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New Album Review

“Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night” New Album Review

ALBUM: “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night” by Bleachers

RELEASE YEAR: 2021

LABEL: RCA Records Label

RATING: 7.25/10

BEST TRACKS: “Chinatown” “How Dare You Want More” “Stop Making This Hurt”

FCC: None

“Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night” is finally out after over a year of teasing by Jack Antonoff, who said at the beginning of 2020 that his third album would come at some time that year. 

With a total of 10 songs that clock in at nearly 34 minutes, this album contains collaborations with Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent), Lana Del Rey and Bruce Springsteen. The three singles “45,” “Chinatown” and “Stop Making This Hurt” are indubitably three of the strongest tracks.

As a fan of Antonoff, I was somewhat surprised by how reminiscent of Bleachers’ previous album, “Gone Now,” this release was. To Antonoff’s credit, he did experiment more than usual on this record, as seen with an instrumental solo in the back half of “How Dare You Want More” and strong vocals in the opening track, “91”. However, he seemed to fall back into his own tropes of big jazzy instrumentation and writing about the same themes he’s been writing about for his entire solo career (shadows, heroes/being saved, and waking up being just a few of the tropes he falls back on). What once felt like a refreshing take on pop music is now starting to feel somewhat trite.

What some may see as repetitive, others may interpret as cohesive and consistent, so it’s a matter of how you frame the context surrounding the album. Criticism aside, the album is good, and definitely worth the listen, but simply not what I was hoping to see from Antonoff. 

Track 9, “Strange Behavior” (previously known as “Behavior”), is a cover of a song he had written in Steel Train, a former band of his. The new rendition is more soulful and intimate than the previous, but I’m partial to the rock instrumentation and the overall execution on the Steel Train version.

As always happens with a Bleachers record, the album’s themes and generally upbeat nature left me feeling hopeful, which is a rare and beautiful gift that Antonoff possesses, and is one that just can’t be taught. Although I definitely prefer Bleachers’ two previous records, “Strange Desire” and “Gone Now,” I appreciate the artistry and love that clearly went into “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night.”

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New Album Review

New Album Review: Thirstier by TORRES

In this age of music consumption, I find myself listening to albums in a way that wouldn’t have been done fifteen years ago. I’ll often listen through one time, extract the songs I like into a playlist, and rarely go back to it in album form if it’s not one of my absolute favorites. I’ll often measure albums on how many good to great songs I can pull from it, or the ratio of those to the total number of songs. If you listen to music that way, and I’m pretty sure most people my age do, “Thirstier” will be a very memorable experience, otherwise, it might seem like less than the sum of its parts.

The parts themselves are great. Over the last decade, TORRES has built a strong discography around whip-smart lyrics, genre fusions and emotive guitar work, and those are all here and putting on a show. Opening tracks are usually some of my least favorite songs to listen and relisten to because of how much they need the album around them to really hit, so it was refreshing to see “Are You Sleepwalking?” just go for it and be fun and hard-hitting on its own terms. The lead single “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head” combines her country-adjacent vocal style with a pulsating base of synthesizers and a driving rock beat that turns what could have been overly wordy choruses into butter. This song feels like if The Killers remixed her previous best songs and it had me very excited to hear the rest of the project. The album finishes strong too. A glitchy electronic drumbeat propels “Kiss the Corners” into your memory immediately, but it’s kept there by instantly iconic vocal harmonies in the chorus. And “Hand in the Air” finds its groove instantly and stays in it the whole time, with subtle but attention-grabbing piano parts leading into warm walls of sound that mirror the urgent and powerful vocal delivery.

The issue, therefore, isn’t the foundations or the highlights they produced, but the uneven pacing. I pretty much skipped over the whole middle for a reason, there isn’t much there to talk about. Nothing here is bad by any means, but it just doesn’t click in that ethereal way the best songs on the album figured out how to do. “Big Leap” has a mournful tone that hooked me in, but the narrative being told felt a little unfocused and I wasn’t taken to where I felt the song wanted me to go. Both “Hug From a Dinosaur” and “Thirstier,” both felt slightly clunky; either a chorus that didn’t land or sounding just too overblown for their own good. And all of these otherwise small issues are magnified when they’re all stuffed into one section.

Now, this isn’t a big deal if you listen to albums like I do. The aforementioned highlights truly are highlights and songs that I don’t see leaving my music rotation for a long time. If that’s how the album is remembered, then it’s another classic from TORRES. But if you prefer to knock out entire albums in one sitting multiple times, then you might be skipping more tracks than you’d want.

– Erie Mitchell

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New Album Review

Scout by Samia EP Review

“Making it look easy is the hardest thing in the world to do” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

One of the best ways an album can be enjoyable to listen to is by sounding effortless. This works for any genre; being able to settle into a groove and make the listener think the carefully planned lyrics are just coming out in a stream of consciousness. Samia’s last album, 2020’s “The Baby,” thrived off this concept. Lines didn’t sound forced but like they flowed out under their own steam, taking center stage over minimal and light instrumentals. This wasn’t an album that clicked with me right away, but a year later, it’s stayed in my music rotation and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It managed to walk that very thin line between trying too hard and sounding lazy. This is a very difficult balancing act, and it’s one that at times hurt “Scout” but kept its true potential in check.

One thing it got perfectly right was its choice of the lead single. “Show Up” has been one of my favorite songs of the year and one that perfectly captures this spirit of effortlessness. It tells a vaguely defined story, name-dropping characters we don’t hear from again, to draw the listener into its world before hitting us with its understated and inspirational chorus. The ability for Samia to pull narratives from conventional song structures and not feel like it was forced in is a highlight of the EP and Show Up was the best example of that.

Ironically, the other highlight was the song that ditched the understated feel the most and went big with hard-hitting drums and a strong vocal feature, “The Promise.” This made no effort to hide its best qualities and was some of the most immediate fun I’ve had with a Samia song.

The other two tracks weren’t bad by any means, but they had some issues that require a separate category to mention. “As You Are” had a vocal sample at the beginning that lasted for far too long and got in the way of the actual singing. These kinds of choices jump out to me. I really don’t know why that was played as long as it did, and consistency is a big part of why I like any song, so having something irksome like that is when I tend to look at a song less favorably. It, along with the other track “Elephant,” also ran into the issue of trying to mimic a style rather than go for something different. It’s not too egregious, as it is her style, but both of those songs to me felt like the weakest off “Scoutm” or maybe B-sides. Elephant” did come alive at the end with some neat wordplay and a well-executed chorus but it just didn’t grab my attention that way I’ve come to expect from Samia’s discography.

I was probably a little too hyped coming into this EP. While of course EPs aren’t a bad art form, in my experience I tend to prefer an artists’ album output. “The Baby” was intimate, gripping and meditative, but most of all it was surprising, a debut album that absolutely blew me away. “Scout” was a strong EP and follow-up, but it just couldn’t surprise me like her previous release. Now her next album though…

– Erie Mitchell

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New Album Review

New Album Review: I Know I’m Funny Haha by Faye Webster

ALBUM: “I Know I’m Funny Haha” by Faye Webster

RELEASE YEAR: 2021

LABEL: Secretly Canadian

RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “I Know I’m Funny Haha,” “Kind Of” and “Cheers”

FCC: “I Know I’m Funny Haha”

The soft and sultry vocals of Faye Webster wash over you in her new album. “I Know I’m Funny Haha” is her fourth album on Secretly Canadian Records. Atlanta native Webster blends folk, r&b, and indie with her own spin. Released on June 25, this album is perfect for a sweltering summer. 

My Favorite Tracks:

I Know I’m Funny Haha

The shortest song on the album, “I Know I’m Funny Haha” is also the title track. Webster sings about her boyfriend’s sister “I made her laugh one time at dinner, She said I’m funny and then I thanked her, But I know I’m funny haha”. There’s something about how she sings “Haha”, it’s sharp and cutting. 

Kind Of

This groovy track has a swinging beat that has you nodding your head and tapping your feet along immediately. You can hear the 90s soul and r&b direction. Webster takes her time, the leisurely chorus lets her instrumental back up shine.  

Cheers

The baseline of this track is almost hypnotic, chugging along throughout the song. This track has the most rock influence of the album but still feels light and fresh. I love how unrushed Webster sounds in this song. She makes her vocals serene even as she belts out the chorus “And let’s cheers to you, And let’s cheers to me”.

If you’re looking for chill songs to accompany you sitting out in the oppressive southern summer heat “I Know I’m Funny Haha” is the album for you.

-DJ lil witch

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Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

Faye Webster- Artist Profile and Album Review

Faye Webster isn’t a huge star right now, but she definitely deserves to be. Her latest album is a triumph, and it’s exciting to see her get both critical attention and actual commercial success from it, as it’s currently on Billboard’s Heat Seekers and folk charts. So let’s get to know Faye Webster, and see what she has to say for herself.

Webster is, first and foremost, a country musician. Based out of the ATL, she has a very retro countrypolitan sound reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt. 70s pop country is uncool both within country music, where it garnered a pretty big backlash for selling out, and outside of country where it’s mostly been written out of pop history. But for several years, country musicians were having number one albums getting multiple pop hits a year by being just aggressively sad.

Webster has forgone the pop hits and success, but boy can she be sad with the best of them. She takes the twang out of her voice and relocates to some deeply melancholy lyrics (and some great slide guitars). Her album “I know I’m funny haha,” is perhaps the best indication of what kind of artist she is. It makes her music engaging and beautiful, but in a way that’s not much fun to talk about. If you’ve heard any indie folk, you know what to expect.

Her last album, “Atlanta Millionaires Club,” however, yields a few more interesting details. The album is a tribute to the musical history of Atlanta, both White and Black. The default instrumental palate is a fusion of her countrypolitan aesthetic with classic 70s soul, a fusion that works so well I’m honestly surprised it’s not done more often. There’s even a token country rap song, which, despite not really blowing me out of the water personally, beats the heck out of Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.

So, if you want to know where to start, I might suggest listening to a few of her top songs on Spotify, then hitting up the new album when you’re feeling a little blue. Fusions of country and indie are just getting better and better these days, and Faye Webster is an excellent addition to that trend.

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New Album Review

Colaboyy- Prosthetic Boombox Album Review

This is an album from word-of-mouth only, so I don’t have a lot to go on. The context I can give you is that this is an R&B album, it has a warm nostalgic sheen to it, and that the artist is “A Comrade.” Beyond that, we’ll have to take the music on its own merits, so let’s talk about Neo-Soul for a moment.

Neo-Soul refers to exactly what you’d expect. If an R&B album features little to no rapping, dense retro instrumentation, and is mostly lyric-driven, chances are someone has called it Neo-Soul. If that definition sounds a little vague, it’s because it is, but in practice, the genre is more cohesive than you might expect. The scene started as a specific revival movement for 60s and 70s soul, before taking on a life of its own by incorporating more disco, Motown, and hip-hop stylings. The big mainstream moment for this style was in the late 90s when Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Common took off. The commercial success of the style has waxed and waned over the years, but it has never really gone away. Recently, artists like Tyler, the Creator, Tierra Whack, Frank Ocean, and D’Angelo (again) have been making waves with the style.

Colaboyy is an artist in this tradition, but his musical influences have moved up 20 years, a move that actually took me off guard. Conventional Neo-Soul takes inspiration primarily from the classic soul era, especially the chill yet political work of Marvin Gaye. Colaboyy, by contrast, is stuck firmly in the 90s. He’s not copying 90s Neo-Soul, mind you, that would get a little recursive (Neo-Neo-Soul?), his influence comes from electro-disco and early 90s R&B, before the genre began margining with hip-hop. Boys 2 Men, Poison—this is a pretty fondly remembered era, so it’s cool to see an artist fuse it with a 70s disco aesthetic. He was also inspired by Latin funk according to his website, but this is something I personally struggled to hear in his latest album.

The album isn’t perfect, in fact, it’s a little lacking in cohesive songs, but, as I’m pretty sure my fellow kids are saying, the vibes are immaculate. Colaboyy isn’t trying to make “what’s going on” at the moment, he’s content to make an atmospheric and elegant album with some light political and social theming. It’s easy listening and can play in the background of literally any activity, so give it a shot.

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New Album Review

Home Video- Lucy Dacus Album Review

Patron saint of moody ex-fundies everywhere Lucy Dacus has returned with her third full length album “Home Video.” After big deal releases from her boygenius bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, expectations were high for Dacus, and she has delivered on “Home Video,” a tour de force in nostalgia and coming of age documentary.

Prior to this album, Dacus was something of an enigmatic figure. Her music was autobiographical, but opaque. Her most personal, (and by far best) song, “Night Shift,” was unique for blending intensely individual details with a kind of universal songwriting style that made it relatable to nearly everyone. But beyond this, you really didn’t get a good feel for Dacus’ internal world or emotional landscape only her musical world.

On “Home Video” Dacus gives a far more grounded account of her life without sacrificing the universal and biting songwriting choices that made her stand out. It’s set not in the abstract fantasy world of song, but in the very specific realm of an evangelical community in Virginia in the 2000s. Every song is set somewhere during high school or the first year or two of college, but the order is scrambled. It’s a mess of early memories, filtered through a sheen of warm, yet critical nostalgia. Dacus isn’t here to defend contemporary evangelical Christianity, but she is here to put herself in that context without shame. A queer woman of questionable faith who actually has some warm memories of her hometown and congregation. It feels a lot more honest than any number of leftist punk rebellions or Katy Perry-style party phases.

Putting aside the core concept, this album is just immaculate. Dacus flexes every musical and lyrical muscle she has, and I can remember some melodic or poetic detail from literally every song on here. Dacus is a master of her craft, and “Home Video,” will likely impress anyone with an appreciation for folk, indie rock, or music in general.

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New Album Review

Bathtub Cig – bed Review

Bathtub Cig, a project from singer-songwriter Hilary James, deals with quarantine feels and grief in their new EP “bed.” The Minneapolis project is strongly influenced by Frankie Cosmos. Bathtub Cig is the best kind of bedroom pop, soft and sweet with lyrics that hit you hard. This EP is mostly the frontwoman James with accompaniment from Adelyn Rose on wind instruments and bass. Still, the songs are simple with James shining with her vocals and electric guitar.    

My Favorite Tracks:

Sepia

The almost bluesy “Sepia” is a great start to the EP. James sings about the end of days and how everything is colored in sepia tones. The track is only a minute and a half long but is a sweet opener to the rest of the EP. The poetic lyrics “I’m floating forward as the flames unfurl” are my favorite.

Quarantine Dream

While this track is about the 2020 quarantine, there is something that resonates in 2021. The lonely lyrics complement the airy woodwinds and strumming guitar. The light synth enhances the depression-pop ambiance. “Quarantine Dream” is cozy and sleepy, a great track to drift off to bed with.      

My Friend – We are the Willows 

This song is dedicated to James’s bandmate Leah Ottman, who passed away suddenly in December 2020. Peter Miller, Leah’s friend and bandmate, harmonizes with James, crooning their love of their friend. The sentimental track focuses on channeling grief and letting go. I love the harmonies and gentle guitar.    

Each of the songs of this EP flows seamlessly together and tells an expansive story. I’m so excited for the full-length album coming out this fall.  

-DJ lil witch

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New Album Review

Tyler, The Creator Returns with “Lumberjack”

The day has finally arrived. Since “IGOR” dropped in early 2019, Tyler, the Creator fans have been itching for a new album. “IGOR” will always have a special place in my heart because it was the soundtrack to a really lovely time in my life, but I couldn’t be more excited to see what he’s been cooking up.

Sure, we haven’t been completely left in the dark. Tyler released several singles over the past two years, including “Best Interest,” “Group B” and “Tell Me How,” his playful track made for a Coca-Cola commercial. It was only a matter of time before he returned with his usual gusto, full-length album in hand. After releasing a teaser video on June 14, his new single, “Lumberjack” followed shortly after. It’s filled with his classic production style: quick beats, bright yet ominous synths, and that unmistakable baritone voice. “Lumberjack” has more of an old-school feel than “IGOR,” playing off the sounds of early hip-hop.

The music video that accompanies the track has all the delight of Tyler’s impeccable visual taste. Though it’s short at only a minute and 18 seconds long, his trademark humor, artistic originality and incredible fashion taste are all present in a way that highlights the mood of “Lumberjack” perfectly.

After the “Lumberjack’s” release, Tyler officially announced that the full album, titled “Call Me If You Get Lost,” will be released on Friday, June 25. Each of his albums sounds so different in a way that really shows how he’s grown as a rapper and producer over his 10-year-long career. For now, we can only speculate what his sixth studio album will sound like, but don’t doubt that it will be full of his usual goodness.

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New Album Review

Left at London- t.i.a.p.f.y.h. Album Review

Alright I think this is a first. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Left at London is to date the only Vine musicians to breakthrough into conventional music success. Left at London, the stage name of musician and internet personality Nat Puff, has released her debut album after the viral success of her “Transgender Street Legend” EP series, and the song “Revolution Lover” in particular.

Puff first garnered attention for her viral parodies of Frank Ocean and Mitski, where she wrote full scale parody songs as a promotional mechanism. This new album features songwriting credits from Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest and Laura Les of 100 gecs. These influences are a pretty good approximation of where Puff is at; She sits at the crossroads of various styles of “Bandcamp music.” Unlike a lot of indie, she has a strong hip-hop influence, which is evident in many of the production aesthetics, but the songwriting and structure owe more to rock. The music is a little too low energy to be Hyperpop but the overall noise level mirrors that genre.

From this rather trendy pedigree, Puff struggles a little to carve out an identity, but her unique songwriting choices and ear for production make up for a lack of definition. The songs trend in the direction of “far too long,” a la monsieur Toledo, but she restrains herself to around the five minute mark on all but the album opener. The album is lyrically driven as a rule, with some songs like “The Ballad of Marion Zioncheck,” bending over into folksy territory. Her lyrics are emotional, generally preoccupied with mental health and inner turmoil, but written with just enough pretension to maintain interest.

The auditory aesthetics are perhaps the most compelling aspect of the music. Puff blends noise into songs without abandoning the conventional structure, making her music edgy and a little experimental while remaining more accessible than pop contemporaries like Black Dresses. Her voice is an asset as well, hanging in an unusually feathery contralto register than many women sing in, which contrasts both the bass of the guitars and the screeching treble of some louder passages. The result is that her voice cuts through the muck of the songs, allowing you to follow the lyrics without distraction.

While “t.i.a.p.f.y.” is a debut album, and a rather messy one, the music still shows great developing talent, and it features many memorable songs. Left at London is definitely an artist to watch in indie pop at the moment, and hopefully, her star will continue to rise.