The White Album, quite possibly the most influential work of music to ever be produced from a band. The Beatles, while well known at this point were finally at their end, the band began to disperse through the air and it seemed the group would eventually become no more. However, there was a shining glimmer of hope, The Beatles, or more commonly known as the White Album would begin to influence millions of people around the world, and become a piece of history.
The Beatles, or The White Album had gotten the nickname from its very simple cover art, yet it is still today a world renowned cover and surprisingly despite the simple white background with grey lettering, The Beatles did incredibly well launching to the tops of both the the U.K. and U.S. charts for eight weeks in the U.K. and nine for the U.S. The album while a work of refined musical skill and outstanding production which was also a technological advance for The Beatles as this would be their first album to ever use an eight-track system for recording. This was cutting edge at the time, and now it seems silly as producers can have up to 128 tracks and higher, but at the time in 1960’s, this was groundbreaking.
With the new technology brought in to record, this also brought in new music styles to try and experiment with. The Beatles were one of the first bands to really break barriers of music and to experiment with different instruments and musicians as well. Many fans of the album are unaware that Eric Clapton, longtime friend of George Harrison played guitar on one of the track on The Beatles. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” actually was the first time The Beatles used a new musician to play an already existing part for a song. The White Album was just a great platform for The Beatles to use to experiment, mostly with different themes and ways of writing.
From the outstanding orchestra work, the timpani, the violins, the roaring trumpets, the whole album is a journey from start to finish and while I even personally enjoy the stranger tracks like “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” and even the downright otherworldly track “Revolution 9,” The White album also has tracks that are more radio friendly or that have more of The Beatles personality that longtime fans will remember.
The White Album just has so many unforgettable songs, that vary in the speed, instruments and the overall tone. Not a single song on the entire White Album sounds similar to any degree, and the darker songs like “I’m So Tired,” and even one of my personal favorite songs “Cry Baby Cry,” are amazing additions to the complexity and ever-changing style of The Beatles. From Magical Mystery Tour to Rubber Soul, The Beatles has always evolved their sound and image along as well. It was always interesting to see exactly what they had in mind and what The Beatles would release next.
I remember being so young and finally hearing The White Album, I was blown away even as a child and The Beatles were my first real heroes of music. The Beatles White Album just stands as a testament to how creative genius, experimentation, and hard work really pays off in the end, and how The Beatles became one of the monumental records of history.
Por Vida is the breakout debut album from Colombia’s own, Kali Uchis. Por Vida while under the Uchis name, has some collaborations from several different artists including Tyler, The Creator, BADBADNOTGOOD, Alex Epton, and even Kaytranada. Quite the impressive amount of musicians to help Kali Uchis make Por Vida one of my personal favorite albums since only the first listen.
Uchis sprang into my music library when I began watching “Illegal Civilization” which is kind of a documentary, kind of a skate video, kind of a do whatever we want to do video, where one of Uchis’s concerts were shown in one of the clips. The song “Ridin’ Round” was featured and I really like the energy she had on stage and the song itself was pretty catchy. After some research I eventually found her to be doing work in the future with Tyler, The Creator on one of his music videos “Perfect.” I finally decided I needed to listen to Kali Uchis on her own and Por Vida was the best place to start.
The beginning track “Sycamore Tree” features no instrumental at all, the actual beat is just a sample of Uchis’s voice played in different keys of notes to simulate a beat behind her singing voice. It was pretty creative and I had never seen this type of sample work used to create an entire beat with no instrumental whatsoever. It benchmarks the album and her beautiful singing voice is also present throughout the album, thankfully the instrumentals are too.
Por Vida features catchy lyrics and some really dreamy instrumentation, and the two together create a killer combination. Por Vida had me listening to it constantly and only looking forward to when I could hear it again. I just loved Kali Uchis’s voice as it fit perfectly behind these almost Sixties sounding beats. “Melting” for example has this guitar strum that creates a really dreamy atmosphere, but is also a wonderful addition to the piece, the song then switches into an overdrive by not speeding up, but having a chorus where all the instruments become louder and Uchis projects her voice to sing “Melting like an ice cream when you smile, Melting, you’re a day dream, stay a while.” I found myself just falling in love with each track and after the twentieth listen I had so much faith for anything Kali Uchis had in the future and would support her all the way.
Por Vida continues with another great, more poppy sounding track called “Lottery” where it almost talks about missing an ex, or trying to put the past behind. Explaining “Love was never my profession,” it sounds like it resonates through an ex or past lover. Then from the pop sounds, Uchis jumps right into “Rush” which might be my personal favorite on Por Vida. The instrumentation from BADBADNOTGOOD is just, so perfect that it just needs to be heard to be believed, and the way Uchis switches from English to Spanish and then back again was a really great addition to the song. “Rush” has almost a Caribbean Coast feel to it with the crisp ride cymbals, and the bass in the background giving this more dance vibe. “Rush” almost sounds like Uchis getting more involved with her roots and the instrumentation is definitely a result of this.
Then “Ridin Round” which was one of the singles comes around to bring a banger style of beat behind Uchis, it has some 808 drums and a catchy chorus and verse from Uchis. I think Uchis really took some leaps with Por Vida and the final two tracks are also pretty outstanding as well. “Speed” and “Loner” both feature more somber verses from Uchis and “Loner” is a great way to bring Por Vida to an end. The overall instrumentation and the perfect vocalization from Uchis just makes Por Vida a standout project. Uchis is an artist that has a bright future and hopefully she will continue to make music for the rest of her life, or I should say Por Vida.
Hak, the newest soloist after leaving the tri-headed rap conglomerate Ratking, tries his hardest to almost abandon and adopt a new persona that leaves the scum and dirty raps of New York behind. Hak begins a new chapter of his life with a totally different producing style and rap style as a whole, though he doesn’t necessarily leave all of New York behind.
June is the newest drop from once Ratking rapper Hak, he now leaves the street sounding style to connect through a more almost sleepy club record. The change is welcome however and while it sounds strange at first to anyone expecting another Ratking offshoot. Well the first thing I can say is lose the expectations and see this as a totally new artist as Hak really brings his new ideals to the foreground. I welcome this musical change and it was actually interesting to see how Hak has progressed from one of the creative powers of a rap-group, to now the spotlight of a solo/song-writer/singer career.
While I don’t want to only talk about Ratking, it is important to see Hak’s come up in music and to see where his influences are. Being the New York “Guiana Nigga” that he is, New York is still one of the biggest influences in his music and it is still easy to grasp and see why. The only differences is, Hak changed from the alleys to the main streets and this is a tape that sounds a little easier to jump into especially if you never heard his previous work. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, and it will definitely be able to get a bigger audience for his new tape.
Publication is a good thing, but I just don’t see Hak blowing up or becoming huge with June. I like this work and I totally will say that it is a different publication from what were are used to with Hak, I just want to see him treat June as a trial run and I am eager to see what he does with this new style in the future.
Hak is for sure a talented musician and has so many connections and powers in his hand to make an outstanding record, and there are many songs on June that I really thought stood out. Songs like “Aura”, “Hues”, “Concrete Waves”, and “432 Hz” are all really great, flushed out songs. The rest of June just unfortunately wasn’t something that I thought was monumental, or that really stood out. They could be played as more calm songs, which I don’t mind, however they just seemed to miss the mark and it was unfortunate because I really wanted to love June.
I, personally just seem to associate more with the dirty street sounds of Ratking, and that just goes for music in general. I like the dirty, hardcore, dramatic songs that have a heavy emotion tied to them. With June however, the auto tune, the simple beats, and the lackluster verses did not move mountains for me.
I still recommend checking out June as it comes with some really interesting and creative songs, the lyrics from the single “Aura” still resonate in my head and it really gave me high hopes for the rest of the record. I still want to hear more from Hak, it is just June was not really my favorite tape, I did not hate it but I also didn’t fall in love. I recommend it, and hope it does more for someone else, but also want Hak to willingly come full force and will be able to make us see the sun again.
The 1970’s, a time where disco and flashing lights ran rampant, a time where the Vietnam War still raged on, a time where Rock and Roll officially became what it is today. Iggy Pop and The Stooges while still an underground band at this time, would release one of the most influential records of this modern age. Raw Power is the pre-cursor to what is now known as the Raw Rock Sound. The Stooges broke ground and still managed to keep a low profile even after this cult classic hilt shelves all the way back in ’73.
Gone were the peace-loving 1960’s, where the hippie culture rose, in came the dirty, edgy, and raw Rock rebels that wanted to get a rise out of the public. To oppose the government and to form their own rules, to become their own unique society with their own style and set of ideals. Raw Power while not an entire commercially successful album, still shocked the airwaves, thrilled the youth, and was able to show the underbelly of the Rock scene.
Produced by none other than Iggy Pop and David Bowie, it became the loudest record to ever be produced at the time, and Iggy Pop himself even laughed at the re-mastered vinyl and CD editions, “Even after the remixing, everything was still in the red.” This would spark new life into what would become one of the best and biggest Rock and Roll records of all time. Kurt Cobain would even claim it as his favorite album and I would say it is a record that stands as a monument for the culture of the 1970’s, but also in music as well.
Raw Power has so many amazing, hard-hitting tracks that just blow the production of most records today out of the water. The album just acted as its own entity, it was ferocious, volatile, and most importantly, just straight up raw. The album is still considered the birthplace of punk rock, and was a way that a band could experiment and turn every amp up to eleven. I fell in love with the album from the first listen simply of how it captures the raw essence of Rock and Roll and the power that came along with it.
The animalistic nature of Iggy Pop on Stage with the Stooges backing up his insane movements was such a sight to see, going to see them perform live was like seeing a different breed of human. They were truly a preforming band and their music still shows that today. Each track is just an Assault on the ears in such a great way, and it leaves so much to the imagination about the writing process for the lyrics and the music as well. Raw Power is just an album that is so much fun to listen to, and I’m still catching new things about the record even after 100 different listens.
Each track as they progress get more and more hyped up, blaring insane guitar solos, pounding drums, and catchy lyrics that makes people wonder why it wasn’t such a success at initial release. Raw Power gained a cult-following rather than springing to the top of the charts, but this could have been how different the album was and how utterly strange and insane the band was as well. Raw Power is just an album that every Rock and Roll or Punk lover should hear if they have not already. It creates images of the dirty streets in the 1970’s, the power-hungry people, the fans of music, and the thrill-seekers.
Raw Power formed the Rock and Roll genre into what it is today, it was an influential, destructive animal that shocked audiences and made people release their inner power. The
Stooges created one of the biggest albums of all music history, and Iggy Pop was right as he stated in the song “Raw Power”, “Raw Power It’s a More Than Soul, Got a Son Called Rock and Roll.”
BADBADNOTGOOD’s III is a testament to how jazz is still alive and well. The genre is still shown the respect it deserves, while integrating a fresh take, allowing BADBADNOTGOOD to create one of the most interesting and exciting jazz records to date.
III is obviously their third album release following BBNG2 which had some cover songs featured like “Earl” and “Flashing Lights” which are both songs on two different ends of the spectrum. One by the at the time grimy rapper Earl Sweatshirt from his debut mixtape Earl, and the other by Kanye West from his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I first found out about BADBADNOTGOOD from their work with Tyler, The Creator on some covers of his songs and ever since then I have been a fan. I loved their covers and eventually began to love their original work.
III has now become the perfect album for driving in the car with absolutely no direction, the perfect album that requires headphone to hear every single note that is played. BADBADNOTGOOD did an incredible job preforming this album and I could only imagine how much of a great time it was recording and mastering the album as well. The different saxophone work, the piano keys that switch between hardcore wailing and slow melodies, and the drums. I can not go on enough about how outstanding the entire band is and it really is just something you have to hear to believe. The progression of BADBADNOTGOOD even just over three different albums has come so far from their first recording and they only become better with each release.
Following this record, they also did some work with GHOSTFACE KILLAH called Sour Soul, which is another album that is just so musically sound and has some really challenging beats from not just BADBADNOTGOOD but GHOST as well. The album primarily focuses on GHOSTFACE but is a welcome addition to their discography.
The production of a record or album can make or break the piece. If the production is terrible then almost no one will listen to the album if everything is mixed wrong or not properly mastered, João Carvalho did an incredible job with the mastering and really while the musicians made the groundwork, Carvalho made it sound outstanding.
The work from Alexander Sowinski, Chester Hansen, and Matthew Tavares who are the three main members on III, create one of the most just genuinely fun albums to hear to and to be a part of through the listening process. Even if you aren’t a musician or into jazz there are still songs that don’t primarily focus on jazz music. The whole album is more of a compilation of lounge songs, and everyone should hear the song “Kaleidoscope” at least once in their lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed III and I can not wait to hear IV, which just came out earlier this week. BADBADNOTGOOD is a band that had a bright upcoming, but they have an even bigger and brighter future ahead of them.
Skepta has had quite the impressive year following the release of several editorials on him from companies like The Fader, Masked Gorilla, and Vice, where they featured an actual documentary on his rise from the underground streets of London to the top of the music world touring sold out shows all around different countries. With the release of his newest work Konnichiwa, it appears that Skepta is not just here to stay, but here to rule the game as well.
Konnichiwa is a 12-track album that is packed with some really interesting uses of frequency instruments like 808 drums and synthesizers. The combination creates some dark and grimy beats which is what Skepta is primarily known for as the “King of Grime.”
Skepta is a breath of fresh air to the hip-hop genre, he brings some hard hitting banging beats that rattle subsystems that still reside in my head even now. The production on Konnichiwa is just so well flowing with the skits weaved into the songs to bring some downright laughable moments with Drake’s “Trust me Daddy” and even an interview focusing on the 2015 BRIT Awards where a reporter explained how it became “A bunch of young men all dressed in black dancing extremely aggressively on stage…”
Konnichiwa is more about his personal life and how he much he has gained and unfortunately lost in the come up of his career. He reflects on how he “Came a long way from sittin’ in the flats,” and is doing a substantial amount of times better than he could have been without music. Even the album cover art represents Skepta on a stamp with the words “First Class London” to represent he is now a part of London Royalty. I have always been a fan of grimy or dark music, but I would have never expected to see exactly where someone could go with that genre. Skepta has reached new heights with his music and seems to not show any signs of slowing down.
I really only have one problem with Konnichiwa, and that is just that one song in particular is just something I couldn’t get into. The track “Ladies Hit Squad” is just not a song that I could honestly feel and the first time I heard it I actually laughed because it feels so out of place. It is a club sounding song while the rest of the songs on this album is a barrage of loud bass and aggressive lyrics. The final song, “Text Me Back” is also a slowed down love-style, but I actually liked this and I thought it was a welcome closer to the album. For some strange reason I just was not a huge fan of “Ladies Hit Squad,” but honestly I am not a huge fan of the radio-friendly love songs.
Konnichiwa as a whole is just such a substantial album with only one track that I wasn’t a huge fan of. It turned me onto the London Rap Scene and allowed me to experiment more with my music taste. I seriously recommend this to anyone who is a fan of rap music as it has some great production, great lyrics, and some of the coolest uses of sampling for just skit purposes that I have heard in a long time. Skepta is an artist that people should really look forward to, and see what the King of London has in the future.
Crystal balls, ponchos, and yellow snow are all subjects of interest when listening to Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe. Zappa who was well known for his strange subject matter unveiled Apostrophe which was his 18th studio album released on DiscReet Records. The album was not discrete however as it is constantly played on the radio for its funny satire and outstanding musical composition which makes Apostrophe an album that everyone should hear.
Apostrophe begins with one of the strangest openings to an album I have heard to this date. The lyrics “Dreamed I was an Eskimo,” still reign in my head and are the use of overflowing inside jokes for anyone else who has been able to give Apostrophe a listen. The album features of course jokes and comedic lyrics, but also has some of the most intense drum, guitar, and mallet work possible. The percussion on Apostrophe is incredible and even today, it is still regarded as a musically progressive piece.
The drums and the perfect guitar work by Zappa himself allows for some progressively interesting instrumental parts like “Apostrophe” and “Father O’Blivion” where they steal the show. Then the mallet percussion work on “St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast” create an assault of bells that strangely I enjoy. I could only imagine the laughs that the band shared as they played funky rhythms and sang about “handsome parish ladies.”
My favorite song on this album has to be hands down “Apostrophe” then followed by “Uncle Remus.” The two back to back pieces are two contrasting forms, one a hard-rock power jam that features one of the best drums and guitar solos to date. Then following “Uncle Remus” with the slowed down piano and soft background vocals that create more of an operatic themed song. Both songs work so well together because they are total opposites of each other. The whole album feels fresh and never feels like one song is ever repeated, from the quotable lines to the just sheer incredible instrumental work from the band creates one of the best classic rock albums to date. If there is ever a contender for the best classic rock album, or the album that has the best instrument use then Apostrophe could be compared to the big heavy hitters of classic rock.
Apostrophe may not have been a huge commercial album, and most people in current times are unsure of who Frank Zappa might even be, I still see him as one of the funniest story tellers of any generation.
The themes and satire he portrays and speaks of in his stories illustrate some situation that will most likely never happen, but shows the more comedic side of music. While this is most definitely not a comedy album, it can be portrayed as that and the first listen will be hard to sit through as Zappa’s style is most certainly not easy to get into. However, if you can sit through Apostrophe or any of his other releases, you’ll find one of the most talented guitar players and writers of our generation
Currents by Tame Impala is a psychedelic rendition through a modern style of The Beatles. That is the easiest way to describe the 2015 album and the best way to describe the bands sound overall. They are like a modern day version of The Beatles with their own unique twist with outstanding production and tracks that leave a lasting impression.
This was the first record I had heard of Tame Impala’s and I was instantly blown away from the catchy and upbeat music, to the pitch-perfect voice of Kevin Parker. I loved every single second of this album and it quickly became a band that I just needed to hear more of. I then instantly bought Lonerism and Innerspeaker, and I haven’t found another band that had a similar sound like this yet.
Tame Impala’s actual sound is so unique and have such detailed tracks that are so flushed out with no one song sounding like the other. The uses of the different instruments, the different overlays of voices, and just how perfect the overall production is as a whole, creates some of the freshest songs of any group around today. I really could not proclaim Tame Impala enough or Currents. I just instantly fell in love with this album and it is a great ride from start to finish.
The tracks on Currents like “Eventually,” “Disciples,” and “’Cause I’m A Man,” are the first tracks that I finished and had to go right back to them. These track were definitely my favorite of the album, and they only got better and better with each listen. The more I listened to Currents, the more I heard and I am still finding things I never noticed even a year later. This was my favorite thing about this album, it was just so detailed and had a reason to come back to it. Currents needed more than just a single listen to fully get a grasp on each song and the true sound of the band.
The guitars, the drums, and the vocals are what resonated with me the most and left a lasting impression on just how production can make or break an album. Each song is produced and mastered so well, and it was amazing to believe this all started with just one person. Now Tame Impala has toured around not just the United States, but around the entire world. The growth of the band is the greatest thing to witness as you can see how their fan base grows and how their music changes through the different experiences in life. It can lead to one of the best sounding albums of not just a year, or a decade, but of all time.
Currents is a 13-track, 51-minute experience through one of the best sounding albums of 2015. I could not recommend this album enough to people who want to hear not just a great album, but to experience a sound that I thought was lost in this generation. It was unfortunate I had not found Tame Impala earlier honestly, as all their music releases have gotten better and better and I can only look forward to what they have in store for any future releases.
Animals Have Feelings by Samiyam pushes the modern boundaries of the mostly instrumental album. It brings spacious sounds and the use of different era’s sounds to paint the wild journey that is the framework of Animals Have Feelings. Samiyam brings life to the already progressing experimental genre of hip-hop and is a smooth addition into an instrumentalist lover’s collection.
Samiyam is an artist that first caught my attention for his work with Earl Sweatshirt on “Quest/Power,” which was a double track released by two different producers. “Quest” was the beat produced by Samiyam and the other half “Power” was produced by Budgie. Earl and Samiyam would work again as Earl would be featured on Animals Have Feelings with a verse on the song “Mirror” that Earl previously released. Now we are left to hear the rest of Samiyam’s creation as Animals Have Feelings seamlessly blends old and new, using outstanding transitions from song to song, track to track.
The best thing about this album is the combination of 70’s era sounding bass-lines, the 80’s era sounding science fiction background noises, and the hardcore synth work that lays the ground plan for most of the tracks. Every track is unique and features not the most elaborate production, but layered production and keeps a strong level of details which leads to a new discovery after each listen.
There are no break-neck speed songs, the tracks here are on an ambiance level, they are drawn out, and have more of a chilled vibe. I personally like this approach as there are tracks that sound more like lo-fi hip-hop and this is most definitely an experimental record. Samiyam seemed to have total creative control and he used it to his full abilities.
Animals Have Feelings isn’t primarily an instrumental album either, it features Action Bronson, Jerimiah Jae, Earl Sweatshirt and Oliver the 2nd. Every single verse on this record is outstanding and the production behind them match perfectly. I was surprised to see that Jeremiah Jae and Oliver the 2nd had the strongest track on this project overall. I really had no idea who these two were before listening to Animals Have Feelings, but I totally want to hear more from what they have to offer.
Samiyam’s Animals Have Feelings has some great production, but unfortunately there are some songs that are hit or miss, I personally liked the album but some of the tracks do go on for longer than they should have. Overall the album is a little under an hour and with the 22 song track list it seems to be longer than it actually is.
I do think Animals Have Feelings is a great addition and it is most definitely an album that should be listened to in complete darkness so you can envision the space it portrays. Animals Have Friends is a spaced out, and chilled out journey from start to finish.
Madvillain is the dual conglomerate of two of the most influential artists known to hip-hop and to the rap community. MF DOOM and Madlib formed together to bring an experimental, trail-blazing album that practically ignored every way to make a hit album; there was no chorus, no long songs, and no radio hits. But Madvillainy prevailed as one of the stepping stones to experimental hip-hop and into one of my favorite albums ever made.
Madvillainy is focused on the lives of the two main stars, Madlib and MF DOOM. The two supervillains of hip-hop and the power house that surprised and shocked audiences with Madlib’s slick producing and DOOM’s butter rhymes that go so well together it is amazing they did not make another Madvillain record. The two coincide so well and their personalities complement each other through music.
DOOM provides some of his best work on this album, providing such lines like “Living off borrowed time,” and “got more soul/sole than a sock with a hole.” He was at his creative height at this point after coming off of working with MM…Food, Take Me To Your Leader, Venomous Villain and Vaudeville Villain, so it was safe to say that DOOM was a busy man with not only rhyming but also with producing.
Madlib on the other hand was also busy after working and finishing Shades of Blue, Theme for a Broken Soul, and A Tribute to Brother Weldon, which was a primarily Jazz tribute to Weldon Irvine. The two artists were busy with their own projects as well as creating Madvillainy, and after even just one listen, Madvillainy leaves audiences wanting more and to hear it again and again.
Madvillainy is an album that has skits in between almost like an MF DOOM album, but they have a Madlib spin on them. The album skits flow so well with each song and the production on Madvillainy is some of, if not the best on a record today. The different samples used, the constant head-bopping drums, and the iconic flow of DOOM, raised the bar on so many levels and left me even asking “How did they do this,” or “How did they do that?”
The album is just such a fun experience from start to end and it uses samples that are so iconic with the villainous intent of true masterminds. Frankenstein was the first sample I heard and recognized within the first minute of the opening song. It just brings back all those memories of the villains that made all those movies possible. The quote from the first track “The Illest Villains” where the announcer explains “Audiences loved to Hate.” This one quote describes the entire tone of the album; audiences love these villain characters simply because they are so dastardly and outrageous.
Madvillainy has some of the best production, some of the best lines ever spit, and one of the coolest themes that could ever be presented. It covers DOOM’s personal life, allows Madlib to spread his creative genius, and to finally create the Masterful duo that is Madvillain. Talk has been created around a second Madvillain album for years, but I would rather they spread out and do something else with their works. Madlib and DOOM could collaborate again, but Madvillain is something that should be left to stand as a monument in music alone, it does not need a successor or a partner in crime. MF DOOM and Madlib, or the villains did something most could never do, to “Strike terror into the hearts of men.”