Showing posts with label deep house. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deep house. Show all posts

Monday, May 1, 2017

video review: 'humanz' by gorillaz

Ohh boy, I can only imagine how things are going to go down with this video... but hey, you never know.

Next up, though - well, an old request finally got to the top and then an album I've been looking forward to all year, so stay tuned!

album review: 'humanz' by gorillaz

Okay, so when I was around my second and third year in university, I hung around a crowd that organized and went to a lot of raves - what can I tell you, I had a trance and acid house phase. Anyway, even though I'd prefer to stick to bourbon and beer instead of pot or ex or psychedelics, I did have several extended conversations with these folks surrounding the culture. And I remember one evening and one statement distinctly: 'if you ever choose to get into drugs, you'll wind up liking a lot of electronic music or a lot of hip-hop - and eventually, you're going to listen to a lot of Gorillaz'. 

Yeah, probably not a fair label to stick to Damon Albarn's most successful side project after Blur by a mile, but there was some truth to it, as the repetitive song structures, deep rhythmic grooves, and ever so slightly off-kilter vibe would probably seem profound to a chemically-enhanced mind. And throw in the trippy cartoon visuals and the sort of extended, convoluted backstory, and I could see the appeal. And even though I didn't and still don't do drugs - shut up, it's allergies - I did get into Gorillaz a fair bit that year. I liked their albums, I really dug the grooves, and once I decoded the message a lot of the post-apocalyptic environmental themes did resonate.

But around the end of 2010, around the time that The Fall was released - although not explicitly because of that record, though it didn't help - I kind of fell out with Gorillaz. Never to the point where I hated them - their singles are still karaoke staples for me, and it's great vibe music that has aged ridiculously well - but I'm not really passionate about the band the same I used to be. Part of it is linked to memories of old friends I haven't spoken to in years due to me unfortunately burning some bridges, but it goes beyond that. Even from the beginning, I was never really impressed with the songwriting - and lord knows the years of post-apocalyptic art has not helped the themes feel any more original or less heavy-handed - but I also had the impression Albarn occasionally was trying for swell and bombast that were just a poor fit for his cast of characters. And again, I long ago stopped caring about the 'narrative' - as I've always said, if you need peripheral materials to explain your album, you haven't exactly succeeded as a storyteller!

But hey, now we're in 2017 and there's a new Gorillaz record, reportedly inspired by pulling thematic suggestions out of a hat and coming up with... a certain someone winning the presidency in the United States - hey, remember when that seemed so impossible? Albarn to his credit scrubbed all mention of him from the record in the lyrics - which I agree with, for the record, it'll extend the album's shelf-life - but it seems like he was going for a repeat of Plastic Beach, with tons of guest stars for the grand comeback. So, what do we get out of Humanz?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

video review: 'layers' by kungs

Well... okay, I was expecting more from this, but overall, it's decent. Breezy to a fault, but like with Kygo, it doesn't really stick with you, and probably would have benefited a late-summer release.

Eh, whatever - next up is Little Mix and then I've got a BIG announcement over the weekend - so stay tuned!

album review: 'layers' by kungs

So it's been fairly well established that the flavour of electronic dance music that was popular this year was tropical house. Reggae lilts in the guitars, hollow synths, textured percussion, a very breezy, languid vibe, it was all over the place this year. And since most of it seemed to forget that adding some actual colour to your instrumental tones help them stand out, it also led to a listless haze that did nothing for me for the majority of the year.

Now it wasn't all bad, especially if you drifted away from the United States where brighter tones managed to seep through - hell, look at Kygo - but there was one song that fell into interesting territory: 'This Girl', a collaboration with French DJ Kungs with an Australian funk band called Cookin' On 3 Burners. And while I definitely liked the song, one thing I noticed is that it really was on the border of tropical if that - despite sandy percussion, the guitar rollick, the soulful vocals and blend of horns reminded me more of the house trends that crossed over throughout the 90s. Some have called it a leftover of the deep house that dominated 2014, but the tones here were nowhere as saturated and dark. In other words, it was a good song, and it really should have done better on the Hot 100, but it seems like nobody wanted flair in their music in 2016, so other EDM songs that should have done well, it had momentum and then crashed pretty hard.

But I was still curious - after all, Kungs hadn't even reached twenty yet and he had a hit that had been huge worldwide, I was curious if he had more up his sleeve. So I checked out his full-length debut album Layers - what did we get?

Monday, October 31, 2016

video review: 'lady wood' by tove lo

Well, this was definitely a real disappointment. Certainly was hoping from more from this record, but instead... well, misgivings were proven correct.

And on that unfortunate note, Kenny Chesney is next (because I still need more time for Avenged Sevenfold), so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

album review: 'lady wood' by tove lo

I've had a sinking feeling about this record for the past few weeks now. And believe me, I definitely haven't wanted that, but the misgivings about this record started coming out early and haven't really stopped. 

See, when I first heard Tove Lo in 2014, I was pretty impressed with her debut Queen Of The Clouds. Not a great pop album, but I saw buckets of potential from a fairly smart songwriter with a knack for pop nuance and good hooks. And coupled with a forceful and surprisingly layered performance, I thought Tove Lo could easily build herself a potent pop career and give most of her contemporaries some serious competition. And for a while it seemed like she had some momentum: 'Habits (Stay High)' was huge, 'Talking Body' was a very respectable follow-up, and 'Close', her collaboration with Nick Jonas, grew on me a fair bit. And I really liked Tove Lo's artistic persona: wild, reckless, she pushed her lyrics into some dark territory, even if on some level you wished she could take as many chances with her instrumentation and production, or that her lyrics didn't always show the self-awareness to elevate the flagrant irresponsibility, add more subtext.

But while I initially dug her lead-off single 'Cool Girl', with everything else I learned about her sophomore project the more concerned I got, starting with the incredibly on-the-nose album title. Coupled with the fact that she had kept the same production team and the biggest guest star on this record was Wiz Khalifa, plus the fact that she was going for a double album concept on a record that didn't even crack forty minutes...hate to say it, but it rang as trying too hard to shock or grab people's attention. And sure, that's her prerogative and I generally like that forceful personality, but her lack of greater subtlety meant the play to greater sexuality felt all the more brazen... and while many of her younger fans might not remember, I'm familiar with what happened to Madonna in the early 90s - eventually if you try too hard to shock in this lane, people don't get surprised in the same way.

But maybe I'm being too harsh here, maybe there was a place for Tove Lo's directness in 2016, so I took a long hard look at Lady Wood - what did I find?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

video review: 'weval' by weval

Overall, pretty decent listen, I dug this. Not sure how much replay it has, but I did appreciate it.

Next up, Grace, Schoolboy Q, and that third year anniversary... what album did I get? Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

album review: 'weval' by weval

I always feel like I'm behind the times when I talk about electronic music.

And look, I'm trying to keep up, but it's only getting more and more tricky when it feels like for every electronic record I cover I end up missing five. Which is kind of weird because I don't tend to get a lot of requests for electronic music outside of the mainstream crossover stuff, but I'm still trying to dig into the genre and find more stuff I like, and if strip-mining Pitchfork's critically acclaimed section helps me get to the stuff that might pick up more traction, I'll take it.

So let's talk about a record that dropped a week or so back and seemingly fell under everyone's radar, the self-titled debut album from electronic duo Weval. A pair of Dutch friends, they don't really identify under any specific electronic music subgenre but from I was able to dredge up you could probably put them close to the spacier, more wiry side of deep house, or at least that was what I picked up when I took a look at their 2013 Half Age EP. It certainly isn't the most experimental electronic music I've ever heard, but there was a melodic consistency and chill sandy vibe that I quite enjoyed. So while I doubted this record might replace Jamie xx's In Colour as my go-to summer electronic album, I gave their self-titled debut a try - what did I find?