Monday, October 24, 2016

Daniel Is Moving

Hi all,

While I believe that people rarely open this blog, but just as a notice, I have moved my personal blog to The content will be the same and it will be much more aesthetic because WordPress. 

So, see you there! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Grammy 2017 Predictions - Part 2

After revealing the general fields last week, let's continue to predict some of the categories that people actually care about to generate more traffic for this blog. Lol just kidding. 

1. Best Pop Vocal Album
Much like its counterpart in Album of the Year, Adele's 25 will be a lock. And also regardless how much you hate Justin Bieber during his adolescent years, he's definitely matured in his latest effort, Purpose, and I can see that this will be nominated. Talking about young singers, it's safe to assume that the vocal powerhouse slash mini Mariah Carey slash Ariana Grande's kinky album, Dangerous Woman to sneak a nod here. Not only it showcases Grande's vocal, I guess this album also becomes the committee's guilty pleasure. Mentioning Justin Bieber and Arian Grande, I can't help but think of their fellow, Selena Gomez. Does Revival deserve a mention in this category? 

Have I mentioned how much Grammy loves Sia? This Is Acting will get a nomination definitely, but everyone will lose against 25. We still don't know where David Bowie's Blackstar will go, it can go to either rock or pop, but I'm not courageous enough to put Blackstar on pop category. I still have Zayn's Mind of Mine and Meghan Trainor's Thank You, and considering Trainor is last year's best new artist (ummm) Grammy probably won't miss nominating Thank You

There's not much contender from band for this category, except for the obvious choice Coldplay's A Head Full of Dreams which is released on last December. 

Final Predictions:
1. Adele, 25
2. Ariana Grade, Dangerous Woman or Meghan Trainor, Thank You
3. Justin Bieber, Purpose 
4. Sia, This Is Acting
5. Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams

2. Best Pop Solo Performance
Expect to see Adele as she lands her millionth nomination with "Hello". Justin Bieber can also join this category with his "Love Yourself". From critically loved album, Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande can send "Into You". Sia also can send the solo version of "Cheap Thrills" if she feels like it, Or she can send the Sean Paul's version for group/duo performance, but considering how terrible Sean Paul's version is, I guess it's safe to assume Sia will send the solo version. 

Who will fill the remaining nominees will be pretty much a wild guess. Since I have put Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" in Record of the Year category, I can also put her here. Also two songs that debut in first position in Billboard Hot 100, Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling", especially after being criminally shut out in Grammy three years ago, and Zayn's "Pillowtalk" could see some light here. Will Katy Perry's Olympic anthem, "Rise", receive some recognition? And of course we cannot overlook the Record of the Year Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" here.

Final Predictions:
1. Adele, "Hello"
2. Justin Bieber, "Love Youreself"
3. Ariana Grande, "Into You"
4. Lady Gaga, "Perfect Illusion" or Sia, "Cheap Thrills" (if she goes solo)
5. Justin Timberlake, "Can't Stop The Feeling"

3. Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Thank God Adele doesn't do any collaboration this year, so we can take a breathe from her. Unlike last year when we have many collaboration, this year's a little bit different, because not many collaboration songs. That will make our job either easier or harder.

If Sia's team decides to send her Sean Paul's version (ew) of "Cheap Thrills" that's fine, meanwhile we can get Coldplay's "Hymn for the Weekend (featuring Beyonce)" here, one of Coldplay's best, but mostly due to Beyonce's contribution. I decided to ignore Rihanna's "Work" because that will go to urban/R&B category, but will it crossover in pop category? Talking about genre ambiguity, is Twenty One Pilots considered pop? Or is The Chainsmokers pop? Well, it's hard question, but if they aren't pop we don't have any nominees left to join Lukas Graham's "7 Years"? Possible to include Ariana Grande's "Side to Side (featuring Nicki Minaj)" here? Am I wishing too hard to include Troye Sivan & Alessia Cara's "Wild"? DNCE probably? This category is indeed full of question marks.

Final Predictions:
1. Coldplay, "Hymn for the Weekend (featuring Beyonce)"
2. Sia, "Cheap Thrills (featuring Sean Paul)"
3. Lukas Graham, "7 Years"
4. Ariana Grande, "Side to Side (featuring Nicki Minaj)"
5. Twenty One Pilots, "Ride" or Troye Sivan & Alessia Cara, "Wild"

4. Best Electronic/Dance Album
Best Electronic/Dance Album will be tough to guess this year, because we don't have prolific electronic artists, like, Skrillex or David Guetta. But, thank God we have M83's Junk, unless it goes alternative which seems more likely. James Blake's The Colour In Anything can also see his first nod in this category, but it seems far-fetched. Canadian producer, Kaytranada's debut album, 99.9%, can also be nominated especially since it's the same label with Radiohead. The most handsome Australian DJ, Flume, can also be nominated with his Skin. Avicii's Stories can also be nominated here. Also ZHU's Generationwhy and it seems likely since his "Faded" is nominated few years ago. AlunaGeorge's I Remember also deserves some nod here. Is ANOHNI's Hopelessness also seeing any nod here?

Final Predictions:
1. Kaytranada, 99.9%
2. ZHU, Generationwhy
3. Flume, Skin
4. Avicii, Stories
5. ANOHNI, Hopelessness or James Blake, The Colour In Anything

5. Best Alternative Album
This is my favorite category in Grammy Award because one of this year's best album always appears here. Album of the Year's contender, Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool. If M83's Junk goes alternative, it can appear here. Best Alternative Album's darling, Wilco, just released their surprise album, Schmilco, will get their millionth nomination here. Former nominee, PJ Harvey's A Hope Six Demolition Project can also sneak in to have some revenge. Courtney Barnett's label, Mom + Pop, still has Neon Indian, and since she's nominated for Best New Artist last year, is it possible that his VEGA INTL. Night School nominated here? Another possible lock is indeed Cage The Elephant's Tell Me I'm Pretty. If ANOHNI goes alternative, her Hopelessness may appear here. Or, I'm just beginning to feel hopeless to see any surprising names. Honestly, this category is usually filled with familiar names with just one or two new names. So, I'm not expecting anything much here.

Final Predictions:
1. Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
2. M83, Junk
3. Wilco,  Schmilco
4. PJ Harvey, A Hope Six Demolition Project
5. Cage The Elephant, Tell Me I'm Pretty 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Grammy 2017 Predictions - Part 1

After my success in predicting the 2016's Grammy nominations last year, it's already that time of the year again to predict some of the nominations for the highest award for music, Grammy Awards. Considering that the last date for Grammy's eligibility (September 30th) is just around the corner, and there won't be any release that's able to steal some of the year's best works, I guess it's safe to assume that we can start predicting, like right now. 

Let's start by predicting the easiest and the only categories that people actually care first: the general field. 

1. Album of the Year
Three albums will be a lock: Adele's 25 from pop, Beyonce's Lemonade from R&B, and Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool from alternative field. The next two albums will be a wild guess and blood bath. We have a lot of great releases for the past year, and it's hard to pick a standout album. From rap category, my mind directly jumps to Drake's VIEWS, the first male album that reigned Billboard 200 for twelve weeks, since God-knows-who. While the critical response isn't as lukewarm as its sales, VIEWS cannot be overlooked. Chance The Rapper's Coloring Book is also one of this year's best albums can also be nominated here as well, especially considering the fact that Chance The Rapper has a high chance to be nominated in Best New Artist as well. 

Still from pop, we know that how much Grammy loves veteran. David Bowie's final album before his passing, Blackstar, is a great album and I'm pretty much sure the committee won't miss a chance to pay some tribute to Bowie by nominating it. Janet Jackson's latest effort, Unbreakable, also sneak in here. On the other hand, it's hard for country field as there's no standout albums this past year and I'm not listening to that much country albums, but I haven't heard a single thing about Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide To Earth, but praise, so this could be pretty much the shocking nominations. 

Another contender will probably be Rihanna's ANTI, or Sia's This Is Acting (God, NARAS really loves Sia like crazy), or Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, or Frank Ocean's Blonde, but don't get your expectation up too high since NARAS is known by their bold move and Blonde is released independently. Knowing Ocean, he pretty much doesn't even bother. 

Final Predictions:
1. Adele, 25
2. Beyonce, Lemonade
3. Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
4. David Bowie, Blackstar, or Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide To Earth 
5. Drake, VIEWS or Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

2. Record of the Year
I can't help but thinking of, "Okay ladies now let's get in formation" when "Formation" is announced as one of the nominees for Record of the Year. This anthem is definitely what committees mean by a good record. With that being said, Adele's "Hello" also begs to say hello for this category as well. It's tough to pick the next contenders. I can see Rihanna's "Work (feat. Drake)", but is it good enough? Or probably Rihanna can send another song, like "Needed Me" that sounds more friendly and less obnoxious? Talking about Drake, we cannot dismiss his song of the summer, "One Dance (feat. Kyla & Wizkid)". I also love Radiohead's "Burn The Witch", one of Radiohead's best produced track ever, but is NARAS willing to take brave move? 

Justin Bieber's not-so-surprising victory last year, also proves that Grammys has begun to warm up to Bieber's work and "Sorry" is this year's best record as well. Also, don't forget how inexplicable Grammy's love to Sia is, so "Cheap Thrills" can also be nominated here. We also notice that Grammy puts something recent for the general field, like, Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" probably, and since it comes from the same cold hand of Mark Ronson, its quality is guaranteed. What about the current leader of Billboard Hot 100, The Chainsmokers' "Closer (feat. Halsey)"? Do they even stand a chance against these giants? 

Final Predictions:
1. Beyonce, "Formation"
2. Adele, "Hello"
3. Sia, "Cheap Thrills" or Lady Gaga, "Perfect Illusion"
4. Radiohead, "Burn The Witch"
5. Justin Bieber, "Sorry"

3. Song of the Year
Pretty much with Record of the Year, there won't be much differences for this category. Still, same old Beyonce and Adele. David Bowie probably can sneak in with his "Blackstar". Also, I can see Lukas Graham's "7 Years" just for the sake of surprising us. If Bieber decides to send "Love Yourself" for Song of the Year, yes he can get a spot in this category. 

And still we're missing any country song, but Florida Georgia Line's "H.O.L.Y" can represent the country field or am I just wild guessing? We can also consider Radiohead's "Burn The Witch" again for this field. To be honest, really, I won't see any difference with Record of the Year. 

Final Predictions:
1. Beyonce, "Formation"
2. Adele, "Hello"
3. David Bowie, "Blackstar" or Radiohead, "Burn The Witch"
4. Justin Bieber, "Love Yourself"
5. Lukas Graham, "7 Years" or Sia, "Cheap Thrills"

4. Best New Artist
The ultimate question is: is Twenty One Pilots eligible? I'm one of the few people who never get the charm of Twenty One Pilots, but it just seems unfair if they're overlooked? Since Grammy committee expands their rule for Best New Artist, it's a probability that Twenty One Pilots is eligible. And also The Chainsmokers, after releasing monstrous hits, like "Closer" and "Don't Let Me Down", the committee is not blind to see their success. I can see former Grammy-nominee Charlie Puth, especially after he released his Nine Track Mind. Shawn Mendes? It's a long shot, but why not? Alessia Cara and Troye Sivan are inseparable duo, but I know NARAS can be a cold-blooded bunch of people, so they will only pick one and that's Alessia Cara. Chance The Rapper is a lock definitely and be the Courtney Barnett of 2017's Grammy Award. We also have Zayn, Halsey, Zara Larsson, Flume, Bryson Tiller. God, who would've guessed that this category will be the most competitive?

Final Predictions:
1. Charlie Puth
2. Alessia Cara
3. The Chainsmokers
4. Chance The Rapper
5. Flume or Twenty One Pilots or, well, Zayn?  

Review Saturday: Cymbals Eat Guitars - "Dancing Days"

Cymbals Eat Guitars
"Dancing Days"
Pretty Years

Dancing is often regarded as a form of showing someone's blitheness and happiness. It's something that you'll never correlate with despondency, even though you may suffer from the dancing mania like in 1518. With that being said, in the hands of Cymbals Eat Guitars, the word that beams happiness as much as dancing can be turned into a track that is somber and evocative, inducing old memories of good old dancing days. 

After two strong albums, Lenses Alien and LOSE, the departure of their old rocky and ferocious persona in Pretty Years, their fourth album and their most experimental one, is pretty much noticeable. In Pretty Years, they incorporate electric sound, resulting some songs that make you awkwardly dance, such as "Close" or "Have A Heart". But, in the middle of the album, you'll find the crown jewel of Pretty Years. "Dancing Days" may easily fit in LOSE as it invokes languorous atmosphere as much as "Jackson". But, it also fits the experimental noise that they try to implement here. "Dancing Days" itself is a rock-ballad, and as you can expect from a rock band that goes ballad, it sounds sweet and vulnerable. "Spring, the days lengthen/ the block is blossoming drifts of pink petals," D'Agostino describes his state of desolation that happens amidst the beautiful days of spring. With his shaky voice, D'Agostino continues in whisper, "Can't shake the feeling/ that I lost something precious/ my heart's finally fixed." between the slow beat of Andrew Dole's drum that sounds hypnotic as it reminisces us of our old good days. As D'Agostino loudens up and gains much confidence and courage, the track climaxes on the most sing-along chorus that Cymbals Eat Guitars has ever written, "Goodbye to my dancing days/ goodbye to the friends who fell away/ goodbye to my pretty years." The second part of the song couldn't be more tragic when D'Agostino goes cathartic, where his jamais vu makes him unable to recognize anything and his feeling goes numb as the impact of goodbye finally hits him. Farewell, and especially a farewell to our beloved one, is always an emotional experience, and "Dancing Days" perfectly captures the sense of it. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Review Saturday: American Football - "Give Me The Gun"

American Football
"Give Me The Gun"
American Football

The first time I was digging into American Football's reissue of their self-titled debut album, I have to admit, I thought American Football is a new band with great songs; "Never Meant" became my jam for weeks, and I couldn't stop singing it. Oh, boy, how wrong I was when I found out that American Football is released in 1999, and their 2014's album is the reissue of the cult-following American Football's debut album. What makes me shocked is how ageless the songs in American Football are, enduring the tests of time--and that's the proof of how eternal their album is. The reissue of American Football cannot be more prompt as well, as it marks the start of the revival of emo music, the genre music du jour in late 1990's and beginning of 2000's, that happens in 2014 until now. And it's no surprise when American Football decides to release their second self-titled album, the world rejoice. 

After dropping "I've Been Lost For So Long", the song that fits their absence of their second album for this seventeen years, the Illinois emo legend guns another taste from their latest album, "Give Me The Gun". It begins with the concoction of Holmes' guitar and Lamos' drum, "Give Me The Gun" reminisces their old songs, bringing back nostalgia of the emo phase of our life where everything seems so gloomy and portentous back then. Still, "Give Me The Gun" talks about the critical  part of a relationship, where Kinsella's love interest is in the edge of her life as he sings, "But I'm scared for us both." with his Owen-acquired throaty voice, something that's nonexistent in their debut album. "Give Me The Gun" rolls like an unfinished story, when Kinsella ends the story with just, "You're made of wet paper" in minute two, and leave the rest of the song with just instrumental guitar and drums, pointing the fragility of his love interest and leaving their fate unknown.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review Thursday: How To Dress Well - "What's Up"

How To Dress Well
"What's Up"
Weird World

For most of people, "What's up?" may be the most mundane way to start a conversation. Trying to engage and provoke other people's business are probably the most dreadful thing to undergo and something as simple and as colloquial as "What's up?" may evoke our fear. Either we enjoy being "what's up"-ed or not, there's no way to ignore it and a response is unescapable. It may be various, but one thing that remains the same is that "what's up" is the door to people's soul as we get to know someone better, and it leads into something deeper and bosom. 

For someone who's a maven in nihilism, Tom Krell, surprisingly thoroughly understands the surreptitious meaning behind a simple "what's up". His "What's Up" is not trifling and it's not intended to fill the void in an elevator or break the ice in a lame party. Instead, it is honest, veracious, and direct. "I wanna know your mouth/ I wanna see the things the way you see them," Krell begins fortrightly amid the bravura beat that we're all used to. Krell repeats "Say it was you" four times in a choir-esque before hitting the second chorus when the tempo crescendoes and Krell infuses the bongo-like instrument in an upbeat and gay rhythm, something that you won't associate How To Dress Well with immediately. "I really feel like you know me/ And that's just the craziest thing," Krell emphasizes that his "What's Up" is not a dreadful question, and as it's proven from the absence of question mark in the title, "What's Up" actually skips the trivial part of the question, but jump directly to the true meaning of asking such question: to bring an intimacy. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review Friday: Danny L. Harle - "Super Natural (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)"

Danny L. Harle
"Super Natural (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)" 
PC Music

The hipster's general consensus for Carly Rae Jepsen may be confusing and polarizing: "Is it cool to like Carly Rae Jepsen now that she's criminally underrated? Should we just bandwagon?" They may make fair point: the transformation of Carly Rae Jepsen from the soft-pedaled bubblegum pop princess of "Call Me Maybe" to queen of Pitchfork Music Festival is truly an interesting case study. In just one masterpiece album, Emotion, a true homage of 80's pop songs, Jepsen can turn the table. Before she releases the side B of Emotion, Jepsen teases her collaboration with British music producer, Danny L. Harle. "Super Natural."

The true star of "Super Natural" is of course Harle, one of PC Music's producers, the member of Dux Alliance with A. G. Cook. It's already a recipe of amazingness. Long fan of Jepsen, when Harle asks Jepsen to fill the vocal for "Super Natural", it's a dream comes true, and "Super Natural" lengthens the streak of Jepsen's superb songs. 

It's no surprise when you listen to Harle's sick beat, it reminds you of A. G. Cook's work, with its twinkling beat and multilayered 80's synth. Jepsen is the perfect choice to fill the vocal, as her voice twirls between Harle's irresistible beat (and quirky charming smile). "Super Natural" describes an effortlessly matching couple, that's perfectly meant for each other, and in some other ways, it's exactly what's this collaboration is. 

Hidden Track: CEO - "Harakiri"

Sincerely Yours

Grotesque is the exact word that's able to capture the quiddity of CEO's Eric Burgland's sophomore album, wonderland. The obscure, yet stunning cover album, showing Berglund in kaleidoscopic color palettes doesn't veneer the fact wonderland is indeed grotesque, distorted, yet harmonious and amazing, proving that Burgland doesn't produce his sophomore album half-assedly. It's opened by such a strong first track--that's also used as the first single--"Whorehouse"--a perfect pop-dance song that sounds salacious, but actually describes the sense of Burgland's entrapment and confusion that he feels like "lost in the whorehouse". The track is so damn good, that every time you ask other people about CEO, the first response that pops up in their head is either "Who is CEO?" or "Oh, that dude who sings 'Whorehouse'? Yeah, he's good". But, Burgland doesn't become CEO of Sincerely Yours because of nothing. He still has so much to offer. Hidden after "Whorehouse", the second track of the album, "Harakiri". is actually the true gem of wonderland

At first, "Harakiri" sounds dreamy and tranquilizing. The soothing violin that begins the song may lull you, along with the soft synthed cadence and Burgland's brittle voice, "Your glitter rains on my face." "Harakiri" is so picturesque that you probably don't realize you've been deceived by the song. When Burgland continues, "Forming patterns of horror" and you realize that harakiri isn't something you'd consider as something picturesque--unless you are those kind of guys who enjoys profuse gory stuffs--you will have a moment of clarity. No one knows what's  actually hidden beneath the glittery lyrics, mesmerizing rhythm and composition. It may be Burgland's ode for seppuku, or it's probably a representation of his shame and sacrifice. That's the mystery that's better left unsolved because that's the beauty and grotesqueness of wonderland.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review Tuesday: Bon Iver - "22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]"

Bon Iver
"22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]"
22, A Million

When Bon Iver revealed the track list for their third album, 22, A Million, on last Friday, long gone our wish to hear Bon Iver's "normal" and "usual" stuff that we all love from their 2011's Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The track list is a meme material, something that seems likely to come from rtf file that's opened in Microsoft Word, as Justin Vernon et al. fall into the sea of obscurity. Or so we thought until we heard some tastes from the new album: "22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]" and "10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ [Extended Version]". While ""10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ [Extended Version]" may not be Bon Iver's casual stuff and need few listens before enjoying it (Spoiler: it's still amazing), "22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]", on the other hand, is Bon Iver's instant classic. 

Ignoring the wacky song title, "22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]" is the same beauty and frailness that we all love from Bon Iver, even if it's more experimental and not all acoustic guitar. But, the feeling is there, and Bon Iver's versatility must be applauded here. A clip of noise opens the track, like a sirene as you can faintly hear "It might be over soon, 2, 2", which also opens the albums, marking the entrance of Bon Iver that may be different, yet familiar at the same time."Where you gonna look for cofirmation," Vernon's fragile voice kicks in amidst the noise, reflecting his musical journey and his anxiety of the future. After a minute, the acoustic guitar comes in and all hell breaks loose. The poignancy of Bon Iver's songs creep in, inducing your tear glands and as you can feel Vernon's insecurity and what he feels for these past two decades, suddenly you feel tears streaming down from your eyes. And that's what Bon Iver's capable of doing for you. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review Saturday: Florence + The Machine - "Stand By Me"

Florence + The Machine
"Stand By Me"
Songs From Final Fantasy XV

The road to Final Fantasy XV is a long and winding one. Initially developed as a spin-off of universally hated-but-loved Final Fantasy XIII in 2006, the latest addition of the Square Enix's most lucrative series finally sees the light in 2012 when it's rebranded as Final Fantasy XV that we all know. Square Enix has been all out in building fortification of anticipation for the game, by releasing several demos, animeanimated movie that looks gorgeous. and of course a mellifluous music from Florence + The Machine

"Stand By Me" is actually first used as the music for the trailer of the game back in March which flaunts the picturesque view of Final Fantasy XV's world. Now that the game is less than two months away, Island decides to release the song officially, with the addition of two more songs: "I Will Be" and "Too Much Is Never Enough". All songs bring the best in Welch, but it's still "Stand By Me" that gives me chill. Welch transforms Ben E. King's 1961's hits into a haunting and hallowing ballad, matching the overall theme of the Final Fantasy XV. With an orchestral composition, "Stand By Me" feels grand and extravagant, once again matching Noctis' life as a royal family, yet sorrowful. But amidst the cacophonous violin, Welch wails, "Darling, stand by me!" in the most heartbreaking way, like a drowning person who gasps for air, over and over until the end the song. Again, it's matching Noctis' life, even if he must escape and fight, he knows that his comrades are always there for him, and that's all what he needs to know. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review Wednesday: How To Dress Well - "Lost Youth/Lost You:

How To Dress Well
"Lost Youth/Lost You"
Weird World

"Change is hard," Tom Krell moans at the beginning of the song, emphasizing how hard it is to keep up with caprice. But leave it to Krell to make your typical moaning into something romantic and aesthetic, as he continues in the next line, "When you can't feel close even though that's what you need the most". Appetency or longing is usually the major theme of Krell's songs, and even if it isn't, Krell's music is able to induce the same feeling. While "Lost Youth/Lost You", the first single off his latest album, Care, is clearly about losing, regrets, and strong desire to get some thing that's already gone, Krell's able to craft it into something that somehow sounds more "cheerful" than his previous songs, a solid proof that Care is the most joyous album that Krell has ever made. Before Krell speaks in "Lost Youth/Lost You", there's an evanescent static sound, as if a sign of disconnection from his previous significant other. In a way, "Lost Youth/Lost You" reminds us a lot of "Repeat Pleasure", and it can be put nicely in his 2014's What Is This Heart?, a continuation of his masterpiece. "Lost Youth/Lost You" ends with more static voice, another sign that he finally has let go of everything and decided to just go, "Lost Youth/Lost You" may not be Krell's best songs, but even so, it surely can wreck up your year-end list. 

Review Wednesday: Faiha - "Cari Pokemon"

"Cari Pokemon"
Sani Music Indonesia
Best New Track

Tidak dapat dimungkiri lagi dangdut merupakan genre musik yang paling adaptif terhadap perkembangan zaman. Terbukti dengan adanya fenomena sosial terkini, para musisi dangdutlah yang paling peka dan liat dengan adanya isu-isu terkini, seakan-akan menjadi kritikan sosial terhadap budaya masyarakat Indonesia yang cenderung ikut-ikutan. Seperti hebohnya fenomena Valak dari The Conjuring 2 yang sempat merebak di Indonesia, dangdutlah satu-satunya yang berani mengangkat tema semacam ini dengan diluncurkannya lagu, "Seperti Valak" dari Ika D'Academy. Dangdut jugalah genre musik yang dapat menyentuh segala kalangan usia, mulai dari muda hingga tua, kemampuan musik dangdut untuk menghipnotis pendengarnya tanpa terkecuali sudahlah terbukti. Selihai apa pun anak-anak perkotaan menghindari dangdut seperti wabah kusta, mau tak mau mereka hafal sejumlah lagu-lagu dangdut terkenal, seperti "SMS", "Keong Racun", dan "Kopi Dangdut". 

Kombinasi mematikan antara fenomena sosial paling mutakhir dan kemampuan musik dangdut untuk membuai setiap segi dan golongan masyarakat inilah yang dimanfaatkan Faiha, biduanita cilik yang independen ini, yang beberapa hari terakhir menjadi buah bibir, seiring dengan kepopuleran Pokemon Go. Ini sebuah langkah yang berani untuknya karena banyaknya musisi dangdut cilik dapat dihitung dengan jari. Ketika mendengar "Cari Pokemon" pertama kali, orang mungkin akan berpikir bahwa ini hanyalah tipikal lagu dangdut yang kerapkali mengambil judul dari meme terkenal akhir-akhir ini, seperti "Sakitnya Tuh Di Sini". Namun, setelah mendengar "Cari Pokemon" berulang kali, selain ternyata lagunya yang mudah dicerna dan dihafalkan, "Cari Pokemon" menyimpan sesuatu yang lebih mendalam. 

Diawali dengan suara Faiha yang menggemaskan yang meneriakkan "Pikachu" berulang kali, ia mengawali lagu "Cari Pokemon" dengan memperkenalkan sejumlah Pokemon ikonik yang menjadi lambang trademark dari game Nintendo, sebuah metode yang sangat efektif untuk membuat anak-anak lebih familier dengan monster-monster saku ini. Dengan lagu "Cari Pokemon" ini, Faiha juga menepis kegusaran orang tua yang khawatir dengan dampak "kekerasan" yang mungkin ditimbulkan oleh Pokemon. Komposisi yang digunakan Faiha dalam "Cari Pokemon" sedikit mengingatkan akan eksperimen yang dilakukan oleh Belle & Sebastian dalam album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, penuh dengan nuansa disko tahun 1970-an yang membuat Donna Summer iri. Bagian chorus merupakan epitome dari lagu ini ketika Faiha berkali-kali menekankan, "Pokemon Pokemon di mana kamu? Ku mau kamu jadi milikku." Tak hanya merepresentasikan hasrat Faiha untuk catch 'em all dan be the very best, bagian chorus ini membuktikan bahwa renjana dan kerinduan yang mendalam bukanlah melulu monopoli orang dewasa. Dengan "Cari Pokemon", Faiha mengingatkan kita bahwa seorang anak pun bisa memiliki kerinduan yang sama. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review Thursday: Justice - "Safe and Sound"

"Safe And Sound"
Ed Banger

It's almost ten years after the release of "D.A.N.C.E", a track that catapulted French electronic duo, Justice, to a prominence. "D.A.N.C.E.", being a perfect club banger itself, also becomes the best thing that Justice probably has ever released, as their follow-up album, Audio, Video, Disco has been drab and lackluster, to say the least. But, they don't give up, they may have redeemed Audio, Video, Disco by releasing "Safe and Sound".

Taken from their untitled third album, "Safe and Sound" is a track that can easily fit into Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. Justice dauntingly channels their inner Bangalter and de Homem-Christo with a delectable disco track which sounds retro and futuristic at the same time. A hypnotic vocal accompanies "Safe And Sound", blending in Rosnay and Augé's twisty and colorful composition. "Safe And Sound" reminds us the stupendousness of "D.A.N.C.E.", and with this, Justice may be able to reclaim their éclat back. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

30 Best Songs of 2016... So Far

What a year, right? The first months of winter in a new year are usually absence of major release, but 2016 seems to be breaking the paradigm. Rihanna, who's running from her annual cycle of releasing new album, is back with her best work so far, ANTI, a solid proof that you undeniably need to chill and relax for few years to gain those Euterpe's muses back. This year also marks the comeback from veteran artist, aside from the Barbadian singer. Radiohead, for instance, guns their followup of 2011's The King of Limbs, and Queen Bey pulls another Beyoncé and surprises her fans with Lemonade, the most arguably personal album of hers to date. The long awaited Drake's latest album, VIEWS, finally views some shed of light as he releases this album which reigns Billboard 200 for weeks, another feat for him this year.

But, 2016 is fair and square. It gives an equal chance for rookies to shine out. Whitney, hardly a rookie though, offers Light Upon the Lake which sounds impressive and mellifluous. Canadian producer, Kaytranada, drops his outstanding debut album, which features collaboration with AlunaGeorge and Craig David, two of many collaborations in 99,9%--which ironically is given all  of his 100% in making this fine album. These two artists are just only the tip of the iceberg of debutant this year.

This year becomes the hardest year to pick some of the year's best songs in my whole entire career. But, the job has to be done, and I have to pick some of the best so far to make my life easier by the end of the year when I compile the real shit. So, let's just get this torture started. Enjoy the ride.

1. White Lung - "Below"

Compared to their work in their 2014's album, Deep Fantasy--which has wacky art album, something that adds more obscurity to the band--"Below" is definitely much more easily listenable. When we think they can't get wackier in the art album department, White Lung's Paradise decides to fuck us all. However, despite the wackiness of the cover--which is actually intriguing to be honest, "Below" is probably the poppiest song that this Canadian band has ever recorded from this third album. Mish Way's androgynous voice begins the song with "Part the tide", soaring above the layered guitar riff. In around three minutes, Way shouts the transience of beauty, a kind of ephemera that weirdly we all value. "Below" becomes a social criticism that sounds so punk and grungey at the same time.

2. Mitski - "Your Best American Girl"

Mitski Miyawaki is one of the few artists who's able to make an emotional song so effortlessly, as she's proven in "Your Best American Girl". Star-crossed relationship is always an interesting topic--and an eternal one--and in "Your Best American Girl", Mitski tries to spice some things up by emphasizing the cultural differences of a couple, that's conspicuously relatable with most of young couples these days, especially supported by the fact that interracial marriages are increasing each year. Mitski, who lives in multicultural environment herself, indeed isn't brought up in the most American way, so that's why she emotionally proclaims, "Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me/ But I do, I think I do," underlining the differences until she realizes that she's fine the way she is now.

3. ANOHNI - "Drone Bomb Me"

Written from the perspective of a young girl whose family is killed in a drone attack, "Drone Bomb Me" is the most heart-wrenching and powerful song this year. Formerly known as Antony Hegarty, ANOHNI explains that "Drone Bomb Me" is about a girl who longs to be killed in similar fashion, as she sings, "Blow me from the mountains/and into the sea". This song, produced by Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, is heavily synthesized as ANOHNI's haunting voice soars above the synth drop. She reminds us that war brings nothing but devastation and forlornness.

4. The Range - "Florida"

Up until now, I still cannot comprehend James Hinton's ingeniousness in "Florida". The whole concept of sampling from unsung artists on YouTube sounds so incredulous on paper, but in the cold hand of Hinton, anything's possible. kaihuna, for example, a young YouTuber, whose cover of Ariana Grande's "You'll Never Know" is sampled by Hinton in "Florida", is a living evidence that in the right hand, video cover, which no one rarely bats an eye to, can be some kind of masterpiece. In "Florida", Hinton wraps kaihuna's raw voice with steely drums and bass drops as her voice soars above Hinton's composition, making "Florida" one of the best summer jams this year, despite its spring release. 

5. Kaytranada - "Glowed Up (feat. Anderson .Paak)"

Theremin is a magical and fascinating instrument that can create something that sounds so spooky, and using it in a song can be hit or miss. But, the award for most effective use of theremin in a song this year may go to Kaytranada's "Glowed Up". It's no kidding how astonishing this song is, and theremin part is just a tiny part of the bigger reason why this song is so astonishing. It features Anderson .Paak, the hottest artist this year, which brings the best of each of them. At the first part of the song, .Paak easily cruises between the Kaytranada's woozy beat and sings "I'm glowed up/ I'm glowed up" infectiously--it's hard to keep your hands down. In the second part, Kaytranada decrescendos the tempo, sheering the musical direction into something more brittle, creating a soft and perfect ending for a song this complex. 

6. Whitney - "Light Upon The Lake"

Whitney is a supergroup actually, formed by Max Kakacek, Smith Western's ex guitarist, and Julien Ehrlich, the ex drummer of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Their debut album, Light Upon The Lake, sounds nothing like Smith Western or UMO. In lieu of sounding more rock or psychedelic, Light Upon The Lake sounds much sweeter where acoustic guitar predominantly can be heard throughout the album. It's no surprise that the title track of the album is the most gorgeous song of the album. "Light Upon The Lake" may be a song of contemplation. "Fire across the planes/ light upon the lake lonely haze of dawn/ when old days are gone," Ehrlich speaks tenderly. Between the strings, Ehrlich continues in chorus, "Will life get ahead of me?" The chorus may only contain one sentence, but it's the sentence efficaciously makes us think about our life.

7. Frankie Cosmos - "On The Lips"

Frankie Cosmos' Greta Kline knows there's no point in making long song when you can manage to pour out your feeling in less than two minutes. "On The Lips" is not an exception. Its length is only less than two minutes, but it is impactful. It first appeared in im sorry im hi lets go, a collection of her songs released in 2013, hence, this reference on the lyrics. They are followed by powerful lines of "Sometimes I cry cause I know I'll never have all the answers". She sings it plainly, but it's what makes the song impressive. She started the song by seeing David Blaine, the street magician, starting to believe in anything, asking the significance of kissing people, and crying by the end of the song.

8. Preoccupations - "Anxiety"

When Viet Cong chooses name Preoccupations as the band's new name this April, they do not carry Viet Cong's torches on. While Viet Cong is known by their vigor--Mike Wallace's drums are ferocious as well as Munro and Christiansen's guitar riffs--Preoccupations' latest single "Anxiety" is much more somber. The first seconds of the song are filled with lulling noise that can faintly be heard. However, as the guitars and drums start to kick in, "Anxiety" proffers the same "Continental Shelf"'s vibe. The peak is when Flegel's studly voice begins the song, "With a sense of urgency and unease", showing the ominousness of the song. It may not be a perfect summer jam, but Preoccupations' "Anxiety" brings the new taste of summer: a portentous and bleak one.

9. James Blake - "I Need A Forest Fire (feat. Bon Iver)"

"I Need A Forest Fire" combines two things we miss the most in this world: James Blake's narcotic musical virtuosity and Bon Iver's versatility. Taken from Blake's third album, The Colour in Anything, "I Need A Forest Fire" explores vulnerability of a human being. It starts with a droning sound until a distant call saying "another shade/another shadow" can be heard throughout the song. Vernon's voice, still as haunting and mesmerizing as ever, soars above the call. "To burn it like cedar/ I request another dream/ I need a forest fire". Blake's distinctive voice follows as he sings, I'm saved by nature/ But it always forgets what I need/ I hope you'll stop me before I'll build a world around me". The structure of the song is recurring until the climax where Blake and Vernon's melodiously speaks together in the final chorus, the quintessence of the gloominess of the song, despite the fire title.

10. Rihanna - "Kiss It Better"

For someone whose name is as big as Rihanna, familiarity is a good thing. In her eighth album, Anti, Rihanna changes her direction, giving her fans a surprising and novel sound. Some of her fans complain that this isn't Rihanna they know, who makes ear-wormy songs, who reaches number one of Billboard Hot 100. Like it or not, Anti is Rihanna's best albums, where every songs are structured and cohered perfectly, with "Kiss It Better" and "Higher" are the highlight of the album. "Kiss It Better"--that can easily be put in Loud--is the old Rihanna, the Rihanna that her fans always hear. This R&B ballad, written and produced by Jeff Bhasker, with help from Glass John and Rihanna herself, elaborates Rihanna who lusts for her former lover, but it turns out wrong as Rihanna sings, "Man fuck your pride/just take it on back boy take it on back boy." "Kiss It Better" showcases us her talent and the reason why she's one of the greatest pop R&B singers in this generation.

11. Beyoncé - "Formation"

Despite many good songs in her surprising latest album, Lemonade, "Formation" still remains one of the best tracks, not only in Lemonade, but in her entire career. It may probably sound exaggerating, but when you've heard "Formation" for the first time, you must murmur to yourself, "Holy fuck!", blown away by the structure and the overall theme of the song. In "Formation", Queen Bey celebrates her African culture, "I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros/I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils", between the thumping beat produced by Mike Will Made It. "Formation" is like a concoction of everything you love from Beyoncé: breathtaking music video, strong political lyrics, and her sass that slays everything.

12. Radiohead - "Burn The Witch"

After wiping out Radiohead's online persona, we all know that it's just counting days before they release new music. It is predictable, but it somehow still shocks us when the prediction becomes truth. "Burn The Witch"is first released in a form of stop-motion music video which depicts Orwellian universe. The unique structure of "Burn The Witch" is highly noticeable, with the sawing string combines with bass and electronic ubiquitously dominating the whole song. Taking references from witch-hunt events that occurred in Europe and North America around 15th-18th century, "Burn The Witch" describes what it feels to live in the era. "Burn the witch/ burn the witch/ We know where you live," Yorke sings in the chorus, playing as an authority figure who forces people to turn into dissident. It's just creepy, yet still relevant till now.

13. The Avalanches - "Colours (feat. Jonathan Donahue)"

Sixteen years is the time that Australian electronic band, The Avalanches, needs to release their sophomore album, Wildflower. Even if NME condescendingly says that Wildflower sounds "meh" for something that takes so long, the fact that "Colours" is the most impressive come back of the year is undeniable. A child-like voice that shouts "Oh, colours!" in full of awe kicks in the song, and it's followed by reverse sampling of  The Sandpiper's "Where There Are Heartache". Donahue's vocals are faintly heard, hidden beneath The Sandpiper's sample, pondering about playing under the sun with sea mermaid. It sounds like a cacophonous hot mess, but in a good way, "Colours" is a tripped out rock and roll, a remnant of Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele and Tony Di Blasi's side project, and the sign of The Avalanches' return.

14. Cymbals Eat Guitars - "4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)"

The title of Cymbals Eat Guitars' second single, "4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)", is a reference to Bruce Springsteen's song. But, the resemblance just stops there. Cymbals Eat Guitars' "4th of July" is a uptempo song and weirdly fun. It's hard to hear what D'Agostino says in "4th of July", as proven by how many times the lyrics in have changed. D'Agostino's voice may sound slurry here, but it doesn't stop the spirit of 4th of July celebration in Philadelphia, where they begin their journey as they "step down the SEPTA", "make plan with Alex G", and riding a van "full up of fireworks and drunk people". The adventure just gets more exciting in chorus as D'Agostino screams at the top of his lungs, "My life is sliding by". "4th of July" reminds us of the fieriness in LOSE, and the fact that they are Alex G's friend just makes this song cooler.

15. The Hotelier - "Soft Animal"

The Hotelier's latest album, Goodness, is their best, which marks this Massachusetts-based band's maturity, with "Soft Animal", is arguably the highlight of the album. The dynamics of "Soft Animal" is remarkably well-structured. Holden sings softly at the beginning of the song, "We were cloaked in the awning of night or early morning", perfectly using matching figurative speech about nature and greenness. As the tempo scampers and the drum grows louder, the song hits a boisterous chorus, bolstered by gang's vocal on chorus which accompanies Holden's wail, "Make me feel alive/ make me believe that all my selves align." They use deer as a metaphor of caprice that comes and goes, but eventually it goes no matter how much we hold on to it ("In attempting to keep you to stay/ I am raising no alarm) and the show must go on.

16. Car Seat Headrest - "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales"

Teens of Denial, Will Toledo's follow up of his 2015's Teens of Style, is the first album of his to be recorded in a proper studio and alongside a producer and full band, and it's really exciting, as proven by "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales". "In the backseat of my heart/my love tells me I'm a mess," Toledo sings as he can't get his shit together, until he reaches the chorus when he wails, "It doesn't have to be like this." The same sentence that's repeated so many times in the song,  This six-minute track talks about post-party sadness, about "going home alone, in poor condition". The killer whales is inspired by Blackfish which according to Toledo, "is a depressing film". "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales" may be not the most effective song to remind people not to DUI, but this song's able to make us reflect our life.

17. dvsn - "Do It Well"

The best part about R&B musicians is their aplomb to turn lasciviousness into something beautiful and artful, like what Miguel did last year in "Coffee", for example. Indeed, sexual desire is something natural, but good artists will concoct this naturalness into something arty, without sounding corny and salacious. dvsn's "Do It Well" is another example, where it's basically a song about--well--stripper. Jefferies-produced thumping drum that starts the song sounds like a heartbeat as if it marked the birth of something. Daley's whispery voice begins the song, "You're the only one I can talk to/And I ain't gotta talk to you". "Do It Well"'s downtempo showcases Daley's voice as he unravels more about the stripper, celebrating her bodies, "I'm feeling fucked up, still love fucking/I ain't throwing money in the air for nothing", before he finally admits that the stripper is "the only therapy I know".

18. Big Ups - "National Parks"

It's really interesting that two of best punk songs contain the word "national park" in their title. Oxford Collapse's "Please Visit Your National Park" still remains one of the best punk songs ever in spite of their one-hit-wonder-ness, and Big Ups' "National Parks" is not so far behind. Big Ups, a Brooklyn four-piece band, releases their second album, Before A Million Universes, and the track titled "National Parks" is easily the standout track of the album. While Oxford Collapse's "Please Visit Your National Park" is more youthful, Big Ups' "National Parks" is more hip-hopp-y at the beginning of the song. Its dynamic is up and down, it starts with Joe Gallaraga's spoken voice, before being followed by his scream. It's like the palpitation of human hearts. This kind of structure ends in second part of the song, where they go all-out and pour everything they've contained in the first part, a moment of triumphant for them.

19. Parquet Courts - "Outside"

Despite its short duration, Parquet Courts' "Outside" feels so compact and infinite. Andrew Savage begins the song, "I saw a name in the graveyard that I knew/ Glowing, like the neon in a lounge light", a symbol of the omnipresence of past relationship that cannot be escaped. Savage's tone may not up and down; it tends to be indifferent, instead. However, "Outside" is clouded by regrets, as he sings in second verse "How do i blame all my carelessness on you/ Tell me, taking is mostly what it sounds like". It's really arduous to wipe all the past mark of a breakup, and Savage helps us to embrace it.

20. Porches - "Be Apart"

In "Be Apart", Aaron Maine writes from the perspective of a solitary man who finds moving body is so "physical". It's what Maine feels when he's anxious and antsy inside his apartment in New York, having been raised a small town and the complicated life of the city worries him so much. But, "Be Apart" also marks Maine's departure from his established indie rock sound where decides to make music that he really wants to listen to. "Cause I wanna be apart/ I wanna be a part," he sings in his gorgeous tenor voice in the chorus, spewing his frustration of the desire of being accepted and finding the balance of participation that works for him, between his heavily-synthesized beat.

21. Chance The Rapper - "All Night (feat. Knox Fortune)"

Chance The Rapper's Coloring Book leads the race for this year's best album, and "All Night" is definitely this year's best summer jam (Bye, "One Dance"). What could go wrong for him? It's no surprise, though, with all this sick beat and club banger rhythm, to know that it's produced by Kaytranada. Knox Fortune, who admits that it's kinda random to end up in Coloring Book, rapidly chants, "All night, I been drinking all night/ I been drinking all night, I been drinking ay ay", being reckless and careless. But, "All Night" indeed becomes Chance's chance (ha!) to be who he really is, oblivious to what others people say about him, now that him being famous and all.

22. Kristin Kontrol - "X-Communicate"

Dum Dum Girls' Kristin Welchez's solo project's debut as Kristin Kontrol embraces the 1980s sounds that have influenced her. If Dum Dum Girls uses louder and harsher approach in their music, Welchez decides to use something that's more pop and electronic. "X-Communicate" begins with a synthpop beat as Welchez sings, "I've been waiting so long with the ghost of our love/ She's as impressive as she is inspired". With a sharp songwriting, Welchez describes the past relationship when in chorus, she roars, "Should we excommunicate our love?/ Or should we wait?", between the Kurt Feldman's genius production beat, soaring above her transformation from garage-band-y Dum Dum Girls, into a queen of synthpop.

23. Angel Olsen - "Shut Up Kiss Me"

In Angel Olsen's music video of "Shut Up Kiss Me", Olsen seems really sassy, showcasing another side of hers that we've rarely seen. But again, "Shut Up Kiss Me" is also something that we've rarely heard from Angel Olsen. It's a pop-rock song with a ragged and brisky guitar riffs dominating the song. Unlike her first single, "Intern", from her upcoming album, My Woman, "Shut Up Kiss Me" is much more livelier where Olsen describes a woman's infatuation that's courageous and bold, that woman can also get what she wants. "I could make it all go away/ Tell me what you think/ Don't delay." "Shut Up Kiss Me" becomes a sweet and brave romantic song that potentially becomes a kind of anthem.

24. Blood Orange - "Augustine" 

"My father was a young man/My mother, off the boat/My eyes were fresh at 21", Hynes recalls the life of his parents who both are immigrants. His father moved from Sierra Leone to London when he's 21, as her mother moved from Guyana. At the same age, Dev Hynes moved to New York City. But, "Augustine" is much more than a song about origins. When he quotes St. Augustine's scripture, the man who spread Christianity in Africa, in chorus, "Saint Augustine/ Late have I loved and chose to see", "Augustine" becomes something that reflects the influence of our faith in our life. Hynes states that the Christianity weaves his life, whether it's good or bad, but in "Augustine" Hynes comes to the state of acceptance. In the end of the song, he talks about Nontetha, a South African woman, who's put in mental institution because she built church for black people which scared the government. He sings in Krio, the native language of his father, as a proof that he never forgets his root, that he begins to understand himself a little bit more.

25. Savages - "Adore"

In "Adore", the first single of their sophomore album, the quartet British band, Savages, decides to slow it down. It may not be as ferocious as "Husbands" from 2013's Silence Yourself, but it isn't Savages if it doesn't convey some message. "Adore" is structured like a poem, containing three verses, in where each verses, Jehnny Beth questions the life choices and their compromises, starting each verses with "if only" and closing it by asking, "Is it human to adore life?" "Adore" is quiet at the beginning, mostly hypnotic, where the instruments are faintly heard and Beth seems like talking to us personally before the hook. In the hook part, "Adore" beams like a pulsar, so emotional as Beth sings, "I understand the urgency of life/ In the distance there is truth which cuts like a knife", solemnly understanding the shortness of life. It's no surprise if Savages ends the song with more question, "I adore life. Do you adore life?" The question is not trivial, it questions the fundamental source of human's strength.

26. David Bowie - "Dollar Days"

The great David Bowie's last legacy, Blackstar, is released in his 69th birthday, two days before his death, juxtaposing these two most important life events accurately. In "Dollar Days", Bowie also juxtaposes the regrets and success of his career life, contemplating what he may be or not be in the afterlife. As Bowie repeats, "I'm dying to" over and over, it becomes clear that "Dollar Days" contains the secret message of Bowie who wanted to say, "I'm dying, too," clandestinely, especially as no one knows Bowie secretly battled cancer. "Dollar Days" represents the life of his as a palmy superstar which he regretted sometimes. He thought of everything he's done, his eccentricity, his life choices, but he realized that those kind of things shape him to be who he really was and paved the way to where he really in: an eternal superstar. David Bowie may be gone, but his legacy may remains with us all.

27. School of Seven Bells - "This Is Our Time"

"Our time is indestructible," says Alejandra Deheza in "This Is Our Time", taken from School of Seven Bells' (ostensibly) final album, SVIIB. The album's nuance is dreamy and peaceful since it is intended to be a tribute for late Benjamin Curtis who passed away in December 2013 after losing the battle with his lymphoma disease. Alejandra Deheza--the only member of School of Seven Bells--finishes this album with the memories of Curtis that spark and burn inside her mind. SVIIB is the School of Seven Bells's most personal album, where most of the album is filled with farewell. In "This Is Our Time", Deheza sounds scared as she has to depart with Curtis and her fans. "No one can say we're too young/to decide that we're gold," Deheza sings, reflecting Curtis' death in such young age. But, after she truces with herself, she says that her memories of Curties, her memories of School of Seven Bells, and her memories of her fans are all "eternal".

28. Woods - "Sun City Creeps"

Throughout around a decade of their journey, Brooklyn folk-rock band, Woods, have steered their music in different direction, as proven in their first single of their ninth album, "Sun City Creeps", which is a seedy and seductive folk song--if it's deemed as folk song, but honestly it sounds much more like jazz, and a little bit reggae infusion. The subtle blow of the horn that begins the song gives warm and beautiful nuance, like a crepuscular ray that slips between the clouds in the sky. It opens their ninth album, City Sun Eater In The River of Light, as a statement that after making music for decades, they're not worn out yet, they can still offer something new. They prove that there's something new under the sun.

29. Kamaiyah - "Come Back"

When I first listen to Kamaiyah's A Good Night In The Ghetto, my mind instantly jumps to Dej Loaf, who both have androgynous voice. If you only listen to Kamaiyah's song and never look up her pictures, you'll be surprised that this heavy voice comes from a female rapper. In terms of musicality, Kamaiyah is like the reborn of Missy Elliott. Kamaiyah's debut mixtape, A Good Night In The Ghetto, gives us nostalgic feeling of 90's hip hop song, where female rapper is strongly influential. "Come Back" may not be the best song in her mixtape, but it's indeed the most fun one. In "Come Back" recalls her ex boyfriend who wants to come back, but she doesn't want to. "Your bullshit, I don't want that," Kamaiyah states boldly that she's sick of her ex's bullshit.

30. Maxwell - "1990x"

"1990x", the second single from Maxwell's long-anticipated album, blackSUMMERS'night, is a sleek R&B song, adding another nod to the revival of R&B songs this year. Compared to his previous breakthrough, "Pretty Wings", "1990x" may not share the same eclecticism, but indeed it sounds much more modern. In "1990x", Maxwell still flaunts his falsetto voice, talking about love, the universal theme of all song in this world.“There’s no song that defines it/ There’s no music behind it/ There’s no lyric to read from/ It’s just you and the moment," Maxwell flirts in the chorus part--somehow it feels ironic, especially his "1990x" can be the song that defines the perfect condition of love. "1990x" is an evocative song that turns people, and this is why we miss Maxwell at the first place. The wait for blackSUMMERS'night is over, and it is indeed worth the wait.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review Wednesday: Preoccupations - "Anxiety"


Preoccupations'--formerly known as Viet Cong--debut album, Viet Cong, is released last year, but its impressiveness still remains until today. Viet Cong is where outstanding tracks, such as "Continental Shelf" and "Death" dwell, and every single time these tracks are played, there's always something breathtaking from the song that awes us. 

When they choose name Preoccupations as the band's new name this April--due to unintentional subversive and offensive name--they do not carry Viet Cong's torches on. While Viet Cong that most of us listen to is known by their vigor--Mike Wallace's drums are ferocious as well as Munro and Christiansen's guitar riffs--Preoccupations' latest single "Anxiety" somehow sounds more somber. The first seconds of the song are filled with lulling noise--something that's not the distinctive features of the band. However, as the guitars and drums start to kick in, "Anxiety" offers the same "Continental Shelf"'s vibe. The peak is when Flegel's studly voice begins the song, "With a sense of urgency and unease", showing the ominousness of the song. It's no joke how ominous the song is, as Flegel continues in the bridge, "Help has fallen by the wayside/ Nowhere near to finding better ways to be". That way, "Anxiety" feels familiar, yet obscure at the same time. It may not be a perfect summer jam, but Preoccupations' "Anxiety" brings the new taste of summer: a portentous and bleak one. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review Sunday: Maxwell - "1990x"


The first time I listened to Maxwell is seven years ago, when he released "Pretty Wings". I was still in middle school back then. "Pretty Wings" infuses gamelan chimes in it, and I have high pride with my local culture back then, and this song definitely awed me and my heart is suddenly is filled with incessant pride. I was instantly captivated by the song, pondering how a modest and simple song can be so resonant and extravagant at the same time. But, after listening to his other songs, that's Maxwell's best trademarks, aside from his gorgeous and beautiful falsetto. 

"1990x", the second single from his long-anticipated album, blackSUMMERS'night, is a sleek R&B song, adding another nod to the revival of R&B songs this year. Still, Maxwell flaunts his falsetto voice, talking about love, the universal theme of all song in this world.“There’s no song that defines it/ There’s no music behind it/ There’s no lyric to read from/ It’s just you and the moment," Maxwell flirts in the chorus part--somehow it feels ironic, especially his "1990x" can be the song that defines the perfect condition of love. "1990x" is an evocative song that turns people, and this is why we miss Maxwell at the first place. The wait for blackSUMMERS'night is over, and it is indeed worth the wait. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review Tuesday: Cymbals Eat Guitars - "Wish"

Cymbals Eat Guitars
Pretty Years

After releasing "Aerobed" at the end of last year, I always think that Cymbals Eat Guitars' next album will sound similar with their previous releases. Man, those fiery and ferocious guitar riffs are such a music to your ear. After all, that's one of their finest qualities, alongside emotional lyrics that's able to stab your guts like a serrated knife. But, when they share "Wish" as the first single out of their latest album, Pretty Years (out September 16th), it's not only Nothing or White Lung who change their musical direction. In Pretty Years, bassist Matthew Whipple says that they "wanted to make a more energetic record", and judging from the sound of "Wish", their purpose has been pretty much accomplished. 

The 1970s element that blankets the song can be heard unequivocally, heavily inspired by "Springsteen, ’70s Bowie, the Smiths, the Cure, Neil Young". Cymbals Eat Guitars probably is one of the few bands who can incorporate keyboard in a rock song in a harmonious way, and that's once again proven in this song. D'Agostino's growling voice is still as mesmerizing as ever as he soars above the Cymbals Eat Guitars' new groovy beat until the chorus comes, the only part that's almost exactly like what Cymbals Eat Guitars is usually heard. D'Agostino ends it by "I wish that I told you", before being followed by the insane squawky sax, like a party popper, that works--it's like what wise people say, "Sax sells." Cymbals Eat Guitars' "Wish" is a song of regret, but it's embodied in a complete and thorough structure. If Pretty Years sounds something like this, well, yeah, it's something that we all need to look forward to.