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Review: St. Vincent – “MASSEDUCTION”

Written by Gunner. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

MASSSEDUCTION marks Annie Clark’s (stage name St. Vincent) fifth album. Her previous pseudonym titled album St. Vincent went on to receive a Grammy for Best Alternative Album however MASSEDUCTION may add to that collection. The album, which was co-produced by Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff (famous collaborations include Lorde & Taylor Swift) provides a refreshing ‘80s sound with flaring synths and heavy 808’s. The sound adds to the idea of “seduction” and positively adds to the growing sub genre of futuristic pop. The captious lyrics allow for a dark expose of Clark’s life as a whole taking on topics such as addiction (“Pills”) and suicide (“Smoking Section”). However, Clark is able to turn her recovery into a work of art as she puts together the broken pieces of her life and creates a beautiful musical puzzle.

Overall, the thirteen tracks provided were invigorating to say the least but only a few stood out to me. The title track provided for the idea of attraction. Clark spoke about the title track as her either being “seduced or the seducer”. The lines “I can’t turn off what turns me on/I hold you like a weapon” stood out to me the most as both seemed go along with the idea of attraction. What she has her eye on is dangerous but the force is too strong to be reckoned then saying she can not “turn off” what turns her on.

The instrumental track “Dancing with the Ghosts” serves as an emotional prelude to “Slow Disco” whose title is often repeated into the track. I loved the melancholic strings of the track as it resonated with mood of “Slow Disco”. The introduction tells the listeners that what they’re about to hear is somber. Clark has done this before on her first album with the two tracks “We Put a Pearl in the Ground” serving as an introduction for “Landmines”.

“Pills” and “Smoking Section” seem to be the controversial since they take on such harsh topics. “Pills” begins to go on about how it is much easier to live life when drugged rather than being sober. The chorus of the track “Pills to wake/pills to sleep” describe how Clark felt during a short period of her life when she would take sleeping pills. The chorus is a play on how she felt taking pills was the way to live her life. “Smoking Section” takes listeners down a much darker road as the lyrics are critical to the safety of life.  Many lyrics in this song are ways one could possibly end their life such as the lines “Sometimes I stand with a pistol in my hand/ I go to the edge of my roof” and I feel like St. Vincent wrote these lines to discuss the thoughts she’s had. The title of the song even describes something that’s risky for health. Sitting a in a smoking section could cause second hand smoke. My analysis of the title could be a stretch however, it correlates with the meaning of the song. However, the song concludes with Clark repeating the lines “it’s not the end”. It seems as though she turned around and let go of the negative thoughts and reassured herself she has more to live for and go on.

Overall, MASS SEDUCTION provides for a new sound for both genres of pop and alternative. I truly think it could be a contender for the 2019 Grammy’s possibly allowing Clark to receive her second grammy in Best Alternative Album.  I enjoyed the unique sounds of the album and the compelling lyrics making St. Vincent an asset to the music industry.

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

An album review by Emma Poor

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor is her seventh studio album and one of her best ones yet. For most of her songs she recorded with a full orchestra that increased the intensity of her music. Her lyrics are powerful and well-written, digging to the heart and begging you to listen. Her songs are more lyrics driven than anything where the full orchestra adds to the lyrics by swelling up behind her words. In Tornadoland when her lyrics turn more jazz inspired, the orchestra remains eerie and increasingly grows louder. In most of her songs, she sings in a minor key that is balanced out by her light vocals. The minor key is common in most of her music spanning across all of her albums. The song Obsolete is over six minutes long and entirely worth listening to with the dark lyrics, questioning life and its meaning while directly after, Sellers of Flowers is reminiscent and carefree. The first two songs have hints of pop music and are more upbeat than the rest of the album. I thoroughly enjoyed the album and would definitely listen to the album over and over again.

Phantogram’s “Three” Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

phantogram-three Review by Becca Malott

The electro rock group Phantogram led by Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter is getting closer to the popular alternative genre with their album “Three” released October 7th 2016. This band contains elaborate guitar riffs with electronic twists and gritty yet airy vocals that defiantly steal the attention of the audience. The band originated back in 2007 in their hometown Greenwich, New York. They have released a total of three studio albums.  Interestingly enough the group records all of their music in a remote barn near Upstate New York. The album’s number one hit “You Don’t Make Me High Anymore” is definitely pulling Phantogram closer and closer to mainstream alternative. Songs like “Same Old Blues” have an alluring mixture of almost blues and pop creating a paradox of interesting vocalizing and rhythmic beats.  Other songs like “Answers” and “Funeral Pyre” which contain a slower melody focusing the attention to the more emotional lyrical aspect of their music. This album is a must when it comes to unwinding with friends, or just jamming out in the car.

XXYYXX – XXYYXX Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

By Evan Cole

XXYYXX is the self-titled debut album of Orlando producer Marcel Everett, stage name XXYYXX. Released in 2012, this is currently Everett’s only album. XXYYXX is currently 20 years old, and was 16 when he released this album — something to keep in mind when listening. While XXYYXX isn’t necessarily a mainstream artist, his work, and this album in particular, has received a well-deserved cult following. The best way I can describe XXYYXX is psychedelic electronic, though I am not the best person to talk to when having to define and categorize music. What I can say, though, is that this album is entirely production, and it does it incredibly well.

The album opens with About You, a song that immediately puts you into a semi-trance that carries you throughout the rest of the album. This album is chock full of samples in each song, going anywhere from Jon Brion to Beyoncé; the first one you hear is a part of a Jillian Aversa verse, with the phrase “forever in time” played in reverse with a much higher pitch. This sample is changed throughout the song, changing its speed and its pitch, creating the basis that the beat blends with to create excellent production. When I first listened to this album, this song particularly captured me, and is one of the strongest.

The most glaring problem with this album is the overuse of repetition. When listening to an individual song on this record, it is easy to be two minutes in and think “will it just keep going on like this?” the most obvious example being Fields, one of this album’s singles. Every song on this album has repetition, sometimes minor, such as with Love Isn’t Made, but often it is apparent that XXYYXX is taking a single well-made 30-second clip, and repeating it while making small changes throughout. This can often make the songs feel a lot longer than the 3-4 minutes that they are. This issue is somewhat mitigated when listening to the record as an entire album, as I believe it enhances the feeling of a trance you are in when listening, purposefully causing you to lose track of time or even where exactly in the album you are.

Overall, even with its flaws, I think this album is an incredibly strong record, especially for a debut album.  I highly recommend trying XXYYXX out, it has become one of my favorites.

Rating: 9.5/10

Favorite songs: About You, Fields, DMT, TIED2U

Least favorite song: Witching Hour (If I have to choose one)

Find this album alongside his other releases at https://xxyyxx.bandcamp.com

Devandra Banhart’s Ape in Pink Marble: An Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews, Uncategorized

devendra-banhart-ape-in-pink-marble-1000sq_1_3

By: Jack Persinger  

Have you ever taken a really great walk on a beach? Maybe it was the rolling waves of the Pacific in California, or the shores of a lake. Well let me tell you, this is one beach walk of an album from Venezuelan-American indie artist Devandra Banhart, and I mean that in quite a good way. Coming into this album, this was not a genre I dabbled in too much, but honestly these few listens of Ape in Pink Marble may have changed that. Banhart’s ninth studio album doesn’t see too much of a departure from the light, airy sound he established in his last outing, 2013’s Mala, but don’t think for a second that they are the same; Ape focuses on much darker themes, like those of death, longing, and sadness.  Devandra’s 2016 release is adorned with his own artwork on the cover, an intriguing sketch of blue coloration. From the get-go, single and opening track “Middle Names” sets up the somber mood of the majority of the tracks that follow it, detailing Banhart’s longing and missing of a friend who has passed. His vocals are soft and immediate, establishing a close connection with the listener as his guitar sweeps along the track like the wind through a seashell. His playing is soft and minimalistic, but also captivating, with chords played with just enough energy to carry the soft mood of the album. But Devandra knows how to balance his instrumentals within the album, taking a backseat on the guitar when he needs to let other sounds take over, like the soaring synths found in the calm and collected “Jon Lends a Hand.” But an album full of mellow indie folk beach jams would get a little repetitive, and Banhart addresses this with two humorous, entertaining, and vital tracks to Ape: Spunky and cocky “Fancy Man” paints Devandra as a classy individual with high expectations and details this personality in a highly entertaining manner, while disco-ready “Fig in Leather” sees Banhart speak a humorous monologue over a catchy bassline and synth melody that will grab you by the collar immediately. While these two tracks stand out and add diversity to the album, they tend to be a black sheep for the album, not fitting in to the majority of Banhart’s tracks and adding to the incoherence of the middle of this 2016 release. But the second part of this album returns to the sound established in the first half of it, introducing lo-fi intrigue with “Saturday Night.” My favorite moment in the whole album comes in “Linda,” where 2 and a half minutes in Devandra slows his playing down to a single chord played over silence, increasingly slowing down to the chord being played at near-20 second intervals, adding to the mysterious and light mood of the song. Overall, this is an album I can see myself coming back to another day, as Banhart’s soothing voice and airy sound culminates in a truly fantastic indie folk album.

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