Trash Talk’s Eyes and Nines is an explosive tour through the fiery depths of hell. The journey is a blasting roller-coaster that slows down to catch its breath only for a moment, before return back into the frenzied mosh-pits that Trash Talk has been made popular for.
Eyes and Nines begins with “Vultures,” a track that features a gentle drum build up, then bursts into an all out war between the instruments. The guitars battle against the drums and Lee Spielman’s voice is always one of the pivotal pieces to the puzzle, completing and drawing each track together. The way that Garrett Stevenson rips the guitar to shreds, the way Spencer Pollard annihilates the bass and backs up Spielman on vocals, and how Sam Bosson smashes on the drums makes for a killer combination.
The entirety of Eyes and Nines’ tracks are primarily under 2-3 minutes with the exception of “Hash Wednesday,” but they all prove their point and leave their mark on the listener. The pounding waves that come from Trash Talk’s great use of emotion to convey and display their music in such a way that makes you want to move. It encourages jumping off of things around the room, it encourages anarchy, and best of all, it encourages just how downright entertaining music can be.
The tracks like “Flesh & Blood” and “Explode” are ultimately fuel to the fire that is Eyes and Nines. Trash Talk uses a slick guitar breakdown in “Flesh & Blood” to give the rest of the band a second to compile themselves before launching into one of the heavier second halves of the track. “Flesh & Blood” then perfectly jumps head first into “Explode” which begins with these blasting beats on the drums from Bosson, Spielman and Pollard yelling everything they have, and Stevenson again bringing furious riffs and grooves. “Explode” also features a breakdown, but it is short-lived and eventually launches right back into the action. The track finally comes to a close with the band exclaiming, “No one can save you now.”
This perfectly Segues into the next track, “Hash Wednesday” which is the longest and slowest track on Eyes & Nines. The track opens with what sounds like a preacher declaring that, “A person with no values, and no faith in god, and a nation with no values other than their own values are rubbish,” which then leads into this sludge-fest of an instrumental that echoes throughout the entirety of the track. The way that Trash Talk uses this anti-preacher opening relates back to the track “Explode” and its final lines.
Eyes and Nines constantly deals with the topic of mankind and its downfalls. The following track “Envy” describes “These ain’t your father’s battles this is more, Holy wars on foreign shores blitzkrieg cliques on world tours.” Trash Talk’s unique sound combines rage, pain, and aggression all into one package, the same could be said for the topics they discuss in their tracks. Topics like war, an unreachable goal of peace, and complete destruction of mankind always reign through in their message, which only adds to each release.
The tracks that follow, “I Do,” “Trudge,” and “On A Fix” are the fastest tracks on the entire album. As soon as these tracks begin blaring and destroying the surroundings, they end in a blaze of glory. “I Do” is a 39-second masterpiece that obliterates the ears, the track then transitions without skipping a beat into “Trudge.” “Trudge” continues to follow the destructive nature that Trash Talk does so well, but then falls into this pit of a breakdown that really is not much of a breakdown at all. Trash Talk actually seems to pick up intensity through this slow down, and it makes the entire track come together into one giant bomb that destroys everything around it.
“On A Fix” is a chaotic frenzy of smashing percussion, howling vocals and guitars that blaze through the fret board. The track then again, perfectly transitions into the final song, “Eyes & Nines.” This was the climatic end to one of the loudest albums known to man. The bass line that opens the track, to the then deafening drums and vocals from both Spielman and Pollard backing each other up. The entire track just feels like a powerhouse from Trash Talk and it is the perfect send off into the immensely bright future for hardcore music, but the bleak future for mankind.
Clipping., the inconceivable spoken-word, minimalist electronic, but still innovative group from Los Angeles tries their hand at an album full of concepts of the unknown, dystopia, and the “Afrofuturism.”
Splendor and Misery is an interesting breed of an album, the minimalist approach to the instrumentation allows for the vocalization from Daveed Diggs to shine through and become the monumental point of Clipping.’s music. The concept of Splendor and Misery follows “the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels” (Taken from Clipping.’s BandCamp page).
The concept leads the background instrumentation into strange bouncing percussion and the use of different beeping and blips which makes the entire album feel like an outer space journey. The first tracks “Long Way Away (Intro),” and “The Breach” follows this use of a near church-like chorus that discusses “follow(ing) the stars when the sun goes to bed, till everything I’ve ever known is long dead.” The lyrics constantly reflect this Slave uprising story and each track flows so well, that it honestly feels like listening to one long audiobook that varies on speed and atmospheric sounds used.
“The Breach” is a full speed blast of lyrics from Diggs to the point where it is outstanding the way he keeps the pace and is near impossible to understand exactly what he says even through multiple listens. The following track “All Black” is the first attempt at what sounds more like a Clipping. track. It is still following the use of spoken word, but the layering that follows Diggs’ voice still keeps the track feeling intense and claustrophobic.
The entirety of Splendor and Misery follows this very restless and overall claustrophobic style. Each track feels so tight, but also feels like a journey through the vast darkness that is space. It is an album of constant switching emotion from the split-personality of “Wake Up” to the use of more chorus sounding tones on “Long Way Away.”
Clipping. did a great job of using constant radio static, alarms, pounding metallic percussion, and the use of space to create this near-cinematic level story that relies on the use of atmosphere to illustrate this gigantic, hulking machine floating through outer space.
The track “Air ‘Em Out” is the first track that actually feels like a complete track with multiple verses, a chorus, and varying levels of instrumentation. Diggs still controls the entire track and the music just feels like it is there to give his lyrics more impact, Splendor and Misery could have been released without any instrumentation and it still would have been able to survive on just vocalization alone.
The following track “Break The Glass” goes back into the use of atmospheric sounds and drowning noises to create the beat. There is this constant use of steam, machine creaks, and what sounds like drums made out of steel beams to illustrate a fully working beast of iron and different metals.
Following is “Story 5” which again switches to the use of choruses to give more insight into perhaps what were songs being sung by the slaves before the uprising. These tracks mix up the action from the intense metallic assaults of the ship, to the then authentic and honestly beautiful voices from multiple singers. They work together to complement each other and the following track “Baby Don’t Sleep” goes right back into the synthetic sounds of a large ship with Diggs rattling off some quick verses.
The final track of Splendor and Misery is the cheeriest track on the entire album and while I personally like the track, I feel like the instrumentation is of a different style than the rest of the album. “A Better Place” as the track’s title suggest follows this use of what sounds like an organ that plays over a rapidly tapping boom-bap beat with a nice little bass drum roll fill in-between the tracks chorus and verses. The track then fades into the loud radio static heard so many times before, then straight into nothing, just silence.
The constant style change keeps Splendor and Misery interesting enough to work not as a musical album, but more as a complex art project of spoken word and atmospheric sounds. It feels like listening to an audio book rather than a record, but is still able to tell a complex story that is still interesting to hear over and over again.
Bleach, the reason for the grunge music scene becoming a national phenomenon and the reason Nirvana would soon be launched into superstardom. Bleach was an album that combined animalistic aggression and an intriguing use of creativity to spawn one of the best punk rock records of not just its time, but in history.
The humble beginning of the track “Blew,” that a simple, but memorable bass line to lead the rest of Nirvana into the upward spiral that would be Bleach. “Blew” has metallic guitars that blast over the rest of the instruments, pounding drums, and vocals that lay down a ballistic attack over the listener’s ears. Rather than focusing on a more melodic style of music, Nirvana worked hand in hand with a careless attitude, but a serious outlook on making outstanding music.
The whole of Bleach follows a very strict pattern of mostly dark and sludgy sounding songs that destroyed speakers, shook up crowds, and gave people a reason to love punk again. “Floyd The Barber” follows and this again is an auditory assault. The near tribal drums from Chad Channing, the schizophrenic lyrics of Kurt Cobain, and the flowing bass from Krist Novoselic creates such a contrast between the next following song, “About A Girl.”
“About A Girl” keeps the pace of a Nirvana track, but instead decides to use more uplifting chords, less impactful drums, and ultimately a more lighthearted approach than the other tracks on Bleach. Surprisingly, “About A Girl” is still one of the more instrumentally jamming songs, and Kurt’s lyrics, “I can’t see you every night for free,” rephrase throughout the track, using harmonies from Novoselic and eventually fade into the more classic grunge sound Nirvana was known for.
“Wont you believe it, it’s just my luck” is nearly the only lyrics shouted from Cobain on the track “School,” but they coincide so well with the frantic guitar work. “School” is a track that emotionally feels so entertaining and this is primarily do to the way that Channing moves up and down the toms, using different fills and cymbals to battle the frantic guitar work.
The raw emotion that Nirvana portrays in each and every track on Bleach was so reinvigorating even now, 27 years later. I feel that as time progresses, Nirvana’s sound stays eternal and will never go out of style. At the time of Nirvana’s releases, they were looked at for the way they blazed trails, cared even less about public opinion, and generally wanted to just “stir shit.” Now nearly three decades after their first release, Nirvana is still looked at for their raw instinct that guided so many different musicians to find music as therapy and an expressive device.
Bleach continues with “Love Buzz” and “Paper Cuts.” Both tracks are different in style, but follow the same general principle. The thing that stands out on both tracks is Cobain’s voice and the strain in “Paper Cuts.” Kurt Cobain puts so much emotion into the lyrics of the two tracks, but the screeching on “Paper Cuts” is still just so memorable and when mixed with the instrumentation, it is a perfect combination.
The following track “Negative Creep” is easily the strongest and most abrasive of all the tracks on Bleach. The way the drums pound out sixteenth notes on the bass drum, the way Novoselic destroys the bass, and the way that Cobain just abuses the microphone. The shouting, the forceful guitar, and the whole attitude of the song just paints such a vivid image of true “Animal Rage.”
Bleach then follows with “Scoff,” an easy-going classic punk song that has a substantial breakdown that flip-flops between a detached amount of instrumentation and some head-banging bridges between the chorus and meat of the track.
“Swap Meet” then follows and this is again one of the heavier tracks on Bleach. The entirety of Bleach really takes no breaks from the destructive nature of grunge music. “About A Girl” is the only track that simply follows a totally different format than all of the other tracks. The way that “Swap Meet” follows this sporadic and always changing guitar riffs and solos, makes requests for some powerful background instrumentation from Channing and Novoselic which they fully deliver.
The following, “Mr. Moustache” is where Novoselic shines through and makes this track all about the bass line. The entire track revolves around the bass line and Cobain’s vocal performance. “Mr. Moustache” is a hundred-mile per hour drive into an ending that feels like hitting a brick wall. The entire band slows down into what feels like a near crawl, from the speedy and recklessness of the track’s opening, to the very bitter end, “Mr. Moustache” is one of the more musically challenging pieces on Bleach.
As Bleach slowly, or actually speedily comes to a close, the final tracks start to focus more and more on the bass and its importance to each track. “Sifting” has another stellar bass line that conspires with the guitar and becomes this flesh-out powerhouse of a track. The drums, bass, and guitar are the stars of most of Bleach, and while Cobain’s lyrics are interesting, Cobain ultimately decided he was not really interested on lyrics with Bleach. In an interview with SPIN Magazine, Cobain described his emotions toward the lyric’s of Bleach as, “(I) didn’t give a flying fuck what the lyrics were about,” claiming that around 80% were made up the night before recording. The music came first with Bleach, and it is clear in Nirvana’s later releases that Cobain would start to take writing lyrics with a more serious tone and approach.
The last two tracks “Big Cheese” and “Downer” are of a quicker pace, following the theme of getting in and destroying the stage before anyone could understand what just happened. “Downer” opens with one of the faster styles to the point where it feels almost sloppy, this feels like a call to the punk rocks songs and Bleach seems to tightrope between hard rock and punk music through the entirety of its length.
Bleach created an outbreak of a new genre, a genre called grunge that echoed into society for the rest of punk rock and hard rock’s days. Not Only was Nirvana successful in releasing a substantial debut record, but successful in starting a wave of new generations breaking down the musical walls.
Tyler, the Creator is the bombastic, energetic, and overall mastermind behind three critically acclaimed studio albums. Tyler’s first release being a mixtape under the name Bastard, which would eventually launch Tyler and his group, OF, into superstardom. What seemed like kids getting together to make music, eventually turned into one of the greatest moments of hip-hop history. Watching the evolution of Tyler, the Creator change not just mentally, but also musically was an adventure that I was more than happy to be a part of.
As Tyler’s mind grew more mature, he began reaching more and more into unknown territory with music. Tyler began rapping about what nearly every teenager thought of, he then progressed into what is now a stream of consciousness. Cherry Bomb is a look into the once provocative mind of Tyler, the Creator, but also a look forward into the future.
Cherry Bomb opens with “DeathCamp,” an extremely abrasive and in your face track that throws the rule book out of the window and just lets Tyler do what Tyler does best. Tyler was always a visionary through his music, allowing other opinions to become invalid, chaos to be made, and for Tyler to have total control over his creations. Cherry Bomb is Tyler, the Creator in his purest form, he puts every card on the table, holds nothing back, and releases his most progressive work to date.
The following tracks “Buffalo” and “Pilot” focus more on the current status of Tyler and what has happened in the years prior to his fame. The way Tyler describes “I’m in first class but I feel like coach” on “Pilot” was an interesting hook and the whole song has this catchy drum beat that echoes through the whole track until finally coming to an almost spoken-word section at the songs closing.
The next track “Run” is mixed in so quickly that it was actually hard to understand that it became a different track. Tyler, the Creator has always been an engaging and involved storyteller, Cherry Bomb is no different. Every track is mixed in so well and there really is no separation or down-time between tracks. There is a constant radio interference that reminds the listener of Golf Radio which is a fictional station that has giveaways to drive-ins, and even sneak peeks of upcoming movie clips.
Tyler, the Creator completely changed up his sound with Cherry Bomb, this is much more frantic than any of his past releases, but I would say that Wolf is the closest in actual sound, chords, and feel to Cherry Bomb. Wolf used horns, eccentric drums, and overall a jazzier approach, Cherry Bomb follows the jazzier style, but instead changes constantly between jazz and destructive hip-hop.
Tracks like “2Seater” and “Cherry Bomb” are perfect examples of this jazz-punk fusion. On “2Seater,” the track is a smoother transition between vocals from Tyler and singing from Syd from The Internet. The two musicians create this interesting blend of genres as Tyler is usually not elegant through his vocals, and Syd is just the opposite. Together they constantly complement each other, but also create a duality.
On the track “Cherry Bomb,” Tyler instead ditches the soft and gentle approach to the songs progression. Instead, Tyler brings a literal assault of bass and snare drum beats, aggressive synth static leads, and vocals that are near screams. Cherry Bomb can feel bi-polar at moments, as the way the mood swings from hostile to friendly, but that is the greatest thing about Cherry Bomb. It feels so natural and unforced.
Other tracks like “The Dark Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6-12 (Remix)” has again an intriguing beat and an intense feature from Schoolboy Q. The two tag-team this screeching track that constantly changes key, has this rising arpeggiator click, and one of the loudest mixes of a song to date. The track then transitions into totally different beat and style of verse from Tyler. The entire track just feels like being thrown into a mosh pit, it’s deafening, roaring, and ultimately an interesting way to transition into one of the slower songs on Cherry Bomb.
“Fucking YOUNG/Perfect” is another two-part track. The first half is a gentle singing track delivered by Tyler about a lover that is obviously too young. A classic love story that has a twist from the truly poetic mastermind. The second half is where the song really picks up and becomes outstanding, Kali Uchis delivers the best feature on the entire album. She perfectly closes the song, speaking from the position of the woman that Tyler is attracted to, being able to deliver some soft vocalization that is backed by a downright beautiful score of instruments.
The track “Smuckers” which follows has a great delivery from Tyler, Lil Wayne, and Yeezus himself. The beat has this nearly symphonic transition that features background chorus vocals and a 1970’s sounding ensemble of strings, horns, and percussion.
Finally, the last three tracks “Keep Da O’s,” “Okaga, CA,” and “Yellow” couldn’t have been more different than each other. “Keep Da O’s is a song that produces some of Tyler’s most out of place vocals to date, focusing more on money, chains, and stunting. While “Okaga, CA” and “Yellow (which was an exclusive physical track)” follows the lovelier side of Tyler. Bringing about a hopeful look into the future of Tyler, the Creator.
The whole experience of Cherry Bomb is one I seriously recommend and if you are new to Tyler, the Creator, this is the album to start with. It is Tyler in his purest, artist from. The way Tyler lets his ideas convey and speak for themselves, the musical progression, and very way Cherry Bomb is presented makes for Tyler’s most impressive piece yet.
Get Gone is the soulful debut from Louisiana’s own, Seratones. The group is adapt at “rocking your socks off, bringing the house down, and blowing your mind.” Together Seratones have this great amount of Southern Charm that protrudes and shines through their music.
Get Gone kicks off with “Choking on Your Spit,” a breakneck dash with explosive percussion and blazing guitar grooves. Seratones’ lead vocalist AJ Haynes, has this powerful voice that booms and nearly takes over the entire track. Conner Davis on guitar, Adam Davis on bass, and Jesse Gabriel on the drums, create this immense amount of chemistry that sounds something like The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, and even Creedence Clearwater Revival in one package.
“Headtrip” then follows and the percussion is outstanding in this track. The way Gabriel moves fills up and down the toms, and the way he also alternates from the march like style in the track’s opening, to the volatile, literal head rush of runs from every single drum. The other third of Seratones moves along in a march style, almost letting the drums light the way for the rest of the band.
The following track, “Tide,” slows down the action and allows the listener to take a step back and experience the blissful voice of Haynes. The track then eventually builds up into this use of background vocals from the rest of Seratones that nearly sounds like a church choir. “Tide” is a beautiful track that provides some calmer breakdowns, but still has this edge that sets it apart from other tracks. I kept coming back to this track over and over again just to hear the different layers and all the diverse sounds that Seratones used at their disposal.
“Chandelier” and “Sun” speed the action back up using some excellent complimentary sounds that draw out each instrument into its own entity. Every piece of instrumentation on Get Gone leads in some way, whether the percussion leads the guitars or vice-versa. Every single track has such a great amount of layers that overall create such an extraordinary sound that while feels inspired by others, follows no one else.
The self-titled track, “Get Gone” feels like a trudge through the summer heat. It has almost this western twang to it, but it actually works. “Get Gone” is another track that forces Seratones to switch up their style, always changing and evolving to every track. To say that any song feels similar, would be a disservice to Seratones. The band not only breaks barriers through genre, but breaks barriers of sound as well.
Then Get Gone comes to the track “Kingdom Come” which is again, another sprint of a track. This was easily my favorite song off of Get Gone, everything about “Kingdom Come” feels so incredibly drawn out. Haynes voice, Gabriel’s flashy cymbal work, the way Davis uses different pedals to add weight onto his guitar, and the way Davis hurries the song along with a slick bass groove just creates this masterpiece of a track.
Seratones’ Get Gone has a hit-track at every turn. The way Haynes carries the vocals, both Davis’s carried the rhythm section, and Gabriel’s work on the percussion makes quick work of what sounds like a timeless album. Get Gone not only rocks your socks off, but it restores “your faith in the power of Rock & Roll.”
Big Dreams & Bent Schemes is the breakout EP from Couvo, this up and coming artist try’s his hand with a 9-track cruise of an album that is both moving and energetic.
The opening track, “Saturday Night” fires off with some blaring guitar and a radio style voice that fazes in-between a clear and static style. The vocal change was interesting, bringing a new level of depth to something that other artists would simply overlook. The backing instrumentation becomes cheery, but slowly fades into an interlude that slows the album down.
“Dreamed Out” sounds more symphonic in the way it uses different horns and hordes of people to create this great amount of claustrophobia. Following is the track “Sunday Morning,” which has this simple boom bap drum beat that eventually bursts into a chorus of hi-hat rattles and guitar off-beats eventually fade in. The chorus adds a slight comparison from what sounds like acoustic percussion, to the now modern style of electronic pop.
Big Dreams & Bent Schemes then moves forward into “Wasting Time” which is an overly delighful style track with an organ giving a background groove and the guitar strumming along. Lyrics like “I don’t really know about tomorrow” gives off this easy and care-free feeling, and “Wasting Time” is a well produced track, but just seems to be leaning a little too close to the radio friendly style for me. The singing and the way the instruments are used sounds closer to a song that would be played on college radio or at a festival in the park.
Couvo goes for a more acoustic approach with “When I Grow Up Again.” This track was the most original sounding, not adapting a radio style, or an overly-cheery style. The bass work is also filling and adds some serious depth, then as the rest of the instruments begin to kick in, the track feels outstanding. If Couvo had this same level of depth and feel to each track, I would have no problem recommending this to everyone.
Couvo then changes up the style of the album completely, “All I Need” adopts an almost R&B style. It follows soft-spoken vocals and an even softer guitar that almost silently lets off a few strums and solos throughout the track. Following is “Where Are We Going” which again uses some more acoustic guitars that create a nice, slick, groove. I personally thought this was one of the stronger tracks on the album.
Couvo’s Big Dreams & Bent Schemes is quite the dynamic project. At certain points it is a new age rock album that has this blast of guitar, drums, and shouting vocals with immense levels of power. Then at other points it becomes this slowed down, almost electronic style that uses different levels of instruments and plug-ins. Big Dreams & Bent Schemes is ultimately a story that has been heard before, but Couvo twists it to become his own and hopefully has more in the future.
Crappin’ You Negative is the third studio album by the indie-rock sensation, Grifters. The lo-fi, Memphis, Tennessee band with an everlasting and inspiring sound that helped make waves in the music community, even if the waves were more underground.
Grifters is a four-piece that works together to make records that do not take themselves so seriously; Crappin’ You Negative is one of those albums that has comedic track titles, but actually have a solid foundation. The opening track simply titled, “Rats” has these effortless sounding guitar strums that echo through the song. The buzzing bass hums behind the overall intriguing use of reverberation on the vocals. The track is mixed in part with a rising movement that increases the song into more of a dash. The instruments feel sloppy, but not in an inadequate way, it feels like a more relaxed approach rather than the latter.
Grifters do an incredible job of having Crappin’ You Negative feel like it is being played in front of you on a stage rather than through speakers. Grifters bring so much energy to each track and together they work to make the tracks themselves feel like they are being played lived. Tracks like “Skin Man Palace,” “Holmes,” and even “Bronze” which has a total 90’s garage band sound, are still authentic and let the listener tap into the quicker side of Grifters.
Crappin’ You Negative has a considerable amount of variety to the tracks. Certain tracks speed up the action and make a quick stage-dive or two, but Grifters can also do a great job slowing down and making more of a sluggish movement instead.
With tracks like “Dead Already,” “Felt Tipped Over,” “Junkie Blood,” and even “Piddlebeach” that has this ominous use of a didgeridoo, are all absorbing. The way these tracks will suck you in and make you actually feel the music, engrossing you in its subject matter and half-heartedly making you want to buy a didgeridoo. It was interesting to see a band that can use so many of the same elements, but make them all sound unique through each track. Rather than creating the same song 14-different times, they simply make 14 songs, 14 different ways.
Following Grifters always adapting sound, the track “Here Comes Larry” has an eerie and continuously echoing acoustic guitar that is backed up by what sounds like faint radio static behind it. The track then fades into finale, “Cinnamon.” An explosive last track that fills the room with slick guitar work, rapid percussion, and some softer-spoken lyrics that almost seem to contradict the rest of the track. “Cinnamon” then ends with the band fading out into a crowd setting, the bass drums rattles and then finally, comes to silence.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a new and different type of Earl Sweatshirt. Sweatshirt through his career transformed from just a child to a man in a matter of only five years. Gone are the immature lyrics and beats, they are instead ditched for grittier and grimier sounding tones that are more like a serious side of Earl. Listening to I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is like listening to a horror music soundtrack that relies on rough sounding bass and the use of near-symphonic piano chords to create a sense of how somber life is for Sweatshirt.
Given as this is Earl Sweatshirt’s second studio album, expectations are high for the still young rapper. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a record of vivid dreams that creates a picture of what growing up, progressing through life, dealing with depression, and deaths of friends and family are. This is a journey through the inner channels of Sweatshirt’s mind, even including personal accounts of stealing and hitting “licks” to survive.
Through one song titled “Grown ups,” Earl has a great line about “Asking god for favors, guess he isn’t home…” which is Earl’s way of saying he never found comfort in religion. He would pray to God but never find answers, which then resulted in having to hit the streets to make another tomorrow. Having nothing given to him was the way Earl has always lived and the way he always will live.
On the first track “Huey,” subjects such as drug use, money, death and being unable to focus on real problems are all prevalent. Earl describes his life today almost like “Burgundy” on Doris, speaking on the terms of his grandmother and the fact that Earl hasn’t had an unchallenging life. Earl has always been on a struggle to not only surviving in Los Angeles but also dealing with his “friends” that say they will be there but never are. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a stepping-stone to see what Earl has in store for the audience as we go deeper into his psyche.
A single was released for the album called “Grief” which shows imagery of rats, snakes, and a dark world which is what Earl primarily sees in the world. Sweatshirt does not keep many close friends as he describes in another line, “Can’t trust these hoes, Can’t even trust my friends.”
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a true masterpiece coming from the mastermind behind this interestingly produced record. Sweatshirt not only sets the bar, he raises it high and hits chins while on it.
Mac Miller’s The Divine Feminine is a cinematic love voyage through the deepest parts of Miller’s psyche. Rather than talking about the dark depression like in his previous work, Mac Miller is alive and well; proving that he is not only able to adapt to daily life, but musically as well.
The Divine Feminine opens with “Congratulations,” a track with a similar piano solo to the one in Pixar’s “Up.” Miller spreads his arms and lets this track melt over the listener, this is a song that sounds straight out of the movies. Rather than opening with a banger, Miller decides to take an entirely different approach to this song, and this album.
The Divine Feminine is a rare breed of an album, Miller balances between a record that could be shown to your mother, a record that could be played in night clubs, and even played to flow some excitement into a room. It is strange in concept, Mac Miller making an album all about love and every song becoming something that Miller has never done before; but it just works incredibly well.
Miller has changed his style up so much and has adopted so many different genres in his music that it is near impossible to keep track of his accomplishments. From the tracks like “Dang!” and “God is Fair, Sexy, Nasty” where Miller is able to tightrope between a jazz hit and these subtle two-step tracks. The Divine Feminine has such a reinvigorating use of chord progression and horns that for a moment, this does not even sound like an album from Hip-Hop aficionado, Mac Miller.
Following “Dang!” is the track “Stay” which has these downright incredible horns that blast and protrude throughout the song. Then as the beat slowly fades in and the percussion lays down some 808’s and some innovative hi-hat beats, the track feels complete. Miller does magnificent job of layering each track and making them feel so fleshed-out and massive.
Miller also continues to sing more on this project than in the past. On GO:OD AM Miller did sing on certain songs, but The Divine Feminine features singing performances on nearly every song. Miller has shown improvement with his voice since GO:OD AM and thankfully the beats behind Miller are interesting enough to move the songs forward as well.
The Divine Feminine was overall an interesting expedition through Mac Miller’s approach to an album full of love songs. Surprisingly, the album came out better than I had originally expected and it might take a few listens, but The Divine Feminine could be one of Miller’s best projects. If nothing else, The Divine Feminine is definitely the most transformative album coming from Miller in a long time.
Nas, the ever-prolific, verbal “Assassin” drags the listener in to the gritty New York Streets and shows them the ropes of what an average day would be like in the concrete jungle. The disgusting people, the seedy underbelly of a world of crime, but also the beauty in New York, a journey through a double life, and doing what needs to be done for survival. In the end, Nas is an educator, rather than just another New York rapper.
Illmatic, not only one of the most outstanding hip-hop records ever, but also a statement on life in New York. The constant struggle to overthrow the next person in power to come out on top. Nas has no problem opening up on his personal story, and from the very beginning of “N.Y. State of Mind,” it is clear what his intentions are.
“N.Y. State of Mind,” has this New York at nighttime feel, the back-alleys with manholes spewing steam, the busy streets, and the classy style of the people. Nas opens up about where his roots are, “Straight out the fucking dungeons of rap, where fake niggas don’t make it back.” Nas is not afraid to put his personal story out there to share exactly what goes down in The City That Never Sleeps. Rather than speaking of how wonderful life is there, he explains the struggle for food, power, and survival.
Nas then follows up with “Life’s a Bitch” which has this smooth, boom-clap beat. It feels like a callback to the jazzier sides of hip-hop, and throughout Illmatic, these callbacks to a different time period. The smooth beats, the constant theme of survival, and growing up on the city streets. The hook, while laid over this uplifting beat is quite depressing, “Life’s a bitch and then you die, that’s why we get high cause you never know where you’re gonna go.”
Illmatic then comes to “The World Is Yours,” which is hands down one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever made. The beat, the lyrics, everything about this track is just so musically sound and it gives Illmatic a switch up in style. The lyrics are still about how untamed Nas’ life was, but it at least has a more uplifting mood and looks to the future with bright eyes.
Following is the track “Halftime,” which goes back to the boom-bap style that was made popular by the East Coast rap clique. Nas was the king of East Coast rap and anytime that someone mentions New York or the East Coast, they will be talking about Nas. “Halftime” has these intriguing horn pops that go in synchronization with the hook and it truly makes the track come alive.
All over Illmatic there is an enormous amount of Jazz horns being played over the beats and it gives the feeling of something like a street performer playing in the wee hours of the night. The horns compliment each beat so well, making every track feel similar in style, but entirely different in tone. Each track feels so layered and it was nearly impossible not to fall in love with each one. It was no question seeing why Illmatic is still talked about today as one of the greatest records of all time.
Nas then continues on with the theme of the older days with “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park.” The beat rather than having horns that flare up, has a great use of vocal samples and record scratching to fill the empty space. Nas strikes again with another great verse and throughout the whole of Illmatic, there is not one single verse that feels lacking or not fleshed out. Nas did an incredible job with each track, making his story relatable and understandable by all. Nas takes the listener to New York, shows him the situations, and the finally proves why Nas was and still is The King of New York.
So this is going to be a recap of some numbers, some thank you’s, and some future stuff. Lets start with the boring things first…
Since I started this website, I have had exactly as of right now
So since the numbers are out of the way… I want to say thank you. For every single person that has and will ever read my opinion on music. I put my soul into this site, and I couldn’t be happier seeing people coming back every week and reading. This will grow, I promise… I have not missed a single day yet, and I will do everything I can to keep that going. I have a ton of things going on in my life, Senior Year is no joke… But seriously, stick with me and I promise you that I will not fail you. I will write on this site until I can no longer hear music, or type on a keyboard. I want to start in Pittsburgh, but see MattsMusicMine.com grow around the U.S., then finally the world. I am going to hold this shit down and make my dream come true. Just stick with me, and enjoy what is coming.
Speaking of the future… I have had business cards made and are available for anyone to get. If you would like one or ten, just e-mail me or hit me up in real life if you know me. There are also going to be T-Shirts made very shortly so again if you want one, just let me know and I will gladly send them out. Nothing too extravagant, just a little something for the people who support me. I am still taking suggestions for any music, do not be shy. I will listen to anything and try to share my opinion. It is still crazy to see how everyday this little castle of mine continues to grow. No one starts at the top, but I intend to see it within my lifetime. I treat MattsMusicMine.com like a job or a future career. One day I hope I can live off this site, but until then I want everyone to know that I appreciate every single follower, every single view, and every single person that even acknowledges me in this vast world. Thanks again, and welcome to The Mine.
Matthew Ryan Miramontes
Amy Winehouse, the immensely talented singer with a dark past that was able to refine soul music and bring it to a mainstream audience. The use of her blissful voice, tainted storytelling, and ultimately a story of despair, produced one of the greatest soul records of all time.
Back to Black is the tale of Amy Winehouse’s unfortunate downfall and run-ins with depression, alcoholism, and an endless string of pain. While Back to Black has a primarily cheery sound, the end product when mixed with Winehouse’s ability to illustrate the short-comings within herself becomes a picture of light forming into the shadow. The “black” creeps in as the light fades out, the whole album is constantly met with this undying theme of duality within itself.
Back to Black begins with Winehouse’s hit song, “Rehab” which not only was one of the biggest songs off of the album, but the perfect example of how Winehouse struggled with her addiction and those around her wanted to help her with her habit. Back to Black as the title suggests is a constant downward motion. The perpetual spiral Winehouse describes through her music, leading up to her death in 2011 leaves a bitter taste in the listener’s mouth. Back to Black is such a masterpiece musically, but it has this great amount of baggage and dread attached to the tracks and what Winehouse speaks of.
The following track “You Know I’m No Good” has this great jazz style bass line and the drums behind both Winehouse and the gradual horn flare creates this relaxed feel. The musicians that Winehouse worked with on Back to Black did a perfect job of backing her vocals and to have them both stand out without overpowering each other could not have been done any better. Winehouse sings a great chorus “I cheated myself like I knew I would” and again, it gives off an uneasy feeling to the listener.
“Me & Mr. Jones” follows and this is the perfect example of what sounds like soulful, gospel music. The organ, the lively background vocals, and even the way Winehouse uses her booming voice to assert herself in the track was outstanding.
Then the song “Just Friends” has this interesting dreamy guitar beginning that slowly rises up into the use of off-beats on the percussion. Winehouse again does an outstanding vocal performance and that is one of the staples of Back to Black. With any other singer, this record would just simply not work. Winehouse does an incredible job with each delivery and she can make even the most hurtful lyrics sound like silk.
Finally, the track “Back to Black” comes into frame and it is easily one of the best tracks Winehouse has ever performed in her career. Everything about this song was executed so well, and the strings ensemble used these great chords that stick out so well and could make a substantial song by itself.
There is also the track “Wake Up Alone” which has this 1950’s teenage dance sense to it. The guitar moves freely through the fret-board making the whole track feel like as if it is moving in slow motion. Winehouse speaks again about “The dark covers me and I cannot run now.”
Amy Winehouse was a truly talented musician and Back to Black is her swan song of an album that touches into the depths of her struggle with depression, addiction, and ultimately death. Winehouse was able to create on of the most soulful albums of a generation, and will live on through her tracks that continue to rattle the Earth even to this day.