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New Album Review

New Album Review: AC/DC – Power Up (2020)

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 

What are your thoughts on AC/DC’s new album?

Stay Metal,

THE SAW

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New Album Review

Yaeji: “WHAT WE DREW” Review

MIXTAPE: “WHAT WE DREW” by Yaeji

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: XL Recordings

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “WHAT WE DREW,” “WAKING UP DOWN” and “THESE DAYS”

FCC: EXPLICIT

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. 

Enjoy 

Xoxo 

-Gab

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New Album Review

The Angel You Don’t Know Review

Written By Miranda

My favorites: LEAVE ME ALONE, HELLZ ANGEL, 3AM 

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: 

“With this new project, this new chapter in my musical journey, I feel so incredibly alive. I strived to colour outside of the afro-pop parameters and re-define for myself what it means to create African music. Sonically, visually and spiritually my message is stronger than ever. I feel like the true me has resurrected and it’s only going to get more insane from here.” 

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.

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New Album Review

Album Review: “Inner Song” by Kelly Lee Owens

ALBUM: “Inner Song” by Kelly Lee Owens

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: Smalltown Supersound

RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “Melt!,” “L.I.N.E” and “On” and “Night”

FCC: Clean

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

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New Album Review

Album Review: Apolonio by Omar Apollo

ALBUM: “Apolonio” by Omar Apollo

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: Warner Records

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.

– DJ Mango

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New Album Review

Album of the Week: Justice For The Damned – Pain Is Power (2020)

I have never heard of Justice For The Damned until I heard this album. It showed up on my feed from Spotify as a recommendation for me to listen to and I am so glad it did. This album has easily become one of my favorites! The riffs are nasty, blast beats are immaculate, and the vocals… iconic. 

This band has a good mix between metalcore/deathcore and hardcore: the vocals are very deathcore with his deep growls and screams, paired with blast beats makes a perfect combo for metalcore/deathcore fans. The band also incorporates some two step riffs and beats in there in order to give their music a bouncy sound, which will please the hardcore kids. 

Pain Is Power is Justice For The Damned’s second album and the title says it all: pain is in fact, power. The record sounds violent and angry (which I LOVE) but that’s not the only thing this album has to offer. The theme behind this album is to take something that is painful, traumatic, or negative, and turn it into something positive; something powerful. This album is filled with personal, political, and philosophical material. I love this album solely because I find a new theme each time. The record has a little bit of everything and it is sure to have your heads banging. 

To me, this album is inspirational because it is telling a story of suffering, but not having that suffering drown you. It’s about fighting back and turning that suffering into something that cannot destroy you. This record is filled with emotions and y’all know I love it when you can feel the emotions that the artists have put into their work. It also has some features from Matt Honeycutt (Kublai Khan) on the song Guidance From The Pain, and Joe Badolato (Fit For An Autopsy) on the song Final Cataclysm. 

This album is the heaviest and well-produced album the Justice For The Damned has to date. I believe that it will help launch their career, not only in the Australian metal scene, but worldwide. 

Favorite Songs: 

Sinking Into The Floor, Machine of War, No Peace At The Feet Of Your Master, and Final Cataclysm. 

Rating: 8.5/10!! 

What are some of your favorite songs off of Pain Is Power? 

Stay Metal, 

THE SAW 

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New Album Review

Album Review: Party Favors

You may or may not be aware by now, but possibly one of the best things to come out of this god-awful year is about to drop down to us from the heavens. With a beautiful mix of eccentric guitar riffs and resonating lyrics, “Party Favors” by Sir Chloe has quickly made its spot at the top of my list of albums this year. But who is Sir Chloe, and how have they made such quick success before dropping even a single album? 

Sir Chloe is far from a one man show, but it owes its fame to the vocalist and lead guitarist, Dana Foote, who formed the band with her brother and two friends as her senior year thesis at Bennington College. They released their debut single, Animal, in February of 2019. Since then they have been working meticulously on a debut album, periodically releasing a few singles here and there.

We had the pleasure of getting the album a few days early, and after a thorough listen I can wholeheartedly say that this is my new favorite album of 2020. The list starts off with Squaring Up, a song that emulates the feeling of trying not to fall for someone who you know is bad for you. Another favorite of mine is Untie You, which comes fourth on the album. However, my favorite song by far is Sedona. The song is placed perfectly on the album and is an incredible mix of a light indie background instrumental with heavier rock lyrics.

“Party Favors” is a project that has been in the works for a long time now, but the time and effort have produced something that sounds complete, and hopefully it will get the recognition it deserves. 

Hope you guys enjoy the music, 
-DJ Chippypants 

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New Album Review

Lugalan by Jrusalam Album Review

Soul. It is what defines an artist. Staying true to yourself by making music that resonates with matters that reside within you and in the minds of your audience is the difference between a true Carolina artist and those who do it solely for glory. If there’s one thing our North Carolinian artists have plenty of, it’s soul, and Jrusalam’s 3rd album, Lugalan, is covered in hot buttery soul. Lugalan is not just about witty lyricism and the love for local hip-hop, rather, it’s a story about how growing up in Carolina and finding your family can inspire you to express your most personal thoughts. For Jru, this album is a rare blend of catharsis and high-spirited energy.

Produced by King Leaf, Jrusalam’s gritty vocals over hard-hitting lyrics draws you into the mind of a man who embraces his past to explore himself spiritually, is confident enough to be vulnerable, and is clever enough to give his punchlines a unique twist of humor. Not to mention, the beats sound fresh, often with dark melodies under fat 808 basslines and well polished drums. Although the production is sweet, King Leaf is not afraid to stray away from his hip-hop foundations to let Jrusalam lay down vocal melodies. A few of my stand-out favorites off the new record include Hibachi, BM, Lady Luck, Free Luv and DN& (DNA). Hibachi is the macho introduction that pulls you into Lugalan. From aggressive ad-libs to daring mantras like “my dearly are departed, they’re the angels that I carry” the track is dark, honest, audacious and incredibly fun. Lady Luck’s sultry melodies lets Jrusalam share his interesting perspective on how the best things come and go at the moments you need them most. The visuals for Lady Luck go hard too, check ‘em out on YouTube. DN& is a song that everyone in the Carolina hip-hop scene can appreciate as it represents finding your family, whether that be a group of artists who inspire you *cough* the NC State Cypher *cough,* or finding your estranged relatives who also turn out to be musicians. DN& is my favorite off this record as I believe it is one of the more personal songs and displays Jrusalam’s prowess as a introspective lyricist. 

Following the theme of his first two albums, Lugalan represents the 3rd Amulet of the Starbody Handbook. This theme that exists throughout gives the album a layer of spiritualism and a desire to self-reflect that you don’t find too often in mainstream hip-hop. Lugalan speaks volumes not to just the integrity and growth of our local scene, but to the tortured and talented few who use music as an outlet to cope and a platform to share how they’ve overcome their life experiences. Picture a young 20-something, struggling to deal with the hardship of never having met a side of his family, having his god-brother die in a car accident and recently getting out of a relationship, still pushing his avid desire to make it as a musician. Taking all your frustrations and laying it down on tape. Now that’s Carolina.

Jrusalam puts together an album that is cohesive and speaks to the heart of Carolina hip-hop. The motivation for this album is far different than Jrusalam’s first two records. Lugalan is a celebration of family. Don’t believe me? Take it from Jrusalam himself. “It represents finally finding my family, and not just that, but they are artists just like me, and we connected and made a whole vibe for it. I got to speak my heart and achieve a sound I had only dreamed about. It’s something for the family more than anything, vibes my brother might like to hear up in heaven.”

-Romir

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New Album Review

Album Review: Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano

ALBUM: Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano

RELEASE YEAR: 2020

LABEL: Jagjaguwar Records

BEST TRACKS: “With A Smile”, “Muñeca”, “Fields”, “Someone”, “Bloom”

FCC: N/A

A glance at Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s biography may shed light on why his style is so eclectic: growing up in Brooklyn as the child of French and Colombian immigrants, he was exposed to a variety of different tastes. Nowhere is his multifaceted identity more apparent than on his latest project, Agüita.

To someone not listening closely, Agüita may sound like a compilation album – that is, the aesthetics found in GGM’s latest effort are so distinct that one may think they are a product of multiple artists. Specifically, there are three characters sharing the spotlight: the “wistful impressionist” who is fascinated by sonic textures and classical voice leading, the “leading man” who seduces us with R&B and neo-soul performances, and the “Latinx hitmaker” who exudes swagger with a reggaeton flair.

In the course of 42 minutes, these three have a lot to say. The first track, “Tombs”, finds our wistful impressionist musing about the comfort we find in failing relationships. “Fields”, with its beautiful string arrangements and otherworldly vocal harmonies, is perhaps the instrumental highlight of the album. “Muñeca”, “Mira My Look”, and “Agüita” establish our Latinx hitmaker as an artist capable of going toe to toe with the baddest of bunnies, and “Bloom”, which features only an acoustic guitar and string embellishments, reminds us that GGM is no stranger to balladry. “Someone” finds the debonair leading man in top form as he croons about an old flame.

The combination of these personalities are a testament to GGM’s refusal to be put in a neat little box, where fans and critics alike can categorize him. Ironically, he has been called “anti-genre” since his debut in 2014. Instead of shying away from this label, he has fully embraced it on Agüita. As a result, Gabriel Garzón-Montano is truly in a lane of his own.

– DJ Mango

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New Album Review

Album Review: “Other Here Comes the Cowboy Demos”

Album: “Other Here Comes the Cowboy Demos” (Continuation of “Here Comes the Cowboy” and “Here Comes the Cowboy Demos)”

Artist: Mac DeMarco

Release Date: October 9th, 2020

If one demo album of Mac DeMarco’s “Here Comes the Cowboy” wasn’t enough, the lovable gap-toothed singer released another one merely days ago. Mac truly blessed us with the hidden tracks that didn’t quite make the cut for “Here Comes the Cowboy” OR the “Here Comes the Cowboy Demos.” Unlike his original demo album, this version includes songs that aren’t featured at all on HCTC.

“Other Here Comes the Cowboy Demos” is mostly made up of instrumentals that slightly mimic the sounds of his first release. Mac’s signature acoustic guitar and synth sounds are heavy throughout. Only a couple of songs have actual lyrics to them, but it’s interesting to get a glimpse into Mac’s creative process as he was recording HCTC. Personally, I love it when artists release their previously unheard music. It’s fascinating to connect the scrapped versions of songs to their final form and compare them.

While it’s fun to hear unreleased music from artists that we love, you can see why Mac chose the tracks he did for the finished version. Many of the songs on this demo don’t exactly fit in with the rancher-on-the-prairie vibe of HCTC. Though they have considerable merit, Mac’s decision to keep them separate was a good one.

Favorite Songs:

  • Out of My Head
  • Velvet Johnny
  • Powers Back On
  • Very Spooky

Rating: 9/10

Take a listen!

– DJ butter