The Black Keys – Turn Blue
May 13, 2014
From the get go, you could tell that Turn Blue was going to be a different album than anything done before by the Akron, Ohio duo.
Whether that get-go was from their first single, the synth-induced and infectious Fever, or whether it was album opener Weight of Love, it was very unlike anything the Black Keys have done before.
With their last album El Camino, a garage rockabilly foot stomper from start to finish, the Black Keys rose to become one of the biggest mainstream rock bands in the world. Mainstream is a funny word considering not only their roots, but also their classic rock approach which has become a dying breed on new rock radio.
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ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron
February 25, 2014
Oxymoron begins in a way that you probably wouldn’t expect: with ScHoolboy Q’s eight-year-old daughter Joy saying “Hello… Hello? Fuck rap, my daddy a gangster” just before a little piano beat. Likely not understanding the weight of the words she’s speaking, little Joy delivers the perfect intro to Q’s paradoxical relationships with his own daughter.
Her innocence leading into the album’s opening track, the hard hitting “Gangsta” is the contrast that Oxymoron provokes through listening. It’s an album with two intertwined sides and Q in the middle trying to find the balance.
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Arcade Fire – Reflektor
October 29, 2013
Is it possible to write a review about an Arcade Fire album and not sound pretentious? If you’re a writer from Pitchfork it sure seems impossible.
Of course that’s almost every Pitchfork review. About 10 per cent is about the music and what it sounds like, why it’s good or bad, etc. The other 90 per cent can veer into a number of topics from the history of the artist, their credibility, the album’s commentary on society as derived by the writer and what it means. Usually, it’s a bunch of nonsensical pandering to an elitist crowd of music snobs that rambles on aimlessly with little actual context to the music. It’s a writer saying “hi, I write for Pitchfork. I know some big words and I went to college.” Congratulations.
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Lorde – Pure Heroine
October 1, 2013
Ella Yelich O’Connor, or Lorde, is the new pop-star. The 16 year old songstress from New Zealand has been generating a significant amount of buzz after her now ubiquitous song, Royals, took the radio by storm. But she’s definitely not a one-hit wonder, not even close. She’s got talent most people wouldn’t believe came from a girl so young.
Her debut EP, The Love Club, released in March 2013, which originally featured Royals. The five song EP was good, with Bravado being a stand-out, but had a couple of songs that were not very listenable. She still needed some fine tuning.
The Love Club was evident of an artist still finding her sound, and that’s obviously the case considering it was her first EP. Usually it takes a long time for most artists to find their own sound. For great artists though, it usually comes rather quickly. Lorde took everything that was good about The Love Club and built on it to form something exceptionally diverse from anything else.
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Drake – Nothing Was The Same
September 24, 2013
How long is this nigga really going to spend on the intro?
And I’m not talking about the album opener Tuscan Leather, a six minute intro that has Drake launching boasts and brags over a chopped and screwed Whitney Houston sample before the record really begins. It’s a statement. A song that Drake hopes the rest of his album can back up.
He says he can rap for an hour over this beat, and while the first four minutes is truly mesmerizing, you just hope he doesn’t as the song drags on for two minutes too long. But Tuscan Leather is Drake at his current best. Confidently spitting great bars (Like aye, B I got your CD, you get an E for effort) while constantly switching flows to keep things interesting.
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Kanye West – Yeezus
June 18, 2013
There is no one in music today who is more punk than Kanye West. Punk is an attitude. An attitude for counter-culture against the new world order. An attitude against the establishment. An attitude of “I don’t give a fuck” and an attitude of “I’ll do whatever the fuck I want to.” This is Kanye West. This is Yeezus. An audacious and dark rejection of mainstream hip-hop norms and ideologies, and really music in general.
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I skipped May for this. Here’s why: May was a particularly bad month in music for me. Some good releases for other people came out to rave reviews like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, but those albums were just not for me.
I did listen to Vampire Weekends a couple times. While each time grew on me a bit more and Diane Young is in my goddamn head, it still wasn’t something I could wrap my head around. I don’t get them, and I’ll leave it at that lest I ruffle any feathers from lovers of mediocre indie rock.
As for Daft Punk, I’m sorry but disco isn’t happening for me. I respect the hell out of what they do, but I don’t really care about them.
As for June, there were two high profile days. June 4 had two alternative releases from Queens of the Stone Age and City and the Colour, while June 18 had one of the busiest days for hip hop releases in recent memory. Kanye West’s sixth studio album dropped (separate review is pending) along with two hip hop artists looking to prove themselves against the self-proclaimed God of Rap, J. Cole and Mac Miller.
How did they fare? Let’s find out.
Also, a note to anyone who read my reviews from April. I completely changed how I rate albums, which instead of being out of 5, is now out of 100. I realized that it’s better to be more incremental because it’ll be easier to differentiate between albums in terms of how much I like it. I feel like a teacher.
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The months leading up to summer are a great time for music. Every artist is hoping to have ‘the song of the summer’ so a lot of new albums are being released. So much so that I’ve had a dilemma involving them. I don’t have time to properly review all of them, nor do you care about reading that many posts about albums you may not like. So instead, what I’m doing (and what I will probably do from now until I decide I hate everything being released) is review the albums I listened to at the end of the month. For some months, that may be only one or two. For this beautiful month of April though, I had the pleasure of listening to five albums. Here are my thoughts.
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So Justin Timberlake is kind of a big deal, I think. Guys want to be him, girls want to… umm nevermind. He’s a pretty talented guy I must admit, I mean, there’s not much he can’t do. If someone said, “Hey JT, can you cross this dark chasm with this rickety unicycle over a tightrope?” he’d probably be all like “pftt no problem!” and probably juggle flaming chainsaws while doing it.
Despite his obvious talent, I never really cared about his music. At all. To say his music is not for me is like saying paint is not for eating; it just isn’t. Anyone who has known me for any period of time really would probably know that. That whole poppy, R&B-y, top 40-y stuff isn’t what I usually listen to. I’d have to live under a rock to not have heard any of his songs, but those songs never convinced me to listen to the album. Usually they convinced me to change the station. Or the channel. Remember Much On Demand? Remember when it played music videos?
But for some reason, something changed over his six year hiatus. I became very very slightly more open-minded to other genres and other artists. A fun fact about me, which may be confusing to some of you who have only known me for a year or so, is that I used to hate rap. But I changed. I evolved. And if I could learn to love rap, maybe there was room for other genres.
Six years go by and Justin Timberlake decides to make a glorious comeback to music. I was intrigued. I don’t even know why. Maybe because I loved Justin Timberlake the person, that I just said why not?
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