Tyler, the Creator & Toro Y Moi - Hey You
Those surprised by this collaboration should know that Tyler and Chaz Bundick are actually friends and respect each other’s music greatly. According to Odd Future’s tumblr, Hey You is an “Unfinished Track… That Got Out Somehow,” which makes since because the song is composed of a repeated verse and two choruses. Whether it was released by a hacker or just a member of OFWGKTA, the song itself shows an immemnse amount of ability from both artists through their adaptation. Tyler’s subject matter is obviously contained when compared to the mass amount of shock value he packs into just about every song he touches, but it doesn’t feel restricted or forced. Tyler’s relaxed delivery makes his confession of legitimate love believable, yet Chaz’s floating production is what gives Hey You its imagery. The keys and pads evoke the feeling of deep love while the cutting synths and vocal samples, in their own way, epitomize the excitement of having a crush. By holding back, Tyler, the Creator and Toro Y Moi created a remarkably chill track that has both flow and character… even if we weren’t supposed to hear it yet.
Click the image above to hear Hey You.
The xx - Angels
The mysterious group that compose the xx seemed to fade into obscurity after a tour that ultimately led to the questionably sudden departure of a bandmate. Angels, the first single from the trio’s sophomore LP, Coexist, proves that no time was wasted between the road and studio. The track is elegantly bare and simple, even when compared to some of the cuts from the xx’s self-titled debut. Jamie xx’s minute beats float in and out of Angels in a way that creates swelling in the song’s steady yet shifting pace. The atmospheric guitar sounds how a ripple in water looks: calming, expanding and smooth. Angels differs from their first album in that the overall sound roams freely due a change in production style: from choked and hushed to open and natural. While The xx (album) is bedroom droop music, Angels makes Coexist appear to be an album that would be most appropiratly played while sitting on a porch, gazing at an empty sky.
Click the image above to hear Angels.
Lemonade - Diver
After quite an absense in the music scene, Lemonade returns with their second official release, Diver. Their debut, Pure Moods, presented the image of a group of guys making fun, bedroom-dance tracks on a home computer in someone’s living room. The group’s sophomore LP presents a new, much more mature Lemonade, with its finer tuned production and emotionally personal tone, creating heartfelt yet danceable slices of synth infused slow jams. Ditching the laptop for a full-studio sound, Lemonade has not only developed as artists but created a much nicer backdrop for the new vocal style: less party and more sulky. I mean honestly, it seems as if the groups lyricist absorbed a lifetime’s supply of drama during the group’s two year hiatus, which would explain the group’s harsh transition from laptop pop to deep cut R&B. The intimate vocal delivery trumps that of Pure Moods’ moaning due to its punctuality. It honestly feels as though the vocalist is trying alot harder than he did on the debut, then again that isn’t a fair statement to make since its obvious much work went into that album. This illusion is created simply because the vocals are easier on the ears and blend elegantly with the ocean of synth goo that create a platform for the lyrics to pierce through without the harsh sting contained in Pure Moods’ singing. Lemonade has also improved on layering instruments to create a deeper sound. Whilst their debut’s strung together synths and beats are fun, they seem unproffesional when compared to Diver’s unified approach to instrumentation. Every piece of music used compliments everyother piece in a very strong way. Speaking of beats, Diver’s percussion provides a perfect backbone for the oodles of synths and vocals while still playing a vital role in a track’s tone. Songs like Neptune would be nothing from an emotional context without the lush timbale fills and subtle grooves that keep the heavy pads used from dragging the song into a tasteless haze. Even though Diver is obviously different from anything else the band has put out, there are some nods to the band’s beginning. There are some reminiscent snippets of style here and there, but the track Eye Drops uses all of the classic Lemonade tools: random female vocals, playful synths and pleading vocals. This is not to denounce Pure Moods, (I truly enjoyed that EP,) but Diver is put together much better than its predecessor, both from a production and musical stand point. After hearing Neptune alone I wasn’t expecting to say this, but Diver is looking like its going to be one of my favorite albums of the year.
Recommend It? Yeah, I really dig this LP
Track to Check: Ice Water
Click the image for a stream of the album courtesy of True Panther’s blog.
"Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make. I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress. I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything." - Christopher Owens
For some odd reason the news of Owens’ departure wasn’t as heartbreaking for me as it may be to the thousands of blogs and fans that absolutely adore the sincerity of Girls. While this is the end of Owens’ moodiness and J.R. White’s arrangements merging, the music left behind is both timeless and personal to every listener. No news has developed as to whether or not the band will continue, but I have a slight desire for it not to. I’m afraid that Girls would lose the intimate aura that Owens seems to create around every song he touches and ultimately stain the legendary triumvirate of releases that the band has already put out. In another sense, I want White to continue as if nothing happened and prove me wrong. (But who could replace Owens’ vocals…) I’m eager to see where both musicians end up in couple of years and hope nothing but the best for those two; they deserve it.
Hey guys, I’ve missed you. I will be returning sometime in the near future, but don’t expect a review everyday. Please forgive my absence. See you soon.
Lotus Plaza - Strangers (Single)
I’m probably going to get alot of heat for this, but I’ve never been too keen on Deerhunter or Atlas Sound. I do, of course, respect them as musicians, but I also have almost no desire to listen to them. Both have had some excellent tracks, but what I’ve heard by them overall didn’t make me want to come back for more. (I will say though, I thought Atlas Sound’s recent revolt against an annoying audience member was respectable.) With this being known, it should be understandable as to why I questioned whether or not I would enjoy this track, since Lotus Plaza is the alias of Deerhunter’s guitarist Lockett Pundt. (I did.)
I think my favorite feature of Strangers is the singing, both lyrically and vocally. Pundt’s grainy voice compliments the lo-fi production nicely and helps to create some pretty mistifying moments throughout the track. When combined with the foggy lyrics, Pundt’s singing can do some slight emotional damage on the listener. Mysterious lyrics subtly build up to the tracks highlight when Pundt moans “I know” in a seemingly pleading manner. While the track momentarily retains the energy put out by this section of Lotus, it easily the most memorable part of the track (even if it does only last about fifteen seconds.) I also liked that Pundt sings almost non-stop for a large portion of the song, but suddenly dissapears a little over halfway through.
The lo-fi sound is executed to near perfection and creates a certain atmosphere around the track. The guitars sound a little planky, but the frequent noodling gives helps give the song its light presence. For some reason, I really love the drums on this song. The simple pattern repeatedly played may go unnoticed, but the snare and hi-hat sound is somehow loose and poppy at the same time. Both the drums and guitars on Lotus, on their own, are nothing special. However, when meshed together with one another and Pundt’s vocals, fit together like a simple jigsaw puzzle that creates a simply satisfying picture when the pieces are correctly aligned.
Not much for me to complain about; this song is pretty undeniable. I loved the lo-fi sound and offsetting lyrics that Pundt seemed to carelessly put together. I’m definitely going to listen to this album, Spooky Action at a Distance, when it drops in a couple of months as well as Lotus Plaza’s debut album. This song may even be enough reason for me to reconsider Deerhunter. Maybe.
Plain and Simple: Strangers is a great lo-fi track with commendable instrumentation and haunting vocals
Recommend It? Yeah
Click the image above for a stream of the track.
Teen Daze - Treten (Single)
Chillwavers rejoice; another single from the upcoming album All Of Us, Together has been released. In case you don’t know, Teen Daze is a producer/singer/songwriter who has had a multitude of solid EPs and singles released from his bandcamp page. Pretty soon he’s going to put out his first official album and I’ve been pretty excited about it for quite some time. I’ve always been impressed with his production and ability to shift genres with ease. (In fact, my favorite EPs by him, Beach Dreams, is probably his most unique in sound compared to his other work.) This single suggests that the new album will be a culimation of Teen Daze’s previous sounds.
This is the second glimpse we have of All Of Us, Together with Brooklyn Sunburn being the first. (I didn’t review it, but I absolutely loved that song.) Both songs focus on production and contain no vocals from Teen Daze. This makes me think that the album will be mostly instrumental and showcase Teen Daze’s songwriting abilities. While this isn’t necessarily a dissapointment, I really hope that he sings on the album because his voice always blends so well with the music he creates.
Treten is no exception to Teen Daze’s excellent production style. It is obvoius that every bass, synth, and percussion instrument is edited and manipulated to fit within a single sound while still retaining a presence that stands out. I especially love the snare effects that are used on the track. (One is a firm clap while the other sounds like a drum being hit while the head is soaking wet.) I was especially happy to hear Teen Daze’s staple: bubbling background synths. He always throws them in and they always compliment the song so well (especially this one.)
I was pretty nervous about how this track would go when I first saw the almost 7-minute length it had. However, I soon found that this time is well spent. Not only does it allow Teen Daze to string together many ideas into a single effort, but it also gives him room to allow the track to bloom… more than once. (Seriously, this thing seems to constantly be evolving.) What I’m trying to say is, Treten handles the length in a way that doesn’t make it seem like it actually lasts for 7 minutes.
I’m not really surprised, this track is another example of Teen Daze’s amazing songwriting/production. However, this is the second track from the upcoming release that doesn’t have him singing. Don’t get me wrong, both tracks are absolutely stunning and have me pretty pumped for All Of Us, Together, but I’m really hoping that he does have some vocal contributions to the album that haven’t been heard yet.
Plain and Simple: Treten is a 7-minute treat that shows off some of the best aspects of Teen Daze’s music
Recommend It? Definitely
Click the image above for a stream and download of the track over at Teen Daze’s Bandcamp page.
Simian Ghost - Youth
After giving us a glimpse of what was to come with the single Wolf Girl, trio Simian Ghost has finally released their sophomore effort, Youth. If you saw my review of Wolf Girl, you’ll know that I was really digging the track. I’m glad to say its glistening dream-pop appeal lingers upon the rest of Youth. As excited as I was for the album, I for some reason forgot that it had been released until about a week after it dropped… nonetheless, I’ve fallen in love with Youth.
While Youth as a whole sounds similar to its lead single, there are many sound variations that really took my by surprise throughout the album and made every song interesting. Songs like Curtain Call and Crystalline Lovers Mind are straight foward easy pop songs while others like Youth and Wolf Girl are a little more sentimental due to the additional electronics utilized (mainly synths and electronic beats.) The rest of the tracks tend to fall into one of these two categories with noticeable differences to their examples.
I absolutely love the instrumentation this album contains, probably becuase the guitars always sound perfect for the mood of the song. The stiff electric guitars and tight hi-hats on the verses of standout track Fenix contrast the echoing acoutic guitar chords and shimmering ride cymbal used on the hook in such a way that makes the chorus feel like an enlightenment of sort. Tracks like Youth masterfully fuse electric percussion and acoustic drums in such a way that is commendable on its own but also blends quite nicely with the rest of the song’s contents. The synths casually melt into the background of a few songs that help create a brighter sound.
I absolutely love the vocals used on this album. Like the guitars, Simian Ghost’s singer can manipulate his voice in such a way as to create a new emotion for each song. Siren’s reflecting sound is due mainly to the (more than bearable) whiny vocals, while The Capitol gets its floating sound mainly from the slightly echoed vocals and beautiful harmonies. Besides harmonizing, the backup vocalist also does a fantastic job of knowing when to and not to contribute to songs.
Honestly, there’s not really anything to complain about. Of course, there are minor flaws that I have found on Youth, but they are all either minute or easily forgotten because of everything on else that is done so right. This album is seemingly perfect and well worth the listen. While I had mixed feelings about it at first, this release trully grew on me after a couple of listens. I absolutely adore Youth and it is without a doubt my favorite album of 2012 (so far.)
Plain and Simple: Youth is a glistening, alt-pop package of near perfection
Track to Check: Fenix
Recommend It? Yes Yes Yes
Click the image above for a stream of the album.
MMOTHS - MMOTHS (EP)
After a string of very commendable online singles and remixes, mysterious 18 year old producer MMOTHS has finally given us an official release. This guy has been gaining some online attention, even that of legendary Flying Lotus who told MMOTHS he liked his music on Twitter. I was intrigued to see that indie darling Keep Shelly In Athens has a vocal spot on the album since MMOTHS is fairly new to the scene. However, after listening to the EP, I think he is beyond worthy of collaborating with such talent.
Its obvoius to see why Flying Lotus would compliment MMOTHS; he’s a fantastic producer. The sounds he puts out are so simple, yet they carry a massive amount of emotion. An example of this are the effects used on the track THNX. While it is a rather dull melody, the synths carrying it are extremely interesting. To me, they sound like echoey, pitched water droplets with a robotic essence to them. When put with the dreamy background chords, this synth melody can create some rather nice textures. Other tracks, like If Only, also layer altered synths over spacey chords and stretched vocal hums.
I have to say, my favorite tracks are the ones containing guest vocals. While MMOTHS’ music does sound fine on its own, the singing takes it to new heights and actually gives him more opprotunity to shine. I say this because while his melodies are forced to fend for themselves without vocals, they are sheltered by the singing and have something to compliment other than themselves. Also, the singing done by both Superhumanoids and Keep Shelly In Athens just fits MMOTHS’ production style perfectly.
MMOTHS reminds me subtly of a couple of other producers on the scene. While he doesn’t necessarily sound like him, MMOTHS’ music sounds almost like a grainier version of Balam Acab without the vocal samples. Also, the snaps used in If Only reminded me of James Blake (but then again whenever I hear single snaps in songs I think of James Blake. Anyone else notice he uses those alot?)
If I have to complain, I will say that the songs lacking vocals at times are tedious. Breaking Through, probably my least favorite track from the EP, just doesn’t do much to keep my attention because it doesn’t have the same type of mind blowing effects that the other instrumental tracks had and, for me, it seems to lacks emotion. Its not a bad song, but then again its not as good as the others on the release.
I’m not going to lie, I only listened to this release because I saw that Keep Shelly In Athens had a vocal spot on it, but I’m really glad I did. Its extremely inspirational to see someone so young achieve the amount of recognition and success that MMOTHS has after putting out his first couple of songs a little over a year ago. I enjoyed this EP quite a bit and I’m excited to see what this guy has to offer in the future.
Plain and Simple: MMOTHS shows off the producer’s powerful songwriting ability and has fantastic guest vocals
Recommend It? Yes
Click the image above for a stream of the EP.
Lemonade - Neptune (Single)
After a 2 year absense (unless you count a random single thrown in somewhere between then and now,) Lemonade is back with a new single from their upcoming album, Diver. I have heard their EP, Pure Moods, before and I was pleasantly surprised that such a loose sound could put out the great tracks that they did. This track is also somewhat of a surprise, but not because its loose. (Its not loose, by the way.)
After I heard Neptune, I was skeptical if this was even the same band that put out Pure Moods. While that EP was a form of laptop dance (with some DNB and island percussion thrown in,) this track is very much R&B. I was honestly wondering how a band could change their sound so suddenly, but then I remebered that it has been quite a while since they’ve put anything out.
While the singing has gotten “better,” I sort of miss the moaning vocals that used to do their own thing over the instruments. It made the songs a little more interesting, but then again, the new vocal style compliments everything else in the song in a way that Pure Moods couldn’t do. The voice is still a little whiny, but the singing is less careless and gives the song somewhat of an emotional context.
The beats and instruments on Neptune are very mature, especially when put next to those of Pure Moods. While the EP would loop simple synths and random snippets of samples, Neptune feels like it was actually planned out. While this shows development, this structured layout feels generic and made the song a little boring. I really dig the buttery synths. (Those plus the timbales that are thrown in are probably my favorite parts of the track.)
Overall, its just an OK song. I’m not thrilled by it, but then again I guess it wasn’t really a dissapointment. I’ve seen where sites have been saying that Diver will probably be a strictly R&B album, but I’m not so convinced. Pure Moods has a multitude of styles on it and trying to describe the EP with just one of its songs wouldn’t do (which I’m assuming/hoping will be the case with Diver.)
Plain and Simple: While Neptune is a pretty decent track, its ultimately generic
Recommend It? Not really
Click the image above for a stream and download of the track over at GVB.