Thursday, May 16, 2019

video review: 'the juice: vol. 1' by emotional oranges


So yeah, this was concentrated wonderful - absolutely killer project, definitely a debut with a ton of potential, you all need to hear this!

Now for the next couple of days I'll be at Sonic Temple, so uploads might be a little more sporadic, but stay tuned all the same!

album review: 'the juice: vol. 1' by emotional oranges

So we're venturing back into the muted, murky R&B rabbit hole and let me pose to you a somewhat unique prospect: a duo, comprising of both a guy and girl working together on vocals, picking up slick elements of 80s funk, some of Janet Jackson's sultriness, but a lower timbre overall to play to a more sultry and "mature" vibe. Would you bet on a group like that?

Hell, you probably would have sold me based on the R&B duo dynamics alone - I've long held the private belief that mixed gender groups with effective balance can rarely be matched and it's been decades since you've had one with consistent success. Hell, the surprisingly long running success of Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum in country have proven there's a lucrative market, but if you look at R&B or hip-hop, you typically get the 'token' girl who winds up having as much talent as everyone else combined, like with City High and arguably The Fugees. The closest I can think of to making that balance work is Doomtree with Dessa holding up her end with the rest of the crew, but again, that's hip-hop, not R&B. So when I started hearing underground buzz for Emotional Oranges - and when I say underground buzz I mean the measurable promotion through the Joe Budden Podcast and a certain manager who will go unnamed - I figured like with Asiahn I'd give them some airtime. So, eight songs, just under a half hour, what did we get from The Juice: Vol. 1?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

video review: 'confessions of a dangerous mind' by logic


Yeah, this was bad... but really, was that a surprise to anyone?

Anyway, I've got this Emotional Oranges review I'd like to finish up before tomorrow and I leave for Sonic Temple, so stay tuned!

album review: 'confessions of a dangerous mind' by logic

I can pinpoint the exact time when I stopped actively looking forward to new Logic projects.

And believe it or not, it was actually earlier than Everybody, his famously polarizing 2017 release that took its concept and angst into messy territory across the board. No, for me it was the first Bobby Tarantino tape in 2016, a trap-leaning project that seemed unlike the high-concept textured hip-hop that had been his bread-and-butter... but it snagged chart success. And indeed, outside of the suicide hotline pop crossover riding the misspent star of Alessia Cara and the genuine rising tide of Khalid, the songs from Logic that have attained success have arguably been him at his least interesting or potent, mostly on trap production where he'll flow his ass off and say so little along the way. And while discussions of what caused that switch in sound and approach have been interesting, spanning from allegations of being an industry plant to just the wrong industry influences pushing him away from his organic following to even just Logic having bad creative instincts... at the end of the day the music has stopped being good or interesting enough for me to care all that much.

So yeah, I skipped over his reportedly terrible alt-rock soundtrack dalliance with Supermarket earlier this year and I was seriously considering skipping over this too - it's not like he wouldn't have chart success with it, and I did know coming after the conclusion of his Young Sinatra series that he'd probably skip away from that old fanbase forever, so there wasn't that much incentive to cover this... but I figured why not. Even on most of his worst projects he's delivered at least a few songs that are decent, so what did we get from Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 18, 2019 (VIDEO)


Okay, here we go - pretty bad week, but at least the Bazzi song was good, right? Right?

Anyway, I've got Logic or Emotional Oranges to be covered next, we'll see - stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 18, 2019

...so yeah, there are weeks where I'm wrong, and then there's this week, where I might have been expecting a slowdown - which in some categories we did get - only for a few big singles to disrupt the top 10 from out of nowhere and force me to re-evaluate where the chart could be going in the next few weeks. Now granted, one of those singles is coming from an album that's also out of nowhere - and boy oh boy, I can't tell you how much I don't want to cover it - but still, this is one of those cases where I feel I should have seen this coming, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't.

video review: 'divided by darkness' by spirit adrift


So yeah, this was pretty great and pretty much out of nowhere for me - definitely worth a lot of attention, check this out!

Next up... you know, Logic can wait a bit, I've got something else that might be fun after Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 13, 2019

album review: 'divided by darkness' by spirit adrift

So over the past couple months I've seen more than a few heated arguments surrounding the concept of genre and if how in the era of streaming and blurring boundaries whether it even matters. And while I've been a staunch force for arguing that there's still a place for it at least in terms of adequate classifications of certain music, I'm amicable to the idea of subgenres and blurring lines... but if you wanted to come to me and say that genre was always more of a marketing scheme than clear demarcations of sound, I'd be willing to hear that argument.

And to support that argument, you only need to look at heavy metal, a genre that's well-known for fiercely entrenching its lines and barriers... until you take a look at the list of tags tacked onto every Bandcamp release, which are less about defining the sound and more about hitting as many search results as possible. So I'll admit I found it a bit rich when I checked out Spirit Adrift, one-man project of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nate Garrett, this time paired with drummer Marcus Bryant, and how in their own marketing they said they were often pigeonholed as doom metal - and then saw 'doom metal' in their tags - but upon reflection, I could see why that connection might have been drawn. While they had faster passages, you could sketch some loose parallels to how Black Sabbath was touching that sound in the late 70s or the very earliest progenitors of the genre in the early 80s - and yet like with Sabbath, I'd argue if you were looking for that sound proper, I wouldn't go to Spirit Adrift. To me their sound was at its best rooted in the hook-driven, more conventionally structured and melodic heavy metal that showed a clear lineage to the past, but brought the chunky, grimy muscle that characterizes a more modern scene and acts like Baroness or Mastodon, and in going back to their first two albums, I heard a lot in which I found really damn promising! So yeah, it's been a while since I've given a proper metal review - what did we get out of Divided By Darkness?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

video review: 'fishing for fishies' by king gizzard and the lizard wizard


So yeah, this wasn't good... eh, it happens?

Anyway, I think I might need a better rock project as a pick me up (and hopefully I can put off the Logic project for a bit too), so stay tuned!

album review: 'fishing for fishies' by king gizzard and the lizard wizard

So I'll be honest, I'm always a little tentative to tell any sort of artist that what they're looking to pursue is a bad idea. Because you never know, right - I've been surprised time and time again by acts who are willing to make wild pivots and stick the landing with their experimentation, and who the hell am I to say otherwise?

And I say this because... well, when I heard the buzz that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard were going to make a shuffling blues rock project with an emphasis on 'boogie', I had concerns. Not that it was inherently a bad idea or something that the band couldn't pull off - they've jumped across genres with aplomb and going back to the roots of the groovy garage rock tones where they've pulled inspiration has promise, especially if they took a year off in between this and the five albums they put out in 2017. Granted, the critical reception has been more mixed than normal, but again, no guarantee of what could connect - and while several critics were highlighting the increased environmental themes as a point of contention, that's been in the lyrics going back a few albums anyway especially on Gumboot Soup, so I was ready for that. So what did we get on Fishing For Fishies?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

video review: 'hellbent' by randy rogers band


Hmm, this was probably a project I could have put on the Trailing Edge, but I figured a quick review was worth it for an act I like, especially if Hold My Beer Vol. 2 drops some time soon.

Next up... see, I've got King Gizzard on the docket, but I've got a top 10 I'd like to finish too - stay tuned!

album review: 'hellbent' by randy rogers band

So speaking about acts that nearly got lost in the shuffle...

Yeah, this is somewhat inevitable when we look at the bands with less traction in the mainstream or even less natural groundswell outside of a strong local scene - and while I wouldn't usually want to slot the Randy Rogers Band into the latter category, it's a little hard avoiding it nowadays. Just to catch you all up, the Randy Rogers Band was a Texas country act who landed a major label deal in the mid-2000s and yet never really saw the momentum on the singles charts... mostly because the Nashville industry can't stand Texas country and they were playing a much more neotraditional stripe of it. But the band was willing to try and cross over, even working with Jay Joyce in 2013 for their album Trouble... and when that went nowhere because of the bro-country wave, the band split for their own label and returned to a sound that was more comfortable. And let me stress while I was hard on their 2016 album Nothing Shines Like Neon, it was more because of the comparison to Randy Rogers' excellent collaboration with Wade Bowen a year earlier called Hold My Beer Vol. 1, which was one of the best albums of 2015 and featured one of my favourite songs of that year in 'El Dorado'. So while the rumor mill hasn't really given me any dates surrounding when their follow-up compilation might drop - and Wade Bowen is content to make great solo albums like Solid Ground from last year - we got this project Hellbent, so how did it turn out?

video review: 'hurts 2b human' by p!nk


Yeah, this was a disappointment...

But hopefully this new Randy Rogers Band album will hold up? We'll see, stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

album review: 'hurts 2b human' by p!nk

Did anyone care this came out, besides me?

I mean, I'm a bigger P!nk fan than most, and I could make the argument I nearly missed it, just one more project caught up in a tidal wave of releases in which I'm still trying to catch up, and it seems like everyone else already moved on to the new Vampire Weekend! But here's the thing: P!nk moved a lot of units because she does have a diehard fanbase and is one of the few pop acts of her era still making... quality? 

And I frame that as a question because the 2010s have not been kind to one of my favourite mainstream pop acts of this decade, and even if I'm inclined to be more forgiving than most, if we compare what's she's released since The Truth About Love to what came off of Missunderztood or I'm Not Dead or even Funhouse, it's not really in the same ballpark. Now a big part of this is not P!nk's fault - pop devolving into pale trap imitations instead of the aggressive pop rock where her natural timbre worked, it's something that has wreaked havoc on so many pop acts. But I think part of this comes from P!nk just not being as provocative as she used to be - yes, years in the industry will do that to you and her diet riot grrl approach to gender politics in her music was never that transgressive if you're closer to the indie scene, but she was one of the few mainstream acts who got political and in your face about it in the mid-2000s - that's why she stood out. Strip away that muscle and intensity and the songs get a lot more bland and forgettable - a great voice could only redeem so much.

Now granted, I had no idea where Hurts 2B Human was going, mostly because 'Walk Me Home' sounded exactly like the sort of bombastic but kind of hollow P!nk song we've gotten this decade... but also like the material fun. was putting out at the beginning of the decade, more rooted in indie rock tropes that went nowhere and probably deserved a longer shelf life! Now that made sense - one of the cowriters was Nate Ruess - but when I saw the newest list of cowriters that spread across Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Khalid, Teddy Geiger, Julia Michaels, Ryan Tedder, Sia, Beck, and Chris Stapleton, it gave me no clue where she would take this. But even if it's just me and the diehard fans who care about this, I still do - so what did we get from Hurts 2B Human?

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 11, 2019 (VIDEO)


Hmm, so here we go - not a great week, but this is alright enough.

Next up, let's finally handle P!nk - stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 11, 2019

I think the best way to describe this week would be a deflation of expectations - yeah, I knew this week wouldn't quite have the same impact as what happened with album releases, but I was open to the possibility of larger hits from acts like ScHoolboy Q or P!nk or even AJR. Now thankfully for a change we mostly missed this and seemed to walk away with about as good of a result as we could hope for, although with still more quiet weeks ahead it begs the question where the hell the Hot 100 could even go in the next week or two.

Monday, May 6, 2019

video review: 'father of the bride' by vampire weekend


UGHH... you know, I'm expecting a backlash, the only question will be how pronounced.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN and then I'm going to talk about P!nk, so stay tuned!

album review: 'father of the bride' by vampire weekend

You know, when I first started my channel, I just managed to skirt most of the messy conversation around Vampire Weekend - so who wants to have fun examining decade-old wounds and talk about cultural appropriation?

See, that's the loaded thing about Vampire Weekend - I know just by mentioning that band and the term 'cultural appropriation' I've triggered flashbacks for anyone who was involved in the indie blogosphere of the time, but the conversation has always been more complicated, especially since their debut. Because yes, like Paul Simon before them and tUnE-yArDs after them, they borrowed from African rhythms for a jaunty, generally likable, and very marketable brand of literate but safe indie rock that won a lot of predominantly white liberal critics over, but did leave a few of the more progressive ones questioning how much they should really praise them, especially given how the band always got wary and weirdly defensive whenever that topic got brought up, both on and off record. What I always find amusing is that so many critics turned themselves inside out trying to justify their fondness for this band despite the cultural appropriation conversation - which for the record I think is a valid accusation, especially given the band isn't really taking steps to uplift the originators of those sounds or even deliver them with much texture or context of their roots - and they skipped the band's over-educated deflective ego and awkward voyeuristic streak around women, especially on Contra, a pass that a few insightful critics made sure to highlight how a less privileged or well-connected band probably wouldn't have escaped so easily. And if you don't believe that, I just need to point to how Kyle Craft was treated by certain critics last year - and that's where the text was on his side!

And thus it should come as some surprise to everyone I just pissed off that their third album Modern Vampires Of The City - which I hold to be their best - wound up on my year-end list in 2013, so how can anyone justify that? Well, a lot of that comes down to really good compositional instincts and the band finally picking up some momentum along with jettisoning the antiseptic African flourishes that I never bought in the first place, but it brought at least a few more traces of self-awareness to bear, even if upon reflection that album does still have a few too many sour notes. And since then... honestly, I had no idea where Father Of The Bride would go - Rostam Batmanglij is long gone, members of the band have been writing behind the scenes for other acts for years, and it has been six years since the last Vampire Weekend album. So without hearing any of the singles - and stepping into a very different hype environment for any indie pop or rock act - what did we find on Father Of The Bride?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

resonators 2019 - episode #016 - 'fan-tas-tic vol. 1' by slum village (VIDEO)


Well I wasn't surprised this wasn't going to draw huge numbers... have to hope it'll pick up a bit more traction in a bit.

In the mean time, looks like folks want me to cover Vampire Weekend before P!nk (sigh), so stay tuned!

resonators 2019 - episode #016 - 'fan-tas-tic vol. 1' by slum village

So here's something that probably doesn't get highlighted enough when it comes to the indie hip-hop of the late 90s, and a problem to that age that just isn't as applicable today: distribution. Yeah, Soundcloud and Bandcamp and YouTube are overflowing with acts which means that oversaturation could prevent you from even being heard... but in 1997, pressing CDs or vinyl or making cassettes costed money, and if you were on an indie label, that was something you often didn't have.

Now I've talked about limited distribution before in the last season of Resonators with hardcore punk in the 80s, but if you want a golden example of a project that would only become widely available commercially years later, we need to talk about the Detroit act Slum Village, a Detroit hip-hop trio that in 1996 consisted of childhood friends and MCs T3, Baatin, and producer Jay Dee... who you might better know as J. Dilla. Now it's important to highlight that even early on, J. Dilla had already attained some considerable fame thanks to production work - already he had credits on the fourth Tribe Called Quest album, as well as for Busta Rhymes and The Pharcyde a year earlier - but keep in mind we're talking about the mid-90s and a highly localized scene outside of the major meccas of American hip-hop, where producers might be well-known if their style and sound was unique enough - as Dilla's was - but they wouldn't quite have the same notoriety as even Dilla would achieve a few years later. As such, the initial run of this project was extremely limited, primarily a run of cassettes that wouldn't receive a CD or vinyl pressing until the 2000s - but if you were in the underground hip-hop scene in the late 90s, this was a project that spread like wildfire, especially in the wake of several songs getting revamped for the 2000 album Fantastic, Vol. 2. But given that we have digital distribution, I wanted to go back to the source, back to what really set the scene on fire and had this trio hailed as the next coming of A Tribe Called Quest - so here we go, this is Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 by Slum Village, and this is Resonators!