Well, it finally happened. After years of anticipation, memes, and leaks, the long-awaited album “Whole Lotta Red” finally dropped on Christmas morning. Playboi Carti had declared himself as Santa and donned a red appearance to match the theme of the album. However, and I say this as a true Playboi Carti fan, it turned out to be a whole lotta hype for a whole lotta garbage. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some good songs in there. “Place” was a classic throwback to the synth-style of Carti’s music and “Go2DaMoon” sent me to Pluto. But for the most part, the album was an evolution to a new style of rap that hasn’t entirely taken hold yet. Instead of sticking to his beloved dream-like style of music found in his first album, Carti is slowly transitioning to a more grunge, pop style of rap found in songs like “Poke It Out” in Die Lit.
One of the most asked questions from fans concerning “Whole Lotta Red” is why none of the dozens of leaked songs were found on the album. To be honest, I feel like if Carti made an album entirely out of leaks it would have blown up. However, leaks such as “Kid Cudi” and “No Lie,” for as good as they may be, hinder Carti’s ability to actually release the songs. When a song is leaked by a fan it goes against how a rapper’s label may have intended to release the song. If it doesn’t gain enough popularity fast enough or in the right way, it may never release. So while it may be possible that some leaks could have been on WLR, since they were leaked they never made it on the album.
Although the album wasn’t for everybody, it still had some pretty good songs on there and the new direction of Carti’s music warms up to you after a few listens. Hopefully fans are still willing to stick with him in the future and hopefully we can see less leaks and more legitimate songs.
ALBUM: “Man On The Moon III: The Chosen by Kid Cudi”
RELEASE YEAR: 2020
LABEL: Republic Records
BEST TRACKS: “Tequila Shots,” “Dive,” “Heaven On Earth,” “Show Out,” “Solo Dolo, Pt. III”
FCC: Every Track
Since hitting the mainstream more than 10 years ago, Scott Mescudi has become something of a legend in the hip-hop scene. “Day ‘N’ Nite” was Kid Cudi’s first success and is still racking up streams to this day. That was in 2008, when he started the Man On The Moon trilogy.
12 years and several albums later, Kid Cudi has just released the finale to the Man On the Moon trilogy: The Chosen. It’s clear he’s still fighting the same demons he was on The End of Day, as the album is no stranger to themes of isolation, depression, and despair. Also like its predecessors, the final track “Lord I Know” serves as a triumphant denouement for our hero. After the intro track, “Tequila Shots” is the first taste of what the album has to offer, and its woozy synths and catchy chorus are the perfect appetizer. “Heaven On Earth” is the first act’s climax and finds Cudi in full Rager mode, backed by tinny synthesizers and a growline bassline.
Kid Cudi has always been renowned for his emotional vulnerability and willingness to wear his heart on his sleeve, not to mention his therapeutic singing voice. Man On The Moon III stays true to all of these accolades and gives us an updated insight into the mind of Kid Cudi. If you are a fan of hip-hop music, I recommend you give The Chosen a listen.
BEST TRACKS: “Infunami,” “When I,” “I Think I Should” and “Uuuu”
Steve Lacy has returned! “The Lo-Fis” is his second full studio album, excluding his first EP “Steve Lacy’s Demo.” If you’re a die-hard Steve Lacy fan, it’s likely that you’ve heard most of “The Lo-Fis” already. Similar to his other releases, it’s filled with the indie-funk vibe that Steve is best known for. However, unlike his previous work, it is comprised solely of beats and songs he wrote in high school and released on SoundCloud.
The album is heavy with his signature falsetto, funky bass lines, and borderline mournful guitar strums. While Steve definitely showed off his hopeless romantic side in “The Lo-Fis,” he pursued other themes in his lyrics as well, such as personal growth in “That’s No Fun.”
To me, what stands out most about this album is how Steve explores instrumentals. In contrast to his previous work, these tracks feel almost like bits and pieces of songs rather than complete works; there are only a handful that have full bridges, choruses, and verses. Each song, though they’re all under three minutes, is completely different from the one before. I love how Steve flips back and forth between raw instrumentals, like in “I Think I Should,” to heavily processed and layered tracks like “Hummer.” It’s a quick album, full of surprises and beat switches, but it works as a whole unit very nicely despite its general lack of traditional songs. I know that all of this can be attributed to the fact that “The Lo-Fis” is more of a compilation rather than an intentional studio album, but I enjoy that it fits together so well.
ALBUM: “Plucking a Cherry from the Void” by Cecile Believe
RELEASE YEAR: 2020
BEST TRACKS: “Stay Open,” “Living My Life Over (Extreme Vocal Edit” and “Bitch Bites Dog”
It feels like it was only a couple days ago when Cecile Believe dropped her first album “Made in Heaven” in May (you can read my album review here 🙂 ). And now she has blessed us yet again with another EP- “Plucking a Cherry from the Void.” The EP cover is really what drew me in– the glitter nails and tiny cherry are SO cute!!
Speaking of “Made in Heaven,” Believe takes one of my favorites from the album and transforms it into the 5th song on “Plucking a Cherry from the Void”– “Living my Life Over (Extreme Vocal Edit).” I didn’t think the song could get any better, but I was wrong!! I actually find myself listening to the Extreme Vocal Edit way more than the original version. This along with “Stay Open” and “Bitch Bites Dog” have to be my favorites.
“Bitch Bites Dog” reminds me a bit of Rina Sawayama. It’s very pop, but also kind of hard? Plus, there’s an incredible classical music interlude towards the end of the song, that contrasts the rest of the song beautifully. If we could go to the club, this would be playing.
“Stay Open” on the other hand, is much more calm and more reminiscent of “Made in Heaven.” It reminds me a bit of Magdalena Bay and Caroline Polachek. It’s sooo pretty and just makes you wanna bob your head– the perfect song to drive to. This song has to be my favorite off the album <3
I hope you give “Plucking a Cherry from the Void” a listen and love it as much as I do.
If you know me, you know that I love me some 2008 sounding metalcore. I have been wanting a band to incorporate that sound back into their music now because the riffs and the ambiance of the metalcore back in 2008 is so technical and precise. It makes for a beautiful and heavy sound. Well, Butcher Crew, Boundaries did just that on their most recent album, Your Receding Warmth. It was released on November 13, 2020, and I have literally been listening to it all day, every single day since it dropped. By far, one of my favorite releases of 2020.
Boundaries has released 2 albums and one EP: Hartford County Misery in 2017 (one of my all-time favorites), My Body in Bloom (EP) in 2019, and now in 2020, they have released Your Receding Warmth. The band has progressed since their first two releases. They are known for their use of panic chords and breakdowns, and although the band does use these styles in their recent release, they evolved their sound and use more of a fast-picked thrash riff, to melodic riffs that sound as if they are from the early 2000s metalcore. These sounds can be heard throughout the entire album, and I love it.
Although each song contains heavy breakdowns and melodic metalcore riffs, each song is different in their own way. Whether that be tempo changes, lower vocals, or heavier riffs, each song contains something different and is different from the rest of the songs. This album has a great blend of hardcore, melodic metalcore, noisy pastiche aesthetic, along with lyrical content to create an atmosphere of anger and anxiety around the music. You can practically feel the emotions that are involved within each song, and the breakdowns just make the song 10 times better. You can’t help but move around. Boundaries know when to deliver beatings but also groove.
Boundaries released a statement about the album on Instagram and the meaning behind it. I think their statement describes the album beautifully. They stated that:
“The record is a vulnerable representation and understanding that things you depend on will start to disappear and whether you’re ready or not, you will have to adjust and find a way to keep going. Your Receding Warmth is a reference to life being less and less forgiving and helpful to those who need help and forgiveness. At the end of the day, it’s all ‘sink or swim.’”
I think the band described the album perfectly. This album is an absolute ass whoopin’. Each song is dark and eerie in its own way. Songs like “My Strength” and “Behind the Bend” Matt (their singer) talks above the music and it has this eerie sound to it. The lyrics in this album are awesome and you can really feel the emotions that Matt is talking about.
I watched an interview with Matt on the Scoped Exposure Podcast, and they discussed the making of Your Receding Warmth. Matt said that the band gets together and they first talk about how they want the song to sound, what emotion they want the song to have, and what styles they want to incorporate. I find that really interesting that they start with an idea before they start to jam. Matt also stated that he has journals that he keeps that contains his lyrics. These journals date back to his teens and he goes through them and grabs lyrics and ideas for songs. Matt recommends listening to the album in order because each song was written with an emotion and intent that they had while writing that song. I have done this every time that I listened to the album and it really does capture the emotion of the whole thing. The last song, “From the Departed, Dearer or Otherwise” is a monologue that gives me chills every time. It incorporates all of the titles of the songs on the album and has a very strong message. It was a great way to end the record.
This is tough because I literally love each and every song on this album. When I listen to the record, I always think “no, this song is my favorite song.” So, it’s hard to say which ones stand out to me. Each song has a meaning and each song is good and awesome in its own way.
But if I had to choose my favorite songs that really get me moving and jamming out, they have to be: Behind the Bend, Written and Rephrased, Fade Away, and Get Out.
What did you think about Boundaries’, Your Receding Warmth? What are some of your favorite songs?
Power Up is the 17th studio album (the 16th released internationally) by the Australian Rock band, AC/DC. Released on Friday the 13th of November, 2020 by Columbia Records and Sony Music Australia. As Back In Black (1980) served as a tribute to the late Bon Scott, so Power Up is a tribute to the late, great Malcolm Young, according to his brother, Angus.
I know I don’t need to list the members of the band (if you don’t know AC/DC, you’ve obviously been hanging in the Meat Locker too long!), but: Angus Young (founding lead guitarist), Brian Johnson (vocals since 1980), Phil Rudd (drums, `74 – ’83; ’94 – 2015; 2016 – present). Cliff Williams (bass, backing vocals, ’78 – retired in 2016; 2018 – present), and Stevie Young (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) stands in for his uncle Malcolm. In April of 2014 Stevie played all rhythm guitars on Rock or Bust, and had previously played live on 1988’s US Tour.
Angus explains that he raided the vault for previously unreleased Malcolm Young riffs for Power Up. And you can hear from the differing array of tracks on this record that it spans the entire AC/DC time-frame. “Demon’s Fire” sounds like the old Bon Scott days, with multiple breaks, a main riff that’s interrupted by tempo changes and solos. “Wild Reputation” is reminiscent of “Beating Around the Bush.” Much of the record is the mid-late AC/DC sound, driven by the rhythm section of the band, with Johnson’s stylized voice and Angus’ trademark leads.
Brian Johnson has not lost a step in his vocal game! His unmistakable sound and style hits on every single song on this album (and every song he’s ever sung, honestly!). There are a few surprises, though; spoken words and tone changes from his patented rasp. 40 years of Rock-N-Roll and race cars may have affected his hearing, but definitely not his vocal power!
Power Up, of course and without surprise, is an extremely solid record from the veterans.
Rating: 8.5/10! AC/DC just know how to bring the sound, consistently, for 45+ years!!
Favorite Songs: Witch’s Spell; Demon Fire; Shot in the Dark
BEST TRACKS: “WHAT WE DREW,” “WAKING UP DOWN” and “THESE DAYS”
Yaeji dropped her first full-length mixtape, “WHAT WE DREW” this April. Before the mixtape, she released some of my favorite songs like “Raingurl” and “Passionfruit” under the eps “EP2” and “Yaeji” in 2017. The music video for “WHAT WE DREW” is SO cute. It includes snippets of her and her grandfather walking and chatting as well as her and friends. It’s so genuine and heartwarming and I think it really sets the tone for the “WHAT WE DREW” mixtape.
I highly recommend watching the music video before listening to the mixtape if you haven’t already. The mixtape is so calm with her sweet lyrics and that classic Yaeji synth and quick bass. It is so uniquely her sound. “WAKING UP DOWN” reminds me a lot of Sassy 009’s “Maybe in the Summer,” (another banger). Some of my favorites from the album have to be “WHAT WE DREW,” “WAKING UP DOWN,” and “THESE DAYS.” “THESE DAYS” reminds me a lot of Blood Orange.
I feel like this would be a great mixtape to do work to. Its rhythm and pulsating beat make you want to move or be productive. I listen to this a lot when I sew 🙂
I highly recommend the mixtape and hope you all will give it a little listen the next time you’re making something, driving, or need some motivation.
Listen if you like: Ajebutter22, WizKid, Obongjayar
Amaarae, a Ghanaian American R&B musician, released her first album yesterday: “THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW.” Amaarae is a groundbreaking artist, focusing much of her music on gender and representation. Her first EP, “Passionfruit Summers,” was well-received by fans in Ghana and worldwide, gaining rankings on Apple Music. Amaarae is also interested in fashion and makeup as obvious by visiting her Instagram @/amaarae and her online appearance in Vogue magazine. Amaarae is an activist for feminism, gender identity, LGBT rights, and most recently the campaign to end SARS. LGBT Ghanian citizens face discrimination and violence, but Amaarae is vocal about the rights of these individuals, and we see this reflected in much of her art.
The album seamlessly glides between different genre influences including Afropop, R&B, mall rock, dancehall, and more. Amaarae connects popular Afropop with western styles of rap and R&B to create a tantalizing combination of sound that you’re sure to love. In a press release about the album, Amaarae said:
And re-define music she sure has. The 14-track album dives deep into social commentary, consciousness of global issues, and themes relevant to any young adult through wispy, light vocals contrasted against tougher-sounding rap verses. Listening to the sequential tracks, “TRUST FUND BABY” and “HELLZ ANGEL” best exemplifies this interesting contrast. The album exudes confidence and ambition, and especially as a debut album it definitely delivers something amazing. Give it a listen and definitely keep an eye out for Amaarae’s continued rise to relevance in the alternative/rap/R&B circles.
BEST TRACKS: “Melt!,” “L.I.N.E” and “On” and “Night”
Kelly Lee Owens, Welsh electronic musician, released her second album “Inner Song” at the end of this August. The album has 10 songs that all vary from techno and dream pop to what almost sounds like the instrumental of an 80s horror movie (which I love). The songs are long, ranging from 3 minutes to almost 7 and a half. The album is perfect for fall walks and drives.
The first song on the album,“Arpeggi,” reminds me a bit of Goblin’s tracks in the movie Phenomena. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Other songs are more techno like “Melt!” and “Night,” which remind me of her older songs like my favorite “More than a Woman” from 2017- all bangers!!
My favorite song on the album has to be “L.I.N.E.” This song is sooo pretty and calm. There’s a repetitiveness in her lyrics and the pattern of the songs. “L.I.N.E” along with “On” are a bit softer and more ethereal than the other songs on the album. There’s so much range in the different types of songs she has here- from dream pop to techno, she does it all!
Overall, I think “Inner Song” is both fun, party vibes and also a calm, introspective album. It has range and I realize different things about it the more I listen. I hope you all will give it a listen and enjoy it too <3
BEST TRACKS: “Want U Around (feat. Ruel)”, “Dos Uno Nueve (219)”, “Useless”
FCC: “I’m Amazing”, “Kamikaze”, “Hey Boy (feat. Kali Uchis)”, “Dos Uno Nueve”, “Bi Fren”
In 2017, Omar Apollo appeared out of thin air with “Ugotme”, a bedroom pop ballad in 6/8 time which, to this day, remains his most popular song. At the time, he was living in his recording studio – a friend’s attic – and juggling two jobs at Guitar Center and Jimmy John’s. In the following years, he released two EPs, Stereo and Friends, and built a sizable fanbase itching for his debut album.
Three years after his introduction, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist finds himself in a different context: having left the 219 in Indiana, he now finds himself in Los Angeles. Apolonio, bearing his family name, is the clearest picture of Omar Apollo to date. Using hopeless romanticism as a point of departure, he switches effortlessly between funk, soul, R&B, and Latinx disciplines, which are all facets of his identity. “Want U Around”, with its patient bass and soaring vocal harmonies, has Prince written all over it. Meanwhile, the brand of funk present on “Stayback” is reminiscent of Bootsie Collins – who even appears on the remix. “Useless”, which sounds like Steve Lacy meets The Strokes, features some of Omar Apollo’s most candid observations: “You said I was your soulmate, but that was just a lie/It’s alright, we’re way too young to be giving out advice.” In the past, he has flirted with singing in Spanish, but not to the extent found on “Dos Uno Nueve”. The risk pays off in spades, however, because the track is definitely a highlight.
At the age of 23, Omar Apollo still has his whole career ahead of him. If Apolonio is any indication of what’s to come, he has quite the future in store for him, indeed.