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Uppermost - Reminder (4:19)

It’s a new year, and already we’re off to a good start. French electronic all-star Uppermost has charmed me with this track; a lovely ‘pogoesque’ composition of detached vocal points, warm guitar licks, and delicate, bubbly and crisp percussion. Not only does Reminder make me feel content and substantial, but it has made me realize something even more important: artificial record static at the start of songs is always gorgeous.

Since releasing the brilliant and hard-hitting ’Faster,’ and with the wonderfully diverse and exciting album Action, Uppermost has been making consistently large strides in the electronic music scene. His production boasts as much precision and measure as it does emotion and soul - an effective handling of what is both an intricately expressive art, and a difficult skill. Uppermost is clearly comfortable behind his tech-weapon of choice (FL Studio, I believe), and his complacency shows itself as delightful and exciting music. An artist leading the pack, and certainly an artist to follow.

Find Uppermost on Soundcloud and Facebook.
Visit his Official Website.

(A side note: Uppermost is very interesting to follow on Facebook. His posts are laden with introspection, speculation, existentialism, and inspiration. Often poignant, always piquant. He’s an intelligent guy. “The power of expression lies in its ability to be free. The loss of independence turns human beings into predictable puppets." )

King Krule - 6 Feet Below the Moon (Album Review)

The first thing you’ll notice when you listen to Archy Marshall (King Krule) is his low, gutturally thrown voice. For someone who looks like a small boy with slightly larger proportions, his singing is incredibly mature. Not only in the cosmetic sense (it’s really fucking low), but also in some of the subtleties and nuances. There’re some delicate scrapes and muted patches when Marshall sings at the extremities of his vocal range, but they only add to the strange and workably incongruous vibe that his voice excites.

The album starts with Easy Easy, a short minimal track that gives you a little bit of time to adjust to and get over his strange voice, before he really gets going. Easy Easy is notably sans percussion; a suspenseful move, as his voice clearly lends itself to music with a little aggression. Over the course of the roughly ~50 minute alt-rock album, Marshall explores a collection of styles; Cementality, a favourite of mine, uses what sounds like an old rhodes piano to frame somber lyrics (“Can’t you see that these eyes are shut?”), where A Lizard State pairs some crude vocals (which actually seem a little out-of-place) with a strangely effective jazz number. Will I Come explores what I assume is a break up. “Well, if only I had a heart to rip into.” The song hosts static and endless hi-hats, ending on an unsettling but appropriate sample of No, dear God, No, Christ! King Krule, when paired with his producer, reminds me of a more adventurous The Whitest Boy Alive, telling nearly as much of his story with his vocal inflection and sound as he does lyrically. 

I’d like to see more from King Krule. The album is good; it’s emotive, enjoyable, and creative, but it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere near to reaching King Krule’s full potential. There’s diversity in the album, for sure, but a lack of experimentalism that I feel he has the ability to harness.

An easy 7 out of 10.

Stream the album on Spotify, or buy it on iTunes.
Visit King Krule's Official Website.

CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe (Album Review)

First things first, let me just admit it. If I didn’t you’d all be thinking it, and I’d feel guilty for not telling you. I have an overwhelming and incapacitating love for Lauren Mayberry, the gorgeous lead-singer of the group (pictured above). I’ll make every attempt not to let it affect this review, but I can’t promise anything. Jesus, she’s so cute.

CHVRCHES, hailing from scotland, blend a weird mix of dreamy yet forceful vocals with processed drum-machine percussion, synthesiser melodies, and experimental audio ‘meat.’ Can I call it meat? I want to say content, but it’s more than that. It’s chunky. It’s driving. There’s something very tactile about the whole album, and it’s a lovely listening experience.

First track’s a killer. 'The Mother We Share’ is archetypal of the Chvrches sound; a melody made from pitched cuts of Lauren’s voice, warm and distorted pads, and some M83-esque 'yells’ from the band’s music machinists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. Tracks like 'We Sink’ and 'Under the Tide’ pin arpeggiated melodies with chorused vocals and some pretty damn catchy hooks, resulting in emotive sing-along tracks. That’s a pretty common thing on this album (although, perhaps not on purpose): it’s really easy to sing along to. I can’t begin to parallel Mayberry’s slightly aloof yet exciting voice, but I sure as hell try, in the car, or when nobody else is around. 'Recover,’ one of the more energetic songs on the album (alongside 'Lungs’), likens a breakup to one of those folded envelope-things that we all played with as kids. It’s cute, lyrically and musically. 'Gun,’ a favourite of mine, has a strange twinkly screeching melody, paired with rolling bass that reminds me of Gesaffelstein (but far lighter), and some pretty interesting lyrics. Lauren is very vocally anti-misogynist (in interviews), and I think a little of that comes through in the lyrics of 'Gun,’ although perhaps it’s purely about love and hatred and revenge, and I’m just bad at emotions.

Speaking of being emotionally incompetent, 'Science/Visions’ knocks me out, big time. I don’t know what to feel, but I feel good. I can’t for the life of me tell what it’s about, but the lyrics are exceptional (“When you are truly yourself, you will succumb to a permanence”) and the track is inspiring, in a pensive and decidedly dramatic way. I feel like this track is the evolution of ZVVL, a fantastic and minimal track from their previous EP. Existential lyrics, ambiguous excitement, and stripped-back musical composition, all serving to leave you languid and mentally stimulated.

There are some disappointing features, greatly outweighed by the rest of the album, but still apparent. 'You Caught the Light,’ another track that reminds me a lot of M83, sports weak and uninspired vocals from the male counterparts of the group. It works when M83 does it; not so much here. It’s still a listenable track, but just seems empty. What can I say, I prefer Lauren. A note about Lauren: When she says 'Fuck,’ you’re going to swoon. She’s petite and lithe and there’s something very satisfying about hearing her say a curse word. Watch out for that. I think it happens twice.

Overall, The Bones of What You Believe is an album packed with good, well-crafted songs, with minimal filler and a congruous yet varied sound. Something tells me Chvrches are going to be around for quite a while. 

A light 8 out of 10.

Stream the album on Spotify, or buy it on iTunes.
Visit CHVRCHES’ Official website, or talk to them on Facebook (they reply to almost everything).

Hoarse
  • Hoarse
  • Earl Sweatshirt
  • Doris
Play

Earl Sweatshirt - Hoarse (3:52) 

Back from a hiatus, Earl Sweatshirt releases an absolute gem. It’s the most lyrically and musically interesting track on the new album (Doris), with Earl’s staggered and slightly off-beat rap style riding on a deep and punk-ish guitar pluck.

Lyrically, Earl pulls out his usual plethora of metaphors and intertextual references, and arranges his syllables perfectly. Frank Ocean sings the ambiguous and pitched-down hook, keeping with the somewhat sinister mood. His lyrical content is fresh.

The backing track is one of the most experimental on the album, with a western feel and unexplained vocal ‘wails’ forming a very typical Earl vibe. It’s a great song.

Follow Earl Sweatshirt on Soundcloud and Facebook.
Buy the new album 'Doris’ on iTunes.