Breaking News: Hans Zimmer Set to Play 2017 Coachella

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Recently, one of the largest music festivals in the world, Coachella, released their full 2017 lineup.  The list of artists confirmed for the festival is extremely impressive, like usual, but one name stood out over the rest.  That name happened to be Hans Zimmer.  For those of you who might not be familiar with him, Hans Zimmer is probably the greatest composer of the 21st century.  Composing the scores to successful films like “The Lion King”, “Batman Begins”, “The Da Vinci Code”, “12 Years A Slave”, and my all time favorite movie and Original Soundtrack, “Inception”, Hans Zimmer’s legacy and discography is immensely impressive.  That being said I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised to see that he would be performing at Coachella this year.  Zimmer will often perform at concert halls and other venues appropriate for the scores he has written, but I was unaware that he also performed at festivals, especially those like Coachella that usually host pop and electronic artists, like for example Beyonce, who will be headlining the Saturday lineup.

Personally, I would attend Coachella this year just to see Hans Zimmer.  Being able to watch a legendary composer perform fantastic scores in a peculiar environment is probably the only way I could justify paying the ridiculous price for a single Coachella ticket.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other phenomenal artists featured on the lineup this year as well, but nothing compares to the fact that Hans Zimmer will actually have a set time at one of the world’s biggest festivals. If you are going, or planning on attending I highly suggest seeing Zimmer’s performance!  Hopefully some recorded version of his set will be released online afterwards, as I am extremely interested in seeing what songs he will perform, how he will perform them at the festival, and most importantly, how this will all fit into the unique atmosphere at Coachella!

The full lineup and dates for the festival are attached below!  We’ve had an extremely slow start to 2017, but I promise we have a lot more in store for this year, including a seamlessly never-ending list of album reviews, and of course, our Album of the Year list!  Thank you for your patience and continued support and we hope you enjoy all of the content we plan on sharing with you very soon!

 

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Classic Album Review: KANYE WEST My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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It’s difficult to find an album with a bigger sound than Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Nevertheless, I find it disappointing that such grandiosity could only be achieved with a small army of producers and the sheer star power of other artists. For someone with such an egocentric persona, Kanye shares the spotlight generously with the likes of Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Rihanna. This record is undeniably a great triumph in lyricism, rapping, and production.  It is a true model of success, but to say that such success belongs to Kanye alone would be untrue. This record would not have been an instant classic without the contributions of many others.

Kanye is undoubtedly a skilled producer and rapper. Had he kept the features on “MBDTF” to a minimum it would still have been a great success. Take “Yeezus” for example. A minimalist album with Kanye at center stage. “Yeezus” may be reactionary to the maximalist ideals of “MBDTF”, but I also like to consider it as what the previous release would have been without leaning on other talent. On the other hand, Kanye’s voice is not the most pleasant voice to listen to for an entire full length record. He does well to include so many features on “MBDTF”, giving us a break from the nasal oppression. He is to be thanked for keeping his singing at a minimum on this album, a lesson he no doubt learned after the volume of criticism of “808’s and Heartbreak”.

The featured artists do a great job of contributing to the album for the most part. Each Pusha T and Kid Cudi verse adds dynamic to the rap vocals, and the clean vocals are refreshing apart from Bon Iver. Although, Justin Vernon simply does not belong on this album.  He is out of place among other things, like Chris Rock’s skit in “Blame Game”, which is simply just boring and a waste of time. The sampling work, however, is brilliant. Kanye’s integration of progressive rock band, King Crimson, into “Power” was unexpected and seamless. The only homage the album could do without is the “Iron Man”-like progression in “Hell of a Life”.

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is all about Kanye’s views of wealth, fame, and his façade. He handles the concepts well with smart, humorous, and accurate lyrics. The portrayal of his excessive persona is humbling and in good taste, but falls short of the impossible job of excusing his bravado. Relevant and interesting his philosophy may be, Kanye’s audacity inevitably ruins the possibility of anyone taking his ideas seriously. Rap may be accessible to a great many people, and it is easy to get behind “MBDTF’s” swaggering beats, but it is not the medium for deep thought. Kanye gave it his best to make this record about the consequences of fame and wealth, but he just comes across as another rapper flaunting his extravagant lifestyle. We get it Kanye, we know you have money, cars, women, and fame, are you running out of ideas?

 

Score: 8.9/10

 

Album Review by Zach Norton, January 2017

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”:

Classic Album Reviews: BEACH HOUSE Bloom

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Beach House has been making the same album over and over since 2006, and each time they get a bit better at it. “Bloom” is the third iteration of their self-titled record. Immediately recognizable from the first moments of “Myth” is the group’s signature melancholia. They do a fantastic job of creating an immersive atmosphere, one that is enjoyable and easy to get lost in. However, there isn’t a moment’s rest from the sleepy air, and suddenly the songs are audible molasses. This isn’t helped by the downhill trend in quality of the songs and Legrand’s mild vocal cadence. Frankly, the album is far too safe and familiar. The instruments are not so much deliberate as they are timid, and the vocals never attempt anything to seize attention. Not only is its depression overwhelming, but it is difficult to hold back the yawns. “Bloom” has the qualities of a lullaby.

While most of this record is slow, it is not without exceptional moments. “Myth” has stylish guitar flourishes and is an all-around quality song that stands out from the ones following it. “Wild” ends in a seamless fusion of the vocals and synth and “New Year” is plain catchy. The rest of “Bloom” is a different story. “The Hours” has choppy vocal delivery, “Wishes” is just a long and pointless buildup, and “Other People” is the kind of song that might as well end after the first chorus. Even after multiple listens, few of the tracks distinguish themselves in memory. Needless to say, these songs are all tedious listens and sound too similar. “Lazuli”, an equally dull song, goes nowhere for three minutes and then leaves us with a two-minute broken record of an outro. Over repetition makes another appearance in the final track, “Irene”. Halfway through a song with an excellent melody, everything cuts except a droning synth and guitar. Next, the layers are brought back at an excruciatingly slow pace that is enough to botch the song’s climax. Then, after minutes of silence, a hidden track meanders its way to the album’s close.

The Shoegaze genre faded from existence for a reason; people get bored easily. Beach House cannot expect to make the same songs and hold the twenty-first century listener’s attention. Unless they make some major changes to their sound, their following won’t be getting much larger.

 

Score: 6.8/10

 

Album Review by Zach Norton, January 2017

“Bloom”:

 

Track of the Day Tuesday: GREEN DAY Still Breathing

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Today the track you need to listen to is actually off of Green Day’s latest album, “Revolution Radio”.  Despite the fact that I don’t listen to them as much as I used to, Green Day will always be my favorite band.  Monumental albums like “American Idiot”, “Dookie”, and “Nimrod” are some of the first records I listened to religiously, and it’s fair to say that Green Day has had a massive impact on my life and what genres of music I enjoy the most.  So when I saw their announcement about a new album coming out in 2016, I had to give it a listen, despite the fact that I rarely listen to the California based punk band now.

After giving “Revolution Radio” a listen, I can conclude that the whole project is decent, but tons better than their previous releases of “¡Uno!”, “¡Dos!”, and “¡Tre!”.  However, what truly stood out to me is the track, “Still Breathing”.  “Still Breathing” is an uplifting track that has a melody and chord progression similar to some of the iconic Green Day songs of the late 90s and early 2000s.  This fantastic new Green Day track successfully merges the nostalgia filled old sound every Green Day fan loves with the new sound that Green Day has recently adapted.  If you ever enjoyed any release from Green Day, then you absolutely need to give “Still Breathing” a listen!  I’ve attached the track below for anyone who wants to hear.  We’re glad to be back with more “Track of the Day Tuesday” installments for 2017 and we can’t wait to share more reviews and content that we have in store for the near future!

500 Word Review: Travis Scott “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”

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Earlier this year, innovative trap artist, Travis Scott, released his sophomore full length album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”.  Following his 2015 debut studio album, “Rodeo”, which is probably one of my favorite rap albums of all time and without a doubt a masterpiece, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” faced both high anticipation and standards before its release a few months ago.  Personally, I found the release to be significantly different from “Rodeo”, but also very good in its own way.  There were only a few moments that I was not too fond of, but whenever I came across a brief section that was sub par, it was quickly followed by amazing sections that continue to solidify Travis Scott’s greatness.  Before hearing “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, my favorite Travis Scott tracks were “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, so going into the sophomore record I was hoping to hear tracks similar to the sound and song structure heard on these songs.

As I hoped, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” featured a lot of tracks that sounded like “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, and even at some points, sounded like “90210”.  The hazy, mesmerizing trap sound that Travis is known for, and the sound that is also heard on the “Rodeo” songs previously mentioned, are also heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and in the process it helps create some phenomenal tracks.  The only problem is that every song features this sound and there is hardly any diversity in this aspect of this project.  Don’t get me wrong though, I really enjoyed “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and this specific style of Travis Scott’s songwriting, but it’s the only prominent aspect of Travis Scott’s unique song structure that is exemplified on this new album.  This is a little disappointing because the diversity of “Rodeo” made it the masterpiece that it is today.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still ridiculously impressive, but the lack of diversity makes it slightly worse than “Rodeo”.  However, the expansion of this hazy sound heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still very interesting because its essentially Travis exploring and experimenting with this hazy, eerie, reverb and auto-tune filled sound that makes “Birds” one of the best trap releases you’ll ever hear!  In fact, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” features my favorite song Travis has ever written.  “Coordinate”, the third track on the sophomore full length album, has easily become my favorite Travis Scott track, surpassing the stellar track, “Antidote”.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is definitely not a bad album, and this further development of hazy and ominous trap music is something I have really enjoyed, but a little more diversity in sound could have made this project become yet another ground breaking album by Travis Scott.

It’s impossible to deny that Travis was able to have an extremely impressive list of artists record guest vocals for this project, Whether or not you like the differences between “Birds” and “Rodeo”.  Fantastic features from artists like Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, and the Weeknd heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” make songs like “The Ends”, “Through the Late Night”, and “Goosebumps” staples for Travis’s discography.  As if this list of genre leading artists wasn’t enough, “Birds” also features legendary producer Mike Dean, who helped record the record alongside Travis.  These notable features are great additions to Travis’s sound, and I hope that an immense amount of iconic features becomes a constant for all Travis Scott albums.

In conclusion, I give Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” an 8.5/10.  Every song may sound similar to one another, but this constant sound and style in songwriting is phenomenal.  Travis’s ability to take his signature sound heard on some of the most prominent tracks on “Rodeo” and fully experimented with it for “Birds” is something I found extremely interesting.  I highly encourage everyone to listen to this and if you have already gave the project a listen, I definitely suggest that you revisit it, especially since it took me a few listens to truly appreciate this latest project from Travis Scott.  Below I’ve attached the full stream of Travis’s latest album.  According to some of his recent tweets, his third album, “AstroWorld”, is still scheduled for a 2017 release date, and once more information is released about the upcoming record, we’ll be sure to let you know!  2016 was our first year in business and it was a very successful year for us at Erik’s Album Reviews!  Due to the hard work of our staff and the constant support from our readers, we were able to see widespread viewership in 39 countries over 6 different continents!  We are extremely thankful for this success and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!  Be sure to check back in for more music reviews, content, and of course, our Albums of the Year list, which is due out very soon!

 

Vinyl and Cassette News: UNFD Represses “Discoveries” by Northlane Along With Other Significant Releases

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Recently Australian punk and metal label, UNFD, released a select amount of represses from Australian metalcore giants Northlane, In Hearts Wake, and The Amity Affliction.  Releases like The Amity Affliction’s “Severed Ties”, In Hearts Wake’s “Earthwalker”, “Skydancer”, and “Divination”, and Northlane’s “Singularity” were all rereleased on 3 separate variants each.  However, the most significant repress out of all of these releases is the repressing of Northlane’s “Discoveries”.  “Discoveries”, which is Northlane’s debut full-length album, is not only one of their best releases, but it is also one of their rarest releases on physical formats.  Before this repress, “Discoveries” was on two different variants; Nebula Swirl and White each limited to 150 copies.  It also had two pressings on CD, but those are even harder to find copies for sale.  The vinyl copies, however, are not only limited, but extremely expensive as well.  The White variant can be bought for as little as $120 on Discogs and has been sold for as much as $178.  The Nebula Swirl variant on the other hand is nearly three times as expensive, selling for as little as $308 and as high as $360!  So it’s fair to say that this repress was huge news for any fan of Northlane who never got a chance to own their first record on vinyl.

Unfortunately, “Discoveries” is sold out on nearly every site it was being sold on.  Merchnow and 24 Hundred are already sold out completely, but some online stores have a few copies left!  I’ve attached all links to pick up any variant below for those who want to buy a copy before they’re sold out completely.  The album is stellar to say the least, so if you are on the fence about picking up a copy for yourself, I highly suggest you grab one, especially since these represses might go up in price once they are totally sold out online!  We still have a few more posts left before the end of 2016 so check back in to see what we have left to release!

UNFD European website:

http://uk.unfdcentral.com/view/category/northlane/

Best Buy:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/discoveries-lp-vinyl/32395976.p?skuId=32395976&ref=212&loc=1&ksid=48646ebb-272a-4a6f-a79b-261f5f2e07e4&ksprof_id=3&ksaffcode=pg218886&ksdevice=c&lsft=ref:212,loc:2&gclid=Cj0KEQiAy53DBRCo4en29Zvcla0BEiQAVIDcczMQ5jrqxn0pBpnKlClwbtofPwPNWtAvaGDBF0P97kwaAtdD8P8HAQ

Breaking News: Austin Carlile Leaves Of Mice and Men

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Earlier today, Of Mice and Men frontman, Austin Carlile, announced that he will be leaving the prominent metalcore act.  According to the statement he released today, which is attached below, Carlile has been dealing with Marfan syndrome for a significant part of his career, and the constant touring and live performing that Of Mice and Men have taken on over the last few years have only worsened his condition.  In fact, the frontman goes on to say that if he continues to tour and perform with Of Mice and Men, the result would be inevitable “permanent and irrevocable damage to my spinal cord and nervous system”.  This is very upsetting to hear that Austin Carlile will have to step down from the band he started and helped grow into the metalcore titan that it is today.  According to his statement he will be living in Costa Rica from now on where he will be focusing on resting and healing.  Of course I hope he is able to relax and recover in his new home as well as continue to find ways to creatively express himself!

Personally, it has been a long time since I have listened to an Of Mice and Men album from front to back.  I started to stop following the band shortly after Restoring Force was released, but the first two records from Of Mice and Men will always be important releases to me.  They helped me get more involved in various genres in extreme music while also making Of Mice and Men a historic metalcore band that will be the face of the genre for decades to come.  It’s sad to think that I will never get the chance to see Of Mice and Men live with Austin again, but of course, his personal health is much more important than live performances or new albums.  The band has stated that they will continue as a four piece for now, but who knows, maybe they might eventually bring someone in to play older material, or maybe Jerry Roush will rejoin Of Mice and Men and do another metalcore cover of a pop song.  Regardless of what is in store for Of Mice and Men’s future, I hope Austin is able to recover and relax in his new home and he will truly be missed on stage!  We have a few more posts to share before the end of 2016 so stay tuned with us and have a Happy New Year!

Austin Carlile’s Personal Statement:

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