EP Review: In Tongues by Joji

By Liam Toner  (@tonerliam)rating 6

In Tongues is the debut EP of Japanese-Australian producer and musician Joji. Joji has been crafting his style over the past few years, putting up beats of his own, having Chloe Burbank (a sort of demo EP) leaked by his fans and later releasing it himself. He would also create two albums of edgy, comedic, meme rap under his Pink Guy character from his hugely successful but also controversial Filthy Frank Youtube channel. As Joji has been making music for years (but not releasing anything to the wider public), on In Tongues he’s already seemed to settle into his own distinguishable sound that doesn’t rely too much on its influences.

Joji’s musical style is very laid back and smooth RnB, Lo-fi Hip-Hop and Trap with a lot of jazzy piano loops that brings Nujabes to mind. The production quality of In Tongues is a strong point as it successfully balances all the different samples and instruments and wraps them in the perfect amount of reverb to give the EP a very warm and cosy sound without making it sound washed out and buried in echo and atmospherics. The trap drumlines don’t overpower the sound, unlike in a lot of trap music, and the hi-hats sound tickled rather than rattling. The deep sub bass kicks don’t pound your senses but slot in to the mix pleasantly, giving the tracks a notable amount of heft. Joji’s vocals are soft and lazily delivered almost acting as another instrument rather than standing out in front of the instrumentals, thus adding to the very chilled vibe of the EP.

The first track and the single released from the EP Will He starts things off with a soft lo-fi piano sample and some scratching sounds in the background–adding to lo-fi feel of the track–before the trap beat comes in and Joji sings emotionally about heartbreak and if the person he was with still remembers what it was like with him before they moved on to another guy. As well as the main vocal, Joji adds several layers of harmonising vocals on top to create a very lush warmth to track.

This formulaic way Joji builds and structures his tracks stays consistent throughout the EP, with jazzy pianos being swapped out for soft guitar loops on Pills and Bitter Fuck. Samples of scratching and tapping and other everyday sounds are used throughout the run time of the EP again adding a layer of warmth to give the tracks a stronger feeling of depth. The last track Worldstar Money, named as an interlude despite being the final track on the EP, is essentially Joji singing a ballad over a ukulele with a little bit of hip-hop drums for good measure. Although after hearing the first few strums of ukulele, one expects to hear Joji either telling people to shut the fuck up or singing about weeaboos or other inane subject matter. Instead, fortunately, we are treated to a more introspective lyrical approach that rounds off the EP nicely.

In Tongues is a great start for Joji, highlighting the type of sound he can call his own and will continue to develop as he inevitably comes to release more music in the future. The music here is pleasant and moody and is a perfect soundtrack to looking out the window in an urban cityscape at night, forgetting your troubles and just relaxing. While the tracks on here could probably be a bit more memorable, this is a good start for Joji and highlights his growing potential as an artist.

 

 

Best Tracks Of The Week (15-22/10/17)

Contributions from Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc), Will Sexton (@willshesleeps& Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Lewis Capaldi – Mercy

Lewis Capaldi is back: the young musician’s rise to fame has been nothing short of amazing, and his latest EP and this track just go to show why. His strong vocals and songwriting abilities are on full show on this meaningful, a track that is nothing short of being beautiful. The rest of the EP isn’t much different, acting as a powerful statement of how big a role the singer has played in making the Scottish acoustic scene something worth getting invested in.

Wy – Hate To Fall Asleep

Never judge a book by its cover but if said cover has a girl crying white gunk, expect it to have some sort of emotional resonance with you: step in Wy, hitting out with a debut LP submerged in worrying thoughts. Hate To Fall Asleep is one such track that follows the album’s mantra of feeling pretty shitty, showcasing the luscious, aching vocals of Ebba as she struggles to “see the great in everything”. The quaky, borderline lo-fi guitar that accompanies to leave you feeling that things are far from okay – sometimes that’s okay.

joji – will he

George Miller has finally arrived with his first official single from his first EP (In Tongues) coming to all ears around the world on the 2nd Of November. The song is gorgeous: dark, gloomy, sexy and spacious, it’s everything that Joji has been building up too over the last couple of years and the hype is truly here. The production on this track seems slicker and more finished than the last two tracks he has released on Soundcloud this year. Fans of his internet show persona Filthy Frank and people who have been following him for years are fully anticipating the rest of this EP – beyond excited.

Bully – Spiral

Appearing on their debut LP, Bully have been generating a lot of buzz and tracks like Spiral justifies why: raspy, powerful vocals from Alicia Bognanno are captivating from the get-go and the romantic narrative keeps things interesting, making it pretty easy to find yourself going back to this track again and again. We’ll keep hush hush on our verdict of their album as a whole but for the meantime, Bully seem to be finding their footing very early on.

Bearcubs – Do You Feel

While there’s been a lot of aggression shown in this week’s selection, Bearcubs manages to calm things down with his chilling new track Do You Feel. Extremely meticulous and charming, this song has a bunch of lovely wee quirks that seem to rear their head at random intervals which you may or may not notice on your first listen. From the washed out back up vocals to the tropic instrumentals to the synthesised chirping, Bearcubs pack some angst but doesn’t let it overshadow the hard work that is on show.

Ty Segall – Meaning

We all know he has a ridiculous output at this point but that only makes the fact that Ty Segall can still keep us interested all the more remarkable. On Meaning, we get some frantic guitar playing that segways us into digital drum armageddon a la Death Grips, a moment that comes totally out of left field. Instead of being followed up by MC Ride yelling, we get Segall’s wife Denee to show off her lovely pipes, the instrumentals giving off a punky vibe in its purest form. It’s a total fucking racket and combined with what Denee is singing, it wouldn’t surprise us if this was a cathartic experience.

listen to our picks via our swanky wee playlist, updated weekly:

Top 20 Tracks of 2017 (So Far)

While the end of year lists tend to give albums the most significance, these records are nothing but the sum of their parts which, in this case, is the songs. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of these tracks are, some are deep layered entities while others are just straight up lovable bangers, all that needs to be considered is that these songs have made 2017 one of the most exciting and interesting years of music that many of us can recall. Without further ado, let us go down the list of all the singles that we’ve had on loop and may or may not have been signing in the shower every morning for the past few months.

20. Royal Blood – Lights Out

While the album this track appeared on didn’t go down a treat with us, it’s undeniable that Lights Out hit a chord with one or two members of the blinkclyro team. It has all the traits that made Royal Blood one of the surprise big acts when they dropped their debut back in 2014 – that’s really all that needs to be said.

19. I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time by Joji 

No one was really expecting the mind behind the disgusting and ludicrous Filthy Frank to hit out with one of the most beautiful tracks of 2017 but Joji has went and surprised not only us but a lot of the music community.

REVIEW HERE

18. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

An artist exploring two themes (heartbreak and family qualms) that have been done to death in an intriguing way (using the metaphor of mining work) isn’t something we expected to see pop up on this list but when the band in question is Manchester Orchestra, we really can’t complain.

17. Amber Mark – Lose My Cool

With Amber herself commenting on this track representing the stage of anger in the grieving process, Lose My Cool delivers this catchy yet simple production that lets the lyrics be the star while giving your ears something lovely to relax onto as well. A lot can be happening at once but considering the reaction of  bottling feelings up in this sort of situation, it couldn’t be more perfect.

16. The Kite String Tangle – Selfish

With a stylistic and extravagant use of synths and beats on display, The Kite String Tangle’s return seems to stand out even more with the recent surge of humility and stripping back. Transparent lyrics give the track an extra edge, helping it to differentiate itself from the countless others artists in the IDM genre. 

15. Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Without even considering the tearful story behind the track, this was the last song Sampha played to his mother and was fitting performed at her funeral, Sampha uses nothing but the piano, his voice and a handful of near silent beats to deliver one of the greatest ballads not only of this year, but of this decade.

REVIEW HERE

14. Pronto Mama – Bottom Feeder 

Any of the 13 tracks that appear on Scottish rockers Pronto Mama‘s debut LP could appear on this list though it just so happens that it’s the intro track that we’ve happened to choose. Visceral lyrics, varied instrumentals and one of the best vocal performances you’ll hear all year, it’s the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Glasgow act.

REVIEW HERE

13. Sorority Noise – Disappeared 

Euphorically upbeat, yet meshing perfectly with the lyrical themes of mourning and death, Sorority Noise exercise their impeccable ability to approach a variety of situations in a way that only they can. Much like many of the tracks on YNA_AYT, Disappeared is gone as fast as it appears yet leaves an imprint in the few minutes its around.

REVIEW HERE

12. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever 

Starting off with one of the best yet weirdest lyrics ever conceived (Bedding Taylor Swift/
Every night inside the Oculus Rift/
After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes), Father John Misty makes his mark right out the gate on Total Entertainment Forever, one that he definitely cemented on his recent LP Pure Comedy. Full of social commentary about technology and more, the track proves to be a witty, funny but equally smart song: something that, in this age of turmoil and tyranny, is definitely needed.

REVIEW HERE

11. The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness 

The final refrain of System, “I can’t explain it any other, any other way”, sees Berninger stretched to the limits of his vocal capacity, similar to his end-of-performance outbursts on stage. If any of this is a reliable indicator, Sleep Well Beast, the band’s upcoming LP, threatens to be their best recording yet.

REVIEW HERE

10. Radiohead – I Promise

Both one of the oldest and most recent tracks from Radiohead, the song is one of three previously unreleased from OK Computer, I Promise easily nests itself into the band’s discography with Yorke’s haunting vocal performance and stripped back instrumentals. It’s a track full to the brim with devotion, leading to one of the band’s most romantic songs to date – whether or not that was Yorke and co’s intention.

9. Alt J – In Cold Blood

Channelling a lot of what has made the band’s past releases so great, In Cold Blood is brash, sleek and beautiful all at the same time with an unshakable familiarity to Alt J‘s sophomore LP. It’s just one taste of the unique cohesion of their various pop styles that Relaxer does so well.

REVIEW HERE

8. Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo

Venturing into mostly new territory vocally, Rowsell is known for the occasional scream on tracks such as Giant Peach, but on Yuk Foo, she is all out aggressive; the track relies on her to pull off the sentiment of frustration and she nails it. Wolf Alice deliver one of the most frustration fuelled songs of the year – the band may finally be shaking off the indie rock label for a more punk heavy one and we couldn’t be happier.

REVIEW HERE

7. Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

The best grime track on Stormzy‘s debut LP is lead single Big For Your Boots, which opens with a sample guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. This precedes the chorus which crashes in with Stormzy reminding any challengers that he has size 12 feet and “your face ain’t big for my boot” with a lightning-quick flow in the verses guaranteed to send festival crowds into raptures.

REVIEW HERE

6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – The Lord Of Lightning vs Balrog

You would think with the band’s ambitious feat to release four to five albums in 2017 alone that King Gizzard would run out of ideas or fuel by now. Lead single for Murder of the Universe titled Lord of Lighting is enough to put those worries to rest, delivering the most insane song of the band’s career so far, referencing past releases not only by name but style as well.

5. Remo Drive – Yer Killin’ Me

Instrumentation from the intro of this Remo Drive track is reminiscent of bands like Gnarwolves or a heavier The Front Bottoms, the middle of the song sounds like it was influenced by Foals, the end sounding NOTHING like the rest of the song and vocal lines influences from bands like FIDLAR. However, the song still breaks down to be an emo anthem in the end: there aren’t many bands who could throw all of that into an album, let alone one song, but make it sound so effortless and downright beautiful.

REVIEW HERE

4. Frank Ocean – Chanel

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, it feels like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation).

REVIEW HERE

3. Francis & The Lights feat. Chance The Rapper – May I Have This Dance?

Remember during the intro when we mentioned that some tracks are just straight up tunes that don’t need analysis to shine? Well, here’s the track that inspired that: sounding like something straight out of a Disney Movie outro, May I Have This Dance is one of the purest songs to drop all year with one deliciously wholesome verse by none other than Chance The Rapper.

2. Lorde – Green Light

One thing that should always subtly remain with you when listening to Lorde‘s music is her age, and what she’s achieved by it. Around the age of 13/14, she was laying the groundwork for her debut album, Pure Heroine, and by the age of 16, she smashed into the face of the earth, becoming an instant success. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Green Light is an utter tune.

The chorus has a dancy, nineties feel as she’ll “get [her] things, but [she] can’t let go”, before segueing back into the sombre, minimalist piano beat as Lorde sometimes “wakes up in a different bed, too”, with the lyrical theme subtly, maturely and perfectly covering the protagonist’s heartbreak & the route to mending that patching up that poorly ticker.

Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

REVIEW HERE

1.Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Comparing yourself to a religious symbol is usually bound to result in you becoming an infamous figure. If you need an example then just take a look at Kanye‘s Rolling Stone Cover where he not so subtly recreated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Unsurprisingly this made Mr West public enemy number one in the eyes of many Christians, something which has continued when he repeatedly announces himself as a god.

So as Kendrick Lamar donned pope robes for the music video accompanying new single Humble, his second track in the space of a week following The Heart Part 4, you would have expected him to maybe take a second to reconsider his attire. Throughout this track, though, Kendrick isn’t concerned with the thoughts of others as we get an abundance of braggadocious bars that the Compton rapper hasn’t really channeled since his second studio album Good Kid, m.A.A.d city. 

Accompanied by the punchiest 808 bass line you’ll hear this year along with a catchy piano riff, this is the first witnessing of Kendrick‘s departure of the jazz-fuelled sound that can be found all over To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled.unmastered. Not only this but the lyrics seem to channel a lot more of the narrative that carried the aforementioned Good Kid, m.A.A.d city with Kendrick spouting lines about his youth surrounded by gang affiliations and cheap grub before he begins to brag about money and sex with one of the wittiest albeit cheesiest lines of the year so far (parmesan where my accountant lives).

While some may feel a bit light changed by DAMN., though not us, Humble cements Kendrick as not only the greatest rapper of the 21st century but a serious contestant for the GOAT title.


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