Album Review: LP1-FKA Twigs

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A band that is really taking the indie world by storm lately is FKA Twigs (Tahliah Barnett). They were one of the most highly anticipated sets at Coachella a few weeks back and they have basically been on repeat on my CD player at home. Their first effort, EP2, featured 4 songs that were something completely new and different to me. The intricate and diverse instrumentals paired with Tahliah’s emotion filled vocals makes for an imposing listening experience. If you’ve heard this band before, you know it’s them playing the second they come on. It’s not like this style hasn’t been done before, but their sound is so expertly crafted and unique that it makes them easy to distinguish from other RnB acts.

 

Onto their first full length album, LP1. I was not disappointed by this effort.  I had very high hopes after hearing what was a sensational set of songs on EP2 (where my favorite was Ultraviolet, which is the least know of the 4 tracks) . You get 10 songs that are different sounding enough from each other as to not make the album sound repetitive at any point.

 

1. Preface (6/10)-I’m generally not a fan of when bands decide to start off an album with a preface or an intro (this is an exception to that). Thus, this doesn’t have much to offer despite featuring the way talented vocals of Tahliah.

 

2. Lights On (7.5/10)-Pretty simplistic in nature. Few lyrics, although they are clearly very personal to the vocalist. I don’t like the differing tempo in this song. They usually pull this off nicely but here it just sounds disjointed and doesn’t work on this track. It does feature a good closing, though.

 

3. Two Weeks (10/10)-This is the track that generated all the buzz for LP1. You’re drawn in right away with the ambient effects and Tahliah’s vocals on this track are nothing short of magnificent. The lyrics during the verses are nothing special but the chorus is when the song really takes off, due to the vocal/lyric combo and the continuing, almost trance-like vibe the instrumentals provide.

 

 

4. Hours (7.5/10)-This is one of the more stripped down tracks on the record. Other than some subtle instrumentals and percussion, it’s mostly Tahliah’s vocals which are at times distorted to provide that signature haunting effect that FKA Twigs is known for.

 

5. Pendulum (9/10)-This is a song that’s grown on me with many listens over time. I like the mix of less aggressive vocals showcased on the earlier part of the track contrasted with some of the more emphatic bits that come later in the song. The chorus is mesmerizing (especially with final sequence that begins @3:52).

 

6. Video Girl (7/10)-This song has garnered a lot of buzz amongst FKA Twigs followers but it is not a favorite of mine. It is mixed and mashed in this cool music vid advertising Google glass (which is a product that’s  been scrapped last I heard). Alas, I don’t really care for the full version. Either because it’s too slowly developing with a disappointing chorus or it’s devoid of energy altogether.

 

7. Numbers (6.5/10)-To me, it sounds like a knock-off of Purity Ring’s “Amenamy”. You can see for yourself but other than the slight comparison, there’s not much this song does for me. Along with my complaint about “Video Girl” lacking enthusiasm, I would throw this in that category also but this song is even less progressive and doesn’t lead up to anything. However, it’s tracks like this one that set up the rest of the album and are welcome breaks from the intensity that most of the other tracks contain.

 

8. Closer (7/10)-Probably the most obscure and cryptic of all the songs on the album. This is due to the odd childlike vocals and the slightly more upbeat vibe that is not typical of most of their songs. It’s almost a RnB/Gospel cross which is intriguing but this song is so short it caps any interest rather quickly.

 

9. Give Up (9.5/10)-There’s a lot of things that I like about this song. The instrumental effect that opens the song and gets scattered throughout the track is probably my favorite aspect of it. But again, Barnett’s vocals and her dynamic range are showcased very well in this song. What also sticks out is the counterbalance between the dark and upbeat effects that mash together so deftly.

 

 

10. Kicks (7/10)-Not the closing track I was looking for from them. Was hoping they would go out with something big but this is an understated, minimalistic track. Not a bad song by any means but as I stated earlier, it serves more to set-up the more powerful songs on the album. Standing alone, it doesn’t have much to offer next to their other work.

 

Overall Rating: A-. Be sure to at least stream the album but it is worth buying. There are few bands that are capable of giving off such a spirited and vibrant sound with only a few select instruments.

 

 

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Album Review: Example

 

Dove into the old CD bin to uncover one of my favorite, underrated albums of all time, Example by For Squirrels. It is one of my favorite albums overall but I thought I would bring attention to the fact that few people remember or even heard of this band in the first place. Part of the reason is that they officially broke up sometime around ’96. Right before this album was released, the group suffered a tragic accident in which two of the members and their manager were lost. It was inspiring that they kept the band together after this in order to honor the memory of their band mates. I am one of many of their fans who knows this band could have been big. This album is a testament to their talent as a group and all the success that would have followed.

 

1. 8:02pm (10/10)

This is the one that got me into this group. I vaguely remember hearing this while riding in my brother’s car. I wouldn’t have been very old and my music taste was questionable for sure; but this stuck out to me for whatever reason. And that reason would be that it’s fucking great. For longest time I thought it was actually 8:02am and it made sense to me because it had a energizing, upbeat feel to it that would coincide with someone at 8:02 in the morning. Turns out I was wrong about that and it is in fact 8:02PM…everything about this song is killer: the intro is the best part followed by a close second in the fitting chorus. Simply put, if you had to epitomize the word “cool” this song would definitely be in the running.

 

 

2. Orangeworker (9/10)

A much slower, relaxing track by this grunge group is “Orangeworker”.  Starts out with a little piano, ends with a lot of awesomeness. It appears to be a song about labor. The piano coming in and exiting throughout the song is what makes it stick out to me. It will sometimes be the feature and it can also complement the chorus (@1:54). Vocalist Jack Vigliatura does one his best vocal performances on this track in my opinion. His grit displayed in the chorus combined with the ooo’s at the end make for good balance.

 

 

 

3. Superstar (9.5/10)

This was fresh take on grunge when this came out. Not many of the earlier grungesters were really willing to bellow out and do much screaming in their songs. Perhaps it was viewed as something that hair metal bands did, which is what they were most trying not to be like (thank you). Vigliatura and his band mates showed that you can still go crazy as a vocalist and have it sound presentable as long as there is still smooth, quality instrumentals. That’s the case here. The lyrics are a little repetitive but that doesn’t take away from what a great track this is. See for yourself

 

 

 

4. Mighty KC (9/10)

If you have heard only one song by this group, it is most likely this one. The song gained some notoriety and radio play due to the connection between the title and Kurt Cobain. I don’t see the connection when looking at the lyrics other than some sort of suffering. Most of us know that Kurt was in pain for the majority of his career despite his success and the impact he left on the rock industry. The chorus changes tune and carries an optimism that suggests that things are headed in a new direction thanks to his contribution. An epic tune that best captures the essence of the early 90’s.

 

5. Under Smithville (8/10)

Under Smithville is a fun little track that appears to be the only song about relationships on this album (fine by me). It features a lot of crisp guitar playing and a large mix of vocals. Vigliatura goes from very cutesy type singing to straight up whaling which works rather well. A very listener friendly song it is.

 

6. Long Live the King (9/10)

It’s hard for me to think of a bigger contrast between consecutive songs on an album than “Under Smithville” and this song. It starts off fast and disjointed. The vocals come in unexpectedly and provide little clarity to what Vigliatura is singing about. I disliked this song pretty strongly the first few listens, was an automatic skip for sure.

After awhile, I learned to appreciate this song for what it really is: a fun mash-up with some kick ass screaming vocals. It’s hard for me to not get psyched up and sing along when Vigliatura yells out “I love you!” (@ 2:52). For Squirrels goes punk and they do it with excellence.

 

7. The Immortal Dog and Pony Show (6.5/10)

While I really like the title of this song, it ends up being something else. This is probably my least favorite song on the album. It does have some buzz worthy guitar playing but nothing else really sticks out to me. The vocals do build up to a climax at the end but they don’t really do it for me otherwise.

 

8. Stark Pretty (9/10)

Along the lines of “Under Smithvile” but more innovative and thoughtful. Definitely more obscure, it does feature a short and peppy chorus followed by a tropical-sounding guitar solo (@1:47). Vigliatura delivers more of his excellent sounding screaming lyrics toward the end. There’s also some tight cymbal playing action during the chorus (yep, I just used some bro language to comment on the cymbals) This song gets a huge thumbs up from me.

 

9. Disenchanted (8/10)

For Squirrels goes ballad on us with “Disenchanted”. Maybe an exaggeration but I can’t get into this song. Other than high quality vocals in the chorus (but with lyrics that say little, however) this seems like an attempt for the group to get serious. While it is completely necessary for it to be on the album to maintain variety and because of the instrumental work that went into it, it ends up being a miss for me because it doesn’t represent what For Squirrels is…(and I absolutely hate the lyric “Will we ever drink milk from a fountain”. what the hell does that have to do with anything?)

 

 

10. Eskimo Sandune (7/10)

I’m surprised they chose to end the album with this song. “Disenchanted” seemed like a better fit. “Eskimo Sandune” is a short and almost creepy track. It paints a picture of a more gloomy or surreal type of setting. I fail to comprehend the lyrics and am left thinking nothing other than…hmmm, after hearing.

 

That said, give this album a listen or two and worst-case scenario, you had to endure a lot of gritty bellowing. Best-case scenario, you’ll find an illustrious  album that has unlimited replay value.

Album Review: Mer De Noms

A Perfect Circle’s debut album, Mer De Noms, took me far too long to purchase. I have always like them and Tool, the front-man Maynard James Keenan’s other band. Keenan will always be an iconic figure in the  rock industry. His first band, Tool, helped pioneer the grunge rock scene in the early 90’s. His next group, A Perfect Circle, provided a much more intelligent breed of music for the hard rock scene in the early 2000’s. If you’re not familiar with Maynard James Keenan, here’s a interview that gives a quick overview of him and his career (link). He’s always been a person of interest to me. He has a stage presence unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. This carries over into his interviews as well. A figure in music I would most closely compare him to would be Ariel Pink. Both appear to not have a whole lot in common with the average person but have a lot of interesting things to say. Onto the review…

1. The Hollow (8/10)-It gets the album going in the right direction. You get some excellent, pure sounding guitars provided by lead guitarist Billy Howerdel. Howerdel is also another figure worth looking into. His side project, Ashes Divide, has produced some very solid tracks. Keenan’s vocals are showcased rather well in this song. I looked at the lyrics and can’t really tell what this song’s message is. Vivid lyrics generally allow for more enjoyable listening, however. Sit back and enjoy the song for what it is, especially the best sequence that starts @ 1:33 and goes until the conclusion.

2. Magdalena (9.5/10)-My personal favorite off the album. It’s one of many of Keenan and Howerdel’s tracks that show off their ability to modify tone and take a song in a new direction. The song gets off to a great start with a  slow build-up and darker sounding intro. Then it gives you some whaling guitars that take place during the bridge to the chorus (@1:15). It combines very nicely with Keenan’s angst driven vocals. This part of the song is the highlight for me. There’s also a really good guitar solo @ 2:12 that transitions into the new tone that takes over for the reminder of the song. Once again, it’s Keenan’s vocals that stick out to me. Specifically, during the closing chorus when he screams out “One taste of you my Magdalena!” Check it out

3. Rose (6.5)-Not a bad song, kind of a softer, slower ballad. It’s unlike a lot of their other work. I do enjoy the fuzzy guitars alternating with the acoustic ones throughout the song (@0:49). What hurt my rating of the song was the long violin portion that goes on for the last 30 seconds or so.

4. Judith (9.5/10) This has been arguably A Perfect Circle’s greatest hit. Rightfully so, it is a masterpiece.The song is produced so well and Howerdel’s talent as a lead guitarist is displayed eminently here. The concluding part of the song is one of the most strong and meaningful endings that I have ever heard (starts beginning with the 2nd chorus and gets even better @3:12)   It contains some slightly controversial lyrics, which is my only knock on the song. I’m all for the group expressing their opinions on religion and what not; “Fuck your God” seems excessive. If you know that back-story on the message to this song, you see where Keenan is coming from.  It’s non-stop musical greatness right from the beginning and never lets up.

5. Orestes (4.5/10)-A little too slow and anti-climatic for my tastes. Not a whole lot happens during this song, other than one possibly noteworthy guitar solo, mainly a filler.

6. 3 Libras (5/10)-Another bland, and rather disappointing offering. This song has a little more going for it than “Orestes” did. There is some noteworthy guitar and vocals in the chorus but definitely not up to the level of tracks 1, 2, or 4, on the album. At this point, I’m wondering if the rest of the album is going to go the way of the first four songs, which were spectacular, or if there is a big drop-off

7. Sleeping Beauty (4.5/10) Ugh! It doesn’t get much better unfortunately. A much more sad retelling of a person’s inability to aid his significant other sleeping habits. Definitely a downer and a song that has me reaching for the skip button.

8. Thomas (5.5/10)-Decent, gritty intro. Reminded me of Soundgarden’s “Outsthined.” The comparison ends there. The song is progressive and has glimmers of the talent that A Perfect Circle possess but they never really get it firing on all cylinders in this one. The lyrics translate into what I believe could serve as a follow-up to the previous song. Keenan’s lyrics appear to speak of someone seeking forgiveness.

9. Renholder (NA)-Nothing to see here, folks. Just a sitar sounding instrument and some indiscernible Maynard lyrics.

10. Thinking of You (4.5/10)-Gets off to a very un-Keenan like pop-sounding into. It almost like they were trying to merge their style with something else which results in a Fiona Apple sounding conglomeration. It’s not that bad of a song, really, it’s complex if nothing else. It’s not what I come to expect when I listen to these guys, though. There’s one part that’s not too bad where Keenan repeats the title of the song many times and it gets followed by one final rendition of the chorus (@3:56). There’s something missing in that chorus that keeps this from being a good song.

11. Brena(3/10)-Simple, minimalistic intro kicks this track off. Doesn’t get really amount to much after that. A little too whiny and boring for me. I would say it’s the weakest song on the album

12. Over (3/10)-Not much to this closing track. Almost a novelty track that it to serve as a curtain call for the album.

As you may be able to tell, I was disappointed by this album, overall. I had heard “Judith” and some other tracks from their second album, Thirteenth Step, that I really liked many times. I figured that their debut album would contain many all-around good songs. What I got instead was 3 awesome songs amongst many others that didn’t really measure up. I don’t regret buying the album and I would recommend you give it a try yourself if you like the songs you heard on this post. Keenan also has another project called Puscifer that is worth checking out. Well I’m out.  Until next time, stay off the FM wavelengths!

Album Review: Shields

Grizzly Bears’s Shields has generated a lot of Buzz since being released last September. I was fairly unfamiliar with this group other than I knew they were the group that did “Two Weeks.” While it is a great song, it almost has a gimmicky feel to it which, to me, usually does not result in me taking a lot of interest in the group’s other works. I’m glad I reconsidered in this case, Grizzly Bear is an extremely talented, unique group that I have taken a liking to after listening to Shields. The first song I heard off of it was “Sleeping Ute,” which took a few listens before I stopped hating it. It’s funny how your opinion of a song can change so drastically. I used to think that “Sleeping Ute” was boring and sloppy, but now I think it’s one of the strongest tracks on the album. But there are some other winners on this album so let’s get started.

1. Sleeping Ute-(8/10): “Sleeping Ute” is a fun, all over the place track that is a good preview for what the rest of the album holds in store.  It mainly features a quick, choppy guitar riff that is complemented rather nicely by multiple percussion methods that are unpredictable but well placed (this is a staple of Grizzly Bear). The lyrics give me little to work in terms of a song meaning and at first the song itself gave me that impression but as I listened closer I could hear the emotion being poured on by the group in terms of the mood this song creates at a couple different junctures. The first is just following the first chorus @ 1:34….beautiful song writing in that select spot. The next is the concluding lyrics that are accompanied only by a solo guitar is another highlight for this track (@3:10). But I still haven’t figured out what he means when he says he can’t help himself.

2. Speak in Rounds (6.5/10): Although I have heard this on the radio a few times, I’m not very partial to it. It it almost a knock off of “Yet Again,” which may be the best track on the album. Boring verses, boring chorus; can’t really get into this song. Probably the only thing I like about it is the lyric “Learn how to be alone,”  a lesson that many need to learn.

3. Adelma (N/A) I generally don’t rate songs that are this short. I welcome their presence on the album; they serve as an intermission or breathe new life into the album. Track three is a little early to do that, however, and virtually nothing (and I mean NOTHING) happens for this short-lived segment. A cheap way to get 10 tracks on an album.

4. Yet Again (9.5/10) This is the breadwinner of the album, the track I would attribute most of the record’s success to. And it is for that reason that I have posted it below. I am torn on whether this song is meant to be of a sad nature or a “lesson learned” type of deal. It sounds like it’s about two friends that seem to find themselves together despite the friendship going stale or being at odds with each other. Not an uplifter by any means (made evident by the gloomy chants @0:57), definitely a better chill out song. It features a nice blend of guitar and piano along with Edward Droste’s vocals. I think he is the more talented lead vocalist over Daniel Rosen, fellow band-mate. But they all employ excellent backing vocals, and that is certainly a strength of Grizzly Bear. Their weakness would probably be creating songs that are catchy or that have a hook. That’s okay, though; the songs are laced with substance and if you put a little effort into enjoying them, they are well worth discovering. Such is the case with “Yet Again”

5. The Hunt (4/10) This song is a snoozer. Begins on a awkward piano/guitar combination and doesn’t really get much better. The lyrics appear to have the same meaning or idea as “Yet Again” but the song is nowhere close to being as good. Hit the skip button and be ready for a heavy hitter up next.

6. A Simple Answer (9/10) “A Simple Answer” is a simply great fucking song. You certainly get your money’s worth with the 6:01 run time. It starts out with some odd instrument that I can’t identify but it then smoothly transitions to a cool piano beat. This songs combines both Droste and Rosen’s vocals. Right from “Those saints in lockstep,” I’m hooked and prepare myself for what is a fine listening experience. One of my favorite parts is Droste’s part following chorus (@1:43), it creates an alternate mood for the song that will reappear later. While Rosen has some creative, innovative lyrics and sings them rather nicely, it’s Droste performance that steals along with the musical breakdown that happens right @4:28 and goes on for the rest of the track. A true work of art, it moves at a snail’s pace but it is so transcendent it cannot go unnoticed. Listen to it for yourself and if you don’t like it the first time you hear it, I won’t even know what to say, I guess (I’ll try to come up with something, though…somehow)

7. What’s Wrong (5/10)-This is another miss for me. It’s a song that starts out modestly but doesn’t really build up to anything. Features some more electronic effects than some of the previous tracks on the album but they don’t seem to work with Rosen’s vocals for this effort. I know that there’s some out there who think Grizzly Bear changed their song too much for this album and that it was an overall negative impact on the band. I don’t believe this to be true but it’s songs like this one where I see where they are coming from. A poor beginning is trumped by an even worse outro featuring a bad piano/horn segment.

8.Gun-shy (6.5/10) Back to the singing of Mr. Droste. I dig the flow of the songs where he is the featured vocalist. I don’t mean for this to be a dig at Rosen, I believe him to be a great singer also (his effort in the recording of “Sleeping Ute” is outstanding). But Droste vocals sound less forced and allow for the listener to tune out and enjoy the song at the same time. The lyrics about being lost or hesitant to act on something are well written. Droste and Rosen sing simultaneously during this song (@1:45) and they pull it off rather nicely with the help of some effects.

9. Half Gate(5/10) Starts out with some violin or cello and then picks up shortly after. The song appears to be of a more serious nature than most of their other tracks. There are some parts of it that almost sound overly-dramatic to me (@2:15). Much like real life, I want none of that in my music. One of the reasons I like Grizzly Bear so much is that it’s subtle yet intricate style puts me in a good mood. Not a bad effort, does some have hooks (4:07) which is seldom seen in even some of their better tracks.

10. Sun in Your Eyes (3.5/10) Unsatisfying final track on an otherwise solid album. Most of the non-supporters of Grizzly Bear complain that their music is too boring. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that many people just misunderstand what Grizzly Bear is about and what type of sound they are trying to create. That being said, I will concede that this song is rather boring. Impossible for me to get into right from he start and it drags on with little bright spots other than a nice piano send-off at the end

Overall Grade-B. Grizzly Bear is a band like few others and it’s apparent that their talent will enable them to put out more albums and produce some more memorable songs.

Album Review: Shrines

Purity Ring’s debut album would go on to be on the top section of many indie “best albums of 2012” lists; including #9 on pretty much amazing

For my first album review, I have decided to give a track by track analysis over what I feel is my top album of 2012. That would be Canadian duo Megan James and Corin Roddicks’s first effort in Shrines. Collectively they are know as Purity Ring and although that would not be a top pick by for a group name, the music they have been able to produce has left me awestruck after only one listen. If you have never heard them before, check out the album here, give it a listen and try to compare it to something you have heard before. I honestly cannot think of a single group they remind me of and that is usually a good thing more times that not. You will get a combination of soothing melodies, creative lyrics (I read that many of James’s lyrics are used from poetry she has done), and some hard hitting beats that make for an outstanding effort that is impossible not to at least respect, given the musical complexity and how Roddick ties everything together so well. I’ve posted two songs from the album to give you a sample along with my reviews of all other songs on the track. If you like the posted ones as much as I did the first time I hear them, then there will be no other option than to buy the album in the most timely manner possible.

Another thing I find fascinating about the group is the fact they are producing extraordinary music at such a young age….Roddick’s only 21 for crying out loud! Makes me feel like I haven’t accomplished squat in my slightly longer time on this earth.

And off we go…

1. Crawlersnout (8.5/10) Crawlersnout gets the record off on the right foot. It gives you a taste of what to expect the rest of the album. I have looked over the lyrics a few times and cannot for the life of me really gather what James is singing about, some type of pleasant sounding animal I suppose. Doesn’t really matter because this song is as good as an example as any for how well James’s vocals and Roddick’s instrumentals blend together. One of my favorite instrumental effects by Roddick is used heavily in this song…the heavily distorted singing voice that I assume is his own or maybe it’s artificially generated. The most chilling example of this is at the 2:41 mark of the song. But the whole thing is so freakin’ epic, it’s not even funny

2. Fineshrine (10/10) Along with its name containing half of the album title, Fineshrine will also provide you with pure musical enlightenment. If you allow it to, that is. I honestly didn’t know what to think the first time I heard it. Seemed like a crazy conglomeration of instrumentals combined with some confusing lyrics (In reality I’m just not sharp enough to decipher James’s messages in her songs). After a only a few listens, I suddenly became obsessed with this track and it became my favorite one on the entire album. Making that declaration was about as easy as picking out my favorite character on Trailer Park Boys (for those unacquainted with the series, you need to get with it real quick). The best parts of the song for me occur at 0:48, which contains a solo for the instrumentals sans the percussion, and then at 2:33 where you get a double dosage of the talents of Megan James. The first is in her lyrics where she proclaims: “But i might see with my chest and sink, Into the edges round you, Into the lakes and quarries that brink, On all the edges round you, round you” which I like better than the more well known lyrics that are “Cut open my sternum and pull, My little ribs around you” The other part is the echoing of James voice in the background. which thankfully continues throughout the rest of the song. Hope you’re still here after all that. Stop reading and slip on the headphones and get taken for a ride by Fineshrine

3. Ungirthed (8/10) Much like Fineshrine, Ungirthed didn’t really do it for me initially. However, it took longer for me to finally appreciate what a great song it is compared to Fineshrine. I think this is because Ungirthed is more zany and all over the place. The first 20 seconds you’re not really sure if what you’re listening to would be considered music. Not music made by humans anyway. But James is the star on the track. Her smooth yet unpredictable pattern of singing is what makes this track a treat. Her voice and Roddick’s beats hit at all the right times (catch the synths at 1:14). This is the first Purity Ring track that was created…I cannot imagine a world without them therefore I cannot imagine this album without Ungirthed

4. Amenamy (6/10) Amenamy  is a song that I have progressively liked less and less the more I hear it. It’s a fly track at first (bass/beat at 0:13 is noteworthy) but then it loses momentum after that. James’s vocals are not quite on the same level as the rest of the album (except for one noteworthy snippet at 2:14). Nothing wrong with lyrics either but nothing that caught my interest. This track is a solid effort by the duo but compared to the three songs that came before it, it falls way short of matching up.

5. Grandloves (4.5/10) It is at this point that the album goes on a two song skid. This track features Young Magic which is another foreign electronic group. I assume the guest vocalist is from that group and it is he that drags it down. He appears to be rapping most of his lyrics and his ability in that area is rather low. James shows some vocal range on this track but it cannot save what is easily the my least favorite track on the album. The only part of the song that grabs my attention is the outro which features some pleasant electronics/keyboard.

6. Cartographist (5/10) Oh boy, this song is so hard to get into. It fact, it still hasn’t happened for me and I don’t think it ever will. Mainly due to a lack of uninspiring lyrics (the message I get from it appears to be about living a simplistic lifestyle?) and a beat that doesn’t appeal to me. My hope is that perhaps Roddick was going for a more obscure sound in this one and wanted to keep the album from sounding too similar.

7. Belispeak (8.5/10) YES! Not that I was even remotely questioning the greatness of this album, I must admit, after the last two tracks,I was wanting more. Belispeak begins what is a solid back end of the album. It is short and to the point. But it packs a lot into its three minutes of running time. Funky beats, plenty of well blended electronics, and excellent vocals during the chorus (with the help of some effects, but they clearly enhance the song a ton, @0:55). Belispeak doesn’t have the heavy beats that some of the other good tracks on the album, but it is more surreal and cool. For more beats, check out the remix of the song done with the aid of Danny Brown. Fun take on an already great song. See it here Belispeak II

8. Saltkin (7/10) Saltkin was just okay the first few listens. Roddick’s work is what shines in this one if you pay extra attention to it. He combines some hard hitting beats with multiple different effects that are probably the quirkiest of the all the different ones featured in the album. They fit well in this song and help to build up for a thrilling conclusion (starts @ 2:44) Not a standout track amongst their other work but I’d still take this in a heartbeat over a lot of the garbage that’s on the radio these days.

9. Obedear (9.5/10) Obedear and it’s predecessor Lofticries combine for two of the best electronic songs I have ever had the pleasure of listening to in my time here on this earth. The intro of Obedear is pure gold…James vocals and Roddick’s usage of computer in song sets things up nicely  and then the bass comes in (@0:38) and just KILLS. This leads to a very danceable beat before shortly pausing to showcase some fine lyrics and then hitting again…(@1:02) The message I get from the lyrics is some type of suffering or hardship they must endure (Tear our skin up out from the bottom, leaves our ankles bare…leaves us plastered to a bed of hairs, We’ll be all coiled up near the bottom, with my chest, unbare it) Don’t even think about leaving my blog and engaging in some other activity without jamming to Obedear First!

10. Lofticries (10/10)-Not even going to try to describe how magnificent this song is through my words because I do not come close to having the writing ability to do it justice. The haunting beat and keyboards along with James singing talents are what make this song perfect. It reminds me of the more special moments in my life. Listening to it for the first time with my headphones was a special moment in itself. I cranked the volume up and zoned out…probably wouldn’t have ever came back if I didn’t have to. The single best part of the album occurs at 2:17 and extends through the end of the chorus. James and Roddick’s vocals unite along with the keyboards create something unearthly (the chilling outro deserves some mention as well @3:09). The song has an element of disturbia to it. It’s open to interpretation, but if you read the lyrics you will gather that the song is clearly about some type of suffering. I consider myself an optimist but I know that not everything (especially music) can have a positive spin to it. That is part of what makes it so special. It is a beautiful song yet it’s message is of something bad, possibly way more horrible than I’d even like to think. But fortunately it comes no where close to ruining it. I’d love to hear your comments after listening to Lofticries

10. Shuck-(3/10) A rather disappointing final track to an otherwise outstanding album. Little imagination and just drags on until in mercifully ends just past the 2 minute mark. I realize that I said Grandloves was the worst song on the album despite being rated a point and a half higher. That is because I don’t really consider Shuck to be a song, period. Just a weird contraption of sounds that sorta sounds like “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin for the last minute or so. Fortunately, this does not come close to tainting the image of what will be one of my favorite bands for many years to come based solely on the strength of this album.

Overall Grade-A. I’m note sure I’ll ever encounter another album I so eagerly anticipated. An album like this has needed to exist for so long