Jams: Week of March 17th

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Albums


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Drake More Life

A new album from record breaking superstar rapper Drake is always bittersweet for me. I used to be an enormous fan of his (I still have some songs on Thank Me Later memorized) but his last few albums have been an insane amount of songs that all do the dark minimal trap sound so they all blended together and were boring. After all the dissing of Pusha-T and Kid Cudi shit I was not planning on liking More Life or even listening to it for that matter. However, I gave it a chance and it became my favorite album of the week. I feel like this album is the culmination of every style Drake has tampered with in the past: the trap sound he’s run into the ground is definitely present, the dancehall sound he employed on “One Dance” is present on songs like “Passionfruit”, and there are more traditional rap songs more resembling his early work. The production on this album is top notch, as it should be with the team of producers he has on here including 40 and Boy-1da. My favorite addition on this album is how many British musicians he features, Grime rappers Skepta and Giggs appear on a couple songs and Sampha lends his phenomenal voice to “4422”. He also has appearance from hip hop’s biggest stars like Young Thug and Migos as well as the man himself Kanye West. The big argument people have about Drake and my problem with him was that he’s the biggest artists in the world, he’s super rich, and it seemed like he’s either whining about a girl or beef with another rapper. However, he’s dialed down his whininess and I actually love some of the songs where he sings rather than rap. His writing and flow are hard to have a problem with, he is really on point with this album. It seems like old Wheelchair Jimmy has gotten back to basics and he’s definitely pulled a Weezer and won back some fans that had soured on him. If you wanna hear me start a nasty rumor about Drake, check out the latest episode of Best Song Ever.

 


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Spoon Hot Thoughts

The veteran indie-rock band, and one of my personal favorite bands, Spoon have put out their ninth studio album Hot Thoughts, and they retain the consistent quality that we’ve come to expect from them. Their style has never really undergone any huge change they’ve got their sound down, and that’s the case on this new album. Following up 2014’s They Want My Soul, they go in a slightly different direction, with tracks that are a bit darker and more lush and 80’s influenced, but overall it’s Spoon up to their old tricks. Certain tracks are indecipherable from earlier albums, it’s almost as if it’s the same sound just coming through a different filter, the descending piano foundations and fuzzy guitar riffs are still present, they’re just clocked in different synths and effects so that they come across in a new way. Brit Daniel’s songwriting is still on point, and his unmistakeable voice fits in perfectly with the new elements added. While this album can’t outdo previous works like Gimme Fiction or Transference, it is the next in a line of unimpeachable albums. If you want to hear about my complicated history with this amazing band, or the time I saw Brit Daniel at MoPop Festival check out this episode of Best Song Ever where I also played “Hot Thoughts.” 


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Sorority Noise You're Not As ____ As You Think

I first listened to this band because their name sounded cool, their music was emo influenced indie-rock that was good but didn’t really stand out. However, on their album You’re Not As ____ As You Think they reach new depths of emotional vulnerability as frontman Cameron Boucher process the deaths of his close friends through these songs, literally unleashing his emotions through screaming in some cases. I’ve said it before that emo music can be so underutilized, with shallow poppy tunes whining about a breakup or something, yet when it’s used as a venue for deep and serious pain the genre is the perfect venue for vulnerability and powerful emotional confessions. That is the case on this album it is extremely powerful, both in the sense of destructive guitar riffs, pounding drums, and piercing screams, but in the quite moments everything feels so much closer and immediate, adding to it’s weight. This album was produced by Mike Sapone who has worked with the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, which makes perfect sense because this album captures that same sound, but refines it even further. Last year we saw bands like Microwave and Touche Amore, using emo and screamo to attack really profound moments in life, and it’s great to see a band like Sorority Noise showing a new side of themselves in the same way.


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Real Estate In Mind

Can an album be too catchy? I say yes. I feel like there are albums where every song starts of with a super catchy riff and then maybe loses momentum throughout the song, so at first glance every song is so catchy, then they all blend together. That has been the case with most Real Estate albums for me. I put it on and it sounds so great, the dreamy synths, mixed with the bouncy guitar riffs, are so chill and lovely that I’m hooked. However, after a minute of reverie vocals and swirling guitars I zone out and then repeat this process for 10-12 songs. I completely recognize this is high quality indie-rock but since it’s done in the dream pop style i often sink in to the haze and miss out on the individual merits of the album. That being said, I think that is some of the appeal of this music as well, if you want to sink into some haze you know where to go. Real Estate has never put out a bad album and when I’m listening to the songs that guitar parts put my weary heart at ease, yet right when the song is finished I couldn’t tell you how it went.


Songs


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Perfume Genius Slip Away

Under the moniker Perfume Genius, Seattle singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas has released three beautiful albums. Over the course of those albums, his sound has evolved from quiet folk and piano ballads, to grander indie-rock arrangements. With the release of this new single, it seems his upcoming fourth album will be his grandest and most realized yet. This song begins with modest production as Hadreas sings about "breaking free" and never having to hide, as a gay man who has faced oppression to not have to hide these words carry even more weight. On the inspirational chorus he says, "Oh, ooh love. They'll never break the shape we take. Oh, ooh. Baby let all them voices slip away." This resilience is mirrored in the music with an Arena rock sized burst of drums and keys with a plethora of other noises making appearance. The song ends in a bittersweet, noisy, and dissonant crescendo. This is without a doubt the most technically impressive and emotionally powerful song I've heard from this artist and I can't wait for the new album, No Shape out May 5th on Matador.


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Gorillaz feat. Popcaan Saturnz Barz

The world has been waiting 7 years for Damon Albarn to follow up Gorillaz phenomenal 2010 album Plastic Beach, and this week we got a leaked tracklist showing an insande amount of amazing features including D.R.A.M., Savages' Jhenny Beth, Vince Staples, and De La Soul to name a few. There are so many other amazing features or superstar artists and lesser known talents. We got our first taste of the album yesterday, along with a stunning short film from Jamie Hewlett, where our favorite animated band spends a night in a haunted house. All of this, the dark and eerie beat that Damon and Popcaan spit over, and the creepy video draws comparisons to early tracks and videos like "Dirty Harry." I just read there was some angry Popcaan fans who dissed Drake for not featuring the guy on either of his last two albums, but hey he's on a Gorillaz song so he'll be just fine. I am insanely excited for this new album this is one of my favorite bands ever. We now know that Humanz is coming out April 24th


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Feist Pleasure

This is the first taste we've gotten from Feist's first album in six years, following up 2011's Metals, and it's got me ready for more. I lost track of Feist after her seminal album The Reminder, and now hearing this new song she has really altered her sound, but in a cool and interesting way. This song blooms over the course of 5 minutes starting from a soft strummed guitar and Feist's mumbly vocals, then fuzzy guitar riffs and percussion are added all leading a up to a hand clap crescendo, with a chorus of voices chanting "Pleasure". The album of the same name, Pleasure, is out April 28th on Interscope Records.


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