Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Is it worth the hype? 

image

       
Nowadays, thanks to social media giants like Soundcloud and Youtube, it’s easier than ever for up and coming artists to gain attention from the public, One good example of this would be the famous (infamous?) Odd Future, most commonly known as OFWGKTA, a hip hop collective group from California led by rapper Tyler The Creator who’s controversial albeit entertaining behaviour gained the group a lot of attention for the right and wrong reasons. One of the most promising members from Odd Future is Earl Sweatshirt who gained praise for his self titled debut mix-tape which showed his potential and showed that he may be able to live up to the claim made by his ‘big brother’ Tyler who generated the initial buzz of hype. Unfortunately following the release of his mix-tape, he was sent to a boarding school in Samoa by his mother until he was 18, leaving many fans questioning what had happened and led to the creation of the Free Earl campaign. It’s no wonder that on his arrival, fans were anticipating the new material from a more talented and mature Earl, hoping that he could live up to the buzz being generated about him. So does Doris prove Earl’s potential?

Before I listened to Doris, I listened to Earl so that I could compare it to his newest piece of work to see if the time away spent in Samoa had damaged or improved Earl’s work. Sweatshirt himself admitted that he would never be able to better his track Earl so I went in with low expectations but I came out being more than happy with what I had listened to, more so than I had been with my personal favourite contender for rap album of the year Yeezus. It has to be said that the production value on this album is up to the standards you’d expect from an Odd Future release though many tracks excel due to the eerie vibe that they generate and create a great atmosphere. Earl himself has lived up to most of his potential with his flow still not disappointing and coming out with many memorable lines. Unlike Earl which was the work of a young and upcoming artist which still holds up to this day, Doris is a more personal album which can be seen on the track Burgundy where he briefly talks of his now deceased grandma and on Chum where he raps about how his Father’s departure from his life has had an effect on him. The cameos on this album are unsurprising and vary from dissapointing to amazing apart from Vince Staples who is on standout form on the tracks Hive and Centurion and is by far the best guest on this album. Other guests include Frank Ocean who features on the song Sunday and Tyler The Creator on Sasquatch though this track seems like something that could have been on Wolf as it gives off more of a Tyler vibe than an Earl one which is by no means a bad thing but on a debut album, Earl should be trying to be creating a unique charisma on Doris, which thankfully it does have, though the track itself is decent enough.

image

Doris shows that Sweatshirt has realised how far shock value can get you in this genre and has not only matured in his lyrics but also in his production value which shows on the tracks that he has produced and certifies himself as a force to be reckoned with and that he has a bright future ahead of him.

Biffy Clyro concert review

With the stage set, support act City and Colour thank the crowd and tell them to enjoy the rest of the night. It’s clear though from the chants of “Mon The Biffy” that the audience are already doing so and as bare-chested front-man Simon Neil appears on stage followed by band-mates James and Ben Johnston, the arena erupts into a deafening roar of applause and cheering that doesn’t settle down for the duration of the band’s two hour performance.

And for good reasons as well. The Scottish rock trio managed to gain a loyal fan-base during their first three defiantly alternative albums that have stuck by them. As well as this, there are the fans who discovered the band after the boys came across a classic stadium rock formula that has served them well with some top 40 singles in addition to their number 1 album Opposites. Some have called the band sell outs, most likely caused by X Factor winner Matt Cardle’s cover of their ballad Many of Horror but any band that’s decided to perform in a packed arena rather than a gloomy club has faced this issue at least once in their lifetime.

Despite all the mainstream success, the boys prove that they haven’t strayed away from their roots. “If anyone’s still sitting, get off your arse, this is a rock ‘n’ roll show!” snarls a sweat ridden Simon Neil who acts as an example to the crowd as he clamours over equipment and puts on such a strong vocal performance that it seems that his vessels might burst at any moment with his consistent throaty shouting.

It’s not just Simon who was showing his worth though. Ben Johnston gave a tremendous performance on drums, his skilful bombardments on the drum kit seemed like child’s play to him and left fans in awe. Brother James provided back up vocals, another set of throat vessels to be wary of, and gave a stellar display on bass guitar which proves that he’s one of the best bassists Britain has to offer.

The backbone of every concert though is the setlist and Biffy’s was sublime. Nei’ls rough voice from the many nights of touring still managed to come across as sincere on some of the more emotional tracks such as Black Chandelier, a song about lost love that strikes a chord with the crowd as they sing along word for word. These calm moments are far and few between, the majority of the night spent moshpitting along to a whole heap of monumental tracks such as the rarely played “A Day Of..” and “Glitter and Trauma”.

Just like any rock band that are worth their money, Biffy also had other stage props that were utilised well during their gig. Whether it was the obvious yet wonderful use of a bubble machine during, you guessed it, “Bubbles” or the flurry of blue and white confetti during the illustrious closer “Mountains”, none of them were distractions and all helped to add to the experience. Some other honourable mentions are the screens that, during the chorus of “Sounds Like Balloons”, displayed the innards of a human body with blood pumping as Simon sings “the sand at the core of our bones”. Again, this doesn’t distract from the song but adds to it instead.

There’s been many that have doubted the band’s ability to perform at a headliner level of quality, the clear example being Nine Inch Nail’s front man Trent Reznor. “We’ll show you exactly who the fuck we are and why Biffy Clyro belong above Nine Inch Nails.” said Simon Neil during an interview with Q magazine. After tonight’s performance, the band has shown that they’re a world class act that are a force to be reckoned with.