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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 

Categories
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

Categories
New Album Review

Nectar by Joji Review

My favorites: Modus, Sanctuary, Reanimator, Like You Do 

Listen if you like: 88Rising, Jaden, Kevin Abstract

Joji’s third project, Nectar, was released in late September. The ambitious 18-track album was highly sought after based upon his earlier releases, including tracks like “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” and “YEAH RIGHT” which helped the artist gain over 3 billion streams and the #1 spot on Billboard’s R&B Hip Hop Chart (the first Asian-American to do so). George Miller, known by pseudonyms Filthy Frank, Pink Guy, and Joji; first became noticed in the digital age through his Internet personality. He was known for years for his production of comic YouTube videos and comedy hip hop, but in late 2017 Miller switched gears to focus on music full-time and adopted the stage name Joji. Instead of playing a character as he did in years prior, Miller considers his Joji persona as being his true self. Joji released his first full album, Ballads 1, with Asian music label 88Rising. The music Joji produces and writes is often characterized under R&B or Hip Hop, but many fans consider his music to be genreless and unlike any other modern artists. 


Nectar throws the listener into a whirlwind, self-described by the artist as “explor[ing] what every living being is innately drawn to and the ends they’ll go to reach it.” Like his previous work, the album defies a genre label. Joji explores a wealth of sound, utilizing synth-heavy backgrounds, light ukulele and piano melodies, and popular hip-hop baselines. The album’s ability to explore different themes, emotions, and influences adds a unique layer to it. Certain gems include loved-up ballad “Sanctuary,” melancholic track “MODUS,” and experimental electronic “Reanimator” featuring Yves Tumor. There is a lot to like within this album and I found while listening that each track appeals to a different audience type. The experimentation done by Joji on this album is indicative of a bright future for the musician, and certainly this album is continuing to propel his success in the industry. However, Joji may have had a little too much ambition when trying to create a coherent tracklist among the 18 very different tracks. While some of the songs have stellar production, vocals, and melodies; others falter slightly. Certain tracks are clunky and needed more development. Despite this, Joji has proven that within less than five years, he can continue to develop a coveted sound and loyal fanbase. The album was not perfect but is definitely worth listening for anyone interested in R&B, trip-hop, or anti-pop. I look forward to all that Joji has to offer in the future. Seeing his talent evolve and bloom is always a treat.

– Miranda

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New Album Review

Six Feet Under – Nightmares of the Decomposed (2020)

Have I mentioned that I love Chris Barnes and Six Feet Under?! You know that I certainly have, Butcher Crew! And Nightmares of the Decomposed is no exception. It was released on October 2, 2020 by Metal Blade Records. This record is Six Feet Under’s 17th full-length album, and as usual, it marks a difference in vocal style and musical composition. 

First, Chris Barnes’ vocals continue to evolve (or, devolve) from the early days of ‘95s The Haunted, where his gutterals were legendary; to mid-career material like Undead (2012) and Unborn (2013), where he utilized a strangely darker vocal sound – not as gravely, but more psychotic sounding – to Nightmares of the Decomposed where we find Barnes’ vocals a creepy combination of gutteral and nearly out-of-control rasp. I like it! You can tell it’s Barnes, and at the same time you’re like, what the hell is going on?! And we can’t forget his patented squEEEEEEl!!! 

Secondly, the band. Jeff Hughell (Asylum, Vile, Braindrill) has been on bass since 2012, “Lord Marco” Pitruzzella (Vile, Braindrill, Vital Remains, The Faceless) has been on drums since 2013, Ray Suhy has been a guitarist since 2015, and Jack Owen (Cannibal Corpse, Decide) joins in on guitars for this record. We haven’t seen the Barnes/Owen combination since the early days of Cannibal Corpse, and you can tell by the writing of both music and lyrics that having these two back together is a very good thing. 

And finally, Six Feet Under have returned to a more classic sound, musically. Most of the songs on Nightmares of the Decomposed are slow to mid-tempo, groovy bops (and you already know that I like that!) with the legendary Jack Owen-style riffs. Great examples of this tone are “Migraine” and “The Noose.” They just ooze along, leaking bodily fluids, as the vocals tell a horrifying story. Then, there’s another style, here, like on “Blood of the Zombie” and “Self Imposed Death Sentence.” The rhythm progressions are layered, while harmonies (yes, harmonies!) and melodies (what?!!) fill out the song with a thick beating. And finally, the faster songs – “Amputator” and “Without Your Life” – are great examples of the technical skill of the band. The latter, in fact, combines all three elements – ooze, layered beatings, and technical pulverizing for one excellent song! As Barnes says in “Labyrinth of Insanity,” enjoy the ride! 

Track Listing:

  1. Amputator
  2. Zodiac
  3. The Rotting
  4. Death Will Follow 
  5. Migraine 
  6. The Noose 
  7. Blood of the Zombie 
  8. Self Imposed Death Sentence 
  9. Dead Girls Don’t Scream
  10. Drink Blood Get High 
  11. Labyrinth of Insanity 
  12. Without Your Life 

Favorite Songs: Amputator; The Rotting; The Noose; Without Your Life

Rating: 8.5/10 – a strong offering from Six Feet Under! 

What are some of your favorite songs?

Stay Metal,

THE SAW

Categories
New Album Review

Album Review: “TURN OFF THE LIGHT” by Kim Petras

ALBUM: “TURN OFF THE LIGHT” by Kim Petras

RELEASE YEAR: 2019

LABEL: AWAL

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “Wrong Turn,” “Death by Sex” and “Tell Me It’s A Nightmare,” “Close Your Eyes”

FCC: EXPLICIT

Although this album came out almost exactly a year ago, I felt like it was perfect to review this month. Kim Petras’ Halloween album, “TURN OFF THE LIGHT” is one of my absolute favorites. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so when Kim dropped a continuation of “TURN OFF THE LIGHT VOL. 1,” I simply could not stop listening to it all of October and even more throughout the year :p

This year, I’ve found myself listening to it again. It’s so spooky and fun and perfectly narrates all of October, especially now that there are fewer Halloween festivities 🙁 Every song on the 17-song long album is soooo good. “Death By Sex”… just WOW. This song is spooky and sexy and just really makes you want to dance. It reminds me a lot of the typical Kim Petras sound we’re used to. The driving beat almost reminds me of “Icy” from her album “Clarity” but with a Halloween twist. “TRANSylvania” reminds me a bit of Daft Punk with its bass and spooky and electronic sound effects.

I was hoping there would be a volume 3 this year, but unfortunately it looks like there might not be (I’m guessing due to COVID-19) 🙁 BUT, we still have VOL. 1 and 2 to listen to this October and November and December and all the months 🙂

Hope you listen and enjoy as much as I do–

XOXO

Gab

Categories
New Album Review

Dreamland Review

My favorites: Hot Sugar, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Helium 

Listen if you like: Goth Babe, Phantogram, Washed Out 

After the release of the single tracks which teased the release of Glass Animals’ album, Dreamland, fans were eager to hear the newest album. Initially set to release July 10th, the album was actually released on August 7th. As a listener, I’ve enjoyed the band’s past two albums and have awaited the release of Dreamland for at least four years. You can check out my initial reaction to the single releases on my first blog post about the band here

The expectations I formed based upon the initial single releases led me to infer the album’s meaning and purpose. Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley reflects in the “Dreamland” track on the uncertainty of life and how the pandemic has had an effect on the band; and additionally these emotions were heightened following drummer Joe Seaward’s biking accident in 2018 which deeply affected all the band members. Not only does the album follow this theme, the “Dreamland” single hints at another theme for the album: “You’ve had too much of digital love/You want everything live, you want things you can touch.” The album focuses on a longing for the era of the 90s (indicated by the album art) where technology and screens had less of a pull on the general public. Both uncertainty and an anti-technology stance pepper the album’s lyricism. In “Tangerine,” Bayley teases the song’s subject for losing themself: focused on money and taking “aerial photos of you and your smoothie.” The album additionally furthers the nostalgic 90’s vibe with interspersed samples of old home movies, the ringing of a corded home phone, and references to holographic glasses, GTA, and Dr. Dre. 

Though the album provides a few great new tracks, there is very little variation from their usual sound. I definitely expected more variety to the likes of the single “Tokyo Drifting” featuring experimental melody and a feature by Denzel Curry. As a Gen-Z, I am unimpressed by the attempts to channel nostalgia by bashing modern life and technology; though I’m sure this would have more impact on someone raised in the 90’s or earlier. Though I don’t love this album, I do look forward to what’s next for the band. 

– Miranda