BoJack Horseman & Loss

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

*Spoilers ahead*

It’s become common knowledge that BoJack Horseman has become an anomaly in of itself: starting off as a seemingly normal albeit crude show about the titular alcoholic horse, voiced by Will Arnett, no one could have possibly guessed how the Netflix original would become not only one of the funniest shows on TV but also one of the most depressing. 

It’s assumed that if you’re reading this that you’re familiar with this show but if not, here’s a quick synopsis: in a world where humanoid animals and, well, humans live side by side, BoJack Horseman takes us to the city of Hollywoo where our eponymous, culturally forgotten protagonist attempts to reclaim the fame he had during the 90’s and make a come-back.

With support from characters such as his feline manager Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), homeless but wholesome friend Todd (Aaron Paul), ghost-writer and kindred spirit Diane (Alison Brie) as well as sitcom “rival” Mr Peanutbutter ( Paul F. Tompkins), the show avoids putting all its eggs in one basket and diversifies its cast to show a truly varied world with a whole host of interesting perspectives.

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While this setting sounds like one that would be rife with laughs, and it definitely does so with its twenty jokes per minute attitude, the satirical series has hit on a lot of hard notes over its run, none more so than in its latest season that aired last Friday. With all the promotional material revolving around the absence of our lead, “where is BoJack” being the tagline, many assumed this would leave a void in the show and though it didn’t, it gave viewers their first taste of a season revolving around loss.

Last time we saw BoJack, he was over-encumbered with grief even if it wasn’t apparent: having lost one of the last people to care about him via a drug literally named after him, pushing away all of his loved ones and his acting going without academy recognition, one of the few things the sombre lead ever thought he was good at, it wasn’t looking good. Ruining everything around him, it’s not until given some harsh love that BoJack finally realises what’s causing all of this – it’s him.

You can’t keep doing this! You can’t keep doing shitty things, and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay! You need to be better! … No! No, BoJack, just stop. You are all the things that are wrong with you. It’s not the alcohol, or the drugs, or any of the shitty things that happened to you in your career, or when you were a kid. It’s you. All right? It’s you. – Todd

Season 4 sees BoJack on what can only be seen as his last life-line and life isn’t making it any easier: episode two sees him return to his grandparent’s home while flashbacks reveal to us how the grief and torment he has faced have been inflicted by a mother who faced the same. In addition to this, a fly who he befriends named Eddie is a mirrored version of BoJack, eventually revealing to have lost his wife and explicitly stating that he wants to die. This moment hits home as an ultimatum of sorts – BoJack can continue with his downward spiral alone or return to the place that has been described as a “tar pit” by the show. He may have a choice but much like a Telltale game, this illusion of having a real say only entertains this idea of having control.

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When he eventually returns to Hollywoo, it seems like the characters there have found this out all too late. Mr Peanutbutter and Diane’s marriage is hanging on by a tether, their only moments of intimacy arising from hatred-fuelled actions which stems from the two of them feeling lost and having no way to get out: our favourite Labrador Retriever is being made to run for Governor, a role he admits he has no idea about, while Diane finds herself in a workplace where her hard hitting pieces are given less priority in comparison to click-bait pieces about sex. When she finally gets the chance to do what she wants and reclaim some command, she threatens to ruin the only good thing that has ever happened to her and time will only tell if that’s the case.

One of the few upbeat things about last season was Princess Carolyn’s story-line, seeing the pink feline becoming the strong woman she always was capable of being but never had the chance to. With a new rodent love interest in the shape of Ralph Stilton, it seemed like no matter what challenges that our anthropomorphic ensemble faced this time, we’d still have one bit of positivity throughout.

It feels like that’s exactly the case, at least from the start as the couple try for a baby but as Carolyn finally meets her partner’s family, resulting in this universe’s equivalent to animal racism, as well as her own paranoia, this all eventually ends up as more of a 500 Days of Summer kind of segment than a rom-com kind. The fact that Carolyn still soldiers on, and has her actions set up what’ll no doubt be the premise of Season 5, shows that while she’s faced negativity for years, she isn’t about to let the pit drown her, meaning we don’t end up with a show full of BoJacks.

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There’s plenty of other characters moments that add to this loss, BoJack’s mother could be a whole piece in of itself, but it’s worth noting that while most of these characters have little say in what’s happening, it’s not all bad. Todd has consistently been the ying to BoJack’s yang and while it seemed like his negativity would rub off on our lovely beanie wearing buddy, it thankfully hasn’t.

Struggling with accepting his asexuality, Todd finds himself not being able to cope with this revelation from last season’s finale but as the show progresses, one of the oddest story-lines revolving around clown dentists and dentist clowns culminates into one of acceptance and romance. If this is the first mainstream representation of asexuality then it’s hard to think of one done better than seen on this show.

BoJack is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally complex characters and shows in TV, easily sitting alongside the likes of The Sopranos and Tony, and loss has played a huge part in making him who he is – for better of for worse. However, as this season draws to an end and we see our final shot of him before another year long wait, we see a smile: something as rare as an eclipse and one that feels just as important for our protagonist. Much like the disastrous political year that the show clearly parodies, BoJack somehow keeps hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel no matter how bleak things may seem.

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Five Essential Steely Dan Solos by Walter Becker

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

Living hard will take its toll” sang the backup vocalists on Steely Dan’s Glamour Profession on the group’s (first) farewell album Gaucho.  Donald Fagen and Walter Becker knew this all too well; as the Glimmer Twins’ nerdy, jazzy alter egos, the duo’s profligacy ran rampant across the 1970s before impelling the group into dissolution in 1981.  After several reformations and breakups over the next three decades and an undeniably storied career, it was announced on September 3rd that Walter Becker had passed away.  And though Becker’s website refrains from listing the cause of death, one can only imagine that his past addictions played a hand in his untimely passing.

Fronting a revolving door of accomplished musicians, Fagen and Becker were long recognized as the two-headed chieftain behind Steely Dan’s inimitable sound.  But with Becker relegated primarily to bass guitar and background vocals, it’s easy to dismiss him as the Art Garfunkel of ‘70s jazz rock.

On the contrary, Walter Becker was just as instrumental in the Steelies’ musical identity as Fagen, co-penning lyrics that both limned drugged-out low-lives as persecuted heroes and created the occasional inroads to the beau monde.  More aloof onstage than his lead vocalist counterpart, Becker never had to vie for the spotlight, as his role in the band was always well understood.  And as Dan’s career progressed, his presence became increasingly salient, as evidenced by his indispensable guitar work on the following songs.

  1. Pretzel LogicPretzel Logic (1974)

Becker’s first documented solo in the group, his musicianship seems deceptively tentative on those first couple bars.  Initially slow and unassuming, it’s clear this is not the work of lead guitarist Jeff Baxter.  But as the song swells to accommodate Becker’s bluesy noodling, his prowess becomes indisputable.  Featuring one sour note on the song’s outro, Pretzel Logic is a document of perhaps the band’s only mistake in the studio, but it remains one of Steely Dan’s most memorable solos.

  1. Black FridayKaty Lied (1975)

Cutting through the sheen of the rest of the band’s polished production, Becker’s fuzzed-out guitar-god riffing immediately takes command of the song upon its first appearance.  Languid, confident, and absolutely electric, the song stands out as one of the group’s most engaging blues indulgences, due in no small part to Walter Becker’s nonpareil guitar sound.

  1. Bad SneakersKaty Lied (1975)

In spite of a chorus featuring an almost Zappa-esque lyrical phrasing that all but alters its time signature, Bad Sneakers’s warm R&B piano on its verses and the lugubrious Michael McDonald vocals on the second pre-chorus establishes the song as a work of sympathy rather than cynicism.  Over the bridge’s two-chord progression, Becker exhibits a stentorian sound that not only complements the pathos of the song, but also documents Becker at his jazziest.

  1. The FezThe Royal Scam (1976)

The Royal Scam introduced funk into Steely Dan’s palette when it was released in 1976.  And on The Fez, the band’s PSA for safe sex (which starkly contrasted the lifestyle Fagen and Becker led at the time), Becker yet again showcases his predilection for guitar distortion while creating a sound consistent with the rest of his bandmates.  He seems to be dueling with the keyboard that appears intermittently during this solo, yet by the time the song’s main riff reemerges, the entire ensemble yields to Becker and his sleek/jagged guitar enigma.

  1. JosieAja (1977)

Boasting what is perhaps the Steelies’ sexiest riff, Josie is one of the band’s most memorable album closers.  With its laser-precision funk rhythm guitar, an ethereal synth that instantly merges with the song’s brass section, and lyrics that indefatigably praise its titular heroine, Josie proves a quintessential Steely Dan song.  Becker’s guitar solo on the track begins with a repetition of Fagen’s vocal melody, but soon careens into far more beguiling territory that effectively distills his love of blues, rock, and jazz into one shimmering gestalt.


There isn’t anything outwardly cool about Steely Dan, despite their dark sunglasses and super rad long hair.  Even in the ‘70s as stadium rock dominated the zeitgeist, the jazz-rock ensemble avoided anything resembling youth culture and effectively alienated themselves from the most voracious (and profitable) consumer demographic.  It’s telling that John Mulaney’s and Nick Kroll’s Oh, Hello Broadway show about two curmudgeonly septuagenarian New Yorkers constantly reiterates the fact that its stars are huge Dan fans.  Steely Dan’s music was mature, it was opaque, and thanks to the presence of Walter Becker, it was completely electrifying.

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LOOKING BACK ON…PUZZLE BY BIFFY CLYRO

By Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

So many legendary albums are by bound together by the fact that they have become inseparable from their “story” and how they were created. Think of Radiohead’s seminal OK Computer, and you’ll think of Thom Yorke’s paranoia after constant touring and his fears of technology. Think of Nirvana’s legendary In Utero and you’ll think of Kurt’s drug addiction, depression and demise, shortly after the record’s release.

Biffy Clyro’s 4th LP, Puzzle is one of those albums. Puzzle was written after the death of frontman Simon Neil’s mother, so lyrically, the record deals heavily with loss and grief, and the record’s weighty subject matter has led to Neil calling it the band’s most important record. Celebrating its 10th birthday (or anniversary, depending on your preference), Biffy’s fourth album has proved crucial to their discography (and career) in the years since its 2007 release.

The whole album deals with aspects of Neil’s grief but the track that deals with this subject matter most explicitly is Folding Stars, a beautiful ballad which opens with finger-picked guitar lines and builds to a big chorus which hears Neil shouting his mum’s name, followed by the beautiful tribute “you will be folding stars”.

Folding Stars is undoubtedly the album’s most “crucial” track for a whole host of reasons, not just the lyrical content. Puzzle is the first album that Biffy made on a major label after moving to 14th Floor Records and, for a band who claim they have always worked in trilogies, marked the start of their second trilogy.

Puzzle sees the Ayrshire trio embrace their pop sensibilities more than their first three records and places less emphasis on abstract prog-rock anthems which trademarked the band’s first trilogy. Folding Stars is the album’s poppiest track, which songwriter Simon Neil alluded to in an interview where he said “It’s probably the prettiest song we’ve ever written as a band…that was the one on the record that needed to be absolutely perfect and I know she (Neil’s mum) would love that song”.

Biffy’s move into mainstream territory paid dividends: Puzzle shot to number 2 in the UK album charts and appeared on multiple end-of-year lists in 2007. What has enabled this record to stand the test of time is just how well Simon Neil and twins Ben and James Johnston managed to merge their complex, angular songwriting into more regular song structures, without diluting what people loved so much about Biffy’s earlier works.

Anyone who claims that the trio “sold out” should be pointed in the direction of the album’s opener, the soaring Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies, which opens with eerie violins and a minute of irregular guitar strums, before an anthemic chorus where Simon Neil is echoed by a choir. Musically, it’s perhaps the most “Biffy Clyro” song that Biffy Clyro have ever written, as it is impossible to speak about without throwing up words such as “bonkers” or “bizarre”.

Further proof of the band’s left-field roots is seen on Get Fucked Stud, perhaps the album’s heaviest moment, where an almost menacingly smooth instrumental transition into a blood-and-thunder chorus, with Neil’s aggressive vocals sounding almost confrontational.

While these tracks showcase the fact that the band hadn’t lost their edge, they feel unmistakably like a Biffy Clyro 2.0, and the lyrics have a massive hand in this. The Ayrshire trio’s first 3 records were loved for many reasons but the lyrics were rarely one of them. However, on Puzzle, every line feels more considered and more poetic as a result.

As Dust Dances is one of the best examples of the musical and lyrical progression that can be seen on Puzzle. The track begins with a pretty straightforward instrumental, but Biffy’s prog-rock roots can be heard as the track builds to a huge crescendo, which feels even more immense with a focus on Neil’s lyrics. Throughout, Neil personifies death in the chorus lyrics of “it’s bigger than everything it decides to touch”, a poetic but terrifying observation of mortality. The crescendo then hears Neil echoing “It’s such a lonely ride”, exemplifying the pessimistic state he found himself in after his mother’s death.

Despite the impression from tracks like Living is a Problem… and As Dust Dances, Puzzle isn’t a “depressing” album on the whole. In fact, the record contains some of the band’s most “fun” songs in their entire discography. Saturday Superhouse and Who’s Got a Match? Cannot be described as anything but “fun”, and have grown into favourites in Biffy’s famed live show. The latter has a punchy, catchy instrumental, with a guitar line that has an almost exotic feel to it, and Neil’s playful vocal performance makes the track even more enjoyable.

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A tribute that must be paid to Puzzle is that 10 years and 3 studio albums later, so many of this album’s tracks are still mainstays in Biffy’s aforementioned live sets. Living is a Problem now stands out as one of the more obscure tracks in the set, and tracks like Get Fucked Stud and Semi-Mental display the band’s more aggressive sets.

However, Puzzle didn’t just add to Biffy’s live set, it also played a part in developing their live shows. Stunning album closer Machines is a live staple, where twins Ben and James Johnston depart the stage and leave frontman Neil to perform the bare-bones acoustic number. The track feels like a sequel to Folding Stars and the lyrics of Neil regaining his optimism are among the band’s best, including the almost iconic chorus lyric “take the pieces and build them skywards” which countless Biffy fans and fanatics have had tattooed since 2007.

Tracks like Machines and Folding Stars obviously stick out as slow songs in the live set but more than that – they add an emotional depth to Biffy’s live shows, which has been expanded in recent years with tracks like Many of Horror and Re-arrange, which now feel crucial to the band’s performances, including now iconic Reading and T in the Park headline slots.

The best indicator of how important the record is to Biffy and their fans can be seen on the left rib of all 3 band members and of countless fans: a tattoo of the missing puzzle piece has become a badge of honour for Biffy fans and it’s easy to see why: Puzzle feels nothing short of Biffy Clyro’s most important album.


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CLICKBAIT COP: The Guardian – Days Of Moshpit Numbered?

While this series may be titled clickbait cop, we’ll be using this title to explore pieces of music journalism or news that we feel needs criticised to some degree, even if the headline in question may not be ‘clickbait’.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

While it may feel weird to start off a piece such as this praising the creator of today’s culprit, credit must be given where credit is due. In this Guardian piece, titled ‘are the days of the moshpit numbered?, writer Hannah Ewens begins by reminiscing on her days of getting bashed and sweaty in numerous moshpits during her youth, a stark contrast to ‘journalism’ we’ve covered before which came off as mindless moaning about staples of gigging.

In fact, the first few paragraphs actually start to weave something of a strong narrative, exploring the concept of safe spaces at gigs which aren’t inherently laughable as shown by the example of progressive, talented bands trying to implement such a thing. It’s a strange old world when a left-leaning newspaper is producing better music features than something like the NME, a former cornerstone of the market. 

It’s not until we get to the eighth paragraph, about two-thirds of the way through the piece in question, though, where your bobbing head will start to become a stern shake from left to right. The quote in question that will incite this isn’t the one you may expect the white man writing this reply to get angry at, “biggest defenders of moshpits are usually straight men“, rather it’s the following line which reads:

Most women I know who go to shows are either agnostic or hate them.

This is the point where I started to question what I was reading more than usual. To use the same thinking as Ewens, most women I know are on the complete other end of the spectrum when it comes to pits, notably twitter user @leerkat who said “it’s like people don’t understand there’s a whole world of moshing between toxic hypermasculine crowd killing and pits you can find at PUP or Menzingers”. She’s not alone in thinking this as many users seem to disagree with this piece, noting that people other than men can go just as hard in pits as them and feel like, in a sense, that it is their safe space. A particular comment that I’d like to point out comes from the Guardian’s very own comment section from user Hazelthecrow:

HZ

To build on leerkat’s aforementioned point, Ewens seems to be unaware, whether this is intentional or not I don’t know, of the progression made in terms of moshpits. No longer is there a laissez-faire attitude of trying to hit everyone around you and letting anyone who crosses you fend for themselves on the floor, covered in all sorts of liquids. Instead, a lot of it is far more polite while still maintaining that adrenaline of cathartically moshing around, forgetting all of your problems: one side doesn’t negate the other and it’s still possible to just let loose while still respecting those around you, especially women. In addition to this, moshpits are purely opt-in, opt-out: it’s as easy to get into one as it is to get out and it’s not hard to know how to spot one when a huge opening in the middle appears for a circle pit. There’s a total sense of camaraderie that is unprecedented in the live scene when it comes to modern moshing and to brush it off as nothing but a cesspool of toxic masculinity is both naive and foolish. 

One other thing worth mentioning is the example of Code Orange’s gig where a man wearing steel toe-capped left a woman with a broken jaw amongst multiple other injuries. This instance is absolutely deplorable and represents another type of moshing known as hardcore dancing, or HxC, another topic for another day, but one that doesn’t link into the type of scene the examples Ewens is using. From what’s been said, the whole aim of these types of pits is to intentionally hurt those around you but is only really seen in metalcore and deathcore shows which isn’t to excuse the instance, rather point out a narrative flaw since the piece seems to be talking about good old rock shows than these.

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Many replied to this piece already, stating that there are already safe spaces at gigs such as up near the back, beside the sound deck and near the barrier right by the security. While these people aren’t totally in the wrong, maybe venues should draw more attention to these areas so that those who want a safe space can have so without damaging the experience of others. On top of this, security should be given the relative training to deal with instances of assault which sadly still happen far too frequently. Sexual assault at gigs is a major problem and I respect the fact that it seems to be the reason behind Ewens thinking.

The honest truth though is that mosh pits aren’t the reason for it: it’s entitled, gross sacks of shit guys who are. Removing moshpits not only would do nothing at all to prevent assault but would instead punish the usual gig goer and many women and men who feel safest in there. Everyone wants others to enjoy going to a gig and the sooner we stamp out this epidemic of assault at gigs which organisations such as Girls Against are helping to do, the better. In the meantime though, let’s keep a staple of gigs alive, support our brothers and sisters in the pit, not look down our nose at an entire gender who love to mosh just as much as everyone else and stomp out any slimy, sexist pigs in our scene.


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RANKED: Kanye West

Kanye West is the embodiment of infamy: since day one, the Chicago rapper has brought controversy with him wherever he goes, dividing the public with his antics and rants. Despite this, it’s hard to think of an artist who has had more of an influence and impact on music in the 21st century quite like Mr. West had. To commemorate the man’s career thus far, everyone in the blinkclyro team has put their heads together, democratically voted and have had their say on the best and the worst of his discography. Quick disclaimer: this is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling. Without further ado, let’s get into our zone and rank…


9. Cruel Summer

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Yes, it’s a compilation. Yes, there’s filler. Yes, it’s not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination but Cruel Summer delivers Kanye West in his “pure hits” form, bringing along his friends from the Good Music label for the ride and the results are worth your attention: Mercy.1 is a particular highlight, opening up with a haunting sample from Fuzzy Jones, and then there’s the mandatory appearance of DJ Khaled on Cold.1, backing up Kanye’s frosty flow with an equally chill beat. Cruel Summer is flawed, that there is no doubt about, but the album is still worth a listen to, regardless if it’s not essentially a “Kanye Album”.Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


8. Late Registration

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The only real fault of Late Registration isn’t really anything to do with the album itself. Unfortunately, it got sandwiched in-between The College Dropout and Graduation, two albums that are so vastly different that it makes LR’s task of standing out all the more difficult. LR still had the same heart and knack for making tunes but it felt like more of a music DLC than it did a full blown follow up to TCD. That aside, LR is still a fine piece of music, sadly given the position of forgotten middle child in the first trio of Kanye’s discography. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


7. The College Dropout

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West’s first album is often considered his best by some for its often humorous tone, impressive wordplay, and breathtaking sampling. When The College Dropout dropped in the middle of the bling era of hip-hop, it sounded like nothing the rap world had heard yet. Not only was Kanye’s lyrics on par, his production was incredible and was able to move it’s way into the mainstream pop market while still appealing to hardcore hip-hop heads. The now legendary Chicago artist was able to commentate on the education system in America while establishing a name for himself as a confident MC through hefty bars and catchy hooks. To this day, it stands out as one of the best hip-hop debuts of all time. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

Honestly, I expected this to be in a far higher position. Not only is The College Dropout one of Kanye’s wittiest and charismatic releases to date, it’s also one of his most polished, showing that right off the bat that West was capable of delivering great produced music much like he had done behind the scenes. Balancing bangers with introspective gems, as well as having the best Kanye West song of all time on it, The College Dropout gets my vote for being some of Kanye’s best work to date. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


6. The Life of Pablo
kanye-west-the-life-of-pablo

“TLOP is probably now my most listened to Kanye album, really connected with it and loved how different it was.” – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

While he may have a tendency to have a social media breakdown just as regular as his wife will post a selfie and his ambitions may have resulted in him accumulating a great amount of debt, there’s no doubt a great sense of this being art. Just like the most prolific artists who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, Kanye has crafted a record that radiates hip hop greatness embedded with a gospel sound as well as his own, despite the few times he colors outside of the lines. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


5. Watch The Throne

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“Watch The Throne really reminds me of my early teens: Otis started playing on a music channel when I was abroad one year with my family and my sister and I still adore it five years later.” – Becky Little (@sometimesboring)


4. 808’s And Heartbreak

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“808’s and Heartbreaks will always have a special place in my heart because it was an album that came out at the perfect time when I was younger, listened to it on repeat.”  Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

“808’s and Heartbreaks blew me away when it came out. It was one of the first CDs I bought with my own money so it’ll always have a piece of my heart devoted solely to it.” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)


3. Yeezus

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Abrasive, crude and sometimes angelic, Kanye created a beast of a record, unlike anything he has released thus far. Influences from alternative hip-hop to acid house fill the 40-minute album and make Yeezus the most shocking release in West’s career since 808’s. Yeezus’s lyrics range from harsh braggadocio to intensely sexual and stand out as some of West’s most controversial lyrics that can come off as cringey at times, while not throwing off the tone of the album. Despite West’s harsh lyricism, Yeezus is a dark horse that powers through from start to finish with such force. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)


2. Graduation

Image result for graduation kanye

Graduation is, simply put, banger central. Big Brother, Flashing Lights, Stronger, Good Life, fucking HOMECOMING. Not the best produced Kanye album, nor the most advanced in terms of rhyming ability but I love it to death all the same. – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

Kanye’s third LP is, in my eyes, one of his weakest. However, the importance of context is on full display here as bearing in mind the time of Graduation’s release, autotuned braggadocious hip-hop was all the rave and Kanye seemed to be focused on flinging his hat into the ring. Hit after hit after hit, Graduation holds no punches on priding itself in Kanye’s ability to tap into the public’s minds and making their favourite new chart hit well before they even thought of it. I may not be its biggest fan but when you take it for what it is, it’s hardly a letdown.  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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“You can’t say anything about MBDTF that hasn’t already been said, and that’s a testament to the album. It’s easy to forget that people thought Kanye was done after the Taylor Swift incident but MBDTF is the way to respond. Don’t know any albums (from any genre) that sum up an artist’s personality as well as that record does, and when the artist concerned is Kanye West then that’s vividly entertaining, ranging from tracks as braggadocious as Monster to as vulnerable as Runaway.” Andrew Barr (@weeandrewww)

“Peak Kanye in all aspects, this album combines just the right amount of ego with typically impressive production and enough variety and scope to give us the best album Kanye could offer before and since and probably for the rest of his career.” – Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Kanye reaches blissful highs on tracks like Lost in the World and Runaway to stadium anthems on Power and All of the Lights to the dismal grimy beats on So Appalled and Hell of a Life. With his 5th studio album, the legendary artist created not only his best album but one of the best hip-hop records of all time. With some of the best production of the decade, iconic lyricism and well-placed features, West created his magnum opus and topped both his earlier catalog and most hip-hop artists of this generation. – Ryan Martin (@Ryanmartin182)

“MBDTF absolutely speaks for itself, as a complete work it’s potentially the best album in history and it definitely has a fair shout in being the best hip hop album ever as well. Apart from HOV’s verse on Monster ” – Jake Cordiner (@JJJJAKETH)

“MBDTF speaks for itself, start to finish gold.” – By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)


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LOOKING BACK AT…CHERRY BOMB by TYLER THE CREATOR

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

I got into Tyler, the Creator through his third album Wolf. The story-telling and large concept of Tyler having loads of different characters he raps through drew me into his world and his music and I backtracked and listened to it all. Finding out his amazing talent of producing, playing loads of instruments and producing his albums almost entirely alone, while putting his own artist interpretation on everything was something I’ve always admired. 2 years ago he released CHERRY BOMB, and I had high expectations. Said to be based about the drive to the movie theater to see a movie, I was very intrigued to see how would play out.

The two lead singles from the album, the first track DEATHCAMP, and tenth track FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT were good indications of how the album was gonna sound overall. I was very excited by DEATHCAMP as a large majority of his music before this album was hip-hop based and electronic, but having the opening chords to the album from an electric guitar got me really excited. The loud angry lyrics were back and I knew it was going to be a good album from the first few lines. Comparisons to Yeezus and Death Grips were unavoidable due to the brashness and unfiltered nature of the sound but that isn’t exactly a negative. DEATHCAMP was added to his anthem style songs that performed live would be intense!

FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT on the other hand replaces the flashiness with a more chilled out and heartwarming aesthetic, describing this girl he fell in love who he thought was just too young for him, regardless of that fact she’s faultless in Tyler’s eyes. Having both a soft and hard hitting songs is something I always enjoy from an artist because you can see their full potential from a variety of different angles, something that the Odd Future ringleader has displayed repeatedly during his career (after all, we got Answer on the same album as Domo 23).

I was pumped for this album to come out, based on the first few songs, so when the album came out I listened to it on repeat for weeks: considering it released bang near the end of Spring, it was perfectly timed to dictate my summer listening. Playing it at parties with friends only certified that Tyler still had what it takes to orchestrate a good time. Unlike some of Tyler’s songs, the tracks that appear on Cherry Bomb still stand strong, especially the more instrumentally dense tracks like 2SEATER and FIND YOUR WINGS with the latter being the underlining meaning of the whole album. Tyler posted this in 2014, before the album came out, talking about being yourself, embracing yourself and loving yourself:

Tyler has always been brash, loud and offensive, with lyrics about rape, murder and sexual actions (which were all just through a character’s voice in his narrative!!) and that has always landed him in bad water with the media eg. being banned from performing in the UK and Australia. However, all the controversy in a way only made him a bigger star. It hasn’t put a break on his successful stab into the fashion industry with his clothing line GOLFWANG though he hasn’t given up on the music, most recently featuring on Frank Ocean’s new track Biking. The album as a whole is really good in my eyes.

However, sometimes it’s hard to hear his vocals and I know he has said the reason being is that ‘thats how I wanted to mix it so I did’ which I respect. Some of the songs haven’t carried over too well over these past two years but I’m still listening to most of the album and was only rapping along to DEATHCAMP the other night at a house party. Here’s to hoping he releases more music soon, and the ban gets lifted or ends so I can get freaky at his shows!

7.5/10


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Is Harry Styles really the next Bowie?

By Brogan McKeown (Writer @ LPD) and Oli Butler (@notloliverbutler)

Brogan: Harry Styles has released his debut solo single and already I have a lot of opinions on it. Is it really what we were all expecting? Is there much more to this single release than meets the eye? Oli and I sure think so. 

Oli: Whilst arguably this should be a bit of a talking heads piece where we both cheerily discuss and banter our way through the finer points of yet another debut single from yet another breakaway member of the imploded marketing campaign, One Direction, I’m more than willing to side with Brogan here. Already with some foaming at the mouth, declaring him to be the next David Prince-Jagger-Lennon-Cher, it’s high time for a hearty dose of calm the fuck down here. 

Brogan: Firstly, let’s start with the name. Sign of the Times– fab name! If only it hadn’t been done before. The name is clearly a direct reference to Prince’s Sign O’ The Times and it has become SO blatantly apparent that his team is trying to sell him as the next Prince, and, as we have seen in news articles, the next Bowie too. That would be all fine and well- if we could actually see how he is similar to them.

Oli: Ah yes, what an inventive name Sign of the Times is. Not identical to Prince‘s Sign O’ the Times (Released as Sign O’ t’Times in Yorkshire), the all knowing record company have swapped o’ for of to really distinguish between the two song titles. Whilst I’m well aware of and accepting that song titles will often repeat themselves and that’s just par for the course in such an expansive musical universe, how fucking stupid do you think we are to package a solo boyband artist as the next Prince and pinch one of the dead man’s song titles for good measure. Whilst the purple velvet strings around Prince’s back catalogue have been loosened, allowing you to throw D.M.S.R in a pre-drink Spotify queue, pinching one of his song titles is a bit much. 

Brogan: The same thing, selling Harry Styles to be like anyone other than himself, happened to Styles when he was in One Direction. His team so desperately tried to pitch him as the next Mick Jagger with his dress sense and photo shoots. But did it work? I don’t think so. I don’t know how he could be compared to such independent thinking artists who were ever changing and innovative. To me, Harry Styles is an image that his team use to sell songs. I can’t help but feel we don’t know who he actually is? WHO IS THE REAL HARRY STYLES?! 

Image result for mick jagger harry styles

Oli: We will never see another Prince or Bowie in the same way we’ll never see another Kanye or Kendrick, and why? Because they were and are icons, innovators who didn’t play the game they were in, they rewrote the rule book altogether. Whilst they’ll influence future generations both directly and indirectly, it’s detrimental to suggest that [new artist] is the next [icon] on both sides of the coin. Why? On the one hand, it merely says that this brand new artist with plenty to offer the musical world now has no identity and is just the Saturday night tribute act, and on the other hand, you’ve turned to millions of fans around the world and said that your icon has now been replaced, quite quickly, by someone you’ve just heard of. 

Brogan: After seeing all that promo from his team after the single was released, I decided to listen to it. Now, I’m not trying to slag off the song by any means, but it never fit the bill for me. It seemed very forced and not how I expected him to sound at all- maybe I thought this purely on what I was reading before I listened! I couldn’t see any Bowie similarities in there and the only thing that would liken him to Prince was the song title! I was surprised not to hear anything even remotely similar. Perhaps a failed marketing campaign from his team on this one.  

Oli: Whilst this track is not a bad track by any stretch of the imagination, what’s sullied this track for me is that they’ve tried to market him as two of music’s biggest icons at once. Furthermore, every soulless record executive in the world probably rubbed their hands with glee when both men passed away, knowing that there was an easy sellable Greatest Hits bonus in their next paycheque. 

Image result for kendrick kanye

Brogan: He should have been pitched him as purely Harry Styles. I say this because he has millions and millions of fans out there who would jump at the chance to buy and listen to work by him. People everywhere would have wanted to hear what Harry Styles sounds like- what’s his style? Former bandmate, Zayn Malik, released his solo work and everyone went crazy. Purely because it was Zayn in his own right- he even said that this is the type of work he wanted to do all along, which made me think a lot at that time too. Are these boys always going to be a product of their marketing team? Are they always going to be told how to look/sound in order to sell money? Has Harry not managed to break free from this yet? It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Mr Styles and his solo career. 

Oli: Such a move is not the fault of Harry Styles himself. He’s probably just a lad who wants to sing songs and obviously walk away with a sack of money that would make a game of Monopoly look frugal, but has left selling the track he’s made in the hand of record executives, record producers, and soulless marketers to make sure that they maximise profits for themselves, completely stripping both Harry Styles and his music of any identity. They’ve seen a floppy haired white boy, slapped a load of bumper stickers that say “PRINCE!” “BOWIE!” “YOU LIKE!” all over him and thrown him into our faces, not actually allowing to carve out an identity of his own. Harry Styles can have something truly wonderful here: his own identity. Not just one of the boys from One Direction, not just another face and voice used to sell records, he can be his own man, his own talent and shape his own destiny, but if he is forever left to be packaged as your next icon, his best hope is not featuring on a “Where Are They Now?!” article on, oh, I don’t know, Buzzfeed.


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On A Lighter Note: The Funniest Simpsons Moments (Part 2)

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

As bloggers will argue night and day about what is the best program ever to be aired on television, it’s likely that The Simpsons will be missed out in favour of your Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad though that shouldn’t be the case. While animation tends to get the cold shoulder when it comes to serious recognition, there aren’t many programs like Matt Groening’s yellow cult classic hit.

Back in July, I touched on all the times the show left us a little bit teary eyed though it’s the moments that left us clutching at our sides, bursting with laughter that we all tend to remember most fondly when thinking about one of the longest-running sitcoms on television. Seeing as part one was so well received, it’s time to do what Hollywood does best and make an unnecessary sequel: without further ado, let’s do it!


Lawyer: Robert, if released, would you pose any threat to one Bart Simpson?
Sideshow Bob: Bart Simpson? The spirited little scamp who twice foiled my evil schemes and sent me to this dank, urine-soaked hellhole?”
Jail Representative: Uh, we object to the term “urine-soaked hellhole”, when you could have said “pee-pee soaked heckhole.”  – CAPE FEARE (S5,E2)

LNNY

Homer: Guys are always patting my bald head for luck, pinching my belly to hear my girlish laugh.
Marge: Hmm, that doesn’t sound like they like you at all.
Homer: You know, I think you’re right. First thing tomorrow morning, I’m gonna punch Lenny in the back of the head!
– Last Exit To Springfield (S4,E7)

Announcer: Attention, Marge Simpson, your son has been arrested.
Woman: I’d be terribly embarrassed if I were that boy’s mother.
Announcer: Attention, Marge Simpson, we have also arrested your older, balder, fatter son.
– Itchy & Scratchy Land (S6, E4)

Burns'_Heir

Mr Burns: Now I have no one to leave my enormous fortune to. No one.
Smithers: Ahem —
Burns: You, Smithers? Oh no, my dear friend. I’ve planned a far greater reward for you. When I pass on, you shall be buried alive with me. 
Smithers: Oh…goody.

– Burn’s Heir (S5,E18)

– Treehouse of Horror III (S4,E5)

Lisa: Don’t you people see anything wrong what Malibu Stacy says?
Celeste: There’s something wrong with what my Stacy says.
Malibu Stacy: [in a low voice] My spidey sense is tingling — anybody call for a web-slinger? Lisa vs Malibu Stacy (S5,E3)

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Lionel Hutz: Now don’t you worry, Mrs. Simpson, I– Uh-oh. We’ve drawn Judge Snyder.
Marge: Is that bad?
Lionel Hutz: Well, he’s had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog.
Marge: You did?
Lionel Hutz: Well, replace the word “kinda” with the word “repeatedly”, and the word “dog” with “son.”
– Marge In Chains (S4,E21)

Hans: You’re certainly doing your job today, Mr. Sun. Oh rats.
Bart of Darkness (S6,E1)

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Mr Burns: If it’s a crime to love one’s country, then I’m guilty. And if it’s a crime to steal a trillion dollars from our government, and hand it over to communist Cuba, then I’m guilty of that too. And if it’s a crime to bribe a jury, then so help me, I’ll soon be guilty of that.
– The Trouble With Trillions (S9,E22)

Marge_potato_its_pretty_big

Marge: Why don’t you take this potato? It’s pretty big.
Bart: Mom, you’re always trying to give me potatoes. What is it with you?
Marge: I just think they’re neat.
Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song (S5,E19)

– Secrets of a Successful Marriage (S5,E22)

giphy

Marge: How’s your father’s project coming along?
Bart: I think he’s almost done. Yeah, he’s done.
– Mom And Pop Art (S10,E19)

Mr. Burns: Men, there’s a little crippled boy sitting in a hospital who wants you to win this game. I know because I crippled him myself to inspire you.
Milhouse: (to his mom and dad) I hope they win, or Mr. Burns said he’s coming back.
– 
Homer Loves Flanders (S5,E17)

Image result for barney drinking varnish

Barney: Man, you’d never get me into a ring. Boxing causes brain damage.
– 
The Homer They Fall (S8,E3)

Moe

Moe: Them immiggants. They want all the benefits of living in Springfield, but they ain’t even bothered to learn themself the language.
Much Apu About Nothing (S7,E23)

– Last Exit To Springfield (S4,E17)

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