Album Review: U.S. Girls – Heavy Light

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Artist: U.S. Girls

Album: Heavy Light

Genre: Experimental Pop/Indie Pop/Gospel/Soul

Label: 4AD

Rating: 9/10

U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy at this point has solidified herself as one of Rock and Pop’s most intriguing and innovative artists. Following her breakthrough album In A Poem Unlimited, I didn’t expect her to release a follow-up so soon, let alone depart from the album’s sound almost entirely. On her new album Heavy Light, Remy goes in a bolder direction which might turn those who enjoyed the infectious fusion of Psychedelic Pop, Disco, and Art Pop of her last album off, but if you know Remy’s catalog you know that she is always reinventing her sound. Just compare her debut album Introducing to an album like In A Poem Unlimited and you will not believe both albums are from the same person. Much of the instrumentation on Heavy Light is stripped back with more focus on a beautifully crafted array of backing vocals evoking a Gospel feel, a subtle but detailed combination of various percussion, and a dominance of piano balladry. Though her sound has shifted, Remy sticks to her guns of topical storytelling told from the perspective of various characters touching on topical subject matter. The sardonic take-down of the U.S. economy on the Funk-driven track “4 American Dollars,” the Spanish spoken message of prospering with a positive movement on the track “And Yet It Moves / Y Se Mueve,” and the realization that humanity isn’t as significant as we think in the grander scheme of the planet on the track “The Quiver to the Bomb” are all topics Remy and her collaborators paint vividly with a tone that is hopeful despite the grim nature some of the subject matter suggests, and as much as Remy is looking to the future of her sound, this album isn’t without an acknowledgement of her past. There are three older U.S. Girls songs that get reworked. “Overtime,” State House ( It’s a Man’s World,)” and “Red Ford Radio” all sound better than ever polishing the lo-fi bedroom-recorded sound of the older versions. Though In A Poem Unlimited was the most collaborative U.S. Girls have sounded at the time of it’s release thanks to the contributions of the band “The Cosmic Range,” Heavy Light feels even more like an ensemble effort with various voices heard, and this is a perfect progression for Meg Remy, someone who understands the beauty of collaboration. I’m already looking forward to seeing what Meg Remy does next.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

 

 

U.S. Girls Announce New Album “Heavy Light,” Share New Single “Overtime”

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U.S. Girls garnered much acclaim with their last album In a Poem Unlimited, an album that has arguably been considered the band’s best work yet, and it’s easy to see why. Incorporating a live band under the name “The Cosmic Range,” lead singer and songwriter Meg Remy’s “U.S. Girls” project had a full sound of jammin’ Rock instrumentation that also explored Jazz and Psychedelic territory while carrying a consistent tone of Pop, and this all complimented Remy’s infectious vocals and topical lyrics perfectly. Today it has been announced that the band will release their follow-up Heavy Light on March 6th via “4AD.” The band have also shared the album’s first single “Overtime.” You can watch the music video below:

 

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:

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“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

 

HMLTD Release New Song “Proxy Love”

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UK band “HMLTD” will release their debut E.P. Hate Music Last Time Delete on July 6th, and following their stunning lead single “Pictures of You,” the band have released another track off the E.P. titled “Proxy Love.” The dance ready “Synth-Pop” heavy track is an infectious anthem about loving yourself, and it is addictive. There is also a fantastic music video to accompany it. You can watch the video below:

Gorillaz Release New Track “Sorcererz”

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It was announced last week that Gorillaz will release a new album titled The Now Now on June 29th. Following their previously released tracks “Humility” and “Lake Zurich,” the band have released another new track off the album titled “Sorcererz.” You can listen to the track below:

serpentwithfeet Releases New Track “seedless”

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Baltimore’s own serpentwithfeet will release his debut album soil this week, and it’s looking like this album may be the most innovative “R&B” album in years. Following the hauntingly beautiful single “cherubim,” serpentwithfeet has released another new track off the album titled “seedless.” You can listen to it below:

HMLTD Announce New E.P. and Share Music Video for New Track “Pictures Of You”

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After a string of incredible singles that pushed the boundaries of Post-Punk, Art Rock, Experimental Music, Pop, Art Pop, Electronic Music, and whatever the Hell else they feel like making, South London band “HMLTD” have garnered quite the following, a following of fans who have patiently waited for a full-length album. Well, we won’t be getting a full-length just yet, but the band will release a five track E.P. titled Hate Music Last Time Delete on July 6th. The band have also released a new track off the upcoming E.P. titled “Pictures Of You,” and it’s also got a pretty disturbing music video to accompany it. You can watch the video below:

Album Roundup

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With so much music being released constantly, it’s hard sometimes for an aspiring music critic with a day job to cover every single new album with a full length and in depth review (Trust me i’m trying!) Especially since this year has already been an incredible year for new music, so here is a roundup of new releases that I enjoyed but didn’t have a chance to review.

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Artist: The Voidz

Album: Virtue

Genre: Experimental Rock/Lo-Fi/Indie Rock/Post-Punk/Synth-Pop

Rating: 9/10

Julian Casablancas is mostly known for being the lead singer of “The Strokes,” the band that was often regarded as the leading force in the “Garage Rock Revival” movement in the early 2000’s, but in recent years Casablancas’ eccentricity and wide array of musical influences have transcended the “Pop Rock” category “The Strokes” have fallen into. This is all thanks to his new band “The Voidz (F.K.A. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz.)” Following the band’s 2014 debut Tyranny, their new album Virtue features even more diversity and unpredictability as the band charges through various genres with oddball antics, lyrical content rich in existentialism and politics, and beautiful melodies, and even though it’s easy to spot which genres the band pulls from on each track, the band by no means emulates anyone, instead this vast mixture of genres results in “The Voidz” fully developing their own hybrid of sound. It’s the sound of “The Voidz,” and it is glorious.

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Artist: Halfway Good

Song: Letter To A Friend

Genre: Alternative Rock/Indie Rock

Visalia, CA based “Halfway Good” have been working hard on new music and on their unpredictable and often hilarious podcast. Our first taste of new music following the band’s debut full-length album Arts and Crafts is the acoustic driven “Letter To A Friend,” and it’s an uplifting number with a catchy as Hell and sing-a-long-able chorus. It’s a reminder that no matter how much of a struggle you’re going through with whatever roadblocks or curveballs that are obstructing your progress, it’s important to remain optimistic, because that optimism can drive you to better the situation. Whether or not this track is about a specific person is unknown, but this song is delivered in a way that sounds like the band is talking to all of us, and in a world now where even some of the best music delves into melancholia or cynicism, it’s nice to hear something truly uplifting.

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Artist: Jack White

Album: Boarding House Reach

Genre: Blues Rock/Garage Rock/Funk/Spoken Word/Hip Hop

Rating: 8/10

Despite the ramblings of Jack White in recent interviews that can make anyone who despises pretentiousness cringe, Mr. White’s immense talent and genius still shows greatly in his music. His new album Boarding House Reach features the most interesting and innovative music in his solo catalog. This album finally reflects the eccentric persona White projects to the public with it’s experiments with genres one would normally deem unlikely when it comes to White’s music, and following his “Dad Rock” dominated music he’s been creating for years and years, it’s about damn time he lets his bizarre side shine.

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Artist: Johanna Warren

Album: Gemini II

Genre: Folk/Indie Folk/Acoustic

Rating: 7/10

Johanna Warren definitely does not write the kind of “Jimmy Crack Corn” Folk music you can sit around the campfire and sing along to, but the beautifully melodic and heartfelt music she has created on her new album Gemini II with it’s infectious guitar picking and atmospheric sound textures offers a gorgeous backdrop to the angsty and at times dark lyrical content. It is evident that singing her sorrows is very therapeutic for her, and hearing her sing with such sincerity and passion is a great experience.

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Artist: Car Seat Headrest

Album: Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock

Rating: 7.5/10

Following an incredible debut record for a major label like “Matador” and much critical acclaim, going back and re-recording an older “Bandcamp” album may seem like a bold move. Especially since the older version with it’s Lo-Fi sound and DIY aesthetic is what garnered much of the band’s fans and attention in the first place, but now that lead songwriter Will Toledo is backed by a full band, and now that he revealed that he finally knew how to finish the record 7 years after it’s release, it was clear that Toledo knew what he was doing, and the result of this re-recorded version of the beloved “Twin Fantasy” is proof that re-recording it was very necessary. This new version is cleaner, it’s tighter, it’s punchier, and improves on the many interesting ideas the original version had, and somehow Toledo sounds even more passionate when singing these songs 7 years later. Many of us are dying for new material, but this re-recorded version of “Twin Fantasy” is a real treat for old and new fans alike.

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Artist: Preoccupations 

Album: New Material

Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock/Gothic Rock

Rating: 8/10

“Preoccupations” don’t really break new ground with their new album New Material, but the band’s ambition to create uncompromising “Post-Punk” with a gloomy flavor that reflects some of the best “Gothic Rock” of the 80’s drives this record to success. With it’s minimal but hard hitting instrumentation, reverbed walls of sound, and poetically nihilistic lyrics, this album contains all of the best elements of “Post-Punk,” and it solidifies this new scene of “Post-Punk” bands keeping that spirit alive.

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Artist: Harm’s Way

Album: Posthuman

Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore

Rating: 7/10

With a band like “Code Orange” changing the landscape of “Metal” with their incorporation of outsider genres into the very one-dimensional genre of “Metalcore,” it’s nice to go back to the sound that inspired the band in the first place, and Chicago’s own “Harm’s Way” definitely know how to deliver that sound. The band is fine with what many people label a “corner,” and they run with it creating the most aggressive and violent sounding “Metal” today.

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Artist: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Album: Dirt

Genre: Experimental Rock/Progressive Rock

Rating: 7/10

Canadian collective “Yamantaka // Sonic Titan” are known for their theatrical and almost cult-like live shows, and their studio albums carry that same weight. Their new album Dirt is back to business as usual with their rollercoaster of emotions jumping from atmospheric and dreamy to heavy and sinister, and it’s an artistic experience that has no limits.

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Artist: Anna von Hausswolff

Album: Dead Magic

Genre: Experimental/Drone/Post-Metal

Rating: 7/10

Swedish musician Anna von Hausswolff has never had an interest in writing traditionally structured and straight-forward music, but her new album Dead Magic is easily her most accessible release, but don’t let that fool you, this is still a drony and highly experimental album, but it’s a lot brighter this time around, and when those unexpected sinister moments appear with her screeching vocals and almost “Doom” like guitars, it adds a lot to the intensity as opposed to some of her previous material which features a consistent dark tone all throughout.

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Artist: A.A.L (Against All Logic)

Album: 2012 – 2017

Genre: Deep House/IDM

Rating: 7.5/10

Producer Nicolas Jaar never fails to express the artistic and innovative merit “Electronic” music has with his compositions that are more headier than they are danceable, and with his new album under the moniker “A.A.L (Against All Logic)” he also proves that danceable four to the floor music can be experimental. He does this by providing music with numerous samples, clever production techniques, and soulful and at times Jazzy backdrops. This is an “Electronic” album for a thinker.

 

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 04/03/18