Infrasound: Pittsburgh Native Band Lovebettie are Finalists to Perform at 2014 Grammy Award Celebration

Lovebettie 2020kThis year, the Grammy’s are switching it up and allowing viewers to pick and choose who they’d like to see win a spot at performing during their celebrations. Currently, there are 40 finalists and four days to vote. The winners get a spot at the Los Angeles Club Nokia for the GRAMMY Gig of a Lifetime Concert and also open for The Neighbourhood.

Amongst the few are the critically acclaimed and local Pittsburgh swagger rock band Lovebettie.  A mixture of authentic rock, accessibly smart melodies, and a hell of a bunch of talented folks make up this band and while the area has watched them rise and continue their artistic growth for years, it’s absolutely wonderful to see them attain this level of height.

Just for name dropping purposes, Jim Wirt (Incubus, Fiona Apple, Hoobastank, Trapt) has produced the band since their 2001 debut.

Lovebettie have a tiny piece of my heart as they run into my lives constantly without any member of the band knowing.

+At my first internship in Turtle Creek, PA, a member of the band came into the studio for something I can’t remember. While on a date in Latrobe, PA, a member of the band was employed at the restaurant we went to. “Do you know who that is?” exclaimed the boy before he informed me.

+At my first job after graduating from CRAS in Arizona, free CDs were dropped off for us to give away and while working at another customer service job (the one that refuses to sell Frank Ocean or Beyonce records….I digress) when the lead singer of the band would come in and a less seasoned co-worker would comment slyly to myself or someone else about her insanely awesome hair in a less than courteous fashion, someone was always quick to say “shut up, do you even know who that is?” Ah, the suburbs.

But enough with my boring back story and love for them…stop reading this blog (temporarily, of course) and vote here. While you’re at it, check out some tunes at and like them on Facebook.

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2020k’s Top 50 Songs of 2013

In 2011 we had twenty top songs. 2012? Forty. The year, we’re taking an even more expansive look at the spectrum of music in the 2020k year end wrap up of 2013′s best tracks. Because of the long list, the top ten songs each have separate streaming/video embeds, while all fifty have a listening link as well as an accompanied Spotify list of applicable songs in the list.

If I wrote something about a specific artist or song this year, the number associated with the song will be clickable.

Partial playlist:

55. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop [YouTube]
54. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines [YouTube]
53. Gauntlet Hair – G.I.D.
52. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (Feat. Wanz) [YouTube]
51. Jhene Aiko – The Vapors (Feat. Vince Staples)

depeche-mode50. Depeche Mode – My Little Universe
49. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive [YouTube]
48. AWOLNATION – Sail [YouTube]
47. Late Night Alumni – Ring a Bell [YouTube]
46. Tycho – Awake [Soundcloud]
45. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal [Soundcloud]
44. Little Boots – Motorway [Soundcloud]
43. Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know
42. July Child – Liquid Form
41. Daughter – Winter
40. Tyler the Creator – IFHY
39. Sarah Bareilles – Brave [YouTube]
38. Betaphax – Mood [Bandcamp]
37. Newtimers – Heavy Weather [Soundcloud]
36. Benign & Roy Hessels – My Refuge [Soundcloud]

35. Telepopmusik – Try Me Anyway (Feat. Betty Black) [Soundcloud]
34. Scyye – No End On [Soundcloud]

33. xSDTRK – Powder [Soundcloud]
32. Zedd – Clarity (feat. Foxes) [YouTube]
31. Lana Del Rey – Chelsea Hotel No 2 [YouTube]
30. Wet Eyes – Side Ache [Bandcamp]
29. Tricky – Is That Your Life
28. Justin Timberlake – Blue Ocean Floor
27. Britney Spears – Perfume [YouTube]
26. Icona Pop – I Love It (Feat.Charli XCX) [Soundcloud]

Capital Cities25. Capital Cities – Safe and Sound [YouTube]
24. Amel Larrieux – Afraid [Soundcloud]
23. Nyetscape – Tumbling Down [Bandcamp]
22. HAIM – Falling [Soundcloud]
21. Kinesthetiac – Life Enhancement Hypothesis [Soundcloud]
20. FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify [YouTube]
19. Nine Inch Nails – Copy of a
18. Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. (Feat. Erykah Badu) [YouTube]
17. Beyonce – ***Flawless (Feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) [YouTube]
16. The Irrepressibles – New World (Iamamiwhoami Remix) [Bandcamp]
15. Javelin – Light Out [Soundcloud]
14. David Bowie – Where Are We Now? [YouTube]
13. David Lynch – I’m Waiting Here (Feat. Lykke Li) [YouTube]
12. Boreal Network – Normal Hopeless Future [Bandcamp]
11. Fil OK – Parasympathetic [Bandcamp]

TOP 10 2013 SONGS
10. Andre Obin – Lemondrop

09. Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right (Feat. Panda Bear)

08. Burial – Come Down To Us

07. Fiona Apple – Pure Imagination

06. Moby – The Lonely Night (Feat. Mark Lanegan)

05. Lusine – February

04. M.I.A. – Bring the Noize

03. Boards of Canada – Nothing is Real

02. Cults – High Road

01. Lorde – Tennis Court

BONUS: Simulate Televangelist – Cobalt Surge

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2013 Mini-Album Reviews Part Three: Justin Timberlake, Iamamiwhoami

Justin Timberlake The 2020 Experience 2 of 2Editor’s Introduction: What a year 2013 has been! Between releasing “Run in Circles” with Vestron Vulture [link], the “Contagion EP” [link], then having “Contagion” released on Touched. [link], being called The Future of Electronica in Sykomindz Magazine [link], moving into the city of Pittsburgh, and a million other undertakings that will be reflected upon in this blog’s yearly wrap-up article, the blog has taken quite a backseat. In hopes to catch up before the year’s end, there will be several super-articles compiling all that has been missed in the last 12 months.

This particular article features several mini-reviews of records released this year. We featured catch-up articles like this in July, have part one of these mini reviews here and will stop at nothing until all of the interesting releases have been reflected upon. Let’s get started – the final installment.

The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake

Continuing his return to music and ode to 2020k, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake finds itself in the hands of Timbaland once again as the pair explore the boundaries of pop music through the use of extended compositions, coupled with live instrumentation, synthetic melodies, and sample based rhythms.

Unfortunately, Part 2 suffers the same fate as Part 1 [our review here] in terms of sounding too sterile, overproduced, and compressed. Sitting at an average of 6dB of dynamic range, all of the songs except the hidden track run notoriously hot and at times are so full of low and mid frequencies that the top-end shine is difficult to lend attention to. Interestingly enough, this is a technique Timbaland productions have begun to take on and since the release of the Justin projects have gotten better (see Beyonce’s self-titled release where the pristine sonics are still present, but with a tighter final mix). With these engineering flaws come a few on-purpose moments that don’t particularly sit well either. Most notably during “Only When I Walk Away,” a lead vocal distortion technique becomes so cumbersome that it’s a daunting, uncomfortable listen and seemingly impossible for a focus to be found anywhere other than Timberlake’s voice (ironically, the contorted vocal mixing used when distorting creates overtones that brighten the mix, but not for the better).

Don’t even try the vinyl. While owning both volumes on wax is a nice collectable purchase, the sound on it is devastatingly distorted, with analog concentration on overcompensated kick & bass aspects of all songs in The 2020 Experience collection, and it’s not your turntable.

The worst offender on The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 however, is the country/rock crossover “Drink You Away,” which unfortunately tumbles to the same fate as the Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton duet “Just a Fool” from the songstress’ Lotus record. Cliche alcoholic references flourish in between an uninspired throwback to the Pop-Country takeover of the 1990′s.

In a continuation of Timberlake’s time with NSYNC and solo artistry, The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 does find its strength in the actual music. Its lead single “Take Back the Night” finds itself popped out with a unique horn section by the Benjamin Wright & The Benjamin Wright Orchestra, successfully recalling high-class jazz and disco influences that unfold under a relevant, mainstream umbrella. “TKO,” “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want),” and “Cabaret” also find themselves to be refreshing portions of this project.

bounty by Iamamiwhoami (2013 Physical Release)

Now that the hoopla behind the mystery of Iamamiwhoami has died down, the duo have successfully been caught up in a whirlwind of interviews, touring, and releasing their back catalog in physical form. bounty, the record that digitally started it all, found itself in a slew of vinyl delays, eventually releasing on wax a few months after it was promised.

It was well worth the wait, but judging from our “; John” and “Clump” reviews, as well as our extensive coverage of the band, one wouldn’t necessarily have to look far to know that Jonna Lee and Claes Bjorklund are held as celestial beings around 2020k. Both the CD and vinyl releases come equipped with a DVD containing all full videos from the bounty era and in keeping with the monochromatic artwork, in opposition to the black themed kinthe bounty vinyl is white.

Aside from its bump in clarity from being in lossless format and mastered to sound cohesive throughout its physical platform, bounty stays true to the original digital releases and while a full release of the prelude tracks would have been the icing on the cake, it’s best that the original intentions on the full length, already released songs have a proper space all to themselves instead of being overcrowded with additional material.

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“Contagion” by 2020k Featured on “Touched.” A MacMillan Cancer Support Compilation

Touched Macmillan Cancer Support 2020k Contagion
Over 100 of the most forward thinking artists in genres that span across all sorts of Electronica and classical ground have come together on the Touched. compilation, a charity release of which 100% of the profit goes to the MacMillan Cancer Support, which provides a foundation of care to individuals in the United Kingdom who are suffering from any form of cancer.

Currated by Martin Boulton, known as Min -Y.Llan, Based on Bandcamp, which allows a name your own price sort of structure, there’s a minimum of £6 for the download which includes over 120 tracks, some from legendary Electronic recording artists Christ., The Future Sound of London, Plaid, Plone, 808 State, Jon Hopkins, George Sarah featuring Angela McCluskey, Arovane, VHS Head, Brothomstates, and Ochre.

I’m honored to say that “Contagion” is included alongside these artists and a close friend of mine who goes by the name Scyye. 2ndMOUSE is also a part of this compilation and is an acquaintance whose music I am quite fond of as well. These are just some of the names and I’m encouraging you to like, follow, share, and download the Touched. compilation as a way to not only acquire a truckload of dexterous tunes, but to give back to an institution who have helped so many in the United Kingdom. I may be a United States based artist, but I know a good cause when I see one and this is one of those instances that has done an outstanding amount of work to comfort those who have unfortunately been affected by any form of cancer.

Any arrangement in terms of helping those with cancer is something I deeply stand behind and could not be happier to have contributed to this cause. Click here to navigate to the Touched. Bandcamp page and give the compilation a download.

Give back and enjoy the music,
2020k for more information on Macmillan Cancer Support & here for the official Touched. website. for artist information, including a free “Contagion” download with four additional remixes.

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2020k Presents: An Interview With July Child

July ChildBoth halves of the UK based Pop/Dance act July Child are not strangers to the Infrasound section of 2020k. Songwriter, producer, and engineer Kiyon “Kiks” Samavat has interviewed with us before and his song “Tell Her,” featuring Amber Clara, was featured in our Top 20 songs of 2012. Seeing as though Clara has been featured on all of the solo releases by Kiks, there’s no surprise the two, who share a birthday on July 29th, would celebrate the creative friendship through a shared project.

With one major release under their belt, a song called “Liquid Form,” and an acoustic version of a song called “Electric Chair,” it seems like an interesting A-side/B-side based release schedule, which is all done under their own independent record label Paper Thin Records Ltd. Described as haunting, brooding, and vulnerable, the duo have been so-far compared to the likes of Late Night Alumni and 90′s-early 00′s Madonna, with their way of presenting romance in a tangling assortment of complex metaphors atop accessible productions, and upon the kick off of their musical endeavors found a few moments to set aside and speak to 2020k about music, silly arguments, studio jokes, and the future.

Living down the road from each other makes for a great friendship. Does the bond make its way into the music, or does it seem like July Child stands alone, in a different section between the two of you?

Kiks: We still live near and see each other all the time. I feel like our longstanding friendship translates into comfort, there is a lot of comfort in our working relationship. Neither of us are scared to experiment or voice an opinion and that’s allowed the two of us, and July Child, to grow beyond something that is just two people writing and recording music.

Are the lyrical and instrumental concepts behind your songs bounced back and forth between one another in real time/from the beginning or is it a solitary experience that comes together later, after each individual process has been completed?

K: We’ve got a very weird way of working but it’s slowly becoming more concrete. I carry a tattered notepad around with me and every day I write words, phrases, lines into it, just whatever I’m feeling at the time. I sit down with my acoustic guitar and go through what I’ve written. 99% of what I write is discarded, but every so often there’s a phrase that has a certain feel to it, and with that I start putting together a chord sequence, an arrangement, and go from there. Then, I share what I’ve written with Amber and get her feedback. There’s usually a lot of blanks that need filling, both lyrically and in terms of structure, that she contributes very well to. After that, I sit down and try and figure out in my head how the whole song should play out in terms of production, structure and instrumentation, sitting for days and experimenting with different sounds on Logic Pro or Ableton Live. Finally, I bring in what I’ve got into the studio, where we usually lay down a demo take of the vocals just for me to be able to get a feel of what the track will sound like.

Kiks tracks are available and have gone so far as to to be featured in the visual world (“Dirty Secret” by Sam Rowland). These songs have had Amber providing vocals, but were released as a Clara feature, not as July Child. What sparked the decision to switch over to a singular musical entity?   

K: I feel we had too much going for us not to. We’ve been making music together for several years, and until now, most of it wasn’t worth mentioning, but in terms of the way we work and the way we understand each other, I couldn’t think of a better person to go through this process with. Until now, a lot of the solo and commissioned work I’d done had been top-lining for tracks that have already been produced, or writing and producing single tracks every few months. However, the decision to make an album has given me so much more freedom as a writer and I’ve been able to open up, and to experiment more.

July Child represents everything we both want to say at this moment in time.

What’s the inspiration behind your debut track “Liquid Form”?

K: “Liquid Form” is a song that will always be so personal and significant to me. It was one of the last songs on the album that I wrote and in a lot of ways it goes against the messages given across in our other songs. The main theme that runs through the album is the fact that I personally kept myself closed off from people I was sharing relationships with – I never let my guard down, but “Liquid Form” advocates the opposite. It talks about how much there is to gain from going against how you’ve done things before and  whatever is holding you back, as well as giving in emotionally and physically to your urges. It’s about two people bearing themselves, everything they are, to each other.

What should we expect in terms of sound and lyrical content from July Child?

K: The dark lyrical themes run through the whole album, even our up-tempo, bolder material. “Liquid Form” is just a taste. It’s certainly one of the slowest, most melancholic tracks on the record, and probably one of the lowest points emotionally. It’s one of our least electronic tracks, opting for a string section, grand piano and acoustic guitar; the rest of our stuff has busier instrumentation, using synthesizers, trumpets and samples. I like to think there’s a strand, both lyrically and sonically running through our music, which has given both of us the courage to produce music that we were maybe a little bit worried about at the start.

Kiks, you’ve mentioned in a previous feature on the 2020k blog, “if I haven’t written a vocal line that sticks in my head and drives me crazy, then the song needs more work.” What approach did you take to the composition process of July Child?

K: The mantra still stays. When you’re working with such a unique voice as Amber’s, it feels wasteful to not write catchy vocal lines and harmonies. Thankfully, through this last year, we’ve learned that catchy doesn’t necessarily mean commercial or unoriginal. One of our other stripped down tracks “Electric Chair” uses a Celtic scale, and has a very unique vocal melody and timing.

Amber, is there a specific approach you take when recording vocals & lending what you have to bring to the table?

Amber Clara: When recording vocals we’ll do a few practice takes, and then I’ll get in the booth. Me and Kiks have a love hate relationship when it comes to recording! It sometimes takes me a while to warm up and get the feel for the track, so in these moments we’re just figuring out what sounds right and what doesn’t work. The vocals are up to me so I feel like I need to be performing my part of the track as well as Kiks performs his. There’s a certain pressure to it at first but we always get it to where it needs to be.

We know Kiks is influenced by Fleetwood Mac. Amber, who are some of your musical influences?

A: I didn’t get into singing properly until I was about 12 or 13 – I could never really sing when I was younger! My whole family sings, so growing up that was a big influence. I used to play a lot of KT Tunstall and Corinne Bailey Rae tracks when I learned the guitar, so they inspired me a lot in my early teens, and nowadays the female artists we have around us mainly influence me. I’m a massive fan of Jessie Ware, and I absolutely love her album Devotion. It’s hard for me to pin point exact artists and bands as I have so many different influences from different genres throughout distinctive times in my life.

Collaborative experiences are always interesting because there’s two individual outlooks creatively searching for a common creative goal. What’s something you two can always agree on when it comes to making music? 

K: Well first of all, at the very heart of things, we both love making music. We’d feel very blessed if we are able to make a career from it. We have the exact same ideas of the message we want to give across, and most importantly we believe in the importance of good songwriting. Something like image or marketing has never concerned us that much, which is a little worrying, as those two things are very important nowadays. But, our idea is that our job is to make the music the best we can, everything beyond that will eventually fall in place, which it is starting to do.

A: We’re very similar when it comes to making music, I guess that comes from being born on the same day!

July Child PromoAlternatively, have you two been met with differing directions? How is common ground reached?

K: We argue all the time. I think it’s conducive to the creative process. Amber’s very quick to let me know if she doesn’t like something, and I’m the same. Thankfully, that is happening less frequently now.

A: As I said before, we have a love/hate relationship sometimes! We will always voice our opinions and work through whatever the other one disagrees on or isn’t comfortable with. I think we’ve started to realize how the other is feeling which is why our arguments are never very big.

What’s the inspiration behind going fully independent as opposed to looking for a traditional way to roll out music via a more established record label?

K: Over a year ago, we made the decision to sit down and write, produce, and record an album, and we said from the start, until that is done, we are not going to look elsewhere. Right now, the climate of the music industry, especially in the UK isn’t the best. Labels aren’t willing to invest like they were in the past, so it leaves bands like us with a bit of a moral dilemma. Keeping full artistic control and being able to work the way we want, and with the people we want was crucial to us, so I decided to set up my own record label and get a whole team in of young and hungry individuals, all of which have complete faith in our project and put all their weight behind it. I feel like this is the best way to go about things.

I playfully bullied Kiks into making sure I would be the first follow on the official July Child Twitter account. Is there any moment that stands out in any creative session as the most silly or fun?

K: We mess around a lot. Amber and me aren’t exactly the most serious people, we’ve got a playful side and a lot of that comes out in the studio when we’re locked away at ungodly hours recording the 15th take of a track. There’s always the moment when Amber catches me swearing at her under my breath, not realising the talkback mic is on. I love to wind her up whenever she coughs or clears her throat and the tape is running, I’ll stick some reverb and delay on it and insist it stays as part of the song.

A: That’s so true, we even have a sample of me coughing at the beginning of one of our tracks. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. When the work needs to be done, we do it even if it takes a while and we mess around in between.

A website, debut song, plethora of internet resources, and a talented duo have been revealed so far. What can we expect next from July Child?

K: The hard work never stops, and it shouldn’t do. We’re in the studio rehearsing and recording all over Christmas. We’ve got a whole album ready to go, but just like with “Liquid Form,” we’re being patient with it and taking our time fine-tuning things. Hopefully, at some point during the next year we’ll be in the position to release our music physically, which would be great. We’re going to be spending 2 or 3 days a week rehearsing our live show and trying to make it as musically and visually appealing as possible, as until we recruit some additional musicians, it will be just the two of us. We will hopefully be able to play some great shows over the next year, both in the UK and abroad, and it would be an absolute dream come true to play a festival this summer.

Connect with July Child at their official website where you can sign up for their mailing list and download “Liquid Form” for free. You can also follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook. 2020k has also reviewed “Liquid Form” in an article at Avenge the Virgins.

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Tears For Fears Announce New Record & Cover Animal Collective’s “My Girls”

Tears For Fears - My Girls Animal Collective Cover 2020kIt’s been far too long since we’ve last heard from perfect synth-pop duo Tears For Fears. To be exact, it’s been six years since we’ve had a new record from the bunch.

After a rather dismal article from The Guardian back in 2010 where Curt Smith stated “labels won’t back us,” we’re asking you forget that notion because the two are back to rule the world! Recently, we’ve seen the two cover the likes of Arcade Fire and Hot Chip, now to prove that things come in threes, a cover of “My Girls” by Animal Collective has been thrown into the mix.

Also, check out their official Facebook for the “My Girls” announcement and this little nugget of information: “And finally… we’d like to officially announce that we are writing and recording new original material to be released in 2014!”

Along with this is an official video directed by Vinyl Williams. Watch below!

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2013 Mini-Album Reviews Part Two: Britney Spears, Cults, and HAIM

Britney Spears-Britney-Jean-Album-Cover

Editor’s Introduction: What a year 2013 has been! Between releasing “Run in Circles” with Vestron Vulture [link], the “Contagion EP” [link], being called The Future of Electronica in Sykomindz Magazine [link], moving into the city of Pittsburgh, and a million other undertakings that will be reflected upon in this blog’s yearly wrap-up article, the blog has taken quite a backseat. In hopes to catch up before the year’s end, there will be several super-articles compiling all that has been missed in the last 12 months.

This particular article features several mini-reviews of records released this year. We featured catch-up articles like this in July, have part one of these mini reviews here and will stop at nothing until all of the interesting releases have been reflected upon. Let’s get started…

BritneyJean by Britney Spears

Upon the release of her 2011 record Femme Fatale, we praised Britney Spears records in general for maintaining a higher level of pop enjoyment than the majority of her contemporaries [link]. Regardless of the musician’s personal struggles, catchy songs and interestingly engineered music thrived. It’s also to be noted that Britney Spears the entertainer is a brand and since 2007 has continuously relied on marketing upcoming projects as “comebacks”. When the Femme Fatale comeback marketing approach failed, team Britney remained stunned, but concept videos for “I Wanna Go” and “Criminal” took their place – in essence, gratifying the music, tour, and overall year in Spears music. The empire triumphed like always.

But, what happens when a one-trick pony marketing stunt that worked so well for so long begins to diminish? Well, Team Britney stars to ponder. How about we make the pop star honest? What if we one up her “human being appeal” shown as a judge on X-Factor by taking a residency in Las Vegas? What if we bring in the musician she scored a huge hit with on “Scream & Shout” as the executive producer on the new record? This all sounds great, right? Sure, if it were done properly, but Britney Jean contradicts everything it seemingly stands for from the first note, almost to the last.

While the William Orbit produced “Alien” ironically speaks lyrical volumes in terms of human loneliness, the amount of pitch correction goes absolutely haywire during several instances of the song (most notably the bridges), inevitably devaluing, hindering, and killing any virtuous tendencies the track has. While overproduced vocals is something we’ve obviously come to expect from Britney Spears records, the amount of correction applied to the main vocal lines of this song are too much, even if they’re going for a peculiar approach to the song to fit with the extraterrestrial theme. However, despite this mishap, “Alien” remains one of the more law-abiding songs in terms of staying true to the revealing matter Britney Jean promises to deliver.

Where the record dispatches emotion most accurately is on the Sia penned/Keith Harris & Chris Braide produced second single “Perfume”. A mid-tempo song in composition, sounding in the vein of something Imogen Heap and Guy Sigworth would produce on a Frou Frou project, Spears takes a trip down infidelity lane while creatively holding on to the unspoken confessions of a paranoid lover. Expressing her disdain for her cheating boyfriend, she ensures the scent of her perfume is strong enough on him so that the other woman inadvertently understands the adulterating activity through fragrance.

Too bad the video turned into a full blown predictable advertisement for Britney Spears’ perfume collection. Want to see the original Joseph Kahn vision? So does he. So do we.

“Passenger” also follows through on an approach to vulnerability, especially on the introduction to the song, but predictably suffers the same fate a “Alien” and utilizes background singers for higher notes more than Britney herself.

The rest of Britney Jean is consists of the predictably simple EDM-influenced pop music that executive producer Will.I.Am has come to make in recent times. Also, how the lead single “Work Bitch” demonstrates a sense of personal touch is beyond anyone’s comprehension. “Til It’s Gone” is filled with the cringe-worthy lyrics “I’m blind from the tears that fall like rain, so lost ever since you went away” and while “Tik Tik Boom” does create a distant-throwback to “(I Got That) Boom Boom” from In The Zone, it falls flat. “Body Ache,” if anything, holds the key to more elaborate production, but even at that has uninspiring melodies that only excite at the more modulating aspects of the programmed synths within the song.

By the time “Chillin’ With You” comes on, which is an apparent move to market Jamie Lynn Spears try music career [link], it’s time for some red and white wine. The whole bottle. Everything from the engineering and production of the following tracks are calculated to be so cohesive and same sounding that it’s boring. Something a Britney Spears project has never been. Ever.

Static by Cults

Ask anyone on the planet and they’ll tell you that break ups are hard. In fact, they’re so gut wrenching in certain situations that leaving the bed seems like a task too difficult to bare. Don’t tell any of this to Brian Oblivion or Madeline Follin, the duo behind Columbia signed Cults, because the two already know all about about endings and beginnings. After all, Static was inspired by their own decision to call off their romantic kindling and trudge on as friends. Oblivion explains in an interview with SPIN, “…once we got off tour, we spent two months apart, traveling and doing weird stuff. Then we came right into the studio, and we’re supposed to work together. It was fine, because we’ve always been cool.”

What’s noticeably different between Static and their 2011 self-titled debut is a focus on more live pop/rock driven moments, compared to the stripped mid-twentieth century melodies and compositions. It’s a step in artistic growth that’s extremely respectable in that the roots of their beginnings are still at the forefront of this new record, but growing messages and talent are transparent and translated wonderfully. The lead single from the project, “I Can Hardly Make You Mine,” shines a light on these transitions with the most precision. Inside of the song, there are sprinklings of their signature vocal samples buried in the right channel of the mix, with blaring guitar layers, and an extremely unexpected stereo image effect in the middle of the song that seemingly unbalances the mix through panning the main guitar line to the left, and the drone to a hard right.

Elaborate musical ideas are also fascinatingly expressed in a pairing of their second single “High Road” [link to review] and “Were Before”. This is perhaps one of the more outstanding moments in Cults’ blossoming catalog of music so far in that the musical motifs inside of both of these songs relate to each other, most specifically in terms of lyrical melody. If “High Road” is the articulation of wishing one could have been the better person, then “Were Before” is the aftermath of it, the grieving process within the consequence of the low road. Madeline scores impressive high notes in the opening verse, with Oblivion taking front and center in this immaculate duet that’s as much of a divulging as it is dexterity.

“TV Dream” outstretches an unnerving vibe mostly explored in early Country music, but with a whistling Twilight Zone twist, then leads into an even more of a sketchy alley way on “We’ve Got It”.

“No Hope” recalls a derivative of the opening song “I Know”. In fact, the entirety of Static is as striking as the aforementioned songs. They’re perfectly executed and solidifies Cults as an act able to craft optimistic charm and thought provoking honesty in both light and trying moments.

haimDays are Gone by HAIM

Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim have seemingly taken the world by storm. After positive reviews of their Saturday Night Live performances, mass praise throughout every channel of journalism, and a diverse debut album called Days are Gone, the three sisters who chose their last name HAIM as their moniker surely deserve it.

Most notably compared to Fleetwood Mac, we see Danielle Haim stylizing her vocals in a realm closer to Esthero. In fact, upon first listen, we checked several times to make sure Esthero was not affiliated with HAIM in any way, shape, or form. Hint: She isn’t. Regardless, the trio have cited a ton of influences from TLC and Destiny’s Child to Jessie Ware and R&B styles in general. While the songs on Days Are Gone are more pop/rock influenced, it’s the sensational amount of vocal harmonizing that truly displays these influences and gives their music an even more versatile approach.

“Falling,” the album’s opener, contains an ever evolving vocal melody that is as accessible as it is complicated. Funked bass, multiple subtle synthesized portions, and complicated percussion lines truly summarize Days Are Gone from the very beginning. From the organic “My song 5″ to the folk-influenced “The Wire” and pure pop “Don’t Save Me,” this is a phenomenal first look at the artistry these girls are capable of. In fact, it’s so mesmerizing and pure that its chemistry can best be described by giving it a listen.

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