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New Album Review

Album Review: Here Comes the Cowboy – Mac DeMarco

Cowboys are back in style. Lil Nas X is just one example of the cowboy aesthetic gaining recognition in pop culture, but what about on the indie scene?

Mac DeMarco’s most recent LP, “Here Comes the Cowboy,” is a playful homage to the simplicity of Western living. The album is slow and swoony, filled with the classic DeMarco strums, love songs, and odd humor. You can really just imagine him sitting in a rocking chair in front of a prairie, wearing a flannel shirt and cowboy hat, plucking along to this album as he stares longingly at the blue sky. Maybe even a cigarette between his front teeth gap, who knows.

This has actually been one of my favorite Mac DeMarco albums so far. It’s really nice to play while relaxing or in the background, but it has its own merits for more focused listening as well. The first five songs definitely follow a definitive mellow Western sound, but things start to pick up and diversify with “Choo Choo,” which is a bit more upbeat, and “Heart to Heart,” which includes more synth-bass vibes. “On the Square” also has a bit more of a jazzy feel with the light piano notes. “Skyless Moon” is honestly heavenly with his characteristic crooning. “Hey Cowgirl” holds a very special place in my heart because yours truly is living on a farm right now. The album ends on another cowboy note in “Baby Bye Bye,” a strong finish for one of Mac’s most relaxing collections.

Overall, I really just love how Mac combines Western acoustic, synth-like strums, and prominent bass to make a really unique tone on “Here Comes the Cowboy.”

– DJ butter

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New Album Review

EP Review: “Cherushii & Maria Minerva”- Cherushii, Maria Minerva

Best Tracks: A Day Without You, This Must Be the Place, Boyfriend Shirt, Out by Myself, Thin Line (& ALL OF THEM)

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Although this EP came out about a year ago, I still find myself listening to it almost every day. If you haven’t already listened, drop everything now– stop reading, open your Spotify or Youtube or whatever, and listen to this EP. After the tragic passing of Chelsea Faith Dolan, aka Cherushii, friend and music partner Maria Minerva took over the reigns to finish 6 tracks they had once started together. Out of the 6 songs came this incredible EP, that keeps Cherushii’s legacy alive despite the tragic loss. 

Choosing my “best tracks” for this EP was almost impossible. Every song on the EP is SO good. “A Day Without You” has to be my absolute favorite, maybe because it was the first I heard from the EP and it truly drew me in. The synth, driving beat, and catchy lyrics in “A Day Without You” and “Out by Myself” make you want to sing and dance and get mad at a shitty boyfriend who doesn’t exist. “This Must Be the Place” reminds me of going to clubs and parties and the thrill and boredom of going out. The lyrics “Night life, people are having fun. Everyone is looking for something or someone. I don’t feel like playing this foolish game, cause every Friday night the story is the same,” repeat throughout the song with Minerva’s mesmerizing vocals. What I would give to go out to a club and be bored again!! :’( Until then you can find me dancing to this EP alone in my bedroom:)

“Cherushii & Maria Minerva” really doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve heard before. It’s so uniquely them and clearly has a lot of love and care behind it. It makes you want to dance, despite the tragic loss. Listen to this EP! Share it with your friends! It is so perfect. 

Xoxo,

Gab 

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New Album Review

Album Review: Niagara by redveil

If you listened to redveil’s intricate production and confident delivery you might not guess that he isn’t old enough to vote. As it turns out, the 16-year old rapper is already an industry vet who began releasing mixtapes at the age of 12. His latest release, Niagara, is a display of the talents he has already cultivated, as well as the potential he has as an artist at the beginning of his career.

The album opens with “Campbell”, a brief, two verse affair that showcases redveil’s ability to flow over a soulful sample loop. It serves as an appetizer for what’s to come on the rest of the project. It is followed by “Weight” which features a woozy vocal sample squashed underneath trap drums. Lines like “I remember when I was 11 and watching my blood on the TV get spilled out/Now I got a lil older, no love for the system and I’m reaching back for the grip now/And it’s really f— twelve I done grown in myself to the point I can see that they hate us” paint redveil as a jaded kid forced to grow up too quickly. Another highlight is “Fastlane” which finds veil reflecting on the trials and tribulations of his childhood over a jazzy piano loop.

Written, produced, and recorded (almost) exclusively by redveil in his bedroom, Niagara is a testament to the power of the DIY artist. It has established him as a budding artist who is wise beyond his years and has quite a lot to say. One thing is for sure: I’ll be listening.

Favorite tracks: Weight, 5500, Clench, Fastlane

– DJ Mango

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New Album Review

Bitchcraft Album Review

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My favorites: Nothin’ But Net, Blue Jeans and Dinner Clothes, Bilbo’s Oboe 

Listen if you like: of Montreal, Aphex Twin, Miniature Tigers 

There are so many hidden gems in music out there, undiscovered until people just like you check them out! This week I’m reviewing on of my all-time favorite albums by the incredibly elusive band/project, Spooky. This album was a two-month project released in 2011 by band members of Miniature Tigers, Alvin Band, and Algernon (bands I also really recommend checking out for their indescribable styles). “Bitchcraft” is a short 6-song album tagged under the “hip-hop/rap” genre but to me fits better under the “experimental indie” label. The production of the album is quite detailed and features a variety of soundbites merged into intricate melodies. To top it off, the collaboration adds spectacular vocals, in some cases altered to add to the esoteric, psychedelic experience that the album provides. 

I first discovered the album, “Bitchcraft”, while I was a teenager based on a friend’s recommendation and have been absolutely in love with it ever since. I remember lying on my bed listening to it for the first time and immediately being taken through an emotional journey. Every few months I remember how much I like the album and play through the whole thing, and I feel this way about very few albums; “Bitchcraft” is definitely a special one. I have yet to find someone else who has heard of the album or listened to it so I wanted to make sure to share it with the WKNC blog so more people can enjoy it. 

The project members released four mini-movie teasers and two promos that go along with the album on Youtube. The videos are strange, esoteric, and plain weird but definitely fit within the world the musicians created in the album. Unfortunately, the project never garnered enough interest for them to continue making related content, but regardless what they did produce is absolutely worth a listen. 

You can listen to the album on Bandcamp and check out their video teasers on YouTube

– Miranda

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New Album Review

EP Review: “Devotion”- Planet 1999

Best Tracks: Spell, Party, Replay, Devotion 

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I first found Planet 1999 on Caroline Polachek’s “IF U PLZ” Spotify playlist (also highly recommend this) with their single “Spell” in 2019. Planet 1999 is the first band to sign with PC Music and is often known for their ‘90s dream-pop sound. You may have also heard of them through Charli XCX– the band co-wrote and co-produced “February 2017” on album “Charli” with artists Yaeji and Clairo. This year, they finally came out with a full EP of their own- “Devotion.” 

“Devotion” is seven songs long and goes between melancholy and shoegaze-y songs like “Spell” and “Haze,” to upbeat, party songs like “Party” and “Replay.” This EP is SO pretty. The ethereal vocals and tonality remind me a lot of the Cocteau Twins, with their difficult-to-understand lyrics and ‘90s shoegaze sound. You can’t help but hum along and pretend you know the words :p

This EP is clearly very different from the typical Hannah Diamond, A. G. Cook, Charli XCX sound that PC Music is known for. It’s a lot more indie and dream-pop. I love this EP and am very curious to see more of the clear changes happening within PC Music. Even A.G. Cook just put out acoustic songs on his new 49 song album “7G”– who would have thought! Some of my personal favorites from the EP are “Spell,” “Party,” “Replay,” and “Devotion.” 

I highly recommend you check out the EP as well as their new singles– one of my favorites being “This Is For Me [baby blue] – Planet 1999 remix.” 

Xoxo, 

Gab

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New Album Review

Album Review: All the Time- Jessy Lanza

Best Tracks: All the Time, Alexander, Badly, Like Fire 

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If you’re a big fan of Jessy Lanza like I am, you’ve been anticipating her newest and 3rd full length album, All the Time, since she dropped her newest singles- “Lick in Heaven,” “Face,” and “Anyone Around” around the beginning of quarantine. Before the singles dropped, Canadian “clup-pop” artist, Jessy Lanza hadn’t put out an album since 2016’s Oh no

I first fell in love with Jessy Lanza’s sound with her first album- Pull My Hair Back. Songs like “Giddy” and “F*** Diamond” got me hooked with her etherial voice and siren-esque synth. Similarly, her second album, Oh no, became one of my favorites. Songs like “VV Violence” and “Never Enough” are reminiscent of the 80s with similarities to Janet Jackson- which I love. As well as a techno and club influence with songs like “It means I love you.” All the Time, Oh no, and Pull My Hair Back are similar yet very different– All the Time feels a lot more pop and electro-pop. 

The album is so cohesive in its consistency of sound throughout each song. Songs like “Face,” “Badly,” and “Like Fire” are very PC music, whilst still contributing her repetitive and ethereal vocals. They make you want to dance!!! Her lyrics are short and sweet- repeating phrases like “would you rather be lonely” and “over and over” on songs “Alexander” and “Over and Over.” Songs like “Baby Love” and “Over and Over” are slower, more drawn out and remind me a lot of Pull My Hair Back and even Robyn’s- “Baby Forgive Me.”

If it isn’t clear enough that I love this album, let it be known that I accidentally sent my therapist a text meant for a friend telling her to listen. Turns out my therapist listened anyways and loved it too :p I’ve also been playing the album a lot on my balcony and have gotten sweet responses from my neighbors- some even telling me to “turn it up.” SO, it really is a universally good album. 

If you’re in the mood for a fun, summer to fall album- I highly recommend. Tell your friends, neighbors, & even your therapist if you have one 😉 

-Xoxo, 

Gab

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New Album Review

Album Review: Every Bad by Porridge radio

Music billed as “the sound of our particular moment in time” can feel a little gimmicky, but Porridge Radio aren’t chasing trends, trends are catching up to them. The rest of the world is now just as bitter and disillusioned as Porridge Radio, and they have decided that this moment belongs to them alone. Seriously, lead singer Dana Margolin went into a NME interview and said “I’ve always known that we’re the best band on earth.”

If that claim makes them sound a little full of themselves, it’s not entirely unjustified. The album is built off a pretty traditional post punk formula, but it never feels like a throwback. The aggressive dour guitar tones, repetitive song structures, and wounded sarcasm call back to bands like Public Image Ltd, Pere Ube, and, of course, Joy Division. However the sound of the band takes a lot of risks as well, incorporating heavier noise-influenced passages and more memorable melodies.

Another appeal, aside from the overall sound, comes from the vocals. Margolin’s voice could hardly be described as beautiful, but she exudes the kind of self-assured, yet depressive swagger usually only rewarded in male alt-rock stars. Her lyrics repeat often, going into dark spirals, but the sheer intensity of her performances keep the music from getting stale.

The album isn’t a joyous experience, but if you need a intensely cathartic outlet for some negative emotions (And don’t we all right about now?) then I would highly recommend this album.

-Adrian F

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New Album Review

The Prelude EP Review

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My favorites: Not Alright, At My Worst
Listen if you like: Khalid, Mac Ayres, Arin Ray 

The new Pink Sweat$ EP, called The Prelude, showcases six tracks by this upcoming R&B artist most known for the release of his single “Honesty” which has more than a hundred million plays on Spotify. However, the track “17” from the new EP has already surpassed those numbers. Pink Sweat$, also known as David Bowden, has yet to release his debut album but has gained popularity in R&B/pop circles for his singles and EPs. This EP is no exception, with a masterful blend of popular cotton-candy beats, soulful vocals, and emotionally vulnerable lyrics.

The album artwork for the EP greatly reflects the whole vibe of the album: happy and bright. On the surface, every song has a playful melody and instrumentation. Easily you could picture all of these songs on a top-100s chart, alongside Bowden’s past works. Penetrating into the lyrics and meaning behind the songs gives a deeper look at the emotion housed in the artist’s music. The tracks have beautiful lines like “We’ll be dancing the same groove / When we are ninety-two, the same as seventeen.” His track that delves deepest into emotions is “Not Alright,” which focuses on the treatment of Black Americans and the emotion following the death of George Floyd. 

This EP reminded me of some of the popular works by Khalid and Arin Ray, if you enjoy those I recommend giving this a listen. There is clearly an influence of contemporary R&B, pop, and soul music infused into this work. Most of the tracks utilize guitar, very simple beats, and rely heavily on the artist’s vocal talent. 

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

– Miranda

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New Album Review

Album Review: Goodbye, Nowhere! by Double Grave

Goodbye, Nowhere! album art

This week in WKNC we received a new album by Double Grave called Goodbye, Nowhere! As their first full album since 2017, you can really tell how their time away has allowed for the band to grow into themselves and find the perfect melodies to emulate the feeling that this album gives. Starting off with the first song, Out Here sets the scene for the album as it leads us in with a background of soft wind chimes and sparse guitar riffs. It paints a picture that matches the album art, giving the listener the feeling of being stuck in a place called nowhere. 

Following the intro, The Farm starts a momentum that carries a pretty steady pace through the first half of the album. The flow is broken only momentarily by the song Actor. However, it is made up for by the emotion in Jeremy Warden’s voice when he reminisces on his past life choices and how, as the song progresses, he realizes everything would still be the same in the end. The second half of Goodbye, Nowhere! takes a more introspective turn when Warden says that if you can’t run from your problems, cover them up, or make them disappear, then “learn how to love.” 

My only criticism of this album is that Double Grave is still in that middle ground of finding their own, unique sound. However, Goodbye, Nowhere! is a progression of Double Grave finding their feet, slowly making their way out of that grave of ubiquitous, empty feeling, almost-emo rock. 

As a whole, the album gives a mixed feeling of leaving things behind yet continuing to love after you leave. As Warden said on the song The Farm, you can “walk a thousand miles,” but “take care of the ones you love.” 

Favorite Songs: 
The Farm 
NNN
Slime

Thanks for tuning in,
Much love, 
Chippypants 

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New Album Review

Review: Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2 by Tkay Maidza

Tkay Maidza is a Zimbabwean-Austrialian artist who is no stranger to the underground scene. Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, her third studio release, is an enticing smorgasbord of distinct flavors. In just 8 tracks, Tkay flexes her range as not only a singer but rapper as well, covering trunk-knocking hardcore hip-hop, silky alternative RnB and everything in between. With 26 minutes of runtime, the project plays more like an EP than an album; however, this works to Tkay’s benefit because LYWW2 is all killer, no filler.

My first experience with her was through her track “Awake”. Though it was released as a single in 2019, it fits into the tracklist of LYWW2 like a glove. Originally, I tuned in for JPEGMAFIA’s solid feature, but I stayed for Tkay’s commanding presence on the microphone. With its eerie synth lead, distorted bass, and confrontational lyrics, “Awake” is a banger to be sure.

Tkay reaches into pop rap’s bag of tricks in “You Sad”, which is accompanied by a quirky music video. The result, with its cheery guitar loop and vocal harmonies, is an earworm of a song about boys who simply won’t stop calling. To the ears, this track is diametrically opposed to “Awake”, and the fact that they are found on the same album is a testament to Tkay’s versatility as an artist.

Overall, Tkay Maidza has proven herself a force to be reckoned with on Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, A collection of tracks that are all refreshing in their own right. I would recommend this project to fans of Princess Nokia, Kari Faux, and Leikeli47. Listen to the album.

Favorite tracks: 24k, Shook, Awake, PB Jam

– DJ Mango