ALBUM REVIEW: Horse Jumper of Love – Horse Jumper of Love

While the mention of horses brings an expectation of fast, strong and majestic, Boston slow rock trio Horse Jumper of Love have done quite the opposite on their self-titled debut. While it may pack the same strength and resilience of a stallion, the band’s songs seem to enjoy wallowing in their dreary, distorted mess of self-loathing with a slow tempo being the bread and butter of this LP.

From the get go, Horse Jumper Of Love will strike a chord with anyone who has listened to a grunge song in their life, Ugly Brunette setting the standards of what is for the most part an enjoyable listen, evoking the same gritty rawness of Glasgow up and comers Codist. The inspiration for the song itself might not be from any spark of genius, lead singer Dimitri Giannopoulos stated the track is about a t-shirt he owned when he was 11, but it does make you think that if the topic was of something a bit more interesting and personal that there would be more of an emotional edge to it.

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As it stands, Horse Jumper of Love is going to be a pretty divisive album and whilst it cannot be strongly recommended on the merit that you’ll enjoy it, it’s worth dipping your feet into if only to experience the occasional blips of slow building magic. More of a whinny than a triumphant gallop.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.

An out of nowhere release from Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar results in one of the most enjoyable listens of 2016

untitled unmastered
untitled unmastered. by Kendrick Lamar Release Date: 4/3/2016 | Label: TDE

 

2015 belonged to Kendrick Lamar. In a year full of police brutality and heated politics, To Pimp A Butterfly stood out as the jazz drenched perspective of a man from Compton who has witnessed both, an album that even now I’m struggling to put into words. If Good Kid, m.A.A.d city was the humble, fly on the wall film then To Pimp A Butterfly was the AAA sequel that threw the rule book out and rejuvenated a genre that many worried would soon stagnate.

With untitled unmastered seemingly coming out of nowhere just last week, many were confused as to what it was: is it a b-side album? Is it a proper studio release or a mixtape side project? Whilst these questions are all reasonable ones to ask, the biggest one of them all isn’t what it is but how Kendrick’s leftover scraps are enough to satisfy the listener more than most hip hop artists could ever dream with their LPs.

Unlike previous releases, untitled unmastered doesn’t have a running storyline or message to tell. In fact, the only remnants of any interwoven tale is the ever present cheer of “pimp, pimp, hooray” that appears on every song and justifiably so as this tracklist consists of unused and unreleased music that came about while Kendrick was recording To Pimp A Butterfly.

It’s painfully clear from the get go though as the heavy bassline full and cinematic opening track untitled 01 feels like it would have fit perfectly into his last LP. Not so much sugar coated as it is drenched in vivid imagery, Kendrick portrays the despair and destruction humanity as a whole brings and how he made TPAB for you to save mankind for you. The lyrics on here do feel like they’re coming full circle especially the previous one as the overall message Kendrick tried to send with TPAB regarding violence between blacks as well as racism: two issues that as they stand destroy lives as well as our society.

In addition to this, the rich and well polished sound of TPAB carries over onto untitled unmastered though as the title implies, it’s more raw but equally as enjoyable. You’ll still find that King Kunta synthesized bass that creates adrenaline almost instantaneously on untitled 08 but just a track previously, there’s untitled 08 that could have been ripped straight out of good kid, m.A.A.d city with an omnipresent darkness surrounding every second of the first half.

The second half of untitled 08 brings with it one of the few problems that untitled unmastered has and that seems to be an unavoidable one due to the nature of the LP: length. While the album comes in at an easy to digest 34 minutes, tracks like 08 and 03 are polar opposites of one another as the former lasts far too long, seriously testing your patience come the five minute mark while the latter seems like it could have been fleshed out into something even more remarkable than it already is. This along with a lack of variety in sound means that untitled unmastered is an album whose shortcomings come from what it is and not what it is trying to be.

Untitled unmastered is a tricky one to review. While it should be judged on its own merits, it’s nearly impossible not to consider what came before it which not only comes from the similar themes and sound but also how this album came out nearly a year after TPAB. It may seem like following up what is regarded as Kendrick’s magnum opus would reflect badly upon yourself but in fact, it does the opposite as untitled unmastered is what it is.

It is an extension of one of the greatest albums of this century, like a well crafted piece of DLC after you’ve finished your favourite video game or an after credits scene after a surprisingly good movie. It knows this and has fun while doing so, just like the listener will when giving this a spin.

8/10

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ALBUM REVIEW: Yung Lean – Warlord

Internet icon, nostalgia enthusiast and rapper Yung Lean releases his second LP that takes baby steps towards progression.

                 Warlord by Yung Lean | Release Date: 25th Feb 2016 | Label: Year0001

Ask someone what internet celebrities they know and they’re more than likely to mention your typical names: Tyler Oakley, Zoella, DanIsNotOnFire etc. Unlike these monumental figures, Yung Lean is more likely to utilise Youtube to rap about Pokemon and other Nintendo figures than he is to make a vlog which no doubt lead to him acquiring  a dedicated following of bucket hat loving sad boys and girls.

At the age of 19, Yung Lean, real name Jonatan Aron Leandoer Håstad, has done more for himself than most people his age with his own label and one studio album under his belt which comes down to not being lost in translation. Just like another fellow swede and internet icon, a little guy known as PewDiePie, Yung Lean has managed to be enjoyable to an international audience.

Whilst there’s not a total leap forward in terms of Lean evolving as an artist, he has been making music for the past three years after all, he has managed to make a sophomore album that is impressive in terms of productions. No doubt the standout feature of Warlord, there’s various moments where Lean delves into some dark territory with some haunting sounds that are very reminiscent of the approach Crystal Castles took on (III).

This may not be apparent on your first listen as the changes when comparing Warlord to Lean’s debut Unknown Memory only begin to standout after repeated listenings which you’ll find yourself doing with some of the tracks on offer here.

Let’s take Hoover for instance, one of the best tracks of the year so far with a very heavy , dirty synth beat and an abnormal chime that could have easily stood out of place if it appeared anywhere other than a Lean song. Shawty U Know What It Do may have a very dated and cliché name but the production value on this track on top of the leering bass and synthesizer results in a catchy glimmer of what I’d like to see more on this album.

For someone who isn’t even an adult yet, Lean seems to have his production down to near perfection which does make you think why he isn’t focusing on some other elements of his music, more specifically his vocal delivery which comes across as lazy and boring at times. Call it him still finding his footing when it comes to rapping in English but it sometimes paint the picture of him being named an internet rapper because he’s lying in bed when recording his songs rather than him displaying any sort of passion or emotion.

When all is said and done, Warlord is an album that benefits greatly from how the instrumentals sound and not the artist in question. Sub par vocals and a lack of variety when it comes to the aforementioned production results in Lean’s LP being very bittersweet: a glimmer of hope that he can break any prejudices people may have about him whilst at the same time being a struggle to get through at times.

5/10

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Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo ALBUM REVIEW

YEEZY SEASON APPROACHING

An album as lazy and messy as it is pristine and beautiful, Kanye follows up his 2013 LP Yeezus with less chicago drill and more ego fueled quips and tongue in cheek humour.

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IOU Review: January 2016

A new segment where I’ll be taking a look at any albums and singles I’ve missed over the month. Want something reviewed? Let me know via twitter.

Savages – Adore Life

IOU - Savages

There’s no easy way to address the elephant in the room when it comes to reviewing Savages latest album: this isn’t the same band we’re used to dealing with. The same untameable and aggressive bunch of women we loved to deal with on 2013’s Silence Yourself where we saw them providing face melting, punch in the face-like tracks like Husbands, Hit Me and No Face. 

Instead the band have decided to go against the bands path of turning it all the way up to 11 and toning it down a bit. Whilst there’s some moments where the band seem to tether back into old territory, for the most part it’s a much calmer, less serious sound that seems to struggle to be joyous and enjoyable, verging on bland and dull from time to time. This brings the albums overall quality down quite a bit though this all comes down to how the idea of a band once known for their ferocity letting their instincts take a back seat to take a breather.

6/10, For Fans Of: Foals, PJ Harvey

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DIIV – Is The Is Are

IOU - DIIV

Whilst every other publication under the sun can’t seem to review the latest album from New York City shoe-gazers DIIV without rambling on about the problems that faced the band, I’m gonna avoid it at all costs. There may be some relevancy between the issues and the subject matter in hand on their sophomore release but the glaring issue with this record is that it shows little of the promise that Dopamine showcased when it was released last year.

Spanning over 17 tracks lasting over an hour in total, DIIV can’t seem to justify the length of this controversy surrounded LP regardless of what glimmers of genuinely great music there is on show. Though Is The Is Are may address the issues regarding drugs in quite an enjoyable way, sadly the moments in which it does are too far and few between.

5/10, For Fans Of: Beach Fossils, Deerhunter

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Porches – Pool

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Every now and again, I’ll come across a seemingly innocent looking album that I don’t expect much from. Last year this was the case for Jamie XX and as you could tell from my end of year review, I was pleasantly surprised and whilst Porches recent LP may have not evoked the same levels of shock, it’s one that I had a thoroughly good time with.

In the sound department, twangy, poppy synths are littered throughout Pool that automatically get my mind racing to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs whilst on the lyrical playing field, we get talks about parties, isolation, depression and an abundance of metaphors to water and swimming pools. Pool is pretty much what I’d expect from Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero if it was ever adapted musically and that’s the greatest and most accurate compliment I can give this album, one that is sure to become one of the hidden gems of 2016.

8/10, For Fans Of: Metronomy, The XX

Mystery Jets – Curve Of The Earth ALBUM REVIEW

Staples of indie rock Mystery Jets return with a new psychedelic heavy sound but is it any good?

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Basement – Promise Everything ALBUM REVIEW

After a two year hiatus and teasing us with singles, Basement return with a third album full of melodic rock, gritty guitars and sublime vocal performances.

Bloc Party – Hymns ALBUM REVIEW

Hymns has Bloc Party with new members, new influences and a new sound. Real question: is it any good?

Album Review: David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)

Bowie recreates his sound and himself yet again on his latest and last album Blackstar which takes on a life of its own after his death.

 

CLASSIC REVIEW: The Strokes – Is This It

Whether you like to call it the 2000’s or the noughties,there’s no doubt that the decade was a very exciting time for music as not only were applauded albums by former well praised bands released, Radiohead’s Kid A as an example, but the new wave of bands not only surprised critics but intrigued them as well with bands like Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys releasing some of the best albums to be released in the past 15 years.

One band that can proudly admit to being a part of this new wave are The Strokes, an American rock band that hail from New York, who came out of nowhere to not only release one of the most exciting pieces of music in the past couple of decades but also change the face of modern rock as we know it.

Throughout this album, there’s an ever present mood and atmosphere that are wonderfully brought to life by various aspects of the band, be it Casablancas’ hauntingly mesmerising voice which narrates the 11 tracks on this album, the dexterous and dazzling guitar performances by Valensi, Hammond Jnr and Fraiture or Moretti’s consistent flow that he provides on drums.

The songs on this album are of a very high standard and observe the life and times of living in a metropolis such as New York City. A song which represents this very well is the opening track Is This It? that tells of the manipulation that relationships can be a victim of with Casablanca’s voice hovering gracefully over the sound of quiet drums and a calming choir of guitars and this same theme continues over to Last Nite. This track gained the band a lot of initial hype and tells of the disappointment and aggravation that relationships can provide over time with a very upbeat tempo which will stick in your mind long after the album is finished.

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New York City Cops is clearly a not so sly hit at the city’s police department with a tongue in cheek snort at the end that adds to the album’s unique charisma. Take It Or Leave It is the concluding track and what a send off it is with Casablancas shouting over a hyperactive clash of drums and guitars that provide a brilliant album for the band’s debut.

What else can be said about an album that hasn’t been said by the hundreds of thousands of people that have listened to it? The album not only provides an insight into life in New York City but also provides the kind of character and charm that most albums can only dream of having. The album is a milestone is music and it’s no surprise that the album is regarded as one of the best albums ever made and the thing that makes me appreciate the album is even though the themes on this album were initially to give an insight of a life in a metropolis, it’s oddly relatable and explains why the album is cherished by music lovers all around the world as well as showing why this album is the greatest record produced during the noughties.