Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


Last week I actually got to a lot more albums than I thought I would, and so we have quite a few to talk about today.  

Let's get right into it!


The Art of Hustle [Yo Gotti]


For the first few tracks of Yo Gotti’s latest album, I was intrigued.  I wasn’t ever anything more than that, and once I hit track 4 or 5, the intrigued feeling was replaced with apathy.  I didn’t care anymore.  By the time I got to track 8 or 9 I had resolved to stop hoping the album would get any better.  It’s not that the album is bad, it’s just so flaccid.  There is nothing here that excites or inspires.  This is the kind of repetitious hip hop that thrives off a bunch of drunk people in a club being unaware of how pointless and uninspired you sound.  You blast anything so loud you can’t hear yourself think and it sounds good enough to grind someone to.  And yet, I don’t even think that is good enough for this album.  Yo Gotti’s rapping is so monotone, his beats are recycled throughout and his chorus lines have no impact.  He misuses his guest stars, who are all more qualified to carry this album than he is.  Lyrically, this is such a disappointment, with songs like Bible and Law feeling like a 10 year old wrote them.  Thank god for Nicki Minaj.

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  It flatlines rather quickly, creating a very forgettable experience.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Remixed Track:  Down in the DM (feat. Nicki Minaj)

Ashes [Illenium]


I’ve never heard of Illenium before, but this album would make me seek out their other works.  There is a sheer loveliness about what they create; textures and sounds that feel like an explosion of light on the eardrums.  The array of guest stars here also helps create a fluidity that is never confused with a one-note atmosphere.  Every guest artist brings something new to the table.  My one complaint with the album is that these tracks, while wholly enjoyable, don’t every feel like original works.  They all feel like reworked or ‘remixed’ versions of other artists work.  Maybe that is the drawback to having so many guests on your album.  It never really feels like your own work.  Still, if you like the dance/electronica genre, then this is an album to check out, for sure.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  It works well for what it is, even if everything feels like a ‘remix’ as opposed to an actual song.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Dance/Electronica Album of the Year:  Ashes
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Fortress (feat. Joni Fatora)

Control [Rosie Lowe]


Have you ever heard of Roisin Murphy?  If you haven’t, look her up.  Rosie Lowe reminds me so much of her that listening to her debut album, Control, was almost nostalgic for me.  There was a comfort level achieved by the mere sound of her album, even though this is her first studio outing.  From track to track, she slinks into place with this lovely ambience that carries the album from start to finish.  Her delivery is filled with swagger, complete confidence in what she’s selling, and the beats attained, while restrained and controlled, feel like a perfect complement to her breed of dance music.  I love the 90’s pop influences combined with a soulful delivery and an almost R&B feel to tracks like Woman.  The use of horns on the album feel inspired and make me anxious for where she takes this career of hers.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s mellow, but cuts nicely and creates a reason to listen again and again.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best New Artist:  Rosie Lowe
Dance/Electronica Album of the Year:  Control

In My Mind [BJ The Chicago Kid]


Experimental hip hop is probably the best way to describe BJ The Chicago Kid’s sophomore album, In My Mind.  There is not a single moment on the album that doesn’t feel at least interesting.  From the way the beats are strung, composed, dissected and restrung to the way he lays down his flow and incorporates his eclectic style with the barrage of guest performers on the album, BJ The Chicago Kid creates an album that will probably serve as a benchmark for his own career.  There is a sharp fluidity that breathes through the album, creating a listening experience that is wholly rewarding.  From the gospel shine of Church to the slinky R&B vibe of Wait Til the Morning to the James Brown throwback Woman’s World to the club bounce of Man Down, BJ The Chicago Kid laces his sophomore effort with so many shades, textures and colors that he makes even the most familiar content feel fresh and new.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Experimental construction of familiar tropes blends well here, creating an album that I really responded well too.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Male Vocal:  Woman’s World
Urban Contemporary Album of the Year:  In My Mind
Best Urban Contemporary Song:  Church (feat. Chance the Rapper)

Love Yes [Teen]


I’m a huge fan of The Bird and the Bee.  I’ve noted that before during these Tuesday Tunes Tastings because there is a niche for these nostalgic pop acts who thrive on reconstructing the sounds of 80’s pop and presenting them in such interesting and unique ways to the modern world.  Teen does just that on this fun and catchy album.  Catchy is really a great way to describe the album, because nearly every song has an element of pure kitsch that makes it drip with memorable catchiness. 

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  Such a fun ride from start to finish, this breed of nostalgic pop has a special place in my heart and in my ears.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Pop Album of the Year:  Love Yes

Need Your Light [Ra Ra Riot]


Back a few weeks ago I got my hands on the single for Ra Ra Riot’s Absolutely.  The song is, kind of stupid, but it’s so joyfully fun that it becomes one of those ‘stupid fun’ songs that is just hard to not love.  I’m not super familiar with Ra Ra Riot.  I actually think this is the first full album of theirs I’ve ever listened to, and stupid fun feels like a pretty great way to describe the album as a whole.  This pop rock genre fits well in their hands.  They feel like a light-hearted Vampire Weekend, not quite as grounded but not quite as serious and so a touch more…fun (even if I prefer Vampire Weekend by a pretty wide margin).  I just couldn’t stop smiling while listening to the album.  Songs like Foreign Lovers and Instant Breakup have such spunk and flow and songs like Bad Times are so slickly produced.  Sure, sometimes the stupid factor gets a little too thick (Bouncy Castles, anyone), but overall this is too fun not to enjoy.

Grade:  
3 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s fun, but fun can only take you so far.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Alternative Song:  Bad Times

Night Flowers [Tiny Deaths]


At just 4 tracks, Tiny Death’s ep makes a small impact, but I’m left wishing that there was more here.  Not that what I get isn’t pretty great.  The simple yet sharply played beats compiled alongside soft vocals create an atmospheric vibe that can’t be denied.  Reminding me a bit of Phantogram, Tiny Deaths are setting themselves up for a fan once they release a full length album, because I like what I hear so far.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  There is something here, but I want more. 

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Extended Play of the Year:  Night Flowers

Painting With [Animal Collective]


When FloriDada started I thought, “this is weird, but I might like this.”  Then Hocus Pocus started and I thought, “yeah, no…I don’t like this at all.”  Here’s the problem, nothing feels focused enough to produce anything more than messy, sloppy sounds.  Almost every song here actually sounds like three or four songs slammed into each other, played overtop each other and cut and pasted to create a hodgepodge sounding mess of a song.  This whole album suffers from overthinking.  At times resembling an acapella group attempting to create music with their mouths while a full band plays behind them, there is just no focus here, no real streamlining of creative juices.  I can see something here, beneath the mess that Animal Collective is, that screams, “I HAVE POTENTIAL”, but I fear that this is the best they will ever produce.
 
Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Obnoxious seems like the best way to describe this album, and while I admire innovation and creativity…I don’t want to listen to this.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
NO

Phase [Jack Garratt]


Dance/electronica is becoming a really popular genre.  I feel like every time I turn around there is a new group of single artist trying to make a name for themselves by mashes a bunch of sounds they found on an iPhone app into my eardrum.  Jack Garratt is probably the best of the recent crop.  In fact, his debut album, Phase, puts most legends of this genre to shame.  From start to finish, the flow here is impeccable and the variety of musical sounds, tones and themes presented is just outstanding.  One major complaint I have with the genre is the tendency to produce very similar sounds from track to track, but Phase has SO MUCH to offer.  From the subtle build to Coalesce to the stripped acoustic (almost Ed Sheeran) sounds of Weathered to the hip hop poppy aspects of Far Cry to explosive Chemical; Garratt pours everything he has into his debut, and it pays off smashingly!

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  What a debut!  I can’t shake the variety and texture here.  How is he going to top this?

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Phase
Favorite Song of the Year:  Weathered
Best New Artist:  Jack Garratt
Dance/Electronica Album of the Year:  Phase
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Weathered

A Season on the Line [Glen Hansard]


I love me some Glen Hansard; like a lot of love.  Tragically, A Season on the Line is just so slight a work from him.  Outside of Way Back in The Way Back When, a pub-rock foot stomper, this four track ep doesn’t deliver anything of real note.  Didn’t He Ramble (which was the name of his last album, but this song was not on it) sounds like a washed up country track, Let Me In has some sweet moments but almost feels broken and strained at the end and Return feels very elementary and even veers into downright vocally obnoxious by the end.  I’m not sure what possessed him to release this ep at all, when none of these tracks are really that inspired.  I hate saying this, since I love him, but you can feel free to pass.

Grade:  
3 Miley Tongues
Why?  I expected more from this.  It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great, either. 

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Songwriting:  Way Back in the Way Back When
Best Male Vocal:  Way Back in the Way Back When
Best Rock Song:  Way Back in the Way Back When

10 comments:

  1. Wow, you did get to a lot this week! Sounds like there was a bunch of good stuff, too.

    Control is a pop classic. Janet was at the top of her game...wait, what? Who?

    Just kidding. Actually, that sounds like an interesting album. I'll give that a listen. I'm also intrigued by BJ the Chicago Kid and Ra Ra Riot. I like Vampire Weekend well enough. Curious what a lighthearted version sounds like.

    Yo Gotti...ugh...but I do like that remix.

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    1. LOL, Jackson's Control is a much better album.

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  2. I'm a fan of Animal Collective as I haven't had the chance to hear the album nor any other new records I have in my iTunes as I've been busy with my 29 Days of Bowie. Once that will end, the sheriff will make his return. Not in what I used to do as that person is gone but I will be checking out some new music and post a monthly a piece on what albums are good and what sucks depending on my interest. Plus, I'm going to do a weekly profile of an album that I love. That's right jabroni, Void-void is back.

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    1. I need to check out Animal Collective's previous works then, but this new album was just so...messy.

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  3. I love that you are reviewing all these new-to-me artists, I’ll give a few of them a try when there’s time. I haven’t been following music as closely as you this year, so wasn’t aware of recent Glen Hansard EP, a pity it wasn’t as good as his previous work.

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    1. Yeah, discover all these new (to me) acts has been so much fun!

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  4. I love Ra Ra Riot! I'm glad to hear their new album is good. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. Their song Can You Tell from their first album is still one of my favorites.

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    1. I'll have to check out their earlier stuff. I know that I've heard them before, but never an entire album (until now).

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  5. I MUST check out Phase, Love Yes, In My Mind, and Control. They're all going on my list.

    Yeah, Glen Hansard's EP stuff often comes across as throwaway tracks from his LPs, unfortunately.

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    1. You will LOVE Phase (at least I predict you will).

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