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New Album Review

“DECIDE” by Djo Album Review

Djo has picked up a lot of popularity over the past three years after his 2019 release “Twenty Twenty”. There is no doubt he will continue this trend with his newest album, “DECIDE”, released Sep. 16 of this year.

I think there is common trend among artists such as Djo, who is otherwise known as actor Joe Keery. Multi-talented and multi-expressive artists are simply enchanting.

Being able to express themselves through acting, directing, writing, or visual art only strengthens their ability to sing, perform, and compose. In “DECIDE” Joe Keery’s theatrical nature is really prominent– featuring various forms of spoken word and unusual audio clips.

Track Highlights

Generally, this album is really solid. In any release there will always be stronger songs than others, but I was really pleased by the composition of the entire album. It’s entirely very expressive and cohesive, while maintaining diversity within the tracks.

It’s starts off song with tracks “Runner” and “Gloom”. “Gloom” is certainly one of my favorites off the album. Although it doesn’t particularly have any experimental hooks, the proliferation within the lyrics and vocals sets an anticipation and excitement for the entire album.

“Undress you with my eyes, I’m ready to go / I measure up to you, I’m ready to go / I smoked my cigarettes, I’m ready to go”

The tone set in the first two tracks leads the listener to expect pretty vanilla indie pop songs for the remainder of the album, but I was happy to see Djo diverge from that sound immediately in some of the elements in “Half Life”.

Djo is really exploring audio collage in tracks “Half Life”, “Change”, “Is That All It Takes”, and “Go For It”. It’s clear Djo is pulling from multiple sources of inspiration.

He is also seen tapping into a 90’s sound, similar to artists such as Jamiroquai, in track “I Want Your Video”.

While also exploring more electronica genres, perhaps pulling inspiration from Daft Punk in tracks such as “Climax”.

I really appreciate his ending tracks, they conclude “DECIDE” in a perfectly theatrical and ominous tone.

It’s refreshing to hear Djo continue to build strength in his musical composition and vocals. I was impressed by his range of musical textures and variety of inspiration. I’m excited to see what he will be releasing in the future, I’m sure this album will continue to push him towards major success.

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New Album Review

DEEWEE Duo Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul’s “Topical Dancer”

One of the most popular perceptions of “pop music” is that of a shallow, clichéd genre with little artistic value. That doesn’t mean that artists aren’t trying to buck this perspective by using the upbeat, repetitive sounds and lyrics that define the genre to discuss social and cultural issues.

“Topical Dancer” is the satirical, irony-laced debut album released in March 2022 under DEEWEE and Because Music by Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. This duo from Ghent, Belgium utilize an upbeat electropop sound that contrasts heavily with their socially-conscious lyrics about racism and sexism (among other issues).

Still, that dichotomy helps to bring humor into the album without sacrificing nuance in their lyrics or musical quality. “We see pop music as a vehicle to say something,” Bolis said in an interview with The Guardian’s Kadish Morris.

“Do you speak Esperanto?”

We’ll start with Charlotte’s address to the audience that opens the album: why do you think you’re so much better than everyone else? The first track after the intro, “Esperanto”, lets Charlotte vent her frustrations with many people who claim to be “woke”. In the track’s first half, Charlotte asks listeners to consider whether they simply pretend to empathize with the plights of marginalized communities.

“Are you as open-minded behind closed doors?

Would you join forces in this holy war?

Are you as offended when nobody’s watching?”

Lyrics from “Esperanto” by Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul

As backhanded insults toward the people she’s questioned throughout the first half of the song, Charlotte pivots into relaying many of the substitutions in language these people make when talking about people often subject to discrimination (Black people, Latinos, Asians and women, specifically).

“And then, it hit me”

This may just be my most played song off “Topical Dancer”, and it’s the one that drills into you most with its blunt messaging about love in western society. The song in question is “It Hit Me”, the fifth track on the album and the first vocal appearance of Bolis Pupul.

From the first 20 seconds of the song, the duo greets listeners with haunting, eerie synths that unnerved me at first but set up an uncomfortable tone that beautifully supplements the three stories in the track. And then, we hear a whistle as Charlotte starts her first story. At just 13 years old, a couple of men catcalled her on her way to field hockey practice, which she explains in full detail to listeners. Eventually, she realizes just how she’s been sexualized not just by these men but by a society that encourages shallow sexual appeal.

Bolis then delves into his own experiences of dealing with insecurities about his appearance, which he struggles to see how any woman could find attractive. He realizes at the end of his story how toxic it is for him to worry so much about every aspect of how he looks, but again society promotes this obsession with physical appearance.

Finally, Charlotte recalls a date with a boy named Stefaan where she follows flirting advice from a teen magazine. The date goes south, Stefaan leaves her, and it hits her how weird the flirting advice in a teen magazine is. Why is love something marketed to people as inherently sexual, looks-based, and (especially) targeted towards minors?

“This is not a cliché”

“Ceci n’est pas un cliché” is the most popular song off “Topical Dancer”, and it serves as a good summary of the goal for the album as a whole. Charlotte spends the entirety of this song rattling off clichés in pop songwriting: she’s “down on my knees begging you please” and spelling out words like love, which was especially popular in the mid-to-late-2000s.

However, the real punch of this track lies in the chorus: “I wanna make you feel real nice / I bet this song sounds real familiar.” While Charlotte’s trying to live out the ideal love life as described by pop songs throughout the last 50 years, her partner is “cold as ice” and uncaring.

This is exactly the type of situation Charlotte and Bolis hope to change with their own pop music; they’re trying to dispel many of the clichés so ingrained into pop and instead turn the genre into something filled with a nuanced discussion of social issues.

Music video for “Ceci n’est pas un cliché” from YouTube posted by Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. Directed by Bob Jeusette and produced by Jarri Van der Haegen.

Now Go Dance

One of the great things about “Topical Dancer” is that, while it might be unconventional compared to other pop and dance music, it is still incredibly accessible to anyone with a passing interest in music. Two of the songs are in languages other than English, and one–“HAHA”–is composed mostly of the distorted laughs of Charlotte. However, the lyrics in every other song are straightforward and impactful.

Even if you don’t care for the lyrical content of “Topical Dancer”, Charlotte and Bolis succeeded in creating a dance-able album that can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Overall, I would give the album a 9/10, since there are a couple of tracks that don’t add much to the album, but they aren’t bad by any means.

– Cashew Muncher

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New Album Review

“SPARK” by Whitney Album Review

One of the best things about listening to an artist is seeing how their sound develops over time. Hearing an artist’s sound evolve from album to album is truly a special thing. Sometimes, however, an evolution can sound more like a fall back than a step forward.

Chicago duo Whitney is famous for their wistful falsetto vocals and warm instrumentals. They make indie that incorporates folk and country, topped off with soul.

I was excited to see that they started releasing singles in June for an upcoming project. “REAL LOVE” was the first in a string of five singles that would release before the record.

Sadly, most of the songs released before the album left me desiring something more. Something I was hoping I would be able to hear at the album’s release.

“SPARK”

The first thing I noticed about each song on “SPARK” was the incredible production. The synths, strings and horns, which Whitney has utilized before, are on full display for these songs. At its peak, the production of each song truly melts in your ears.

However, I cannot help but feel like these peaks are few and far between on Whitney’s new record. It seems the sacrifice for the clear, crisp production of this album was a lack of variety and songs that die out before the halfway point.

A big problem I have noticed with many of the songs on this record is they are very front-heavy. Songs like “SELF” or even “REAL LOVE” (which I still admittedly like a lot) start with a strong premise but instead of building on that premise, they plateau.

Music video for “REAL LOVE” by Whitney

This isn’t to say the new Whitney album is all bad. “BLUE” is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs by the band. On the slower, more melancholic songs, like “COUNTY LINES” the high-quality production is at the forefront and sounds great.

There’s something about this album that makes me want to like it more than I do. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m such a fan of their first few albums. It could also be that when this album is at its peak, it sounds excellent. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hit that peak enough.

Conclusion

In “SPARK”, instead of evolving into a new and original sound, Whitney falls into a sound that highlights many of the band’s shortcomings. While there are highlights, if Whitney continues to make music in this vein, I hope they increase the variety within and songwriting of their tracks.

I fully believe Whitney is capable of doing this. I think that if they can get a better grasp on this new sound, they could release their best album yet.

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New Album Review

“Icarus” by Cryalot EP Review

Kero Kero Bonito‘s Sarah Midori Perry released her first solo project, “Icarus”. According to an interview with DIY, Perry created her solo project, titled Cryalot in 2018 as an outlet to express herself in a space separate from KKB.

Cryalot was used for DJ sets until this year when Perry, along with producer Jennifer Walton, began releasing singles for the EP in June.

Flying Into the Sun

This EP leans heavily into an electronic pop sound that is reminiscent of KKB’s 2018 album, “Time ‘n’ Place”. This EP does stretches the boundaries of electronic pop, stepping into areas like spoken word and metal.

Five tracks in length, this EP is solely focused on the Greek myth of Icarus. Usually viewed as a cautionary tale, to Perry, Icarus is about the “beauty of human beings pushing themselves to become something more.”

Perry’s sweet voice mixed with the brutal beats from Walton make this EP truly memorable. Both Perry and Walton are firing on all cylinders to create a sound that complements both of their talents extremely well.

Falling Into the Tracks

Starting off the EP, “Touch the Sun” is a great introduction. The song uses perspective to tell the flight of Icarus from his perspective with a bassy, rythmic beat behind it. I felt this was a great starting track because each song following it seems to build on the sound used in this song.

“Let me touch the sun, wanna have it all / I don’t care if I fall, I accepted it all”

Cryalot, “Touch the Sun” post-chorus lyric

The following track “Hurt Me” is about the fall of Icarus, still in the perspective of Icarus. This song has the same appeal as the first song to me but I still enjoyed it. While listening to this track, I couldn’t help but picture Pieter Bruegel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus“.

Cryalot, “Hell Is Here” single art

“Hell Is Here”, the third track, is the heaviest on the EP. This was probably the song I will continue to go back to in the future. Perry experiments with metal-inspired vocals in the chorus which really worked for me.

Following “Hell Is Here”, “Labyrinth” is much calmer. Starting with a calm piano and stepping away from the heavy bass-beats, it puts Perry’s voice in the spotlight. The chorus to this song is super catchy, and utilizes glitchy sounds very well.

Finishing the EP, “See You Again”, is more of a spoken-word song than anything. The production carries this song, but in my opinion it ran on a bit too long for me to want to come back to it.

Conclusion

“Icarus” was a really enjoyable listen. Tracks like “Hell Is Here” and “Labyrinth” will definitely be on repeat in the coming weeks. This EP very effectively tells the story of Icarus from a different perspective, one that I had never considered.

My only problem with this EP is I think some of the songs run a bit too long for my liking. “Hell Is Here” perfectly utilizes it’s length and does not have any fluff which makes it very easy to come back to.

I look forward to future work from Cryalot. This short EP is a very promising start to this project and I can’t wait to see what Perry does next with the project.

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New Album Review

“Flood Format” by Bird’s Eye Batang – Album Review

If you’ve never heard of Bird’s Eye Batang, then you may be familiar with the South Korean artist’s other moniker, Mid-Air Thief, who’s 2018 album “Crumbling” has been getting more and more attention as of late. If you aren’t familiar with either of them, then get ready for a folktronica sound you’ve never heard before.

“Flood Format,” which released earlier this year, is far less folk- and far more -tronica, but still sits within the outskirts of the genre. It doesn’t reach the deeply organic and transcendent breadths of “Crumbling,” but it succeeds in exploring darker, more alien territory, with a signature maximalist sound.

The first track, “Slippery Smile”, has these jubilant, joyous and bouncy chimes that remind me of the vibrant buildups you’d hear in a Stevie Wonder song. It then slips into something more fluid and abstract as it transitions to the second track, where the melodies are still bright, but harsher. It leads into sections of experimental noise before circling back around to the lead melody.

The third track, “Spin and Stone”, feels mysterious and curious, and as it starts to pick up it, feels like you’re being swept into an entirely different world. The picture below is the closest image I can find that looks like how this song feels.

Two streams merging into one in the middle of the woods. Pebbles cover the ground, and lush greenery and moss surround tree trunks. Sunlight pokes through, illuminating the mostly shadowed woods.
Imagine you’re a tiny little woodland elf going out here to gather pebbles. That’s what the song feels like. Photo courtesy of Toburke, under Creative Commons.

“Ripplippling” is a sort of chillwave track with its wide, filtering synths and echoing bells, but with far more texture and character than most chillwave I’ve come across. On its own, “Ripplippling” is the most digestible track on this album.

Unfortunately it’s cut a bit short by an interlude, which showcases some brilliant sound design and noises that are most likely from a bird. This is the worst track on the album for me but it’s less than a minute long.

The album then transitions to its darkest portion. “Brux Batang” features discordant sounds layered over a techno beat before suddenly enveloping the listener in a suffocating symphony of dying machines, noise being stretched and warped around you, a complete storm, pulled and worn like taffy, ending in a crumpled heap.

“The Wider The Wheel” feels like a rush, a need to escape, hurrying past all these sights and sounds, not able to fully process any of them, letting them penetrate your conscious before promptly leaving. You escape. You are faced with an enormous empty void.

And the final song, with a light samba swing, is a much needed breath of comfortable relief.

“Flood Format” is a journey. Bird Eye Batang continues the legacy of one of the most intricate musicians working today, and hopefully now people will shut up and stop comparing him to Grizzly Bear.

I give Bird Eye Batang’s “Flood Format” ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆. Great Album.

– Spencer Grattan

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New Album Review

“Shadowglow” by flipturn

flipturn is an Indie rock band from Fernandina Beach, Florida who just released their debut album “Shadowglow” this past Friday.

I didn’t know what to expect from this debut; flipturn has had a lot of success through their previous singles and EPs,  but what tone would they bring to their first full album? I wasn’t surprised by the moodiness they brought into this album. I was happy to hear their sound really mature throughout this release. 

Each song was clearly crafted with a lot of intention and the overall composition of the album was really appealing to me. It has a great mix of high and low energy tracks, but all meld together under a cohesive theme– reflection, contentment and moving forward.

Song Breakdowns

“The Fall” – This is an ideal opening track– it holds a cinematic energy while introducing some of the sounds and themes we will expect to hear throughout the album. Flipturn has such a contagious excitement here which bleeds into the tracks that follow.

“Playground” – This track is what I expected the whole album to sound like, just a solid indie pop rock sound– to be anticipated from flipturn. I was glad to see them diverge from this in the tracks that follow.

“Whales” – This one is definitely one of my favorites on the album, it’s such a great exploration of musical texture that hasn’t really been seen in flipturn’s previous releases. 

“Sad Disco” – I honestly was not expecting much from this track solely based on the name, but I was pleasantly surprised. It has a very fun energy that contrasts great with the moody vocals. My only gripe with this track is that a lot of artists seem to fall into the sad lyrics but happy song trope– I feel like flipturn could have used their newfound confidence for something a little more expressive.

“Brooklyn Baby” – There are multiple tracks on this album where flipturn is stepping away from its guitar-based-indie-rock-sound and moving towards a more layered, textured sound. This track is an excellent example of the new exploratory sound flipturn is aiming to create in this album. Every component in this track is unified– vocals, keys, bass, guitar– they are all working together beautifully here.

“Halfway” – I adored this track on my first listen, although it doesn’t take many musical risks, it has such a genuine sound. This track is probably the most vocal dominant; with longing lyrics similar in tone to their most popular track “August”. flipturn seems to have a lot of love stories that didn’t work out, “Still smell your lips, I still taste your hair / And I did not love you, and I’m well aware”. This song is unapologetically loveless and I love it.

“In Consideration” – This track, although not the most notable, greatly ties together many of the themes explored in the first half of the album: expectations versus reality. flipturn has released many  tracks that reflect on past memories and loves, and this song perfectly encapsulates the guilt that comes from not appreciating what is around you in the moment. This track takes the first step in moving forward from regret which all starts with reflection, “I’ve got more love than / I could have asked for / I never meant to say / That I needed more”. 

“Goddamn” – What an excellent placement within “Shadowglow”. It is such a refreshing release of anger that was much needed in this album. It opens with the explosive chorus, “Goddamn my poisoned mind / Goddamn the Internet / Sometimes I wish that, love was harder to find / But it’s cheap like cigarettes, and I’m running out of breath”. This song does a great job of maintaining the loveless tone from In Consideration and Halfway but begins to pick up the album’s energy. This track has a striking message encapsulated in striking music: the lack of authenticity within modern relationships and with ourselves is perhaps contributed to the growing reliance on social media. Discovering and expressing genuine feelings may be the pathway to contentment.

“Hollow” – This is one that I don’t think was needed in this album. I do appreciate the use of percussion in this track, and there is great compression and expansion in sound; but overall this track feels less deliberate.

“Burn” – In the opening of this song I had to check to make sure I was still listening to flipturn. Its electro-esque background is definitely a new exploration for flipturn but I am so glad they made this musical choice. The synthetic backdrop of this track juxtaposes with Dillon Basse’s wholesome vocals beautifully.

“Weepy Woman” – This is definitely one of my favorites on this album. The transition from Burn into Weepy Woman is so strong. I love some good bass and I love the bass line in this track. Not to mention, the high energy is simply intoxicating. The lyrics are a nice break from the repetitiveness seen in some of the prior tracks. Once again, flipturn is seen integrating a more textured sound as seen in Burn and Whales while maintaining their familiar indie rock tone.

“Take Care” – I am torn with this one, I definitely don’t think they needed this track in this album but I’m happy to see them take a bigger step into pop and electronic genres. It wasn’t quite bold enough to stand out within their other tracks, but provides a great moment of reflection within “Shadowglow.”

“Space Cowboy” – This one really roped me into the album. They released this track prior to the album, and what an excellent choice that was. This song really set the stage for “Shadowglow” without being the star of the show. It opens with a pretty standard flipturn sound but really opens up at the end into something much bolder. This track really demonstrates this newfound confidence flipturn is portraying throughout the entire album– maintaining their indie rock roots but taking strong leaps into other sounds.

“Orbit” – I really appreciate considerate album composition. I think it is important to include moments of pause and reflection within a longer album, and this final track does just that. It isn’t flashy. It’s a pleasant send off for the listeners.

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of sounds in “Shadowglow”, after listening to this album all the way through I almost immediately bought myself a ticket to see them live. The variety of themes they tapped on in this album mirrored there variety of sounds beautifully. It is clear to me that flipturn is gaining more and more confidence with every release, and I cannot wait to see them perform these tracks live.

Stay tuned for a concert review in the near future.

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New Album Review

“Remember Your North Star” by Yaya Bey Won’t Be Forgotten

Hadaiyah (Yaya) Bey is a splendid R&B artist that resides in New York. Their new album, “Remember Your North Star”, is an unforgettable excursion into the effects of misogyny and failed love.

Bey’s magnetic voice attracts ears like no other. Many tracks are like whispers into the soul, and when they picks up the rhythm I get lost in their encapsulating storytelling 

Yaya Bey’s previous work can be found on their Bandcamp and Spotify. They have released a few other albums and EPs over the past couple of years, but this release is getting much deserved love from many music journalists. 

Bey is also an art curator and physical art creator. As stated on the album’s Bandcamp page, “[i]n 2019, her work was featured in the District of Columbia Arts Center’s “Reparations Realized” exhibit and Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)’s “Let the Circle Be Unbroken” exhibit”. 

Smooth Tracks

I thought it would be harder to pick out some of my favorite tracks on this album, but the way Bey is able to set up certain tracks for emphasis makes the choices more straightforward. 

Wow. “keisha” blew me away with its elegance in storytelling and vocals. Bey conveys so many emotions in the short span of 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The warm instrumentals slyly slip us into a fight for love and attempt at understanding the lack of mutual warmth in a relationship. 

The music video for this track is super cool. Bey has gorgeous style and there are a few clips that make the song more emotionally impactful too. Also, this song is explicit:

Video from YouTube. Uploaded by Yaya Bey.

In “street fighter blues”, the opening lyrics, “Love/ Love is a waste of time/ I’m spinning out of my mind”, set us up for an epic exploration of personal grief about love. Finding that beautiful soul after years of iffy and horrible relationships feels impossible. This song is that feeling. It exudes the smothering of hope in finding someone truly wonderful to share your life with. 

As “reprise” is the longest track by almost 1 minute and 30 seconds, the instruments and beats that make up the background of the track have the most depth out of any track on the album. The syrupy flow that the horn pushes allows for the hard cutting lyrics and vocal flow of Bey’s voice to slice the air into the perfect bars. The bars are bite-sized and delicious, just like this whole track. 

There are so few faults in this album that it doesn’t leave much to be desired. The only thing I could think of is a bit more instrumental depth in a few tracks like “mama loves her son”, but really the simplicity of the beats brings out the beauty of Bey’s voice. 

Conclusion

If you’re not listening to this album by the time you get to this point in the article, then you didn’t read the words I have written down. Sure, the emotional and personal focus of this album is hard hitting, but the artistic beauty and perspective that Bey lends the world is more important than a few tears you might shed. 

I cannot wait to see where Yaya Bey’s work will lead them. Their voice in the music industry is vital to the future depths that artists will be able to explore in the future. Dancing around diverse genres of art gives artists an appreciation of how much their own sound can develop through the billions of perspectives the world offers, and I think Bey’s “Remember Your North Star” does just that. 

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New Album Review

“Deus Arrakis”, Klaus Schulze’s Final Trip into Space

Klaus Schulze is a famous name in the synth genre. He basically built the genre’s foundations and roots. Starting in 1971, Schulze started his solo career, and in the span of 4 years he released 5 full length albums, most notably “Timewind” and “Irrlicht” are among his first 5 releases. 

Schulze died this year, 2022, on the 26 of April, and “Deus Arrakis” was released July 1 this year. This album is a continuation of his “Dune” album, which draws inspiration from the Frank Herbert science fiction classic that shares the same name. 

The most notable bands that were either inspired by or founded with Schulze are Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Popol Vuh. Klaus Schulze also produced many LPs by notable bands and artists over his long, illustrious career, and Schulze has worked on many movie soundtracks.

“Deus Arrakis”

Getting into this long winded music can be intimidating, but thankfully Schulze has broken up the three tracks that comprise the album into reasonably listenable lengths. As a huge “Dune” geek, I will be making constant references to the books, so if you can’t quite follow along, then go read “Dune”. 

The desert sands of Arrakis swirl with the deep red spice, mélange in the opening track “Osiris – Pt. 1”. In this song, Schulze composes a slow opening that wakes us into the dreamy nights in Sietch Tabr. Nights are full of breathtaking stars and trade guild ships zipping to and from spice repositories. “Osiris – Pt. 1” offers up a calm Arrakis night, and makes the world feel like home. 

In “Seth Pt. 5”, the cello takes the center stage. Slow movements bring floods of warmth and glitzy dreams in  another atmospheric song. One thing I have noticed about this album is how it creates a mood and emotional presence more than a concrete objective thought. This track is able to pull from the flow of water and meld your stream of consciousness into its own. 

The final song of the album, “Der Hauch des Lebens – Pt. 5” feels like the patter of raindrops hitting the newly terraformed world of Arrakis. It’s a release of pure relief and contentment that moves through your body and makes you wonder what it would feel like to be exposed to rain for the first time. 

Final Wishes

I heavily enjoy atmospheric music, but I can only listen to so much of it in one sitting. This album did not allow me to listen through all in one go. I had to split up the tracks and parts to listen to the entirety of it, which isn’t inherently a negative quality of any album, yet I forgot how some tracks blend together or play off each other. I lost the ability to differentiate tracks and movements from each other. 

Schulze’s final studio album (that we know of) is great. I will always enjoy listening to this science fiction music because it’s so peaceful. “Deus Arrakis” may not be one of his greatest achievements in music, but will be loved and adored appropriately for what it is. 

I hope all those people and bands that Klaus Schulze supported here on Earth continue to pay tribute to his legacy and open minded nature by creating beautiful music and art for our simple Earthling minds to drool over and inhale.

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New Album Review

“My Second Debut Album” – Abbie from Mars

ALBUM: “My Second Debut Album” by Abbie from Mars

RELEASE YEAR: 2022

LABEL: None

RATING: From Another Planet / 10

BEST TRACKS: “Following Your Lead”, “Fog It Up”, “Participation”

FCC: Some tracks have explicit content

Abbie from Mars is a techno alien from the future who has graced us with beautiful new ways to experience sounds and music (she’s also a self proclaimed “ursonist”, which is a combination of arsonist and ursonate). Hyperpop artists like SOPHIE and Bjork cleared the landing pad to help welcome Abbie to Earth, and thankfully she’s stuck around this planet long enough to let us experience her perspective through her art. 

Abbie from Mars (AfM) currently resides in New York City working at a local radio station, playing gigs throughout the city, and supporting a nonprofit that helps local kids get access to music education. Her radio show is from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m., and it sounds like an intergalactic experience. 

My Second Debut Album” is exactly that. AfM’s sophomore album is a wacky ride through space and time. The album is like an electric current that courses through your body, electrifying you and opening your eyes to how different the world can be perceived through sound waves. 

Out of This World Tracks:

I feel my muscles spasm every time “Following Your Lead” starts off, and then it lets me flow through the rest of the album without a hitch. The jolt from this opening track allows me to prepare for the rest of the album, which I truly appreciate. I think AfM’s electro beats and sounds on this track are a fun intro to the rest of the album and it has the most “singability” factored into it too. 

Fog It Up” has the synth waves and radioactive dance beats that one might expect from an otherworldly being. I really enjoy the way AfM blends her vocals with the instruments in this track. The hazier vocals leave me in a state of confusion as the whole world disappears from view until I wipe the condensation from my glasses. 

In “Participation”, I found that AfM created a similar chill sound like “Fog It Up”, but more ethereal like a Grimes track or a Bjork instrumental bit. Again, it is the blending of multiple vocals, instruments and mutilated sounds that bring me to appreciate this track more than the rest. 

Unrealized Potential:

The insanity that is “I Think I Broke My Finger” kind of leaves you reeling from shock. It is hard to listen to as Abbie screams and hurls odd sounds into your eardrums, but it’s the explosive nature of the sounds that makes it tolerable. AfM has a neat talent to create rhythms with funky sounds, which is what a lot of hyperpop artists have in common. 

My only issue with “What Good Is a Weekend” is that it isn’t long enough. I want so much more of this song so I can enjoy more than the minute long bliss that bumps out of the speakers in this track.

Conclusions:

In short, Abbie from Mars is still brand new on the music scene and the planet. She has potential to grow and the freedom to move around and make some experimentally influential music that can affect new artists. I cannot wait to see how she continues her career and time on Earth.

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New Album Review

“Ugly Season” by Perfume Genius Album Review

ALBUM: “Ugly Season” by Perfume Genius

RELEASE YEAR: 2022

LABEL: Matador Records

RATING: 5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Hellbent”, “Photograph”, “Pop Song”

FCC: None

Experimental artists like Perfume Genius are always creating new sound combinations for our ears to devour, but sometimes their music doesn’t quite land. At least that’s how I feel about “Ugly Season”. 

Perfume Genius (Mike Haderas) constantly revises and adds to his unique sounds, and usually I cannot stop listening to his releases. For me, “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” was an instant success. The lyrics and slow nature of the songs were my favorite parts, but I didn’t find that comfort in “Ugly Season”.

Best Bits:

I did end up enjoying a few tracks on this album, but they really don’t compare to the joy I get from listening to any of Perfume Genius’ earlier works. 

Pop Song”, even though it has a boring name, is one of the most upbeat songs on the album. The glitzy electro beats that introduce the song promise electric dance beats to ensue. The discordant instruments on this track are another reason I like this song. They flash in your ears and call you to listen a bit closer to the chaos.

In “Photograph” there is a deep dark undertone throughout the track. Haderas also uses a deeper, more somber voice to increase this dark presence. Also, I am not sure why but this track reminds me of the Radiohead song “Paranoid Android”. “Photograph” does what I wish the entire album could do, and that is use Haderas’ lovely voice with the heavy, melancholic sounds that permeate the album. 

I think “Hellbent” is my overall favorite track from the album. The warbling reverb beat and eerie noises create a fun creepy atmosphere that I would not mind sinking myself into. Perfume Genius’ voice left me feeling like I was in a car that was constantly breaking so quickly my head would snap back and forth between the headrest and dashboard. There is so much fun chaos on this track compared to the monotony of the rest of the album. 

The Rest of the Album:

Honestly, the rest of the album is so similar to itself that it makes it difficult for me to pick what I didn’t like the most. 

The last half of the album is stronger than the front end. Maybe if “Just a Room” wasn’t the introductory song I would have been able to “click” with the sounds more. I can’t invest myself into an album if it doesn’t strike out and grab my attention immediately. 

A lot of the tracks felt like they went on too long. Don’t get me wrong, I love extremely long songs (like Klaus Schulze’s “Dune” album). In “Ugly Season” I didn’t want to listen to anything over 5 minutes long (except “Hellbent”). 

Conclusions:

I wish I enjoyed this album more. Perfume Genius makes amazing music and all of Haderas’ early works are easily revisitable, but I don’t think “Ugly Season” will be one of those albums for me. 

There are definitely a lot of appealing sounds and decisions made in this album that  many people besides myself could enjoy. Some sections of “Ugly Season” were too quiet or too discordant, and I love Death Grips but their discord has rhythm. “Ugly Season” fails to add meaning behind the sounds for me.

I am excited to see where this album will lead Perfume Genius’ music in the future because it holds so many possibilities to branch off of.