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. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review Friday: Nothing - "Nineteen Ninety Heaven"

"Nineteen Ninety Heaven"
Tired of Tomorrow

When Philadelphian shoegaze band, Nothing, released their first album (Guilty of Everything) in 2014, they use more grunge-y and hardcore approach, the manifestation of frontman Dominic Palermo's regret when he was jailed for stabbing someone at show. So, when they skid in their sophomore album, Tired of Tomorrow, changing their musical artistry direction from hardcore to something that sounds gentler, the result is gorgeous. And "Nineteen Ninety Heaven" as the most gorgeous thing in Tired of Tomorrow is the finest example of song about the depression that infects people. 

A placid and slow drumbeat starts the song to represent the silence of forlornness. With a simple and brief lyrics, "See you/ crying/ softly/ so cautiously", Palermo describes the ultimate sadness of a significant other who cries softly that it hurts. The guitar riff that adorns the song is faintly heard throughout the song, strengthening the depressive atmosphere of the song. "Then you/ glide off/ so gently/ baby," Palermo continues, picturesquely describing a sad separation. In the climax of the song, after his lover has gone, the world turns dark and "life's nightmare". There's no resolution of the song, and the whole nuance of the song is bleak, but it realistically portrays the lowest point of human's life; the fact that depression may sometimes be unsolvable. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review Saturday: CHVRCHES - "Warning Call"

"Warning Call"
Theme from Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Electronic Arts

Glaswegian synth-pop band CHVRCHES understands the adage that says "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", as proven by their sophomore album, Every Open Eye. Their debut, The Bones of What You Believe, fantastically works and becomes a masterpiece. It's not a surprise if they want to achieve the same lofty Metacritic rating for their sophomore album. But somehow, Every Open Eye, doesn't work. It has the similar sound, but it lacks the "it" factor that's apparent in The Bones of What You Believe, making CHVRCHES become one of the sophomore slump's victims. Don't get me wrong, Every Open Eye is still a great album, but it's much inferior compared to that chef d'ouvre called The Bones of What You Believe. Gladly, we don't need to wait too long for CHVRCHES to redeem themselves.  In "Warning Call", a theme song from the reboot of Mirror's Edge, CHVRCHES reminds us the "it" factor that makes them great. 

Making music for video games is not easy. It should be emotional because playing games itself is an emotional journey as we melt with the characters who embark on a covetous journey that we've always wished for. Music for video games must match the twirl of human being's feeling: when it's sad, it should be so sad that your heart bleeds; when it's blithe, it should be so cheerful that it pumps you up. "Warning Call" does them all. Mayberry sings from Faith's point of view, the main character in Mirror's Edge Catalyst who seeks freedom from a glass city. You can sense the forlornness in "Warning Call", a scream from girl who's trammeled in a dystopian city, but you can also feel her glimmer of hope as Mayberry soars, "Looked out on the cold ground / and we try to break the fall". "Warning Call"'s vigor suits Faith who happens to be a daring free runner. Its vigor makes you excited as well, but makes you cry at the same time. Their ability to twist our emotion is the reason why we love CHVRCHES at the first place. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hidden Track: Japandroids - "Crazy/Forever"


Seven years ago, Japandroids fell in love. Their debut album, Post-Nothing, which is released on April 27, 2009 becomes their pedestal to showcase and flaunt their declaration of love. You can feel their ephebic recklessness and high school spirit that heavily influence their debut album. They elaborate what it looks like when a bunch of punk boys fall in love. They sound harsh, surprisingly shy and (unsurprisingly) cheesy. Post-Nothing becomes their pioneer opus that records their roughness, a stepping stone which will later help them establish their position in the world's punk rock industry. 

It's an interesting thing to notice that the longest song in Japandroids' debut album, "Crazy/Forever"--its duration is more than six minutes--only consists of ten words while majority of the song is filled with an extravagant concoction of Brian King's guitar riffs and David Prowse's drum beat. With throaty voice, King and Prowse romantically whisper their cheesy lines, "We'll stick together forever/ Stay stick together/ Be crazy forever" over and over, but it doesn't sound monotonous. It's fine, though, to be cheesy as we all can't deny that we have undergone a cheesy and corny phase, when stupid love songs are our best friend, we're aggressively obsessed with our crush, and we're unable to live without her or him. "Crazy/Forever" reminisces us that phase, celebrating our youth when we bumptiously believe that nothing can destroy us, until the reality hits us. Even if it's not until 2012 before they start celebrating anything, but Post-Nothing, and especially "Crazy/Forever", paves their way to that celebration.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review Sunday: KAYTRANADA - "GOT IT GOOD (feat. Craig David)"

"GOT IT GOOD (feat. Craig David)"
XL Recordings

When is the last time we hear something good from Craig David? David pretty much goes inconspicuous after his 2008's greatest hits album which features "Insomnia", and he's never heard since then. So, when Canadian producer Louis Celestin, or KAYTRANADA, invites back David to the relevancy, their collaboration should be something we should look forward to. After all, KAYTRANADA is known by his knack for bringing the best of his collaborator, as proven in his single, "Glowed Up", which features his fidus Achates, Anderson. Paak. And that's what David needs: a prodigy. Unsurprisingly, their collaboration works. When I first hear KAYTRANADA's debut album, 99.9%, "GOT IT GOOD" instantly grabs my attention. 

One of the reasons is because of David's evocative and distinctive voice that mellifluously suits KAYTRANADA's composition, that is heavily infused with drum beat and synthesizers. Without spending any time, KAYTRANADA blasts the chorus at the beginning of the song, celebrating wealthiness and consumerism as David sings, "Don’t worry ‘bout the tag/ Go and throw it in the bag/ Cause I got it good." When most of other songs explicitly state that money is not everything, "GOT IT GOOD" becomes the anti-"Price Tag", contradicting everything Jessie J has tried to establish six years ago. But, in "GOT IT GOOD", David provides ground why money matters, because she is "worth it" and "she held me down when I had nothing". David may pompously flaunt his opulence, max credit card, rare Nike shoes, and "Buckingham Palace", but it is justifiable. It's Craig David, dude! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Review Friday: James Blake - "I Need A Forest Fire (feat. Bon Iver)"

James Blake
"I Need A Forest Fire (feat. Bon Iver)"
The Colour in Anything

"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 and somber of the song, despite the fire title. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Review Thursday: Mitski - "Happy"

Puberty 2
Dead Oceans

Ever since Pharrell Williams' smash-hit "Happy" was ubiquitously heard in every radio station back in 2014, we always think of that ear-wormy and catchy tune every time we feel blithe and happy. Mitski Miyawaki, or more known by her first name Mitski, tries to re-brand the whole concept of happiness by creating an ominous song called "Happy". It's the second song she throws after "Your Best American Girl"--a paroxysmal song about unrequited love (one of the finest songs this year)--as a teaser of her fourth studio album (and her first with Dead Oceans label), Puberty 2. 

In "Happy", still as tumultuous as ever, Mitski anthrophormizes happiness as a one night stand man who promises to stay, but leaves in the next morning. She depicts happiness as a man who "bought cookies on the way", whispering at the beginning of the song between the soft drum beat. As the instrument gets louder and the blowing sound of horn is heard, Mitski realizes that the happiness is a jerk as he's gone while she goes to bathroom ("I was in the bathroom/ I didn’t hear him leave/ I locked the door behind him"). Complaining of the mess he left behind, Mitski sings, "Well I sighed and mumbled to myself/ Again I have to clean." Mitski's "Happy" has an ironic feeling to it as it is a parable of the sinuous happiness, the up-and-down of our feeling, and an allegory of happiness and sadness; both can't last forever, no matter how tight we hold on to each of them.