Weekend Watch: Reviews from the Week of 10/19


Calkie Fisseha, Samantha Young, and Max Gowan

Childbirth- Women‰’s Rights (Suicide Squeeze)

By Deanna Mudry

“You‰’re pregnant and I wanna have a good time‰Û

Women‰’s Rights at surface level is a quick, lo-fi surf punk romp whose instrumental sound is way more upbeat than the tracks‰’ themes actually are.

This album just takes really monotonous things that everyone hates and turns them into catchy punk tracks, making it feel like the result of a giant dish-fest that probably went down as follows: “You know what I hate?‰” “What?‰” “Tech bros‰” “Yesss, saaaame!‰” In fact, Women‰’s Rights feels like a well-founded burn book made during a hangout sesh between the members of Chastity Belt, Tacocat and Pony Time that make up the side-project-ish Childbirth.

And of course, this burn sesh was not without drama. The album features a Best Coast diss track called “Breast Coast (Hangin‰’ Out)‰” featuring the gloriously vague “Hangin‰’ out, doing stuff, doing whatever/ Will you be my boyfriend? I‰’ll love you forever,‰” honestly not a far cry from the Best Coast track “Boyfriend,‰” which although with a catchy melody has vapid lyrics.

This album has the same formula, but in a way that‰’s self-aware. Women‰’s Rights brings the downers but in such a fun way. They give you the feeling of disillusionment after finally getting the boyfriend you wanted and make sure to let you know that “I‰’ve got eggs by the dozen and you‰’ve got none‰” and “Pregnancy doesn‰’t have to be a drag/ There‰’s a little pocket for cocaine in your baby bag.‰Û

This album‰’s lyrics are basically melting the face off of everything that may bring joy to your average “millennial‰” life, setting it up to be a real downer, but because the music is so fun it almost doesn‰’t matter and is an interesting combination to listen to.

RIYL: Chastity Belt, Tacocat, Sleater Kinney, Le Tigre

Recommended: 2, 9, 12, 13

The Icarus Line- All Things Under Heaven (American Primitive/Agitated Records)

By Ian Evans

Don‰’t expect to like it, but you might love it.

You shouldn‰’t expect the first two minutes of this album to be indicative of the entire record, but at the same time, don‰’t think it‰’ll turn into a Walk the Moon album. All Things Under Heaven gets going like a 98‰’ Volkswagen on a minus 15 degree morning. That being said, a lot of songs on the album get going like that. The Icarus Line start their eighth full-length with a series of bubbling band noises then a series of loud strikes gaining intensity with whooping vocals. Nevertheless, the song begins thrashing in a minor-key dirge that is angry, angsty and everything you want it to be.

Perhaps All Things Under Heaven is not an album for the Twitter age. But I think the band would argue that this album is very much a protest of that culture.With an approximate length of 76 minutes, with six of the 12 songs breaking five minutes, All Things Under Heaven covers a lot of bases. Guitars are tuned down with halloween-like distortion. The song title “Total Pandemonium‰” describes the drumming. Vocals are characterized by frequent and startling screams and whoops. If I was to describe the sound of the album in one word, I‰’d say “nervous‰Û. “Total Pandemonium‰” starts with a spooky synth solo and a spoken verse that jolts suddenly into high gear when the band breaks into this whiny stoner jam. About 80 percent of the vocals on this song are screamed which complements the chromatic guitar playing.

Juxtapose the loudness and dynamism of some of the songs with some of the spoken pieces on the album like “All Things Under Heaven‰” or “Millennial Prayer‰” and you‰’ve got something pretty unrelatable to anything I‰’ve heard. The title track is a two minute televangelist-like rant on procreative sex and death. Keeping with their Mythological name, there persists a theme of religion and stoicism on the album. “Millenial Prayer‰” again explores the world of spoken verse on an album. This time they take aim at social media culture and a lot of attitudes held by our generation. I think Rough Trade hit the nail on the head when they pointed out that the Los Angeles band has a work here that is very analogous to the city itself. It sprawls on forever. It writhes and thrashes like back alleys. It has pockets of hysterical intensity. It‰’s callous and dry. “Mirror‰” is a 3/4 ruckus tune that builds up until the drums cut out and the band suddenly breaks into an awesome adrenaline-pumping jam of anguish filled yells and overdrive. I‰’m not exactly sure what to get out of this album but I see it as a rejection of a lot of things present in music today. It is antithetic to digestible pop music that one can listen to thirty seconds of. The Icarus line does not cut to the chase or parade around showing off the deep secrets of All Things Under Heaven. You have to listen to it for yourself.

RIYL: Thee Oh Sees, Hookworms, King Gizzard

Recommended Tracks: 1,2,8,10

CHVRCHES- Every Open Eye (Glassnote Entertainment Group)

By Calkie Fisseha

The perfect music to jam to at a festival AND sing to in the shower

CHVRCHES continually delivers, and this album is no different. Their distinct sound is unmatched in the industry; Lauren Mayberry‰’s high pitched, yet soulful voice is one that puts this band on the big stage. Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are the other part of the trio and although they do not have large vocal parts like Lauren, they play a huge role in the amazing background instruments and production of CHVRCHES.

Every Open Eye captures the essence of CHVRCHES‰’ European influences and monuments their place in my heart. The album was just released in the last week of September and has already tracks with more than 3 million plays on Spotify. That‰’s because everything on the LP is catchy and brilliantly produced.

Listening to the album is comparable to watching a movie, it fits every plot chart you‰’ve filled out since middle school. The first track “Never Ending Circles‰Û, is the perfect introduction for someone not familiar with CHVRCHES and their type of music. Doherty lends his silky voice to the 6th track on the LP, “High Enough To Carry You Over‰Û, and it‰’s a beautiful peak in the story, while giving another person center stage. The story ends with “Afterglow‰Û. The name itself very fitting for an ending of an album. The track is a delicate ballad that highlights Mayberry‰’s voice, but it still has the very distinct CHVRCHES sound.

It‰’s easy for bands to get repetitive when they sing over a catchy beat, but CHVRCHES continues to avoid that problem. CHVRCHES is one of those bands you can always depend on to make some good music, and they did no different with this album. Every Open Eye is definitely a strong point.

RIYL: Phantogram, Years and Years, Cherub

Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 6, 7

Noirre ‰ÛÒ Nostalgia (Self-Released)

By Matt Reise


Kick back with mainstream/indie easy listening

Ugh, it‰’s finally starting to happen. The next generation of musicians is starting to emerge, and they‰’re younger than me. I never thought it would happen so soon… Like I‰’m 19, would it kill these young artists to chill out on the weekends and watch Netflix and eat Cheetos like normal teenagers? Looking at you, Lorde… Anyway, at the ripe old age of 18, Noirre has already reached star-like status with his knack for song-writing. His single released in February climbed all the way to #1 on the Indie Rock Billboards, edging out formidable competitors like Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, and Phoenix.

His writing skills are indeed impressive, as his album Nostalgia—which he produced all by himself—showcases beautifully. Though his sound isn‰’t exactly unique, it does pull from a remarkably broad foundation of styles. Songs have R&B, country, jazz, blues, and reggae influences, along with heavy singer/songwriter ties. Even though the record is firmly grounded along the indie pop/rock spectrum, these flavors of various genres spice up the sound and keep every song on the record fresh. Being from NorCal, Noirre‰’s songs give off awesome kick-back vibes as the syncopated guitars strum alongside his flawless voice. On that note, this guy‰’s crooning sounds totally effortless, like silk streaming out of speakers. I‰’m remarkably impressed by this youngin‰’. He‰’s got genuine talent, and we should keep our ears tuned to him in the coming years.

RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, Eric Hutchinson, The Weeknd

Recommended: 7, 2, 3, 4

Blackalicious – Imani Vol. 1 (OGM Recordings)

By John Waaben

Beloved conscious hip-hop grandpas come back with authentically warm but different sound

Emcee Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel return after a ten years hiatus from their project Blackalicious to create Imani Vol. 1, the first album in a three-volume series to be dropping in two years. Blackalicious has always been a conscious act through their ongoing lyrical and sonic dissertations on the usual tropes of the genre such as criticizing the glorification of gangsta culture and celebrating Afrocentrism but their work always possesses an overarching sense of positivity when compared to other artists in the genre. Imani Vol. 1 is their most alacritous and cozy record in this regard, never failing to ever to bring a smile to one‰’s face as they bang their head through each song. For example, the very first spoken words on the album‰’s first track are “Never let life‰’s troubles block your flow‰” followed by the chanting of the word imani. Imani, or faith in Swahili, carries itself as the central theme throughout the album as Gab, Xcel, and his featuring artists celebrate the overcoming of adversity and the beauty of living through their faith. The albums build to this conclusion of positivity from the relatively dark and aggressive beginnings of the album with the second track “Blacka‰Û, an affirmation of Gab‰’s identity as an artist and as a black man, and the fourth track “Escape‰Û, which hones in on the dysfunctional cycle of street culture and how it erodes the integrity of men in the black community. But songs such as “The Sun‰Û, “Inspired‰Û, and “Love‰’s Gonna Save the Day‰” which appear in the second half of the album triumphantly assert all that is right in the world and crescendo to the infectiously motivational and inspiring final track “Imani‰Û.

But Imani Vol. 1 also differs stylistically from their other projects. Xcel‰’s production has synthesized with the beatmaker‰’s signature channelling of golden age hip-hop beats with the use of low-fi samples and boom-bap drums combined with a mainstream-esque smooth sound with modern synths and polished instruments. Gab as well sounds different compared to previous projects such as Blazing Arrow. His flow is not as quick and velvety but his tone and lyrics reflect a more mature and contemplative individual which he even ponders upon in the second to last track “Hourglass‰Û. Nevertheless, the album‰’s greatest strength is in its contagiously energetic production and thought-provoking bars that bring listeners back again and again for a more introspective listening session which will not fail to brighten their day. Imani Vol. 1 comes recommended to anyone who may be turned off by the antagonistic sound hip-hop may have at times and willing to give the genre a try and also to long time listeners of Blackalicious and other hip-hop artists wanting to enjoy a particularly warm and uplifting record.

RIYL: A Tribe Called Quest, Black Star, Hieroglyphics, Del the Funky Homosapien

Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 6, 12

JR JR- JR JR (Warner Bros. Records)

By Emily Langlois

Uplifting and unique indie beats to give energy and spark nostalgia

The only thing that I can effectively compare this album to is a sunrise: JR JR puts out refreshing and soothingly melodic tracks that have a warm disposition. This self-titled album allows the listener to feel a sense of ascension through its complex rhythms and inspiring vocals. After going through some dark times or just listening to a heavier genre, JR JR offers the kind of “scream at the top of your lungs into your hairbrush while dancing in your underwear‰” (good luck to those of you in triples) tunes that can relieve tension and in the simplest of terms, make you happy. The second song off the album, “Gone‰Û, begins with a ukulele melody reminiscent of “Here Comes the Sun‰” that makes it impossible to not want to jam, especially when the catchy whistle part kicks in. It illustrates JR JR‰’s ability to capture the listener‰’s emotions, and is predicted to be the hit single from the album. Those of you hopeless optimists who hate seeing the end of summer, close your eyes and listen to “In My Mind (Summertime); it‰’ll take you right back to hazy sun-drenched and sand-covered dog days. Overall, JR JR oozes with the perfect amount of positivity while maintaining respectable production artistry.

Although JR JR (Previously named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) has been around since 2010, this album could be a breakthrough for them on the indie-pop spectrum, especially with the genre‰’s increasing popularity among the entertainment industry. JR JR is going on tour this fall, and I anticipate they‰’re going to be able to draw quite the impressive crowd of indie lovers alike; hopefully they‰’ll be able to put on a show that will energize their fans as much as this album does.

RIYL: The Griswolds, The Naked and Famous, Cherub

Recommended: 3, 4, 7, 9

Blitzen Trapper ‰ÛÒ All Across This Land (Vagrant)

By Max Gowan

Experimental Rock/Country Outfit Falls Slightly Short

Many of Blitzen Trapper‰’s previous releases have been absolutely outstanding; 2007‰’s Wild Mountain Nation and its follow-up Furr blended elements of 1970‰’s roots rock sensibilities with modern indie-folk and subtle sonic experimentation. With that in mind, I was certainly surprised when I put on the first track of All Across This Land and heard a glitzy, polished production and powerhouse guitar licks that sounded like they could‰’ve come from some early Thin Lizzy solos. Seriously, the first two tracks on this record have way too much guitar wankery. I was slightly disappointed to hear them reaching for riffs that are the low-hanging fruit of southern rock; stuff that has been done time and time again by countless bands.

Vocally and lyrically, this album doesn‰’t live up to the Blitzen Trapper that I enjoyed on previous records. Lead singer Eric Farley has added a somewhat generic grit and drawl to his voice that is more reminiscent of Luke Bryan than it is of Jeff Tweedy, or any other artist that the band cites as an influence. It feels like they are striving for more radio play with some of the singles on this record, such as “Rock and Roll (Was Made for You)‰” where Farley sings cringefully “Rock and roll won‰’t ease your mind, but you‰’ll find it‰’ll ease your soul‰Û. Although the album does feature some good lines, the lyrics tend to fall short with almost lazy quips like “stupid, strange, and young at heart/all we wanted was to rock and roll‰” which Farley sings on “Nights Were Made for Love‰Û. Rock and roll. They really like rock and roll.

None of this is to say that All Across This Land doesn‰’t have its moments, there are a few great tunes on this album. “Even if You Don‰’t‰” is a more traditional country song with more subtle experimentation sonically and honestly one of the catchiest melodies I have heard in a while. The closing track “Across the River‰” strips back the production and relies on a folksy atmosphere with acoustic guitars and harmonicas. It reminds me of Bob Dylan, and what Blitzen Trapper can sound like during their more heartfelt moments, which at least ended the album on a good note.

RIYL: Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, The Eagles, Ryan Adams

Recommended Tracks: 3,4,9,10

Autre Ne Veut – Age of Transparency (Downtown)

By Samantha Young

Experimental jazzy indie RnB to have sex to

Stereogum claimed that PBR&B “reached its saturation point‰” in April 2014, but Autre Ne Veut proves nearly a year and a half later that the genre is not only still alive and kicking, but progressing and evolving. What Age of Transparency contributes to the genre is truly revolutionary— the electronic music aspects are unique and original, introducing the listener to a whole different underrated side of electronic sound that mainstream pop steers clear of. This is mixed in with the brave usage of a variety of instruments. I was particularly impressed with the upright bass in “Never Wanted.‰” The rest of the album showcases wind and brass instruments, as well as a choir that dominates the album as one of its most defining features. In addition to the chorus of voices, Autre Ne Veut‰’s stands out as it wails and moans, exploring both a tender falsetto and a strong, raw belting, pushing the human vocal chords to their limits.

It‰’s a little harsh at points as he experiments with electronica, but Autre Ne Veut proves that indie RnB is here to stay, and I‰’m completely on board with that.

RIYL: Miguel, Banks, Grimes, Flume

Recommended: 2, 4, 5