Buddy – Harlan & Alondra review

I only became aware of Buddy a few months back, when he released his highly anticipated collaboration with A$AP Ferg. The hard hitting melodic trap banger ‘black’ was a catchy introduction to his music for me. On this album however, Buddy shows he is much more than your average American rapper, blending a variation of Afro-soul and funk instrumentation into one of the most pleasant albums of the summer. ‘Trouble on Central’ could slip very fittingly onto an album by the likes of Goldlink or even BROCKHAMPTON. ‘The Blue’ transports you to a world full of beaches, sunshine and general happiness. Do I need to sell it to you anymore? It’s a brilliant debut album and one I will have on rotation for a while.

My favourite track has to be ‘Trippin’, his collaboration with popular vocalist ‘Khalid’. As one of the more vivacious songs, touching upon the problem with drugs and mental health, it champions a blissful psychedelic melody, which sits so fittingly on top of a hard beat, that works simultaneously with his natural flow.

I was slightly sceptical when coming into this album, but only for the reason that I thought it would be another rap album full of trap beats, and with no real variety or story behind it. This was not the case. What Buddy has created is very exciting and deserves more praise than it will probably get.

The Internet – Hive Mind review

Syd the Kid has come along way since her more provocative days in Odd Future. Legend has it that Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and the rest of OFWGKTA would go to her house to make their early mixtapes. Now though, Syd, Steve Lacy, Matt Martians, Patrick Paige and Christopher Smith are making music so effortless and funky; blending genres like R&B and Jazz to distinguish themselves from the cult-rap collective they were once associated with.

THE INTERNET

Lead single ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’ combines tantalising textures of soulful vocals with an incredibly infectious baseline; strong enough to get anybody grooving.  Steve Lacy’s imperative lyrics are luring and invite us, as listeners, to join their party of unravelling rhythms. The album was created “all over the world” said Syd in a Reddit Q&A, this really comes through – especially in the last three tracks. Made in Australia, the tunes have a hazier vibe and show a switch in mood for the LP. Relaxed, soothing and breezy, ‘Beat Goes On’ and ‘Wanna Be’, especially, sound a lot more carefree than the other tracks.

Key themes addressed in their lyrics, like homosexual love, are uniquely interweaved into scintillating synths, which sit fittingly throughout the whole record. This project is the strongest sign of all of the member’s solo projects coming together to produce an exclusive sound that their family like following craves. The lack of features on this LP is probably the only initial downfall I can think of. Previously, we have been treated with features from the likes of KAYTRANADA and Tyler, the Creator. Often, this takes their music to the next level, adding an element to their music that makes it more out of the ordinary. You could therefore, maybe, say that this new album feels slightly safe; Syd and Co don’t heavily experiment with the sound they are known for. However, considering how good their previous album ‘Ego Death’ is, this doesn’t necessarily matter, and can consequently be an aspect we hope to see in their future LPs.

 

Brockhampton release single ‘1999 Wildfire’ in lead up to new album

3 albums in 7 months? Brockhampton are a rap collective who have made the seemingly impossible very much possible. The recent departure of Ameer Vann could have created a chaotic atmosphere in the boy’s camp but the first single off  their fourth coming record shows the boundaries they are willing to push.

Kevin Abstract and co invent a soundscape of safaris and exotic wildlife whilst harmonising in a way very similar André 3000 and Big Boi in Outkast classics like ‘Miss Jackson’. The squelchy beat perfectly complements the hypnotic flutes and dreamy guitar rhythms and expresses just how versatile of a group the Texas based group can be.

This is a tune made for the summer. The chorus’ psychedelic guitar breaks emphasises the idyllic tone to the track and makes it one of the most catchy rap songs of the year. Dom McLennon absolutely kills it on this one, his vocals seem best suited to the beat, but you’d be lying if you didn’t say that they all smashed this one.

Songs of the month – April 2018

Yellow Days – The Way Things Change

Yesterday I came to the brutal reality that 19 year old Yellow Days, being only a few months older than me, has probably achieved more in his life already than I ever will. With an EP, full length album, a sold out show at the KOKO and performances over in America all under his belt, at such a young age, could he have achieved anymore? In a recent interview with Notion magazine, George Van Den Broek described himself as a ‘fool’ in his early years of adolescence, choosing a ‘wild time’ over his many friends. However, this has only fuelled the lyricism of his work and ignited a newly nurtured psychedelic sound that his new single pursues. If you like your Mac Demarco or Thundercat, give this single a listen.

Bakar – All In

Also known as Badkid, Bakar recently filmed himself performing in LA for his instagram account; this is the first time I’d been able to catch him perform and the lad has a real presence. It is no shock that the likes of The Great Escape have snagged him to perform at their festival and with his first ever solo show at the Camden Assembly, sold out of course, his music is finally taking to the stage. Bakar has established a very eloquent sound;  ‘All In’ infuses lo-fi synths with punchy guitar and drum patterns, producing a dreamy soundscape – yet another indie heart warmer from the increasingly prolific Londoner.

A$AP Rocky – A$AP Forever

Featuring the forever eclectic Moby, ‘A$AP Forever’ expresses a maturity to Rocky’s music that I feel everyone has been craving recently. Not to say that ‘Lord Pretty Flacko’ hasn’t killed it on his string of trappy features but this song feels like a renovation of the A$AP sound, and one fans should be breaking arms and legs to hear more of. The assortment of scintillating strings, a euphoric ‘boom clap’ beat and dreamy female vocals makes this one of the most accomplished rap tracks of the year. Rocky has proven he is one of the biggest innovators of postmodern rap.

Novelist – Smiles

Novelist’s debut album ‘Novelist Guy’ was always going to be one of the most unique grime projects of the year. ‘Smiles’ is a track that differentiates the Lewisham boy from the crowd and justifies the praise he has received from the likes of Skepta and Julie Adenuga. Glazing a mellow beat with his self-reflective bars, giving us an insight to his upbringing and establishment of success, the tune is definitely one that goes against the grain of your typical grime banger. Definitely one for the summer.

Roll (Burbank Funk)

The evolution of the Internet has been a fascinating one. Even though Matt Martians, Syd the Kid and Steve Lacey have had successful solo releases, they seem their most comfortable and overt together. What a groove this track has, the jazzy instrumentation and acapella of vocals are the definition of funky and a great taster of just how great their new album will be. This is actually my favourite cut they have ever released, the most musically interesting for sure. Check back for a review of their full length LP when it is released.

Rejjie Snow + Slowthai & Ebenezer @ The Cambridge Junction

It is fair to say Rejjie’s Cambridge based fans had been waiting a long time for this gig. With an inconvenient reschedule delaying potential carnage in March, it felt as if everyone was twice as hyped for this date and ready for the uncharacteristic, for Cambridge, Saturday night chaos. The unusually warm and sunny April weather complemented the tunes off of the Dublin Rapper’s euphoric debut album, which he proceeded to play most of throughout the night.

Before the 24 year old graced the stage, Ebenezer and Slowthai provided a perfectly composed warm up, teasing the audience with their individual sounds. Personally, I was extremely excited to see Slowthai. In terms of 2018 breakthrough rappers, nothing has topped his blend of experimental grime and swagger filled lyrics. The snarling angst that encroaches on tunes like ‘North Nights’ and ‘T N Biscuits’ created a riotous atmosphere and sent the pissed teens in attendance into a proper frenzy.

After a brisk 15 minutes of attempting to recover from the Northampton rapper’s set, Rejjie Snow came storming on stage to ‘Hello’ and ‘Rainbows’. As chilled out as these songs are, with unexplainable reasoning, the crowd proceeded to divide and create the first of many mosh pits. Blending the low-fi hits off Dear Annie with oldies but goldies ‘Blakkst Skin’ and ‘1992’ made the set near on perfect. The only minor disappointment, for me, was he didn’t play ‘Snow (my rap song)’ but even then this would have felt out of place in the narrative of the set.

Cambridge hasn’t been blessed with a gig like this in a while. There is a huge demand for hip hop artists coming to the city and so it is nice to see The Junction venturing out and booking more acts like this.

The Magic Gang debut album review

The Brighton Boy’s indie endeavours have taken them quite some way since their debut EP ‘No Fun/Alright’. With their first full length album out now, and a mammoth festival tour in the summer, the only way is up for the promising quartet.

The Magic Gang have had to wait their turn, with the undisputed kings of UK rock Royal Blood owning the Brighton music scene, as well as close friends Wolf Alice ripping up the festival circuit for quite some time now. With this debut LP, The Magic Gang offer a completely different taste of what is currently coming out of the sea side city; their anthem infested album is rich in multipurpose nerve tingling jingles that could make you dance emphatically or mosh contagiously – as I found out a couple of years ago at Latitude. Since then, their successes have elicit any responses to their critics and made them a staple part of Indie British music.

It is an exciting time to be a fan of The Magic Gang, their euphoric music has come along way since they were recording 4700 miles away in the Tough Gong Jamaican recording studio. Although tracks like ‘She Doesn’t See’ are still some of the best the band have produced, songs like ‘Getting Along’ are far more epidemic and, you feel, exactly what the lads want to be producing.

Critiquing the album is difficult. The songs are typical of the refined sound we have been hearing from the band over the past few years but maybe this is in itself a criticism. As unquestionably unique as their music is, I feel there is room for more creativity in the group; they can definitely turn it up a notch if they want to be propelled into the more mainstream success they deserve.

All in all though this is a very promising first body of work from the quartet, definitely an album to get your teeth in to this month.

Rating: 7/10

Franz Ferdinand @ Brixton Academy // 24.02.18

One of the most established 21st century Indie bands graced Brixton Academy yesterday with what could only be described as a fairly legendary show. Admittedly I hadn’t really listened to their new album prior to the gig but with one of the best debut albums in British history, and after seeing them at the Roundhouse 6 years ago, there was no doubt in my mind I was in for a treat.

Supporting Franz Ferdinand were Meggy Brown and Albert Hammond JR, both of which I missed but had been getting great reviews on the rest of the tour. After swiftly downing a few pints and rushing to the front through angsty middle aged couples looking to relive their uni days, I was soon being abruptly pushed around and belting out the lyrics to ‘The Dark Of The Matineé’ – which followed on from opening song ‘Always Ascending’. The demographic of the audience was exceptionally varied, there is an obvious youthful cult following for the Glasgow lads and I highly doubt there was anyone in that audience who wasn’t having a great time.

My all time favourite Franz Ferdinand song has to be ‘Jacqueline’ and I was pleasantly surprised to see it still in the set list. I feel the band especially like performing the track and it got an incredible reception from the audience, arguably as good as ‘Take Me Out’, which we all know would normally steal the show.

The encore was a mix of old and new, ‘Feel the Love Go’ set the standards high but it was the unquestionable ferocity of ‘This Fire’ that lit the fuse for madness in Brixton – Kapranos inviting everyone to crouch down and then jump up for the familiar crazy chorus.

It was a memorable night in Brixton, and I can only hope that it won’t be as long before I see them again. It seems the tour is completely sold out now but if you can catch them on one of their upcoming dates I would fully recommend it.

Rich Brian – Amen album review

Rich Brian, formerly Rich Chigga and 88Risings breakout star, has proved he is more than capable of making an enticing debut.

The immature fun of tracks like ‘Dat $tick’ and ‘Gospel’ is unfortunately gone, but his name change clearly shows his more mature direction, which is shown excellently on this album.

That’s not to say there are no bangers, ‘Chaos’, ‘Kitty’, and ‘Trespass’ are just some of the bragadocious, infectious tracks on this album which will most definitely hype you up. But the album shines most with its more reflective and self aware moments, the opening track speaks on how he’s the ‘stereotype’, who stresses over not getting Straight A’s, and how he’s doing it for the kids that look like him.

‘Occupied’ has a nasty, menacing trap beat that clearly shows his evolution. Whereas songs like ‘Cold’ sound heavily inspired by Kid Cudi’s ‘Man On The Moon’, and these influences help him shine. Tracks like ‘See Me’ capture the sound of youth and innocence, in fact the album is really about a young boy finding him self in his new found fame. And when Brian gets on his ‘Mac Demarco shit’ on love songs like ‘Glow Like Dat’, he definitely has our attention.

rich chigga 2

The smooth, silky production is most definitely a strong point, and Brian’s personality shines through with his catchy hooks. The features are a little one dimensional, Offset delivers, whereas 88Rising’s Joji sounds as uninspired as ever. But luckily, no tracks overstay their welcome, and Brian is always the main star.

The album is a little confused as to whether it wants to be ignorant, or aware, and at points, it becomes a little repetitive in terms of subject matter and flows, but the production switches up enough for Chigga to ride the beats with confidence.

Many thought, in the era of ‘meme rap’ that there was no place for a teenager with an offensive stage name, but this album will likely let people know he’s grown passed this. We get a lot more sense of his backstory and personality on this album. He’s no longer just flexing on Hip-Hop culture, he’s found his place.

Rating: 7.5/10

Shame – Songs of Praise album review

Coming into 2018 as one of British Indie music’s hottest prospects, Shame are destined to reach the dizzy, gritty and scuzzy heights their South London based mates Fat White Family have of recent years. Shame’s raw ethic harks to everything from new wave grunge acts like Drenge and Girl Band, to even some classic early 90s Manchester scene bands like Happy Mondays.

Charismatic, politically driven and spoken frontman Charlie Steen has one of the most beautifully abrasive voices I have heard, its provocative tone could make anyone become as anti-establishment as themselves. Songs like ‘The Lick’ are best examples of this, complimented by the droney bass lines and melodic guitar swings that are becoming so intrinsic to the boy’s unique sound.

My favourite cut from the LP has to be ‘Tasteless’, it is a track that you simply cannot fault. It has everything from subtle guitar lead breaks to visceral drumming patterns and the cascading vocals of Steen.

Go grab yourself an album that could well end up being one of the best of the year. 2018 is looking like a lively one for Shame.

Rating: 9/10

 

Brockhampton – Saturation 3 review

Completing the Saturation trilogy, Brockhampton today released their highly anticipated third studio album, which  is currently sitting fittingly in the top 10 album charts accompanied by big time rappers G-Eazy and Eminem. Sharing an egalitarian blueprint model similar to Odd Future’s, the DIY self-proclaimed ‘Boy Band’ cement the smooth, scintillating synths with the unorthodox flows we fell in love with on their first few LPs. Slick and Introspective, the band seem to have traded their bangers for slick and mellow thinkers, however a few tracks buck the trend and are absolute smashers.

It’s their most complete album, and the most consistent, whilst it lacks the raw appeal of SATURATION, and the expensive sounding production of SATURATION 2, it instead incorporates elements of UK Garage and other electronic sub-genres. The second track “ZIPPER” is extremely contagious, and will have you swaying in your seat, whilst tracks like “STUPID” are riddled with mental production choices.

It is, in a way, a coming of age story that almost sounds like a soundtrack to an indie film, as the main protagonists gradually find their way in life. “BLEACH” is another mellow track, that echoes with eerie backing vocals complimenting the song perfectly. The album borrows brilliantly from their peers, with soundscapes inspired by Tyler, The Creator and Steve Lacey adding to their signature, innovative Brockhampton vibrations.

Whether you are a critic of the Californian collective or not, you have to admire their ambition and the queer empire they have fabricated in only a matter of months. Aesthetically, Brockhampton have solidified their anti hyper-masculine image on this album, lyrics expressing their love for Harry Styles would seem ironic or maybe even crude by other indie artists but, on the track ‘JOHNNY’, you genuinely feel sorry for Kevin Abstract failing to get the One Direction stars phone number.

Van Ameer is by far the group’s most accomplished rapper, spitting truthfully about his tales of trauma and distaste for American racism. ‘Stains’ is definitely one of my favourite cuts from the album and a true portrayal of how Ameer does this so well. The different personalities of the rappers make for such elusive and intriguing contradictions of lyricism and hooks. Joba and Matt Champion have especially grown on this new record and should be credited for their more mature approach, but one that is far from sophisticated.

Brockhampton seem to be doing everything right at the moment – with an app and a film on the way, accompanied by a fully sold out American Tour. What they do need to do however is come to England, hopefully this will come off the back of the new record but for now go and check it out, embrace the hype.

RATING: 8.5/10