Showing posts with label absolute shit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label absolute shit. Show all posts

Thursday, September 26, 2019

video review: 'the owl' by zac brown band

Yeah, this sucked... but to be fair, pretty much all the critics and fans are saying it too, so preaching to the choir, I guess?

Anyway, I think it's about time I get to JPEGMAFIA, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

album review: 'the owl' by zac brown band

When you think of the Zac Brown Band, what do you think of?

Mostly likely you think of the band responsible for songs like 'Chicken Fried' or 'Toes' or 'Knee Deep', lightweight, relaxing fodder that has a bit of a jam band vibe but a lot of rich, warm harmonies and colour. If you're more of a fan you probably remember songs like 'Goodbye In Her Eyes' and 'Colder Weather' and how the band has always had an underrated strength for ballads, or even how their 2012 album Uncaged took a willingness to experiment into one of the best mainstream country albums of the decade. 

If you're deeper in the country scene, however, especially recently, you might know the Zac Brown Band a little differently. You might know that frontman Zac Brown has been chafing at what he might view as the arbitrary restrictions of country - seemingly unaware of how the indie scene has been plumbing new depths and sounds every single year, which you'd think he'd know given his collaboration with Dave Cobb in 2016, but that's a different story. You might have heard that the same year he put out a back to basics album Welcome Home produced by Dave Cobb, he also made an EDM-folktronica... thing called Sir Rosevelt near the end of that year... which wound up being universally panned by anyone who knows electronic music as dated, badly produced, and while having catchy moments feeling more than ever like a vanity project. And that's what we were hoping would remain the case for the Zac Brown Band, especially after their dabblings with electronic music on 2015's Jekyll + Hyde, which for the record did see some success, but nowhere near consistent enough to sustain a full project - so if Zac Brown had a side project to shove that sound into, all fine and good.

What nobody was suspecting was The Owl, a project where it appeared that Zac Brown was doubling down on the electronics and pop flourishes to the shock and alienation of all of their country fans - and let me make this clear, the buzz has been horrible for this album. Even mainstream critics are not giving this a pass, so as one of the few guys who can defend pieces of Zac Brown's electronic forays, I wanted to give this a chance... so what did The Owl deliver?

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?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

video review: 'neotheater' by ajr

So it was written... so it was done.

Okay, next up I want to handle either Resonators or that P!nk album, we'll see. Anyway, stay tuned!

album review: 'neotheater' by ajr

...well, second time's the charm, right?

But before we get into this, let me set the scene: it's the middle of July in 2017, I'm churning my way through my schedule, and I figure on a lark I'd check out this new project from a band for which I had no expectations. Yeah, their first album had been an inflamed cyst upon the bowels of 'indie' pop rock, but reportedly they had "left" their major label to deliver this themselves - a facade easy enough to blow through when you consider the connections they had and the copyright claims they leveled and any access to Billboard and RIAA documentation, but I respect the persistence to hold up the illusion and call me a liar directly for pointing it out. But I'm getting ahead of the story, because at that point, while I had zero expectations the album would be good, it couldn't be that bad, right?

And you know the story: I took in the album and despite being quite ill at the time - and speak of the devil right now - I got in front of the camera and gave it the thorough flensing it deserved as an incoherent fusion of genres and malformed ideas that was still screamingly convinced of its own transcendent power. To this day it is the worst project I've ever "reviewed" on my channel - and I say that more because there's a part of me still faintly sickened by the pastel-shaded cumshot wrought upon the tears of an evangelical youth group taking their first hits of a bad joint laced with PCP. And while one can recoil in absolute revulsion from the sound on display, what I took the strongest umbrage with was how it was a complete thematic failure: sure, the lyrics might be overstuffed and drooling over with dunderheaded pop culture references that fostered a lingering suspicion the trio was more brand deal than band, but at its core it was an attempt to complete similar arcs to what twenty one pilots did with Blurryface or Jon Bellion did with The Human Condition in examining the arc of their success, taking the novel approach to avoid owning any real drama by making the mother of bad faith decisions to wallow in over-privileged non-action. That's what made the project feel so hideously wrong to me, clearly deluded into believing there's dramatic impact through their framing and delivery, and then delivering something the antithesis of all of it - it'd be worthy of Dadaist horror if there was any trace of subversive thrill instead glassy-eyed, autotuned scatting.

That was 2017. I posted the review, it went about as viral for me as any album review is wont to do, to the point where Angel Olsen's embittered 'they made a meme out of my legacy, darling' from Alex Cameron's 'Stranger's Kiss' echoed whenever I thought about it. That the revolting thing about the acts you lambast in the era of internet content creation, because in addition to their somehow real fanbase, they have picked up waves of infamy thanks mostly to yours truly. And thus in the only way they'd understand when they see this review - a pop culture reference - I thought of the Joker near the end of The Dark Knight and the line, 'I think you and I are destined to do this forever'. And so we have Neotheater - reportedly a bit better and a bit darker from the trio, and with no obvious featuring credits to jeopardize that illusion they aren't managed or distributed through the major label system. And considering you all want it, what did we get?

Sunday, March 10, 2019

video review: 'death race for love' by juice WRLD

So this was a lot of fun to put together... a terrible album, but hey.

But onto something much better...

album review: 'death race for love' by juice WRLD

So some of you might be a little confused why I'm reviewing this. If you've been following my series Billboard BREAKDOWN you might remember Juice WRLD as a perennial frustration for me, and that the reviews of this solo sophomore project haven't been good to start with even from the critics inclined to give him a pass - and I'm not one of those people. So why do this to myself? Why listen to a project that is comfortably over a hour long in a blatant stream trolling maneuver by Interscope who is well-aware this guy might not last too long?

Well, part of this is a matter of deeper investigation, because in the wake of the deaths of XXXTENTACION and Lil Peep, two of the biggest personalities within the new breed of emo rap left considerable voids, and Juice WRLD could well fill them - he's certainly more accessible than both acts thanks to his ability to construct a hook, and there's absolutely a market for what he delivers. So yeah, part of this comes from me keeping my ear to the ground especially if this kid might stick around - and while thanks to his terrible singles choices he seems committed to burning out fast, I do think he has some talent on a technical level. Yeah, his autotuned caterwauling is annoying, but he can structure bars and construct a hook. And if I'm going to be humiliatingly honest, I do get Juice WRLD's appeal to a specific demographic... mostly because fifteen years ago I was in that demo, and there's a way to make music that appeals to that group and not suck. I didn't expect it would happen with Juice WRLD, but I figured I'd give him a chance... so what did we find on Death Race For Love?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

video review: 'swimming' by mac miller

I have to admit I'm a bit surprised there wasn't more of a negative reaction to this... but hey, I guess Mac Miller fans are level-headed enough to not go nuts here, good to see.

But now onto something WAY better...

Friday, August 10, 2018

album review: 'swimming' by mac miller

If there was a review I did not want to do, it's this one.

And I know that sounds bad, believe me, but it comes from a place of frustration on my part more than anything - because I tried to get into Mac Miller. I really did, I revisited every single damn record in his discography before this review, I wanted to really understand what the hell his audience sees in him spanning a career that's evolved from dumbass frat-bro rap to something a little more pensive and reflective. And I can't deny the guy has decent taste when it comes to production and guest stars - he'll shell out for some impressive lush and detailed instrumentals, from his textured grimy hip-hop on records like Watching Movies With The Sound Off and GO:OD AM to the jazzy R&B of The Divine Feminine.

But man alive, I just cannot get into him as a performer, rapper or singer. As a rapper, his wordplay is often way clumsier than it should be and I've never remotely been impressed by his content or any sense of thematic weight and as a singer... Look, there's a way his vocal timbre and delivery could potentially work if you pair it with more amateurish, rough-around-the-edges production or truly raw subject matter - it's what Chance and Tyler did - but when you place him opposite so many genuinely talented R&B singers and genuinely great production, it's impossible for me not to cringe at how flat, off-key and sloppy his singing is! You put him on songs with Anderson .Paak, Bilal, Cee-Lo and Ariana Grande and you expect him to not sound instantly outclassed in every way, and that's before you get to the fact that he can have shockingly little charisma as an MC, and this is coming from a guy who listens to more deceptively low-key and monotone rappers than him, but guys like Evidence and LMNO have a magnetism and intensity that Mac Miller has never had! And when you couple it with too many albums that all have a bad case of the bloat, I was not looking forward to another hour long project from Mac Miller with Swimming - but hey, it was either this or watching YG fumble things and that looks to be even more depressing, so screw it, how is Swimming?

Monday, March 19, 2018

video review: '?' by xxxtentacion

None of you should be surprised by this. Fuck, I'm just waiting for the backlash train to roll in, especially considering some of the comments I made about relatability.

Whatever - I've got better hip-hop on the horizon to care about than this dreck, but before that, Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

album review: '?' by xxxtentacion

The key word of this review is enablement - because while I've gone off a number of times on Billboard BREAKDOWN how given the changing times and cultural norms it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense that a rapper like XXXTENTACION would have a career, much less flourish the way he has. You'd think given the domestic abuse charges and how so much of his art has not just referenced it but coaxed it through a blurry haze of malformed self-loathing to seemingly justify or excuse his actions that he would have thrown to the curb... and yet he accumulates hip-hop cosigns from artists you'd think would know better and ever-increasing chart success.

But I know the answer - and even if you're not a fan and you're just here to see me rip this record to shreds, you're probably not going to like my answer, because it's the sort of uncomfortable indictment of our relationship to artists that especially younger audiences probably aren't ready to address and why their defense of said acts in the face of critics like me seem so much angrier - just like it was with nu-metal nearly twenty years ago, just purified down by a social media environment that gives us the feeling that we are closer to the artist than ever before. But with certain Soundcloud rappers like XXXTENTACION it runs deeper - you don't aspire to be XXXTENTACION so much as you relate to him, reinforced by the homegrown, amateurish style that lets you imagine and project yourself onto him as the artist using the excuse of deeply held art to excuse your own acts. And it becomes personal, a siege mentality when critics or the rest of the world calls it out because by extension they're calling out a part of you out, a part you feel you already have to repress in the larger world, especially against a rising tide of culture that speaks against it. And thus come the blind eyes and the free passes en masse and as the success grows with the culture it nearly always becomes toxic for the artist with any self-awareness given the groundswell of enablement, and thus you see one of three cases: they turn on their audience outright, they acquire the means to ascend past their audience and sacrifice some of their relatability, or they burrow into that niche, an ever-shrinking ouroboros that will eventually consume itself. And if you think this hasn't happened before in artists that haven't trafficked in relatability, especially trending towards darker impulses, the stream of examples can seem endless with the benefit of history. Eminem. J. Cole. So much of nu-metal and pop punk and emo. Taylor Swift. 

Of course, there are cultural consequences to all of this, and the list of artists that realize it is slim indeed - hell, Eminem got it as early as the first Marshall Mathers LP and has been making self-conscious reference to it ever since. But for XXXTENTACION, he has nothing to pull him out of that spiral of enablement except when his audience gets bored and moves on when the music doesn't engage further - the fickle price of maturity and a refusal to evolve artistically in favor of doubling down, which is dangerous but expected when riding the subtle tides of cultural backlash... unless, of course, XXXTENTACION pulls a fast one and surprises his audience. Unfortunately, we're still in the midst of that wave's ascent and my role here is the critic who must smack this down as the amateurish dumpster fire that it's likely to be... but in theory I get the appeal of a record like this, and if it provides me the constructive context to address it properly, we might be able to address this properly. So fine, what did we get on ? ?

Monday, March 5, 2018

video review: 'nation of two' by vance joy

And this sucked. Look, it was a low-key kind of suck, the sort you have to think about a bit, but yeah, I'm not excusing this.

But next up... well, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then either Phonte or Oceans Of Slumber, so stay tuned!

album review: 'nation of two' by vance joy

Okay, so if you've been following my schedule, you'd realize that this isn't quite what I was looking to cover today. I was looking to give Oceans Of Slumber this slot, but a few listens in made it clear it was either going to wind up on the Trailing Edge or that I was going to need at a few more listens to really process its weight - and when it's over an hour and embraces a lot of doom tones and textures to compliment its progressive and melodic death metal side, that's not something I approach lightly. And given that Phonte was going to demand some serious, lengthy consideration too for his long-awaited sophomore project, I looked to the elevated tiers, and once I moved past the sort of absolutely weird, quasi-insane bandcamp project that I'm not sure my mind is fully fit to process, and a top ten list that's going to take some time to rework, I wound up with this - and I had the sinking feeling that all of that deliberating would wind up more interesting or listenable than Vance Joy.

But that's the thing with silent majority acts like this Australian singer-songwriter - critics are often left bewildered or shrugging with albums like his 2014 debut, maybe able to highlight one song that stands out - usually the big single - while the others are left high and dry. And with Vance Joy, while he released seven singles from Dream Your Life Away, the one that caught everyone's attention was 'Riptide', which peaked at #30 and somehow got enough points to wind up on the year-end list in 2015. And while the strength of that song got Vance Joy to move two million copies of his debut record... I couldn't stand it. Seriously, it was the last song to get cut from my worst hit songs of 2015, the sloppy brittleness, weak vocals, utterly wimpy or misconstrued lyrics, gutless skitters backing up a tempo shift that never paid off, the pop culture references that made less and less sense with every listen, the only thing I could respect about it was how it laid the foundation for Ed Sheeran to take a similar cadence and sound to success with 'Shape Of You'. And if that was considered the strong point of his debut, and even sympathetic critics weren't finding that same magic on the follow-up, we could have something pretty bad on our plate here. But again, there's more people listening to this than every record I would have otherwise covered in its stead, and I've been surprised in this lane before - hell, Niall Horan came out of nowhere last year with Flicker and there's at least similar creative DNA with Vance Joy, so what did I find on Nation Of Two?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

video review: 'offerings' by typhoon

So I'm not making any fans with this review... but then again, I said that right at the very beginning, I'm not surprised here.

Right, so next up is BØRNS, and that'll be coming tomorrow... then probably some quick Ron Gallo as I start work on the next top ten, so stay tuned!

album review: 'offerings' by typhoon

Oh, I'm not going to make any fans with this review. 

And part of this starts with an observation about the increased commercialization of indie rock, because there's really two distinct schools of it nowadays. You have the roughscrabble upstarts where if they get any crossover appeal it comes by fluke, where the textures or vocals or presentation or content might be offkilter or abrasive, but there's something about it all that sticks, usually in the fine details of great compositions or smart writing or just a damn solid understand of their strengths.

And on the flip side you have the indie groups that are flagged as 'indie' because they're just quirky enough to not fit mainstream pop or rock but safe enough to play for your average gentrified afternoon beer-run and picnic in the park. You know the groups, the ones that a decade ago would be called adult alternative and will be soundtracking comfortable middle-brow sitcoms and commercials for a steady paycheque - and that's not always a bad thing, for the record. Hell, I'd probably put The National in this category, and they're a genuinely terrific band even despite that last record - but I always get worried when I start hearing about groups in this vein branded as 'experimental' or 'progressive', because more often than not they're labels used for cheap marketing to disguise pretentiousness or a lack of cohesion while never being truly challenging. And even then, it can still work - look at Elbow, even though I'd argue they're more just straight progressive rock - but on the flip side you get acts like alt-J, and the group we're discussing today, Typhoon. They broke out in the very early 2010s and I can emphatically say I'm not a fan, mostly because they have the sound of a profoundly boring and stuffy group that tried to substitute wonky song structures for depth and experimentation. Some critics tried to compare them to Arcade Fire for their massive lineup - they have a horns and strings section - but it holds shockingly little water to me, mostly because even at Arcade Fire's most pretentious and least earnest they could still write a decent hook or had some interesting production. With Typhoon it always felt way too clean and sanitized, with the content on records like White Lighter trying to bring an edge but with no clear idea how to do so in production or composition - out of nowhere tempo shifts and transitions don't always make you progressive; without a foundation, you're just obtuse.

So yeah, not a fan, but apparently their newest record was their most ominous and sonically demanding, so either someone in the band decided to grow some testicles or a spine and they had somehow managed to stick the landing on this fourteen track, seventy minute album, or it was going to be the biggest mess they ever made. So, what did we get?

Monday, November 6, 2017

video review: 'five' by hollywood undead

Well, unsurprising to anyone, this is garbage... but really, did we have any reason to expect otherwise?

Next up, something MUCH better, stay tuned!

Friday, November 3, 2017

album review: 'five' by hollywood undead

So if it isn't unbelievably obvious, I didn't want to cover this. More importantly, I have no idea why anybody wanted me to cover this - I'd like to think my Patrons watch my reviews and aren't just adding records to fill space on the schedule, and the fact that this consistently got so many votes utterly baffles me.

But I don't want to mince words here with this: Hollywood Undead sucks. As someone who likes good metal and good hip-hop and can tolerate some crossover between the two and even appreciates a good horrorcore gimmick, this is the sort of group I would have avoided like the plague, because, as I keep on saying, I never had an angry white boy phase! And after I listened through all of their last albums, that's really the only demographic I can see somewhat appreciating this, even ironically. The best way to describe their first record was trying to split the difference between Eminem and Linkin Park, but the rapping was nowhere close to as good, the clean singing was a poor imitation of Chester Bennington at best, and the production has aged particularly badly. They got a bit heavier on their second record, but the clean singing and rapping somehow got worse and I found their blend of meat-headed flexing and flimsy shock tactics to almost reach the point of parody. To someone who listens to far nastier hip-hop and metal, this doesn't shock me, but unlike Marilyn Manson or Eminem, there was no depth or skill or potent fire to outlast the shock tactics, and the ballads might be some of the most embarrassing music I've heard all year - how anyone can justify a song like 'Bullet', I have no idea. And from there... look, no matter how many bargain-barrel Skrillex-ripoff effects you add to subsequent records, it doesn't make the writing any less walking cringe! The best thing is that if you completely tune out anything these guys are saying, the production can go in a somewhat interesting direction with a decent hook or groove, but that's not saying much. So forgive me when I say I had no expectations for this new record, which reportedly was taking things in a completely new direction... yeah, I'll believe it when I hear it. So what happened on Five?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

video review: 'the click' by ajr

So I may have gotten a tad bellicose and profane in this review - hey, when you're in hell, you do as the demons do, I guess.

In the mean time, I've got a few other things coming up tonight that are much better...

Monday, July 17, 2017

album review: 'the click' by AJR

A friendly warning: this review will not be safe for work. There will be plentiful profanity in descriptive and disgusting varieties. I'm not quite certain what the qualifiers for any bots to flag a video like this as age-gated, but this review will certainly test them. If you have an issue with such a bellicose manner, I highly recommend you click away now, because the next several paragraphs of this script will surely aggravate you. I also recommend if you're a fan of this band, unless you're into a sort of masochism that involves sounding, you might want to clear out too - to put it mildly, you're not going to like what I'll have to say.