DEAD

5021392871196I first came across Young Fathers about a 6 months when they released their second mixtape Tape Two. I was quietly impressed and enjoyed their completely unique sound but didn’t think too much of it. This week though saw the release of their debut studio album, DEAD, which has so far garnered huge critical acclaim.

Merging styles of hip-hop, soul, pop, dance, gospel with African beats goes some way to describing their sound which is pretty much indescribable as it’s so different. This record presents an entirely innovative sound that chops and changes with every track. We have the dance influenced ‘GET UP’ a song which is perhaps the records most normal hip-hop tune as well but this mixture of mainstream genre provides the perfect jumping point for the group to really show you what they have to offer. The album is frequently dark too with tracks like ‘War’ and ‘Hangman’ throughout which they’re still occupied with interested with catchy hooks and a holistic sound. The album may threaten to be slightly too diverse with no real running theme but this is a weak criticism when each track carries such a unique and personal sound and feel.

It’s clear that Young Fathers are a group that have spent as much time as they can refining their sound and have created something that’s truly new and original so damn good this could change the UK hip-hop scene for good. For a way in check out ‘Get Up’ which I’ll post below and be sure to give this record a listen.

The Marshall Mathers LP 2

eminem-mmlp2-1383321799This is a bit of late review with the album having been out for well over a month now but this is a such a high profile release that I can’t help but have my say. Eminem hasn’t really been on form since The Eminem Show which was way back in 2002. Since then he’s quit music and come back with two very mediocre albums and failed to make himself stand out in modern hip hop, after being the genre’s defining force when he was in his prime. This time out he opts to cash in on the success of one of his truly great albums with a sequel record. 

One thing that remains apparent throughout The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is that Eminem still has one of the best flows in the business, his knowledge of the language and ability to bend any word to fit in with what he wants it to is pretty much unrivalled. This record is easily his best lyrically since The Eminem Show, as a matter of fact, there’s a case for this record having his best rhymes ever from a technical perspective. On the single Rap God he spits faster than even Busta Rhymes could dream of. The problem is though that despite his lyrical prowess there is something lacking from the new reformed Eminem, something that’s been missing for over a decade. He’s far too obsessed with poorly written, trashy hooks which are made even worse by his dreadful singing voice, his last album, Recovery, was riddled with them to the point where it was almost unlistenable, TMMLP2 contains a number of these too, the aforementioned Rap God containing one of the worst of the lot. The record feels confused as to what it wants to be, at times it breaks new ground and gives Eminem’s superior rhymes a breath of fresh air with production that strips things back to basics and adds an edgy bite to his lines, the best of which probably being Survival. Whereas other tracks make the same mistakes as Recovery did trying too hard to be a chart topping success lazy and uninteresting beats and, in doing so, not making the most of what Eminem’s best at: rapping. See the Rihanna featuring Monster for an example of this.

Overall this record is easily the best Mathers has come out with since his comeback and it beats Encore too, but this is still not the Eminem of old. There’s a bit more of the angry, bitterness that littered his early and best material but it’s much more forced and lacks the authenticity he once had. It seems he’s confused as to what he wants to do and too much like he’s making music to be successful than as a release of emotions. The track with Kendrick Lamar is a massive disappointment too.

 

Julian Langer

7128787Some avid followers of the blog may have come across Julian Langer a while ago when I shared one of his songs with you, recently, though, the young Devon-based acoustic folk singer-songwriter has brought out his debut album. Having dealt with the whole process of recording releasing and promoting the LP completely on his own he seems to be creating quite a stir in his local scene. The album, which was written during and after Langer’s treatment for a pineal brain tumour, is both moving and impressive in many ways. Consisting of ten tracks all of which are completely home produced by Julian simply using his own home equipment.

When it comes down to it, though, the real question is whether the music itself is good and I can honestly say that Langer’s eponymous debut really is a record that delivers at the most essential level. Production-wise I found it very difficult to notice any kind of reduction in quality due to his lack of equipment or training, with every track sounding crisp, clear and smooth. His guitar technique is arguably the stand-out element of the album with every song containing it’s own unique feel and emotion that is not only expressed just as well through his guitar parts as his singing. Despite saying that the lyrics are another particularly special part of the record, having gone through such a journey at such a young age (he’ll be turning 22 shortly) its touching to hear him express his feelings through these songs. His poetic lyrics are given a voice that is untrained but, perhaps for that very reason, deeply personal and real. What Langer does particularly well is change the mood without playing with his tried and tested style, while the tracks all flow nicely together they all have a very different feel to them moving from feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy in tracks like Still Life, (Well this is a still life, of a man, singing for the night, and I wish I could create, something beautiful) to things with a much more, relaxed and often nostalgic feel, with The Woods, for example (A childhood spent outside all day, learning how not to behave). Above all though what the record delivers is a feeling of hope, for me. Langer insists the album isn’t any more impressive because of his illness, he suggests that, ‘it’s just life. You just go through and progress or you die and I don’t want to die.’

Overall though, Julian has produced a strong album when all the odds are, really stacked against him and this record deserves all the attention it can get so give this track a listen and if you like it the albums available both on disc or via iTunes.

 

The Sequel to the Prequel

Babyshambles-Sequel-to-the-Prequel-1024x1024Well it came as quite a surprise to me a couple of weeks ago that there was a new Babyshambles album out. After having heard a couple of new songs from the group a couple of months ago I didn’t come across any kind of hype for the new record and to be honest I forgot we were expecting one completely. Then all of a sudden and it’s upon us. Titled The Sequel to the Prequel, this third studio album is the first record the Pete Doherty-led band have made since 2007.

Unfortunately though I found this new record to be rather an underwhelming entity. In the past both of Babyshambles previous records have been some of my most played albums whereas The Sequel to the Prequel and dropped off my listening radar almost as quickly as it appeared onto it. There is a real lack of bite in this record not to mention a lack of Pete Doherty’s sharp lyricism. This perhaps the worst collection of lyrics by the controversial frontman I’ve ever heard and its reflected in the music. While I wouldn’t have minded if the group was changing direction to a prettier sound with a less rock-y feel it seems they are still trying to keep their old slightly punky image with none of the music to pull it off. There are some fun songs on here, the highlight being Dr. No, which has a ska feel to it and really doesn’t sound anything like the rest of the record. And perhaps actually listening to the album isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, I still wouldn’t be bored re-listening but overall it just lacks that little something extra to make it really worthy of being called a good record.

It’s may be an ok listen but The Sequel to the Prequel doesn’t have the required uniqueness of the first two Babyshambles records and for that reason fails to hold your attention. A disappointment.

Doris

earl-sweatshirt-reveals-doris

 

Well this summer has seen its fair share of high profile of hip hop releases, and the latest comes from Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. Odd Future have achieved worldwide success and acclaim within a ridiculously short amount of time but I’ve never given them a huge amount of time. Earl hasn’t been around recently due to his, much publicised, time spent at a correctional school in Samoa and perhaps thats part of the reason why I haven’t given the collective the time of day. It’s Doris, that has served as my point of entry into the weird yet awesome world of OFWGKTA.

Sweatshirt’s flow is an unusual one. His tone rarely changes, but his pace of delivery is constantly fluctuating and rhymes flow into each other and merge in a unique way that makes Doris one of the most impressive hip hop albums I’ve ever heard. The chilled production with slow beats and very few other elements that loop underneath the vocals help create a laid back and stripped down feel to the record that lets Sweatshirt, and his guests, lyrics take centre stage while still being quietly impressive and understated. There’s not a track on the album that doesn’t contain an element of greatness, all the collaborators bring top performances as well including Tyler, The Creator on two tracks offering his trademark vicious rhymes that really compliment Sweatshirt’s own style. Also making an appearance is RZA on the track Molasses, which provides one of the records catchiest hooks – ‘I’ll fuck the freckles off your face bitch’. Chum and Burgundy give perhaps the most personal lyrics that really give an insight into Sweatshirt and helps ground the record so as a listener you make more of a connection with the artist.

Overall this is simply an incredible achievement. In what can tend to be an over saturated genre Sweatshirt has emerged with a completely unique style and hooks to match. Doris could even be the best hip hop album of the year, even, maybe, ahead of Yeezus, but let’s not get completely ahead of ourselves there is still supposed to be a new Wu-Tang record after all.

Machina/The Machines of God

breaking-bad-cartoon-wallpaper-hd-wallpapersAfter the unusual, and much less successful Adore Jimmy Chamberlain returned to the Pumpkins and they obviously began to dream big again. The Machina project was originally envisioned by the band as a double-album heavy on concept. However due to the poor reception of Adore the label only allowed it to be released as single-album. There was a whole concept crafted around the record which saw the band made into cartoon characters but the whole story was never fully completed and there are only bits and bobs floating around as to what this was all about.

Musically Machina marks a further departure in style from the music that brought them mainstream success and the sound is more electronic based than even Adore. There is, however, heavier music to be found here than on it’s predecessor. The opening track, The Everlasting Gaze, is one of the bands heaviest songs with a great guitar riff but it also shows how production has become the main focus of Corgan’s vision as the sound is much less raw and in a way less real than their old style and while still a good track it lacks a personal feel that they always used to have. There is nothing inherently wrong with Machina, it’s still an album that deserves to be heard but its clear that the record was made without a clear aim, as the band was falling apart during recording and the concept was never fully realised people were reluctant to buy into it.

While you could not call Machina a poor record it was made during troubled times for the band and is probably the groups weakest effort overall. However it was never given the chance to be released as Corgan had intended it to be and perhaps it loses out because of this, as Corgan is working on remastering all the old Pumpkins albums and promises that this Machina package will be re-released in its complete form we may have something much more interesting on our hands.