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.

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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.

 

Deafheaven

DeafheavenIt’s been a long while since my last band plug post and that’s mainly because there have been a lack of awesome bands that I’ve discovered. But when I heard Deafheaven’s new album, Sunbather, a few weeks ago the band immediately became something I needed to talk about. It’s hard to define the bands sound really as it combines elements of a huge amount of genres and also has something that is completely different from anything I’ve ever heard. Having originally been conceived as a two-piece, founding members George Clarke and Kerry McCoy have been through various touring and recording members but have always maintained their unique style.

It would be hard to describe Deafheaven as any one kind of music but due to their screaming vocals and the fact that they’re signed to Death Wish Records it may be they are seen from the outside as a metal band. The problem with this is that any pigeon holing of this band is vastly limiting their appeal. These guys are not a metal band, they’re not an indie band, they’re not even necessarily a rock band; they are a musicians with a clear cut artistic goal that have managed to create music that is so strikingly personal and raw that it can not be defined as a genre of a music only as the art that it is. There first studio album Roads to Judah didn’t have the sublime production that was to be found on its follow-up but it still holds the bands vision and signature sound that you will become accustomed to after listening to one track. It’s their new album, though, Sunbather, that really is nothing short of a masterpiece. It ebbs and flows through speedy metal beats and riffs swarming their way into psychadelic fades and dreamy waves of music. Its bold music that is both brutal and beautiful.

With two great studio albums under their belt and an ever-growing fan base let’s hope Deafheaven are a band that will continue to push boundaries and create great, unique music. If you scroll down I’ve put this new-fangled Spotify play button so you don’t even have to leave this page to get into perhaps the most exciting band of the year.

Pretty Lights

PLLDubstep is dead and gone, murdered and trampled into the ground by pop music and Skrillex taking the form and bending it into something it never should have been. However glimmering out from the gaps in the clouds you get a few artists who still take dubstep to new levels the best of which I have ever come across, conveniently for this metaphor, goes by the name of Pretty Lights. I’ve heard the odd track of his being banded around our house for the past six months or so and had always been impressed until yesterday I finally got down to listening to him extensively, so far I’ve listened to probably just over half his discography and pretty much every song has blown me away.

The first record I put on was his second album, a double LP called Filling Up the City Skies and I was greeted with something I didn’t quite expect. The album was a lot more chilled than his newer stuff that I’d heard before and it seamlessly combine hip-hop rhythms with warbling bass creating some of the most atmospheric tunes I’ve ever heard, the whole two discs of the album doesn’t contain one bad song and it creates a mood that I could, quite happily, just sit in all day every day with.

Then I moved on to some of his more recent EP’s all of which came out 2010 there was, Spilling Over Every Side, Making Up a Changing Mind and finally, Glowing in the Darkest Night. Every EP had it’s aura but all still managed to encompass the distinctive flavour I’ve come to love. Interspersing pumps of rhythm from electric guitars with dubstep bass and hip-hop beats, it literally doesn’t get better than this.

As I write this I am listening to his first album, Taking Up Your Precious Time, and am hearing a very different sound still. Much less electronic and much more jazzy with more rolling bass lines and synth tones being sprinkled over the top. It just begs the question why this guy is not huge? Why is he not a household name? He creates music unlike any other on the scene but yet it’s Skrillex who becomes the breakthrough dubstep producer, it just doesn’t compute but anyway before I go into a rant about the hideous state of the world go and listen to some Pretty Lights post me a comment to let me know your opinion.

 

Sum 41

sum-41-5002d9de07e67Sum 41 may seem an odd band for to be plugging on here, mainly for the fact that I have no doubt everyone reading this will have heard of them. Everyone I know will remember their early teens being littered with hits by the Canadian punk-pop outfit, their most famous obviously being ‘Fat Lip’. But the reason I feel this post is warranted is because it appears they’re a band that’s been forgotten, remembered fondly but no longer have a place on the iPod, however I would argue that if people gave their new stuff a listen they would be surprised at what they find, in my opinion Sum 41 have been improving with every album.

Back in the day I remember Sum 41 being a favourite amongst the boom of pop punk in the late nineties and early noughties, along with Blink, Good Charlotte, The Offspring and American Idiot-era Green Day. People first started taking notice of them with their debut album All Killer No Filler for a lot of people I think that’s where their love for them both started and finished. It’s injustice really considering this is actually their worst record, it’s eclipsed by the groups original EP, Half Hour of Power and a lot of the songs on the album were taken from that record the only good additions were the aforementioned ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘In Too Deep’ which are now the songs the band are known for. Their follow-up Does This Look Infected? was just as popular at the time and a far superior album. Although nowadays when I talk to people Infected? is much less remembered. When I go back and listen to the record now this is where you can start to see the potential for a serious band, they’re still joking around but there’s some very strong instrumentation and well structured and thought out songs.

It was in 2004 with the release of Chuck were the group really changed their focus and with it lost their commercial success and in retrospect the love of teenage fans. I must admit, I didn’t care for it when it came out I was still more interested in the jokey/poppy stuff that was coming out of Blink or Good Charlotte. Chuck saw Sum 41 start to write about some serious topics after the band had a near death experience on tour and were saved by a man named Chuck, the album though is not without its catchy hooks and fun songs but ultimately was a lot darker than their previous work and perhaps they were still maturing in their musicality as well back then. It wasn’t until 2007’s Underclass Hero that I began to take notice again, having matured massively myself I was heading into the darker side of rock moving towards the emo side of things and while everyone was looking elsewhere I cam across my old friends Sum 41 again and Underclass Hero was breath of fresh air. Combining the more complex emotions I was experiencing in late adolescence with the fun riffs and simplicity of the pop punk that had got me into rock music in the first place. It quickly became one of my favourite albums and to this day I still very much enjoy listening to it.

Their latest album Screaming Bloody Murder furthers their transformation into a serious rock group, the lyrics littered with pain and hurt that may have come from lead singer, Deryck Whibley’s divorce to his wife Avril Lavigne. The music on this record is so well structured it is at times hard to believe these are the same guys that brought us that simple pop music from our childhoods. Sum 41 produce music of top quality these days, go have a listen to their new stuff and I promise you won’t be disappointed, also their documentary to accompany Screaming Bloody Murder is a fun watch as well so here it is:

 

¡TRE!

Green-Day-TreSo we have reached the end of Green Day’s concept trilogy after ¡TRÉ!’s release date was brought forward. So far ¡Uno! was a pleasant surprise but ¡Dos! was much less enjoyable. Unfortunately ¡TRÉ! continues in that direction, it is by far the worst of the three. The band clearly didn’t have material to fill three records and it really becomes apparent here.

Kicking off with a downer in the form of ‘Brutal Love’ you may think things are going to pick up but they don’t. The lyrics are tired and boring which is mirrored by Billie Joe’s vocal performance – reaching an all-time low in ‘Drama Queen’ as song which would be better off locked away in Josef Fritzl’s dungeon. We also see the trio return to some of their methods from the dire American Idiot era with the song ‘Dirty Rotten Bastards’ which manages to combine a few shit songs into the space of six minutes making one massively shit song. Then when you finally reach the end we’re given a God-awful ballad going by the title ‘The Forgotten’ in which even the guitars sound like they can’t bothered to make a decent sound. This is quite truly a disaster.

It seems that perhaps people were too scared to tell Green Day that actually not every song they write is good, they could have done well to lose two of these three albums maybe taking some highlights from the second and third and replacing the odd dud that appeared on the first. After being filled with hope listening to ¡Uno! and have now fully reverted to my view that these guys are three washed up middle aged men still desperately trying to be 20 again with ego’s the size of the alps and credibility the size of a gnat.