Watch: The War on Drugs’ video for “Under the Pressure”

image

(Written by Marcel)

The War on Drugs have shared a new music video for “Under the Pressure,” one of the many highlights from their 5-star album, Lost in the Dream. It’s a hazy, psychedelic clip that fits the track’s mood perfectly without overdoing its cinematic aesthetic. Watch below.

Watch: Trash Talk’s violent animated video for “The Great Escape”

(Written by Marcel)

Trash Talk have shared their video for “The Great Escape,” taken from their recent album No Peace. The hellish, violent animated clip was directed by Sanjay and Craig artist Jay Howell and Jim DirschbergerWatch it below (via Noisey).

Aphex Twin announces new album, ‘SYRO’, on the Deep Web

image

(Written by Marcel)

A green blimp appeared over the Oval Space in London this weekend. One side of it featured Aphex Twin’s trademark logo, and the other had “2014” written on it, with the logo in place of the zero. The logo then appeared outside New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

We weren’t quite sure what Richard D. James was teasing us, but now it has all come together. The electronic musician has announced a new album called SYRO, his first Aphex Twin LP since 2001’s Drukqs. It was revealed via a .onion Deep Web domain on none other than his birthday (August 18).

Just this morning, James Tweeted out a link that only works with the Tor browser. The link revealed the very creepy above image, in addition to a 12-song tracklist. You can check out a screenshot of that page below.

For people with regular browsers, the site can be accessed here, but that particular link contains everything but the title and tracklist.

Earlier this year, Aphex released the long lost Caustic Window LP that was (sort of) released via Kickstarter. His last string of live appearances were in 2012.

SYRO Tracklist?:
01. minipops 67 (source field mix)
02. XMAS_Eve10 (thanaton3 mix)
03. produk 29
04. 4 bit 9d epi+e+6
05. 180db_
06. CIRCLONT6A (syrobonkus mix)
07. fz pseudotimestrech+e+3
08. CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)
09. syro u473t8+e (piezoluminescence mix)
10. PAPAT4 (pineal mix)
11. s950tx16wasr10 (earth portal mix)
12. aisatsana

Album Review: FKA twigs - LP1

From art pop princess to hipster-R&B throwaway; FKA twigs’ debut LP is a disappointment in every aspect.

Much like her alt-R&B contemporary James Blake, FKA twigs absolutely shined on her set of debut EPs. However, it seems as though she’s having trouble making the big transition from EP to full-length album with her aptly-titled debut, LP1.

Unfortunately, she just doesn’t have a wide enough range of ideas to make up for a full-length LP. A lot of the songs on here pale in comparison to the tracks that appeared on her first two EPs. The production is definitely a step-up and this release features some of twigs’ best vocal performances yet, but none of these tracks are truly engaging or diverse enough to be fully appreciated.

I feel like most of the tracks on LP1 would work better as stand-alone singles. Because, in such a muddled album such as this one, everything gets lost in the mix way too easily. It seems as though twigs’ once unique sound is completely stripped back and reinvented with a twist that makes this album feel like a typical indiesphere-generated art pop mess that’s built out of tedious slowed-down background vocals and unoriginal instrumentals.

There is so much diversity and originality lacking in these songs that it’s hard to see why this is any different from every other over-hyped alt-R&B album to come out of the last few years. twigs suffers from so few fresh ideas that she resorts to redundant beats and lyrics that make a lot of these songs go on longer than they should.

While FKA twigs does bring in more producers and backing musicians than ever before on LP1, there’s just something about this album’s derivative, stripped-back sound that feels so empty and lifeless. Most of these songs lack deep, emotional textures to keep them afloat. Tracks like “Lights On” and “Hours” sorely suffer from this, while others like “Preface” and “Pendulum” sound like poor re-hashing of older twigs songs.

It truly makes me sad that one of the few talented and inspiring PBR&B artists out there has rapidly turned into every stereotypical artist that fits under this toxic genre umbrella. Maybe I’m reading too deeply into this. Or maybe I’m just the only one who realizes that the majority of LP1 is nothing but bare-bones thin, cheaply-made filler. Either way, I’m still not sure.

My rating (score): 2/5

Favorite tracks: N/A

Least favorite tracks: “Lights On,” “Hours,” “Closer.”

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)

(Written by Marcel)

Marcel’s Music Journal got the chance to sit down with Guided by Voices guitarist Mitch Mitchell before the legendary indie rock band’s show on June 10 at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, California. We discussed the band’s new album, Cool Planet, their history, touring, and much more. Watch the whole thing above.

There is an Aphex Twin blimp flying over London

image

(Written by Marcel)

Aphex Twin is up to something— but we just don’t know what. As NME points out, there’s a green blimp flying over the Oval Space in London. One side of it features Aphex Twin’s trademark logo, and the other reads “2014,” with the logo in place of the zero.

In addition to this exciting news, the Aphex Twin logo has also appeared outside New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Aside from the long lost Caustic Window LP that was (sort of) released via Kickstarter earlier this year, Richard D. James hasn’t released an album since 2001’s Drukqs. It also should be noted that James hasn’t performed live since 2012.

It’s unclear what the blimp may or may not be teasing to the public, but one thing’s for sure. Something is happening. And this may all be linked to the fact that in 2010, the IDM musician said he had six new albums completed.

Album Review: ILOVEMAKONNEN - I Love Makonnen [EP]

I show no love for Makonnen.

There is a good way to make rap music and a bad way.

This is a worse way.

L.A.-born MC ILOVEMAKONNEN brings his “sad-boy” cloud-trap-rap personality to even greater lengths on this seven song EP, a release that follows up his debut full-length, Drink More Water 4, which dropped last May. But what this up-and-coming rapper/singer severely lacks on this new EP of his is originality. There is absolutely nothing inspired about this release. In fact, this self-titled EP sounds like every other rapper/R&B singer crossover artist to come from the underground in the last few years. If he’s not imitating artists like Lil B or Yung Lean, he’s trying to cash in on the success of artists like Future and Young Thug. All of which aren’t particular artists that I enjoy, but when it comes to the material that ILOVEMAKONNEN brings to the table on this EP, he makes them all look like Nas or MF DOOM in comparison.

This EP is filled to the brim with awful, out of tune singing, and instrumentals that seem like Makonnen ripped them straight from YouTube. There is nothing about this release that grabs my attention in any way. Instead, I’m just being drenched in the mediocrity of this guy’s sound which, even for an EP, is painful to listen to all the way through.

I tried to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, I really did, but I just don’t see what this guy is doing is anything different from all of the other SoundCloud artists out there who’ve been making music that’s practically identical to his for the last couple of years or so. Beneath all of the other gripes I have with this EP, the lyrics are so incredibly grating. The song “I Don’t Sell Molly No More” sounds redundant to the point where it’s not even funny. Rather, it just sounds amateurish and horribly produced. The opening synth riff to “Club Goin Up On A Tuesday” is very atmospheric and somewhat memorable, but that’s pretty much its only redeemable feature.

The majority of this EP features Makonnen incessantly whining about his ex-girlfriends to the point where you’d rather watch paint dry than listen to this dude’s personal problems. “Tonight” features one of the lamest hooks I’ve ever heard in a song: "You’ve been cheating on, cheating on me / So I’ve been cheating on, cheating on you / You’ve been cheating on me, Rihanna / So I’ve been cheating, too, tonight." Throughout the entire song, there is very little lyrical balance that Makonnen adds to the track. It’s so unnecessarily hook-centric with a hook that’s just as dull as the rest of the song.

I Love Makonnen has every cloud-rap cliche imaginable: Putrid singing, repetitive lyrics, and bottom barrel beats that are so lazily made and so tangled in their outcome that they make each and every track on here even more unbearable than they already are.

This EP is, without a doubt, one of the worst releases I’ve listened to in quite awhile.

My rating (score): 0.5/5

Favorite tracks: N/A

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)

Album Review: Spoon - They Want My Soul

image

On Spoon’s latest release, the band comes through with a solid set of catchy, enjoyable rock songs.

Spoon are one of the best indie rock bands out there today. While they’ve never made anything truly mind-blowing, they’ve always been a trusty band, constantly delivering solid records that are just pure fun to listen to. They’ve never made a bad record, but they’ve never really made a classic, either.

They Want My Soul, Spoon’s eighth album, isn’t so much a return to form as it is a chance for listeners to celebrate good, old-fashioned indie rock once again. In just 37 minutes, Spoon manage to do what they do best with some catchy singles and tracks toward the back end of this LP that will surely grow on you.

Lead singer Britt Daniel brings this album to a roaring start with the song “Rent I Pay,” which has these awesome driving studio drums. The lead single from this LP has that stadium-ready clap-along appeal to it that captures the listener’s attention right from the start and never lets it go. Throughout the first side of this thing, Spoon manage to pull some memorable guitar riffs straight from the garage and some solid vocal performances all around.

It’s exciting to hear Spoon in their comfort zone once again, but I still can’t help but feel that this record is a bit typical and doesn’t offer anything new in terms of their style. Still, this can sometimes work to the band’s advantage: It shows them exploring different areas of their sound while staying firmly chained to their signature expertise. This album rarely dives straight into disappointment, which is something more I can say about than most contemporary indie releases.

The song “Rainy Taxi” has a great rhythm to it and a chorus that never loses its catchiness. “Do You” has a solid melody that’s reminiscent of early 2000s garage-rock revival bands such as the Strokes. And “Knock Knock Knock” sounds like a deep cut from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

Each and every track on here has their own bit of memorability to them, and that’s what makes They Want My Soul such an exciting album. It’s certainly not a game-changer or anything like that, but there’s enough clever songwriting and interesting, forward-thinking ideas on here to make it one of Spoon’s best records to date.

I’m pretty happy with where Spoon have gone this far in their careers, I’d just like to see them think outside the box a little more. While it’s nothing new sonically, what Spoon offers on this LP is still far better than anything being released by their contemporaries.

My rating (score): 3.5/5

Favorite tracks: “Do You,” ”Rent I Pay,” “Knock Knock Knock,” “Rainy Taxi,” “New York Kiss.”

Least favorite track: ”Outlier.”

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)

Festival Review: Woodsist Festival @ Big Sur, California (8/5/14 - 8/6/14)

image

Marcel’s Music Journal attends one of Woodsist Festival’s strongest occurrences to date with excellent performances from Woods, Real Estate, Angel Olsen, and more.

~ Day 1, August 5 ~

California is the place to be.

On top of the beautiful forests and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, you also have some of the country’s best music festivals right here on the West Coast. Big Sur’s fifth annual Woodsist Festival— which is co-presented by (((folkYEAH!))) is the first music fest I’ve attended this year, and I’m almost certain it will go down as one of the best.

The New York-based label, run by Jeremy Earl of Woods, has welcomed a great selection of acts over the years, all being held at the alluring Henry Miller Library. The venue features a small outdoor stage that opens up to the library’s front lawn, as well as a section of the forest that begins from the very back of the property.

This was my first time attending Woodsist, but I could already tell that this year featured one of the festival’s strongest lineups to date. With a luscious backdrop and the heavenly smell of the ocean and the trees, everything kicked off with a performance from The Skygreen Leopards. Their set featured some dreamy 1960s psych-pop mixed in with some short folk songs that reminded me a lot of Sweetheart-era Byrds, Lemonheads, Skip Spence, and Vetiver.

Their set was followed by Kevin Morby's wonderful performance, which, I must say, was even better than the time I saw him just a few days ago in Santa Cruz. Every song he performed was just solid from start to finish. The ex-Woods bassist has a sound that's very captivating and was pretty fitting for the type of atmosphere this festival was set in.

Morby’s set was then followed by Angel Olsen's hauntingly beautiful performance. Both on record and on stage, Olsen's voice is out of this world. Part of this is due to the fact that her excellent music is wonderfully paired with her voice. It would almost seem out of place if she was doing different instrumentation. Afterwards, I overheard a lot of people praising her set and complimenting her voice, which one attendee described as “ranging from heavenly to being hauntingly deep and moody.”

White Fence brought along pal Ty Segall to do some awesome shredding during their set. Frontman Tim Presley has an incredible singing style that matches their grimy garage rock and lo-fi sound. Everyone in the band, including Segall, played their part perfectly.

And to end a perfect night with a perfect set, Woods' glorious performance was one that left me speechless. Throughout their show they would do some psychedelic-drone jamming that was just too incredible to describe. As for the songs that they performed both from new and older records, they nailed every one, with some even being better than the originals put to record.

All in all, Day 1 of Woodsist Festival was by far one of the most memorable concert experiences I’ve had so far this year. One could only imagine what Day 2 would shape out to be.

~ Day 2, August 6 ~

Even though I was in love with the first day of Woodsist, I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with the second day. A lot of the performances just weren’t as strong as yesterday, and I could even tell that before Day 2 even started.

Meg Baird, even though I admire her for her guitar picking, delivered a set of very bland folk music. I didn’t really see it as a “revival” of traditional folk music, but rather a weak imitation. However, Steve Gunn, formerly of Kurt Vile & the Violators, put on a performance that featured some great guitar jamming, even though some of his set was a little inconsistent.

Little Wings didn’t do much for me with their set. They just brought some very middle-of-the-road and simplified folk rock to the stage that I had trouble gravitating to.

When I was preparing for Foxygen's set, I was pretty psyched, to say the least. I absolutely loved their two most recent LPs, 2011's Take the Kids off Broadway and last year’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. However, when they performed, I was absolutely astonished at how dreadful they were. They sounded nothing like they did on record. I even had trouble recognizing some of the songs they were performing, and I was not alone. “Are they even performing Foxygen songs?”, an attendee asked me during their set.

They just sounded horrible. There was so many technical difficulties throughout their set that they were practically unlistenable. Frontman Sam France was trying way too hard to be edgy throughout the entire thing. He was acting like he was some glam-rock god to be reckoned with. His stage presence made him look like he was trying to pull off a pitiful Mick Jagger impersonation, and his forced androgynous appearance made the band look like an insufficient version of of Montreal. He’s trying to lead Foxygen down a road that they don’t want to go down. In the studio, Foxygen are a quaint little psych-pop band. But on stage, they’re a complete abomination. France wants to turn them into something that they’re not, and that’s a horrible sounding version of every glam rock band in existence.

On top of all of this, Foxygen had three female backup vocalists that were so goddamn tacky. Am I watching The Soul Revue? What is this shit? The backup vocalists were doing these choreographed dance movements that were supposed to be “sexy” in some way but it ended up making the whole band look completely foolish. I almost got a headache after rolling my eyes so many times.

Foxygen could be a good live band, but the way they did it that day made the whole thing really poorly executed.

After all of that was over, it was time for the last band of the night and the entire festival. Real Estate put on a surprisingly solid set. The whole thing was very cohesive, and they even opened up their performance with a couple instrumental numbers. They performed some winning material, and the band proved that they weren’t afraid to jam out at certain points in the set. Their instrumentation was on point and the vocal harmonies were truly captivating. It was a final performance that moved me just as much as Woods’ closing set on Day 1.

It was a very dreamy and laid-back performance, much like the festival that brought all of these bands together.

Overall, Woodsist was an incredible experience. Everyone was very nice and the atmosphere was very enjoyable. The forest setting was absolutely gorgeous, making this one of the best outdoor music festivals in California. I think you’ll have a hard time finding a festival that’s more fun than Woodsist, just because of how exciting it is to attend each year.

Even though the lineup on Day 2 was a little inconsistent in terms of performance quality, the annual Woodsist Festival proved that all you need is 10 bands and two days of fun under the tall redwood trees to have a good time.

Whether you’re local or coming from out of town, Woodsist is the place to be.

Album Review: Young and in the Way - When Life Comes to Death

Crust-punk band Young and in the Way improve their sound on their brutal sophomore release.

Young and in the Way are one of the most unique bands out there today. Their atmospheric and enthralling blend of crust punk and black metal makes for a very rewarding listen. And on their sophomore record, not only do the North Carolina group up the ante on the recording quality, instrumentation and all around ambiance, but they deliver one of the best hardcore records of 2014 in the process.

While I wasn’t really huge on YAITW’s 2011 debut I Am Not What I Am, I still felt like these guys had tons of potential and could do great things with their sound. Now, three years later with When Life Comes to Death, the band goes exactly where I wanted them to go with a record that’s brutal as hell and incredibly cohesive. And although most punk/metal albums I’ve listened to from this year have been very inconsistent and disappointing in their end result, YAITW’s latest manages to blow you away with every single track. It’s all very consistent, engaging, and worthwhile. A few qualities that have been sorely lacking in hardcore music this year.

The opening track “Betrayed by Light” has these crunching guitars that give it a very steady rhythm, as well as some solid blast beat drumming that sets this album’s mood perfectly. “Fuck This Life” transitions ideally into the raunchy “Be My Blood,” which in turn paves the way for the song “Self Inflicted,” a definite highlight from this album for me.

What makes When Life Comes to Death such an engaging listen, though, is its diverse atmosphere. This LP’s mood can range from ethereal to totally bludgeoning in a matter of minutes. It also gives many of these tracks a very cohesive quality. In fact, this LP is so cohesive that it’s hard to tell when a track ends and another one begins. They segue into one another so perfectly that everything from the production to the vile screaming to the guitar rhythms all sound, and feel, connected in a way that makes everything evenly flow.

The track “Shadow of Murder” is one of the quieter songs on this record. It’s an acoustic composition that’s slathered in reverb and features some haunting strings in the background. It’s a very fitting transition into the album’s nine-minute closer “Embrace Extinction,” which is probably the best track on this entire album. It’s very chaotic, loud, abrasive, and by far one of YAITW’s finest tracks to date. It progresses so well that when we finally reach the climax, we find ourselves completely out of breath from the journey that we just embarked on. This song takes everything that we just experienced from the rest of When Life Comes to Death and builds upon it in a way that’s both masterful and monumental.

My only complaint about this record is that I wish the middle section featured a bit more variety. But aside from that, I’m truly at a loss for words with this thing. It’s definitely a release that crept up on me, mostly because of how little attention and praise it’s been getting.

Overall, you’ll have trouble finding a more brutal and ear-splitting record than When Life Comes to Death this year. YAITW have drastically improved in every aspect imaginable since their last release, and the end result is a true masterpiece.

My rating (score): 4.5/5

Favorite tracks: “Betrayed by Light,” “Embrace Extinction,” “Be My Blood,” “Self Inflicted.”

(All reviews published for Marcel’s Music Journal are written by Marcel)