Album Review: Solange – When I Get Home

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Artist: Solange

Album: When I Get Home

Genre: R&B/Alternative R&B/Hip Hop

Label: Columbia Records 

Rating: 6/10

Back in 2016 Solange Knowles released a powerful album named A Seat At The Table. An album that was just as much a statement as it was an adventurous exploration in the realm of “R&B” and it’s many sub-genres. With a smooth and sexy sleekness, the album touched on topics such as race, anger, and escapism through our many vices, and as important as this subject matter is, the album was never obnoxiously overbearing. Instead, Solange lured us in with her soothing vocals that displayed the importance of subtlety. As groundbreaking and acclaimed as this album was, you can imagine how much hype a follow-up would get, so naturally her new album When I Get Home is definitely receiving that hype. Unfortunately, the album does not live up to the hype. Following a highly successful album isn’t easy. The bar has been set, and most will want you to create something that is on par with the predecessor. We all know Solange has the talent to do so, but instead, most of the tracks on When I Get Home fall incredibly flat. This leads to a frustrating listen. Like A Seat At The TableWhen I Get Home is filled with interludes, but the ironic thing is that all of the full-length tracks on this album sound like interludes. Each track has imaginative and quite innovative production at times thanks to a laundry list of collaborators such as Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator, Panda Bear, Dev Hynes, Steve Lacy, and Metro Boomin, but each track is anticlimactic with it’s repetition. Solange most definitely wanted to experiment more and offer a Psychedelic experience, but her ambition to explore as much as possible was a detriment to this album, making the whole thing sound completely scatterbrained. Songs like Way To The Show” and “Stay Flo” feel like they should be a lot more impactful, but like the rest of the album, the tracks sound like unfinished rough drafts with lackluster lyrics and underwhelming vocals that get cringeworthy at times. Yes this album does feature thought-provoking subject matter, but that subject matter is translated through lackluster songwriting. Important subject matter doesn’t suffice when it comes to constructing a full album where every other element has to be up to par. Solange can do much better. Hopefully her next release will be an improvement.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 03/05/19

Pixx Announces New Album “Small Mercies”

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Musician Hannah Rodgers under the name “Pixx” has been making some of the most enticing “Art Pop” in the past few years. Her debut album The Age of Anxiety was one of the best albums of 2017, an album that fused various genres such as Art Pop, Synth-Pop, Dream Pop, and Post-Punk, and it all featured frequent Gothic sensibilities that offered a gloomy contrast to the album’s colorful tone. Today, Rodgers unveiled the details of her upcoming follow-up Small Mercies. The album will be released on June 7th. Rodgers has also dropped the album’s first single titled “Disgrace.” “This song is about growing up in an ultra-conservative Catholic school which was restrictive and oppressive. I think there is a lack of humanity in the way that system works, rather than teaching empathy and kindness it forces people into a dangerous self-loathing cycle. This is an ode to anyone trapped in a place they don’t feel they belong,” Rodgers says of the track. You can listen to “Disgrace” below:

 

Small Mercies Pre-Order:

https://pixx.ffm.to/smallmercies.owe

Album Review: SPELLLING – Mazy Fly

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Artist: SPELLLING 

Album: Mazy Fly

Genre: Art Pop/Experimental/Electronic

Label: Sacred Bones Records

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever discovered an artist so unapologetically imaginative and creative to the point where you suspect that this artist is not from this planet? Well, Chrystia Cabral A.K.A. “SPELLLING” most certainly fits this description. Following her 2017 debut Pantheon of Me, the Oakland, CA based musician delves further into her spiritual, poetic, and otherworldly mind on her new album Mazy Fly, the first on new label “Sacred Bones Records,” which is a perfect home for her immense experimental ambitions. This album, like I mentioned earlier, is vastly otherworldly with spacey instrumentation consisting of minimal and at times dark synthesizers, bare but mood-setting drum machine patterns, and eerie sound textures that can be as nightmare-inducing as they are angelic. The album is produced almost entirely by Cabral, but she also brings along other musicians for the ride to create her own universe. The live drums and guitars that flirt heavily with “Doom Metal” on the track “Real Fun,” the pristine saxophone on the track “Afterlife,” and the subtle violin on the epic track “Under The Sun,” are all gorgeous additions to this spiritual journey of an album, and also like I mentioned earlier, the alienistic lyrical themes further prove my hunch that she is from another planet. With lyrical themes such as aliens traveling to earth to discover music and dance to Billie Holiday and “Billie Jean,” and the use of theramin that evokes the spirit of B-level “Sci-Fi” films, it’s apparent that Cabral is a visionary who constantly looks past the surface level and lays her eyes upon the stars. Though she often speaks from the perspective of someone who extremely admires the universe and it’s endlessness, Cabral explores human sentiment as well. The track “Hard to Please,” speaks on the emotional and mental toll the pain of trying to please an unsatisfied lover can take on someone, but with a constant sense of optimism, this album never strays into nihilism or cynicism, no matter how deeply personal this album can get. Though I feel like Chrystia Cabral has yet to reach her magnum opus, Mazy Fly is one giant leap toward her masterpiece.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 02/26/19

 

U.S. Girls Share New Music Video for “Time”

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U.S. Girls released an incredible album last year titled In A Poem Unlimited, and those who have been lucky enough to see the band perform live know that seeing them perform is a beautiful experience. You can get a glimpse of what it’s like to feel the band’s live energy with their new music video for their track “Time,” which was shot by Alex Kingsmill during their set at “SappyFest” in Canada. The band have also shared a string of upcoming North American tour dates. You can get all the info, as well as watch the video for “Time” below:

https://4ad.com/news/951

“Time” Music Video:

 

 

E.P. Review: Charlotte Adigéry – Zandoli

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Artist: Charlotte Adigéry 

EP: Zandoli 

Genre: Electronic/Experimental Pop/Synth-Pop

Rating: 9/10

 Zandoli, the new E.P. from Belgian-Caribbean artist Charlotte Adigéry is utterly unique “Electronic” infused “Pop” that is immensely refreshing. This is her second E.P. following her 2017 self-titled EP, and her work with frequent collaborator Bolis Pupul has reached new heights. The two work together perfectly. Adigéry flourishes on each versatile track with sensual swagger with vocal and lyrical content that can be just as playful as it is imaginative, and I really do mean the production is versatile, because these are shapeshifting multifaceted tracks that can be tribal influenced like the all French sung opening track “Paténipat,” and then they can be rich in danceable wonkiness like the track “High Lights,” which has an unorthodox approach to “Pop” with it’s skittering synths. “I know I shouldn’t do it, but I like synthetic wigs a lot,” sings Adigéry, paying homage to the empowerment of wigs and hair extensions, and though this may sound surface level, the way she delivers this theme is completely liberating. Adigéry is an impressive and thoughtful poet as well, metaphorically speaking on sex and seduction on the track “B B C,” and considering how seamlessly she transitions from this track into the conceptual closing track “Okashi,” it’s evident that Adigéry is far from one-dimensional. Unfortunately this E.P. flies by with each listen, because it’s only 5 tracks in length, but every second of these tracks are vastly promising, and they leave me begging for a full-length album this year.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/09/19

E.P. Review: HMLTD – Hate Music Last Time Delete

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Artist: HMLTD 

EP: Hate Music Last Time Delete 

Genre: Synth-Pop/Art Rock/Post-Punk/Glam Rock

 Music fans have unfortunately been subjected to this ridiculous idea that “Rock is dead” from many music publications. Of course, that is completely absurd. The countless “Indie Rock” bands, “Post-Punk” bands, “Metal” bands, and “Garage Rock” bands all continue to breathe life into a vague term like “Rock.” An emerging scene that is completely enthralling and continues to disprove “Rock” naysayers is the South London scene. A scene that consists of up and coming bands such as “Goat Girl,” “Sorry,” “Hotel Lux,” the already revered “Shame,” and a unique as Hell band that goes by the name of “HMLTD.” What separates this band from their contemporaries is their huge ambition to incorporate elements of just about any damn genre that resonates with them, and like many of the greats, this leads to the band being impossible to categorize. This 6 piece band have been at it for a few years now, releasing ambitious single after ambitious single. The band have garnered a huge following of music fans who yearn to hear something new and innovative, but one question remains, and that question is “When the Hell are they going to release a full-length album?!” Well, we still don’t have a full-length, but we have been gifted a new E.P. by the band titled Hate Music Last Time Delete to satisfy our hunger. This E.P. opens with without a doubt the band’s most accessible song yet. Incorporating modern production that leans toward a “Trap” flavor, “Pictures Of You” might sound trendy on the surface with it’s catchiness and dramatic building up of the chorus, but the subject matter is far from friendly. It’s dark, but it is completely relatable in this Internet age we live in that is driven by social media. Lead singer Henry Spychalski sings from the point of view of someone addicted to pleasuring himself to photos of others on social media, and as much as this is a detailing of one’s shameful addiction, it’s also an important commentary on the loss of privacy thanks to everyone’s willingness to post photos of themselves online. Oh yeah, and if this isn’t dark enough for you, there’s also an even more disturbing music video to reflect this dark reality. The following track “Proxy Love” finds the band getting weirder but their attention to “Pop” structure keeps the band from going off into the deep end. This track is zany, it’s odd, it’s glamorous, and it features everything we’ve grown to love about the band from their previous singles. As bizarre as this track is, the “Synth-Pop” dominance and catchy vocal structures present to us how “Pop” music can have substance, and that’s one of the many reasons why this band is brilliant, their attention to catchiness. Their fearlessness to create a catchy chorus even after their descent into musical madness is immensely impressive. The following tracks “Mannequin” and “Apple of My Eye” carry a similar vibe, but this four track E.P. is far from being one-dimensional. The guitar riffs are very reflective of “Post-Punk.” The synth lines are laden with 80’s Glam, and the vocals heavily reflect “Goth” acts such as “Christian Death” or “Virgin Prunes.” The lyrical content doesn’t bombard the listener with hard to decipher metaphors, instead it’s blatantly obvious that these songs deal with self-love, addiction, and even the feeling of being in love with a mannequin and wishing it could do the things a living being can do (I hope Frank Zito was an inspiration.) Just four tracks in length, this E.P. proves that “HMLTD” are without a doubt the most intriguing band at the moment, and this is only the beginning of what may be a fruitful legacy.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 07/07/18