ALBUM CORNER: Music you should or shouldn't hear, weekly
1/22/20: Dan Mason - "Let It Go" TRACK REVIEW
To be completely honest with you, readers, I completely lost track of time and almost forgot to make a review for this week. I had friends over all weekend and we were so busy making music that I forgot to listen to some other music as well. So today, I went and looked through my Spotify reccomended, and lo and behold, Dan Mason has made a track recently. For those of you who don't know who Dan is, he's an up and coming producer in the Vaporwave community, recently getting signed to the Vaporwave label giant 100% ELECTRONICA. He's released music under other labels before, most notably the album Hypnagogia, under another major Vaporwave label Business Casual. It's not the first single Dan has released through 100%, being preceded by Everytime I Cry and Nothing Matters, but we won't be looking at those today.
The first time I listened to this, I immediately picked up on the sound, instantly getting a George Clanton Slide vibe from it. George Clanton, who I've reviewed in the past, is one of the main founders of the label 100% ELECTRONICA, the label this single was released under. Listening to it, you could definitly pick up the sound too. The bassline, the percussion, the echoing vocals, even the synths sound exactly like something George Clanton would make, despite George not being anywhere near this track's production.
It's a very chill track, taking inspiration from the later work of George, like his recent collaborations with alt-rock band 311's bassist Nick Hexum, sounding really smooth and stripped-back. The production is good, the vocals are good, and probably the only gripe I have with it is the bass. It just feels really out of place in the rest of the sound. Maybe if it was mixed in a little better, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
1/15/20: Lemon Demon - "Spirit Phone" ALBUM REVIEW
"Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this record in no way endorses in a belief in the occult." ~"Lifetime Achievement Award" Spirit Phone.
Neil Cicierega is an internet enigma. His Internet career having been started in the early 2000s, you're bound to have heard something or seen something created by him before. Whether it's his Potter Puppet Pals webseries on YouTube, his hilarous trilogy of meme mashup Mouth albums, or his incredibly iconic song from 2005, The Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny, the man's portfolio is mighty impressive.
Today, I'll be taking a look at his rock-and-pop music project, Lemon Demon. Lemon Demon is a band starting as early as 2003, staring mainly Neil himself, and his latest album, Spirit Phone, released in 2016.
Now, the album itself only contain 14 tracks. However, if you purchase the album on Bandcamp or use the digital download code included with the vinyl from Needlejuice, it will come with about 18 extra bonus tracks, ranging from unique tracks to demos and prototypes. I will not be reviewing the bonus tracks, as they fall outside of the original album, but they are very good, and I reccomend that you purchase the album on Bandcamp to get access to them.
This album starts off strong with a song called "Lifetime Achievement Award," which in a nutshell, is about a group of scientists attempting to resurrect Micheal Jackson. Yeah, the songs are pretty weird, unless you look into them. See, the majority of the songs on this album are written in an artsy sense that makes the meaning on it's own weird, but once you start thinking about it, it takes on a whole new meaning. To me, this song is about how, when Micheal Jackson, or, for a more recent example, XXXTentacion, died, the music industry tried to hold on to the money he was making at the time, taking his unfinished songs and having other artists complete them for a cashgrab album. You'll see this theme of "capitalism sux" appear more as we go through the album, so be aware of that as we continue.
This next track, Touch-Tone Telephone, is quite possibly the catchiest song on the album next to the song Reaganomics. It's got really good instrumentation, the synths sound really nice, and overall it's just got a really poppy, catchy sound. Believe it or not, there's actually quite a lot of different opinionsnon this tracks meaning, some saying he's talking about calling a space alien, but I personally think that it's a song about someone who believes in the paranormal, calling into a paranormal AM radio show, trying to confess his love to the radio host, saying he shares the same beliefs.
This next song is what can truly say without a doubt, the song that got me in to Lemon Demon, and now I can't get out of it. Cabinet Man is really bizarre. It's got a really pixelated, 80s, 8-Bit style song about a man who gets stuffed inside an arcade cabinet when he dies, and now haunts the arcade he's in and eats people. I can't really say that much about this one except for the fact that it's really good, and you should definitly listen to it.
Continuing the paranormal love theme from Touch-Tone Telephone, comes this next track No Eyed Girl. This one is actually kinda funny when you think about it. It's about a guy who falls in love with a being from another dimension where everything is made of bright white light, making eyes absolutely pointless. The guy can't go there, so eventually he summons her or something, but then her whole family shows up, oops. At first, I didn't really like this song, but I guess after a few listens that it has grown on me. It has a very unique and other-worldly sound, and I kinda like it.
Flowing into the next track, When He Died is a great song. The entire song is just a giant joke. The lyrics are very morbid and nothing short of Lovecraftian. In fact, if I read you the lyrics, you'd probably think that it was some SCP Wiki entry. The whole punchline of the song is that the lyrics are wrote to make you puke, and the instrumentation is very light rock, and a very upbeat rock-and-pop sound is heard throughout the whole track, which immediately captured my favoritism. Absolutely hilarious, but also very scary at the same time.
The next song is disgusting. Sweet Bod is horrible, and I can't listen to it. Not because it's a bad song, but because it's genuinely revolting. It's about a guy who partakes in the very real prospect of "mellified man," a type of medicinal substance created by submerging a mummified body in honey for 1000 years. Despite what you may initially read off the lyrics, it's not a necrophiliac thing. The lyrics are specially written to throw you off of it's true meaning, which is really cool, and really goes to show how well Neil can write. The instrumentation on this track has a very funky vibe, making it easier to listen to.
The next song, Eighth Wonder, has been released to the public for 10 years, and is what might be the most hardcore game of What Am I ever played. Seriously, this one is so fucking obscure it's not even cool. It's about a ghost that used to haunt an old family in the countryside of the Isle Of Man, an independant state in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England, named Gef The Talking Mongoose, The lyrics of the song being adapted and paraphrased from what the ghost supposedly said. Neil takes the ghost's quotes and translates them to give them a relatable feeling, of a spirit that wants to be known. A spirit that wants to be heard, and feared. Since the song was in production since as early as 2009, this one has a more different sound than the rest of the tracks, taking on a more rock sound, than the retro, nu-wave, synth sound that the rest of the album has.
Again with the paranormal vibe, Neil goes into a song called Ancient Aliens. According to the Genius lyrics, this one is about a prehistoric creature meeting an extra-terrestrial alien, being completely and utterly baffled by whats infront of him. The more artsy definition of this track is, basically, a man sees something that he can't explain, like an alien making fire in prehistoric times, and his reality is so shattered that he would rather lock himself in his own little world, where he doesn't have to confront the phenomena outside.
I really don't like the next track. I don't like it at all. Soft Fuzzy Man just gives off this almost impressive creepy vibe. Almost everything about this track is unsettling, the warpy sawtooth instrumentation, the at-times low groaning, almost erotic moaning vocals, the creepy lyrics, it's freaky. It's almost like the monster in the song is controlling the listener, as the more he sings about how you should "step in to his mist," the more the song sounds fun and nice, but it's a very unnerving track and I don't like listening to it.
Taking on a family feel, the next song, "As Your Father I Expressly Forbid It," is about a father yelling at his kids about his grandfather, and how he's coming over and telling his son to turn down his techno music, don't bring his Gameboy to the table, and don't talk to his grandfather about the Internet, because he doesn't understand it. This one sounds like punk rock, making it a very fun one to listen to. The almost screaming vocals give off a very abusive feeling, and it's a very fun song.
Continuing the family vibe from As Your Father, I Earn My Life is a song about how fucking scary capitalism can be, and how the American public works themselves to death, saying the entire time that "It's just life, it's how it is." Led into the circle blindly, you follow to a death by exaustion, unless you break free from it, and gain freedom.
Another capitalism song, Reaganomics is a song about a very heroic Ronald Reagan, telling his love about how he's going to save her from the greedy people of business. Neil, in this song, sings with such a nerdy passion, it's like he truly wants to free the world from the burden of money, using some of the best lines and hooks you'll ever hear, like "Deregulating, baby!" among others. This has a very upbeat disco rock sound to it, being, effectively, a very good dance song.
The second to last song, Man-Made Object, seems very similar to a song Neil has made before, The Machine. The person Neil sings about in this song seems to be supernaturally led on by some unseen force to build a giant monument to something. There's really not too much to unpack with this one.
The last song on the album, Spiral Of Ants, is nothing short of ethereal. Listening to this song, it sounds like the musical equivalent of when you feel like you're about to cry, but you're not there yet, so you just sit in a curled up ball, stonefaced and feeling empty. The song is about the real-life phenomena of ant mills, where army ants, blind ants that rely on pheromones to navigate, get lost, or overlap pheromones, getting caught running in an endless circle, eventually dying of exaustion. The instrumentation is relatively slower compared to the rest of the album, and has alot of wide sounds. Fun Fact: when placed next to the first track, the album, not including bonus tracks, seamlessly loops on itself.
Overall, this record is genuinely good, however I do have some gripes with it. The production can be spotty in places, some things in the album really just rub me wrong, and it's a but hard to get into. A lot of people I know aren't really into this kind of stuff, and it's really only good if you enjoy this sort of "nerd pop" music, but lucky for me, I'm into that kind of stuff.
1/8/20: Twenty One Pilots - "Trench" REVIEW
I haven't been to many concerts in my life. Heck, I've only been to two so far. However...
Let me tell you something about Twenty One Pilots.
The day was June 18, 2019. Me and my family walked up to the BJCC with the tickets on our phone and yellow tape on our shoulders, ready to see what might possibly be the best thing we'll ever see. We went in, got seated in the nosebleeds, and got ready to watch. The opening band, Bear Hands, was decent. They didn't sound bad, they played some good songs of theirs, said something about the recently passed abortion laws in Alabama, and left. No big deal. It wasn't what we were there for anyway.The lights went dark, the Fortnite theme played, a car came up out of the floor, and exploded in flame.
Like I said, it was possibly the best thing I've ever seen.
The rest of the concert was amazing, but too long to be written here and still have room for the album review. I might write about the rest of it in another blog post, but here's a summary. It was the drummer, Josh Dun's, birthday, we all had a good time singing him happy birthday and laughing at a special video Tyler had made for him, Twenty One Pilots played all the Trench songs, we had fun listening to them, and I discovered that a mod for a Discord server I'm in lives in Alabama. (that was fuckin wild) That's not what you're here for. You want my opinion in the album.
The album is a masterpiece. When compared to their previous album, Blurryface, this album sounds way better to me personally. It sounds way more clearer, it's mixed better, and overall the sound is just better. The best part about the album is undoubtedly the instrumentation, more specificly the drums. Josh's drumming is amazing, probably hitting it's peak during his drum solo in Morph. The way he plays is just. Wow.
Whether or not you like this kind of music, you have to agree that there was genuine effort put into the entire project. There was a real effort put into this record that I dont feel like I hear that much of anymore. This record was made with a passion. It wasn't made as just music, but as art. Each track paints a picture in your head about this world that Tyler and Josh are creating through the lyrics and instrumentation, the whole album having this dark, moody sound. It's one of their best albums production-wise and I'd be willing to say it's their best record yet.
Most of the tracks on this record fit in with each other, and, for the most part, they sound pretty good and feel like they'd belong on this album. However, I do have a lot of issues with the track Smithereens. It's the only song on the record I don't like, and I dislike it so much that I can't listen to it. It's easily the least good song on the album.
Other than that, the other tracks on this record are pretty good for the most part. Jumpsuit is a nice opening song. It's not the best song on the album, and it's not the worst song on the album. It's just enough to get you into the feel of the album, and it does a great job at it. Levitate is a song that I can only describe as a rap song for people who don't like rap. That doesn't mean it's bad, it's just not that strong as a rap song. Morph is a nice feel good song. It doesn't give off as strong of a dance vibe as the other first 5 songs, but it's a very mellow jazzy song. My Blood is just Seven Nation Army, and I love it. Chlorine is easily one of the best, if not the best track on the album. The beat here is absolutely phenomenal, the lyrics are very strange, but make a lot of sense, and it just feels etheral and mystic in a sense. I love it. I hate Smithereens. The next song, Neon Gravestones, is a very haunting track, being almost strictly piano with an additional atmospheric drum beat by Josh. The lyrics are something like a therapeudical conversation and very memorable, and overall it's a really great track. The Hype is a brighter song, but not by that much, harkoning back to the Blurryface era in sound. Nico And The Niners is probably the best track on the second half of tha album. It hits hard and continues that energy throughout the duration of the song and overall sounds really nice. Cut My Lip and Pet Cheetah sound like two sides of the same coin, with Bandito being the transition piece inbetween. Legend is an absolutely beautiful track written about Tyler's grandfather, Robert Joseph, who passed away from Alzheimers in March of 2018 before the album was released later that year. (he's the person on the right side of the Vessel album cover) and Leave The City is a great closing song for the album, bringing everything to a close in a slow and calm song that I really, really like.
It's one of the only albums that I own on multiple mediums, and it's one of the only albums that I will ever TRULY reccomend to people.
12/17/19: George Clanton - "Slide" ALBUM REVIEW
Have you ever posted an 80s or 90s style mood post on your Instagram or Tumblr? Have you ever reblogged a video with 80s music and psychedelic visuals with a VHS filter? If you have, well then thats Vaporwave.
Meet George Clanton. George is an amazing producer from the Brooklyn area. He's been making music since the early 2010s under the name Mirror Kisses, but as of late, has been making music under other monikers like ESPRIT 空想 and his real name, George Clanton.
George's latest album, Slide, released in 2018, might just be his best one yet. Originally to be released under his Mirror Kisses moniker, Slide is an almost 40 minute ride through some of the best music that Vaporwave has to offer. It's smooth, it's simple, it's all atmospheric and beautiful, it's nothing short of eargasm.
Many people, like Anthony Fantano of TheNeedleDrop, Pitchfork, i-D, and even Bandcamp themselves have rated this album a decent scoring, and I can say that, without a shadow of a doubt, that those ratings hold true. This album is amazing, and truly worth the mandatory $10 price tag that would probably be absurd for nearly any other Vaporwave LP. The relaxing feel of the whole album only gets heavier the more it plays. The slightly distorted guitar on one of it's lead singles, Dumb, leads to one of the best sounding singles I've heard all year.
This album has a very distinct sound than most albums I've heard recently, even more different from his last album, 100% Electronica. While many of his old albums like 100% Electronica and even some releases on his ESPRIT project sound like only Vaporwave, Slide really feels like a new step in direction towards a new sound. While his previous albums have been feeling like they strictly belong to the 80s classic Vaporwave genre, this album feels different. This album sound like the 90s, to put it simply. The electronic bits that make up the majority of the sound, are perfectly combined with the rock bits that add base to the sound.
Now, that doesn't mean that I don't have any gripes with this album. The interlude between Dumb and Slide, Blast Off, feels way too long for the way it sounds. The violin that overshadows the rest of the instrumentation sounds very off-key. I feel as if some of the tracks are too long. Had these issues been fixed, I probably would think higher of this album, but for the last track of the A-side, Blast Off just is wrong to me.
I absolutely LOVE this album. It's one of my favorites that I've heard in quite some time. Every second of this album is a smooth rollercoaster through several moods and music genres, the look and feel of the album is very cool, I really like the whole blue theme of the album's aesthetics, and all in all it is a very well rounded LP.
10/24/19: Coldplay - "Orphans" / "Arabesque" TRACK REVIEW
Hello everyone, it's me, Nyantendo, the laziest music nerd, and today, we'll be taking a look at the two latest Coldplay tracks, Orphans and Arabesque.
Now, hear me out. I love Coldplay. Their work from 1998 to 2010 is phenomenal. Parachutes is a massive classic, A Rush Of Blood To The Head is good, X&Y is a bop from start to finish, and Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends is an album I could listen to from start to finish twice. I've never been disappointed by Coldplay, until now.
When the singles dropped around the world at 7:30 BST, I went so far as to skip class to hear it. I excused myself to the restroom, got into a stall, put in my headphones, and tuned into BBC Radio 1 just as the interview with Chris Martin was ending. I was ready, the fans were ready, Coldplay themselves were probably ready. Here it was, the latest Coldplay single in 4 years.
I sat and listened in my bathroom stall with anticipated ears and a grin from ear to ear across my face, and within the first few seconds of the first song Orphans, my face had changed from pure joy, to slight confusion, and then to just dissapointment. This song was horrible! I waited 4 years for this? This sounds like the fourth track off of a Children's Gospel CD from 2014 except worse. The whole song sounds like an unbalanced, improperly mixed blur. It felt like they were going for a Mylo Xyloto sound, but half of the sound stayed in A Head Full Of Dreams, so it ended up with this stretched-out and blurry mess like when you resize images in MS Paint.
Still, I kept hope alive. The track may be a giant flop so far, but maybe they can pull it off in the end. Yet, as I listened further, it only got worse. The whole song feels like a soundtrack song to an old Disney movie, and it's not like a soundtrack song that plays during a scene or anything, it sounds like an End Credits song, like a song that plays at the time that everyone is leaving the theatre or turning off the VCR.
I'll admit, it's decent, and the more I listened to it, the better it started sounding, but that still wasn't a whole lot and it still was nowhere near worth the 4 year wait to hear, but this is only one of the tracks off the upcoming double album that Coldplay is dropping this year, perhaps theres only one of these bad apples in the bunch.
My suspicions were confirmed when the next track, Arabesque, started playing. Right off the bat, I knew that this would be great. The bass line is low and mysterious, the saxophone solo is oozing with smoothness, Chris's vocals sound clear and polished, yet fuzzy, warped, and slightly wrong, like a radio broadcast you found on some weird AM frequency in the middle of the night coming from god-knows-where.
The lyrics of the track are very much like A Head Full Of Dreams hit a mood swing. Chris Martin said in the BBC Radio 1 interview that the song is written about the tensions with countries like Islam and Iraq, and even though the message that "we may be divided, but music unites us all" is a pretty "meh" message that would fit right at home in A Head Full Of Dreams, it is made better to an extent by the dark and gritty sound of the track. This has such a Cemeteries Of London vibe to it, and Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends is very much my favorite album by Coldplay instrumentally, so to hear that the new double album will sound a lot like it really gets me excited for November.
In the end, I believe that Orphans is not that good of a track. It sounds just plain bland, like Lunchables meat slices. There is no pop, there is no flavor, it's just decent or ok. Arabesque is a much better track, and if the majority of the album sounds like it, then I'll gladly listen to it.