Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: FKA Twigs- LP1




So, after another long and drawn out absence, here I am to offer my belated opinion on the debut LP by FKA twigs, or formerly known as twigs, or whatever she's calling herself at the moment.

Twigs, or Tahliah Barnett, is a British singer and former background dancer that has recently been making waves with her one two punch of EPs. I hadn't actually heard any of these EP tracks before I delved into the LP, so I was quite surprised with what I got from the album. To classify this into a genre would be a little difficult, but if pressed, I would have to call it some sort of trip-hop/R&B hybrid. No where else do come ons sound so unsettling.

I feel a lot of the unsettling atmosphere is due to the brittle but intricate production that can be found all throughout the album. Then twigs sings. Her voice is very vulnerable and beautiful, and her range on the album is insane. She seems most comfortable in the stratosphere, but her low notes are equally remarkable. Her singing on this very strange production may not initially sound like it blends, but its actually a very organic blending of sounds, and adds some depth. The lyrics here may sound a little one dimensional, but the music in the background provides double meanings that may not have been there originally.

My only complaint may fall with the lyrics. Though some introspection leaks through in tracks like 'Video Girl', a lot of the lyrics can be a little too much in the bedroom R&B vein, which is fine, but I feel like Barnett is capable of much greater lyrical substance.

In my opinion, she's definitely and artist to watch, and her first full length in a hypnotizing and original musical experience. Definitely not something to miss.

Out of a total of five stars, I give this:



Later, I'll give my opinions on J. Mascis' new album, Tied to a Star.



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Electric Wurms- Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk


It took me a little while to form my opinion on this record. Electric Wurms is a side project of Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, in which they enlist Linear Downfall as co-conspirators. The problem I was having is inevitably what a lot of other people will have: the comparisons to the Flaming Lips.

So, let's set something straight. The Flaming Lips are pretty awesome. Their sonic experiments and novel and innovative releases are all but legend at this point. I just was kind of expecting something different from this album, or EP if you will. The lack of the Flaming Lips name made me think there was going to be a radical sound change here; one that they thought would not have worked within the Flaming Lips wheelhouse. Collaborations are nothing new to the band (Heady Fwends and multiple cover albums), so why the name change? There's a slightly subtler sound to it, and Wayne takes more of a back seat, but one can definitely hear the Flaming Lips sound on this release.

The fuzzed out guitars and synths are here in full force, but the album is a little tame for the most part, but maybe that was the intent. My favorite track on this was definitely 'Transform!!!', where a pretty funky and insistent groove is laid down, and insanity is slathered on top. All in all, this is a solid release, but I never really got a sense of identity with this project. To make a comparison, Spanish Gold is a side project of members of a number of bands; elements of each band's sound can be found within the new group's record, but I feel the group established their own identity and sound within South of Nowhere. I don't really feel that here, and I would have liked to hear more divergence from the Flaming Lips if they were making an effort to distance this project from the band, as the diverging moments are among the release's strongest moments.

Out of a total of five stars, I give this:


What did you think of the EP? Tell me your thoughts. As for me, I'm off to absorb my first exposure to FKA Twigs.

"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: Adult Jazz- Gist Is


Still trying to parse out what I feel about the Electric Wurms project, I thought I could share my opinions on the debut LP by the UK group Adult Jazz. The sound of this band is a little weird. Reverb soaked vocals made up of barely comprehensible half phrases, skeletal song structures infused with synths and horns, and the the oddest drum patterns are a little bit of what you can expect here. I was really mostly impressed with the drum work on this album, along with the ability of everyone else in the band to do their own thing, mostly independent of the drum beat. I thought that was just great.

I think where the album falls a little short with me is with the vocals. A lot of it sounds a little Animal Collective derivative, and I really couldn't warm too much to the lyrical half thoughts, though I found the vocal rhythms and interplay between them and the drums and other instrumental parts pretty interesting.

I feel like I should like this album a lot more than I do, or maybe there's something I haven't quite grasped. I'm sure later on in the year when this finally clicks, it'll be a great album in my eyes, but for now I can really appreciate the powers at work and the individual parts, but the whole just doesn't really resonate with me. This is definitely one to listen too though. I could see opinions on Gist Is being very divided, and you really need to experience it to pick your side.

Out of a total of five stars, I give this:



What were your thoughts on the album? My thoughts on the Electric Wurms debut EP should be on its way in the near future.




"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

July/August Mini Reviews



During this last break from writing, I finally completed my move to the 412, but this didn't stop me from listening to some new music. Granted, it was a little harder to get a hold of in a state of transition and without internet, but with all that worked out, I thought I'd share my opinion on a few albums that came out in the interim.


Various Artists: Beck's Song Reader
I was pretty excited for this album to see release. Apparently I was one of the few, as it took me some effort to find this at a record store (thank you House of Guitars for being the only place in Rochester to stock this). I had previously purchased the collection of sheet music, but it's a completely different experience to hear the songs performed. I had heard some Youtube performances and my own attempts to play these songs were a little rough (my guitar playing is far from perfect, I'll just leave it at that). It was interesting to hear each artists' take on Beck's work. My favorites were Jack White's fuzzed out country "I'm Down", Laura Marling's "Sorry", and Jack Black's comical take on "We All Wear Cloaks". But of course the star track was "Heaven's Ladder", performed by Beck himself. I've seen reviews criticizing that all the artists sound alike. And to that, I have to disagree. I feel like each song has its unique energy, but with a unifying Beck lyrical style. I quite enjoyed this album.


hot rainbow cover art
Juice Machine: Hot Rainbow
I had been meaning to take a look at one of these recordings for some time. During one of my bandcamp searches, I came across the tape label Turmeric Magnitudes. This label seems to specify in releasing tapes and downloads I can only call noise. The output from this label is pretty astounding, and I just picked this release because it was a recent release that I thought was a standout. I feel like this kind of music is like ambient music for the death metal crowd. Each release is made up of plenty of distortion, harsh noise and other sounds. While some releases sound like piercing noise or rotting tape loops, this releases sounds more like someone took a sledgehammer to an NES Track & Field game and then attempted to play the resulting shards. The sounds are interesting to say the least. Definitely only something to listen to if you're in an adventurous of experimental mood.


Stardeath and White Dwarfs: Wastoid
I first heard of Stardeath and White Dwarfs through their collaboration with the Flaming Lips on the Dark Side of the Moon cover album. And while it's true that the band has not and probably never will escape the shadow of the Flaming Lips, I can still say their output thus far has been enjoyable. Like the Flaming Lips, their sound is fuzzed out electronics and guitars marinated in LSD. I found the build and climax of "The Chrome Children" to be pretty satisfying, and the Flaming Lips feature on "The Screaming" was a welcome surprise. I look forward to more by the band, including their parts on the upcoming Sgt. Pepper's cover album (the track list had them playing with Tegan and Sarah on 'Lovely Rita'- what a weird combo).


So those were my opinions on some late July/ early August releases. What were your opinions if you listened to the albums? What new stuff have you been listening to? Also, speaking of the Flaming Lips, I'll be looking at the new release from the Wayne Coyne/ Steven Drozd side project, Electric W├╝rms, in the near future.


"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."