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New Releases, Uncategorized Comments Off on Animal Collective: The Painters

Animal Collective: The Painters

By John Samuel Mecum

Animal Collective’s new release “The Painters,” is a synth and sample-saturated four song EP of tracks mostly recorded during their last album, released in February of 2016, titled “Painting With.” Just as they have with their releases in previous years, Animal Collective released an EP to follow up and accompany the full-length studio release. With a lineup change, a Motown cover, and even entertaining the idea of choosing a new group name, Animal Collective are looking for ways  to find ways to reinvent themselves and remain unpredictable to listeners.

The EP opens with the first single, “Kinda Bonkers”, a song that carries a tribal rhythm with absurd lyrics and repeats mantra of transcendence with the phrase, “Unity of all kinds, unity of all kinds.” The second track “Peacemaker,” the slowest of the four, features a melody that bounces back and forth from vocalists Panda Bear and Avey Tare. Its hypnotizing qualities when listened to in stereo make this one special. “Goalkeeper” isn’t a metaphor. It is a short song about the pressures and struggles of playing that position in the sport. The synth bounce and belch that comes at the listener from all angles keeps your attention and makes you focus less on the lyrics which fade into the background. The final track “Jimmy Mack” is a cover of a 60s song by Martha & the Vandellas. The song is fun and enjoyable for what it is, however it does detract from some of the experience as it doesn’t quite fit the tone of the previous songs and lacks saturation of sound that gets the listener invested to begin with.

Change can be manic and overwhelming at times. Animal Collectives’ “The Painters EP” feels like the sound of transformation. There is always a certain fear and excitement that comes along with change and perhaps with their next release, we will see the result of that transformation into something really special.

 

New Releases Comments Off on Sonder: Into

Sonder: Into

By Joel McRae

By definition, “sonder” is the realization that each random passerby lives a life as vivid and complex as your own and with that, our unique experiences all flow into one. This is the message up-and-coming R&B powerhouse, Sonder, the newfound brainchild of vocalist Brent Faiyez and producers Dpat and Atu, aimed to impart through its debut release. After teasing the internet with three massive singles last summer, Sonder released its hyper-emotional debut EP, “Into.”  Channeling the 90s-style R&B that they grew up on, “Into” cuts straight to the heart with their seven-track EP, which is a project full of sultry vocals and enigmatic, yet minimalistic instrumentals. Brent Faiyaz’s raw, penetrating vocals atop Atu and Dpat’s smooth, downtempo production create the timeless sound that few artists manage to achieve in our oversaturated age of music.

The EP opens up with “Feel,” a mysteriously dark track full of impassioned and sentient vocals that glide effortlessly over the hard-hitting instrumental.  The track flows perfectly into “Lovely,” a dynamic and wistful track which further progresses the project’s lustful narrative. The most popular track of the project, “Too Fast” is a perfect representation of Sonder’s encapsulating sound; a beautifully written and hypnotizing ballad which remains in the same seductive vein as the rest of the EP. “Searchin” is yet another exemplary song; a hauntingly beautiful track with chest-thumping production about searching for a missed connection with an old flame.

With minimal drum patterns, simple harmonies, and chest-rattling bass lines, the EP as a whole serves as an ode to the era of late 90s to early 2000s R&B. Rather than presenting themselves as carbon copies of groups from the time, Sonder builds on the things that defined the era by incorporating sensuous vocals and live instrumentation with riskier song progressions. Atu and Dpat give the EP life with their innovative production and a sense of constant evolution, all the while Faiyaz layers on airy melodies, which create a mood piece to be remembered.

Album Reviews, New Releases Comments Off on Khalid: American Teen

Khalid: American Teen

Landen Winkles

“American Teen,” Khalid’s debut album, is a promising amalgam of bedroom art-soul, 1980s new-wave pop and a union of lonely-boy mirror gazing with a sense of a larger cultural purpose. It most vividly recalls the promise embedded in the soundtracks of John Hughes films — that an outsider’s story might in fact be the thing that can unify and move millions.

Khalid has a face of innocence, but his voice carries a tone that is rare and refreshing. His voice isn’t packed with power; he isn’t going to blow you away with a thunderous falsetto, but there’s strength in his softness and sincerity in his gentleness. He understands his voice and has gathered production that allows his vocals to shine.

It’s rare for an album’s biggest single to be a true highlight, but Khalid captured something special with “Location,” the kind of modern-day love story that perfectly articulates the dance between man and woman in an age of relationships, followers and purveyors of vibes. It’s that moment before intimacy, before love and before heartbreak. “Location” is the rising action before the climax and the anxiousness and anticipation of receiving a reply. This is what dating is like for a teenager who didn’t live through MySpace and totally missed Black Planet, but will be able to tell his children about how a dropped pin lead him to the woman of his dreams. With production this dreamy, subtle and pure, it’s hard not to get lost in the warmth. This will be the song that he’ll be remembered for, not because of it being a catchy jingle, but how he illustrated a situation that many have and will live through. Khalid is singing all this casually, without judgment or emphasis. He only starts vibrating more intensely in the second verse: “I’ve been waiting all year / To get the hell up out of here / And throw away my fears.” Khalid graduated high school last year and he’s nailing the fitfulness of knowing the bright options the future might hold while still being stuck in school, or in his hometown, or in the frame of mind that tells you to do only what’s expected of you.

Khalid truly lives in the moment, he isn’t nostalgic for the past or looking forward to the unknown future. “American Teen” is an artist capturing the soaring emotions of new-age romance and a boy coming into the world.

Album Reviews, New Releases Comments Off on Ed Sheeran: Divide

Ed Sheeran: Divide

April Latham

Ed Sheeran released his newest album last Friday and like his other work, it is gold. He gives you a whole hour of bliss, starting with “Eraser.” This song talks about living day to day with pain chewing away, but using that pain to keep moving forward. It’s a beautiful song and a great intro into the album.

“Castle on the Hill” is another noteworthy song on the album because it’s a solid hit. Sheeran talks about going home when he says “I’m on my way / Driving at 90 down those country lanes.” It’s striking to me because even with all his fame, he still wants to go back to the old days, hanging out with his friends. The way he describes these old roads is perfect imagery.

Every song on this album is chill, but at different levels. Sheeran writes beautiful music that relates to everyone at some point in his or her life. In the song, “Dive,” he talks about the worries of falling for someone without knowing fully if they are feeling the same way about you. It’s all beautiful and comforting. I definitely recommend this album to everyone.

New Releases Comments Off on Bea Miller’s “Chapter One: Blue”

Bea Miller’s “Chapter One: Blue”

By Jimmy Sears

Bea Miller has yet to release her second studio album, but there’s activity going on in her camp as she released her latest EP, “Chapter One: Blue.” “Blue” is the first of three EPs, with the latter two, “Chapter Two: Red” and “Chapter Three: Yellow” to be released in the coming months. “Chapter One: Blue” is about the realization that someone in a person’s life is toxic, yet while one knows this person is toxic, it’s hard to part away because of attachment.

A slower tempo begins with “A Song Like You,” which describes a song she listens to. This song never tells her the truth. She can’t get this song out of her mind, and plays it every night. The echoes, snaps and slow beat create a feeling of being isolated, which would apply to the line, “there is nothing outside this room.” There may be a case of benign entrapment for Miller, as she sticks with the devil she knows and replays this song, which could be a metaphor for an ideal. Outside of Miller’s room are the horrors of the world, while inside her room she remains in her bubble while listening to this song that soothes her.

Track 2, “Burning Bridges” is about a breakup where Miller yearns for that person’s return while also knowing how that person is toxic. A chorus looms around while a sense of decay brings it to a head. The chorus singing “London Bridge is falling down” also adds a nice, ironic touch. Finally we come to Track 3, “I Can’t Breathe.” Perhaps the most beautiful track, “I Can’t Breathe” is a cry of nostalgia where Miller wishes to return to a better time where nothing felt amiss. Miller constantly repeats “I can’t breathe,” which can get repetitive, but towards the end a gorgeous orchestra really brings out the beauty of this track’s instrumental.

All three tracks have a strong composition with a soothing sound. The lyrics on the EP, except for “I Can’t Breathe,” have good variation, which stands out for me. It’s easy to appreciate the quality of all three tracks, and I look forward to hearing “Red” and “Yellow” when they come out.