Album Review: Logic – Bobby Tarantino II

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Artist: Logic

Album: Bobby Tarantino II

Genre: Hip Hop

Rating: 7/10

There’s no denying the fact that Logic can flow his ass off, but his unfortunate inconsistency has been frustrating for those who know the guy is capable of achieving so much more when it comes to making music that is essential. Despite his recent success (Grammy nominations, hit singles, etc.) his latest album Everybody was very divisive. This album that was overblown to the point where leading up to this album many of us believed that it was going to be Logic’s “masterpiece,” was a safe exercise in the positive mindset of unity and peace, and though this is a very good message to have, the outcome of this album was just a collection of forgettable tracks that featured Logic urging us to come together all while trying to make these tracks catchy enough for radio play. Logic is well aware of this reception, and with his new mixtape Bobby Tarantino II, a sequel to his surprise 2016 mixtape, he reminds us that he still is a rapper that deserves our attention. This is by far the most boastful and confident Logic we’ve heard. This is “mixtape Logic” as described by Rick from “Rick and Morty” on the intro track “Grandpa’s Space Ship.” The bulk of this mixtape features Logic serving up Hip Hop purists that classic Hip Hop flow and ego over “Trap” dominated production mainly handled by “6ix.” There are some solid guest verses from Wiz Khalifa on the vibey stoner track “Indica Badu” that clocks in at exactly 4:20, and 2 Chainz who has been quite impressive with his features lately on the track “State Of Emergency.” Though Logic has yet to come into his own stylistically without the obvious borrowing from some of his contemporaries, and though the production on this mixtape gets a bit redundant and stale after awhile, this is a solid set of tracks and definitely worth a listen. Just skip that God awful track with “Marshmello.”

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Album Review: Moaning – Moaning

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Artist: Moaning

Album: Moaning

Genre: Post-Punk/Noise Rock/Indie Rock

Rating: 6/10

L.A. trio “Moaning” have garnered much attention in recent months. The Sub Pop” signees have turned heads with their string of singles that offer a mixture of Post-Punk with doom flavored Goth undertones and walls of volume cranked sound containing distortion and pedal effects. This sound evokes the spirit of revered “Shoegaze” acts such as “My Bloody Valentine” or “Slowdive.” In the midst of the anticipation of the release of their self-titled debut, it was easy to believe that all the signs pointed to success, and their debut album hits it’s target quite effortlessly, but that effortlessness is the problem. There’s no doubt that the band are scholars in the realm of “Post-Punk” or “Noise Rock,” but their vast knowledge in said genres puts the band in cruise control. The band cranks out every common attribute it takes to make music like this without doing anything innovative enough to advance this style. This results in an album that is just okay, and only okay. They have the chops to create run-of-the-mill “Post-Punk,” but they’re not showing any innovation, whereas other bands such as “Protomartyr” or “HMLTD” are incorporating outsider elements to this genre to push it forward. Maybe “Moaning” can take notes from these bands. After all, they are still very young, but their sound requires much growth, and whether or not they are versatile enough to break the one-dimensional curse remains to be seen.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/26/18

Parquet Courts Announce New Album “Wide Awake!”

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“Parquet Courts” have announced that they will release their new Danger Mouse produced album Wide Awake! on May 18th. The band have also shared a new track from the album titled “Almost Had To Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience,” as well as a lyric video to accompany it. You can check out the track, as well as the album’s tracklist below:

Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience:

Wide Awake! Tracklist:

01 Total Football
02 Violence
03 Before the Water Gets Too High
04 Mardi Gras Beads
05 Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience
06 Freebird II
07 Normalization
08 Back to Earth
09 Wide Awake
10 NYC Observation
11 Extinction
12 Death Will Bring Change
13 Tenderness

Album Review: U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited

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Artist: U.S. Girls 

Album: In A Poem Unlimited

Genre: Experimental Pop/Art Pop/Neo-Disco

Rating: 8/10

In the wake of the #Metoo movement “U.S. Girls'” new album In A Poem Unlimited couldn’t have dropped at a better time. Despite the name of the project being plural, “U.S. Girls” is the project of sole member Meghan Remy, and following her 2015 album Half Free, an album catchy enough to dance to but also rich in Psychedelia, she has released an album that encapsulates the horrifying things many women have to go through. The lyrical themes deal with women who are victims of misogyny, domestic abuse, and degradation, and she paints this very grim, unfiltered but necessary picture of this unfortunate reality. With lyrical themes such as these, it’s surprising that the upbeat nature of the instrumentation actually compliments them quite well. This is “Experimental Pop” that cleverly works in a combination of blaring horns, squawking saxophones, pounding bongo drums, and hard hitting but smooth at the same time guitar work, and it’s all presented with an Electronic heavy backdrop. There are even moments of “Neo-Disco” flavor like the track “M.A.H.” This sounds like it could easily be an “ABBA” song on the surface, but the lyrics feature a pissed off and betrayed Remy who is disappointed with the mess Obama left us with, and even though her sensibilities are left-leaning, she still feels betrayed by a president she feels was supposed to be on her side, and this just adds another man to the list of men who have put her through Hell, and that’s the overall theme of the album. However, this isn’t done in a way that generalizes men, so before any of you ignorant men whom dismiss feminism as “man hate,” freak out, just know that she is speaking from the perspective of the many women who have been forced to endure the irrational idea many people have that women are inferior. She is giving these women a voice, the same voice the countless number of brave women who are part of the #Metoo movement have. This album isn’t all dark though, the closing track “Time” is actually optimistic with Remy singing “When there is nothing, there is still time. When there is nowhere, there is still time,” meaning despite this horrifying reality, there still is time to overcome all of this, but in order to move forward we have to be exposed to these horrifying truths, which she does on the majority of the album, but she ends it with a message of hope, and from there the closing track moves into an all out jam with much emphasis on the instrumentation and it closes the album perfectly. With subject matter like this, those who like their music friendly might have a hard time digesting this album, but if you’re progressive, or if you just want to hear some catchy tunes with an Experimental edge then this album is for you.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/18/18

Album Review: Black Panther: The Album

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Artist: Various Artists

Album: Black Panther Soundtrack

Genre: Hip Hop/R&B/Dancehall

Rating: 8/10

We’re all patiently waiting (Well not patiently but we’re waiting) for Black Panther to hit theaters this Friday. It has the potential to be a revolutionary film with it’s talented cast and relevant themes, but while we wait we can all enjoy the film’s soundtrack, and who better to curate the soundtrack than the G.O.A.T. Kendrick Lamar? Lamar was originally going to just write a few tracks for the soundtrack, but after seeing the film he was inspired to produce the whole thing along with Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and a number of producers such as Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Mike Will Made It, BadBadNotGood, and many more. The soundtrack features a star-studded lineup with fellow labelmates SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock, as well as Vince Staples, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Khalid, James Blake, Anderson .Paak, Future, and The Weeknd. When the tracklist and features were revealed many of us had high hopes for this album, and somehow this album still exceeded our expectations. Not only is this a well produced well put together soundtrack to “Marvel’s” most highly anticipated film in years, but it is a holistic record that takes on a life of it’s own. Each track transitions seamlessly into the next while the continuous incorporation of tribal percussion and exotic instruments evoke the spirit of Wakanda. Even the harsher tracks like the film’s antagonist Erik Killmonger’s theme “King’s Dead” or the “EDM” heavy “Opps” never stray away from the central themes of the album and they paint a picture of what could be going on in the film, and that’s one of the many intriguing things about this soundtrack, and that’s how are these songs going to be worked into the film? Mind you this is still a “Marvel” film and the bulk of these tracks feature explicit content, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they will work perfectly within the context of the film. This album even features some bangers heavy with Trap production like “X” or “Big Shot.” “Paramedic!” brings that hard-hitting West Coast flavor, and the contrast between songs like these and a song like the gorgeous “All The Stars” or the “Dancehall” driven “Redemption” works perfectly. Even though the mood often shifts from one track to another the album stays cohesive, dispelling any preconceived notions that this album is just a collection of tracks. This soundtrack is a great reflection of a revolutionary film that will be a defining moment for African American culture.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/12/18

 

Album Review: MGMT – Little Dark Age

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Artist: MGMT

Album: Little Dark Age

Genre: Synth Pop/Psychedelic Pop

Rating: 8/10

Most people would kill to have a hit single. To have that instant success which leads to a luxurious lifestyle of wealth and fame. It’s what a lot of people fantasize about, but what happens when the hit singles you’re known for shadows over your aspiration to experiment and to innovate? That’s the part most people fail to consider. “Psychedelic Pop” duo “MGMT” right off the bat spawned the hit singles “Kids,” “Electric Feel,” and “Time To Pretend” when they released their debut album Oracular Spectacular back in 2007. This lead to immense success for the band, but this became more of a curse than a gift. The band were determined to shed that colorful “Indie Pop” image they didn’t want by following up that record with Acid soaked Psychedelia that drew a lot from 60’s “Psych-Rock” and bands such as “The Flaming Lips” or “Animal Collective,” but a lot of people weren’t on board with this progression. The more Experimental they got, the more they alienated themselves from fans and critics alike. It’s simply unfair. A lot of people failed to recognize how incredible the band’s second album Congratulations was, and when the band released their self-titled third album in 2013 they got even weirder making music that was unlistenable. Many began to question the future of the band, and then the band disappeared for five years. Now with a new sense of inspiration the band have returned with their fourth album Little Dark Age. “MGMT” have gone back to making Poppy music again with this album, but they do it without sacrificing their love for Psychedelia. These songs aren’t as lengthy or acid soaked as most of their post-Oracular Spectacular material, but where there’s a catchy tune there’s also moments filled with freak out synths, lush sound textures, and abstract lyricism. On this record “MGMT” embrace the fact that they are great at writing Pop tunes, but they do it in their own terms, and instead of giving in to modern Pop tropes, the band makes Pop music from another decade, and this decade that strongly makes it’s presence heard loud and proud is the 80’s. That’s right, this album sounds like the band went back in time to a place dominated with cheesy synths, big hair, and hot pink leg warmers, and speaking of leg warmers, the album’s opening track  “She Works Out Too Much” was made to sound like an 80’s work out video. It’s filled with double entendres with the voice of a female aerobics instructor played by Allene Norton of “Cellars.” The track is about a relationship that broke apart simply because the man in the relationship didn’t work out as much as the woman, and even though he tried, her obsession with looking good lead to her shallowness. This is a fun track filled with clever workout metaphors and it puts you right into an 80’s workout video. The following track, which is the album’s title track makes a drastic change in mood with it’s dark “Goth” flavor. Andrew VanWyngarden’s vocals are robotic, adding to the ominous nature of the track, and in true “MGMT” fashion the lyrics are abstract and quite cryptic, but one thing is clear, this is cynicism and pessimism at their finest. “Go fuck yourself. You heard me right. Don’t call me nice again” VanWyngarden sings on “When You Die,” and that dark humor is one of the many elements that make this album such a fun listen, even if the subject matter is grim for the most part. However this album isn’t without it’s flaws, the tracks “James” and “Days That Got Away” feel like filler tracks and are awkwardly placed on the album, giving the listener an unnecessary break from the action, but the album picks right back up with the surprisingly optimistic and 80’s soaked “One Thing Left To Try.” The following track “When You’re Small” is a melancholy ballad that musically pays homage to Congratulations era “MGMT,” and the album’s closing track “Hand It Over” is dreamy in tone, but the subject matter deals with the frightening result of this Trump era we’ve been forced to endure. This is a return to form for “MGMT.” It’s a reinvention. The band that refused to acknowledge their hits for years have now figured out a way to utilize their talent at creating catchy music without selling out, and if this is just the beginning then maybe, just maybe the ones still holding on to “Electric Feel” can finally open their eyes to see the genius of “MGMT” that has always been there.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/12/18

Kendrick Lamar and SZA Release New Music Video For “All The Stars”

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The highly anticipated new “Marvel” film Black Panther will hit theaters on February 16th, but the film’s star-studded soundtrack will drop this Friday. Kendrick Lamar curated the soundtrack, and so far we’ve been treated to a few incredible tracks from the soundtrack, one of them being Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All The Stars,” and now the two “Top Dawg Entertainment” labelmates have released a stunning new music video for the song. Check it out below:

Car Seat Headrest Share New Song “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)”

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“Car Seat Headrest” will release their re-working of Will Toledo’s 2011 album Twin Fantasy on February 16th, and the tracks the band have shared so far are cleaner and punchier than their raw and lo-fi versions that appear on that 2011 album. The album’s opening track “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” is no exception. It’s beginning to look like a re-worked version of this album is completely necessary. Check out the new version of “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” below: