Mentions
*Albums that didn’t make my list but deserve the utmost attention. (in no particular order)
“Acid Rap” Chance The Rapper
“Settle” Disclosure
“Is Survived By” Touché Amoré
“Vessel” Twenty One Pilots
“Paradise Valley” John Mayer
“Nothing Was The Same” Drake
“lousy with sylvianbriar” Of Montreal
“Fade Away EP” Best Coast
“Virgins” Tim Hecker
“We Are Twin EP” WE ARE TWIN
“Get Wet” Krewella
“Silence Yourself” Savages
“Doris” Earl Sweatshirt
“If You Wait” London Grammar

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2013 Music Highlights
Music; Seeing Phoenix live in the front row; Seeing Twenty One Pilots live; Seeing Depeche Mode live; Got into Deafheaven; Jeromey- Romey-Romey-Rome; “Dream House” by Deafheaven, the whole freaking song; Hearing HAIM’s “The Wire” for the first time; Meeting Atlas Genius and Capital Cities; Started Pretty Neat Grooves; Yeezus; the (bagpipes?) at the end of Vampire Weekend’s “Unbelievers”; anything after the two minute and forty second mark in “Hannah Hunt”; Spotify’s app update; getting a drum set; performing live for the first time in front of people; Seeing Sugar Ray live; Seeing Smash Mouth live; Inside Llewyn Davis; Daft Punk coming back with disco balls; Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” music video with Danny Brown; Pink Floyd on Spotify; Led Zeppelin on Spotify; swaghili; getting followed on Twitter by Deathwish Inc.; Disclosure getting nominated for a Grammy;  the remix to Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”; “Do I Wanna Know”; getting an interview with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells for Pretty Neat Grooves;  Kendrick Lamar was nominated for a Grammy!; Jake Bugg; spending my allowance on CDs; Seeing Paramore live; Seeing Hayley Williams in person; Hayley Williams; Seeing Bush live; Seeing Capital Cities live; The riff on “She Will”; THE HARLEM SHAKE; Bound 3 (Vague).

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2013 Music Lowlights
One Direction ripping off The Who; Big Time Rush ripping off Blur; Justin Bieber; Lorde; Imagine Dragons; The Knife; Jake Bugg not getting a Grammy nomination; Jay Z using the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hook on “Holy Grail”; “Royals”; Oasis still aren’t getting back together; Missing the Kanye Concert because of the ice, dang nature; Kanye West not postponing; Lou Reed died; the new Miley Cyrus; Robin Thicke ripping off Marvin Gaye; Seeing Falling in Reverse live; The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2; “Suit & Tie”;  RZA’s verse on “Molasses”; “Wrecking Ball”; Justin Bieber; We have to wait till 2015 for a new Dead Weather album; Detox still isn’t out; hearing “Royals”; Arcade Fire isn’t coming to Dallas; missing Alt-J and Vampire Weekend in concert; “Finger Back”. The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience getting nominated for a Grammy; Sara Bareilles getting nominated for Album of the Year; hearing “Mirrors”, “Radioactive” and “Wrecking Ball” more than 100,000 times on the radio; Rolling Stone’s review of Deafheaven’s Sunbather.

GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT 2014, I’M WAITING!

 

YEEZUS

"Yeezus" Kanye West

Kanye West

Yeezus Album Review

Def Jam Recordings

Released June 18, 2013

Genre: Hip Hop, Industrial Hip Hop, Experimental Hip Hop

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was Kanye West at his most excessive, in content, instrumentation, and ambition. And whether people loved him or not, the album provided a glimpse into the mental psyche of one of the most prolific figures of the 21st century. In his own terms, Kanye accepted himself as a dick, an arrogant fool, an asshole. But also as the center of media attention, and the proponent behind some of pop music’s greatest moments, a “two-face” for a new era of music. It was gutsy of him to try to identify as both as the same time, and that’s what makes him such a polarizing figure. However, unbeknownst to the some people, the highly subversive “noise hop” genre was slowly rising with acts like clipping. and Death Grips leading the charge.  So when the highly anticipated Yeezus dropped, some could tell that Mr. West has been catching that “fever”.

Yeezus, in a nutshell, is Kanye West’s take on the noise hop genre. It sounds panicked, inventive, and hostile, taking the paranoia and confusion of MBDTF and utilizing those emotions in a very, very loud manner. The razor sharped “On Sight” starts the album off, indicating a sneak peek of what to expect on Yeezus, as does every song on this album (albeit the soulfull “Bound 2”). And whether Kanye masks his usual musical habits with the noise hop genre, is completely up to you. To me, I thought he did it well.

Kanye is still the arrogant prick that we’ve all known to witness. Yeezus is merely a portrait of his psyche at this point in his life. The thunderous “Black Skinhead” sounds like a bold proclamation, and artistic statement, rather than a cash-grabbing single. “I Am A God (feat. God)” is Kanye at his most controversial on this album, giving listeners a bit of  (tongue in cheek?) narcissism to complete the package. The stellar “New Slaves” makes the cuts off of The College Dropout sound like kids tunes as the track, to this day, remains hard-hitting and attention grabbing.

A notable aspect of Yeezus is the amount of samples used. You though MBDTF had a lot of samples? A LARGE majority of the samples on Yeezus range from the predictable to the obscure as West pieces together lyrical samples, beats,and vocal swoons to craft an album that retains its subversive nature and accessible. Accessibility is what truly drives Yeezus as an important album. On “Blood On The Leaves,” West mashes together TNGHT’s “R U Ready” and a pitched up sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit”, a long shot risk to aim for a beat dropping tune, yet still becomes an accessible and almost immediately recognized tune for Kanye fans.

At this point, I can’t fully convince you. I can’t deny that Yeezus will be the fork in the road for Kanye fans. If you like it you like it, If you don’t, you don’t. Yeezus, in all its glory, is an artistic statement that shows an artist , at the apex of his skill, experimenting with new sounds and opportunities to keep his name as important as it can get. Yeezus is controversial, hard-hitting, “new”, and for me, it just might be the best album I’ve heard all year. What Kanye has done is not only expand on his musical repertoire, but he’s also made bridged the gap between hip hop and noise hop, a necessary union.

So soak in the repercussions, for just as the projection shut off as “New Slaves” ended on the W Hotel late at night in LA, we and the world had just gotten a glimpse of Kanye’s artistic statement. Everyone will look back at 2013 as the year where Kanye took the expectations held for him, threw it on the ground, tried something new and controversial and surprisingly nailed it. Imagine the world five or ten years from now, what will everyone call Yeezus? Some may say it was the album where they lost interest with Kanye. Or the album that marked his new phase in music. Whatever the outcome, just take it for what many critics along with myself have given it: a sonic, enduring and soon-to-be classic.


PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Black Skinhead, I Am A God, New Slaves, Hold My Liquor, I’m In It, Blood On The Leaves, Bound 2

LEAST FAV TRACK: Send It Up

Score: (9.0/10)