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*14
Loma Prieta - I.V.
Screamo, Grindcore, Noise Rock
I’ve not listened to a large amount of screamo, but from what I do know about the genre and similar genres like mathcore (which is heavily indebted to, and sometimes very directly similar to screamo) and abrasive, punk-derived music in general, I can comfortably talk about this album and tell you that it’s particularly good for a number of reasons. Loma Prieta is a San Francisco based band that has been around since 2005. From what I’ve gathered, they take the abrasiveness of screamo to an extreme that puts them closer to mathcore and grindcore than other screamo bands. This album presents you with some very heavy, rattling bass guitar tones and harsh, crunchy guitar, that will occasionally break into a more clear melodic phrase, and sometimes a brief thick chug. The drummer is appropriately hard hitting, and can at times be pretty technical, throwing down intricate break-neck fills, and on a few tracks, especially the “trilogy” comprised of tracks 4-6, some impressive blast-beats. Loma Prieta’s vocalist is probably one of my new favorites. I’ve heard very few people who’s screams are as as loud and raw as his, and they really tie the general abrasion of the album together well. The album seems to be influenced to some degree by noise, and some of the thickest harshest moments on it come in the trilogy, like in the intro to Trilogy 4 “Momentary”, where everything starts off slow and then builds into a pummeling blast beat, or the end section of Trilogy 6 “Forgetting”, in which the volume and drive of the guitar and bass are so overpowering, that they create a thick wall of white noise.
Despite the overall aggression and dissonance of I.V., strong melodies still end up shining through, which is tough to pull off, but Loma Prieta gets it just right. The outro of Torn Portrait makes great use of a scale I don’t hear very often, the Egyptian Pentatonic scale, giving the song a unique epic feel. Biography has some pretty strong melodies as well, and incorporates some nice clean chords, which can be found in a few other spots on the album, making for a nice juxtaposition against all the abrasiveness. In fact, the track Untitled is just some simple guitar strumming to give the listener a little break after the most harsh track on the album. Probably the best track on I.V. though, is Aside From This Distant Shadow, There Is Nothing Left. This track shows off some of their tendencies to play in odd times, with first riff being in 5/4. The latter half of the track features probably one of the most unexpected and interesting chord progressions I’ve heard in any song in a while, which is hands down my favorite moment on the whole album, and likely the most memorable. It also has a rhythmic pattern which at first seems simple, but is actually subtly angular. The album not only has memorable melodies, but also a few pretty infectious and cathartic hooks, such as the shouting “I will never change” on Uniform.
I.V. is a spectacular effort, doing everything it sets out to and more. It’s brimming with passion and energy, and produced in a way that lets all of that shine. All of the songs have something unique and interesting about them, and at 24 minutes and 12 tracks, it’s the perfect length. Loma Prieta definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to making harsh, aggressive, cathartic music, that still manages to have strong melody. I have no real complaints about the album except that perhaps a few of the songs aren’t quite perfect.
I.V. gets 9 blown-out vocal-cords out of 10.

Loma Prieta - I.V.

Screamo, Grindcore, Noise Rock

I’ve not listened to a large amount of screamo, but from what I do know about the genre and similar genres like mathcore (which is heavily indebted to, and sometimes very directly similar to screamo) and abrasive, punk-derived music in general, I can comfortably talk about this album and tell you that it’s particularly good for a number of reasons. Loma Prieta is a San Francisco based band that has been around since 2005. From what I’ve gathered, they take the abrasiveness of screamo to an extreme that puts them closer to mathcore and grindcore than other screamo bands. This album presents you with some very heavy, rattling bass guitar tones and harsh, crunchy guitar, that will occasionally break into a more clear melodic phrase, and sometimes a brief thick chug. The drummer is appropriately hard hitting, and can at times be pretty technical, throwing down intricate break-neck fills, and on a few tracks, especially the “trilogy” comprised of tracks 4-6, some impressive blast-beats. Loma Prieta’s vocalist is probably one of my new favorites. I’ve heard very few people who’s screams are as as loud and raw as his, and they really tie the general abrasion of the album together well. The album seems to be influenced to some degree by noise, and some of the thickest harshest moments on it come in the trilogy, like in the intro to Trilogy 4 “Momentary”, where everything starts off slow and then builds into a pummeling blast beat, or the end section of Trilogy 6 “Forgetting”, in which the volume and drive of the guitar and bass are so overpowering, that they create a thick wall of white noise.

Despite the overall aggression and dissonance of I.V., strong melodies still end up shining through, which is tough to pull off, but Loma Prieta gets it just right. The outro of Torn Portrait makes great use of a scale I don’t hear very often, the Egyptian Pentatonic scale, giving the song a unique epic feel. Biography has some pretty strong melodies as well, and incorporates some nice clean chords, which can be found in a few other spots on the album, making for a nice juxtaposition against all the abrasiveness. In fact, the track Untitled is just some simple guitar strumming to give the listener a little break after the most harsh track on the album. Probably the best track on I.V. though, is Aside From This Distant Shadow, There Is Nothing Left. This track shows off some of their tendencies to play in odd times, with first riff being in 5/4. The latter half of the track features probably one of the most unexpected and interesting chord progressions I’ve heard in any song in a while, which is hands down my favorite moment on the whole album, and likely the most memorable. It also has a rhythmic pattern which at first seems simple, but is actually subtly angular. The album not only has memorable melodies, but also a few pretty infectious and cathartic hooks, such as the shouting “I will never change” on Uniform.

I.V. is a spectacular effort, doing everything it sets out to and more. It’s brimming with passion and energy, and produced in a way that lets all of that shine. All of the songs have something unique and interesting about them, and at 24 minutes and 12 tracks, it’s the perfect length. Loma Prieta definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to making harsh, aggressive, cathartic music, that still manages to have strong melody. I have no real complaints about the album except that perhaps a few of the songs aren’t quite perfect.

I.V. gets 9 blown-out vocal-cords out of 10.

*2

Top 10 Albums of 2011.

This list has been a long time in the making. I’ve probably been thinking about it since the moment I finished my top 5 albums of 2010 list. 2011 has been an absolutely spectacular year, bringing new releases from an unprecedented amount of my favorite acts, and plenty of great albums that turned me on to new things. There were so many stellar releases this year that I ended up expanding this from a top 5 to a top 10, and I can confidently say I love all of these albums quite a bit. So without further adieu, here’s my top 10 albums of 2011, in countdown format:

10 - James Blake - James Blake

James Blake’s self-titled debut album was a sparse and spacious, and his soulful singing combined with his beautifully melancholy ever-growing synth and piano arrangements made for a poignant and mellow experience.

9 - Our Evil Inside Joke - Nelsonvillains

A local band from New Paltz, NY, Nelsonvillains had captivated me and my friend Mike with a 7 song demo that we had picked up for free the first time we saw them. Earlier this year, their Sounds Of Summer Single had a lot of the local underground talking, and when the album dropped, it didn’t disappoint. Nelsonvillains has a cathartic mix of vivid stream of consciousness lyrics and impassioned playing and singing.

8 - Aesthethica - Liturgy

Aesthethica was a dynamic and mathy black metal effort (two words you wouldn’t normally hear in the context of that genre) from Liturgy, who have extraordinary technical ability and communication, pulling off some lengthy indecipherable rhythmic patterns.

7 - Glass Swords - Rustie

Rustie’s debut album is jam packed with heavy hitting rhythms, retro synths, and 16-bit video game sounds. It takes you on a fantasy adventure that sounds pretty much how the art, title, and track names suggest it would.

6 - Giles Corey - Giles Corey

Dan Barret’s Giles Corey project combines down-tempo depressing indie-folk and ambient and field recording elements into one of the most atmospheric experiences of the year. Coupled with the 150 page book that the CD comes with, it’s a truly immersive album.

5 - Gloss Drop - Battles

Battles’ second album flourished even in the absence of their freshly departed front man, delivering stiff pulsing grooves by their hyper-creative drummer John Stanier, and featuring some notable vocal guests.

4 - Black Up - Shabazz Palaces


Shabazz Palaces’ Black Up was a trippy progressive hip-hop album with thoughtful lyrics and woozy beats. This, along with the next album on the list represents an interesting direction for underground hip-hop.

3 - Exmilitary - Death Grips

Exmilitary is one of the absolute most exciting albums of this year, truly sounding like nothing else. MC Ride’s vicious vocal delivery, and the barrage of glitchy thick beats on this album will not soon be forgotten.

2 - R O M A N C E - Tubelord

Tubelord’s sophomore album is the logical progression their music was destined to make, with catchy spastic math pop riffs, memorable hooks, and progressive structures, and their new electronic elements. It also features some conceptual lyricism in the form of extensive reference to female poets.

1 - The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Thundercat

FlyLo associate Thundercat’s debut album is a luscious, dreamy, and funky trip through abstract hip-hop and jazz-fusion. Stephen Bruners bass playing is absolutely virtuosic and his composition is to die for.

Happy new year everyone.

*3

Top 25 songs of 2011 in no particular order.

  1. Pitfall - Algernon Cadwallader
  2. Do Not Go Gently - Animals As Leaders
  3. Neptune With Rings - Arcanine
  4. Fall In Love - BADBADNOTGOOD
  5. Ice Cream - Battles
  6. Culture Shock - Death Grips
  7. Blackest Bile - Giles Corey
  8. Totally Boneless!!! - Giraffes? Giraffes!
  9. Headless - Hella
  10. Returner - Liturgy
  11. Like You Mean It - Matthewdavid
  12. Fire Burn - Melissa & Paul
  13. Rano Pano - Mogwai
  14. Mr. Doubt(w)riter - Milo
  15. Don Lusk Song - Nelsonvillains
  16. Wires - Red Fang
  17. Ultra Thizz - Rustie
  18. Swerve… The Reeping of All That is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding) - Shabazz palaces
  19. Fleer Ultra - Thundercat
  20. Charms - Tubelord
  21. Yonkers - Tyler, The Creator
  22. Crushin’ It! - Zechs Marquise
  23. Sacre Cool - Young Montana?
  24. Ethiopia - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  25. Purple and Stripes - Tera Melos

*6

Top 5 EP’s of 2011 in no particular order.

Heather Grey - Shmeetthhher Shmaayyy

Tangled Hair - Apples EP

Our Daily Fix - The Devil Is A Gypsy

(whoops no art that I have have any way of putting up lol)

Zona Mexicana - Zona Mexicana

Fugue - Years

*1

Every 2011 release I’ve listened to.

Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles
Algernon Cadwallader - Parrot Flies
Ampere - Like Shadows
Animals As Leaders - Weightless
Arcanine - Neptune with Rings
At Horizons End - The Practice Demo
BADBADNOTGOOD - BADBADNOTGOOD
BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG
A Bag Of Cats - Michael Cornell’s Album
Battles - Gloss Drop
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
Black Eagle Child - Lobelia
Black Swan - The Quiet Divide
Bruno Pronsato - Lovers Do
chvpa - DE2MO
Competor - Tape Recorder
cooltombs - Da Bowties Pasta
DARAYL - DARAYL
Death Grips - Exmilitary
Dead Empires - Monuments
DECK YOUR TWIN - It’s Okay / Don’t Know
Den - Bronze Fog
Dumb Talk - Love Sea
The Earth Is a Man - The Earth is a Man
Fugue - Years
Geotherm - Distances
Giles Corey - Giles Corey
Giraffes? Giraffes! - Pink Magick
Glass Owl - Celestial Currents
Heather Grey - Shmeetthhher Shmaayyy
Heavy - Ten Thousand Years
Hella -Tripper
H3❖ K▼L† - 1
iLLmont - Bruh the LP
Jamboy - /////
James Blake - James Blake
Jardín de la Croix - Ocean Cosmonauts
Joan of Arc - Life Like
J.SW4G - GREENE SWAG
Lake R▲dio-Delta
Lil B - I’m Gay (I’m Happy)
Liturgy - Aesthethica
Liturgy - Daytrotter Studio 12/2/2011
MatthewDavid - Outmind
Max’s Birthday-servility CaseS
Melissa & Paul - Distractions​​/​​Goin’ Home Double 7”
metsu - as the earth drinks
Milo - I wish my brother Rob was here
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Nelsonvillains - Our Evil Inside Joke
Nelsonvillains -Sounds Of Summer (Single)
Niggas With Guitars-Ethnic Frenzy
Our Daily Fix - The Devil Is A Gypsy
Primus - Green Naugahyde
Red Fang - Murder the Mountains
Red Hot Chili Peppers - I’m With You
Regal Safari - R G L S F R
Rustie - Glass Swords
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up
Shlohmo - Bad Vibes
Shlohmo - fine, thanks
Snowing - i could do whatever i wanted if i wanted
The Speed Of Sound In Seawater - Underwater Tell Each Other Secrets
Stephen O’Malley & Atsuo - Uroborus Circuit
Tangled Hair - Apples - EP
Tera Melos - Daytrotter Studio 7/15/2011
Tera Melos - Echo On The Hills Of Knebworth
Tera Melos - Zoo Weather
This Town Needs Guns - Adventure, Stamina & Anger
Thoughts On Air - Lazy Haze
Thoughts On Air & Afterlife - Strophariad/High Bloom
Thoughts On Air & Trailing-Thoughts On Air/Trailing
Thoughts On Air - Vent
Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse
Tubelord - r o m a n c e
Tyler, The Creator - Goblin
Van Whalin’ (+21db) - Pork-Fried Sailors.
Volia - A History of Abuse
Volia - black sand islands and the state to make decisions
Volia - internet / drugs
Volia - negative
Volia - Palus Putredinis Party
Volia - placement vol. 1
Wind-Up Bird - Wind-Up Bird
Wormrot - Dirge
Young Montana? - Limerence
Zechs Marquise - Getting Paid
Zona Mexicana - Zona Mexicana
Zs - New Slaves II: Essence Implosion!
Zs - 33

*17
Rustie - Glass Swords
Electronic, 2-Step, Funk
In recent years, electronic music has been emerging in more and more ambiguous forms, partly spurred on by Dubstep’s acceptance into the mainstream. The effect of this seems to be that a vast amount of electronic music - even with only very loose ties to Dubstep - is getting labelled (often primarily) as it, so even though Rustie leans closer to the Dubstep side of things, to simply call him that would be misleading and not fully representative of his sound.
Rustie, a Glaswegian electronic music producer, is fairly new on the scene of the infamous party city, but is already receiving a lot of hype. With this debut album on Warp Records, he brings to the table a mixture of some somewhat disparate styles, taking the synthesized slap bass and other similar sounds reminiscent of funk and disco, the buzzing 16-bit synths of old Super Nintendo games and chiptune music, and the half-time kick patterns and quick hi-hats of 2-Step. On a couple occasions he dips into other styles, like the ghetto-bass gangsta rap melody of City Star, and on a few tracks, most prominently the title track, he explores the searing guitar leads of 80’s hard rock. Rustie’s sound is at times complex and layered, with subtle changes and additions being made to hooks with each repetition, but he also knows when to strip an idea down to its basic components to provide contrast. This, coupled with the hard hitting nature of his hooks in songs such as Ultra Thizz and After Light, ends up being a recipe for effectively energetic pump-up songs. In between hooks, we are treated to glistening layers of build up, and sometimes ambiance. In fact, tracks like Glass Swords and Ice Tunnels, which serve as an introduction and interlude respectively, are good examples of his softer, sparkly sections. The album is, sonically, like being hit over the head with a bat - a glowing bat made of diamond that causes you to hallucinate.
Rustie relies on a similar structure for most of his songs, with sections building in intensity until the reach a breaking point, and unleash a torrent of sound. While effective, this can give his songs all a similar feeling, and one could wonder if he in fact uses the same formula for many of his tracks. Another minor issue is that the last two songs, while not bad, lack the intensity of some others, and the album would have felt less anticlimactic were he to end it on a song like Ultra Thizz. Though not perfect, the album has it’s fair share of high points and memorable hooks.
Glass Swords gets 8 crystals out of 10.

Rustie - Glass Swords

Electronic, 2-Step, Funk

In recent years, electronic music has been emerging in more and more ambiguous forms, partly spurred on by Dubstep’s acceptance into the mainstream. The effect of this seems to be that a vast amount of electronic music - even with only very loose ties to Dubstep - is getting labelled (often primarily) as it, so even though Rustie leans closer to the Dubstep side of things, to simply call him that would be misleading and not fully representative of his sound.

Rustie, a Glaswegian electronic music producer, is fairly new on the scene of the infamous party city, but is already receiving a lot of hype. With this debut album on Warp Records, he brings to the table a mixture of some somewhat disparate styles, taking the synthesized slap bass and other similar sounds reminiscent of funk and disco, the buzzing 16-bit synths of old Super Nintendo games and chiptune music, and the half-time kick patterns and quick hi-hats of 2-Step. On a couple occasions he dips into other styles, like the ghetto-bass gangsta rap melody of City Star, and on a few tracks, most prominently the title track, he explores the searing guitar leads of 80’s hard rock. Rustie’s sound is at times complex and layered, with subtle changes and additions being made to hooks with each repetition, but he also knows when to strip an idea down to its basic components to provide contrast. This, coupled with the hard hitting nature of his hooks in songs such as Ultra Thizz and After Light, ends up being a recipe for effectively energetic pump-up songs. In between hooks, we are treated to glistening layers of build up, and sometimes ambiance. In fact, tracks like Glass Swords and Ice Tunnels, which serve as an introduction and interlude respectively, are good examples of his softer, sparkly sections. The album is, sonically, like being hit over the head with a bat - a glowing bat made of diamond that causes you to hallucinate.

Rustie relies on a similar structure for most of his songs, with sections building in intensity until the reach a breaking point, and unleash a torrent of sound. While effective, this can give his songs all a similar feeling, and one could wonder if he in fact uses the same formula for many of his tracks. Another minor issue is that the last two songs, while not bad, lack the intensity of some others, and the album would have felt less anticlimactic were he to end it on a song like Ultra Thizz. Though not perfect, the album has it’s fair share of high points and memorable hooks.

Glass Swords gets 8 crystals out of 10.

*5
Algernon Cadwallader - Parrot Flies
Emo, Indie
It’s taken me far too long to get to it, but I’m finally going to review this. Algernon Cadwalladers last album, Some Kind Of Cadwallader was a fun, highly melodic, and all around exciting debut, that showed promise for the Philadelphia four piece. It quickly became one of my favorite albums, and I ended up purchasing it on vinyl. Parrot Flies was an album I was looking forward to a lot, and when it was released and I listened for the first time, my feelings were very mixed. Right from the start, it’s obvious that the band has changed a few things. The production is much cleaner, and the guitar tones are on a whole more overdriven and dense, and the playing incorporates much more strumming than their previous album. The intentionally sloppy half-singing-half-screaming of their earlier music has moved more towards the screaming side of things, and this leads to an overall heavier arrangement. This isn’t to say there aren’t any interesting melodies on the album, but often they can be obscured by a thick wall of sound. Once you do manage to pick out the melodies though, this album can be rewarding. Much of their happy get-up-and-dance rhythms have been replaced with higher energy, harder hitting beats, bringing them closer sonically to their punk roots, which again ties into their new, harsher sound. On many tracks, their songwriting is just as exceptional as it was on their first album, but a couple of the tracks drag on a bit unnecessarily. They’ve incorporated some ambient elements akin to their track Black Clouds on their EP Fun, on the track Sad which is one of my favorites on Parrot Flies. Though a few of the songs on here end up being forgettable, the album overall was overall enjoyable, if somewhat less so than their previous efforts.
Parrot Flies gets 7 pieces of construction paper out of 10.

Algernon Cadwallader - Parrot Flies

Emo, Indie

It’s taken me far too long to get to it, but I’m finally going to review this. Algernon Cadwalladers last album, Some Kind Of Cadwallader was a fun, highly melodic, and all around exciting debut, that showed promise for the Philadelphia four piece. It quickly became one of my favorite albums, and I ended up purchasing it on vinyl. Parrot Flies was an album I was looking forward to a lot, and when it was released and I listened for the first time, my feelings were very mixed. Right from the start, it’s obvious that the band has changed a few things. The production is much cleaner, and the guitar tones are on a whole more overdriven and dense, and the playing incorporates much more strumming than their previous album. The intentionally sloppy half-singing-half-screaming of their earlier music has moved more towards the screaming side of things, and this leads to an overall heavier arrangement. This isn’t to say there aren’t any interesting melodies on the album, but often they can be obscured by a thick wall of sound. Once you do manage to pick out the melodies though, this album can be rewarding. Much of their happy get-up-and-dance rhythms have been replaced with higher energy, harder hitting beats, bringing them closer sonically to their punk roots, which again ties into their new, harsher sound. On many tracks, their songwriting is just as exceptional as it was on their first album, but a couple of the tracks drag on a bit unnecessarily. They’ve incorporated some ambient elements akin to their track Black Clouds on their EP Fun, on the track Sad which is one of my favorites on Parrot Flies. Though a few of the songs on here end up being forgettable, the album overall was overall enjoyable, if somewhat less so than their previous efforts.

Parrot Flies gets 7 pieces of construction paper out of 10.

*7
Giraffes? Giraffes! - Pink Magick
Math Rock, Noise Rock
Before this album was released, Giraffes? Giraffes! seemed to me like an uninspired overproduced math rock band that, while occasionally having some interesting unique sections, was largely derivative. For some reason however, I decided to check out Pink Magick, and to sum it up, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. This album sees the band experimenting with more ambient elements, such as the wailing guitar feedback of the intro intro track and the dark, eerie Werewolf Grandma With Knives (Part One: The Changeling), a song that brings to mind a scene of a dark foggy forest out of a movie. The diversity on this album is very nice, with everything between ambient songs and blistering, energetic tracks like Totally Boneless!!! and Curse Of The Tooth Nightmare, my two favorite tracks on the album. Both of these tracks have some sinister riffs that you won’t soon forget, and intuitive, interesting drum patterns. Giraffes? Giraffes! can also make a fairly deep and full sound for only being a two piece band, and the layers of looped guitar parts often interact in interesting ways. On this album their sound has become somewhat harsher, with more noise elements and dissonant riffs, which works in their favor, as many of their older recordings sounded too squeaky clean. At just 35 minutes and with a decent variety of sounds, this album feels like a perfect length, though I couldn’t say the same for some of the songs, such as Scorpion Bowls At The Hong Kong and DRGNFKR. The former drags on somewhat and doesn’t have the strongest melodies, and the latter doesn’t do much to justify its seven and a half minute length. Some of the songs on the album suffer from the same problem as their older material, being easily forgettable. Overall though, the album was a refreshing change for the band that I was glad to hear.
Pink Magick gets 7 finger-tapped riffs out of 10.

Giraffes? Giraffes! - Pink Magick

Math Rock, Noise Rock

Before this album was released, Giraffes? Giraffes! seemed to me like an uninspired overproduced math rock band that, while occasionally having some interesting unique sections, was largely derivative. For some reason however, I decided to check out Pink Magick, and to sum it up, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. This album sees the band experimenting with more ambient elements, such as the wailing guitar feedback of the intro intro track and the dark, eerie Werewolf Grandma With Knives (Part One: The Changeling), a song that brings to mind a scene of a dark foggy forest out of a movie. The diversity on this album is very nice, with everything between ambient songs and blistering, energetic tracks like Totally Boneless!!! and Curse Of The Tooth Nightmare, my two favorite tracks on the album. Both of these tracks have some sinister riffs that you won’t soon forget, and intuitive, interesting drum patterns. Giraffes? Giraffes! can also make a fairly deep and full sound for only being a two piece band, and the layers of looped guitar parts often interact in interesting ways. On this album their sound has become somewhat harsher, with more noise elements and dissonant riffs, which works in their favor, as many of their older recordings sounded too squeaky clean. At just 35 minutes and with a decent variety of sounds, this album feels like a perfect length, though I couldn’t say the same for some of the songs, such as Scorpion Bowls At The Hong Kong and DRGNFKR. The former drags on somewhat and doesn’t have the strongest melodies, and the latter doesn’t do much to justify its seven and a half minute length. Some of the songs on the album suffer from the same problem as their older material, being easily forgettable. Overall though, the album was a refreshing change for the band that I was glad to hear.

Pink Magick gets 7 finger-tapped riffs out of 10.

*9
Tubelord - R O M A N C E
Math Rock, Synth Pop, Indie
Some two years ago when I discovered Tubelord, I was astonished by everything they were doing. A simple three piece band hailing from Kingston upon Thames, England with a sound that could be likened to The Fall of Troy minus the screamed vocals, they were making a bigger sound than many larger acts. Their first full length, Our First American Friends was packed with energy, great melodic sensibilities, and gleefully spastic song structure. Tubelord managed to be a massive oxymoron, a pop band with many of the conventions of progressive rock, and vice versa. When 2010’s Tezcatlipōca EP came around, it had a lot of fans divided. They had added a 4th member, a synth player, and it seemed like the band was going in a very different direction. Soon though, a lot of the fans (me included) warmed up to this new sound. That EP was a good way to get people primed for what their next album was going to sound like. In a move that could be considered unwise, the first two songs they released from R O M A N C E, 4T3 and My First Castle were inaccurate depictions of the album as a whole - the former, a song that could qualify as chiptune, almost devoid of real instrumentation, and with a fairly simple structure, and the latter, a very straightforward synthpop song, albeit with frontman Jo Prendergast’s distinct vocal delivery.
R O M A N C E as a whole has a sound closer to their first album than one would expect, with heavy dissonant parts like the intro/outro of Go Old and the breakdown in Here Is Nothing. Jo’s emotive falsetto is still a centerpiece of the music, delivering soaring cathartic melodies and infectious pop hooks like the ending of the aforementioned Here Is Nothing. Tubelord has retained their complexity, not only in their technical proficiency as seen in Jo’s sliding guitar riffs in Never Washboard, but also in compositional elements such as the quirky vocal harmony intro of Charms, usage of odd meter, and the general progressive elements of almost all of the songs. The band experiments with a lot of new elements on this album, most prominently the synthesizers, which end up providing many of the most memorable and satisfying melodies that you’ll find here. They also incorporate piano for the first time in a couple songs, and even experiment with some Latin rhythms and bongos/congas on In Greenland. With the addition of synths also came the ambient elements of parts like the end of Waterworld and the noisy screeches of Ignatz. Lyrically, Jo has been quoted saying that every line of every song is referential to the works of various female poets. His goal with writing this album was to “put himself in the place of the reader, not the writer” so this is somewhat of a concept album. Their songwriting has matured, which is saying a lot considering how finely crafted every track on Our First American Friends was. They consistently deliver variety and distinctly memorable music packed with energy, and I see myself coming back to this album a lot in the future.
R O M A N C E gets 9 hexagons out of 10.

Tubelord - R O M A N C E

Math Rock, Synth Pop, Indie

Some two years ago when I discovered Tubelord, I was astonished by everything they were doing. A simple three piece band hailing from Kingston upon Thames, England with a sound that could be likened to The Fall of Troy minus the screamed vocals, they were making a bigger sound than many larger acts. Their first full length, Our First American Friends was packed with energy, great melodic sensibilities, and gleefully spastic song structure. Tubelord managed to be a massive oxymoron, a pop band with many of the conventions of progressive rock, and vice versa. When 2010’s Tezcatlipōca EP came around, it had a lot of fans divided. They had added a 4th member, a synth player, and it seemed like the band was going in a very different direction. Soon though, a lot of the fans (me included) warmed up to this new sound. That EP was a good way to get people primed for what their next album was going to sound like. In a move that could be considered unwise, the first two songs they released from R O M A N C E, 4T3 and My First Castle were inaccurate depictions of the album as a whole - the former, a song that could qualify as chiptune, almost devoid of real instrumentation, and with a fairly simple structure, and the latter, a very straightforward synthpop song, albeit with frontman Jo Prendergast’s distinct vocal delivery.

R O M A N C E as a whole has a sound closer to their first album than one would expect, with heavy dissonant parts like the intro/outro of Go Old and the breakdown in Here Is Nothing. Jo’s emotive falsetto is still a centerpiece of the music, delivering soaring cathartic melodies and infectious pop hooks like the ending of the aforementioned Here Is Nothing. Tubelord has retained their complexity, not only in their technical proficiency as seen in Jo’s sliding guitar riffs in Never Washboard, but also in compositional elements such as the quirky vocal harmony intro of Charms, usage of odd meter, and the general progressive elements of almost all of the songs. The band experiments with a lot of new elements on this album, most prominently the synthesizers, which end up providing many of the most memorable and satisfying melodies that you’ll find here. They also incorporate piano for the first time in a couple songs, and even experiment with some Latin rhythms and bongos/congas on In Greenland. With the addition of synths also came the ambient elements of parts like the end of Waterworld and the noisy screeches of Ignatz. Lyrically, Jo has been quoted saying that every line of every song is referential to the works of various female poets. His goal with writing this album was to “put himself in the place of the reader, not the writer” so this is somewhat of a concept album. Their songwriting has matured, which is saying a lot considering how finely crafted every track on Our First American Friends was. They consistently deliver variety and distinctly memorable music packed with energy, and I see myself coming back to this album a lot in the future.

R O M A N C E gets 9 hexagons out of 10.

*8
Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse
Jazz Fusion, Electronic, Abstract Hip-Hop
Last year one of the albums I listened to the most was Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma. Some of my favorite parts of that album were the virtuosic bass parts contributed by Thundercat, most prominently Pickled! So when I found out he had released his own album, I was beyond excited. One could say Flying Lotus repaid Thundercat by producing this, and to some extent Golden Age could be considered a sister album to Cosmogramma. As far as Brainfeeder releases go, this is a very out of the ordinary record, more readily and fully embracing the jazz elements that his peers sometimes dabble in. Golden Age sounds a little bit like if FlyLo produced a Herbie Hancock album on which Jaco Pastorius played bass, and (after the Thundercats sampling jazz affected intro, HooooooO) the first track proper, Daylight is possibly an allusion to the Herbie record and song Sunlight, which came to mind immediately upon listening. This record has plenty of moments of pop and jazz. Songs such as Walkin’ have infectious vocal melodies and head nodding grooves and Thundercats vocals are clear and smooth on the ears. Is It Love? moves along through jazzy chords that convey a sense of mystique, while the lyrics touch upon his unsureness of a relationship with someone who seems very attached to him. Further cementing the relationship with Cosmogramma is the outro, a reinterpretation of the track MmmHmm, which leads into the slowed down George Duke cover, For Love (I Come Your Friend). This track is a slow floating piece with little harp and synth embellishments here and there, and luscious ambient backing, an element common throughout the rest of the album as well. The song eventually morphs into an uptempo drum groove, and a bass solo which showcases his melodic ingenuity and improvisation skills. Mystery Machine (The Golden Age of Apocalypse) is not only another reference to his childhood love of cartoons, but a very apt title as the Jaco-esque harmonic playing and creepy melody sound like a song straight from a Scooby Doo soundtrack. A couple of the songs on here can be a little repetitive and forgettable, but thanks to their short length, this is hardly a problem. FlyLo did an amazing job producing this, and the whole thing just sounds smooth, funky, and lush, and it’s a spectacular first showing of an artist who I hope to hear more of in the coming years.
The Golden Age of Apocalypse gets 9 afros out of 10.

Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse

Jazz Fusion, Electronic, Abstract Hip-Hop

Last year one of the albums I listened to the most was Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma. Some of my favorite parts of that album were the virtuosic bass parts contributed by Thundercat, most prominently Pickled! So when I found out he had released his own album, I was beyond excited. One could say Flying Lotus repaid Thundercat by producing this, and to some extent Golden Age could be considered a sister album to Cosmogramma. As far as Brainfeeder releases go, this is a very out of the ordinary record, more readily and fully embracing the jazz elements that his peers sometimes dabble in. Golden Age sounds a little bit like if FlyLo produced a Herbie Hancock album on which Jaco Pastorius played bass, and (after the Thundercats sampling jazz affected intro, HooooooO) the first track proper, Daylight is possibly an allusion to the Herbie record and song Sunlight, which came to mind immediately upon listening. This record has plenty of moments of pop and jazz. Songs such as Walkin’ have infectious vocal melodies and head nodding grooves and Thundercats vocals are clear and smooth on the ears. Is It Love? moves along through jazzy chords that convey a sense of mystique, while the lyrics touch upon his unsureness of a relationship with someone who seems very attached to him. Further cementing the relationship with Cosmogramma is the outro, a reinterpretation of the track MmmHmm, which leads into the slowed down George Duke cover, For Love (I Come Your Friend). This track is a slow floating piece with little harp and synth embellishments here and there, and luscious ambient backing, an element common throughout the rest of the album as well. The song eventually morphs into an uptempo drum groove, and a bass solo which showcases his melodic ingenuity and improvisation skills. Mystery Machine (The Golden Age of Apocalypse) is not only another reference to his childhood love of cartoons, but a very apt title as the Jaco-esque harmonic playing and creepy melody sound like a song straight from a Scooby Doo soundtrack. A couple of the songs on here can be a little repetitive and forgettable, but thanks to their short length, this is hardly a problem. FlyLo did an amazing job producing this, and the whole thing just sounds smooth, funky, and lush, and it’s a spectacular first showing of an artist who I hope to hear more of in the coming years.

The Golden Age of Apocalypse gets 9 afros out of 10.

*13
Hella - Tripper
Math Rock, Noise Rock
There’s really no introduction needed for this band. If you read this blog, you’re probably already familiar with Hella, and you know how psyched I was for this album, and now, how psyched I am on this album. This albums sees the band back to its original lineup of Spencer Seim, and the ever prolific Zach Hill. Tripper sounds like return to form and natural progression from their debut album Hold Your Horse Is, as if the albums they released in between the two had never happened. The main sonic difference here is the guitar tone, most often affected with a gainy distorted guitar tone. Technique wise, Spencer now incorporates a rapid tremolo strumming style, almost reminiscent of black metal. There are also subtle hints of other genres on this album, such as the blast beat sections in opening track Headless, evocative of grindcore, though recontextualized in a less brutal manner. And then there’s the bluegrass-esque sliding riffs of Furthest, which walk the line between being out of place and being a interesting take on a different style. Hella’s songwriting style is largely unchanged, and the riffs are complex and spastic as always, if maybe more steady at times. They’ve scaled back much of the electronic elements from other albums, which only make sparse appearances on this one, leaving them more to their own devices, which seems to be a positive thing. Zach’s drumming is frantic and creative as always, and the rhythmic interaction between him and Spencer gives a lot for the listener to think about. Although the biggest problem I could see Hella having would be songs lasting longer than they need to, they seem to avoid this for the most part, as Headless and Netgear, two of the longest songs on the album, are two of the best. Predictably however, the shortest track on Tripper, On The Record is also one of the most consistently attention grabbing, so Hella could definitely benefit from curtailing some of their songs. Overall, Tripper is a consistent effort with plenty of memorable moments and some interesting new stylistic elements.
Tripper gets 8 drum fills out of 10.

Hella - Tripper

Math Rock, Noise Rock

There’s really no introduction needed for this band. If you read this blog, you’re probably already familiar with Hella, and you know how psyched I was for this album, and now, how psyched I am on this album. This albums sees the band back to its original lineup of Spencer Seim, and the ever prolific Zach Hill. Tripper sounds like return to form and natural progression from their debut album Hold Your Horse Is, as if the albums they released in between the two had never happened. The main sonic difference here is the guitar tone, most often affected with a gainy distorted guitar tone. Technique wise, Spencer now incorporates a rapid tremolo strumming style, almost reminiscent of black metal. There are also subtle hints of other genres on this album, such as the blast beat sections in opening track Headless, evocative of grindcore, though recontextualized in a less brutal manner. And then there’s the bluegrass-esque sliding riffs of Furthest, which walk the line between being out of place and being a interesting take on a different style. Hella’s songwriting style is largely unchanged, and the riffs are complex and spastic as always, if maybe more steady at times. They’ve scaled back much of the electronic elements from other albums, which only make sparse appearances on this one, leaving them more to their own devices, which seems to be a positive thing. Zach’s drumming is frantic and creative as always, and the rhythmic interaction between him and Spencer gives a lot for the listener to think about. Although the biggest problem I could see Hella having would be songs lasting longer than they need to, they seem to avoid this for the most part, as Headless and Netgear, two of the longest songs on the album, are two of the best. Predictably however, the shortest track on Tripper, On The Record is also one of the most consistently attention grabbing, so Hella could definitely benefit from curtailing some of their songs. Overall, Tripper is a consistent effort with plenty of memorable moments and some interesting new stylistic elements.

Tripper gets 8 drum fills out of 10.

*2
Red Hot Chili Peppers - I’m With You
Funk Rock
I’ve been a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers since a couple years after they released their previous album, Stadium Arcadium. I was just learning guitar around that time, and through my beginner stages of the instrument, the band had a huge influence on me, and greatly shaped a lot of my playing. Essentially, the band has been with me throughout my whole time as not only a musician, but as a music enthusiast. They’ve been a part of my life from the time when I had five artists on my iPod (actually, I was listening to them on my PSP before I even owned an iPod) up to the current 273. As such, I’ve been anticipating this album, since it’s a culmination of a lot of things for me.
Now let’s get to the music itself. Continuing in the same fashion as they have been with their most recent previous efforts, the Chili Peppers have a fairly poppy sound, and I’d describe this album as a cross between Stadium Arcadium and Californication. The band plays with a lot of different styles on this album, such as the dance beat in one of the more standout tracks on the album, Factory of Faith. That track also has one of the most instantly infectious basslines on the album, and of course Flea’s bass playing is a big focus throughout the whole album, where he manages to keep up the same melodic ingenuity and steady grooves that he’s known for. In the down time between their last album and this, Flea took some music theory courses, and it shows, as he now contributes some keyboard and piano parts to the album. One of the strongest things the band has going for them is, and always was really, Anthony Kiedis’ vocals, which have a very unique style and flair. Some of his lyrics on this album can come off a little corny though, like on the closing track Dance, Dance, Dance. A hard thing to avoid talking about on this is their new guitarist Josh, and what changes he’s brought to the band. Compared to John’s and even in its own right, Josh’s guitar playing is very minimal. He prefers to provide extra texture and embellishment to songs than to stand out with strong deliberate riffs like John did. He does have a few moments where his skill shines through though, like the noisy outro solo in Goodbye Hooray. The band has certainly grown musically, even using odd meter on one of my favorite songs on the album, Ethiopia, which has a 7/4 rhythm in the verse sections. They even have a polyrhythmic guitar solo on the track, in which Josh plays 3/8 over the 7/4 backing groove. However, I’m With You has its downsides too. A lot of the songs just feel weak and generic, especially compared to the Chili Peppers older material, and for every killer track, there’s a filler track. It’s a decent album that I definitely see myself coming back to, but nothing to rival albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication.
I’m With You gets 6 jalapenos out of 10.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I’m With You

Funk Rock

I’ve been a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers since a couple years after they released their previous album, Stadium Arcadium. I was just learning guitar around that time, and through my beginner stages of the instrument, the band had a huge influence on me, and greatly shaped a lot of my playing. Essentially, the band has been with me throughout my whole time as not only a musician, but as a music enthusiast. They’ve been a part of my life from the time when I had five artists on my iPod (actually, I was listening to them on my PSP before I even owned an iPod) up to the current 273. As such, I’ve been anticipating this album, since it’s a culmination of a lot of things for me.


Now let’s get to the music itself. Continuing in the same fashion as they have been with their most recent previous efforts, the Chili Peppers have a fairly poppy sound, and I’d describe this album as a cross between Stadium Arcadium and Californication. The band plays with a lot of different styles on this album, such as the dance beat in one of the more standout tracks on the album, Factory of Faith. That track also has one of the most instantly infectious basslines on the album, and of course Flea’s bass playing is a big focus throughout the whole album, where he manages to keep up the same melodic ingenuity and steady grooves that he’s known for. In the down time between their last album and this, Flea took some music theory courses, and it shows, as he now contributes some keyboard and piano parts to the album. One of the strongest things the band has going for them is, and always was really, Anthony Kiedis’ vocals, which have a very unique style and flair. Some of his lyrics on this album can come off a little corny though, like on the closing track Dance, Dance, Dance. A hard thing to avoid talking about on this is their new guitarist Josh, and what changes he’s brought to the band. Compared to John’s and even in its own right, Josh’s guitar playing is very minimal. He prefers to provide extra texture and embellishment to songs than to stand out with strong deliberate riffs like John did. He does have a few moments where his skill shines through though, like the noisy outro solo in Goodbye Hooray. The band has certainly grown musically, even using odd meter on one of my favorite songs on the album, Ethiopia, which has a 7/4 rhythm in the verse sections. They even have a polyrhythmic guitar solo on the track, in which Josh plays 3/8 over the 7/4 backing groove. However, I’m With You has its downsides too. A lot of the songs just feel weak and generic, especially compared to the Chili Peppers older material, and for every killer track, there’s a filler track. It’s a decent album that I definitely see myself coming back to, but nothing to rival albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication.

I’m With You gets 6 jalapenos out of 10.

Comedy Man - Comedy Man
Instrumental Rock…?
I was sent this album a while ago, and asked to review it. After listening to the first two tracks and being thoroughly unimpressed, I put it down until a little while ago. This album struck me as so bad, that I had half a mind to look for some context, as maybe there was something I was missing, but immediately stopped myself, because no amount of context could justify the lack of quality here. The production sounds like it was recorded to garage band on the built in mic on someones macbook pro all in one take. The drums overpower the guitar throughout the whole thing. As far as the music itself goes, I would not be surprised if this was just two guys getting stoned and jamming, but the difference between this and a group like Van Whalin’ (+21db) (who do actually get stoned and jam) is that this actually sounds like a couple guys who toked up and decided on a whim to record an album. The songs have little to no direction, and the musicianship itself is very weak. There just really isn’t anything redeeming to this.
Comedy Man gets 1 “seriously what did I just listen to” out of 10.

Comedy Man - Comedy Man

Instrumental Rock…?

I was sent this album a while ago, and asked to review it. After listening to the first two tracks and being thoroughly unimpressed, I put it down until a little while ago. This album struck me as so bad, that I had half a mind to look for some context, as maybe there was something I was missing, but immediately stopped myself, because no amount of context could justify the lack of quality here. The production sounds like it was recorded to garage band on the built in mic on someones macbook pro all in one take. The drums overpower the guitar throughout the whole thing. As far as the music itself goes, I would not be surprised if this was just two guys getting stoned and jamming, but the difference between this and a group like Van Whalin’ (+21db) (who do actually get stoned and jam) is that this actually sounds like a couple guys who toked up and decided on a whim to record an album. The songs have little to no direction, and the musicianship itself is very weak. There just really isn’t anything redeeming to this.

Comedy Man gets 1 “seriously what did I just listen to” out of 10.

*2
Fugue - Years
Post Rock, Math Rock, Progressive
Earlier this year I reviewed Fugue’s previous EP Siblings, which was stellar, so I was really anticipating this release. This EP is their longest release to date, also containing their longest track, Black Tortoise of the North, which clocks in at 9:20. The biggest difference on Years is the aforementioned track lengths, due in large part to the more progressive nature of these songs. Fugue is still just as good at tension and release as they were on Siblings, if not somewhat better. They also demonstrate a sense of subtlety, with more ambient passages, and parts like the barely-there-unless-you’re-actively-listening vocal melody half way through Vermilion Bird of the South. If I had to describe Fugue in one word, it would be “dynamic.” They are adept at both subtlety and hard-hitting grandiose movements, like the first three chords in White Tiger of the West, which just sound like they’re being strummed with the guitarists entire arm. There’s a stripped down bass part at about 3:50 in that same song, with a gritty bass tone that I’m a huge sucker for, and after the band builds on that part, and vamps for a little while, it turns into a fleeting high-intensity breakdown. The subtle ambiance at the end of that song smoothly flows into the ever so slightly bluesy intro of the last track and the bands most monolithic song, with a fittingly adamant sounding title, Black Tortoise of the North. Years shows Fugue adding more depth and ambient experimentation to their sound, while still retaining all the energy and passion that originally caught my ear, although maybe slightly less melodically distinct.
Years gets 7 compass directions out of 10.

Fugue - Years

Post Rock, Math Rock, Progressive

Earlier this year I reviewed Fugue’s previous EP Siblings, which was stellar, so I was really anticipating this release. This EP is their longest release to date, also containing their longest track, Black Tortoise of the North, which clocks in at 9:20. The biggest difference on Years is the aforementioned track lengths, due in large part to the more progressive nature of these songs. Fugue is still just as good at tension and release as they were on Siblings, if not somewhat better. They also demonstrate a sense of subtlety, with more ambient passages, and parts like the barely-there-unless-you’re-actively-listening vocal melody half way through Vermilion Bird of the South. If I had to describe Fugue in one word, it would be “dynamic.” They are adept at both subtlety and hard-hitting grandiose movements, like the first three chords in White Tiger of the West, which just sound like they’re being strummed with the guitarists entire arm. There’s a stripped down bass part at about 3:50 in that same song, with a gritty bass tone that I’m a huge sucker for, and after the band builds on that part, and vamps for a little while, it turns into a fleeting high-intensity breakdown. The subtle ambiance at the end of that song smoothly flows into the ever so slightly bluesy intro of the last track and the bands most monolithic song, with a fittingly adamant sounding title, Black Tortoise of the North. Years shows Fugue adding more depth and ambient experimentation to their sound, while still retaining all the energy and passion that originally caught my ear, although maybe slightly less melodically distinct.

Years gets 7 compass directions out of 10.

*1
James Blake - James Blake
Electronic, Soul, Minimal
I’ve had this album for a while since a friend sent it to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then a couple weeks later I was in an awful mood, and I went with my friend up to New Paltz, where he bought it for me on vinyl. The vinyl has two bonus tracks, which I won’t talk about, since they won’t apply to most of you. Anyway, I’m just now deciding to write about it, since I think it deserves a review. Blake is a producer, pianist, and singer (a very good singer at that), relying on his own voice in his music over samples. This is certainly a welcome change of pace from much of today’s electronic music, and I hope to see it become a trend in coming years. Evident throughout the album was the repetition of lyrics, but an important thing to consider here is that this not a “singing” act, this is an electronic act. Vocals are simply another instrument in the mix, and should not be faulted over repetition, especially because of the repetitive nature of minimal electronic music in general. His voice itself is very developed and soulful, I remember my mom remarking “is this guy black or white?” and then being surprised that he was in fact, white. The vocal melodies are all extremely infectious, which is clearly promoted by their repetition. Right off the bat, you can tell he take some influence from dubstep, as the sparse arrangement of the first track, Unluck, chugs along in syncopated triplet time, and then at almost one minute in, a wobbly metallic synth enters the mix. Another obvious example is in Limit To Your Love, a Feist cover. After the first section, there is a brief calm-before-the-storm before a massive deep bass rumble strikes with no warning at all. Later in the song, a very dubstep bass melody takes over. I recommend listening to this album with headphones or good speakers, as I wasn’t even aware of any of this bass until I listened to it in my friends car. Blake clearly knows his fair share of music theory, and this shines through in his inversion-laden chord progressions and complex vocal harmonies, especially those of I Never Learnt To Share and Measurements. The former presents a vocal melody, then places another on top of it, changing its apparent tonality as quickly as it was established in the first place, and the latter is essentially an exercise in layering vocal lines, that also shows off his impressive range, both high and low. James Blake is a great debut album, and I’m excited to see what the UK producer and musician will do next. Standout tracks include Unluck, I Never Learnt To Share, and Limit To Your Love.
James Blake gets 8 surprisingly soulful white kids out of 10.

James Blake - James Blake

Electronic, Soul, Minimal

I’ve had this album for a while since a friend sent it to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then a couple weeks later I was in an awful mood, and I went with my friend up to New Paltz, where he bought it for me on vinyl. The vinyl has two bonus tracks, which I won’t talk about, since they won’t apply to most of you. Anyway, I’m just now deciding to write about it, since I think it deserves a review. Blake is a producer, pianist, and singer (a very good singer at that), relying on his own voice in his music over samples. This is certainly a welcome change of pace from much of today’s electronic music, and I hope to see it become a trend in coming years. Evident throughout the album was the repetition of lyrics, but an important thing to consider here is that this not a “singing” act, this is an electronic act. Vocals are simply another instrument in the mix, and should not be faulted over repetition, especially because of the repetitive nature of minimal electronic music in general. His voice itself is very developed and soulful, I remember my mom remarking “is this guy black or white?” and then being surprised that he was in fact, white. The vocal melodies are all extremely infectious, which is clearly promoted by their repetition. Right off the bat, you can tell he take some influence from dubstep, as the sparse arrangement of the first track, Unluck, chugs along in syncopated triplet time, and then at almost one minute in, a wobbly metallic synth enters the mix. Another obvious example is in Limit To Your Love, a Feist cover. After the first section, there is a brief calm-before-the-storm before a massive deep bass rumble strikes with no warning at all. Later in the song, a very dubstep bass melody takes over. I recommend listening to this album with headphones or good speakers, as I wasn’t even aware of any of this bass until I listened to it in my friends car. Blake clearly knows his fair share of music theory, and this shines through in his inversion-laden chord progressions and complex vocal harmonies, especially those of I Never Learnt To Share and Measurements. The former presents a vocal melody, then places another on top of it, changing its apparent tonality as quickly as it was established in the first place, and the latter is essentially an exercise in layering vocal lines, that also shows off his impressive range, both high and low. James Blake is a great debut album, and I’m excited to see what the UK producer and musician will do next. Standout tracks include Unluck, I Never Learnt To Share, and Limit To Your Love.

James Blake gets 8 surprisingly soulful white kids out of 10.