Showing posts with label glam rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label glam rock. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

video review: 'showboat honey' by kyle craft & showboat honey

So yeah, this isn't great... but it is still good and worth a few listens, so definitely give it a chance, I think Kyle Craft has real potential regardless if they iron out the kinks.

And before we get to the next possible disappointment, let's handle Billboard BREAKDOWN next, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 15, 2019

album review: 'showboat honey' by kyle craft & showboat honey

I feel like I should be less surprised we already have a new Kyle Craft album.

And here's the thing: when you look at how much music Kyle Craft has put out in the past couple of years, it shouldn't be surprising, given how between Dolls Of Highland and Full Circle Nightmare he did put out a covers project, and given that he now has a full backing band called Showboat Honey, it makes sense that he'd want to have something for the general public sooner rather than later. And of course I wasn't about to complain: Kyle Craft has been one of the most startling breakout talents in the 2010s and his two albums of original material have been in my top 10 for their respective years - a huge voice, a distinctive instrumental style, and some of the best writing you'll get in rock - period.

That said, when artists start churning out projects every year, I get worried that the content and refinement might suffer, and given how potent Kyle Craft is as a writer, I genuinely wondered if he'd have enough fresh material. But apparently he and his band were working at such a pace that apparently he had an album ready even earlier, but then a quick gut check moment had him step back and record another project full of material, which from there the best songs were chosen. What was even more promising, at least to me, was the fact that Craft had apparently brought back some of the recording and production style he had back on Dolls Of Highland, my one serious nitpick from the last album, so this could well kick a lot of ass too. So alright, he's not wasting time and neither should I - what did Kyle Craft deliver with Showboat Honey?

Monday, February 5, 2018

video review: 'full circle nightmare' by kyle craft

Well, this was something... and honestly, I'm pretty pleased with how it all came together, especially as I got to go deep into themes and find a lot more to like in its defense (a defense that shouldn't have been necessary but that's Pitchfork for you).

Next up, the one you've been waiting for - stay tuned!

album review: 'full circle nightmare' by kyle craft

So I may have mentioned this on Twitter, but the lineup of records released in February that don't just seem good but damn near great or better... well, at last count I was up to at least ten, and that's damn near unprecedented for this time of year, especially when you consider they span a half dozen different genres and styles. In other words, if you start seeing me give out high scores like candy... again, this much quality concentrated this early in a year is rare, but pretty damn thrilling all the same.

And we're starting out with one of the big ones, one of my most hotly anticipated records of 2018 - and if you heard his star-making debut in 2016 with Dolls Of Highland, you'll understand why. Kyle Craft was the sort of talent that came out of nowhere: a singer-songwriter-producer from the Deep South who moved to Portland, signed to Sub Pop, and recorded the sort of awe-inspiring debut that floored nearly everyone who heard it. A huge, theatrical voice and bountiful personality that recalled Meat Loaf in his prime, production that took 70s glam and fused it with southern-fried gothic rock - emphasis on goth - and writing that was impeccably detailed, wonderfully textured, and yet framed with a modern eye for progressive melodrama so he never felt like a throwback, he was the sort of talent where critics started making unprompted comparisons to Dylan and Bowie - all the more stunning considering that debut was recorded with DIY equipment in his laundry room! Hell, I found the record pretty much by accident browsing Pitchfork and it rapidly became one of my favourites of 2016 - hell, it could have topped that list had Lydia Loveless not blown in with her own genre fusion and those two other two albums to which I gave perfect scores! 

And it wasn't just me, as Kyle Craft's cult following starting blowing up fast, and he signed on as an opener for the Drive-By Truckers all the while dropping a few sly but heartfelt political tracks and an album of covers last year, all of which I've really liked but I did find some of the covers a tad too restrained, even if it wasn't every day you get Craft covering TLC, Sharon Van Etten, Hurray For The Riff Raff, St. Vincent and Blondie! No, I was excited for his true sophomore project, which gave him a full backing band, Chris Funk of The Decemberists on production, and an actual studio. Now naturally I was a bit reticent - many an indie act has stumbled towards indulgence in going bigger, and I loved the rich textured atmosphere of Dolls Of Highland so much that I was concerned it'd be compromised here... but hey, the guy has great instincts and he's a tremendous talent, if anyone could stick the landing, it'd be him. So, what did we get on Full Circle Nightmare?

Friday, January 19, 2018

video review: 'blue madonna' by BØRNS

Well, this should be way better than it is... gah, it happens, I guess, but still, I'm not sure that Lana influence is doing him any favours.

Fortunately, the next act uses all his momentum to fantastic effect even if the project is short, so stay tuned!

album review: 'blue madonna' by BØRNS

The more I think about BØRNS as an artist, the more I get the impression there is less to think about than I'm assuming, that he's actually less interesting than he might appear. 

Granted, some of this is not helped by me covering his debut Dopamine a full year after it was released for my anniversary in 2016, where he felt all the more out of place in the larger context of the year. But even with that there's a part of me suspicious that the image and flair was more compelling that BØRNS himself would ever be, considering he didn't quite play to his strengths as a singer and he had a bad tendency to indulge in production gimmicks and lyrics that felt increasingly hollow in their hyperstylized Americana, especially considering there was often a rock-solid glam and pop rock core to many of his compositions. It was a good project, but it's not one I found all that memorable just a year and a half later.

And thus I was skeptical about Blue Madonna - I drew comparisons to him sounding a little in his delivery and content and production like Lana Del Rey, and look who has two guest appearances on this project! And when you consider he pruned away all other producers and cowriters besides Tommy English, it was hard to avoid the feeling he might be doubling down on influences that didn't always flatter him, but could result in a more focused experience overall. And hey, Lana Del Rey has steadily been getting more tolerable, maybe this would be pretty stylish or fun, right?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

video review: 'attention seeker' by felix hagan & the family

So this was actually pretty enjoyable - probably not going to get a lot of coverage, sure, but it was fun regardless.

Next up, though, some old business that I reckon might not be as fun, so stay tuned!

album review: 'attention seeker' by felix hagan & the family

Okay, I've talked earlier this year about acts embracing certain gothic or theatrical elements in music - which has happened a surprising amount in 2017 - and obviously there's a sliding scale for this. On the one hand, you have artists like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats looking for a nuanced and sincere discussion of gothic music, and on the other hand you get acts like many of the Soundcloud shock rappers and Hollywood Undead who grab up the superficial scare tactics to make themselves seem more edgy, imposing and interesting than they really are. And somewhere in the middle you get an act like Creeper, a pop rock band drawing on the baroque, pseudo-gothic melodrama of bands like Panic! At The Disco, that play with all of the intensity and sincerity but are willing to also have a little more fun with the trappings and image - there's a limit to how seriously you can really take them, and that can be just fine.

So into all of that comes Felix Hagan & The Family, a London rock group who in the grand tradition of camp draws upon pop rock, hair metal, vaudeville and musical theater for their sound - not quite as bombastic or epic as Meat Loaf, not quite as textured as Kyle Craft, but playing in a similar ballpark. They've been around throughout most of the 2010s putting out EPs that range from remarkably catchy to a little too ridiculous for their own good - all the theatricality is fun but it does strain credulity when they try to call anyone 'posers' - but there's a part of me that has a soft spot for this material, so when the votes came up on Patreon for me to cover this... well, it's near the end of the year, there aren't many new releases coming this week that I care about, so why the hell not? So I dug into Attention Seeker - what did I find here?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

video review: 'ty segall' (2017) by ty segall

Kind of a disappointment, I admit... but hey, I'll listen to Ty Segall any day, this had promise.

Next up, though, is Deaf Havana... stay tuned!

album review: 'ty segall' by ty segall

It seems like Ty Segall has done more in the past ten years than several artists do in their entire careers. Starting from the pits of garage rock before exploding towards the abrasive fuzz of lo-fi, the garish trappings of old-school glam rock, and a whirlwind of noisy psychedelia in between, he doesn't so much burn through musical genres so much as pick up additional layers and ideas wherever he ventures, piling them into a gleefully nihilistic pot that would eventually wear out its welcome if it wasn't so captivating in a twisted way.

Now I've covered two of his albums already on this show, neither quite being my favourites of his assorted work - those would be the more acoustic and yet gorgeoulsy melodic Sleeper and the absolutely insane project he did under The Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse. His 2014 project Manipulator was probably his most ornate affair, his 2016 album Emotional Mugger his most ugly and alien - both firmly grounded in unsettling conceptual territory that lent to some very good songs... but not quite great albums as a whole. And so I wasn't entirely surprised that he was opening 2017 with a self-titled release, the second of his career, reportedly rounding up some of his old band to compile all the accumulated ideas... but it was a name in the production credits that really caught my eye: legendary producer and professional curmudgeon Steve Albini. Make no mistake, his name alone tends to do a lot to rope me in, so you can bet that if Ty Segall was pulling a band together for a wild recording, it'd probably cut hard, so you can bet I wanted to hear this. So what does Ty Segall deliver?

Monday, January 23, 2017

video review: 'hang' by foxygen

Well, this was something of a disappointment... but hey, considering the last thing Foxygen dropped before this, I'm not that surprised.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN... and I really don't have a lot of ideas where things are going to go, my schedule will probably be a little weird given the votes. In other words, stay tuned!

album review: 'hang' by foxygen

So as I think I've mentioned in passing a number of times on this show, I'm a big fan of going out to karaoke bars - and whenever I say this, I tend to get a lot of side-eye glances and comments of 'Wait, you're a music critic, how the hell could you stomach that?' Well, part of it comes from the privilege of living in Toronto and getting exposure to a ton of fantastic singers and genuine artists that come from a prolific arts scene - I imagine it's much the same in New York and L.A. - so on average the quality tends to be a little better. But at the same time it gave me an acute sense of perspective - many of these folks are incredible performers, they do this for a living far better than I ever will even at a karaoke bar, and despite my side project pretensions to making original music, for some of these folks it's their life, with karaoke just being an outlet for practice and letting out steam. I'm not going to sell myself that short - I'm a pretty good singer when I want to be - but at the end of the day even despite being a critic there's a difference between being a hardcore music fan with a penchant for showing off and an actual musician with poise and training, especially when it comes to the creative process of writing and performing.

I say all of this because when I started listening to early Foxygen albums, I got the immediate impression that this would probably be the sort of music I would make if I lacked the restraint or self-awareness to pull away and realize my own limitations. Because look, I love 70s rock, but that 2012 album Take The Kids Off Broadway was very much an example of loving the sound and style and textures but not really having a grasp on cohesion or composition. Now they definitely improved considerably on their next record We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic - an half-ironic title, given how much their style nakedly aped the 20th century, although I would seriously question in terms of songwriting how much capacity this band has for irony, even if I did think the overall writing felt tighter. But then came ...And Star Power, a double album a year later, diving back towards rougher, lo-fi territory and that same sense of cacophonous composition, and yet the splatter-painting style of writing didn't have the same energy or groove or momentum, to say nothing of some painfully redundant lyricism - you do not want to get me started on how painfully weak the 'concept' of this record feels, especially given how sloppy some of the recording and playing feels. Now granted, some have argued that it was representative of the duo's famously contentious relationship, but for as much as Foxygen idolized the 70s, you'd think they'd take a lesson from Fleetwood Mac when they made Rumours and not throw cohesion out the window. But hey, they managed to hold it together to pull together an album that they've called their 'California record', going bigger and grander than ever - so did it connect?

Monday, July 11, 2016

video review: 'dopamine' by BØRNS

Thank you all for your support, folks - pretty happy how this review turned out too!

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN and Schoolboy Q, so stay tuned!

album review: 'dopamine' by BØRNS

I have to admit, I'm surprised this album got the top pick. Sure, it was a narrow three-way race, but I had expected the support behind those two records. After all, Kamasi Washington's The Epic had won a ton of critical acclaim as a behemoth of modern jazz, and Love Stuff by Elle King probably got the request thanks to how many people went back to rediscover her after 'Ex's And Oh's'. This guy, on the other hand...

Okay, from what I can glean, Garrett Borns is a Michigan-based singer-songwriter that's had some success on the rock and alternative charts after getting signed to Interscope. Apparently much of his work was inspired by retro-cool Americana, like the Beach Boys and Playboy magazines from the 60s and 70s. That's got some promise, and his collaborating producers also seemed interesting, most notably Tommy English, a guy who has worked for both 5 Seconds Of Summer and Black Veil Brides... and yet buzz was suggesting BØRNS was more retro-disco and glam rock. At the very least I like glam rock, and even though Kyle Craft set the genre an incredibly high bar this year with Dolls Of Highland, that's no reason why BØRNS couldn't also match six months earlier. And besides, you all recommended I take a look at this and I have to trust you guys have an idea of what I'd otherwise like, so how did Dopamine turn out?

Monday, May 2, 2016

video review: 'dolls of highland' by kyle craft

So this was amazing. Seriously, everyone should be checking this out, I absolutely adore this record - so damn catchy!

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, where I effectively get to enjoy myself by re-reviewing Beyonce's Lemonade, so stay tuned!

album review: 'dolls of highland' by kyle craft

So before I begin, let me talk a little about my schedule. Right now I'm at a bit of weird place: I've got upcoming releases that of course I'm going to cover, but a few records in my backlog have pretty extensive discographies to revisit and review. So while I'm intending to Aesop Rock, I just need some time to completely absorb his existing material. As such, I did the next best thing, went to Pitchfork, and scrounged around for an act that looked interesting... and here we are.

So, introductions in case you haven't heard about this guy - and I reckon that's probably a strong possibility, given that outside of the critical circle he hasn't made a huge splash just yet. Kyle Craft is a Louisiana songwriter who started off crafting some rough-edged southern glam rock before moving to Portland and signing with Sub Pop. Now immediately for me that's a good sign - Sub Pop tends to have a good reputation with signees and I was kind of intrigued by what I heard from Craft, blending a certain sort of Southern carnival theatricality with rough-edged, early-Bowie-esque melodic grooves. And while I wasn't convinced his debut would be a great record - that sort of style can get a little gimmicky if not played with smart songwriting or poise, and it can feel a little dated - at the very least it would make for a release with a lot of personality. So I dug into his debut record Dolls Of Highland - what did we get?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

video review: 'emotional mugger' by ty segall

Man, I was expecting more out of this. Still decent, but it should have been great.

Next up, Savages - and giving the mixed buzz, I'm praying that this'll be good, so stay tuned!

album review: 'emotional mugger' by ty segall

Ty Segall unsettles me.

And I say that as a fan of the guy, starting when I dug deeply into his discography to cover his 2014 record Manipulator. His material may be prolifically scattershot, sprawling over a half dozen albums and even more side projects, but dig into his records at length and you see a certain darkness that colours his writing, self-deprecating but a little craven and sinister, narrowing its focus on darker, venial human impulses that can feel a little disconcerting. This became most apparent with his cleanest and most cohesive record to date on Manipulator - which focused on a broad selection of manipulative situations that ultimately rung as more plainly nihilist - but I had a feeling in my gut that sound wouldn't last. On some level, Ty Segall's material has always been at its best when the rougher instrumentation matched the subject matter, like on the excellent Slaughterhouse from 2012, and when I heard that his release this year was going darker again, I was certainly intrigued.

But one thing that I also noticed was the build-up - a longer-than-expected distance between projects, the release announced through the mailing of VHS tapes, the creation of a website to announce and promote the album and the concept of 'emotional mugging', and the introduction of a new backing band, featuring long-time collaborator Mikal Cronin and a few new faces like the frontman of Wand Cory Hanson on guitar and keyboard. And when I say 'faces' I mean none at all, because the video released in that build-up features the band in baby masks, which Segall has continued to wear at live sets. So putting aside the obvious cue from modern horror games, it seemed right from the outset that Ty Segall was looking to be as unsettling as possible, strip away the prettier veneer on Manipulator for something ugly - and honestly, that made me even more excited, especially if we were descending back into the wildness of Slaughterhouse. So what did we get with Emotional Mugger?

Monday, September 29, 2014

video review: 'manipulator' by ty segall

First review of tonight, and it's pretty damn solid, definitely like and recommend it.

Tove Lo review coming momentarily, stay tuned!