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New Album Review

“SEE YOU THERE” by Matt Watson Album Review

Matt Watson, 1/2 of the comedy duo Supermega, released his debut album “SEE YOU THERE” on November 7. The California-based musician has been working on this album for over two years and it has finally come to fruition.

Having been a huge fan of Supermega since 2016, I was pleasantly surprised by Matt’s first venture into the music scene with his EP “OUCH!” in 2020. This new album builds on the bedroom pop sound he established in that EP and embellishes it with elements of rap, dream pop and full-blown pop.

Since I am such a fan of Matt outside of his music ventures, my opinion of this album might be slightly skewed. However, it is clear that there was immense care put into this album, it comes off as a truly personal effort by Matt.

SEE YOU THERE

This album starts off incredibly strong with “STARSTUD”. Featuring Sarah Bonito, this song is an incredibly catchy pop jam that was stuck in my head for weeks after its release as a single. The addition of Sarah to the song makes this track a highlight on the album and the one I find myself coming back to most often.

Matt’s vocals work extremely well with dream pop songs. He dipped his toe into the genre with a cover of “Space Song” by Beach House earlier this year, which he put an excellent flair on. He steps further into the genre on this album, with “CORAL”. The echoey instrumental combined with Matt’s dissonant vocals and lyrics make it another highlight on the album.

Matt Watson, “STARSTUD” music videp

Many of Matt’s friends in the music industry, such as Kill Bill: The Rapper, Rav, and Ben Beal are pioneers in the lo-fi hip-hop genre. Matt takes clear inspiration from them while rapping, and there is no exception in this album.

“Ring Pop” featuring Father is the only song that is entirely rap and while a good track, I felt didn’t fit very cohesively with the rest of the album. I would definitely be interested to hear a full EP or album with Matt exploring this genre.

Many of the tracks on this album are in the same vein as the tracks on “OUCH!”. Songs like “WACKY”, “Aquarium”, “Work It Out” and “STUPID” are all very bedroom-poppy but feel more like full songs than the tracks on “OUCH!” did. It is clear that Matt has truly come into his own sound with these songs.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed “SEE YOU THERE”. Matt has begun to flesh out his sound fully and I look forward to seeing it develop further. The highlights of this album are the explorations of different genres and sounds that I hope to hear more of in Matt’s next release.

Matt Watson is touring right now on the West Coast. If you are out West, you can find tickets on his website.

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Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

The Ups and Downs of Turnover

Turnover, once emo, once indie rock, now synth pop has been through many dramatic changes.

Their newest album, “Myself in the Way” has certainly been the biggest change yet. For better or for worse, Turnover has stepped entirely away from their humble emo-rock roots and is evolving into a highly synthentizer oriented band.

Past Work and Criticism

To give some history, this is not the first time Turnover has had a genre shift. Their 2019 album, “Altogether” was quite controversial due to their sudden departure from indie rock.

“Altogether” is provided many new sounds and tones from Turnover that throughly diversified and matured their overall discography. Although it was a shift, it still referenced their previous work.

However, “Altogether” was poorly received in comparison to their previous albums, “Peripheral Vision” and “Good Nature”.

In Pitchfork’s review of “Altogether” they claimed, “Turnover shot themselves in the foot at the get-go. They hoped for an album that was simple, but the banality that manifested instead was a pretty inevitable side effect.”

I as much as I enjoyed the sounds that emerged in “Altogether”, I was surprised to see them step even further away from their more popular genres.

“Peripheral Vision” was an undeniably solid indie rock album. They finally came into their voice in this album, it is hard to imagine them stepping away from it. In stead of doubling down and producing another solid rock album, they decided to explore. I don’t blame them for that.

“Altogether” was a successful exploration. “Myself in the Way” took that exploration a step too far– the result creating an unfamiliar band that is hard to connect to.

“Myself in the Way”

I have been a fan of all of Turnover’s work up until this newest album.

They have stripped themselves of all the authenticity and skill seen in “Peripheral Vision” and “Altogether” and replaced it with a hollow mess of synthesizers and autotune.

The album has been described as a blend of dream pop, disco, funk, and synth pop. Simply no reference to their perilous genres they have spent their entire careers developing.

I appreciate and admire artists that defy expectations and try something new, but Turnover is not building upon their strengths. They have ignored their best moments and amplified their worst.

For example, Turnover’s lyrics have always been on the borderline of genuine or hollow– and unfortunately the lyricism in this album is quite a disappointment. Track, “Fantasy” is the prime example of this,

“What’s your fantasy
I’d really like to know
What you’re thinking about
When your smile starts to show”

To highlight a positive, track “Wait Too Long” was a favorite on the album. Although it had very distracting, conflicting backing tracks, it was nice to hear a nice bass line and some reference to the sounds in “Altogether”.

One of the failures of Turnover in their previous work and in this release, was inserting unnecessary instruments into their songs. In track, “People That We Know” there is a rambunctious, bold trumpet line.

In the right song with deliberate placement– brass lines can take a good song to a great song. Although, in this scenario it is too timid to be the highlight yet too frequent that it takes away from the song.

To summarize, this album was disappointing and distracting.

This album truly made me doubt the overall skill of this band. Was he success of the past few albums just a fluke? Have they abandoned their roots entirely? I sincerely hope not.

Final Thoughts

I am quite interested to see how this album will be received by the general public.

Turnover has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time, but has lost some of that love in this release. I sincerely hope they return to some of the sounds in their past.

However, bands change and music change. If this is the new avenue for Turnover and this is the genre that brings them passion– so be it.

If you would like to hear more of Turnover and see them perform, they will be touring at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro Dec. 15.

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New Album Review

“White Tiger” by 2hollis – Album Review

2hollis is making a name for himself in the zone between cloud rap and hyperpop. Autotune and floaty flowy vocals on his earlier albums “THE JARL” and “FINALLY LOST” call to mind the same aesthetics as artists operating in the same space as Drain Gang.

The production on these projects is just varied enough to set it apart from the rest of the pack, with some witch house influences surfacing from time to time. On 2hollis’ newest album, he leans further into this noisy witch house sound, delivering something truly unique.

Right out of the gate, the track “gate” opens with heavy oscillating noise juxtaposed with high vocals. This sets the tone for the type of production littering this album.

The electronic backings swell and clip, flooding into the distorted vocals. A healthy dose of reverb gives most of the tracks an organic feeling of space. The result is a sound that feedbacks and folds back onto itself.

Over the past decade or so, several hip hop artists have used vocals primarily as a way of adding to the texture of the music rather than as a means of communicating information. There are several spots on “White Tiger” where this is the case. In the track “raise,” the vocals are completely buried under a pile of reverb, and yet, they still add to the track.

The production is absolutely the highlight of this album- a blend of trap, witch house, industrial, and hyperpop. At times this sounds ethereal, like on the wordy track “the light upon the surface that beckoned deep into the moment and the tiger stepped forth”, and at other times it sounds dark and looming like on “actor.” However, this album operates best when it achieves both, like on “king of the darkness.”

“White Tiger” can feel a bit repetitive at times, and if you’re looking for something really substantive, you might want to look elsewhere. Some lyrics drift into cliché, and when mixed with a thick coat of autotune, it sometimes results in discomfort.

Overall though, if you’re looking for something bigger and more grand than your average cloud rap offerings, or something several shades darker than your average hyperpop album, this is definitely something worth checking out. It’s a standout album in the field.

I give 2hollis’ “White Tiger” a strong ★★★☆☆. Good Album.

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New Album Review

“Waiting to Spill” by The Backseat Lovers Album Review

It’s been three years since The Backseat Lovers freshman album, “When We Were Young”. In many ways, their first album was a compilation of songs rather than a complete, cohesive album. Each song was very good in its own right, but there wasn’t much flow between the tracks.

Their sophomore album released today after three years and three singles of waiting. “Waiting to Spill” is a complete project that flows consistently throughout, blending classic indie-rock with a variety of new sounds.

The quartet that makes up The Backseat Lovers includes Joshua Harmon on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Jonas Swanson on lead guitar and vocals, KJ Ward on bass guitar and Juice Welch on drums and backup vocals.

NC State students got the chance to see the Backseat Lovers live for free last year at Wolfstock 2022, which was an awesome experience. Even though they were playing for a crowd of a lot of people who didn’t know them, they put on an excellent performance.

A Bottle of Wine

“Waiting to Spill” centers itself around the challenges of facing time head-on and the desire to live in the past. I greatly appreciated that this theme is on display throughout the entirety of the ten-song record, shown in various lenses.

As The Backseat Lovers thematically focus on growing up and developing in their songs, their sound also develops into new grounds on this record. Staying rooted in indie-rock, The Backseat Lovers grows into areas such as country on “Snowbank Blues” or more piano-based songs on “Words I Used” and “Follow the Sound”.

Each member of The Backseat Lovers allow each other to shine in their performances. When one member pulls back, another one fills in the spotlight immediately. At moments where all four take the spotlight together, they create a truly incredible sound. The explosion of the soundscape at the end of the album in “Know Your Name” is extremely satisfying to listen to after 40 minutes of highs and lows.

I am somewhat split on the ending of this album. On one hand, I think “Know Your Name” would have been a very conclusive finisher that would have ended the album with a satisfying bang. On the other hand, “Viciously Lonely” ties the album together thematically in a very conclusive way.

While I probably won’t go back to the first or last track very much, I think they do help make the album feel more full and cohesive. It is a difficult task to find the perfect balance to create album cohesion and songs with a lot of replay value.

Conclusion

“Waiting to Spill” is an excellent record. While not as catchy as it’s predecessor, “Waiting to Spill” has a cohesion and depth that “When We Were Friends” never truly reached.

The Backseat Lovers has also grown in talent over these past three years, putting on an impressive display on all fronts. They incorporate a more complex vocal and instrumental performance to highlight the complexity they are attempting to reach.

The Backseat Lovers is currently touring across the United States and will start their European leg of the tour in 2023.

I greatly enjoyed this album and look forward to whatever work The Backseat Lovers ends up doing next.

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New Album Review

“Blue Rev” by Alvvays Album Review

After a long five years, Alvvays has returned with their long-awaited album, “Blue Rev.” Named after the Canadian alcoholic beverage, Rev, this album is bubbly and hard-hitting.

The band, based in Toronto, has been around for almost ten years. This album, their third, is the culmination of over half of their time together. A full profile on the band can be found here.

After many trials and tribulations (floods, thefts, the pandemic) getting in the way of this release, it centers itself around stasis and change. Antonymous as they are, stasis and change are often closely interwoven.

“Blue Rev” sees Alvvays pushing the boundaries of their sound while refining it like never before. They still have the heavy focus on melodies over genre shown consistently throughout their discography but it’s shown in new light on this album. That bittersweet sound I can instantly recognize Alvvays by has been bolstered by brilliant songwriting and guitarwork.

Album Highlights

My favorite thing about this album is how seamlessly it balances the faster, more energetic tracks with slower, more melancholic tracks. They add an element of abrasiveness to their sound on this album that is hard to miss.

Rankin and O’Haley’s songwriting is the best it’s ever been on this record. The “Blue Rev” track list focuses on events that are dramatically life-changing. Natural disasters are described to emphasize the catastrophe these changes can ensue. Rankin finds a perfect balance of reflection to learn from these moments but move on.

There are also moments in the track list that highlight all the good that can come from change. “Many Mirrors” is a love ballad in a sea of heartbreak and reflection that serves as a beacon of hope that good times are ahead.

“Now that we’ve passed through many mirrors / I can’t believe we’re still the same”

Alvvays, “Many Mirrors” Lyric

The guitarwork on this album is also the best it’s ever been for Alvvays. Each track builds beautifully throughout the song and from each song before it. The guitar and Rankin’s pristine vocals, like on previous Alvvays records, link this album together.

“Tile by Tile” followed by “Pomeranian Spinster” whiplash the listener from melancholy to euphoria in a fashion that is prevalent throughout the entire album. The band’s ability to switch between the soft, jangly and rocky, rough sounds make each song an exciting listening experience.

“After the Earthquake” starts with jangly guitars in the same vain as any other Alvvays song but before realizing it, the song has exploded with reverb and roughness. Only once the reverb comes in at full-blast into a pop-rock anthem, the song pauses for a moment, letting the listener savor the sound they just heard, before exploding again.

My only wish for the album is that it ended a song earlier. “Lottery Noises” would have been an conclusive, wipe-out finisher. The addition of “Fourth Figure” at the end makes the ending feel stagnated on, like there should be more to come.

Conclusion

This album took some time to grow on me fully, but each time I listen to it I find something new to connect with. Even though this is Alvvays’ longest record, I think it is their most consistent and fleshed-out project to date.

I am eager to see what Alvvay’s next project sounds like. Hopefully, they will continue to bolster their sound and will be able to release their project sooner rather than later. Alvvays is touring right now throughout the United States.

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New Album Review

“Nicks and Grazes” by Palm Album Review

Palm is a garage psych band from Philadelphia who just released their third full album, “Nicks and Grazes” Oct. 14 of this year.

Palm is made of drummer Hugo Stanley, bassist Gerasimos Livitsanos and vocalists and guitarists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt.

I am happy to say this was my first experience listening to this band, and I am glad to have discovered them when I did. “Nicks and Grazes” has so many great highlights, and could absolutely be the project that results in a major breakthrough for this band.

It is clear this band is pulling from many influences to mold their album into what is is. There are elements of rhythmic electronic, free spirited rock and sheer aggressive noise. This album is transparent in its exploratory nature. It does not belong to one genre, instead seamlessly dips into multiple.

To jump right into the individuals tracks, “Touch and Go’ and “Feathers” are bold intros to the album. This band does such an excellent job of integrating the pure sounds of guitars, drums and vocals with a jarring collage of electronica.

Most notably in “Feathers”, they channel the same energy as fellow garage psych band Spirit of the Beehive. I really love Eve Alpert’s voice in this track. Her voice is extremely clear and their lyrics are clean and concise:

“Make it up / Like a performer / I’m gonna make it up / Like I’m devout”

As the album progresses, her voice slowly begins to dissolve into the music and comes the rhythm itself. This is very prominent in “Eager Copy”. The mystic vocal and heavy keys almost dance throughout the track, both empowering and dissolving each other.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the album proceeds after the vocal and elerontic struggle within “Eager Copy”.

Following track, “Brille” is almost like waiting room music– as if it is waiting for something to load. This non-vocal track is airy and light, with sudden moments of harsh clangs and aystemmical rythym.

The track opens up to “On The Sly”, one of the most vocal dominate songs on the album. It taps into the roots of garage psych, really focusing on pure guitar, drums and distant lyrics. They really tone down the use of electronic elements in this song to bright light to their unity as a band. They achieve such a confident sound here.

A little further into the album they dive completely into noise and electronic genres. “Suffer Dragon” is almost beyond description. If you enjoy pure noise, this is the highlight for you. It is chaotic yet calm, dismantled yet unified. It brought a very uneasy feeling to the album. Although the beginning is a simply so much noice, it quickly mellows into a tune reminiscent of music by C418.

“Mirror Mirror” follows, and may be my favorite highlight of the album. This track does a great job of unifying many of the explorations within the entire project. I really enjoy the electronic quality achieved at the end of this track.

The final two tracks “Tumbleboy” and “Nicks and Grazes” deserve much praise. This entire album is very bold, these tracks do a great job of tying it all together and lifting the listener out of the composition. They are a fitting end to such a varied album.

This album was a treat a listen to. It is a great example of orderly chaos in music. The noise they are able to achieve here is destined for growth.

I’ll be keeping an ear out for anything new from Palm. If you are interested in seeing them live, they have a show in Durham, NC on Nov. 18. For tickets and information you can visit the venue website.

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New Album Review

“Magic Hour” by Surf Curse Album Review

From Reno to LA, surf punk band Surf Curse returns with their fourth album, “Magic Hour”. Started by childhood friends drummer/vocalist Nick Rattigan and guitarist/vocalist Jacob Rubeck, this band has created something truly magical in this record. Bassist Henry Dillon and Guitarist Noah Kholl help to flesh out the band’s sound perfectly.

Recorded at the infamous Electric Lady Studios, which has been the recording spot for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder, this album is a clear nod to the legends who have recorded there previously.

A review of their 2019 album, “Heaven Surrounds You”, can be found here. Before the singles for this record came out, I had only listened to a dabble of Surf Curse. Upon the release of the second single for this album, “TVI”, it was immediately all I could listen to for the next two months.

The Magic Trick

The sound of this album is silky smooth magic. The band almost called this album “Milky Magic” because they wanted to emulate and create a milky, white magic sound.

First off, I have to give major props to lead vocalist Nick Rattigan, who somehow manages to display an incredible vocal performance all while tearing it up on the drums, which is no easy feat.

Nick Rattigan also makes music under the persona Current Joys, which has a totally different sound and feel when compared to Surf Curse. The range of sounds and feelings Nick Rattigan can create throughout his music is commendable.

There are too many tracks on this album that have immediately stuck with me. If I had to name my three favorites from the record, they would probably be, “Self Portrait”, “Fear City” and “TVI”. All three tracks highlight the new steps Surf Curse has taken in their sound and what I enjoy about this album.

Surf Curse, “Self Portrait” music video

This album is Surf Curse at their most energetic. Rattigan’s visceral “YEAH”s throughout Self Portrait is heightened energy that can be found nowhere else in the Surf Curse discography. The discordant, blaring saxophone in “Fear City” makes it one of the most memorable tracks on the record.

However, the band does not forget the roots of their sound. There’s some classic Surf Curse in tracks like “Cathy”, “Lost Honor” and “Sugar” that will instantly get stuck in your head and give homage to their most popular tracks such as “Freaks” or “Disco”.

My only problem throughout the entirety of the 44-minute album is that I feel some tracks, especially the six-minute ones, could have been slightly shortened. Besides that, this is an excellent record. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys rock or punk music.

Conclusion

This record is probably my favorite of the year so far. I’m considering going to see them on tour the weekend before all of my finals. I wouldn’t do this for many other bands but hearing “Magic Hour” live would be incredible.

As Surf Curse’s discography continues to grow, they continue to vary and improve upon their already solid sound. I look forward to their future projects and how they will continue to build their discography.

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New Album Review

“DEPART” by Origami Angel Review

Origami Angel is a emo-rock duo out of Washington, DC. Lead Vocalist and guitarist, Ryland Heagy, and drummer, Pat Doherty, have released perhaps their must ambitious release to date.

“DEPART” unlike their past discography, is entirely heavy rock and screamo. This fast paced, three track release is nothing but exhilarating.

The three tracks, “JUDGE”, “FAWN” and “FOE” are compact. Each falling just under two minutes, this set is a ridiculously big step for Origami Angel in such an unaburdly short duration.

This release could give someone whiplash from how different it is from the rest of their discography. There have always been dabbles of rusticity and grunge throughout the duo’s predominately emo sound.

It is refreshing and exciting to hear a band delve into a new genre with so much confidence.

I think many bands and musicians fear taking steps into new genres; many stay within their most familiar box. There are so many avenues and platforms of criticism that artists face through social media, it makes sense why many choose to stay within one genre their whole career.

I commend Origami Angel for taking the leap.

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New Album Review

“Slowing Down” by The Backseat Lovers

The Backseat Lovers have grown into quite the success in the past few years. Their 2019 album, “When We Were Friends” skyrocketed their popularity with tracks “Kilby Girl”, “Pool House”, “Maple Syrup”, and “Watch Your Mouth”.

Especially at NC State, this indie rock band grew into a fan favorite after their performance at 2022 Wolfstock at the end of last semester.

This band has a lot on the horizon as they prepare to release another album, “Waiting to Spill” on Friday, Oct. 28 2022. In preparation they have been releasing a series of singles throughout the last few weeks.

The Backseat Lovers’ most recent single, “Slowing Down” caught my attention.

If you have listened to “When We Were Friends”, you know that the key to their musical success it their ability to hit emotional and musical cues with such unanticipated power.

Opening track, “Watch Your Month”, is a prime example of this. They build intensity and groove through this track with an almost stairstep approach. They wait for the right moments to add more to each track and chose to retreat at the perfect moments to compliment.

“Slowing Down” builds upon this technique with a refreshing approach. They are taking a more subdued and relaxed identity, letting the overlapping waves of instrumentals build the intensity rather than increasing the volume of the vocals.

This track shows a lot of the confidence they have acquired over the years. It no longer sound like they are trying to prove themselves– they know they have a successful sound and are now comfortably exploring it.

The Backseat Lovers have such a talent for crafting lyrics for the listeners. It’s very easy to connect to their songs. Especially in this track the lines felt deeply genuine, as if he is speaking to you:

“The sound of laughter
Echoes from a few doors down
The sound of pressure
Is getting louder
Whisper in my ear
That you need me”

I honestly was not expecting much from their album after listening to the other singles “Close Your Eyes” and “Growing/Dying”. However, the complexity and tones in track speaks promise for the upcoming album.

I have high hopes for “Waiting to Spill”. I hope The Backseat Lovers continue to explore this more subdued tone. I’ll be looking forward to all they will be releasing Oct.28

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New Album Review

“The Last Spa On Earth” by Divino Niño – Album Review

You’re trudging through a crumbling wastescape, your legs dragging you forward step by step. Every muscle in your body is sore beyond belief. You’re tired and hopeless. In the distance, below the biting wind, you hear the sound of moving water. You move towards the sound, parting some bushes and peer into a clearing. You’ve found it. Among the wreckage that litters the rest of the world, a world merely getting by, there is still a place dedicated to pleasure. The keys are yours. Have fun. That’s how “The Last Spa On Earth” feels.

Divino Niño’s previous work has stayed within the dream-pop-psych-rock realm (think Mild High Club), but with their latest release they’ve leaned much harder into the dreampop side of things, sprinkling a smattering of other influences into their music as well.

You don’t have to listen very far to hear the electronic influences presenting themselves. Fast drum break samples build up on “Tu Tonto.” Elements of bass are mixed into “Ecstasy,” sandwiched between an electro-house groove. “Miami” cheekily references the Will Smith track of the same name while backed by a club sound. “I Am Nobody” ends with a quick techno beat, while “Especial” has more of a house-y finish.

In terms of lyrical substance, it’s pretty hard for me to gauge. Most of the lyrics are in Spanish, and unfortunately, my rudimentary high school Spanish chops aren’t cutting it. From what I can gather, the lyrics are casual comments on love and lust, but I can’t say for sure.

Each song flows nicely into the next, never breaking the train of bliss from track to track, but the crowning achievement here is the variety in each track. When it comes to the variety in a song, there is a fine balancing act between novelty and coherence. Throw too many new ideas at the listener, and it becomes too easy to get lost. Don’t introduce enough ideas, and the song gets too stale.

Every track on “The Last Spa On Earth” manages to carry out this balancing act with grace. Let’s take the song “Ecstasy” for example, which starts out with a peppy four-on-the floor dance beat and ends with a slowed chorus of bittersweet guitars and spacey synths. The ending of “XO” enters full reggae territory after two and a half minutes of dream pop. These changes aren’t abrupt though. They bleed enough elements into each other to sound natural.

When you go to a spa, you aren’t just getting your back rubbed the whole time. That would be silly. At the spa, they’re gonna slather you with mud, put hot stones on you, guide you to the sauna, and perhaps perform a microdermabrasion or two. You’re getting relaxed and spoiled in a variety of different ways, and that’s exactly what you can expect going into this album.

Divino Niño has done the impressive; making an album that is extremely accessible without sacrificing depth. It’s a treat for the ears. All of my chips are on this album.

I give Divino Niño’s “The Last Spa On Earth” a strong ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆. Great album.