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album picks

Glass Animals Opens A Dream-like Realm With 'How To Be A Human Being'
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Carly Rae Jepsen Disproves Critics With Synth-based Dance Pop Collection, 'Emotion: Side B'
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Frank Ocean Finally Releases 17-Track Wonder, 'Blonde'
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With a unique concept and an eclectic sound, Glass Animals might have just hit the jackpot as they quickly garnered a large group of new listeners with their dream-like second album, How To Be A Human Being.

The well-received album almost has a Wes Anderson-esque theme with a cover that resembles the mustard trademark of the director as well as the characters in his film, The Royal Tenenbaums. Unsurprisingly, How To Be A Human Being was inspired by vivid conversations with strangers whom frontman David Bayley have encountered on tour - just like the varied and almost unstable character backgrounds in Wes Anderson films.

David Bayley described the album as “almost autobiographical” with “anecdotes from fans, taxi drivers and random strangers who felt compelled to unload." It's real life banter turned into euphonious tunes.

With this, it makes How To Be A Human Being the truest form of escapism. Glass Animals was able to flawlessly deliver real human experiences and transform them into sweet, psychedelic, and soft-rock melodies and it was as though the album cover came to life.

It opens with the first track Life Itself, which delves into some fairy tale vibes in the intro through its groovy beats. Additionally, there are songs like Season 2 Episode 3 (Season 2 as in Glass Animals’ 2nd album and Episode 3 being the 3rd song), a reminiscent of a retro video game theme song. Similar to the song Youth, the former induces some kind of nostalgia.

On the other hand, there's also [premade sandwiches], a spoken word interlude that suggests some form of mockery about how most of us live our lives - “People complaining cos' their mum whines… People complaining about standing in line.”

Those who initially snubbed the band's first album, myself shamefully included, will fall in love with the quartet's bold experimentation. A kaleidoscope in itself, Glass Animals' second incarnation takes us to a melodic fantasy that, in my opinion, no record in 2016 has yet to achieve.

 

Listen to the album here:

 

Track gems: Season 2 Episode 3, Youth, Agnes

 

Photo Credits: Caroline Records

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Just when we all thought that Carly Rae Jepsen is done proving critics wrong about being a one-hit wonder, the pop singer recently released a mind-blowing collection of unreleased tracks from the album Emotion. But despite the not-so-brilliantly named collection entitled, Emotion: Side B, Carly’s efforts to channel her inner junkie and quirkiness makes the EP far from mundane.

Songs that others would have thought as not good enough to make the cut actually has equal potential as those that did - it’s the perfect mix of pre-internet retro vibes and 21st century pop.

Carly had her full armour on when she said she wanted her latest record to be an embodiment of Cyndi Lauper’s 80's synth-based music. Side B perfectly captures the sweet nostalgia of that era with catchy tunes like Store and First Time.

But Carly knows how to serve a full platter with the semi-emotional Cry, which blends mellow beats with lyrics that somehow suggest a form of uncertainty and unrequited love - “I never really know when he'll be leaving, and even with hello I hear goodbye.” Whatever the inspiration is, it was transformed into a groovy track that any pop fan would dig.

Hipsters who deem themselves allergic to mainstream pop could be easily lured into the magic that is Carly Rae Jepsen’s new music.

Do yourself a favor and have a listen:

Track Gems: Store, First Time, Higher, Body Language

 

Photo Credit: Hazel & Pine, 604, School Boy, & Interscope Records

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With utter anticipation for the much–awaited follow up to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, the singer-songwriter’s latest album, Blonde, received nothing but praises from fans both old and new.

Preceding the release of Blonde is a visual album called Endless, which I initially thought was the only material Frank Ocean was going to deliver. But we were gifted with more mellow beats in the 17-track wonder, Blonde.

The album involves the continuous intersection of neo soul and dream pop – which are two terms that perfectly encapsulate Frank Ocean’s music.

We've got songs like Ivy, which has it’s own Drake-esque vibes and Mac Demarco’s signature 80's riffs.

But one of the most popular tracks off the record, Self Control, embodies the heartwarming melodies of RnB accompanied by the sweet sound of an acoustic guitar. It’s a mixture of all things wonderful with solid chord progressions at unexpected intervals and dreamy riffs.

The interlude, Good Guy, got me at “You text nothing like you look,” which was inspired by a blind date Frank Ocean had with a guy at a gay bar. Blonde, if not just for it’s euphonic theme, captures honest lyricism and of course, the inclusion of queerness in music that is usually not often talked about.

Despite the long wait, it is evident that this album took years of craftmanship to include sophisticated artistry with not a hint of pretentiousness. Listening to Blonde is almost comparable to the calming hues of a pediatrician's clinic - one that would make anyone feel safe and secure.

So, do yourself a favor and play this album on repeat.

 

Track Gems: Self Control, Nights, Ivy, Pink + White, Solo

 

Listen to Self Control here:

Photo Credit: Boys Don’t Cry

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With hooks similar to the soundtrack of early 2000s movie Freaky Friday and association with self-confessed punk rockers 5 Seconds of Summer, Hey Violet are on their way to the pop-punk scene. However, the newcomers are still in the process of a defining sound that would set them apart from the long-gone emo phase they seem to be going for - both aesthetically and musically. But their latest EP, Brand New Moves, is good enough for now.

The EP opens with Brand New Moves, a song that can certainly draw one’s attention through it’s playful basslines though still incomparable to the band’s most successful single, I Can Feel It.

The pop punk influence is evident in the whole five-track EP with songs like Fuqboi, which is a reminiscent of the aforementioned emo phase. Lead vocalist Rena Lovelis sings about fuckboys as “the stain on your heart's reputation.” - the new anthem for the young and “brokenhearted.”

Pure, a more synth-based song ends the short journey through Hey Violet’s new originals. The last two songs is a stripped version and a Nomekop remix of the first track Brand New Moves, which I think the EP would do better without.

With 3 original songs, Brand New Moves serves as a cliffhanger for new fans who have been captured by their slightly harsh teenage daydream style.

 

Photo Credit: Hi or Hey Records

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Hotline Bling was one of the biggest hits of 2015. That single and Drake's well-received mixtapes If You're Reading This It's Too Late and WATTBA with Future brewed a high-hoped anticipation of his 4th proper album Views From The 6, shortened to just Views.

That being said, Views underwhelms as Hotling Bling appears as the closing bonus track, and it is still the best track here. We know Drake gets a bad rep for being soft and that was expected here, however 80+ minutes of the rapper wallowing in passive-aggressive contemplation just proved the album's low worth.

Keep The Family Close is a decent opener that sets the introspective tone of the album. But Drizzy still gets lost in forgettable tracks like the empty Redemption and the weak-flowing 9. The latter being an example of Drake's wastage of great beats on the album. The "Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake" line on Child's Play also sums up some of the unfortunate mediocrity in Views.

Drake got us hyped for new material with brilliant numbers like 6 God, Legend and Energy. But we only find similarly-impactful songs in the standouts Hype and Still Here, maybe also in some parts of Weston Road Flows. We also get another taste of What A Time To Be Alive on the Future-featured Grammys, but the overwhelming self-reflection just masks these good tracks.

Still, Drake was able to garner some love for the album with quality pop tracks (not including Pop Style) such as the trending ONE Dance and the danceable hit Too Good that features his special Rihanna. Despite the disappointing roller-coaster that Views takes you on, which ends right back again at Hotline Bling, there are worthwhile moments here. The album just wasn't what we expected (or wanted) from 2015 Drake.

Track Gems: Hype, Views, Still Here, ONE Dance, Feel No Ways

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