Gorillaz- Humanz Review

TL:DR:

CHARLES DARWIN’S LATEST INSIGHT INTO HUMAN EVOLUTION TAKES THE FORM OF A BAD ELECTRONIC HIP HOP ALBUM. SICK BEATS THO

 

I have a deep sentimentality for Gorillaz. It was the first music group that I became obsessed with and probably got me into music as an entertainment medium in the first place.  Demon Days was my bible in middle school and high school and I think their self titled album is one of the most underrated albums of the 2000s despite Damon Albarn sort of self-cannibalizing Blur in some instances.  Plastic Beach was more of a grower than the other two but it still turned out great with some of the best features of any of the albums. Gorillaz blended hip hop with electronic, soul, rock and piano ballads in some instances with undeniable oddity to the production. Gorillaz’s songs have a distinct flavor to them despite being so varied. With Gorillaz signature attitude towards collaboration and they being my most significant musical experience of my childhood, they led me to so many other groups as well. Because of Gorillaz I found MF Doom, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automater(and along with him the entire genre of trip hop), Lou Reed and the list goes on and on. Gorillaz is responsible for my open mindedness towards music and although I’ve grown out of them quite a bit, I was so excited for Humanz, and it hurts to say that I’m sorely disappointed.

Humanz starts off with a useless intro, that is so benign it is meaningless to describe, that transitions into arguably the best song on the album: Ascension(feat. Vince Staples). This is such a great opener and Vince is fast and the beat is erratic. It is different than most Gorillaz but it’s different in an exciting way. But immediately afterwards the album starts a horrible trend that continues the rest of the album and is a cardinal sin for any album, it becomes unbearably boring. Strobelite with Pevan Everett singing is sort of catchy but by the time the chorus plays, the song has shown you all of it’s cards. There are no dynamics to this song, no change ups with the chord progression or structure. It’s just a generic soul piece that is irritating to listen to as Pevan makes another appearance with the song Halfway to the Halfway House which is another bland piece of soul that does not make me feel anything after the first minute.

The next song I enjoyed wasn’t until Momentz with De La Soul and is an amazing track. De La Soul takes control of the track in this manic and goofy instrumental that takes over my skul with that hook.

<MOMENTS>

Before this track is one of the singles dropped called Saturn Barz with Popcaan. I’ve grown to enjoy it a little bit although I feel like it’s only catchy in a dirty and cheap way but I can’t help getting into it.

But then this album get’s back to being boring with almost no change in pace. By the way, if you’re a fan who loves 2D, you will be disappointed. He rarely shows up for any extended period of time. There is only one song with no features on it, excluding the interludes, and it’s a decent slow-burning track called Busted and Blue that is a pretty decent sad ballad but it feels so out of place among the rest of the album that it’s hard to understand its purpose.

Purpose is something in particular this album is lacking. It just doesn’t feel like there was any attention to detail to sequencing of the tracks. This lack of effort on this end starts off immediately with the transition from Ascension to Strobelite. Ascension is such a dynamic and intense beginning that becomes quickly underwhelming as you get dropped into one of the least dynamic and exciting tracks in the listing.  The interludes are all incredibly pointless with no discernible connection to any of the songs or any of the other interludes.

The few other highlights in the listing are Let Me Out, Hallelujah Money and one of the bonus tracks: Out of Body. But out of 26 tracks, including interludes, this is not a very solid average for any album, let alone a solid average for a band as consistent as Gorillaz. It feels like Albarn doesn’t even know it’s been seven years since the last album.

I’m gonna get into the visuals to much as that has never been a selling point for me but I’ve heard others complain about the somewhat lackluster visuals and I’ve gotta second that opinion quite honestly. I’m not a visual artist or even very knowledgable about the art but there definitely does seem to be something missing in the music videos that just isn’t clicking with me.

In the end, this album isn’t terrible. The production is great as usual and the performances are mostly great, but this album makes me want to sleep.

 

4/10- Not feeling great on this one.

 

headroommuzak@gmail.com

 

Two more reviews should be coming in the next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Artist that deserves your pocket change and clean underwear: Sivyj Yar

The underground metal scene is something everyone needs to venture into at some point if you love GRIMY, DISGUSTING, BEAUTIFUL, LYRICAL, and GRAND metal music or even just “music” in general. It is a wide open field that still manages to be crowded with a bunch of guys in corpse paint and make up with a weird circle near the northwest of the field reserved for the hipster post metal folks. About a few hundred feet to the left of the dead center of the field, but not too far as to find all the dudes into noise and droney doom, you’ll find the football helmeted thrash metalers, then to the right, forming a crescent moon shape around the center in the southeast, all the zombified black metal enthusiasts throw pig heads at each other and there are many more communities polka dotted around the field. Although it is looked down upon some, wishing for pure blood, a beautiful thing about this community is that they all incestuously romance one another and create the best combinations of each member (or “all” members as these folks enjoy orgies quite a bit) all while the NSBM broskies curmudgeonly look from the outside of the field as they reaffirm their shitty opinions about the world among one another.

My point is is that the underground metal scene has a distinct flavor to it and one that I’m fascinated by. So many artists that hide in the shadows, with no want for attention. So many beautiful landscapes of sound and so many disgusting and murky horrorshows that some metalheads will never notice or feel. There is a lot of creativity and one band(one guy really) really stands out to me for whatever reason is Sivjy Yar.

Now, as far as I know, he is not NSBM or anything. From what I can gather, his lyrics are based more on pagan poems and personal struggles. But if it turns out that he is NSBM, let me know, I just don’t wanna support that sort of ideology is all.

Sivyj Yar is a Russian one man band by a guy named Vladimir. And his music is a nice mixture of black metal with some post rock elements, which isn’t an unfamiliar formula, but the energy this guy plays with is ridiculous. My favorite album of his is From the Dead Villages’ Darkness which is an immensely moving and cold record that just makes you put your head down by the end of it.

It is cold, dark, depressing; but still manages to sound triumphant in the most negative way you can think. It’s the music of the catharsis of a person accepting their fate, whatever it may be all while in beautiful agony. Vladimir has these shrill and yelping vocals that sound like someone is cutting off his arm and the drums… oh the drums. They’re so damn energetic and organic. You just feel the impact in every smash to the cymbals and snare. The bass is full of treble and even seems to be providing to the melodies in the tracks. This music just sounds like someone having a breakdown.

It’s interesting because the formula that is being used is not especially unique but it still feels so newborn and fresh. If you enjoy post-metal, black metal or blackened death metal, just give this one a listen. It made me shit my pants a bit.

Go onto his Bandcamp and send him money, car keys, expensive vases, goats to sacrifice, whistles or mostly clean underwear. This guy deserves what you can give him.

Check out tapewyrmmetal.com if you want to get into the underground metal scene as that guy goes over some of the most obscure music I’ve ever found. As well as Caligari Records on Bandcamp, they hold some impressively disgusting and ambitious music.

 

headroommuzak@gmail.com

Joey Bada$$ All Amerikkkan Badass Review

TL:DR

BROOKLYN RAPPER JOEY BADASS’S FOLLOW UP RECORD PROVES NOTHING ELSE OTHER THAN HE STILL DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW ENGLISH PHONETICS WORK. READ A BOOK JOE.

 

Joey Badass is becoming more substantial of an artist with every release. With a few mixtapes and his recently release first studio album B4 DA $$, he has only gotten better and better. This new album is the great example of the sort of potential this guy has.

He has a got a an aggressive but still just so buttery smooth delivery with some very clever and consciously written lyrics all over some of the best 90s revival production of the past few years. But if I had a gripe with anything with Joey, it’s that I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt like I got a great complete package. B4DA$$ was a good album but I felt like it was good while on the foundations of just a few amazing songs. There were quite honestly a lot of forgettable tracks that I just couldn’t go back and listen to as much as songs like NO.99, Hazeus View or Big Dusty. But this new project is here and it’s leaner and angrier than before.

From the start the album with the song Good Morning Amerikkka gives you Joey spitting with the viscosity and smoothness of water over an understated and equally as smooth beat. One thing that surprised me was that there was very strong mainstream R&B influence over a few of these tracks with Joey actually singing and doing it well. I’m not saying he’s never sung before but never at this extent and it’s impressive. This new influence is a bit hit or miss unfortunately. There is a song like Temptation with an incredibly infectious hook and the whole song just makes you wriggle in all the right ways.

But than there’s Devastated which is one of the most obnoxious songs Joey has made. I liked it at first as it had another infectious hook but it was infectious in the wrong way. It just gave me a headache and it’s honestly the only song I hate on this album.

This album also has Joey’s best bangers yet in Ring the Alarm and Rockabye Baby. These songs have a wide and bouncy production that just increases the intensity in the lyrics and aggressive delivery of Joey and his guests: with The Flatbush Zombies on Ring the Alarm and Schoolboy Q on Rockabye Baby.

The features on this album are mostly solid. Chronix is here again with his Jamaican inflected singing that only helps the song Babylon. The Flatbush Zombies rip apart and take over the song Ring the Alarm and Schoolboy Q even provides one his more concise and cohesive bars I’ve heard from him. J.Cole has the most underwhelming feature on the song Legendary. He just feels so insignificant in the track, I almost forget he’s on the song until he comes on.

Lyrically this album has the hefty responsibility of acknowledging and responding to the topsy turvy racial politics within the U.S right now. And it’s all very emotional and affecting. Hearing the sample of the little girl’s speech on Temptation gives me goosebumps every time. And the chorus on Land of the Free just makes my head nod too damn much.

In the land of the free, it’s full of free loaders
Leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors
They disorganized my people, made us all loners

Still got the last names of our slave owners
In the land of the free, it’s full of free loaders
Leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors
They disorganized my people, made us all loners, yeah

The last song on the album is sort of a final statement and its a 7 minute epic. It’s a bit drawn out and sort of preachy but there is a lot of truth inside of what he says. It just gets a little hazy when he starts accusing the government of plotting against “us” whatever that means? He has had a reputation of speaking of “third eyes” and “illuminati” shit. It’s whatever you want to think about it, I just find it absurd.

This album is a great addition to Joey’s discography and if the next one is even better that this one, he will go down as one of the greats of the passed 10 years. He has so much more room to evolve and I’m so so excited for more of Joey. Just learn how to fucking spell please.

8.5/10-great

Hit me up if you wanna talk my man. Buh bye.

 

headroommuzak@gmail.com

 

Mastodon- Emperor of Sand Review

TL:DR:

METAL’S RESIDENT BARBERSHOP QUARTET RELEASE BLOOD MOUNTAIN LITE WHILE STILL SOUNDING LIKE A QUEEN’S OF THE STONE AGE COVER BAND’S TAKE ON WHAT A MASTODON ALBUM IS.

 

Mastodon is a Georgia-based Sludge/Progressive metal act that have been releasing records since the late nineties. They’ve remained prominent for the last 20 years maintaining an impressive balance of interesting experimentation and accessibility that allow it to stretch their hands in multiple places at once. Their first 2 albums Remission and Leviathan were more traditional Heavy Metal albums (while including Kelliher’s only prominent vocal talents with his guttural growls) which borrowed heavily from bands such as Neurosis, Melvins, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. They were aggressive and fast, as well, in the case of Leviathan, started their streak of concept albums.

Now these aren’t my favorite records of theirs but they did set the ground work for their (arguably) two magnum opuses Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye. These albums were very much more accessible but in turn, allowed themselves to experiment with song structure and riffs that culminated into, plainly, 2 great Metal albums.

The concepts behind these albums are a little too convoluted and absurd to have a proper discussion in this review quite honestly. I view them as just a method in keeping the records cohesive and fluid but maybe you’ll get more out of them than I did.

All albums have remained consistent in the personnel compartment, with Brent Hinds on Lead Guitar/Vocals, Bill Kelliher on Rhythm Guitar/Vocals, Troy Sanders on Bass/Vocals and Brann Dailor on Drums/Vocals. As can be seen, all of the members provide vocals which has been one of my favorite aspects of the band since their inception. The variety of voices being thrown at you gives the music a sense of scale and unpredictability that few other bands have done. Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders have been the primary lead vocalists for the most part but for the last few albums(including Crack the Skye), Brann Dailor has been leading a lot of the band’s work surprisingly as he does on this new album Emperor of Sands.

Unfortunately the offerings from Mastodon, two non-conceptual pieces: The Hunter and Once More ‘Round the Sun have been utter disappointments. There was no ambition in either of these albums, instead deferring to painfully “catchy” songs and boring three and a half minute metal songs that just sounded like a band trying to imitate Mastodon. They went for pop appeal and I would say that they failed in that as well. So coming up to this new album, I wasn’t sure what to expect quite honestly. And I’m not sure what I got either.

Now, I must say that this album is very much an improvement over the last two albums. There is again a concept, of a man wandering through a desert and from what I’ve read its an album connected with the band member’s connection with cancer. Mastodon has never been very emotionally engaging despite often taking on grand themes and tributes. Examples being Crack the Skye’s connection to drummer Brann Dailor’s sister who committed suicide at age 14 or The Hunter’s connection to Brent Hind’s brother who died during a hunting trip. Neither of these albums really gave me too big of an emotional response quite honestly. And that is mostly the same case for Emperor of Sands. Mostly due in part to the instrumentals being at best, emotionally distant and cut and dry.

Don’t get me wrong these instrumentals are much more exciting and dynamic than anything in the past two albums. But at the same time, they don’t sound all that original or inspired. You could never tell that these songs were on a NEW album. They just quite simply, sound like a band imitating Mastodon.

And when they do something different its usually underwhelming. The song Show Yourself is a great example of a band that let’s another musical style shit into it’s mouth instead of actually incorporating it in a meaningful way. Brann Dailor’s wimpy vocals are placed over an instrumental that should be on some Foo Fighter’s album. Quite honestly Dailor’s vocals are incredibly weak throughout the whole album. In fact, everyone’s vocals are lacking. Troy Sanders literally sings in the same tone and pitch for nearly the half of the whole album and Dailor just sounds like a small child placed over these songs.

But in all honesty, I never listened to Mastodon for emotional intensity.  I’ve never really listened to them for aggression either, or even the technical ability(which they do have a fair bit of). So that begs the question, what is there to listen to in a metal band without emotion, technicality and aggression? Mastodon is a metal band that stands on the flimsy board of songwriting as their main tool. The songwriting was what really made Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye the classics that they are and it now is the principle reason that Mastodon has fallen off. Instead of songs like Oblivion or Colony of Birchmen, we get songs like Curl of the Burl, The Motherload and Show Yourself.

I have done a lot of panning of Mastodon but  like I said, this album has more to show than the past two albums. I would even say that the second half is incredibly solid. Songs like Roots Remain and Andromeda are great and effective metal songs. The ending track is a little underwhelming but it does conclude the sad narrative of the album. Which is another point to make, the lyrics are very well written and though I wish the vocal performances interpreted the lyrics more effectively, I enjoy listening to the words they are putting out there. It gives the album SOME sort of emotional quality that does the theme of the album justice.

But in the end the album is at most, solid. I could see this album being seen as a “return to form” for fans disenchanted with the last albums. But it quite simply doesn’t give me much to think about other than that is sounds like a Mastodon album and the album art looks like a Baldur’s Gate character portrait. Right?

6/10-It’s okay

 

 

 

 

Okay, so the first review is a mostly negative one. Good start. Hopefully there will somewhere around a review a week or every other week as well anything else I feel like writing. And I hope I upset you enough to wanna come back or shoot over an email. Have a great day.

Email: headroommuzak@gmail.com