Leagues Alone Together
This one surprised me a bit. It opens with a big and catchy heavy bass-thumping goodtime in "Lipstick Coffee" and it's as sugary and intoxicating as the title implies. Every good album needs a great opening and this one is worthy. I hadn't even made plans that evening and found myself wanting to blast this at full volume while getting ready to go dancing; something I never actually do so that's a statement in and of itself. It's not a particularly serious album, and that's its strength. Any amount of seriousness would kill this joyful, free-spirited piece. Layered vocals during choruses lend itself to a jubilant sound, while the occasional guitar plays to a romantic tone. None of it particularly intense or pushy, more flirtatious and whimsical. Even the more mournful track "Slow and Steady" has a childlike innocence to the way it looks back listlessly on a past love.
This is definitely an ideal album for getting ready to go out, as previously mentioned, or maybe to put on while you're working out or driving absolutely nowhere. The retro synths and drums are here much to my delight in the album's title track, much to my nostalgic glee. Say what you want about the 80's, that we're still emulating that signature sound says maybe the producers were doing something right. If you want something free-spirited and light-hearted, I recommend giving this album a listen.
Psychic Twins Strange Diary
Let's get this out right away, this album is gorgeous. I like talking a lot about the opening tracks to the album, because for me personally it's the most important track. It's the thing that first hits your ears, so its necessary to give the audience the best indicator of what they're going to be getting. "Heart Divided" is the instrumental prologue, dark and inviting, full of mystery. It's as unsettling as it is beautiful, and that is a great assessment for the rest of the album.
Erin Fein's vocals are dreamlike and haunting in each track. It's impossible to not be entranced by this fairy queen. Her cited influences include Cocteau Twins, and Siouxsie Sioux and it shows. You don't dance so much to Strange Diary as you sway rhythmically back and forth, hypnotized by the alluring vocals and ghostly synths.
I've always felt like the goth and pop genres should meet somewhere in the middle, and this album realizes that dream beautifully. Even with the synths and handclaps, there are still moments that could have been taken straight from a Banshees album. It's dark and airy all at once, a beautiful daydream. Absolutely recommended for your next hexing ritual.
What So Not Divide & Conquer
Lately I'm getting sick of the set of unspoken rules that define a "good" new music release. It's not like anyone ever sat down and wrote the makeshift Bible on how to put an EP together, but avalanches of reviews that liberally employ meaningless buzz-phrases like "outside of the box" and its antithesis "predictable" might subliminally be telling you a different story. The formulaic has become routine, and "outside of the box" might as well be just another box in and of itself. Because of all these reasons, a project like this seven track EP from Australian electronic music producer Emoh Instead (aka Chris Emerson) is a relief in both its simplicity and the way it cleverly fits together a jigsaw puzzle of unique tracks that immerse the listener directly inside of the creator's vision.
It's Emoh's first solo release without original What So Not collaborator Flume, and immediately from the opening title track it's clear that you're steadied by a strong guiding hand that wants to take you somewhere specific, if nameless. A blasting sonic alarm of abrasive synth chords hits you instantly, disarming and jarring until you realize Divide & Conquer has a very deliberate canvas of sound. The following mellow piano interlude Severance provides appropriate contrast reminiscent of falling back to half-sleep after being jolted awake.
The small risks this EP takes are backed with instantaneous payoff, in everything from the arrangement of the songs to the impressive list of collaborators. Once again I'm reminded that my favorite thing about this release is the way it feels a little experimental around the corners without having to hit the tick-box for what we believe that should sound like. Lone (ft JOY) occupies that same introspective space as the Severance interlude, but thoughtfully expands it from the inside out. Other tracks like Montreal (ft Kimbra) allude to familiarity but step just a small distance away from what you might expect. Divide and Conquer should definitely be listened to from beginning to end, with an open mind unsure of what unexpected directions it might lead you in.
Blkkathy Lemon ep
Existentialist R&B is hard to come by. It's not hard to find music of all kinds that's struck-through with romanticism and optimism, and of course self-loathing is a constant alignment of any musician's psyche. But music that is both bleak and fun is rare, and usually rarely found outside of the noise scene.
On "Children" (possibly the finest track on this EP), an angelic chorus simultaneously desiring children and reminding us of the futility of having them is accompanied by a deceptively simple (and surprisingly lush) beat. On "Dem Bones", the acknowledgement that "I can see why you don't want me" is presented sans emotion - a completely factual statement by a woman's whose heart was broken too long ago to care anymore.
Yet with all of this dark content, "Lemon EP" is a very enjoyable, even fun record. Unlike an artist like, say, Cold Specks, where the raw emotion on display rips your heart out and leaves you bloody and damaged afterwards, Blkkathy choose an approach that lets you meditate on the bad stuff while still remaining above the drama. The production is clean, almost sparse, but never as cold as the lyrical content. "Lemon EP" is a fantastic release from a very talented act.