Ephorize by CupcakKe (short review)

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“A well-rounded introduction to a skilled writer” – Pitchfork

 

Perhaps not the most eloquent introduction to the year, today’s volunteer for the chopping block is the relentlessly vile and cringe-inducing Cupcakke with her most recent release; Ephorize. Research into the past and works of CupcakKe explains how her career is largely directed by the unique selling point of being some kind of vile sexual deviant, which I’m totally cool with when it’s done right, but in this case just seems somewhat pathetic. I shan’t recite her lyrical content, but it’s worth looking at to get a proper idea of her personality and for a giggle, because it’s actually really funny when you don’t have to hear her reciting it.

Now, I’m not one to shy from unnecessary vulgarity – I’m going to say crusty yeast infections for the sheer sake of it – but her use of lyrics and sexual content just seems really fucking desperate. I find her work totally lacking in any form of talent and it’s just executed in a style totally lacking in true style. I feel the character that is CupcakKe is just what the pop industry has been threatening since Lady Gaga first entered the pop world with his audacious and bold approach to sexuality, though he did it with such a phenomenal style and execution that CupcakKe just can’t recreate.

The music itself isn’t so bad – it’s pretty damn headache-inducing, but at low volumes it’s cool and well put together, it’s just a shame it has to be connected to CupcakKe’s god-awful lyrics and voice. I hear music like this and just wish I could hear Lil’ Jon’s balls-out shouting over the top instead. In fact, throughout this album there were many times I wanted to switch off and listen to him instead. This is the kind of music you listen to if you really hate your neighbours or flatmate and simply just have no taste, but there is a measure of cathartic joy from the sound design and the feeling of the bass.

This is the kind of music that makes me feel pure shame in the music industry and society as a whole. It forces me to imagine having a daughter and how my life would revolve so much around protecting her from the vile influences of this music! In fact, if any of you readers have kids then you should make effort to protect their delicate ears from the influence of this, lest you end up dealing with a depressing case of underage pregnancy. This vulgar nature and adherence to poorly-written pop-culture references makes for something so monumentally dreadful that the only effective use of the IP would likely be a comedic reading from Stephen Fry or Gilbert Gottfried. CupcakKe really is just atrocious. Her music is totally lacking in any actual style and I would recommend her only to those conducting a case study regarding post-lobotomy patients or those with a fetish for total skanks.

 

 

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POST- by Jeff Rosenstock (album review)

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(Yeah, it’s pretty good.)

With album releases seeming somewhat far and few between as we enter the new year, I find myself gravitating towards the only album released this year to the point of writing, a little ol’ thing called POST- by Jeff Rosenstock. With no prior knowledge of the man, I was surprised to find a body of work dating back as far as 1998 and involvement in a frankly stunning amount of albums, projects and acts. Rosenstock’s agenda seems fairly clear and there seems a consistent and personal aspect to his continued mindset which implies that the criticisms I have with this latest release are largely due to his personal design. I feel there’s something to be said for one who coins the names “The Arrogant Sons of Bitches” and “Bomb the Music Industry!” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t very much appreciate his mentality and approach to music. He seems like a somewhat brazen character and this extends towards this latest musical vehicle, and I think that’s why I like it. 

I feel the album suffers from many of the same issues as a great many other albums which follow the musical design of one particular person and the most outstanding of these issues seems to be a somewhat disorienting flow and conflict of ideas. I’d like to say the issues feel redeemed by the creativity on display but this feels somewhat untrue. I will say that it’s a good bit of fun if you’re into that whole Punk thing, but it does sound like a bit of a fucking mess at times. I hugely appreciate the creativity on show throughout the album as a whole and I feel the variety of styles and influences speaks to a remarkable level of creative promise, but there are often times this feels poorly optimised and structural mismanagement often reflects in a manner that makes little to no sense. 

At this point I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually gives a fuck about fantastic production quality and albums like this seem to ram this feeling deep up my ass with total disregard for my complaints. What I mean to declare with this total lack of eloquence is that this album sounds like shit in terms of the production quality, but I feel this was the personal design of Rosenstock himself and it contributes to a sound highly reminiscent of a DIY Punk/Grunge-esque tone. Still, despite this being his clear intention, I feel it to be fairly unnecessary and I feel a better energy could have been captured with more emphasis on the vocals and the leading instrumentation. I was pretty surprised to hear the addition of synth in places, but I didn’t feel they were really out of place in the album and they seem to fit quite nicely in the mix. The addition of synth also did much to offer originality and creativity to the album and served to draw my focus to the mind of Rosenstock, further securing my personal admiration in the man and his vision. 

The album is a curious amalgamation of a variety of styles and influences and, where many fail to capture the essence of them all, I feel that Rosenstock respects this and addresses this concern with an album that considers the spirit of Punk, Pop Punk and Indie Rock and displays them all in a wonderful light. When you consider the album from a certain perspective and consider the expansive past of Rosenstock, you can really hear the vast experience the man has – though this does little to restrain the adolescent sense of rebellion and identity most prominent in some of the opening tracks. 

I’d happily go on record and say it’s a very enjoyable album with a good, solid track listing, but the production feels so awful it becomes really hard to recommend. I guess if you don’t give a shit about how good the overall sound is and just care about an upbeat energy then you should check it out. I was very divisive on the album to begin with but by the time I reached TV Stars I began to appreciate the feel of the album a lot more. I don’t usually care much for lyrics, but I felt I actually cared about the words of Rosenstock in this album. I think it’s a fun album and if you have an interest in Punk Rock you should give it a whirl. Don’t expect particularly good production quality or displays of instrumental technicality, that’s not what this album is about – but the energy itself is pretty fantastic and it does well to capture the essence of Punk in a very unique and creative way. 

Fuck the Hype Train

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(You guys remember 2012?)

In my previous post I mockingly remarked at my lack of excitement regarding any upcoming albums and I feel this should be explained. If there’s one thing I have learned from writing from this blog, it’s that any asshole has the potential to make good shit and absolutely anybody can make a shit album too! I made the mistake of allowing Kanye hype to get to me prior to my exposure to his album My Dark Twisted Fantasy and this, along with a number of other artists this year, swiftly made me realise the negative impact of eagerly anticipating something. As a long-time gamer, the E3 awards have always been a constant reminder that developers and companies often don’t know what the fuck the consumer wants, and I have little to no reason to assume the music industry to be any different.

You see, as I browsed through an NME list of upcoming albums I just happened to note that the majority (22 out of 26) of the upcoming albums have no set release date – the albums likely being pushed back to enable more time for production, or potentially more time for songwriting and/or market research. Remember, my lovelies – bands and record labels don’t actually give a fuck about you or me and they are under no obligation to release something of any actual quality. This kind of pussy-footing does nothing but imply a lack of confidence in their ability to construct a high quality, or more accurately, a marketable product.

I’ll include a link to aforementioned list at the end of this piece with the hope that you’ll see this in a similar light and concede that the complete lack of proper communication regarding any of these albums seems disheartening. When one considers that a journalist’s job largely revolves around research and study, I feel it hard to attribute the lack of actual information on the writer, instead turning my notice to the bands and executives instead. This apparent lack of information gives me the impression that they are all hugely unconfident with the albums in question and further incentivises me from getting excited about them at all. I see too much similarity between the music industry and the AAA Game Industry in that they seem so unwilling to really let you know what you’re going to get and this total lack of confidence deters me heavily from any emotional investment.

Further research on the subject highlights further reasons to be skeptical. Though I understand the subjective nature of music, another list has Kanye West marked as their most anticipated album release of 2018 stating he has yet to produce a ‘bad’ album and has a list sprinkled with artists who have proven their lack of ability to me in numerous mediocre albums and songs. The promise of another Selena Gomez album, another Vampire Weekend product or Arctic Monkeys vehicle means absolute fuck-all to me, who has been witness to nothing but a consistent stream of disappointment from the listed artists. There are very few people I am excited to hear about this year and those rare few stand in the list because they’ve proven themselves capable of producing consistently fantastic work.

As risk of their next album leading me out back like a dying dog and putting a bullet through my skull for daring to be temporarily excited, I am somewhat looking forward to the upcoming Brockhampton album because they have displayed a measure of consistency, or rather, improvement, in their main body of work. Their work is a product of a great team of musicians and vocalists and promises to contain the same variety and interest as their previous album, but their previous work has done nothing but assure me they can handle this variety with a grace and style few others can. In spite of a lack of information regarding the product, I feel confident that they will deliver a strong album based on the fact the quality of their music is pretty consistent and is always of a great standard.

Though not an album, I am hugely excited for the upcoming Flight of the Conchords performance coming up in Manchester! Having been a fan for a number of years now, I am sure they’ll give a performance just as hilarious as they always do. For those unaware, Flight of the Conchords are a comedy musical act consisting of two absolutely brilliant comedians from New Zealand and are worth checking out for their brilliant live performances and sitcom of the same name. Though varying greatly from Brockhampton in every almost every conceivable way, they share the same consistency in their work and are likely to be more than worthy of my excitement and expectations.

There are some great things coming up this year, but it’s not as easy as just throwing a dart at a wall of recognisable artists and bands! Eminem and Royal Blood both took a spot on my “Golden Shower Awards” for being as monumentally disappointing as they were, likely because my expectations were based on a somewhat inconsistent body of work. They did nothing to assure me that they would actually impress and, as a result, I was left with total dismay regarding their respective 2017 albums. I learned my lesson, and that lesson was to only get excited if something has proven that it’s likely to be worth that hype.

Cornetto’s Golden Shower Awards 2017

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(Brace for a piss-parade, folks!)

With the good comes the bad, my beloved readers! In my last post I celebrated the five artists, bands or albums which made the greatest impressions on me throughout the year and in this post I would like to state the worst. Much like before, this list won’t just be a compilation of shit albums throughout the year, it will be a commemoration of the people and music which brought me the most disgust, disappointment or generally just made me regret the time I invested in the work. Strap in as I strap on and fuck my way through the worst piss stains of the year.

 

 

5. Taylor Swift Fans

Those following the musical news of 2017 may have noted the controversy surrounding Taylor Swift and her “reckless” post about the year. In the caption of a photo taken at one of her concerts in London, she stated that she “couldn’t have asked for a better year” and that she owed this happiness to the fans who enabled her success. A nice sentiment, yes? Apparently not! In response to this “tasteless” and “dismissive” post, fans rallied to a bombardment of criticisms and general abuse regarding Swift’s refusal to acknowledge any political matters or comment on the events of the world.

Now don’t get me wrong; Taylor Swift is as much a dickhead as everybody else in the business and I don’t like her music at all, but let’s not forget that she is still a fucking human being and, most importantly, an artist. I don’t feel it necessary to explain the various duties of a politician and how they vary to the responsibilities that come with being an artist, but she has absolutely no obligation to validate anybody’s political opinions or state her opinions of world events. The woman is her own entity, and the deluded and juvenile nature of her fans need to accept this. They made the list because they represent a huge issue in today’s SJW mentality and have justified my complete resentment of humanity and modern society.

4. Royal Blood

In a brief overview of the year, I thought back with much dismay and incredible disappointment that came in the form of 2017 release, When Did We Get So Dark? The band had me won over with their self-titled album in 2014 but when I saw them later at Leeds Fest they swiftly unravelled the admiration I had for them with one of the more disappointing live performances I have ever seen.

Fast forward to 2017 and they’ve secured a standing as one of the most disappointing bands in my life. Everything about their most recent album is a total exhibition of total laziness in the song composition, the creativity and even the length of the album! Without a single track coming somewhat close to the quality of their first album, they wasted a fair allocation of my time with an album evidencing that they are no longer a band worth following or caring for. Check out their self-titled album and forget about them, just as the rest of the world has.

3. Eminem

With a total absence from my life for a great many years, Eminem held a special place in my heart for a long time. I had always considered him fondly and constantly regarded his Slim Shady LP with consideration and respect and it wasn’t until the release of Revival that I had any considerable reason to contest this admiration.

Revival was just dreadful. It was a gleaming example of just how far a person can fall from greatness all wrapped up in a package of total mediocrity. In addition to having more filler than the one slut at a frat party, the album drags on for longer than an online debate with an SJW without ever ascending into something mildly interesting or engaging. It’s a dreadfully dull affair and the sheer length makes for a totally painful and uninteresting product which often feels like a genuine struggle to commit to for the full duration of the album.

2. Rolling Stone Magazine

Prior to my pursuit of writing as a profession, I just accepted their reputation and even held a measure of respect for them. I saw them constantly featured and recognised by the musical community and welcomed them purely on reputation alone. When I began writing, I took time to read their articles and look at their lists and it was only then I began to realise the extent of their pretentiousness and adherence to means of pandering to the audience.

With so much of their work driven with the intent of appealing to popular opinion, they sacrifice their own credibility and personality to cater to the opinions of the mass population, often falling back onto pretentious and desperate justifications to appeal to the vast majority. The many writings they released throughout the year have done nothing but convince me that they are the epitome of everything I hate in music journalism. They’re insincere, totally deluded by mass appeal and seem so terrified at the idea of offending a reader or demographic that they will completely dismiss their own integrity for the sake of a positive reputation. They earned a place on this list for pissing all over the respect I have for music journalism as a craft.

1. Tony Conrad

Long time followers of my blog may remember my thoughts on Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain. To this day, it stands bounds above all others as the worst thing I have ever listened to in my entire fucking life. Initially discovering the piece through an overwhelmingly positive review in Mojo Magazine, the album forced me to completely re-evaluate my respect for professional music critics and further incentivised me into a completely honest and unbiased approach to my own writing. To see this absolute bullshit met with such incredible praise was absolutely disgraceful and I never wanted to be responsible for such a grievous abuse of trust.

I shan’t repeat my thoughts in expansive detail as they won’t vary from the full album review I wrote in the days long before I took my blog to Facebook, but the album itself is the absolute antithesis of artist talent and ability, the pretentious and hate-inducing nature of the work matched only by Andy Warhol’s universally panned Empire. I personally consider the only positive aspect of Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain to be that the title itself is a fucking gift to anybody struggling to meet a minimum word count in a written piece of work.

Even thinking about this detestable and offensive shit-parade induces feelings of anger and disappointment so I shall in turn leave you with a link to my previous review of the album and the genuine request that you listen to the piece yourself from start to finish. I mean it! It’s on Spotify and it’s not hard to find! The album was total fucking torture and is and always will be the sole wielder of the revered Golden Shower Award!

https://barrinettoreview.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/ten-years-alive-on-the-infinite-plain-tony-conrad-album-review-angry-rant/

Cornetto’s Golden Goose Awards 2017

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(Geese are good, right?)

With the new year within pissing distance of us now, I want to take the time to commemorate the positive musical releases and performances I experienced this year. To pump out another “best albums” list would be totally pointless because that hinges purely on my own taste and would likely just repeat the points I previously made about the album or artist, so this list is going to consist of five artists, bands or albums I discovered this year and really made an incredible impact on me.

5. Finola

In no particular order, I begin this list with local Pop-Country darling, Finola. Having attended the launch of her most recent EP, Waterworks, I was fairly impartial to the music itself, largely because of my own personal taste; but I was absolutely blown away by her character, resolve and professionalism.

Having worked in and with bands for the better part of ten years now, I have come to recognise the sheer measure of ego and entitlement behind a startling percentage of musicians, both on a larger scale and in local musicians. Finola seems to be completely deserving of every confidence she displays in her actions, performances and music. She’s a shining example for all local artists to aspire towards and I respect her to this day as a gloriously capable, majestic and powerful character.

Her commitment to her performance and remarkable efforts in organising and micro-managing the event was absolutely remarkable. Watching as she bounced between people and bands as she supported every person and aspect of the event was more than impressive; it was inspirational. She was an absolute marvel to behold and more than enough to make me reconsider my previous thoughts on the mentality of small-scale artists and bands.

4. Pumarosa

A band I initially reviewed for another review page but haven’t addressed in my own personal blog, Pumarosa stood out to me as one of the most stunning exhibitions of humanity, style, fantastic music and pure, primal feel.

Indie Rocks UK caters to a “five star” rating system which it requires its writers to accommodate within their reviews and, though I could be mistaken, Pumarosa may well have been the only performance I gave full marks to. Following their fantastic performance, I was left with a keen interest in following their music and pursued this interest with repeated listens in my own personal time.

Though not necessary to great music, I think the frontwoman, Isabel Munoz-Newsome, might actually be one of the most remarkably beautiful humans I have ever seen. She gave an amazing performance, she sounded fantastic and, more than a few months past, I still think fondly to her majestic and graceful dancing and its accompaniment from a deep, pulsating beat, subtle use of smoke and gloriously atmospheric lighting. It was a beautiful sight and experience and it still conjures delighted flashbacks now.

3. Susanne Sundfør

Yet another artist who evaded the wrath of my relentless published criticisms with a frankly stunning and heartfelt set, Susanne Sundfør would have been a tragically overlooked figure, were it not for the encouragement of my partner at the time! As a fan, and a fellow Norwegian, she jumped at the chance to witness another of her ilk perform in Manchester and it was only natural that she request my accompaniment.

The show was absolutely fantastic. Though the music didn’t resonate in me to the same degree as Pumarosa, the sheer energy and feeling in the room was sublime. Never before had I been to such a respectful and quiet show, with her acoustic performance being met with pure bewilderment from an adoring and incredibly supportive audience. The positivity throughout was almost real to the touch and the heart and humanity behind her every vocal accent filled the audience in a deep and emotional trance.

She composed herself incredibly throughout and retained a constant measure of respectful attention, even in the quieter moments between the songs when she would remark of the quality of her cup of tea and politely ask questions to a totally coherent and encouraging audience. The unbound joy and near crying eyes of my elated partner said it all; it was a truly magical display of humanity and sheer emotion.

2. Diablo Swing Orchestra

Those following my more recent posts will likely recognise this name and active readers will no doubt have expected this to be on some kind of “best of” list this year. Diablo Swing Orchestra overpowered me with a stunning display of overwhelming energy and style with the incredible Pacifisticuffs – the album which I could well consider to be my favourite from this year, though this is in contest with the following release.

It’s rare to find something these days that genuinely feels fun. Though I began with a cringe at the overwhelming positivity of the opening track, there wasn’t a single time throughout where I felt bored at all. In a balls-out and overly elaborate variety of styles and sheer character, the album had me in constant suspense of what would come next and it rewarded my every anticipation with a consistent repetition of surprise and subversion.

The album had me feeling like a kid in a Lego store and I left it with a grin which would make the Cheshire Cat envious. It was the most entertaining album I have heard all year and, as I stated in the review; I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys an elaborate and totally bizarre musical experience.

1. Gregory Porter

Much like the magnificent Norwegian specimen beside me at the Susanne Sundfør performance I attended, there were points during this musical masterpiece that almost had me in tears. I shit thee not; at numerous points throughout Gregory Porter’s tribute to the late Nat King Cole I genuinely felt I was going to shed a single tear from my long dead and cynical eyes.

The album was a sheer masterpiece, pure and simple! Those who wonder why I place this in a higher position than Pacifisticuffs, which I stated could be my favourite album of the year, I shall repeat that this list is in no particular order and it’s a list of the albums, artists and bands which had the largest impact on me through the year.

As my reputation as a cold, cruel and heartless bastard would imply, it’s as hard to move me as it is to pass unobstructed through the city centre of Manchester at Christmas; so when you find something that nearly made me fucking cry, you know you’ve stumbled across something truly powerful. Much as Diablo Swing Orchestra made me feel like a child in a Lego store, Gregory Porter took me through a retreading of some of the most powerful and gut-wrenching feelings I have ever experienced. It left me feeling devastated, pained and, in the end; resolved. It made me feel human again.

Light Information by Chad VanGaalen (album review)

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(Definitely worth a watch and a listen!)

Having very recently discussed VanGaalen on my blog, I noted him for his beautiful creativity and unique style. Without any knowledge of his 2017 release, Light Information, I was terrified at a word count of 600 that I’d have to scrap the entire post out of fear his most recent album would prove to be absolute shit on balls and would totally undermine my praise for the man. I decided to plough on anyway with my shameless fangirling and feel somewhat relieved that this most recent release is actually pretty damn good! Alterations of style and execution between this and his older stuff have me concerned for the direction of his music, but I feel this was a more than competent and well-written album.

The first thing I noticed in this most recent release was the increase of outside influence. Listening to this is somewhat akin to your son falling in with a new group of kids. With Tame Impala shoving some serious Beatles influence down his throat and Radiohead encouraging a darker theme to the more experimental sections, I fear for the unique twinkle in the eye of my beloved little boy. The heart and mind is still there and the music feels like it might be one of his more welcoming and accessible albums so far, but I worry this comes at the compromise of his personality.

In spite of his reputation as an indie artist, this is the first time I truly felt that he belonged to the genre and I don’t know where I stand with this. I feel his older stuff always had more in common with something more psychedelic than indie and that this contributed fairly highly to his unique sound. Though this psychedelic influence is still evident in this album, I feel he’s becoming somewhat watered down by the mainstream appeal of more successful indie artists. As stated above, this doesn’t stop me from enjoying the music, but it feels like somewhat of a tonal shift in comparison to the work I am more familiar with.

I hate to repeat my concerns of outside influence, but it does contribute to a noticable alteration from his existing style. Something seems to have convinced VanGaalen that the best way to capture an abstract feeling is with the relatively dark and unnerving tones set in Prep Piano and 770 and at the end of Static Noise. Though dark themes were clear throughout VanGaalen’s discography, I feel this could be the most unpleasant and most disengaging portrayal of this darkness yet and it seems to vary highly from his established character and personality. It’s almost as if he works to imitate the feel of The Wall by Pink Floyd in this respect and it doesn’t feel like him. 

Of course, the album still has as much variety and character as ever and is definitely worth committing to if you have an invested interest in the more creative side of the indie genre. I enjoy the use of synthesisers throughout and feel they were very tastefully incorporated and contribute to a wonderful ambience which supports the emotional drive to their relative songs and sections. As I stated above, I feel like this album could serve a great entry point for a more mainstream audience to access his music, but I don’t feel it truly compares to the true spirit of his main body of work.

There are a lot of great ideas throughout and a great measure of thought behind the instrumental and structural composition of the album and I feel the album is worth recommending on this basis alone, but it does seem harder for me to recommend than Shrink Dust. The album is as wonderfully colourful and creative as I would come to expect from VanGaalen, but my personal interest is diminished by the vast influence of other bands so it just becomes slightly more difficult love. Maybe this is what pretentious wankers claim to feel when they say a band’s “older music was WAY better” when there’s actually nothing inherently wrong with the album in question! Even as I write this I can feel myself enjoying it more with repeated listens so I don’t want to end on a downer; this is a pretty great album, but it’s just going to take some time for me to get used to it.

This all said, in looking for the album artwork for this post I stumbled across positive reviews from various sources, all granting the album a minimum four stars out of five and some giving it top marks. Though I can’t speak for credibility of the writers and disapprove of these arbitrary “scoring systems”, it might be of interest to those of you who do appreciate such things. Go wild, folks!