Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


It's Tuesday, y'all...and that means it's time to talk music!  Last Friday was a mixed bag of good, great and mediocre, and while I didn't get to every release, I think I got my hands on most of them.  I have to say, this has been such a fun way to explore and discover bands/groups/singers I'd never heard of before and probably never would have given a listen to, so I hope that these posts are inspiring you to load up Spotify and check some of these acts out, even if it's just for a song or two.

So, let's get on with the week:


BANNERS [BANNERS]


This harmless EP is just that, harmless, and in that harmlessness, it suffers from being a tad on the forgettable side.  The almost motionless drift of the tracks bleeds them one into the other without creating much stir from track to track.  Atmospheric rock is probably the best way to describe BANNERS, but unfortunately the atmosphere never really changes.  If the words were stripped from the music, I’d swear this was a film score, and scores benefit from similar musicality and repeated tones, but for an EP this feels as though it doesn’t offer enough variety to establish BANNERS as an artist I need to listen to more of. 

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  While his vocals are nice and almost soothing, outside of the closing track (Back When We Had Nothing), I find this to be rather slumbering.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
NO

Church Clothes 3 [Lecrae]


If you had told me Thursday of last week that I’d be listening to Christian Rap, I’d have told you that you were crazy (and I probably would have peppered that with some not so nice words), but Friday I indulged in Lecrae’s latest album, Church Clothes 3, and I was literally blown away with how incredibly on point, profoundly astute and relevant the whole experience was.  Lecrae’s flow is incredible, with a spitfire ease about his delivery that puts a lot of more popular rappers today to shame, but it is the content that makes this album so inspired and will make it a hard one to top.  Taking the harshest of realities and giving them the depth of someone like Kendrick Lamar but with the classiness and respectful delivery not often associated with this particular genre, Lecrae has something special.  Just listen to the opening track, Freedom, and I dare you to not be moved by his passion, his convictions and his verbal delivery.  With a host of guest appearances lacing this album, Lecrae has given me something to contemplate and an entire genre to reevaluate.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Instead of pressing us to “praise Jesus” (which I have no trouble doing, but I don’t want you to sing to me about it), Lecrae takes his beliefs and his passions and turns them into a PSA that actually feels grounded in something sincere and something incredibly moving.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year: Church Clothes 3
Best Songwriting: Freedom
Best Urban Contemporary Song: Freedom
Urban Contemporary Album of the Year: Church Clothes 3

Death of a Bachelor [Panic! At the Disco]


I have always looked at Panic! At the Disco has a poor man’s Fall Out Boy.  That may not mean much to many of you, but it’s just how I always have looked at them.  Like, they’ve had some fun tracks, but I often forget that they’re around.  A few weeks ago they released the track Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time and I have to admit, I quite liked it.  It had a sharpness and a spunk to it that made me want to hear more.  As a complete album, it maintains that energy for about half the time, which results in an album that isn’t very consistent, but has enough going for it to make it at least a fun ride, while it lasts.  They carry the same tone, musically, as bands in their wheelhouse (the aforementioned Fall Out Boy and groups like Neon Trees) and then they stick to that formula they sell it well.  Hallelujah is fun and catchy and full of delicious spirit and is certainly primed for radio play.  And then tables get a slight turn when a song like Death of a Bachelor begins and feels like a pop inspired take on a Michael Buble track.  It’s almost jarring and then you kind of take a second listen and it feels sort of fun and flirty and you kind of have to take it all in.  The next track, Crazy=Genius, takes us to the big band era with a swing inspired rock track that explodes with energy.  If you got it, flaunt it, right?  Sadly, the album takes a slump in delivery right after that particular song ends, lending us a second half of an album that feels dull, almost lifeless, repetitive and forgettable. 

Grade:  
2 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  They got this one half right, and I mean those first six songs are so much fun and so well constructed and thought out and diverse, but half right means they got it half wrong.  In all actuality, had they rearranged the flow of the album by spreading out the great tracks the album may not have felt so lopsided.  I say this all the time, but your track ordering is so crucial to the listening experience.  If you’re too top heavy, you risk the listening checking out halfway through, and that’s what happened here.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Rock Song: Hallelujah
Best Rock Performance: Crazy=Genius

EP [Lewis Del Mar]


Who is this guy and where has he been all my life?  I’m so all about this experimental industrial indie rock music, and Lewis Del Mar’s debut EP is full of so much potential I can’t stop gushing over my adoration of these four tracks.  Think the grit of Chet Faker (if you don’t know who he is, find out) and the soul of Anthony Hamilton laced with this polished industrial sound that permeates each track, giving it this otherworldly life.  What makes this EP even more impressive is that Lewis establishes himself as a storyteller here, which makes all four tracks feel like their own identifiable entities. 

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  At only four tracks, these are four perfect tracks that I can’t get enough of.  Such diversity of structure and potential is spilled all over every track.  I hope he releases an album ASAP!

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Extended Play of the Year: EP
Favorite Song of the Year: Loud(y)
Best Songwriting: Memories
Best Alternative Song: Loud(y)

Malibu [Anderson Paak]


If John Legend had become popular in the 70’s, I have a feeling he would have released something that sounds similar in tone and scope to Malibu.  Thriving on very aged sounds of funk and soul, Anderson Paak’s album is very easy listening, very soothing and comforting.  It flows effortlessly from one song to the next, and every track is wrapped so loosely in this world of yesteryears funk that you can’t help but let it just soak in.  Unfortunately, it’s so easy and loose that it lacks any real definition.  There is no real modern flare and no real identity here, and so it all finds itself feeling kind of hollow and forgettable.  The vocals are full-bodied and the way Paak shifts from lyricist to soulful singer is commendable, but I just wish that he focused more on creating tracks with a little more individuality.  If you like one song, you’ll like them all, because they are all kind of the same.

Grade: 
3 Miley Tongues
Why?  It may all run into itself, but it is extremely listenable and enjoyable, which accounts for something.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Urban Contemporary Song: Come Down

Midnite Mass [Keys N Krates]


Dance/Electronica is a genre that has a slew of artists vying for attention, but unfortunately very few of them have the talent to make their work feel polished, grounded and special.  Almost anyone with a computer feels as though they can put beats together, and it shows in the finished product.  Most of Keys N Krates EP, Midnite Mass, feels disingenuous and borrowed.  It’s rather flat and expected and unfortunate, actually.  In fact, it takes the help from friends to make some sort of an impact, and that impact is truly reserved for the final track, Nothing But Space, which is heightened by vocals by Aqui and a more restrained musicality which adds some depth to the barrage of repetition that makes up the rest of the EP.

Grade: 
1 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m bored, but for a solitary moment of something kind of special.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Dance/Electronica Song: Nothing But Space (featuring Aqui)

Not to Disappear [Daughter]


By the time I got to Numbers, which is the second track on Daughter’s new album, I knew I had found a musical home in this album.  It’s like Beach House’s better tracks mated with Bjork and their baby had a baby with the long-forgotten Sneaker Pimps.  I’m telling you, once I got to No Caring I was practically leaping out through the house in uninterrupted glee.  This is how you take the atmospheric alternative rock genre and make it feel layered, textured and full-bodied.  Shifting so effortlessly from ethereal and organic offerings like Alone/With You to more abrasive fare like the aforementioned No Care and then rounding out the album with an almost angelic take on contemporary rock (How feels almost heaven-kissed), Not To Disappear is an album to establish a following (how have I never heard of this group before last week) and one that I won’t soon forget.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m smitten, truly, and this is an album that I can’t wait to ingest again and again and again.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year: Not to Disappear
Favorite Song of the Year: Numbers
Best Songwriting: Alone/With You
Best Alternative Song: Numbers
Alternative Album of the Year: Not to Disappear

Pawn Shop [Brothers Osborne]


There’s country and then there’s COUNTRY, and there is something very…COUNTRY about Brothers Osborne.  The southern drawl extends further than their vocals, lending a very slowed down tone to the whole album, even in their more uptempo tracks.  The opening Dirt Rich is a great example of this, taking what feels like a honky-tonk bar hop type song and giving it this lazy ease that just…slows…things…down.  This is a blessing and a curse.  It creates a very smooth atmosphere, but it also strips Pawn Shop of any real excitement.  The album is perfectly fine for what it is, but there is a point where the tonal choices cause you to check out completely.  Stay a Little Longer, the albums single, is a nice and flirty track, and songs like Rum have a nice flow to them, but overall they just all feel unfortunately…forgettable.  For me, the real gem here is the ballad with Lee Ann Womack, Loving Me Back.  There is such authentic aching on this track, with every word lived and breathed and it stands out as a real shining moment on an album that feels comfortable being a little too comfortable.

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  There is nothing outright wrong and distasteful about this album, but outside of a single bright spot, the album contains nothing of real note.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Best Collaborative Vocal: Loving Me Back (featuring Lee Ann Womack)
Best Country Song: Loving Me Back (featuring Lee Ann Womack)

12 comments:

  1. I should give Daughter album a try. I'm a fan of Beach House, Bjork, and I remember Sneaker Pimps, so based on those comparisons I ought to like it!

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  2. I've heard just two albums this week Death of a Bachelor and Malibu and I quite disagree with you for completely different reasons.

    Panic! At the Disco is what Fall Out Boy is without Patrick Stump's annoying voice. I couldn't totally get behind American Beauty/American Psycho because some of the vocals but Death of a Bachelor is much better in that regard to be honest. The first two tracks are mildly good then it gets better and better till Emperor's New Clothes (my favourite on the album) and it kinda loses momentum because of that not smooth at all transition from like two completely different songs. It isn't a smooth album at all, a flawed one for that matter, but I enjoyed every song, every song being from decent to great actually. It flows well in quality more than sound. The closer Impossible Year, even if it's an anticlimactic ending to such a nice album is still good. I liked it a lot even thou it's certainly not great and it doesn't flow well, and at least every track has more than one writer so yeah. I would give it 7-8 out of 10, good album.

    Malibu, is another story. It flows perfectly. Some songs are excellently written, some aren't great but wow it's a really great listen. The kind of album that you listen to when you work or if you want just to chill and relax with some good music. Sure songs sound "similar" one with another but are different. Some use more live instrumentation while others use more studio production. And Anderson .Paak is such a great singer (not as boring as John Legend) that I was in for the ride. I'll think about it more but now I'm giving it a 8/10.

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    1. Awww, I kind of like Stump's vocals, to be honest.

      And I think we're pretty much in agreement on Malibu. My grade is supposed to be 3 Miley Tongues (not 2 1/2). I liked it...it could have been better though...I wanted to really feel it. It is great background music, but there is minimal impact, sadly.

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  3. You have me really intrigued about Lecrae. I've heard the name a few times, but none of the music. I will definitely give that a go. Think I'll check out Lewis Del Mar's EP also. I'm always down for a mind blowing experience. John Legend bores me to tears most of the time so I can't say I'll rush out and listen to Anderson Paak. And I will completely avoid Brothers Osborne unless I find myself really drunk in some bar when it comes on. Great work once again.

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    1. Thanks Wendell! I hope you dig Lewis Del Mar. I can't get enough of that EP. I'm really interested in what you think of Lecrae, so get on that one.

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  4. Don't know any of these people other than Panic at the Disco (they suck) and don't fucking care. Are you going to do any metal?

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure I will. I try to cram in as much as I can of the releases of the week. So, it really depends on what is released and what is made available on Spotify.

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  5. Whenever I get a chance(I need more time in my life-aghhhh:)) I should give these a listen on youtube just to hear what their styles are and how they sing. I am not sure I could get into Christian rap

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    1. LOL, I never thought I could get into Christian Rap either...but that album is REALLY good.

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  6. Ooh, I definitely need to check out Not to Disappear, EP, and Church Clothes 3. I'm new to all of those artists, so it should be interesting. Nice work buddy!

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