Sunday, December 9, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

album review: 'a brief inquiry into online relationships' by the 1975

You know, it's a common trope among movie critics that most sequences involving computer hacking tend to suck, because not only do most filmmakers not know anything about hacking in the real world, you're trying to add tension and gravitas to what is, for the most part, just people writing code and running scripts. And while I'm fairly certain other music critics have made a similar comparison, I want to drill into one particular point: I'm really goddamn sick of artists making songs and albums talking about social media. Yes, it can be a toxic waste dump of bad opinions, spam, stupidity and let's not forget the Nazis, but as a whole I still view social media as, if not a net positive, a powerful force in the modern age to be used for good or ill, and as a tool it doesn't make for good subject matter if the person beneath it isn't interesting or compelling. 

Granted, I'm also coming at this from a technical background and a higher-than-usual level of impulse control when I'm not making hot takes or livetweeting from the metal bar or karaoke, but I think my point stands in being able to shine a light upon a worldwide community with the possibility to give a megaphone to anyone - and like any other tool or mode of communication or entertainment, it has its limits and failings and the potential to bring out the worst in people. So while I'm not surprised artists like to target social media in their technological dystopia themes, I rarely see a level of realistic insight that doesn't feel short-sighted or hectoring or technophobic in a really crass way, especially when said acts are going to turn around and use said social media for promotion for their next project. And thus I think I can be forgiven for being skeptical of the newest album from The 1975, with the loaded title of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships - not only did I hear whatever remaining rock element had been sanded away, I heard it was taking some thematic leaps into this territory. So in other words, I didn't have high expectations whatsoever, so what did we get with this?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

video review: 'some rap songs' by earl sweatshirt


Well, this was... tough to talk about. And since I'm not lavishing it with praise I expect there to be backlash, but whatever, I can handle that.

Next up, though... The 1975 - stay tuned!

album review: 'some rap songs' by earl sweatshirt

So I've always struggled a bit with how to properly evaluate Earl Sweatshirt - or indeed, how much I can call myself a fan. Don't get me wrong, I've scored both of his albums thus far highly, I think he's a great rapper with a powerful knack of distilling complex ideas down to aggressively concise ideas and he has a knack for honest introspection that rarely gets the credit it deserves, especially given his origin within Odd Future... but I'd struggle to say that I've revisited much of his work outside of a few songs, and his very limited presence in the hip-hop world at large always gives me the odd feeling I could be hearing much more from him... and yet I don't. 

And thus it was with a little trepidation I was approaching Some Rap Songs - his first album in over three years and his shortest to date, clocking under a half hour, it nevertheless has already gotten a reputation for being a pretty dense and experimental listen at that length. And... honestly, I wasn't sure how to take that, as wild experimentation in tone and production hasn't really been a thing for Earl - he's favoured dusty, stripped back, usually very dark beats so I didn't really have a gauge for where he'd take this. I did know he had lost his father and a close family friend who he considered his uncle earlier this year and Earl has always had a complicated relationship with his family, so I expected that subtext to loom pretty heavily, so what did we get with Some Rap Songs?

video review: 'what is love?' by clean bandit


Overall a little surprised I had enough to say about this thing... but hey, it happens?

Okay, Earl is up next - stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

album review: 'what is love?' by clean bandit

So this is the sort of review that I have no idea why I'm making - well, at least beyond the most cynical of responses, which is that Clean Bandit have several songs that have attracted a lot of attention and this'll likely wind up getting traffic for relatively little effort on my part.

But is that a fair assessment, especially given how many singles worldwide Clean Bandit have notched with a more distinctive blend of tropical elements, classical strings, and grooves that don't feel beholden to overweight trap percussion? Well, yes and no - I'll admit I've never really loved a Clean Bandit song - they have a weirdly pristine but fussy nature that can come across as oversanitized and underwritten, and I include 'Rather Be' in that category - but I wouldn't say I dislike them either. Yeah, the personality of any given song is more dependent on their guest stars and to expect a cohesive album is a crapshoot, and it's hard not to feel like a lot of their music is custom-designed for department stores trying to sound hip... but they can land some good melodies and while their first album didn't impress me at all, maybe their follow-up would be okay... even if it feels like I've already heard a significant chunk of it. Yeah, that's the other thing about reviewing an electronic project like this, the albums feel more like singles compilations - but hey, that's normally the formula for great pop albums so I'm not going to hold it against Clean Bandit here, so what did we get on What Is Love?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 8, 2018 (VIDEO)


So hmm, I'm not sure this'll get all the way past the copyright bullshit, but this is a new tactic I'm trying, we'll see how it goes - enjoy!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 8, 2018

So I've talked before about deceptive weeks on the Hot 100, where there seems to be a lot of activity at first glimpse before a closer look reveals a more stable week - and I think if that assessment is appropriate for this week, it's entirely coincidental, a culmination of three stories that all seem to either cancel each other's impact or will be rendered irrelevant by the next week. Somehow this also wound up giving me a second shorter week, so I'm not complaining, but it's still worth pointing out.

Monday, December 3, 2018

video review: 'the pains of growing' by alessia cara


So yeah, I really wish that I could like this more. I mean, it's not bad by any stretch and I'm still rooting for Alessia Cara, but man, this should be better.

Next up... honestly, not sure, but I've got Billboard BREAKDOWN next, so stay tuned!

album review: 'the pains of growing' by alessia cara

I can't help but find it a bit strange that going into this review, I was rooting for Alessia Cara.

And let me make this clear, I've been at least trying to be on her side since 2015 and the influx of Lorde-wannabes in which she came up - I'd certainly prefer her to Halsey or Daya, that's for damn sure. But Alessia Cara's success has frustrated me, because as much as I liked her breakthrough single 'Here' and her follow-up 'Wild Things', I had the sinking feeling that given the success of 'Scars To Your Beautiful' and her feature on Logic's suicide hotline song, that would be the direction Def Jam would shove her in. Yes, she had won the Grammy for Best New Artist off those singles, but that award can be the kiss of death for a lot of new acts, and poor management has destroyed more promising pop artists than bad albums. 

And I can't stress how much I didn't want that to happen, because I've always been convinced that Alessia Cara was a more interesting and vibrant personality and songwriter than just churning out self-esteem anthem pablum, and given how rushed Know-It-All felt, I had to hope that her follow-up would show more refinement, especially as her competition had gotten stiffer with Lorde's resurgence and the striking rise of Billie Eilish. Yeah, I'd still prefer to listen to Alessia Cara than Camila Cabello or Halsey or especially Bebe Rexha, but this project had to stick the landing. And by all accounts it could - Alessia Cara had taken a much bigger writing and production role with her sophomore album with no guest stars, and major labels don't tend to offer that freedom unless they've got faith in the release... or are looking to cut their losses by keeping the team and budget as small as possible. And I didn't think it was the latter case here - Know-It-All had moved a lot of units on the back of Alessia Cara's writing - but I was cautious about The Pains Of Growing, so what did we get?

resonators 2018 - episode #011 - 'earth a.d./wolfs blood' by misfits (VIDEO)


Nearly forgot to post this - but yeah, bit of a frustrating review to put together for Resonators. Eh, it happens.

Next up, time to catch up on a slow weekend where I wasn't doing much - stay tuned!