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. 

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!

Dog in the Sand by Frank Black & The Catholics

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(Sorry Frank, it just ain’t my thing)

Reeling from the aftermath of my first Christmas alone with nought but gratuitous quantities of Carling, my debauchery-inciting personality and a shameless commitment to my current FIFA campaign, I return with yet another review requested by one of my more active readers! After struggling through the cataclysmic entanglements of my unmade bed and the bewildering minefield of empty cans beside my glorious speakers, I fought my way to my MacBook to bring you my review of Dog in the Sand by Frank Black & The Catholics.

Curiosities arose from the very beginning when the very introduction had me confused as to whether I was enjoying the music or not. It feels more than easy to compare the track to some of Lou Reed’s worst music, but there seems to be some bizarre charm to the track. This is before the song alters tone in what I consider to be a highly jarring movement which leaves me to question the very tone of the music. Forgive me if this thought is mistaken, but I generally enjoy when the first track doesn’t leave me confused about the style and character of the fucking album. 

Blast Off stands a pure example of grossly ill-considered tones and poor production, delivering such in what feels like an absolutely fucking disgusting and vulgar display of poor sound design. Whether it be the intent of the artists or not, the track sounds like a complete and total fucking mess. Though the following track sets a better example with a darkly sleek and arousing introductory section, the song seems to continue the theme of total disorder and highlights an apparent lack of a specific vision regarding the tone of the album. 

The album stands out to me as a highly intriguing product for its curious recklessness in tying together what could otherwise be considered fantastic music, were it structured in a more cohesive manner. Any album which has me screaming “Why the fuck did you do that, you fucking morons?” on numerous occasions at my monitor strikes me as a poorly constructed piece of work, and this thought only feels more validated as the album progresses with almost no sign of maturing into something more tonally cohesive. 

The album is absolutely packed with interesting and well-considered music, but it feels so poorly delivered that I can’t possibly disavow my position on the numerous flaws. The structural composition throughout serves as a masterclass in how not to write songs, with every example of style and ability suffering at the hands of the out-of-place transitions and nonsensical instrumental sections which possess so little impact they actively undermine their respective songs. 

Were I to praise a specific song from the album it would be Bullet for its pure style, character and, above all else; its consistency! Though there are various changes throughout, they seem much better considered than the rest of the tracks and everything seems to make a lot more sense. I genuinely did enjoy this track and would gladly recommend it to those with a penchant for upbeat and generally cool sounding music. The song itself feels faintly reminiscent of Bad Things by Jace Everett and captures the essence of the genre well with a sly grace and appropriate level of sleaze. 

As the album progresses further you begin to develop a leniency towards the product, eventually coming to appreciate the subtleties not as evident in the opening tracks, such as the tones and sounds of the lead guitar, though later tracks attempt to disguise this genuinely charming addition with a crass and muddy sounding rhythm guitar. Inconsistency and lack of clear direction remain as much an issue towards the end of the album as they are during the opening tracks and the album this contributes to a lack of resolve or maturity to the product as a whole. 

Put simply, the album just never learns a lesson throughout. It has a great potential but delivers it so poorly that the album as a whole feels grossly amateur and the total lack of ability to engage the listener its lack of flow makes for a dreadfully dull listen. As I stated above, I would recommend the track Bullet, but the album as a whole just lacks a character you can really access or invest in. Like many others, I don’t hate this album; I’m merely disappointed by it. There’s a lot to like but the overall display is just awful and it contains all the flow of AIDS-ridden ejaculate. 

A Fever Dream by Everything Everything (album review)

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(My entire process regarding artwork is to just find something pretty)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to a new feature! One starring my beautifully sculpted man-fingers and highly-arousing mind reviewing and criticising the music you love! More so than usual, that is. By request, I have taken time to review A Fever Dream by contemporary Indie/Synth darlings, Everything Everything! 

Straight off the bat I feel it only fair to disclaim that I thought this album was pretty decent. With perhaps no eloquent way to say this, the very introduction fucked me softly with familiar Stranger Things vibes – which I count as a particularly high praise when I consider my appreciation for the show, and the music in particular. Being somewhat of a fan of 80’s New Wave music, this album holds much appeal to my nostalgia-ridden mind, but I will instead begin with a courageous dive into my many criticisms of the album!

One of my largest criticisms is that the album often falls into the trap of throwing too much at you. With such busy drumming and many competing overlaying layers, it can often feel difficult to find a particular aspect to focus on. Though effort has clearly been made to incorporate a tight groove, the lack of space often makes for a somewhat difficult listening experience. 

When isolated, all of the instrumental layers feel wonderfully mixed and performed, but, as as I mentioned above, they often clash in the full mix. A solid example of this would be in Desire, where the inclusion of space feels very well handled, but the track instantly falls apart with the addition of the more lead-focussed layers. 

I stand somewhere between appreciation and dismay when regarding the vocals. An unprofessional term I might use would be “Thom Yorke Falsetto Syndrome” when pushed to describe certain areas of the vocal contribution throughout the album and I don’t consider this a particular benefit to the album. Whilst understanding and appreciating the emotional depth behind his vocal tone, his lack of style fails to impress. 

Perhaps this previous point need not be attributed to his vocals alone, all things considered! Be it my hungover state or personal taste, I found there were many occassions where I lost interest in the album. The largest contributing factor towards this disinterest stems from what I consider to a fairly poorly considered flow. The album itself feels like a compilation of various sections without consideration for any dynamic build. What little inherent flow is further disrupted by what often feels like intrusive and misplaced intensity in the drums.

Perhaps the most redeeming element of the music lies in the creativity on display. Digital instrumentation and contributions give an air of personality to the songs and the overall album as a whole. Though lukewarm on Higgs’ voice, I find it highly effective in completing a rather expansive soundscape when coupled with the backing instrumentation. Put Me Together portrays this point better than most in the album and is easily the track I derived the most entertainment and enjoyment from, largely due to the incredible atmosphere established within the music and their faultless execution of this.

To summarise my thoughts; I like the album but it feels plastered in minor faults. Whilst I won’t accuse the album of lacking a strong personality, I feel the album is somewhat lost in its identity and often feels confused and disoriented in its delivery. I really appreciate the work devoted to the synthesisers, I like the tone of the drums and I think the atmosphere behind a great many of the tracks is very well constructed and delivered but there are a great many structural pitfalls throughout. 

When push comes to shove, I would recommend this album. I think it has its heart in the right place and it displays a very impressive measure of creativity that seems lacking in today’s contemporary music scene. The album packs variety and feeling and always offers something to get excited about, though it often does this at the expense of flow and accessible groove. Much like a foxy art student in a dingy bar; a quick fuck is totally justifiable, but you should get out of there before she opens her mouth and bombards you with incomprehensible and self-contradictory noise. 

Hustlin’ (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) by Stanley Turrentine (fellatio review)

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(Old but gold. Fucking perfect album)

There’s something in the air, my pretties! Something scary… Something strange! Something spooky and something gritty… Do I possess emotional range? Has the Christmas season sank into my heart? Infesting the purity of my hatred with a cinnamon-scented air of joy and positivity? We can only hope not, but this positivity has plagued my writing as of late and my pained heart desires nothing more than to talk about something I do genuinely enjoy! Though not a recent album, I would like to take time to discuss what I consider to be one of my personal favourite albums of all time; the Rudy Van Gelder edition of Hustlin’ by Stanley Turrentine. 

From the very introduction of the album your heart fills with glee with an introduction drowned in smooth Jazz percussion, cathartic organ and a deep and bouncing walking bass line. When sax enters the arrangement it merely completes the piece with a simply jovial energy. Totally lacking in any form of intrusion, the album sits perfectly in any environment, often adding an air of pizzazz and style to your otherwise mediocre day. 

Unlike so much music in circulation today, there’s something fundamentally enjoyable about this album. Many a time have I faced a dull day and turned to Turrentine for alleviation from my varying states of depression and unhappiness and I struggle to envision anybody who refuses the fundamentally joyous call of this absolute gem. It succeeds where many else fail in its delivery of undeniable positivity without demanding anything from the listener. 

Where Gregory Porter addressed themes of loss and love in such a beautiful and described way in his homage to the late Nat King Cole, the instrumental nature of this album incites such feelings without so much as a slight directprovocation or cue. Love Letters sings to a bittersweet nostalgia, altering tone to encompass acceptance and levity as the song progresses. It harks to a feeling of young love and presents its case with such a faultless and understanding delivery. Accidentals are used through an absolutely gorgeous organ solo to accent the nervous nature of love itself and this feeling is mirrored in the following guitar solo in a masterful exhibition of true grace. Every instrument shines as a flawless manifestation of emotion and feeling and captures the essence of humanity in the most beautifully conceivable way.

Lovers of style need look no further than the unimaginably cool The Hustler. Sleek walking bass sees to a constant air of pure style with an underlying support from some of the sexiest drumming I have ever heard. Unusual placements of organ accents grant a feeling of excitement throughout and the masterful placement of the overlaying saxophone and guitar contribute to the completion of a piece utterly oozing with charisma. 

Following The Huster stands the most flawlessly executed exhibition of call and response you could ever hope to hear. Ladyfingers almost feels like a time capsule of the essence of 1940’s New Orleans and works well to retain the consistent character of the album. Percussion remains at an incredible standard throughout with a total feeling of consistency and creativity behind the placement of accents and this serves to the betterment of what is already a totally faultless piece.

It’s too easy to ramble on about why the album is so incredible and how all of the individual tracks are so ridden with style and grace, but I truly feel it needs to be listened to for any chance of truly understanding the incredible level of craftsmanship exhibited in this phenomenal album. My bitter and resentful mind draws a total blank with criticism and I might go as far as to say this album sets serves as a benchmark for total perfection within this style. It addresses varying emotions and portrays them so well it defies belief! 

This album transcends my usual approach to recommending albums. Regardless of your background in music, I think this album is just too warm and welcoming to be denied by anybody. Stick it in whilst you’re doing dishes or writing something and it will serve a stalwart companion to brighten and uplift your day. There’s a purity and sincerity to this album which defies conventional boundaries and makes for something so instinctively pleasurable. Listen to it, love it and share it with everybody around you! This is the kind of music which truly deserves to be appreciated and respected. 

Doom (2016) by Mick Gordon (game soundtrack)

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(Praise the nine for Google Image Search)

I wouldn’t normally approach a video game soundtrack, given that it seems somewhat tailored to a much more isolated demographic, but halfway through reviewing yesterday’s Jazz album I realised I was doing that anyway! If I can take time to appease Jazz snobs, I can surely show consideration for the few metalhead gamers amongst my readers! I heard mention at one point that Doom supposedly had an absolutely ball-breaking soundtrack, and that, my lovelies, was all the incentive I needed to give it a whirl. 

I must be fucking blessed at the moment! Yesterday treated me with what I consider to be an absolute masterpiece of sheer emotion and depth and today saw fit to reward my time with one of the most badass, testicle-crushing powerhouses I have ever heard. 

Those with a learned knowledge of the Doom series will know exactly what to expect and are likely strumming themselves to orgasm over nostalgia-induced memories of the original game as we speak, but I understand that this may not include the majority of my adoring fanbase, so I shall briefly fill you in… 

Doom stands in video game history as a leading pioneer of the First-Person Shooting genre and featured a space marine brutally slaying their way through the demonic legions of Hell. The game was considered to be “ultra-violent” and incited incredible controversy for its high levels of graphic violence and satanic imagery amongst the religious communities at the time.

That in itself should explain exactly what is reflected within this compilation of brutality and outrageous onslaught of sound. Though one might consider the premise of the story to be juvenile and stupid, the composition of the music doesn’t come close to a lack of intellectual design. Tracks like Hellwalker exhort masterful feelings of dread with an expertly delivered measure of dynamic control and gut-wrenching discord and Flesh & Metal serves as a monstrous model of sound design, production and structuring with diminished chords and jarring breaks causing a constant state of unease and restlessness. 

If one were to approach this compilation from the perspective of a regular album, they would note the lack in flow between the tracks, but I personally forgive this on account of this being a score and not a conventional album. It becomes even easier to forgive this when one considers the effort in establishing an atmosphere for every track on the album. As self-contained tracks, there is no fault to the established feeling of trepidation and sheer, raw power the songs exhibit.

I would be reluctant to refer to this as being anything less than an absolute masterpiece of atmospheric and panic-inducing Metal and tracks like BFG Division justify this opinion perfectly. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough to those with an interest in listening to and playing Heavy Metal music. Although I drifted somewhat from the genre a great many years ago, I feel almost constantly encouraged throughout to pick up my bass and get learning some of these tracks. 

The album is just a total ear-fucking from start to end. Plastered in intrusive and ass-pounding vulgarity throughout, the album earns my complete and utter adoration. Though many without inclination to the Metal genre may find the album outright painful to listen to and many metalheads may be deterred by its very nature as an instrumental album, I’m going to roll out a recommendation anyway. It actively attempts for nothing more than to serve a very specific purpose, but I can’t imagine anything performing this better. I love this album and welcome it dearly into my life as my new “get hyped” soundtrack.