Sunday, 31 August 2014

Best Of August

Hey everyone, I'm sorry that I've only posted once this month, I mean I haven't even been that busy so I don't really have an excuse...except for the fact that I've been planning ahead to September; I start A-Levels soon and I want to ensure that I can maintain my 3-post-a-month plan. So I promise I will try to keep up from now on. 


Back to music, yeah, this has been a good month. In terms of albums it's a bit on the slow side, but September is quite the opposite so I'm not too fussed. There are however lots of great tracks floating about and some incredibly exciting new albums coming soon (hence the need for a new post). There is also some extremely exciting news which I will announce in due course...

Albums of the month

FKA Twigs - LP1

So as you may have gathered from my gleaming review, I am pretty much infatuated with this record, but don't take my word for it; the world of FKA Twigs is ready and waiting to be delved into. But what I can offer you is the following advice: If new to Twigs, give it time and you will reap the rewards. If you're already accustomed to her artistry, you'll agree it's a masterpiece and want to marry it. I've listened to this record relentlessly and can assure you that there are no weak spots, each track is special and will become your favourite at one time or another, that's the beauty of it.

Read the review in full here

Marcel Dettmann - fabric 77: Marcel Dettmann

Through a series releases and his world-renowned DJ sets, Marcel Dettmann has become one of the biggest DJ's in techno. His latest release fabric 77: Marcel Dettmann is a long one, it's nearly 3 hours yet never once feels tiresome or boring. This is techno at it's most skeletal and steely. There are moments of sparseness as well as mind-numbing density during the more club-ready tracks like 'Transit 0.2', while the menacing 'Inside Of Me' adds an element of darkness.

The Bug - Angels and Devils

With a track list featuring acts such as Copeland, Death Grips and Liz Harris (A.K.A Grouper); how could the fourth album from Kevin Martin as The Bug be anything less than excellent? The answer is it couldn't. The album features everything I could ever want from it; stellar guests, strong instrumentals and an expansive range of sounds. The only track I genuinely don't care for at all is the Death Grips track, that's simply because the lyrics suck. As this is a two part LP it's safe to say I prefer the lighter and more accessible first part, otherwise known as 'Angels'. But as a whole it is a really strong piece of work and Martin's best release to date.

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

After two rather underwhelming records, The New Pornographers have come back fighting with Brill Bruisers. This record sees the band reclaim their ‘best indie rock/power-pop super group’ crown (from whom I am not quite sure). Whether it be the soaring harmonies on the explosive “Brill Bruisers”, the melancholic “Champions of Red Wine” or the driving groove of “Backstairs”, this record truly feels like the band have managed to find the fire which made their early releases so highly acclaimed. The album’s celebratory and joyful spirit is exemplified by the closing track and leaves the listener with an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the mundanities of life. It may not be their best record but it’ll certainly put a smile on your face, and thus rightfully earning the band’s power-pop tag.

Read the full review over on Earbuddy.

The Wytches - Annabel Dream Reader

After months of hype from various publications; Brighton-based surf-doom outfit The Wytches finally released their debut album this month. As far as an album of this genre goes, Annabel Dream Reader is pretty expansive and features a range of moods and tempos. From the face-melting 'Digsaw', the psychedelic riffs of 'Wire Frame Mattress' to the moody slow-burning 'Robe For Juda', the band are pushing the boat out here and bringing a new meaning to 'surf-psych'.

Songs of the month (see playlist below)

Caribou - Our Love

If you journey back to June, you may remember Caribou's 'Can't Do Without You' topping my 'best songs of June' list, well he's done it again. 'Our Love' the second cut from his forthcoming record of the same name is yet another intoxicating IDM banger filled with off-kilter synths and drum machine sounds. As much as this is very much a summer track, I'm sure a song of this calibre can be appreciated all year long. If early reviews are any indication, the record is full of these euphoric epics so I suggest you brace yourselves...


Oh Lord, where do I start with this? It's hard to really talk in-depth about a track like this because it is quite literally all over the place. Is it garage? is it pop? is it dub-step? I don't know. All I know is that the song is brilliant and I can't stop playing it.

Mr Twin Sister - Blush

Earlier this year Twin Sister announced that they had changed their name to 'Mr Twin Sister' and were no longer with Domino Records (why exactly I am still not sure). This got me worried, especially considering how much I loved their last album In Heaven. My anxiousness intensified once I heard their single 'Out Of The Dark', as good as it is it simply isn't the band I know and love. However, all of this doubt was irradiated by the incredible 'Blush', with its jazzy undertones and soothing chorus, my faith is now fully restored. 

The Juan Maclean - A Simple Design

~A Moment to appreciate this song's length~. Ok, 'A Simple Design' is a sleek, catchy and funky piece of synth-pop, it seems that the addition of Nancy Whang as a full-time vocalist has done wonders for John Maclean's (former) solo project. Let's hope that their up and coming LP features more bangers of this magnitude. 

Pharmakon - Body Betrays Itself

WARNING: This track is not for the fainthearted. So if you don't like screaming, loud electronic noises or angry women, I suggest you skip this track (hence why it's at the end of the playlist).

She's back. 

Margaret Chardiet (better known as Pharmakon) has been very much embedded in my mind ever since her debut Abandon harpooned it's way into my ears last year. A mash-up between noise, power-electronics and avante-garde; Pharmakon's sound is certainly an acquired taste. But I happen to love it. And with a new record on the way in October, this new single proved her throat-shredding game is as strong as ever. 

Run The Jewels - Blockbuster Night Part 1

What started off as a collaborative album between Killer Mike and El-P became one of the most successful rap projects of the last year. From the beats to the bars, everything was pretty much on-point and the fact it was free was the cherry on the cake. 'Blockbuster Night Part 1' picks up where the duo finished off, but the production shows that they've clearly upped their game. 

My Brightest Diamond - Lover/Killer

Next month, Shara Worden will release her fourth album under the moniker My Brightest Diamond. The album in question is called This Is My Hand and it is excellent, this track in particular being one of my favourites. 'Lover/Killer' combines Worden's signature baroque elements with funky guitar licks and horns, the result is extremely unique, much like Worden's talent itself. 

Lily & Madeleine - The Wolf Is Free

Teen sisterly duo Lily & Madeleine released their bewitching debut last year following the immense success of their earlier buzz tracks and covers. Now, less than one year on they are gearing up to release their sophomore album Fumes in October. 'The Wolf Is Free' is easily their best track to date, with subtle hints of chamber pop and barber shop harmonies, it is clear that the young duo are constantly honing their skills. Despite it's light aesthetic, 'The Wolf Is Free' packs a punch and suggests that their up and coming sophomore album is not to be missed. 

Wardell - Dancing In The Freeway

Just because Summer is over does not mean that I can't still pretend; the poor weather will not stop me from listening to sun-soaked pop-rock at an obnoxiously loud volume. Wardell's 'Dancing On The Freeway' delivers this sentiment much better than I ever could. Bearing in mind I've been waiting around a year for them to follow-up their excellent Brother/Sister EP, this fills the void wonderfully. 

Hookworms - The Impasse

I was initially going to end this with a light and melodic soul-pop track but this came along at the last minute and nabbed the last spot on my playlist (hypothetically, as it isn't on soundcloud). Leeds outfit Hookworms released their debut full-length Pearl Mystic last year to rave reviews and are now ready to release the follow-up in the form of The Hum. To tie us over until November, the band have dropped 'The Impasse', possibly their most accessible and focused release to date, yet maintains their ramshackle charm. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

FKA Twigs - LP1 Review

It is not uncommon for an upcoming artist to build interest through the release of an EP (or in this case, two EPs), especially in an age where technology is progressing at a frightening rate and artists tend to have a diminishing window of opportunity to make an impact and sustain a fanbase large enough to ensure longevity. But what is particularity astonishing about Tahliah Barnett's ascent to prominence is how she manages to captivate the internet by defying the norms of modern pop. Each track came accompanied by unique and stunning visuals which encapsulate the mood of the tracks whilst not detracting from the music itself. Her sound was always startlingly assured for such a newcomer to the game; rich in texture and brimming with off-kilter beats and sounds, she seemingly ripped apart any genre-specific labels the industry or media may have tried to impose on her. Suffice to say, Barnett has truly delivered a game-changing debut album which pushes all the boundaries whilst maintaining a considerably expansive reach.

Imagery is an integral part of Barnett's artistry; her visuals and sonics go hand in hand to create an experience for the listener/viewer, this enables them to feel even more connected to the music on a deeper level. Arguably one of the main reasons for the immense success of prior singles 'Water Me' and 'Papi Pacify' is the music videos which accompany them. They immerse the viewer in the concept of the song and bring new meaning to Barnett's lyrics. The artwork of LP1 (created by Jesse Kanda) itself is no exception to this; the cover art is a partially digital portrait of  Barnett is placed on a tranquil blue backdrop, representing the more ambient part of her sound whilst the quiet sense of longing on her face lends itself to the darker soundscapes in her music.

The album opens with 'Preface', which consists of one, very powerful lyric; "I love another and thus I hate myself", a quote from the 16th century poet Thomas Wyatt which I feel sums up the lyrical tone of the record to a tee. The notion of self-loathing induced through the love and undying devotion to another human being is a poignant one, this only reinforced by the throbbing basslines and punchy synths laced across the record. And then of course, there is her voice. And what a voice it is; from breathy and wispy coos to gutsy and rich cries, her vocal delivery is as colourful and dynamic as the production it juxtaposes. Despite its running time, it makes a huge impact on the listener and sets the tone perfectly, it oozes grandeur with every second, much like the lead single 'Two Weeks'. The latter is undoubtedly Twigs' most accessible song to date, plus it's a bona fide jam; the throbbing bass line, shuddering drum beats and spine tingling vocal delivery as well as the accompanying visuals take Twigs' regal aesthetic to the next level. The lyrics on the other hand are anything but, "Higher than a motha fucka, dreaming of you as my lova" are hardly the words of a queen, though the way said lyric is delivered evokes an overwhelming sense of empowerment, she is truly owning her sexuality here and it's awe-inspiring to witness.

You'd be foolish to even attempt to pigeonhole FKA Twigs; she does not belong in any old rigid genre structure, her sound created through the fusion of various styles and the intention is not to fall into any genre-specific category. Nobody I feel articulates this better than Barnett herself, in a recent interview with The Guardian, she said: "When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: 'I've never heard anything like this before, it's not in a genre.' And then my picture came out six months later, now she's an R&B singer." Essentially, because she's mixed race, people (the music press) rather carelessly class her as "Alt-R&B", because its easy and they don't care to look deeper into the music she creates, and that's a great shame. Barnett's genius is in the fact that she creates boundary-less and thought-provoking electronica with nods to chamber music, soul, trip-hop, along with avante-garde and ambient thrown in for good measure.

In that same interview Barnett also declares her love for "annoying sounds, beats, clicks. Kakakakaka", this is evident on many of the tracks on LP1. Take closing track for example; laced with haunting vocal samples and throbbing synths, 'Kicks' climaxes with a glitchy and unusually catchy breakdown which ends the album on a euphoric note. She also said [of the album] that "the structures aren't typical, it's relentless. It's like punk; fuck alternative R&B!", another statement I'd have to agree with, Barnett's sonic innovation in this record's production is certainly that. A prime example of this is the track 'Pendulum', which features Barnett's signature 'clicking'; though brittle, it is also unsettling and gives the track a subtle sense of menace. The track then opens up in the most mesmerizing and majestic of ways into an explosion of plush soundscapes as she coos "so lonely trying to be yours, when you're looking for so much more".

So as you may have gathered, I am pretty much infatuated with this record, but don't take my word for it; the world of FKA Twigs is ready and waiting to be delved into. But what I can offer you is the following advice: If new to Twigs, give it time (less than two weeks) and you will reap the rewards. If already accustomed to her artistry, you'll agree it's a masterpiece and want to marry it. And if none of the above don't apply, I simply do not know. I've listened to this record relentlessly and can assure you that there are no weak spots, each track is special and will become your favourite at one time or another, that's the beauty of it.


Standout Tracks: Two Weeks, Pendulum, Numbers, Closer, Give Up, Kicks