Album Review: The Weeknd – Kiss Land

Before I selected an album to review, I went through the same thought process as Keith and Dan did with their most recent reviews (click on their names and read theirs too!). I wanted to review an artist, or band, that I wasn’t a passionate fan of because it would cause substantial bias (ahem, my Taking Back Sunday review was essentially me writing an open love letter to the band). So I decided to do just that, and I believe I will go with…

The Weeknd! (Birth name: Abel Tesfaye)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

(Photo Credit: Alanzadeh)

To be honest, I’ve never even listened to a song by The Weeknd – accidently or purposefully. That may be absurd to many because he has a relatively large following in my age bracket – at least most of the people I’m friends with religiously listen to The Weeknd – but those same friends likely realize that I do not listen to much R&B (or more specifically PBR&B as it is known for The Weeknd’s case). I only even know of The Weeknd because of those same friends retweeting Mr. Weeknd, or tweeting his lyrics.

This album review will be as objective as they come, though, so that’s a positive. I will also say that since I have never listened to The Weeknd that I may not be able to pick up on any subtle themes or style he employs in his music. Feel free to tear me limb from limb if I incorrectly assess any lyrics or themes. I’m going in with zero knowledge on The Weeknd, which I think will be fun for this review.

The album to be reviewed is The Weeknd’s latest album Kiss Land, which was released September 10, 2013. You can buy that album at Amazon, iTunes, The Weeknd’s Site, or your local music store/Target. Remember, not every artist is living in a luxurious mansion; this is their passion as well as their means to make a living.

The album cover of Kiss Land can be seen here.

So let’s get this baby started right? Well first let me tell you how this album will be graded in this review.

I will be color coding each song title track with one of these colors: Purple (favorite track), Green (solid songs), Blue (listenable), and Red (I don’t like it one bit). Got it? Then I will be giving reasons why those songs received that grade, and the overall grade of the album will be listed at the bottom out of ten.

I like to grade the albums this way because it is easy for readers to quickly grasp my opinion on the individual songs, as well as the album, without having to search high and low for it. It is simple to just make a blanket statement about an album without really giving an opinion on the majority of songs, but with this means of grading it shows my feelings towards each song.

Here we go, and, again, thanks for reading!

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

(Photo Credit: Shubvirk)

Track List

Professional
The Town
Adaptation
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Live For Feat. Drake
Wanderlust
Kiss Land
Pretty
Tears In The Rain
Odd Look [Only from iTunes purchase] Feat. The Weeknd By Kavinsky

Purple Level Songs:

Wanderlust

Explanation:

‘Wanderlust’ appealed to me because it was different, but not so different that The Weeknd lost his style. The intro with the guitar warmed my heart, and the faster pace music made me appreciate The Weeknd’s lyrics much more considering nearly every other song on this album is mellow, or too slow for my blood. The only critique I have is The Weeknd may be incorrectly using the word ‘wanderlust’ in his lyrics. (Here’s the literal definition.)

Look here at a snippet of lyrics:

You’re in love with something bigger than love
You believe in something stronger than trust
Wanderlust
Wanderlust

You’re too shy away from me
Just sacrifice your every last inhibition
I’m on your side
Don’t patronize
You know tonight
Is the only time we’ll have each other
Why would you try to waste this precious time?
Cause tonight I’ll be right here
And tomorrow you won’t care

There is no concrete mention of travel (essentially what wanderlust means); there is mention that ‘You’re too shy away from me’ and ‘I’ll be right here, And tomorrow you won’t care.’ Whether or not that is insinuating travel, or separation from The Weeknd, is ultimately up to you to decide – I frankly don’t believe that to be the case in the grand scheme of the song. I believe The Weeknd slotted the word wanderlust into the song and it fit perfectly. I apologize for that mini-rant/explanation over semantics.

Overall ‘Wanderlust’ is a catchy song with a mildly fast beat (in comparison to the rest of the album) and is a must listen on Kiss Land.

Green Level Songs:

Professional
Love In The Sky
Belong To The World
Odd Look

Explanation:

The first song of this album ‘Professional’ does a stellar job of starting off Kiss Land. ‘Professional’ quickly lent me The Weeknd’s style when it came to lyrics and music. I should have realized that an R&B album would be sensual, but ‘Professional’ again helped me realize that quickly (not saying it is a bad thing just that I should have thought about that before listening!).

‘Love In The Sky’ follows the theme of love, fame, and desire that oozes from every song on Kiss Land. ‘Love In The Sky’ takes a slightly different approach that makes it likable. Instead of reminiscing solely on their past endeavors, The Weeknd speaks to his lady friend that their love is not made for the world that they live in – that their love is too powerful to be fully explained, or felt in this reality. I understand that the ‘sky’ referenced in the song does not mean the literal sky, but a higher plane of reality – possibly heaven. Of course, The Weeknd slips in several non-subtle sensual lyrics that only adds to his exuberant feelings for this woman and the meaning of the song.

The fifth song of the album, ‘Belong To The World’, is similar to track four (‘Love In The Sky’), in that The Weeknd references his love for the woman and her backstory more than his fame or backstory. He acknowledges that she is ‘dead inside’ yet that she may be the first woman that actually made him have feelings of love. Though The Weeknd may have feelings for this woman, he recognizes that she ‘Belongs to the World’ and no person is worthy of this woman’s love because she is the penultimate woman (in The Weeknd’s mind). My only complaints are that the song drags on at the end, and the meaning of the song becomes horribly watered down by the repeating of the chorus.

The final song on Kiss Land is the song ‘Odd Look.’ Oddly enough, The Weeknd did not create the beats (and possibly lyrics) for this song – French House Music artist Kavinsky did! Nonetheless, ‘Odd Look’ capitalizes on The Weeknd’s raw soulfulness and angst. Hearing The Weeknd in a fast paced song is a literal change of pace from most of the songs on Kiss Land, and his voice, accompanied with Kavinsky’s beats/lyrics, knocks it completely out of the park.

Blue Level Songs:

The Town
Adaptation
Pretty

Explanation:

‘The Town’ just didn’t provide for me as a song. It was generic sounding for a genre that I believe sounds the same a lot of the time, but those songs that ‘sound the same’ at least try to mix in a few differences to spice up the song. ‘The Town’ does nothing out of the ordinary, but isn’t terrible.

Like ‘The Town’, ‘Adaptation’ did not feel like a song I will remember by name if I happen to hear it played at a bar, at a friend’s house, or on satellite radio. Being right after ‘The Town’ on the track list, it seemed to me like a continuation of ‘The Town.’ The lyrics in ‘Adaptation’ are much better than ‘The Town’ lyrics simply because I don’t believe I have heard an artist lament his fame and life (after he became famous) quite like The Weeknd does in ‘Adaptation.’ Intriguing lyrics, bland sound.

‘Pretty’ doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other song on this album (or any other R&B track for that matter). The Weeknd is lusting after another woman, and he describes to her how beautiful she is and all that jazz. It’s the simple recipe for most love songs written by men. Yet the instrumentals in this song are what keep it blue level instead of red level. If the lyrics weren’t so simplistic in this song, it may have very well been my favorite of Kiss Land. The French lyrics at the end are lovely, but The Weeknd should’ve worked those lyrics into the entire song.

The track directly after ‘Pretty’ is ‘Tears in the Rain.’ Just like ‘Pretty,’ ‘Tears in the Rain’ suffers from simplistic lovey-dovey lyrics (though more angsty in ‘Tears in the Rain’), but is saved by stupendous instrumentals. There isn’t much else to say about ‘Tears in the Rain.’

Red Level Songs:

Live For Feat. Drake
Kiss Land*

Explanation:

Drake was completely unnecessary in ‘Live For.’ His feature did not want to end. Drake rattled on and on about how he’s toured the world, received plaques (just refers to his ‘plaques’ – I’m assuming they’re for rapping? Sports? Being Canadian?), and nothing more than partying – so totally epic. He mentions his family, but nothing substantial to make a point. The Weeknd’s lyrics are pitiful compared to his other songs because this song is more of a ‘party’ or ‘hype’ song. This isn’t the introspective The Weeknd that is heard in every other song, but rather it is The Weeknd that decided to create a song to fit in Drake to possibly pump up his popularity? I am unsure, but ‘Live For’ is not The Weeknd’s best work (and I’ve only listened to the songs on Kiss Land). I applaud The Weeknd for trying to step out of his comfort zone, though.

I am torn with the song ‘Kiss Land.’ The first half of the song makes me feel uneasy because of the shrill, terrified screaming of the woman in the background music. The lyrics aren’t too strong either, but the first half of lyrics is just The Weeknd urging the girl (and possibly himself?) that all he wants is her body and to set her up as his ‘west coast girl’ – among other things. These lyrics aren’t much different than other lyrics from other songs on this album, but I was expecting more from the album’s title track (and not the screaming of a woman that is terrified in the background for no apparent reason). Yet the second half of the song (Verse 3) The Weeknd turns it up lyrically, and the song slows down slightly. Verse 3 The Weeknd begins to explain how his fame was gained quickly after 21 years of ‘staring at the same four walls.’ This is the second song on the track where The Weeknd laments his fame (or at least his quick ascent to fame in ‘Kiss Land’), but he continues to pour his soul into Verse 3 with his problem with drugs, sex, and life in general. Aside from the disastrous first half of the song (which was so horrid that it made this song a red level song), ‘Kiss Land’ is the *rawest song The Weeknd has on this album.*

Overall:

Kiss Land is an album that I would recommend to any of my musically inclined friends. It has a lot to offer for people that want to ‘relax’ their mind, or want to think about life in general. It is a peaceful, yet thought-provoking album. The only slants I have against Kiss Land are the songs seem to run together in some instances (meaning they’re too similar sounding – lyrically and instrumentally), and the lyrics could be much stronger in four or five of the songs on the album. Nonetheless, Kiss Land is a solid album from an artist that I have never listened to before in my life. You gained a fan The Weeknd.

Final Grade: 7/10

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let us know! Thank you for reading.

It’d be great if you followed the blog on Twitter and Facebook, and if you became a follower on WordPress. It’d be wonderful if you told your friends about us too!

Album Review: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

This is the second post from our contributor Dan. Check out his previous post here. Thanks for reading!

What a year 2013 was for Miley Cyrus.  She went from almost falling off the face of the planet through sheer irrelevance to becoming the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the year.  Following all her ridiculous/attention-getting antics at the VMAs, Miley released her first album in 3 years.  Bangerz is exactly what it wants to be – an over the top pop album with synth-beats on almost every track and some big names in the Rap game (Big Sean, Future, etc).

One of the four album covers for Bangerz. The rest can be found here.

One of the four album covers for Bangerz. The rest can be found here.

I will be giving my overall grade (on a scale of 1 – 10; 10 being the best) of the album at the end, but instead of reordering the songs into ‘best to worst’ order I will be using colors to visually demonstrate which songs I like the most, least, and the songs I am apathetic about.

If a song is green – I like it more than others; if a song is blue – It’s listenable; if a song is red – I don’t really like it. I will be adding purple to the list as well; purple will be for my favorite song on the album.

I have written a short review of every song and highlighted it based upon the scale above.

Track List

1. Adore You
2. We Can’t Stop
3. SMS (Bangerz) feat. Britney Spears
4. 4×4 feat. Nelly
5. My Darlin’ feat. Future
6. Wrecking Ball
7. Love, Money, Party feat. Big Sean
8. Get it Right
9. Drive
10. FU feat. French Montana
11. Do My Thang
12. Maybe You’re Right
13. Someone Else

Cyrus performing on December 2013. (Source)

Cyrus performing on December 2013. (Source)

Track reviews

 1. Adore You

This was the opening song on the album, and it quickly bored me.  Not a great way to start an album, but lucky for Miley she was able to pull the rest of this album out of the rubble.

2. We Can’t Stop

Not a bad song.  Initially I did not like this song when I heard over the summer because it was not Party in the USA but it has eventually grown on me.  It’s green because as hard as you try to avoid this song, hearing it is inevitable.  Very catchy, very Miley.  This was the first everyone saw of Nu-Miley.

3. SMS (Bangerz) feat. Britney Spears

The first really cool sounding song on the album.  Very cool feature of Brittney Spears.  Still pretty repetitive.  First time I’ve listened to a Miley Cyrus song that she said a swear word. She is no longer Hannah Montana and that’s okay.

4. 4×4 feat. Nelly

There is a very interesting instrumental track for this song.  Almost sounds a bit country at times, which makes the Nelly feature make so much sense.  You really get to hear the Southern roots of Miley in her vocals for this track.  Nelly continues to do Nelly things, makes me miss ‘Country Grammar.’

5. My Darlin’ feat. Future

There is a lot of emotion put into the first lines Miley has in the song, but then Future comes in and ruins it.  Honestly, any other feature would make this an okay song.  The lyrics shift from pretty emotional and heart broken at the start, to “we gon’ make a movie, its gon’ be in 3d.”  This song had potential, but it just couldn’t keep me interested.

6. Wrecking Ball

Everybody and their mother knows this song and video.  There really isn’t anything I can say about this song that hasn’t already been said.  Pretty good lyrically, pretty catchy.

7. Love, Money, Party feat. Big Sean

Miley is channeling her inner Ke$ha on this song.  The words “Love”, “Money”, and ”Party” are repeated over and over and over.  Kind of gives me a headache.  If it wasn’t for Big Sean’s verse on this song I think this would have been a red song.

8. #GETITRIGHT

This song reminds me of a Robin Thicke song, with Miley playing the role of Thicke.  When you think of the song like that it is pretty interesting. The similarities to this song and ‘Blurred Lines’ are apparent.

9. Drive

Miley opens this song showing off her impressive vocal range. I am a big fan of the instrumental track used.  It made me want to freestyle at times, which is always a good thing.  Lyrics follow the heartbreak of most of the album.

After listening to the whole album, I have decided that this song is my favorite.  This song is good summary for the album.  It is very catchy at times, but it’s coming from a place of pain.  Miley is weak, confused, and scared.  To me, this song shows that.

10. FU feat. French Montana

This is another pretty cool song.  French Montana is another poor feature, but he doesn’t do a whole lot, so it doesn’t affect the track a whole lot.  The vocals are grandiose over a very dub-by instrumental – which sounds like a weird combination – but it ends up working for the song.  The lyrics are slightly goofy at times and don’t really go with her vocals, but it still ends up working.

11. Do My Thang

Stop trying to rap on trap beats Miley; I don’t think it works for you as much as you think.  A lot of “bitch rhymes with bitch” rhyme patterns… Weak.

12. Maybe You’re Right

Meh.  The whole ‘every song is about Thor’s Brother’ thing is getting a little boring at this point in the album.

13. Someone Else

I enjoyed this song.  I couldn’t tell you what I really enjoyed about it, but I know that I liked it.

The bracelet on Cyrus's knuckles reads 'NICK.'

The bracelet on Cyrus’s knuckles reads ‘NICK.’

Overall:

2013 was Miley Cyrus’ year as far as popularity goes, but it also has been a year full of heartbreak and self-destruction for the young pop star.  She dealt with the end of a marriage proposal, which is never an easy thing for anyone to do.  She came back from all that to release an album that was nothing like anything she had done before.

Personally, I enjoyed a chunk of the album.  Miley has amazing talent when it comes to singing.  There are times when I see her have the vocal range of someone like Christina Aguilera, which is amazing, but there are also times where she feels that she would rather rap.  I was not a fan of the latter.  The album was filled with “Bangerz” that you would typically hear at a college party or a club, but if that is not your scene then this album is not for you.

 Final Grade : 7/10

Too much of the CD was boring, or repetitive, to the point where I couldn’t see myself giving a much higher rating, but overall the CD was not terrible.  Miley is still young, so I can see her making many more albums following this; lets just hope the next one isn’t all about Thor’s Brother.

It’d be great if you followed the blog on Twitter and Facebook, and if you became a follower on WordPress. It’d be wonderful if you told your friends about us too!

The Most Boring Album of the Year, Saved (Partially) by Two of the Most Interesting Rappers Alive

This is the first blog post from contributor Keith. Please welcome him with open arms! He’s great and this piece illustrates that! This piece was completed in December 2013.

Earlier today I was standing in line at Chipotle (my intestines hate me, and for good reason) and, as usual, I was staring at my phone, searching whatever came to mind. At the particular moment in question, my mind was on Chance the Rapper. Since it came out I have listened to Acid Rap almost once a day (if not more) as well as #10day. The guy is amazing. No, this is not a review of either of those mixtapes, because honestly, that review would be so laden with praise I would hear schoolyard bullies the whole time, “If you love him so much why don’t you marry him?” Easier said than done, bullies.

But no, I didn’t want my first album review to be something that I have obsessed over, instead something I hadn’t heard yet. So, I began Googling. The first article I came across was from SPIN, an outrageously glitchy site (at least on my iPhone) that was filled with pop-up advertisements (I can’t afford a Tonka truck, don’t try to sell me a Camry), and I fought through the issues to reach the article, titled Chance the Rapper Lends (More) Genius to James Blake’s ‘Life Round Here’Immediately, I turned to my brother and asked him who James Blake was; his response was a ten minute rant on ‘how pissed he was that people were talking about this guy instead of the tennis player’ – my brother cares way too much about sports. I could see he was going to be no help and trudged on with the article. Apparently, Chance did an alternate version of the song and killed it, as expected. I figured, why not listen to James Blake’s new album (Overgrown) for my first review. Done.

First thing’s first, find out something about James Blake, so I hit up Wikipedia, and learned that people love him. Cool. Next, get ahold of the album. Done. Then it came time to listen to it. I formed an opinion almost immediately, but I’ll leave that for later.

For this review I am going to use Brad’s method for grading (for example), green, blue, and red categories for the songs, (great, good, bad; respectively) each group then gets an explanation; then purple for my favorite of the album. I decided to add a brown song for my least favorite. Why brown? You do the math. I will give an overall grade for the album on a ten point scale. After I finish, I am going to add one more part, and that is a review of Chance’s version of the “Life Round Here”. I am not going to listen to that song until I write the initial review because I know that it would cause bias, and I want to approach this as objectively as possible.

As always, this is purely my opinion, and while I certainly believe that my opinion is correct (I haven’t spent several years and thousands of dollars on college for nothing) you, dear reader, are entitled to your opinion. Remember, you chose to read this, I’m not forcing you.

Without further ado, the track listing:

  1. Overgrown
  2. I Am Sold
  3. Life Round Here
  4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)
  5. Retrograde
  6. DLM
  7. Digital Lion
  8. Voyeur
  9. To the Last
  10. Our Love Comes Back
  11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)
The album cover.

The album cover.

The track listing in order with their colorized grades:

  1. Overgrown
  2. I Am Sold
  3. Life Round Here
  4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)
  5. Retrograde
  6. DLM
  7. Digital Lion
  8. Voyeur
  9. To The Last
  10. Our Love Comes Back
  11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)

Purple Level Song:

4. Take a Fall for Me (feat. RZA)

Explanation:

By far the best song on the album. Mr. Blake needs to thank Bobby Digital for adding the only real substance to the lyrics of this album. RZA’s spoken word poetry is without a doubt the coolest thing about this album, and it reaches the deepest level of art and emotion that Overgrown has to offer. There is also some cool distortion employed onto Bobby’s voice, making for a very interesting listen.

Green Level Songs:

5. Retrograde
6. DLM

Explanation:

These two work well. They follow up the track with RZA well, and they sufficiently kept my attention all the way through them. “Retrograde” changed enough throughout the song to keep it interesting, and “DLM,” though a short song, uses a cool, asynchronous piano melody, it backs off on the over-the-top vocals, and it has more lyrical content than most of the rest of the album.

Blue Level Songs:

3. Life Round Here
7. Digital Lion

Explanation:

These two songs are blue because they didn’t hold me through the entire track, but they were interesting enough to get my attention. “Life Round Here,” being the song that drew me to this album in the first place, was a relief, as it was the first on the album that was actually bearable, which gave me hope for the version with Chance (which I have still yet to listen to). “Digital Lion” also came with some cool beats at points, but like so many songs on the album, fell into a repetitive lull by the end. Both of these songs are interesting enough to listen to, but they are kept out of the green level because they get lost in a vortex of repetition and make the eyelids heavy.

Red Level Songs:

1. Overgrown
2. I Am Sold
9. To the Last
10. Our Love Comes Back
11. Every Day I Ran (Bonus Track)

Explanation:

Boring. Boring. Boring.

I can’t say it enough. These five songs are aggressively unremarkable. Blake warbles on and on, articulating so little lyrical content that I wonder why anyone bothered writing lyrics. He could have achieved the same effect with just the non-verbal sounds that dominate most of these songs. I looked up the lyrics to all of them just to make sure that I wasn’t missing something and my stomach turned when I saw all of the lines cut and pasted over and over and over yet again. I would have to imagine that he got bored singing the same words in the same way so many times, because I certainly got bored listening to them. About halfway through each of these songs, I found myself wishing that it would end, and despairing at the small amount of time that had elapsed.

No change was in sight. None of these songs are long either. I would understand if it was like Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 where the songs actually do go on forever, but these ones just felt like they did. This section is especially bad because it includes the first two songs on the album. Before the first song ended (also the title track of the album!) I wanted to turn it off, but I had committed to it, so I powered through, and saw it to the end.

Brown Level Song:

8. Voyeur

Explanation:

Utter garbage. The lyrics are (according to metrolyrics.com)

“I don’t mind, it was all me/’Cause I am flawed/When I am through those doors/’Cause I am flawed/Times unsure/I should do whatever will make you feel secure/I don’t mind, it was all me.”

What am I supposed to get from that? Clocking in at 4:18, this is the fourth longest song on the album, and should have been – How long did it take you to read those lyrics? – Let’s go with your answer to that question. This song is terrible for all of the reasons that those in the red level have, but it is far worse for one major reason: this song thinks (personification for the song, I suppose I should say that James Blake thinks) that it does change and stay interesting, but this belief is a farce. The man repeats the same few words over and over, adding layers like a madman, but keeping the same boring gait. The vocals and sounds distort, discombobulate, and annoy the listener. It makes me think of the soundtrack that I imagine the CIA would have played over a brainwashing video in the sixties. If I have to hear “I don’t mind, it was all me” again, I may lose it.

Overall Grade: 2/10

I realize that this kind of music is in right now (for some reason), and though I just heard about it today, I understand that people love this album; but for the life of me I cannot figure out why. The vocal style is mind numbing and gets played out before the first song is even over, but continues for 43 minutes. The instrumentals are repetitive, only deviating to add unnecessary layers, there is virtually no lyrical content on the entire work (save for RZA’s shining verses), and it goes on for entirely too long. The only true bright spot on the album is RZA reciting a very cool poem, but that is not enough to redeem it. Yeah, a couple of songs are bearable, and a couple I would listen to again, but I would never put myself through the misery of this entire album again, and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone else do it.

Unless of course this album is your cup of tea. If you dig this style, cool, enjoy your nap, I’ll be listening to something with a purpose.

Extra Bit:

As I mentioned before, I will now be reviewing the version of “Life Round Here” with Chance the Rapper. I wrote the whole review of the album before listening to the song so that I wouldn’t know how great it could have been while reviewing what was actually on the album. I’ll be back in four minutes.

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper

Alright, I lied. I listened to it a couple times, and read the lyrics along with Chance after the first listen. I wish I could take James Blake out of this song. As usual, Chance kills it, and ignoring Blake’s vocals the instrumental is really nice and compliments Chance well. Basically, for this song to reach the stratosphere of some of Chances other features (“LSD” by ProbCause, “Bout a Dolla” by the O’My’s, or “Tweakin” by Vic Mensa) he would probably need to get another verse and not have to compete with Blake for time and sound. I’m pretty much asking for James Blake to take his voice and name off the song (he’d still be the producer) and just let Chance do what he does best; kill it every time.

References:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/de/James_Blake_-_Overgrown_album_cover.png

http://www.spin.com/articles/chance-the-rapper-james-blake-life-round-here-remix/

https://chwomp.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/album-review-taking-back-sundays-tayf10-acoustic-album/

http://www.metrolyrics.com/james-blake-lyrics.html

http://www.metrolyrics.com/voyeur-lyrics-james-blake.html

Editors Note: Thanks for reading! Please leave any comments or concerns you have below.

 It’d be great if you followed the blog on Twitter and Facebook, and if you became a follower on WordPress. It’d be wonderful if you told your friends about us too!

Album Review: Childish Gambino – Because The Internet

This is the first post by contributor Dan. Please welcome him with open arms and read his wonderful review.

I first heard Childish Gambino in early 2011, when the song “Be Alone” was released and EP was first announced. The only reason I initially listened to that song was to see if Donald Glover (the dude from Derrick Comedy and Community in my eyes at this time, nothing more) could actually make bearable music.  Not only was this music bearable, it was pretty amazing!  Every song filled with pop culture reference after pop culture reference, that I actually understood.  It was way different from the Wiz Khalifa that all my friends we’re listening to at that time, but way better.

CG

Fast Forward to 2013. After getting such rocky reviews for Camp and Royalty, Gambino prepares to release his fourth album (Culdesac predates two previously mentioned). This one however is a little different than the others; this is more than an original album.  This is a piece of art, complete with its own e-screenplay.  This e-screenplay has all the media built right in, from a player to play each track when necessary, to videos to go along with the listening/reading/watching experience.   In my opinion, this is the most complete album of the year.  As a stand alone, the CD is still great, but it doesn’t really make too much sense for Donald/Childish to be rapping about some topics that he does.  When linked with the screenplay, the whole album makes so much more sense because you are getting perspective that you were not just getting with the lyrics.

The only track I was not fully invested into this album was “Urn”; however after reading the section in the screenplay, I see the song’s purpose. It is an important part in the story even if it is a bland part of the album.

Childish Gambino put himself on the album cover for Because The Internet

Childish Gambino put himself on the album cover for Because The Internet

This album is also split into sub sections, which really work for the album.  These sections differentiate in setting of the story, that give the reader/listener a better understanding to what CG or “the boy” is feeling at this point in the story.  My favorite section of the album is track 10-12, or as I refer to it as, “The Party Chapters.” Track 10 is just Donald playing some piano chords (which occurs in the screenplay as well), followed by (in my opinion) the coolest song on the album “the Party” which features a flawless verse and then quickly dies out into the next track.  Track 12, “No Exit” is one of the most haunting songs on the album, and it works so well for the section it is.

As a whole thing, Because the Internet is easily one of the best pieces of art to come out this year.  I would strongly recommend that you read the screenplay through at least once (can easily be done in one sitting.)  Below is the tracklist, normally I would recommend certain tracks to pull out and listen to separately, but I feel that this album works best as a whole, because it is split into all these subsections.:

  1. ‘The Library (Intro)’
  2. I. ‘The Crawl’
  3. II. ‘Worldstar’
  4. ‘Dial Up’
  5. I. ‘The Worst Guys’ (Featuring Chance The Rapper)
  6. II. ‘Shadows’
  7. III. ‘Telegraph’ (“Oakland” by Lloyd)
  8. IV. ‘Sweatpants’
  9. V. ’3005′
  10. ‘Playing Around Before The Party Starts’
  11. I. ‘The Party’
  12. II. ‘No Exit’
  13. ‘Death By Numbers’
  14. I. ‘Flight of The Navigator’
  15. II. ‘Zealots of Stockholm’ (Free Information)
  16. III. ‘Urn’
  17. I. ‘Pink Toes’ (Featuring Jhene Aiko)
  18. II. ‘Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)’ [Featuring Azealia Banks]
  19. III. ‘Life: The Biggest Troll’ (Andrew Auernheimer)

Here is also a link to the screenplay.

Album Review: Taking Back Sunday’s TAYF10 Acoustic Album

It’d be great if you followed the blog on Twitter and Facebook, and if you became a follower on WordPress. It’d be wonderful if you told your friends about us too!

I figured that I really needed to get back to the roots of what this blog is really about and that is ultimately music. I love music, there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not listening to music, and I would literally want to die if I could not listen to music for a significant period of time. It’s a serious love and I’m in it for the long run.

Today I will be reviewing Taking Back Sunday’s TAYF10 Acoustic Album that was released this past June. It has the same tracks as the original Tell All Your Friends (with the inclusion of ‘Your Own Disaster’), but the tracks are live and acoustic versions of the songs giving some of the songs new life in a way. If you have not bought this album yet (for shame!) you can buy it here, and I highly advise taking the deal that includes the documentary! It’s enlightening and wonderful if you’re a big TBS fan like me.

Now onto how I will be scoring this review (very similar to how I scored Mayday Parade’s newest album (Monsters In The Closet)):

I will be giving my overall grade (on a scale of 1 – 10; 10 being the best) of the album at the end, but instead of reordering the songs into ‘best to worst’ order I will be using colors to visually demonstrate which songs I like the most, least, and the songs I am apathetic about.

If a song is green – I like it and will continue to listen to it daily; if a song is blue – It’s listenable, but not a favorite; if a song is red – I don’t really like it. I guarantee you there will not be a single red song from this album, even an objective reviewer would agree. I will be adding purple to the list as well; purple will be for my favorite song on the album.

This is going to be a HUGE task for me to determine which songs I like more than others because I really do love all of these songs for what they are, but I will do my best to try to take away my subjectivity from the review. Here is the tracklist before I score them:

  1. You Know How I Do
  2. Bike Scene
  3. Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)
  4. There’s No “I” In Team
  5. Great Romances Of The 20th Century
  6. Ghost Man On Third
  7. Timberwolves At New Jersey
  8. The Blue Channel
  9. You’re So Last Summer
  10. Head Club
  11. Your Own Disaster

Before I begin coloring these brilliant tracks, I must say that Taking Back Sunday is my favorite band of all-time and it will come into play with every single song on this album and I cannot help it. As aforementioned I will do my best to be as objective as possible, but it is not likely. This is one of the few times when reviewing music where my ‘fanboyism’ will come into play. I’d be hard-pressed, however, to find someone that did not at least mostly agree with me on these songs since they are that spectacular and nostalgic. Okay, enough with that here we go.

  1. You Know How I Do

  2. Bike Scene

  3. Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)

  4. There’s No “I” In Team

  5. Great Romances Of The 20th Century

  6. Ghost Man On Third

  7. Timberwolves At New Jersey

  8. The Blue Channel

  9. You’re So Last Summer

  10. Head Club

  11. Your Own Disaster

 

Purple Level Songs:

8. The Blue Channel

Explanation:

Instead of going for the uber popular songs, I latched on to ‘The Blue Channel’ not to be a hipster, but because ‘The Blue  Channel’ is my favorite song off this album by far. So much emotion from Adam and John in the acoustic/live incarnation, especially when John screams and elongates ‘I’ll still wait for your call.’ So many good feels; so much emotion. Gets me every single time I listen to it. Superb song.

(One would think a song named ‘The Blue Channel’ would be in the blue level!)

Green Level Songs:

1. You Know How I Do

2. Bike Scene

3. Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)

7. Timberwolves At New Jersey

9. You’re So Last Summer

10. Head Club

Explanation:

I could write paragraph upon paragraph on each of these songs, but I’ll be brief. Each song here has a different inherent meaning behind it (though you could blanket define them with ‘relationship’), and a magical feel to each of them. ‘Cute Without The E’ live is something everyone needs to experience, but if you can’t/haven’t this live version suffices and does TBS justice. It’s fantastic. Several of these songs the band has the audience participate (well the audience participates regardless) and it adds to the live aspect of the album because the fans are passionate about the songs, the lyrics, the band that it resonates with you more than just a studio version of the song. Incredible songs, and a nice touch bringing back Michelle to sing Bike Scene and Ghost Man On Third.

Blue Level Songs:

4. There’s No “I” In Team

5. Great Romances Of The 20th Century

6. Ghost Man On Third

11. Your Own Disaster

Explanation:

Just because these songs are in the ‘blue level’ does not mean they’re bad songs at all! They just aren’t my particular favorites from this album, but I always listen to them when they come up on my iPod. I just did not get the same goosebumps that I get from the live version of ‘There’s no “I” in Team” as I do from the studio version from a decade ago. I have the same sentiment towards ‘Ghost Man On Third.’ I actually love this version of ‘Great Romances Of The 20th Century’ but there was just something about the live version. After having the album for several months, I still cannot put my thumb on what it is exactly, but it bothers me slightly each listen.

Red Level Songs:

None!

Explanation:

All of the songs on this album are incredibly listenable.

Overall Grade: 9/10

I am sure Taking Back Sunday knew it would be difficult to top one of their best albums in Tell All Your Friends and I believe that they have hit the nail on the head with TAYF10 Acoustic. It’s a fun album, especially for avid fans, and each song has a different sound (some greater than others) than the original studio album songs. I recommend this album to: fans of Taking Back Sunday, fans of the early 2000s punk rock/alternative rock scene, and people that enjoy acoustic songs in general.

Thanks for reading!

Lou Reed’s Review of Yeezus

Yesterday the world lost a Rock ‘n Roll great in Lou Reed. We dearly miss you already.

In honor of him I’d like to post a snippet of a review he gave on The Talkhouse of Kanye West’s most recent album Yeezus. The entire review is incredible and can be found here. It is NSFW, but I’m sure if you’re reading this you’re mature enough to handle some ‘bad’ words.

Here is a snippet of the review:

Many lyrics seem like the same old b.s. Maybe because he made up so much of it at the last minute.  But it’s the energy behind it, the aggression.  Usually the Kanye lyrics I like are funny, and he’s very funny here.  Although he thinks that getting head from nuns and eating Asian pussy with sweet and sour sauce is funny, and it might be, to a 14-year-old — but it has nothing to do with me.  Then there’s the obligatory endless blowjobs and menages-a-trois.

But it’s just ridiculous that people are getting upset about “Put my fist in her like a civil rights sign”?  C’mon, he’s just having fun.  That’s no more serious than if he said he’s going to drop a bomb on the Vatican.  How can you take that seriously?

And then he’ll come out with an amazing line like “We could have been somebody.”  He’s paraphrasing that famous Marlon Brando line from On the Waterfront, “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charlie.”  Or he says “I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” — but then he does a whole chorus with Frank Ocean.  What he says and what he does are often two different things.

“Hold My Liquor” is just heartbreaking, and particularly coming from where it’s coming from — listen to that incredibly poignant hook from a tough guy like Chief Keef, wow.  At first, West says “I can hold my liquor” and then he says “I can’t hold my liquor.”  This is classic — classic manic-depressive, going back and forth. Or as the great Delmore Schwartz said, “Being a manic depressive is like having brown hair.”

“I’m great, I’m terrible, I’m great, I’m terrible.”  That’s all over this record.  And then that synthesized guitar solo on the last minute and a half of that song, he just lets it run, and it’s devastating, absolutely majestic.

Reed does a stupendous job on relaying his understanding of West to us, and with West being a polarizing (and hard to understand) figure it is helpful. I like Kanye West, but it took a magnificent artist, like Lou Reed, to help us proles understand another magnificent artist like Kanye West.

We will miss you, Lou Reed.