A$AP Mob, Terror Jr., Currents

“Wrong” – A$AP Mob

A$AP Mob dropped a music video for “Wrong”, which means that Cozy Tapes Vol. II is on its way. A$AP Mob had one of the best albums of 2016, so “Wrong” and “RAF”, the two singles they have dropped so far, have certainly gotten me hyped. “Wrong” in particular is features only A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, but that does not take away from the track. In fact, those two are the best A$AP members and they prove it on this track that serves to be less hype and more chill. Rocky effortlessly croons a wavy hook that is easy to vybe with. It carries the song very well, and when Ferg echoes the end of the hook before his verses the song truly coalesces. Ferg kills his verses, discussing his thoughts about how his infidelity leaves his girl with deep scars. With lyrics that actually have an impressive message on top of a soothing beat, Rocky and Ferg deliver an amazing track that showcases their growth and maturity.

“Appreciation” – Terror Jr.

The mysterious and innovative pop trio Terror Jr. have knocked the ball out of the park on each of their three singles. Their most recent one “Appreciation” is phenomenal. The production is terrific as usual; Felix Snow can do no wrong. The track is a sweet treat with lead singer Lisa’s vocals as airy and gripping as ever. However, the track doesn’t stray to far from their hit single “Come First”. Yet I have no problem with it because I view this track as a continuation of “Come First”, but from the a different perspective. In “Come First”, Lisa reminds her lover that she deserves to be cherished above all; in “Appreciation”, she puts her lover first as a way of showing her appreciation. Infectious from start to end, I eagerly wait for Terror Jr. to stop teasing with the singles and drop their album Bop City 2: TerroRising, out June 16. And mark my words: Terror Jr. and their innovative, candy pop sound will get them on the minds and tongues of the masses.

“Withered” – Currents

This is first song I have ever heard from the metalcore band Currents, and it has made me a fan. “Withered” is a heavy-hitter from a band that is heavily reminiscent of Chelsea Grin. Yet they distance themselves from that band with their solid cleans. The fresh vocals complement the unclean vocals. The song structure is varied and keeps things interesting. The riffs, however, are what indubitably carry this song. From the riffs in the atmospheric verses to the sexy breakdowns (especially the djenty one a minute in), “Withered” is a great track that should give this band more attention. Moreover, they are signed to SharpTone Records, a label that has a ton of amazing bands, both new and old. Thus, being a part of SharpTone means that Currents is the real deal.

 

3 Albums I Slept On

There are some albums out there that take more than one or two listens in order for me to fully realize how glorious they truly are. At first, I’m extremely underwhelmed by the artist’s efforts to deliver a great album. I disregard the album for some time until I oddly decide to give it another chance. And that’s when it clicks. The album that I had written off as dull and disappointing has become an album that is remarkable in every facet. It is then that I find myself beating myself up over not noticing the record’s true beauty earlier. Here are a three albums I wholly regret sleeping on.

Sylvan Esso – What Now

With the three singles that this electropop duo released prior to their latest album “What Now”, I must admit I had high expectations coming into it. It was my mistake to expect every song to be as blissfully frenetic as “Kick Jump Twist” and as upbeat as “Radio”. It turned out that most of the album was quite passive and insipid on the first listen. So I quickly cast off the album, only listening to the handful of tracks that were worth playing over again. However, I felt guilty that I had given up on the album so soon. After a second listen, I found myself scooping my jaw up off the floor. The beauty of the album is found in its passive moments. They are perfectly crafted in a fresh way that makes you feel different when listening to it. Not each song is wild like “Kick Jump Twist” and that’s okay. It’s the idyllic moments on “Sound” and “Slack Jaw” that turn heads. It’s the softly rhythmic tracks like “Song” and “Die Young” that balance out the much more rapturous songs on the album. Balance turned out to be the key on this record. The calm tracks made the raucous tracks even more intense and vice versa. This gorgeous album by Sylvan Esso is an eye-opener from start to finish, and I regret rolling my eyes to it the first time around.

Top Vybes: “Sound”, “Die Young”, “Kick Jump Twist”, “Slack Jaw”

Vybes like: Chairlift, Little Dragon

Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

The metalcore giants Architects dropped an album that honestly was quite disappointing at first. Each song blended together, sounding like mere imitations of both each other and the previous album. Each followed practically the same formula: spacey atmospherics followed by Sam Carter firing off a few memorable lines before screaming his signature “Blegh!” to usher in the same rapid riff tweaked only slightly. This is what put me off. I found it unoriginal and lazy on the bands part. However, after a second listen, I found myself enjoying this album more than ever. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is in no way revolutionary. It’s not Architects adding radical elements to their music. It’s Architects refining their sound and creating an album that is memorable in its intricate details found both in its soft and heavy moments. It is a very cohesive album that really comes to life if you let it.

Top Vybes: “Nihilist”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Phantom Fear”, “Gravity”

Vybes like: Northlane, While She Sleeps

Madeintyo – Thank You, Mr. Tokyo

I gave this album a chance after hearing Madeintyo’s “Uber Everywhere” practically everywhere. It was a breakthrough hit for the young rapper, and I was curious to see how he would follow it up. When I listened to it, it just never caught my attention. I knew tracks like “Skateboard P” and “Mr. Tokyo” were phenomenal, but apart from those two I was left scratching my head. It turned out that all I needed was another couple listens before it grew on me. Each song was great, from the production to his flow. Yea, he may sound the same on every track, but so does Future and he’s one of the top artists in the game as of now. The lighthearted, playful sound of Madeintyo is novel and original in the trap/hip-hop scene. The way he crafts catchy songs on top of K. Swisha’s phenomenal production is infectious and capable of getting anyone singing along.

Top Vybes: “Mr. Tokyo”, “Gucci Polo”, “Skateboard P”, “Untitled”

Vybes like: Ugly God, Nebu Kiniza

Vince Staples, Sworn In, Mura Masa

“Big Fish” – Vince Staples

From production to the lyrics, Vince Staples is reasserting himself into the discussions on the best new school rappers. With “Big Fish” as his second single off the upcoming album Big Fish Theory, Vince demonstrates slick flow that he effortlessly meanders through. He displays his exceptional lyricism that groups him with highly-esteemed artists like Kendrick Lamara and Earl Sweatshirt. The production on the track does not smack you in the face with lots of bells and whistles, but through its sleek subtlety it perfectly accompanies Vince Staple’s smooth rapping.

“Make It Hurt” – Sworn In

As if Sworn In couldn’t get anymore raw and gritty in terms of lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation, they really button-smash the unbridled aggression that they have become known for. Yet they deliver above and beyond with a chorus that is as catchy as it is unsettling. The disjointed instrumentation keeps it heavy and raw. In fact, most of the song is jumbled and would seem as if a flight of ideas from the band. However, the abrupt nature of the different sections of the song adds an extra punch to a song that is both disquieting and head-turning.

“All Around The World” – Mura Masa ft. Desiigner

I had to double-take when I saw that Mura Masa, an artist I adore, had a track with Desiigner, an artist I could care less about. However, the collaboration gets a shocking thumbs-up. Both artists triumph on the track. Mura Masa kills it on the production, crafting a wavy, flute-filled trap song. My fear was that Mura Masa would produce a track that Desiigner would come up flat on, yet Desiigner delivers a catchy hook and does a sufficient job on the verses. And thanks to his clear enunciation on this track, I can definitely see people singing the whole song at the top of their lungs this summer.

Hundred Waters – Currency

Sometimes you stumble upon an album, and it proves to be quite lackluster. Other times you wander into a gem of an album that leaves you forever grateful for your discovery. The latter was the case for Hundred Waters’ Currency. The electro-folk trio crafted an impeccable extended play that got me wishing it was a full length.

Being signed to Skrillex’s electronic label OWSLA, I was expecting an album steeped in electronic synths and sonic bass drops that would get a party up and moving. Yet the Currency was on the opposite side of the spectrum. This minimalist release is fresh and idyllic, thriving more on the otherworldly atmospheric vibe akin to the xx rather than what is expected of any artist signed to OWSLA. With Nicole Miglis’ ethereal vocals, each song transports you out of body on a journey through the delicately crafted production. This EP is truly an experience rather than just another album. I would highly recommend the first listen to be solely through headphones. Like Flume’s Skin and Cashmere Cat’s 9, Currency is a magical, sonic experience that ought to be listened through a good set of headphones to be fully impacted by the subtle grandeur of this release.

Collect the ethereal, electro-pop vibe, the poetic lyrics sung by airy vocals, and the subtle ambiance that paradoxically makes for a grander feel, and you have a masterpiece of an EP from a band that is probably not on many people’s radar. Yet after this release, they most certainly should be.

Top vybes: Currency, Particle

Vybes like: the xx, Chairlift

9.5/10

Marshmello, Pvris, HAIM Reviews

Lots of amazing music came out today, so I decided to review three songs at once. Expect an album review of Russ’ There’s Really A Wolf and an artist to watch over the weekend. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the new vybes given to us by Marshmello, Haim, and Pvris.

“Moving On” – Marshmello

Marshmello is killing the EDM game, and he continues to do so with his newest track “Moving On”. The enigmatic producer who weaves trap and EDM together so effortlessly crafts another song that will have you dancing nonstop and singing at the top of your lungs. Marshmello is very much an artist who seeks to spread positive vybes through the music he creates, and “Moving On” is nothing short of positive. It’s simply a jovial song that will make you smile at one point or another. From the bludgeoning bass to the jolly melody throughout, the song is crafted very well. The shrill vocals before the drop act as the icing on the cake, something one should expect on a Marshmello track. “Moving On” certainly isn’t Marshmello’s best track, nor does it do anything drastically mind-blowing, but it is solid track that will continue to get people ready for an album release that seems to be closer than we may think.

For those who vybe to: Galantis, Slushii

“Heaven” – Pvris

Pvris can do no wrong. Following a large period since their debut release White Noise that came out late 2014, the three-piece alternative rock outfit is back with an impassioned song titled “Heaven”. This song is impeccable on every level. The song is composed to perfection, transitioning from a piano-driven ballad into the moody atmospheric anthem that is the band’s signature. The lyrics are poignant, the pinnacle being the chorus where vocalist Lynn Gunn belts out the passionate “You took my heaven away” that is a quite quotable and pertinent for any person subject to heartache. Pvris seems to be going down a darker route as this single is different from “Fire” and “My House” off of their debut. But this is not a thing to be feared, as Pvris has proven that they can craft masterpieces whether they emanate lighter or darker tones.

For those who vybe to: The Neighbourhood, Tonight Alive

“Want You Back” – HAIM

Their breakthrough debut put them on the map back in 2013, but they are destined to make bigger waves with their future release. “Want You Back” is an infectious track that provides a sparkling glimpse into what’s to come from this trio. Their music is highly tinged by the 80s, and it’s front and center on “Want You Back”. This song is highly reminiscent of The 1975, which attests to Haim’s ability to smoothly blend the 80s with pop rock. The vocals, instrumentation, production, and composition are cohesive and ultimately serve to make this song extremely memorable. As a result of “Want You Back”, I eagerly await their upcoming material which should be nothing short of remarkable.

For those who vybe to: The 1975, CHVRCHES

image via Billboard.com

The Epidemic of Selling Out

Seems like nowadays the trend is for bands to trade instruments for straight synths. For example, Panic! At The Disco, Linkin Park, and most recently Fall Out Boy have all fallen victim to this lame trend. Yet they won’t ever admit to selling out. No, no, no. They will claim that they are simply being forward thinking and innovating in a scene of music that can grow rather stale. They will cite that their new sound is what is most authentic for them. Sure, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they are telling the truth. I mean, who wants to make music that they don’t like or feel happy making? But I believe they are telling a half-truth.

See, this innovation should not result in a dramatic shift in sound. I should still be able to listen to a band’s song and be like, “Yea, this is still [insert band name here].” I shouldn’t have to question if all the members but the singer(s) have left. I shouldn’t have to question whether they just forgot to bring their instruments when they recorded the track. I shouldn’t have to say “It’s just one song; maybe the rest of the songs are gonna be different.” Yet this is what has been happening on a regular basis now.

I’ve listened to both Panic! and Fall Out Boy when they first started. I could vibe to their songs because they were fresh at the time. I knew the popular Linkin Park tracks that offered me a sufficient understanding of the scope of their music and how influential they are for the scene. I knew who they were before they’ve changed. Yet this change is simply too much. These bands sold out.

As far as I’m concerned, Panic! is simply Brendon Urie, evidenced best by “Death Of A Bachelor“, so he should simply scratch the name and use his own. His last album was catchy and enjoyable, I’ll grant him that, but it contrasts sharply with his older records with the ex-member(s). What ever happened to dark, cinematic altrock that existed in tracks like “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” and “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa”? Linkin Park too dropped the ball on their last single “Heavy” featuring glitch pop talent Kiiara. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve assumed that it was a sub-par track by The Chainsmokers. The song is bland, not even worth two listens, and sounds nothing like “Faint” or “Wastelands”. Then there’s Fall Out Boy who started their pop sound two albums ago with “Save Rock and Roll”, which is quite ironic since they shifted away from it instead. Gone are the emo altrock days that got them much acclaim. No more “Dance, Dance” and “Thnks fr th mmrs”, just a lame, revolting new track called “Young and Menace”, which is their most blatant pop song yet, and it’s not even done well. As if their latest album wasn’t pop enough, they decided to do some weird dubstep rock mixture that doesn’t sit well with me and should not sit well with any fan of Fall Out Boy or music alone.

If you don’t believe me when I say that selling out is a new epidemic, then here’s two videos, one from Fall Out Boys alt-rock days and the track they just released today.

You cannot, I mean, CANNOT tell me that they are simply being progressive. No, they are SELLING OUT. Hell, they already sold out, but this is just too much. The difference between these two videos is too drastic to chalk it up to just innovation. Nope, its an attempt at commercializing their sound for the sake of multiplying their fans and positions on the charts.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay for bands to desire an increase in audience. They should want to try to attract the casual listener. But they shouldn’t do so much sacrificing who they are and abandoning what got them where they are. They cite that they simply want to be authentic with the music they create, but adding synths, removing instruments, and simplifying lyrics is the opposite of authentic. And the fact that there exists people who defend this is beyond me.

All in all, selling out is both the latest trend and the latest epidemic. In the end, it works out for the bands because they sell out more arenas, sell more records, and chart higher. For every fan they lose, they gain another 10 fans. So unfortunately selling out works. But that one fan that they lose is the fan who was with them from the beginning, who admired them for what they brought to the table. And many will say that if that individual was a true fan then they would stick with the band and love them anyway. But the hypocrisy is overwhelming. We can’t even apply that logic to real situations apart from music. So why should it serve as the justification for diluting true music into commercialized cash-grabs?

 

Why It’s Good That Kendrick Lamar Didn’t Drop Another Album

Kendrick Lamar silences the game with his latest release DAMN., which arrived on Friday. However, there was a theory that a second album would come out on Easter Sunday. The double album theory seemed plausible, backed by some believable evidences found in the lyrics throughout DAMN. and “The Heart Pt. IV”. Yet when midnight Easter Sunday came, no new album came. Even during/after Kendrick’s Coachella performance, there was no new album dropped. Thus the double album theory fell short, despite how delectable it sounded. Yet I don’t find that as a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s good that Kendrick didn’t drop another album.

If he had dropped another album on Easter Sunday, I believe it would have diminished the attention DAMN. deserves. DAMN. is a phenomenal album, one that is unforgettable and with lasting quality (click the read more tag/scroll to bottom for album review). From its overall theme to the individual aspects, DAMN. stands out against the backdrop of what’s been flooding the rap game. The album is different from untitled unmastered, To Pimp A Butterfly, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and his other previous works. This difference, however, should be expected and cherished, due to how Kendrick always switches things up from project to project. Yet this difference would be minimized if he had dropped another album. We would quickly shift our attention from DAMN. to the other album, not allowing DAMN. to truly enrapture us.

Moreover, if he dropped another album, it would cause an instant comparison between the two projects. Now Kendrick is a phenomenal artist, but even for him it would be challenging to drop two masterpieces within the same weekend. We would instantly compare the two albums, and most of us would prefer one or the other, forgetting about the one we deem as inferior. This is evident in Future’s two albums that he released back to back earlier in the year. Only a week separated the albums, but that’s all it took for people to pick and choose their favorite between the two. Now of course there are some who love both of FUTURE and HNDRXX, but there’s a lot of those who gravitate to one or the other. This allows for one of the projects to be either forgotten or overlooked.

Lastly, Kendrick doesn’t need to drop two albums in three days to solidify his spot in at least the top 10 of all time. Personally I believe Kendrick to the be the GOAT. His lyricism, storytelling, influence, and importance is just too outstanding. So Kendrick doesn’t need to drop two albums to be considered amazing. Consider how Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Whether you like him or not, he’s amazing. Yet with this past Super Bowl against the Falcons, a victory would not have been necessary to label him as one of the greats. He has 4 Super Bowl victories out of 6 attempts,  has been a key part of the most successful NFL franchise of this century, and continues to play at a high caliber level throughout the years, constantly bringing his team to the playoffs. He was one of the greats before the Super Bowl against the Falcons. The tremendous comeback against the Falcons is proof. The same thing applies to Kendrick Lamar. Good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp A Butterfly are surefire classics and his other projects are amazing also. DAMN. is another masterpiece that further propels Kendrick into GOAT status or at least just increased stardom. Releasing another project wouldn’t have been necessary. Kendrick doesn’t have to try extra hard to prove to the rest that he’s one of the greatest of all time. He already is one of the greatest of all time.

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