Welcome back to the short format review extravaganza that is Review Rundown here at Everything Is Noise. Volume 21 contains some more unsung classics that, as a music lover, you might be missing. Jonce covers some Milo, David goes head to head with Dizzee Rascal, Andrew gets classical with Chilly Gonzales, Inter warms his snobby heart with Mutual Benefit and I cover the retro proto-metal of Dunbarrow. There’s something for everyone here, so take five minutes out of your day to discover something new that might just stoke your fire.
This is a regular feature from us. Previous Review Rundown‘s can be found here.
‘Didn’t you just review this guy’s album, like, a month ago?’
Well, yes and no. That was Nostrum Grocers’ self-titled debut, Milo’s collaborative project with Elucid. You can check out that review and see more about Milo’s story thus far here.
‘So what the hell is this dude rapping about anyway?’
In addition to his usual musings on philosophy, blackness, society, etc,, I think budding ornithologists looks at the state of art. More specifically, rap’s current place in art. It’s contemplative, self-concerned, and isn’t looking for approval. Milo’s pen game is as strong as ever, but his delivery often contrasts the inward fire he spits. Just take a look at some of the bars of “stet” the first single from the album:
‘The solitude in riches, no credit, no category
No sabbatical allegory
Radicals request their alimony
No escape, no clone war
Death don’t care who own more’
‘So why do all these beats sound like something off of a 24/7 lofi hip-hop stream?’
Well, that’s because some of them are! Tracks like the wavy “aubergine cloak” and the aforementioned “stet” are produced by lo-fi artists, in this case, Mt. marcy and The Jefferson Park Boys.
‘Ah, so that’s why this feels like wallpaper music.’
Well, I can certainly see why you might think that. I think budding ornithologists comes from a similar place as Busdriver’s electricity is on our side: self-indulgence. But that doesn’t make the album unlistenable. If you’re patient, Milo is still willing to share some of his magic.
And now for the album that sounds like if Awaken, My Love! was written for the apocalypse with help from Flatlander, Zach Hill, and produced by Algiers.
This album is particularly unfocused, which allows for a wide range of exploratory sound. That variation includes tracks like the otherworldly “Licking an Orchid” to the washed-out “Recognizing the Enemy”.
There are several qualities of Safe In The Hands of Love that I normally wouldn’t like. The production has distinct layers, but it’s a bit thin. It’s the sonic equivalent to a tunnel book: there are many delicate layers. Ironic, considering this album also takes inspiration from harsh noise and industrial.
My favorite track on the album is “Noid”, which sounds like if the aforementioned artists re-conceptualized Tyler, the Creator’s “911/Mr. Lonely”. The drums are super crisp, and the strings seem to float over them like fog, but the bass riff is what keeps the track together. There’s also the noisy dirge “Let The Lioness In You Flow Freely”, which has drums that hack forward like men with machetes in a thick jungle.
Safe In The Hands of Love is one of the strongest albums I’ve heard in a while from 2018. Yves Tumor is definitely an up-and-comer you need to keep your eye on. Don’t sleep on this guy.
Proto-metal is an overlooked genre. What goes around, comes around, and Dunbarrow aim to capture this style in 2018. Sparse riffing, light distortion, boxy drums, and stereo twin leads are the order of the day here. From the opener of “On Your Trail” to the end, you’re transported right back to the late 60s.
Dunbarrow II features some classic style head-nodders (“Please Let Me Be” and “The Wolf”), which are a little restrained, but when the band do let go on “On This Night”, they’re really cooking. Other good moments are “Witches Of The Woods Pt. II” which features sinister lyrics over happy music (very 60s!) and “Weary Lady”, in 3/4, mixes things up a little.
The clean, theatrical vocal delivery from Espen Andersen solidifies the bands authentic sound. The subject of the lyrics are typically doomy, covering witches, demons, and wolves in good measure. Sure, the rhyming gets cheesy, but the lyrics tell a story that suits the style well.
The stripped down recording straddles charming with cheap. The mastering lacks power, but turned up loud you realise there’s loads of space in the mix, which I quite like. If you want a serious 60’s vibe with a slight metal edge, you could get a lot worse than Dunbarrow.
There’s a lot of room in my life for some classic rock. Vöödöö knocked on the door and I let them in for a quick cuppa.
You know what you’re getting from the get-go. “Ashes”, “Let It Burn”, and “Shine On” aim for the classic rock hallmarks of solid riffs, soaring vocal, and catchy choruses. The band mix things up here and there to keep the interest up. “Lay Me To Rest” mixes a bluesy vibe with modern drum production and fruity bass (think Black Keys). “Dots” keeps the modern/retro mix vibe going, heading into a disco/rock crossover pretty successfully.
During the lighter moments (“The Secret”, “Broken Cage”), the band show more restraint and a good command of dynamics, getting into those 70s influenced, dirty sounding, slower grooves that we all like to tap our foot to.
Sure, this is not the most original album out there and I might not listen to it much more after this review, but Vöödöö know how to create hooks that will stick, and have some great energy. If you long for days where you just want to crank your stereo up, sink a beer and turn your brain off, Vöödöö might be your cup of tea.
EDM and hip-hop’s relationship is something I’ve taken a great interest in. From Pusha T spitting coke rhymes over a slapping hip-hop-infused club beat (or, if you must, the Arby’s commercial song), to Danny Brown freaking trap production to his hedonistic whim, there’s a lot to like. Well, UK grime is basically nothing but that. The mentality of the streets meets the heartbeat of electronic dance music on Don’t Gas Me, an EP by Dizzee Rascal, an OG in the grime game.
Across five tracks, Dizzee’s flow is lockstep with the beat. His voice gallops quickly from verse to verse, screwing in catchy choruses on each song. Production is as boisterous as the vocals, with woofer-shredding bass, hearty claps, and siren-like accouterments to spice up the action. Features are solid, including a fierce hook and verse from fellow UK hip-hop/grime stalwart Skepta on “Money Right”. “Spin Ya” is true to its name with dizzying (pun maybe intended) speed and braggadocious rhymes; fellow lyricists P-Money and C Cane keep up just fine.
Some questionable lyrics distract from an otherwise solid, energetic EP from one of grime’s greats. It’s a fun time; just unwind and bump this in your car while you drive at completely safe speeds.
Wow, this is nice. New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma round out the trilogy of EPs they started in 2014 with a sweet, atmospheric effort bathed in pastel lights. You get pretty full-featured indie pop here for only being four tracks.
Warm synths, synthetic drums, and hazy, angelic guitars melt into your ears throughout the EP. “Powder Blue / Cascine Park” is a reserved track, boosting the atmosphere with feather-light vocals and soaring hooks. A conventional song approach made special by stellar execution and performances. “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” is a jaunty romp more focused on making you dance, or at least move in your seat. It has an alluring facade to it, like a night out on the town with your… well, crush. The groove is infectious. “In Camera” has more of a guitar focus, shaping a melody that’s light on the ears, but catchy all the same. “Looking Over Shoulders” is a very understated ballad that progresses very neatly into a calmly driven pop rock affair.
Each song is like a different element of soothing indie music, honed down to its finest shape for maximum enjoyment. The quartet’s third EP is a swell project, continuing their path of growth, and it deserves your attention.
This German five-piece style themselves as a ‘blackened doom metal band’. The self-assigned label fits for the most part one, ought to wonder what would happen if the guitar tone or the vocal style changed. Praise The Plague is heavy as Hell, deathly as the deathliest death that ever died in a dead zone. Antagonist makes for acceptable listening for someone who needs to sit at home with the lights off and brood over what a fecal day they just had.
Back to the genre ambiguity: Praise The Plague could pass for an old-school death metal band, and not the tech-y kind. Dial the calendar back two-and-a-half decades and Antagonist would not sound out of place on a mixtape (a primitive form of playlist — ask your parents) with Obituary, Morgoth, Sempiternal Deathreign, or Benediction. This band plays slow, but not slow enough to drone. They play raw, but not raw enough really to earn that ‘blackened’ label they so covet. They play evil, and really that evil mood does more than anything else to save Antagonist from sounding like a million other albums that fall into EIN’s hands without ever getting reviewed.
So yes, Antagonist is a good album and it suits one’s needs for dark stuff to hear and when the older stuff in one’s record collection sounds too stale. An impression remains, however, that Praise The Plague would be far more fun to see live.
Funny things happen when I write for the Review Rundown. I try to keep a healthy mix of heavy stuff with classical music (and when we have none of that, I’ll choose something weird). I picked Solo Piano III off of a list of available albums on a whim, only to discover that Chilly Gonzales is roughly my age and comes from the same city as me (he now lives in Cologne, but we’ll let that slide — once a Montrealer, always a Montrealer and there’s an even chance he grew up in the same part of town as me). He even grabbed his share of a Grammy Award™ for some work he did with Daft Punk.
First off, it bears mentioning that Solo Piano III sits is the classical tradition but it does not have the chromatic angularity of post-WWII music. Listeners will find neither 12-tone nor other forms of serialization here. Take a healthy dose of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy (minus the drugs — Debussy had to be high when he made his better-known work) and throw it into a low-speed jazz blender and you will have a pretty good sense of where Chilly Gonzales stands artistically.
Moreover, Solo Piano III is not a trick title. Solo Piano I and Solo Piano II exist. Chilly Gonzales intended the albums as a classic trilogy and this album to be its happy conclusion (‘in C major’, he helpfully points out). The Chilly one says ‘Like any final act, there are complications and consequences, followed by an urgent race to the finish line’, and that ‘it is a reflection of all the beauty and ugliness around us’. Sounds legit.
Do you know the feeling when the beauty of music strikes you within seconds, and you know you are up for something larger than life? Yeah? This happened to me when I listened to Thunder Follows The Light by New York-based folk rock project Mutual Benefit. Led by Jordan Lee, the project gathered a wide variety of different musicians to realize the vision of intimate folk music which goes hand in hand with powerful orchestration. This contrast, backed up by excellent songwriting, give this album magical aura, and it took my heart by storm.
The rustic, yet fragile charm of the song reminds me of acts like Loch Lomond, but with a much deeper and darker appeal to a similar sound idea. Despite the armada of different instruments, many different vocals which get harmonized together, and similar paced songs, the compositions shines through an incredibly warm and cozy sound with superb songwriting. Jordan Lee’s lead vocals should be highlighted here, because they are your guide through the fascinating musical world of Thunder Follows The Light.
The record manages to project different scenarios into the listener’s head, ranging from lonely walks through the woods to the comforting loneliness in your home at a rainy Sunday. The ability to get instantly visualized is always a sign of a strong power for inspiration and is easily covered and provided within every listening session.
If you are searching for a record which is the perfect soundtrack for your fall, which accompanies you through long walks and cozy afternoons in your blanket, there is nothing I could more easily recommend than this wonderful album.
Listen to this fucking album, you fool. Don’t be the one who overlooks everything. Take this advice and listen to this album. It’s crazy good.