Kurt Vile – “b’lieve i’m goin down”

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

Kurt Vile’s b’lieve i’m goin down is his sixth solo album, this one contains more of a folk rock vibe with more banjo and piano included as opposed to his other albums, the lyrics have a deeper meaning to them than what they appear as. My favorite song has to be “life like this” for the instrumental as well as the lyrics that seem almost mesmerizing with the repetition. Vile is  the former guitarist for war on drugs. His music seems to be influenced by the 70’s relaxed style along with Bob Dylan when it comes to lyrics. This album is a 8.5 out of 10 for the influences that are used with the instruments as well as the lyrics that makes b’lieve I’m goin down seem like it must be listened to at the dark hours of night to get the more somber effect.

The Shaman’s Selections: Top 10 of 2014

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Music, Reviews

That’s Right, You’re Already Dead!

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1. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

I couldn’t comfortably dictate a list of top albums until well after the entirety of 2014, but this release was surely the winner despite a constantly shifting list of runners-up. FlyLo (a member of the famous Coltrane family, for those unfamiliar) hones his style masterfully on this release; at times he weaves instruments so seamlessly that you might think you’re listening to some enigmatic result of jazz-fusion records that melted together with a progressive rock LP in some hot archival basement during the early 1970’s, but while taking advantages of all the abstract possibilities that electronic music has to offer the album carries a distinctively untouchable modern flair. Indubitably a work best served in one continuous run-through, You’re Dead! sees this musical trip progress from schizophrenic jazzy freak-outs to equally unique hip-hop segments featuring his mystical alter ego Captain Murphy and recognizable names like Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar. But guests are few and far between and those moments arrive within the first ten minutes of the album; the real treasure lies in the belly of the beast, and the glory belongs to the Lotus. His signature style of short yet powerful numbers that center around electronic foundations that resemble the clicking, morphing, and shifting of the doors of perception in the unconscious mind is all too present, and sweeping orchestral accompaniment and soaring, often wordless female vocals are still here as well. Try as I might, my words can’t provide aural synesthesia so its time to just tell you to listen. I’ll leave you with this: the man behind the album has elaborated on its concept in multiple interviews, and if you’re going to just sample a track or two, you can’t go wrong with “The Protest” or “Coronus, The Terminator.” But don’t pretend you don’t have 40 minutes, either.

2. Teebs – E S T A R A

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A member of Flying Lotus’ record label Brainfeeder, fellow L.A. native Teebs creates dreamy instrumental electronic music similar enough to FlyLo’s to draw a referential comparison but more than unique enough to firmly stand on its own two feet. “Atmospheric” is a frustratingly abstract term to apply to music, but in certain cases it’s the only logical solution. This is one such case; E S T A R A is an album that provides the perfect blank canvas for pure mood, whatever that mood be. Perhaps a crisp, warm May sunrise that bursts purple and orange over the lush green trees and calm but detectable breeze before ascending into the sky to observe humanity’s daily bustle is the scene that echoes the feeling the album elicits through its mechanically interlocking yet alluringly organic electronic soundscapes, or maybe  the contemplative gaze outside a window spattered with the perpetually falling and exploding bursts of fallen raindrops on a brisk, cloudy, and grey day from inside the conditioned sanctuary of a vehicle moving over pavement at the speed of the Earth’s rotation while windshield wiper blades periodically slash across your field of vision only to reset the situation is more of your association. Whatever your setting, this album is one that lends itself nicely to quietly kicking back in contemplation, and once again, is properly served whole. If you must, “Wavxxes,” “Grattitude,” “Shouss Lullaby,” and “NY, Pt. 2” are prime cuts, but you’re selling yourself far too short by missing out on the entire meal.

Check out his debut Ardour, too.

3. Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels II

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The opening track “Jeopardy” says it all – Run the Jewels is the answer, your question is “What’s poppin’?”But in case you’re late to the party, Run the Jewels is the initially unlikely collaborative project between legendary NYC underground hip-hop rapper and producer El-P whose solo albums typically depict futuristic dystopian concepts laden with highly complex and meticulous production and southern-fried Atlanta MC Killer Mike. Both artists create quality hip-hop in their own right, but during the summer of 2013 they teamed up after El-P produced Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music (an exceptional album whose title track offers quite possibly the best appraisal of what true rap music is) to release Run the Jewels, a hard hitting free album that combined both individual styles to create something truly unique. Last year, they came back to cement their position as the rawest rap duo in the game, and achieved success in their chosen endeavor. El-P’s production is on point, providing a pulsing energy that keeps your head bobbing, legs bouncing, or fingers tapping throughout the album’s 40 minute duration and always maintaining a freshness that holds an undivided interest. Throw in the maniacal tag-team ferocity of El’s and Killer Mike’s raps, and you’ve got all the makings for a top-tier hip-hop album. Spin this one, and 40 minutes will pass in the span of what feels like 15; many tracks move at the speed of blitzkrieg but a couple slower, plodding numbers are present to make things interesting. Even though the lyrics are often raucous, utilizing the classic hip-hop metaphor of violence to illustrate their lyrical superiority, the verses go much deeper than that. Features are few and far between (the focus is on El-P and Killer Mike, after all) but popular names of rock music that peaked in popularity approximately a decade ago surface here, namely Zach de La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine and Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame. There’s no weak link here, and a vast majority of the songs on this album are in strong contention for the best, but must-listens for you flaky folks are “Jeopardy,” “All Due Respect feat. Travis Barker,” “Crown,” “Early,” and “Angel Duster,” perhaps the most lyrically intriguing song on the album.

“Worship The Sun” Allah-Las Review

Written by WCYT Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

‘Worship The Sun’, the sophomore album from Los Angeles natives Allah-Las, is a renewing but innovative take on the psychedelic era that gives the listener a break from the rushed standards of today’s world; possibly making it one of the best albums of 2014. Like their 2011 self-titled break out album, ‘Worship’  is filled with slick guitar licks and colorful rhythms.  They offer a dominate lead guitar that doesn’t drown out the nostalgic lyrics, which are just as smooth as the music itself. It is hard to describe the album without using words like “fun” or “blissful”, but these elements melted together serves as the perfect combination for an album pulsing with beachy vibes.

 

As someone who did not grow up in the 60’s (or even by a beach for that matter), it is easy to appreciate the veering rifts and even simplicity ‘Worship The Sun’ presents.  The album does not fall into the trap of creating a false image of the 60’s, nor is it filled with truisms. They effectively feature a few instrumental tracks such as ‘No Werewolf’ and ‘Ferus Gallery’ without pressuring the listener to skip the track, which is a huge feat for a society anticipating catchy pop-lyrics to sing along to. One of the albums greatest tracks ‘Every Girl’ has a strong Fleshtones feel to it, but is shaped enough to sound new. Allah-las is not trying to trick the audience into thinking they are really a 60’s band, but grows an often misrepresented genre. You can’t feel anything but good while listening to them. It is like they continue to progress while slightly peaking back.

 

Robert’s Reviews – Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s “Slingshot To Heaven”

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Reviews

Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s have been around for nearly a decade now, and it seems like almost yesterday I heard their music. A few years ago before I got into any sort of independent music I had a friend mention something about this small band from Indianapolis that was stirring up some noise. I can’t fathom the amount of times I’ve gone through their entire discography and just embraced the pulsating aura that vibrates the soul with every chord in each of their songs. Slingshot To Heaven is no different from their other albums, and definitely follows the persona the band tries to fulfill.

Margot has not made any changes to their core composition over the past decade, and it shows in every song they produce. Slingshot To Heaven is a little bit lighter than their other productions, but it comes across as more conceptual in nature. It reminisces of not just life on the West Coast, but ultimately life anywhere except for “here”. Every song conveys an idea of being alone or living in another place that is not the present. “Hello San Francisco”, “Los Angeles”, and “Long Legged Blonde Memphis” are all direct references to famous cities located around the United States, and all fantasize about being there in the moment rather than stuck in the current life. The concept of growing up and wanting to be someone different in another place is a new idea from the group, and it sets a hopeful precedent for future albums.

U.S. Royalty – Blue Sunshine

Written by Adam Schenkel. Posted in Music, Reviews

The high-spirited indie alternative maxresdefault[1]band U.S. Royalty’s “Blue Sunshine” incorporates an older feel in its instrumentals and mixes that old-time ambiance with an updated and more modern take on vocals. The mostly upbeat songs on the record emulate more retro-sounding songs by integrating a few instruments not commonly used in modern alternative such as the mellotron and organ.The band also included various synthesizers to create a different sound and personalize their music. Songs on the album that most evidently display this infatuation with older instrumentals are “Slow Dancing,” which puts out a bit of an 80s feel and “Valley of the Sun” which is slightly reminiscent of the 60s. Some of the sounds are even comical to an extent; in “South Paradiso” the song begins with a trailing guitar sound usually found in songs associated with the beach, much like the opening in the song “Wipeout.” This excursion from the typical sounds of alternative music exhibits the band’s playful affinity for deviating from normalcy and creating their own, blended sound.

The compilation of dated and modern instruments is accompanied by a powerful and confident voice. John Thornley, the lead singer, emits a self-assured tone when he is performing; he gradually raises his voice higher and louder like he is extending his voice and himself to the audience to emphasize his lyrics and his forward emotions. There is something slightly immature in the way Thornley sounds; his bold outbursts are resonant of teenage expression. Alongside these tracks of intrepid vocals and musical flashbacks, is the song “De Profundis,” which infuses the album with a strictly instrumental track. The gripping guitar played by Paul Thornley, vibrates with dark, daring, and suspenseful undertones.  After the unusual, but intriguing guitar break, the album delves right back into the hard-hitting and assured vocals. This catchy and rhythmic album takes a few chances by imitating an older sound, switching up instruments and synthesizers with background vocals, and putting forth uninhibited and brazen vocals. U.S. Royalty’s album is distinctive and definitely something to move to. -Rhianna Slager

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