St Vincent(Annie Clark) is a singer-songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist and this self titled effort is her fourth studio release. St Vincent has always been known for creating interesting and at times eccentric art rock and indie pop. This release though maybe her funnest to listen to date.
Musically this album really spans different styles and genres impressively. There’s some noise rock, indie pop, some electronic music influence and even some jazz in the mix. Anna never really sounds out of her comfort zone on any of this backing music. “Huey Newton" is one of my favorite tracks as it has one of the most interesting melody’s and song structures as it goes from being this weird synth melody driven track to breaking out fuzzy noise rock guitar tones half way through. "Digital Witness" is a bouncy and jazzy track with a lot of character. "I Prefer Your Love" follows right behind that which is kind of a ballad. It’s not a bad track at all just a little underwhelming compared to some of the other tracks.
This album plays a lot like a weird party, tracks like “Bring Me Your Love" has that feeling it’s just this off kilter jam that is built to take a few listens to enjoy fully. I think the fun of this album is just the feeling that it’s keeping you on your toes. Much like the cover would suggest Annie is like a indie pop mad scientist mixing sounds, tones and styles she likes and seeing what comes out and often times it’s good. Vocally Annie Clark’s vocals are kind of delicate and aren’t to powerful but she has a lot of personality and it comes through on every track here. Lyrically the tracks can range from completely vague and a it abstract to more clear and straight forward love songs or song like "Digital Witness" which seems to be about being brain washed by TV.
St Vincent has created a very entertaining listen. It’s not something I’d put on all the time and not all the tracks interest me personally but it’s decently experimental and executes what it sets out to do pretty well. If you’re already into St. Vincents music or are into indie pop and art rock with and eclectic feel this is a good listen.
By: Patrick Griffin II
Iggy Azalea is a rapper out of Australia. She first garnered buzz from her mix-tape Ignorant Art and her music videos for the tracks like “Pussy”. She’s released a few EP’s and a mixtape entitled Trapgold but now Iggy's set to release her long awaited debut album on April 14 The New Classic. Fancy is actually the fourth single off the album and my favorite thus far.
On top a bouncy pulsating beat Iggy lays down verse that are among the most charismatic and confident I’ve heard her on record which is saying something. Her tones and southern drawl is just perfect on this track and her flow deceptively more nimble than she get credit for. Indie pop artist Charli XCX comes through and adds a pop hook and bridge and there you have it complete jam! I’ve been listening to this track a lot since I’ve heard it. Everything about it is infectious whether it’s the production, Iggy or Charli it all just fits on this pop rap effort. I’m definitely at least interested to her Iggy's debut not going into with high expectations but I'm curious as to how it'll sound even if I hate it at least I got this song out if it.
By: Patrick Griffin II
Skaters are an alternative/punk band out of New York Miss Teen Massachusetts is the bands first single off their upcoming LP “Manhattan”. Miss Teen Massachusetts is a fun and catchy rock song. Lyrically it seems to be about trying to help someone who’s stubborn or too far gone to change their mind. The track rocks with a lot of energy. The vocals are song passionately, they sound double tracked which fills the sound well. MTM has a very 90’s alt rock feel to it and as the track goes on the guitars blare a little harder till it pretty much climaxes at the end. If I had to point out a negative it’d be that the drums seemed a bit bland and low in the mix but other than that it’s Skaters made a pretty decent track which could mean Manhattan could be worth giving a listen too!
By: Patrick Griffin II
Schoolboy Q is one fourths of west coast hip-hop group Black Hippy who are all signed to probably the most popular rap label at the moment in Top Dawg Entertainment. This is Schoolboy Q's third full length album following Setbacks and Habits & Contradictions. There’s been a ton a of buzz around this release mainly because Q's seen as the next member on the label to explode behind Kendrick Lamar and because there having been nothing but positive things said about this album before it’s release with Schoolboy Q himself saying “Kendrick left me no choice but to make a classic”. Still, personally I can say I wasn’t anticipating this album to much till I heard the singles. I wasn’t to found of Habits & Contradictions and never saw Schoolboy Q to be that impressive on the mic but I’m glad that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this album.
Oxymoron is one of few true gangster rap album I’ve heard quite a while. The content here is very much your traditional west coast gangster rap. On Oxymoron Q chooses beats that are often dark and sparse. Often there’s off kilter piano chords on these tracks too. Schoolboy Q as a rapper and writer has markedly improved since his last effort. His flows switch with ease not only from song to song but verse to verse. Often using different vocal inflections that range from an aggressive growl to to smooth and charismatic. Lyrically he often delves into his past life in the streets as a crip whether it was gang banging or selling Oxycontin in vivid detail. The overall theme and concept of the LP is that all the bad he’s doing is to make sure he’s taking care of his daughter which is where the “Oxymoron” in lies. This all comes to ahead on the track “Break The Bank” where Q raps about the fact that those life experiences gave him the material for this album that will in turn support him and his daughter.
Though the concept is executed well the album is still to cliche to be interesting if the songs weren’t strong and the good majority of them are. “Gangsta" is the perfect tone setter for the album and " What They Want" is nice track with a menacing tone. That track also has some of the best production on the album. "Man Of The Year" just has this great instrumental under Schoolboy Q whose as confident as ever on the song. The album is basically strong throughout with the exception of the tracks “Los Awesome and “Hell Of A Night”. They aren’t bad songs they just add nothing to the album and don’t fit lyrically or production wise with the rest of the project. “Hell Of A Night” is such an obvious reach for radio play that it’s just ridiculously out of place.
Schoolboy Q easily exceeded my expectations. The rhymes are there, the production is there and the concept is there. Most importantly they were executed right. Replace a couple of the mediocre tracks with good ones and this might have been really special. This album isn’t making me question whether Schoolboy is on the level of Kendrick Lamar. He’s not. But it did show me just how good Schoolboy Q is and how much potential he has that’s maybe not fully realized yet.
By: Patrick Griffin II