What’s been going on over at 2020k? News has been slow? It’s true and it’s because of a full plate! Not only are there collaborations in the works with a few respected underground Electronic artists (not saying too much yet!) but I’m also a contributor over at Netlabelism, Avenge The Virgins, and putting together monthly Hidden Gems series between Amber Waves at OTMblog and myself. It’s a lot of weight to take on for one individual, but I’m managing so far, absolutely loving every moment of it, and trying to keep the music happenings informed as best as possible through these four outlets and via Twitter & Facebook.
For now, here’s a list of albums that haven’t been able to be fully reviewed at the 2020kBlog this year.
Hi Beams by Javelin
The March release by Luaka Bop Records Hi Beams presents Javelin, a Brooklyn based duo, in their most mature light to date. While Pitchfork made odd-comparisons to Karmin on their review of the project, at a deeper look this release strives to find a light balance between classic Electronica precision and standard pop song structures. “Light Out” brings in marching percussion snares while perfected vocal layers live amongst string sounds, bells, and left panned tambourine. “l’Ocean” calls to a more playful, straightforward scene and “Airfield” bounces in fluffy, hardworking lyrical content; “I don’t understand the work I do, my mind keeps running around. Every day it takes a special toll on me, my mind is running around.” The record doesn’t contain ground breaking tunes, but they’re greatly inspired, well put together, and unfortunately underrated.
Welcome Oblivion by How to Destroy Angels
Last year, we reviewed An Omen_, the EP that came before this debut full length record. For information on what Welcome Oblivion’s essence is, you could basically just read that review as most of the songs from that project find their way to this one. It’s a natural progression, a smart move considering the EP was only released via vinyl. With an aggressive live show (check out their Coachella performance), alongside lead single “How Long,” the back-and-forth on “Too Late, All Gone,” and the glitch-motivated “Strings and Attractors,” the expansion of the EP makes for a listen worth repeating amongst the ever-growing Reznor discography (Nine Inch Nails followers who were fans during the dry-spell from The Fragile and With_Teeth should find the Trent Reznor and ever-growing statement to be met with glee every time someone mentions it).
Fever/Try Me Anyway by Telepopmusik
As always, Telepopmusik delivers. Although it takes the boys a bit to deliver their records to the public, it’s never not been worth the wait. The two songs take us through the euphoric song elements while seeming to step toward an escalation of the dreamscapes crafted on their previous full length record Angel Milk. Two songs? You read that right and is our only complaint. Where’s the record?
Talk a Good Game by Kelly Rowland
We weren’t so nice to Kelly Rowland’s 2011 release Here I Am. Panned as an identity crisis with a failed marketing plan – the “Motivation” singer’s third effort just didn’t resonate. Thankfully, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance that she can add to her repertoire, Talk a Good Game walks the walk. “Dirty Laundry” caused a controversial storms over her Destiny’s Child jabbing, abusive relationship confrontation and R&B it-man Mike WiLL Made It knows how to produce crisp, clean R&B productions with sly dance influences on the infectious “Kisses Down Low” and the deluxe edition’s “#1”. It’s the right balance between Pop genres that Here I Am was trying to achieve. On “Freak,” a Danja and Rico Love production crosses the Pop-Electro synthesized arpeggios with Rowland’s erotic vocals. In addition, a kick-snare-kick-snare/clap production maintains a four-to-the-floor vibe without sounding overly rushed – making the opening track one of the must here’s on the record.
Yeezus by Kanye West
Noisey has a feature on what Rick Rubin left on the cutting room floor from Yeezus. Along the strangest is a piano-line played by Trent Reznor, Mortal Kombat samples, and six extra rounds of tape saturation. What’s left is a stripped down Marilyn Manson sample on “Black Skinhead,” (and a bunch of other samples) which was reported as almost cut from the record in its entirety for sounding too much like a soccer anthem. Thankfully, it’s included and is one of the strongest efforts on the release. What’s interesting about this record is the take on aggressive, up-scale Hip-Hop; extremely abrasive through Yeezus’ entire run, it’s certainly not for everyone.
A brilliant, innovative introduction to the album began by projecting “New Slaves” on the side of buildings across the planet. Although his most experimental project to date, it’s mixing and mastering is downright disgusting – holding proudly onto an average dynamic range of 4dB and even dipping into being squashed so much that three songs only have an average of 2dB range. It’s a depressing listen – especially since the sound of this West effort is so sparse. Where space could’ve played a pertinent part of the sonic story, specifically on “Hold My Liquor,” it’s absolutely not present because of the amount of processing and audible distortion on the final product. Lyrically? Brilliant. Composition? Beautiful. Final engineering execution? Absolute dread, even if it is intentional. Whatever. Records always run unnecessarily hot when Rubin is the executive for the project.
False Idols by Tricky
Originally advertised as a return to the humble solo beginnings, say-around Maxinquaye, False Idols plays more like a sequel to his previous effort, 2011’s Mixed Race. Francesca Belmont finds herself on this record and seems to interpolate a unique version of hushed-Kelis vocal stylings, specifically on “Is That Your Life,” one of the record’s must-listen to’s. She recites the original “Makes Me Wanna Die” lyrics by Martina Topley-Bird from the Pre-Millenium Tension on “Nothing’s Changed” and sensually covers a track recalling “Car Crash” from the Vulnerable record
The record doesn’t all run as references to previous work, and it’s best when he strays for a distant cousin approach to a track as opposed to immediate family. In fact, Tricky recalls his earlier, more obscure days on “Hey Love” and while “Bonnie & Clyde” recalls the muted, four to the floor kick of Mixed Race’s “Time to Dance,” it’s fresh.
An almost exclusively bass and handclap-sampled “Does It” deadpans the lines “I wouldn’t be caught dead in love” and should immediately be listened to.
Where Are You? by The Avalanches, Dr. Dre, and Aphex Twin: I successfully bullied Boards of Canada (specifically when I said the world was ending and still no BoC record) until they promoted and released something. So, you’re all on my list. All of you. Do you see all of the acts coming back this year? I’ve had multiple anneurisms. In fact, we all have. Come back. We’ll buy your records, we promise.
Is there someone you’re wanting to make a come back this year? The comments section is open..also feel free to (nicely) yell at one of the musicians in the previous paragraph to release their record!