From Courtney Love to Ariana Grande: Music’s Misogynistic Blame Game

by beth mcleish

If I was born a boy / Would I be mutilated Humiliated, cursed & fated to grind away my time

With my heart on the line…

You would not do this to a boy.

Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love

We all know the story of the most (in)famous rock and roll couple since Sid and Nancy. Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were, quite possibly, perfect for each other. But their relationship was rocky, to say the least. Both fronting successful bands, they entered into a whirlwind, drug-fuelled romance, under the watchful and judgemental public eye. They were, according to Vanity Fair, “the closest thing the alternative nation had to a king and queen.” I am a huge fan of both Kurt and Courtney, their relationship has always been something that has fascinated me, and in particular, how hated Courtney Love was. There are even people who still believe she killed her late husband. My question is, why is she demonised for all the things Kurt was praised for?

Front-woman of acclaimed grunge band Hole, Courtney Love is someone that people love to hate. A successful musician, songwriter, poet, and actress, she is best known for being the wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Sometimes, she doesn’t even get the credit for that, with there being many conspiracy theories surrounding her involvement in her husband’s death. In 1998, documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield released the controversial film “Kurt and Courtney” which insinuates that Love holds responsibility for her husband’s death, speaking to many “sources” including the private investigator who is convinced that Courtney hired a hit man to kill Kurt. It is extremely biased, filled with anti- Love sentiment. Courtney is painted as a fame hungry, controlling siren, and this is the attitude that the press had towards her throughout the 90s, and to an extent, even now.   

Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain

Courtney herself, in the 1992 issue of Vanity Fair, pointed out the double standard she and her husband were held to:

Kurt is able to go into a record label… decide he doesn’t like it halfway through, walk out on the guys mid-sentence, and everyone goes “There goes Kurt. He’s so moody. Nirvana’s great.” But I go in and spend three hours… I’m sorry, I don’t want to be on his label and he calls me a bitch.

Although both 1991 debut “Pretty on the Inside” and 1994’s “Live Through This” were critically acclaimed, there were (and still are) rumours saying that Kurt Cobain wrote a lot of Hole’s best songs, and most of “Live Through This” (arguably their best album, featuring some of Courtney’s best lyrics surrounding motherhood, feminism, body image, and mental health issues). This myth has since been cleaned up. It is extremely unfair and misleading to claim and not to mention sexist to assume that a woman’s success is owed entirely to her husband. In the Guardian, music journalist Everett True writes that “It would be just as accurate to say the Courtney Love wrote most of Nirvana’s third album “In Utero.” For me, “In Utero” is Nirvana’s best album, and I can definitely see the Courtney influences. Kurt’s lyrics are more poetic, and mature and thematically, share ideas with Hole’s “Live Through This.” Courtney finally commented on this dismissive and quite frankly cruel rumour in 1998 saying “(If he had) the songs would have been much better.

For me, this abuse and discredit simply come from a place of misogyny. I think that the music press and the general public were threatened by someone like Courtney. An extremely self-aware, brashly outspoken and confident woman, all legs, dark lipstick, and bleach blonde hair, writing songs about sex, abuse, and suicide? Put simply, she was hated for acting how male rock stars had been acting for decades before her. Her being blamed for her husband’s death not only discredits his mental health struggles (an issue which in itself is deserving of an article) but also perpetuates the damaging idea that women are, largely responsible for their significant others’ wellbeing.

Sadly, even today this is the case. To give a more modern example, American pop singer Ariana Grande was harassed after the untimely death of her ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller. Many people on social media criticised her for not staying with him as he struggled with his drug addiction. The scathing comments on her twitter range from “I hope you feel bad,” to “You did this to him”, and “You killed Mac Miller.” This clearly affected Grande as she eventually turned off comments on her Instagram, and went on a Twitter hiatus.

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This behaviour from Mac Miller’s fans and Twitter users in general reflects on the way society treats female celebrities, and women as a whole. The National Organisation for Women (NOW) President Toni Van Pelt told VICE, “First of all, people are responsible for themselves, and men in particular are taught to think of themselves first.” Van Pelt goes on to say that women are always expected to look after or take care of others before themselves, and if they dare to put themselves first, they are seen as selfish. This point was touched upon by Ariana herself, in her statement on Twitter. She said: “how absurd that you minimise female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them… I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be.”  

It is interesting that she mentions motherhood in this statement, as this is another issue that women face throughout their lives. It also ties in with Courtney Love’s struggles. This archaic ideology that a woman’s role is in the home is something that to this day is instilled in us, from a very young age. Ariana also touches upon this saying that “shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his sh*t together is a very major problem.” She’s right, and it needs to stop.

This misogynistic attitude is sadly still so prevalent in today’s culture and is especially ingrained into music. Different genres all share elements of it, such as emo, hip-hop and alternative rock, whether it be in their lyrics or behaviours. I mean, in the ruling era of the “Soft Boy” (def; a man that uses his “sensitive” side to appeal to the emotions of women and subsequently manipulate them), it is surely not surprising.

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For example, Chicago based rapper Juice WRLD pines after an “evil girl” with “the prettiest face” who supposedly wants him dead, on his 2018 track “Lucid Dreams.” It may just seem like a sad love song on the surface, but when you think about it, we don’t hear this girl’s side of the story, and Juice WRLD is fully blaming his sadness on her. He also compares himself to his ex’s new boyfriend saying that he is the “better one.” The whole thing just doesn’t sit right with me, even more so when taking into consideration his preceding single “All Girls Are The Same”.

This is a very common theme in emo too. Think about Panic! At The Disco’s “Lying Is The Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.” Brendon Urie scorns a lover who cheated on him, blaming her and only her, possibly forgetting that there was another person involved in this infidelity. In the chorus he sings of “testosterone boys and harlequin girls” which suggests that boys are just hormone crazy, enforcing the dreaded “boys will be boys, and that girls are clowns, falling for anyone who is nice to them”. To me, all of this seems to subtly reinforce these attitudes towards women in general. And of course, the whole idea that men are uncontrollable when it comes to sex is just as bad. He is blaming the woman for all of his anger and unhappiness. Now, of course, there will be times where women do abuse their partners, cheat on them, break their hearts, and that is completely valid. But all these songs seem to do is perpetuate the attitude that this is normal, and almost expected of women to do.

In 2003, American rock band Brand New released Deja Entendu, featuring the song “Me vs. Maradona vs, Elvis.” Singer Jesse Lacey sings “I got desperate desires and unadmirable plans” in this thinly veiled song about date rape, claiming “I almost feel sorry for what I’m gonna do… I swear I’ll tear you apart.” Lacey has said that these lyrics are not autobiographical, but recent allegations against him may beg to differ. Emily Driskill and Nicole Garey both recently shared accounts of their encounters of Lacey whilst they were underage. They say that he manipulated them into sending nude photos, and were groped at various concerts.  Driskill told Pitchfork that she hopes “with this coming out, it opens the door for people really looking out for women in our scene. It’s been talked about for a while but it hasn’t actually been happening.”

Music critic Jessica Hopper sums it all up in her 2003 essay “Emo: Where the Girls Aren’t”. She says that “Girls in emo songs do not have names…We span from coquettish to damned… We leave bruises on boy hearts, but make no other mark… We are mysteries to be unlocked, bodies to be groped…

What Hopper says is so relevant, not just in emo, but in music in general. These damaging attitudes towards women have survived, and are still being sang about today. Women are not therapists, mothers, or simply just bodies to have sex with, and the sooner these ideals are challenged, the better and safer the music world (and the world in general) will be for women and girls.

 

References

Hirschberg, L. (2019). Strange Love: The Story of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. [online] HWD. Available at: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/03/love-story-of-kurt-cobain-courtney-love.

Love, C. (2006). Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love. Faber & Faber.

True, E. (2019). Ten myths about grunge, Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/aug/24/grunge-myths-nirvana-kurt-cobain.

Vice. (2019). Ariana Grande, Mac Miller, and Why We Blame Women for Male Substance Abuse. [online] Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/a38g5k/ariana-grande-mac-miller-and-why-we-blame-women-for-male-substance-abuse.

Broadly. (2019). Making Mac Miller’s Death About Ariana Grande Is a Sexist Distraction. [online] Available at: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bja8xz/mac-miller-death-blame-ariana-grande.

NME. (2019). ‘Live Through This’: Not a Hole lotta Kurt – NME. [online] Available at: https://www.nme.com/news/music/courtney-love-244-1400512

Pitchfork.com. (2019). Two Alleged Victims of Brand New’s Jesse Lacey Detail Years of Sexual Exploitation of Minors | Pitchfork. [online] Available at: https://pitchfork.com/news/two-alleged-victims-of-brand-news-jesse-lacey-detail-years-of-sexual-exploitation-of-minors/

Hopper, J., Shepherd, J., Klein, C., Blegvad, K., Samavai, S. and Casey, P. (2019). Where the Girls Aren’t – Page 2 of 2 – Rookie. [online] Rookie. Available at: https://www.rookiemag.com/2015/07/where-the-girls-arent/2/?fbclid=IwAR0V1bigBafeURSbBAx8uezOqTnGeyste_A5d-CC2DSuMg4Z3ylYz-lRngE [Accessed 3 May 2019].

 

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Drenge embrace the weird and uneasy on Strange Creatures

Drenge have made their grand return to the UK rock scene with their latest album Strange Creatures. This latest effort arrives after a relatively quiet few years for the band, whose last full studio album was released back in 2015. After the success of their self-titled debut and its follow-up Undertow, this period of absence has left a very particular itch unscratched for many fans. Known for their dark and blues-inspired grunge sound, the Loveless brothers usually kept their songs concise and direct, delivering memorable riffs and fast-paced action throughout their previous two albums. The usual distorted and heart-racing sound of their prior efforts have been largely left in the past by Drenge, who on this latest album deliver some of their most haunting and intricate work to date.

Some of the longer form and lyric-driven tracks from Undertow are the standout remains of the Drenge that fans had come to love, as their new sound often combines pulsating synthesisers and hyper-realistic lyrics to create an eerie soundscape that is often used by Eoin Loveless to explore deeper lyrical themes than on previous releases. This is not to say that the album has a slow pace overall, as some of the most pop-sounding songs of theirs to date can also be found on Strange Creatures. The two main cases of this are “This Dance” and “Autonomy,” which were both released amongst the flurry of singles that culminated in the build-up to the band’s comeback. The tracks take on more of a New Wave sound, yet still feature a certain edge from Eoin’s songwriting, particularly on “Autonomy,” where he delivers some of his most skeptical and witty commentary on the album. This new approach to writing catchy songs relies on a certain contrast between the upbeat instrumentals and the creeping vocals and backing synths, which make for an excellent addition to the band’s arsenal.

It has to be said that after the album’s introduction from three of the singles, Strange Creatures really does come into its own. “Teenage Love” provides an infectiously stirring track, with flat-out creepy lyrics that fit with the overarching theme of the record. This continues through to “Prom Night,” which is most definitely one of the standout tracks, featuring some of the most visceral and evocative storytelling that Eoin has produced over the course of all three albums. The merging of the classic Drenge guitar sound and some particularly spooky synths has been immaculately pulled off by the Loveless brothers. The shift away from guitar driven songs does not ever feel forced or alien, but more that it was the natural projection for the band’s evolving sound. This can be heard yet again on “No Flesh Road,” which feels alienating and estranged, which are themes that have always been found in Drenge’s own twisted musical stylings.

Without a doubt, the anthem of the album in “Never See The Signs,” which offers all of the aforementioned qualities in one blow. The track has all the catchiness of some of the new-wave elements of the record whilst simultaneously incorporating the dark undertones that give the album an overall eerie feel. The two closing tracks then seem to follow the apparent theme from Drenge’s previous two albums, giving the album a grandiose, almost ballad-like close. “Avalanches” offers a slow and distortion-induced shoegaze trip featuring some reverberated vocals from Eoin that combine with some isolated keys that add to the reflective tone of the track.

This is a nice change of pace that slows down nicely as the album comes to a close on the final song “When I Look Into Your Eyes.” The track definitely stands out as the most ‘out there’ and different from the Drenge of past years. The symphony of chanting vocals, acoustic guitar and prog-type synths is truly different to anything that Drenge fans will be used to, but the experimental sound seems to work for the brothers, with a solid vocal performance yet again, leaving the closing track sounding reminiscent of a Nick Cave song. This could also be said for the new role that Eoin appears to be taking in the band as he takes up the full-time job of a frontman by ditching his guitar during live shows. Although the two may not be correlated, it feels as though this change, or perhaps the maturing of the brothers, has led to a revitalised approach to songwriting, one that sees some of the band’s best written songs to date on the record, along with some of the most captivating vocal performances.

With Strange Creatures, Drenge have created an uncomfortably different yet enthralling soundscape that strays far from their simple two-piece roots. It seems that the band have abandoned the simple guitar and drums grunge combo and have opted for a more complex and moody sound that tends to deliver some haunting moments. It is great to see the Loveless brothers back in action after a four-year absence, and even better to see that they have remained consistent in their delivery of solid records. The disturbing world of Strange Creatures is almost incomparable to their previous studio albums, yet it contains songs of an equally great nature. – Ewan Blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw)

rating 8

sabrina is not in this chat Are LA’s Freshest And Sharpest Trio

To write about sabrina is not in this chat in terms of influences is a tremendous disservice to their inventiveness and originality. The Los Angeles-based experimental rock trio test the constraints of rock music, pushing against punk rock’s insistence on brevity and experimental music’s formlessness with destructive élan. Sharp, smart, and wholly refreshing, Sabrina quash easy comparisons to their peers or forebears. Yet it’s nearly impossible to think about the group without considering the striations of No Wave, Post Punk, and Math Rock that run prominently across the group’s DNA.

Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Olivia DeBonis, bassist Maddie Calderon, and drummer Siena LaMere, Sabrina have been slowly gaining traction in the West Coast experimental scene and beyond. Last fall the group embarked on a tour of the East Coast. The previous summer, they played a smattering of shows all around California, as documented in a rough, guerilla-style home video. The band’s debut full length album Not Recommended for Sensitive Skin was released January of this year, which has generated critical acclaim and even a co-sign (albeit, an obscure one) from Cherry Glazerr.

I met with Maddie in Pasadena to discuss Sabrina’s history, the future of the group, and the overall experimental scene in California.

Tell us about the band’s history.

Siena and Olivia have actually known each other for around five years. They went to school together and had played in bands together before. I met Olivia through my best friend Julian when they had started hanging out. Siena and Olivia had started a band already and Julian kept going, “You know they need a bassist right?” And I had just picked up my bass and I was still kind of learning and getting a feel for it. I went and jammed with them and it just worked really well. We’ve been doing that for two years now as of February.

Had you been in any bands before that?

No, it was my first. I like to say that I learned how to play bass in Sabrina. It wasn’t their first band, they used to be in a band called Kindergarteners… but this was my first band. I’ve been in other ones since then, but this is my baby!

Did you know about Kindergarteners before meeting them?

Julian had told me about them, but I hadn’t seen them. They’re actually from [North Hollywood and Studio City] so they’re from a little bit different of a scene than I was. I’ve been in Pasadena for the last six years. So there’s a little bit of distance there, but it’s starting to overlap.

How long have you been with Penniback records?

I’ve personally been working for Penniback for a long time. I met Julian—he’s the co-founder—in high school. And at the end of our senior year was when we started hanging out and we’d ditch at lunch and go get fish tacos… and he said, “You should come to a show,” and the first show I ever went to was a Penniback show and it was at The Smell. The Buttertones and the Meow Twins were playing. I was like, “Woah, this shit still happens?!”… That’s our community. That’s where we got our start.

We [Penniback] have always been booking shows as a promotional group and we recently got a website where we could showcase what’s going on and anything new with our artists. But we’ve always been a record label, just I think our media outlets are changing, but not by much.

Has everything Sabrina’s released been through Penniback? No self-releases or other labels?

No, our first two were through Penniback. We’re probably the most independent band on that label as far as functioning on our own and getting stuff done, which is cool. We took care of all of our recording stuff and they helped with the PR.

Some of the songs on Not Recommended have been released previously as singles or on EPs.

Yeah, we have around three new tracks on the album and we took the last two EPs, and they were kind of like demo recordings, and we got serious about recording everything. We wanted it really nice, so we met up with Andrew Oswald, who recorded everything for us, and he’s recorded so many of our favourite bands and we just love what he does. So it was cool to be able to work with him. We were actually supposed to go up to San Francisco to record it, and his studio got shut down or it had to be moved, and he was in between spaces so he was like, “Fuck it, I’ll just come to Anaheim, I’ll just come to you to record!” And we packed all three of us, all of Siena’s drum kit, my bass amp, Olivia’s guitar, and day packs in my little Honda Fit. And we made it to Anaheim.

Did you always have the intention to put the songs on a full length album?

We knew that eventually we were going to want to rerecord and make them nice. I think the initial point of when we first released the first two EPs was like, “OK, let’s get our stuff out so we can be heard as fast as it can be,” and then towards the end we thought, “We have some new stuff and we want to get a little more serious and clean things up a little bit more.” It was intentional, but I don’t think we knew when we first releasing the EPs that we were going to rerecord all of it. But I’m really glad we did.

Do you feel like you’ve gotten more attention since putting everything out on an LP?

Definitely. It was definitely more costly, so we were like, “Let’s really push it!” The album art—I made the actual set and we got together and fucked with the lighting and the toys to find out what works. It was definitely a long process.

Can you talk about the writing process for the album?

I feel like the writing process has never really changed from our dynamic, which I kind of love. Hyena and Clean are the first songs that were ever written, and that was before I joined the band, actually. And then everything from there—either I’ll bring a bass riff or Olivia will bring a guitar riff and we’ll jam on it. There’s so many recordings, 45-minute recordings on my phone where we were trying to record some songs for a demo and we accidentally jammed for 45 minutes, and we’re like, “Oh shit, that was so tight, I’m so glad we were recording!” [Laughs]. A lot of our stuff has come from that, which is really cool.

The last two songs that were added to the album were This Innocent Fish and Relief. Both of those are pretty insane, they’re definitely the craziest songs we’ve written. They’re very abrasive, but more technical. I feel like Relief is kind of a cult classic; I feel like a lot of people aren’t going to get that one. This Innocent Fish… I didn’t think too much of that song when we released it, but our friend Alex was like, “When are you gonna play that one again?

I came across an interview you did with Urban Outfitters.

[Laughs] It’s so old! That was our second or third show we did, the Play Like a Girl show. That’s what we did the interview for. I can’t even remember… they set up a photo shoot for us at the park. It’s really old. That was a weird show!

Was it all right? Did it go well?

I think our first five shows were pretty rough, but good in the right aspects. Everyone was still able to kind of understand what we were doing even if weren’t able to articulate it well enough. People were like, “That shit’s weird, I’m down!” Cool, glad you get it!

Our first show was a house show and it was crazy, it was almost a joke. We had barely practiced, my bass broke and I was trying to tune it with pliers… and it was kind of intimidating to me at the time. Olivia got wiped out by some kids moshing, she was tossed over her amp and the drum kit. It was crazy, we’ve come a long way. But I truly love house shows. I think I can speak on behalf of all of us that they’re the most intimate setting you can have.

Do you play more house shows than bars or other venues?

It’s pretty even, actually. For the last few months we were getting ready for tours so we slapped a guarantee on some stuff and we saved up to go out, so as of recently it’s been more venues than house shows, but we usually have a pretty even cut. Bars are always super frustrating because I’m the oldest and I just turned 21, so we usually get told, “All right, sit outside until your set, get back out there when you’re done,” or, “You have to stay in that corner and you can’t leave!” [Laughs] They don’t care!

You said earlier that your sound is very abrasive. How do live shows typically go, are people generally receptive to that kind of style?

Most of the time, I think we’re pretty fortunate. We play to a lot of musicians, so I feel like the response from that is kind of different from someone who doesn’t play music. But even from someone who just listens to music, we get good responses. I [recently] met this girl who just came up to me and was like, “Your band is sick,” and I’m always baffled when someone is like, “Yo, that’s cool.” I just wonder, “Really? You think so? I’m just getting shit out!

But, people are pretty receptive, and if not, there’s always at least one person that’s really down with it. We played a house show in D.C. and people were sitting down and they started leaving, but there were two people who were like, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” They bought us drinks later and we hung out. That one person is really all I need. But usually it’s pretty good.

Tell me about the tour you did on the East Coast last fall.

The last time we did a tour we did South by Southwest and then we went on a West Coast tour, but this was the longest we’d ever been on the East Coast and we did a lot of damage. We went to a lot of places. We crashed our friend’s van the first night of the tour in the snow. It was so bad, we were driving to Skidmore for a show we almost cancelled… It took us five hours, and thirty minutes from our destination, we were going twenty miles per hour, and it was the calmest collision. We were there for two hours, but we got the car back the next day in perfect condition (aside from cosmetically damaging it). My homie ended up actually buying it off him and drove it back over here. But we did the whole tour in that van.

We went to Philadelphia, Boston, and I swear to god, we met someone way more eccentric than the night before. The weirdest people and situations just kept happening and it was very surreal. We ended at The Glove in New York. It was amazing, we played with Godcaster… that whole night was so surreal but it was a great way to end it. It was emotional: it was cold, it was long, there were tears, there were laughs… lots of bagels, lots of bread [laughs].

How does the East Coast compare to shows back here in California?

It depends on where you’re at. Philadelphia was kind of difficult, one our shows in Philly dropped and the other one—we had fun, but it was weird. So much had come down at that point and we were just a little bit delirious. I actually just screamed through the entire set for no reason, and it was honestly one of the most fun sets we’ve ever played. There were five people and this big ass dude who said, “Quantity or quality?” and Olivia said, “How do you measure quality?” and he was like, “I SELL PURE COCAINE!” What’s happening?! Where are we?!

But we’ve played some really crazy LA shows, so I haven’t really noticed a significant difference. I feel like New York is more receptive to experimental stuff, so we definitely get a lot of feedback when we’re there, which is cool.

You have some songs like This Innocent Fish, which are very tightly structured and seem difficult to improvise over, but there are also songs like Intermission and Sabrina the Nut that are more meandering and maybe easier to improv with.

Sabrina the Nut is just an iPhone recording jam. We don’t perform that, it was just something we started doing and we were like, “What’s happening? I don’t know, just keep doing it!” And Intermission is a completely improvised jam that we did at the end of recording. We really wanted to do a completely fresh jam. They’re not songs we play live and they’re just completely improvised.

Do you do improv on stage?

Sometimes, we definitely have to be feeling it, but we’ve done some pretty cool improv. We’re very much a jam band in that aspect, we’re really good at feeding off each other’s energy and knowing what’s to come or how to counteract what’s to come. It’s nice.

A lot of these songs shift abruptly into new sections that don’t really sound like anything that’s come before. When you write these songs are they cobbled together from different ideas that have been floating around or do you deliberately set out to write pieces with all these disparate parts?

Sometimes it’s very deliberate and other times it’s like, “Yo, that other thing we were jamming on a week ago would be really sick on this.Sabrina was pretty deliberate; a lot what ends up in the song… it made us laugh. At first when we were recording it, two of our homies were like, “Are they serious?!” But it’s very playful and jokey, but the bass is more sinister. That is intentional. I feel like there’s a good mix of intention and appreciating free form and going with some kind of flow, but intentionally so.

I’ve read that you describe your songwriting style as “choppy.” Do you still stand by that?

I do! I think I was talking about my lyrical style being choppy, but also musically I’m kind of choppy too. I’m writing in an emo band now and so I’ve got to be better at transitions. But vocally and lyrically… I practice writing without stopping. Sometimes it’s not always coherent, but if I keep going, what I want to come out or what I feel needs to come out, does.

But it’s not a full sentence, it’s just statements or words. But my brain’s kind of like that too; I have a very hard time organizing my thoughts, so it’s easier for me and I feel like it’s more honest. But I also love Built to Spill, and that motherfucker—just paragraphs and paragraphs [laughs]! It’s whatever is sincere and honest to you.

It seems like [Los Angeles club] The Smell has been a big part of the band’s history, can you talk about your experience with that?

I feel like it’s a big part of our entire community’s history. The first show I ever went to in LA was at The Smell. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town, and when I moved here I didn’t get out of Pasadena, and my dumb ass thought Pasadena was LA and I was like, “This is kinda whack!” And I went to the show and was like, “Woah, this shit happens?! This is real?!” And I wouldn’t be playing my bass today if it wasn’t for The Smell.

I probably wouldn’t be in Sabrina, I wouldn’t have met Olivia. Where I met Olivia was at The Smell. That’s like a huge, fundamental part of our community. Joe Smith is our dad, he provides us with a safe space to grow what we’re doing and expose others, and we’re forever grateful.

What do you think it is about the LA experimental community that draws so many people in?

The LA experimental scene, I don’t think it’s that big. I think we’re coming out of… I missed the whole Burger Records wave, I came right as that was dying out. I came when a lot of bands were trying to rip off those bands, trying to ride off that wave, and it was like, you missed it!

As of recently, there’s definitely been some weirder stuff popping up. It’s almost getting more math-ey, but not in a commercial way, in a less obnoxious way. I love math rock, but there’s definitely a lot of people who are like, “I can’t listen to this! There’s too much going on!” But I feel that [style] being implemented more. I definitely think that it’s up and coming and that we’re inspiring each other to make new weird stuff and challenge the next thing. It’s growing for sure. – Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome)

FIDLAR Are Sillier Than Ever On “Almost Free”

FIDLAR first properly entered the public consciousness in 2013 with their self-titled debut album. An energetic garage punk affair with lyrics focusing around themes of drug use, depression and general debauchery, FIDLAR’s lyrics have always been on the cringey side but their debut had a level of charm and strong, simple songwriting which made it the soundtrack for angsty teens experimenting with drugs and skateboarding everywhere.

Almost Free has FIDLAR flex their versatility as a band. The group plays with a varied palette of sounds with the band dipping their toes in hip-hop, blues, and even gouse music, amongst other styles. The album also boasts a warm and full production style that contrasts nicely with their earlier lo-fi leaning endeavours.

This album also stands out as FIDLAR’s most hilarious album to date. When the listener puts on Almost Free they are immediately hit with the group trying to do a cool hip-hop track complete with aggressive, yet cringey vocal delivery and cool dad-rock worthy blues licks. A truly strong start for the band if they were aiming to make their funniest album yet. The problem here is that it’s unlikely the band were trying to make funny music (with the exception of By Myself but we’ll get to that). However, the blend of sounds the band has adopted over the years mixed with the still cringe-ridden lyrics makes a lot of Almost Free just unintentionally funny.

Too Real features lead vocalist Zac Carper giving out hot takes about current American politics and society today with an attitude that can only be described as too woke. The bridge section sees Zac spitting venom about flaws in both left and right leaning politics in a progressively angry tone. After some awkward ranting the chorus hook enters “Was that too fucking real?!” the listener is left thinking No. Not Really.

By Myself, arguably the silliest track on the album starts with Carper on acoustic guitar singing the song’s chorus, solo: “I’m cracking one open with boys, by myself”. Now ignoring the glaring fact that the boys in FIDLAR have based the hook of their song around a long dead meme there seems to be a level of irony built around the track that’s a bit refreshing. By Myself proves that FIDLAR are able to laugh at themselves from time to time and also shows a level of self awareness they’ve never shown before (Carper can even be heard laughing at his own bad joke). However, when the song launches into the verse section and adopts a cheesy house beat the self awareness disappears and we can be treated to FIDLAR running a dead meme song into the ground for just under four minutes.

This is all quite unfortunate as a level self awareness would greatly benefit FIDLAR’s music at this stage in their career because in some ways they seem to have developed into an unironic parody of themselves over the years.

When this album isn’t being edgy it tends to just be downright bland. Tracks such as Can’t You See and Flake have very generic indie aesthetics especially with the former which sounds like a track written by any local Arctic Monkeys influenced band ever.

Almost Free is far from terrible with songs such as Alcohol and Called You Twice been stand out tracks. The band are obviously competent songwriters and skilled musicians but it’s the band’s blend of cliched ‘cool’ blues riffs, generic indie stylings, bad integration of hip-hop and the all round cringefest that is FIDLAR lyricism that really makes Almost Free stand out as FIDLAR’s most unintentionally funny album yet. – Liam Toner (@tonerliam)

Talking About New-Age Hip-Hop with LaLion

Everyone has something to say about the ‘new’ wave of rappers, most of it being unfairly slated by old school hip-hop heads afraid to see the genre evolve or change. Rid yourself of this apprehension and you’re sure to find a bunch of extremely talented individuals (e.g Lou The Human) out there that have somehow flown under the mainstream radar, Seattle based rapper LaLion being just that. With his fast delivery, clever bars, and hard beats he’s slowly gaining the attention he deserves. With 2 albums already released, he’s targeting the big time.

The 21-year-old started rapping at the age of 11 and, much like the running theme of new age rappers, took inspiration from genres other than hip-hop. While he grew up listening to notable big shots like Biggie, 2Pac, and Kendrick, LaLion states “I spent most of my teen years playing in bands and practicing guitar. So, a lot of my inspiration comes from rock bands like Linkin Park, The Strokes, and Nirvana“.

A rock influence is nothing new for a lot of rappers nowadays but it has certainly helped the likes of LaLion to pave a new chapter for the genre they hold dear. Kurt Cobain went on to inspire a plethora of kids with guitars but he’s even gone as far to heavily influence hip hop long after his death, with his bleak and gloomy outlook becoming the foundations for others to build upon. Denzel Curry may just be the bluntest about this, naming a song ‘Clout Cobain’ which revolved around the consequences of fame while dealing with paranoia and suicidal thoughts. The late Lil Peep could have arguably been heralded as carrying the Nirvana’s star flame into the surge of SoundCloud rap.

LaLion has ensured that this gloomy aesthetic isn’t merely just that, his adamance about his music being more than just a look being truly palatable. “My music is made to cater to the person who is struggling through something in their life.  My music style reflects anger towards the modern normality’s that are causing kids to kill themselves. If we are talking stylistically my music is a mix between Bone-Thugs and Linkin Park.”

His childhood and surroundings have also played a part in his lyrical content too. “Seattle is a dark and depressing place. Growing up in the Seattle area has made an impact on my music.  We have grey clouds nine out of the twelve months and homeless people on every block.

Image result for lalion

While he has his hopes set high, LaLion is a firm believer in staying humble and hopes to make that firm for any young rappers with lofty goals but don’t make time for their craft. “It is the most important thing you could do.  I see a lot of young artists with hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, but they release one song every three months.  And that song ends up not sounding very good. But it depends on the type of artist you want to be. If you want to be the best, you need to work more than the rest.

The rapper also thinks it’s vital for youngsters to understand history of hip hop. “You need to understand who built the foundation for where you are standing”. With the conversation about culture vultures and appropriation in music still ongoing, it’s definitely a perspective worth bearing in mind.

Talking of the ‘new wave’, artists like Lil Pump, LiL Uzi Vert and Juice Wrld have faced criticism for their style of hip hop because of their so called ‘lazy lyrics’ and ‘auto-tuned effects’. However, there’s a place for every sound and most criticism these artists have faced can seem almost venomous. LaLion agrees and thinks there’s room for all types of hip hop. “The ‘new school’ rappers as you put, are club artists. So, if I’m in a club or a party, sure, put that shit on.” But he also believes it is extremely important to stay unique. “That’s probably why all these kids are getting face tattoos. They want to be impossible to copy with their image. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to the music and they end up sounding like the last guy.

But where does LaLion see himself in the coming years? His dream one day is to “Be the best in the game. Grammy’s. Most streamed. The best.” Just like his idol and favourite rapper of all time Eminem.

I wouldn’t say that I am recognised even now. But when I started this, yes.  I came into it with the thought I will be the best in the game without a doubt.  Confidence is key.” – Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs)

Deerhunter Never Lose Sight of Their Identity on “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?”

Atlanta indie veterans Deerhunter have kicked off  2019 with their much-anticipated comeback album after a relatively quiet few years by their prolific standards. The band, led by cult figure Bradford Cox, amassed a large underground following after a consistent string of stellar releases ever since their 2007 full-length studio debut Cryptograms. From there, the band went on to pioneer many new sounds during the height of the indie revival, introducing noise, art and psychedelic sounds that drew on the sprawling soundtracks of the 60s and some of the more experimental releases of the 90s. During this experimentation, Deerhunter produced some of the finest indie rock albums since the boom of new releases in the early 2000s, including both Halcyon Digest and Microcastle, both of which garnered critical acclaim and established a loyal following.

During the band’s hiatus, there was no lack of side projects and other artistic endeavours from the members, but with the turn of 2019 approaching, it was very quickly looking like it could be a four year wait for new music, leaving fans pondering the next release. Just as hope may have been diminishing for any new Deerhunter music in 2018, the band released singles “Death in Midsummer” and “Element” whilst also announcing a new album to be released in early 2019, much to the joy of the indie community and their fans. The singles did have that signature quality present across all of the bands work, the combination of beautifully atmospheric soundscapes and winding and sedate vocals from Cox, yet did seem to possess more of a softer pop feel than some of the more experimental work in their discography.

Upon the release of Why Hasn’t Everything Disappeared Already?, it was clear that this new sound was to be carried across the entire album. The themes and inspirations for the new release seem to be more focused on synth pop and ambient sounds, rather than some of the rougher garage cuts that would maybe be expected from the Deerhunter of last decade. This could be seen as a move away from the past sounds that could leave the band drowning in a pool of nostalgia, and also as a conscious effort to move forward in their careers and continue to revamp sounds of the past with their own Deerhunter touch that brings each album into the future. On this latest release, looking forward seems to be a recurring theme, which flows effortlessly in the dream like atmosphere of the songs. Tracks such as “Futurism” and “What Happens to People?” really highlight this theme and give a glimpse into the mind of Bradford Cox, who always seems to be setting trends in his own weird and wonderful world. These tracks are also the finest examples of this new sound finding the perfect balance between the future and past from the perspective of a fan. Stylistically, these tracks are reaching into the realm of pop with catchy melodies and light, upbeat jingles feathered throughout, but maintaining the poetic nature of Cox’s lyrics and his unique and unflinching delivery that soars with the backing instrumentals.

Some of the more experimental and artsy takes on the album such as “Détournement” are definitely a step in a new direction, although the futuristic prose delivery does feel like a cut from a sci-fi dystopian movie and drags on a bit in the already short album run-time. It would be nice to hear more interesting sounds like those present on “Tarnung” and “Greenpoint Gothic,” which feature a very dense and layered soundtrack that could really bring the album to the next level if developed and interwoven. This is not to say, however, that the album ever feels disjointed, in fact there is a solid flow back and forth from these synth-heavy soundscapes and indie pop choruses and versus that make for very easy listening.

On the whole, Why Hasn’t Everything Disappeared Already? feels like a step away from the overbearing madness of modern life, and a look back at the simpler things that hold beauty. The ever-poetic Bradford Cox is back on winning form with another collection of abstract lyrics that are carried by some of the most interesting and detailed instrumental accompaniments heard from Deerhunter in some time. It’s great to see the Atlanta idols deliver yet again, particularly after the death of long-time bassist Josh Fauver, who passed away in November of last year. Despite a change in sound, Deerhunter remain sharp and on-point, constantly on the edge of their own innovation, in their own world and detached from the rest of indie rock. The band never compromise themselves or go for the conventional or easy routes. In doing so, they have delivered yet another unique and deeply interesting album that will no doubt capture the attention and hearts of their cult following, whose wait for new music is finally over. – Ewan Blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw)

rating 7

Oliver’s 365 Album Challenge Weeks 2 & 3: Pope Of Reviewtown

Date 07/01/19
Artist: Marmozets
Album: Knowing What You Know Now
Review Type: Recommendation/Re-evaluation

Hugh Jackman stares into your eyes. “I’m sorry Oliver, you were right, this was the worstest shit, man. Yet again, you were right, as you always are” he says. “Hmm”, you think, “you’ve fucking lost your mind after the first set of albums“. “Listen to Marmozets, please, it’s the least you deserve” he pleads. You know you’ve lost your mind, but who are you to disagree with Huge Jacked Man?

Knowing What You Know Now came at the wrong time in the context of album of the year lists. By the time list season came round, you couldn’t remember it coming out, not this year anyway. However, looking back on it, it was easily one of the albums of 2018. The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets offered something fresh with a raw and aggresive sound, but Knowing What You Know Now was a complete evolution, keeping that raw and aggresive blueprint but adding so many layers to it.

Songs like Insomnia saw the band’s sound evolve, and even songs like Play, Lost In Translation and Major System Error stuck to the blueprint, but were just… better. Becca further cemented herself as one of rock’s leading frontpersons in waiting, effortlessly bending her vocals to fit the tempo, sound and feel of the song. The girl you hear on Insomnia is a different one to Play, and both fit the bill perfectly.

Rating: 10/10

Date: 08/01/19
Artist: La Dispute
Album: Rooms Of The House
Review Type: Recommendation

Christ these lads need to cheer up. Just have a can, you know? It’s not so bad. However, within the misery of their craft lies the beauty of it. Though sonically, Rooms Of The House is flawless, the perfection comes from the lyrics. Each song paints a picture that you live in for a few short minutes.

In Hudsonville MI 1956, you’re there as the hurricane approaches. Scenes from Highways 1981-2009 transports you to the bridge. In every song you’re invested in the lyrical content, with the music acting as a side show. However, that isn’t to say the music isn’t good. It’s easy on the ears and helps set the scene. Whilst yes, La Dispute’s music is pretty fucking miserable, it’s crafted so perfectly that it paints a picture of tragedy so vividly.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 09/01/18
Artist: Scars
Album: Author! Author!
Review Type: Recommendation

Right from the off, this is probably the most perplexing album that’ll appear on this list. Not from a sonic or lyrical perspective, it’s because without sounding too churlish, you’ve never heard of it. Not that weird, right? Wrong. It’s fucking brilliant, and how it’s been consigned to a footnote in the history books.

Released in 1981, it was the only album by post-punk band Scars, shortly before their breakup in 1982. If you look at the timelines, and listen to the albums, it defies belief that Scars aren’t up there with The Cure. YouTube comments, which is one of the few places you can listen to this album, tell you that Scars were that good, but poor management made sure they’d be forever deemed as obscure.

Songs like Fear Of The Dark, Aquarama and Everywhere I Go should have been hits, but the upside is you get the joy of discovering a hidden gem, something that’s fantastic but not widely known. However, it’s a shame that ten short tracks is all we’ll ever see from post-punk’s nearly men.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 10/01/19
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Album: Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino
Review Type: Recommendation/Reevaluation

Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino is a funny old Hector. On the one hand, it’s a cool, conceptual album, on the other, is it trying too hard to be cool? Either way, the lounge concept of the album is fantastic and should just be accepted as a complete departure from Arctic Monkeys as we know it.

The wildest take is that were this to be rebadged as the Alex Turner solo album, it’d be lauded as one of the greatest albums ever written. However, as Arctic Monkeys are an accessible, indie rock band, the deviation into becoming a lounge act is admittedly a bit too much to swallow at once. But if you can handle it, you’ll be rewarded with a smash hit in any form.

Though with that said, songs like Star Treatment, Four Out of Five and TBH&C are just perfect. Maybe TBH&C will lead to more lounge albums penetrating the mainstream and we all get to sit around in velvet smoking jackets, snapping our fingers to easy listening whilst sinking a smokey single malt. And that cannot be a bad thing. Get to the taqueria on the roof lads, big man Al’s taking us to deep space, ask your mates (and your mum, see if she says yes).

Rating: 8/10

Date: 11/01/19
Artist: Popes Of Chillitown
Album: Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard
Review Type: Discovery

Aw come on, as far as Simpsons related band names go, these guys have got to be front runners. Popes Of Chillitown, name a better Simpsons related band and we’ll do a week dedicated to shitpostworthy bands. Popes Of Chillitown are a ska/dub/punk band and they are GREAT FUN, as you might expect. With a name like this and a sound like that, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to move to this band’s beat.

Ska/dub/punk is always a recipe for success, mixing the oi! of punk guitars and the fun horns of ska. Maybe that’s a little basic but we’ve much ground to cover in this article. It’s fun to dance to, easy to listen to and really well put together. The whole album is fantastic, with songs like Vexed, Get On/Get Off, The Last Elephant and Upside Down providing the most fun and games.

A photo of a naked soldier gamer will get 200,000 likes, so let’s get that for our shitposting ska heroes!

Rating: 9/10

12/01/19
Artist: Tiny Moving Parts
Album: Swell
Review Type: Recommendation

You know what? Listening to one album a day for a year is pretty fucking fatiguing and we’re not even halfway through January. Maybe when dry January draws to a close, you can just get hammered and listen to the same album. However, Tiny Moving Parts make it all the more easier with Swell, their 2018 offering. A lot of this will be albums that the author missed the boat on in 2018, because he’s a lazy idiot, and was too depressed to review some albums.

Apparently, TMP are a screamo/math band, which sounds like a delightful cocktail and goodness it is. The vocal delivery on Swell is beautiful, and the mathy guitar flourishes are always welcome. It’s hard to pin them down for a “For Fans Of”, but their sound feels so broadly appealing that anybody who enjoys guitar-driven music would easily get into these guys. They’re just an incredibly well put together band, and are a cohesive sonic unit, almost as if they’re made of… tiny moving parts… really makes you think.

It’s one of those awkward albums where you enjoy it all so you can’t pick your favourite tracks, but if you must, Wildfire. That feels like the benchmark for the rest of what is admittedly a largely flawless album. There seems to be a lot of hype around TMP, and hopefully they continue growing from what is clearly a brilliant album in Swell.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 13/01/19
Artist: Kanye West
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Review Type: Recommendation

Remember the good old days where Kanye wasn’t that middle aged man in the MAGA hat who failed to hit deadlines with projects more frequently than legendary TRANSISTOR writer Oliver Butler? Never mind, Ye is nothing but a cautionary tale: Never love anyone.

Though back in the day, Kanye was just an out and out genius, rather than… whatever he is these days, and MBDTF was a hallmark of that genius. Though the roundly accepted 10 is overselling it a bit, perfection runs through the veins of this album. Runaway, POWER, Monster and Hell Of A Life are some of the best that Yeezy’s ever put out. Kanye’s production skills have always been A-grade, and yes, MBDTF is a masterclass in his talents with a synthesiser.

Is Kanye West a strange, confused, middle aged man in a MAGA hat these days? Yes, absolutely, but let’s not forget that less than ten years ago, he was an explosive genius.

Rating: 9/10

WEEK 3

Date: 14/01/19
Artist: Kano
Album: Made In The Manor
Review Type: Reevaluation

2016 was a good year for grime. In fact, every year seems to be a good year for grime. Remember the old days where it was Boy In Da Corner and lo-fi MySpace mixes of Serious by JME? Of course you don’t. Most of the people who read and write for this site are five years old. However, with Konnichiwa and latterly, Kano’s Made In The Manor being some of the year’s best album, 2016 was another good year for grime.

Made In The Manor contains one of grime’s, if not, music’s greatest lyrics. In album opener Hail, which is a study in how to write a good riff, contains the line “Gettin’ that belly like Sherman Klump”, which frankly, is just clever and funny in spades.

Sonically, Kano went to new heights with Made In The Manor, even inviting Damon Albarn on for a guest spot. The lyrical content of Made In The Manor was hugely poignant and thoughtful, with each song telling a story. T-Shirt Weather In The Manor, as daft as it sounds, makes you image in a sun-kissed evening. Whilst we feel the biting cold, that song can transport you back to the heatwave of 2018. Southgate, cans, Kano, it works.

Maybe this challenge needs to be revised for shit albums only, because you can keep going back to Made In The Manor and enjoy it every time for every mood. Fancy something a bit easier? Drinking In The West End. Want to feel powerful? 3 Wheel Ups. Songs for every mood.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 15/01/19
Artist: Skepta
Album: Konnichiwa
Review Type: Reevaluation

Well, when you’ve spent as much as you did to get this on vinyl, you’d be remiss not to listen and review it. As we said, 2016 was a good year for grime, with Konnichiwa no slouch. Containing one of 2016’s biggest songs in Shutdown, because even after 58,000,000 streams, it’s still fresh and still a banger. However, if you do get sick of Shutdown, listen to Slaves’ christ awful cover of it. How do they fucking ruin everything?

Konnichiwa was another album boosted by superior production quality. Obviously Skepta’s lyrics and flow were a-grade, but your flow is nothing if you don’t have the soundtrack to go with it. Corn On The Curb is a definite highlight, for both production and lyrics. And yes, we are gonna talk about how “Shower man down like Fireman Sam” is another highlight.

Skepta has long been one of grime’s premier MCs, whatever was in the water, it worked for the Adenuga family, with Skepta, JME and Julie Adenuga all being some of modern Britain’s best known musical figures. Konnichiwa was just another consistently brilliant album and hopefully, not the last.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 16/01/19
Artist: JME
Album: >Integrity
Review Type: Reevaluation

Fuck it, let’s get on a roll here. 2015 was ALSO a good year for grime, with JME sadly releasing his latest studio album >Integrity. As previously referenced, whatever was in the Adenuga family’s water worked, with JME being Skepta’s brother. It’s obvious that the highlight of >Integrity is Man Don’t Care featuring Giggs, with “Nostradamus couldn’t see me, expelliarmus coudln’t stop me” being a high point of a high point.

He’s only released 3 albums in the last 11 years and it fucking hurts. However, in that, you get to appreciate every banger he drops rather than being overwhelmed. Don’t @ Me, Pulse 8 and 96 F**kries are tunes, but you can’t help but feel the album is a bit too heavy on the tracklist, and can get a bit too much to handle in one go.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 17/01/19
Artist: Architects
Album: Holy Hell
Review Type: Reevaluation

Alright! Gig day! Architects’ future was in limbo after the release of All Our Gods Have Abandoned us and the death of lead guitarist Tom Searle. However, just two short years after Tom’s death, they were back with Holy Hell, arguably the best record of 2018 and the best of their career.

Architects set their stall out early with opener Death Is Not Defeat, which set the tone, and the mantra for the album. Just take a look at the density of this album. Dying To Heal, Holy Hell, Royal Beggars, Hereafter, Modern Misery, Mortal After All, Doomsday, A Wasted Hymn all stake a claim for the album’s best track. How the FUCK can you bounce back like this?

One of the highlights of the album however is in the liner notes for the vinyl, in the album credits, at the top, front and centre is a special guest star. Holy Hell contains some of Tom’s last riffs, noodles and ideas, allowing the driving force behind the last 7 albums to stay in the front seat.

Honest to god, this album, that gig, those boys. Fucking hell.

Rating: 11/10

Date: 18/01/19
Artist: The Twilight Sad
Album: IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME
Review Type: Release

For the FULL review of the album, you can catch it here. However, to give you the long and short, it’s fantastic. It feels poppier but without the cynical grab for the mainstream that a lot of bands seem to be going for.

Songs like Videograms, Sunday Day13, VTr and Keep It All To Myself are absolutely huge, mixing melancholic lyrics with big synths and hooks. It might have taken five long years for this album to come out, but the wait was worth it.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 19/01/19
Artist: Halestorm
Album: Halestorm
Review Type: Reevaluation

Halestorm are a funny old Hector. Funny old Hector in that they should be headlining festivals and be much bigger than they are. This should be a safe space for wild takes, so, here we go; Lzzy Hale is one of this generation’s greatest frontpersons. She oozes charisma and has the pipes to match it. Let’s also add in the fact she’s riffing to fuck whilst doing it. She is also, in no uncertain terms, a huge role model for young girls.

So their first self titled album, as you might imagine, was fantastic. The stall’s set out early with the power of It’s Not You. That follows a three song salvo finished with I Get Off and Bet U Wish U Had Me Back. Highlights past there include Familiar Taste Of Poison and the big riffs of Dirty Work.

However, compared to what followed, this was a shaky album in comparison, as they only got better, with 2018’s Vicious being one of the finest they’ve ever done.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 20/01/19
Artist: Freddie Mercury
Album: Mr. Bad Guy
Review Type: Reevaluation

Wild, wild take here, but this wasn’t that good an album. Yes, it has Freddie Mercury, giving it a high base score, but it doesn’t have the rest of Queen, which is what you needed. For instance, I Was Born To Love You as a Freddie solo track is sublime, but the full band version that was released as 1995’s posthumous cash grab, Made In Heaven, was even better.

That being said, when you consider the other disco-influenced, synth heavy album featuring Mercury, Hot Space, Mr. Bad Guy is a breath of fresh air. Living On My Own and There Must Be More To Life Than This are fantastic. But overall, it’s just not as amazing as your full-tilt Queen album. However, it’s just always so, so good to hear Freddie’s voice. We’ll never have another and that’s okay. He can never hurt us, never disappoint us. Somewhere in the cosmos lives a moustachioed man, singing I Was Born To Love You to the universe.

Rating: 7/10