500 Word Review: Homeshake “Fresh Air”

homeshake fresh air

If one thing is evident on the new Homeshake LP, “Fresh Air”, it’s that the man-behind-the-music, Peter Sagar, has come a long way from standing in the shadows of his friend and former employer Mac DeMarco. While I enjoyed a few tracks from this project’s last album “Midnight Snack”, it was admittedly a little lacking in focus and felt somewhat low effort. While this circle has never been know for producing works that were definitely slaved over for months, all of Mac DeMarco’s albums have been cohesive and mostly free of egregious flaws. While that was not the case on “Midnight Snack”, Sagar had definitely put in a sufficient amount of effort into “Fresh Air”. This seems to have catapulted his music to being more enjoyable and interesting than his mentor’s.

The album’s opener “Hello Welcome” is a short, jazzy, chord loop with a guitar melody over it. Already, Sagar’s ear for unique-yet-enjoyable tones is evident, as he creates an interesting tonal landscape all across the album with jazz guitar tones, hip-hop and soul synths, and mixture of live and synthesized drums. On top of all of this is Pete’s whimpering voice, which often flows into falsetto more smoothly and accurately than ever before. All of this makes for a very enjoyable open songs, with the three following-up the opener being especially stand-outish. “Call Me Up”, “Not U”, and “Every Single Thing” are all superb tracks that perfectly flow into each other, making for one smooth listening experience. In addition to the lush trip-hop sound of these tracks, Sagar throws in some interesting vocal samples and musical effects to transition between tracks. These perfectly fit the mood of the album and really set the stage for the tracks succeeding them.

Towards the middle of the album, Sagar starts to slip back into old ways. While “Wrapping Up” and “Getting Down Pt II” aren’t anything spectacular, they’re solid tracks. But starting with “Timing” he starts to slip into old ways. From this point on, many of the tracks are fairly bare or don’t really go anywhere. And while I am a fan of “TV Volume” and the Prince-like “Serious”, they don’t really go anywhere and are kind of stand out points in a small sea of obscurity. Things end interestingly with the easy listening jazz fusion-esque “This Way”. I hear this song and immediately think of one person: Pat Metheny, because it essentially sounds like a Pat Metheny song without the super out guitar solo. It’s not necessarily a bad way to end the album, but just a little bit of a lackluster end to a lackluster second half. That being said, the highlights of that half mixed with the on point-ness of the first half makes for a pretty enjoyable record, especially if you’re looking for something different.

 

Score: 7.4/10

 

Album Review by Ethan Lally, March 2017

“Fresh Air”:

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Breaking News: Business Casual Announces BIZBOX 5

bizcas

Yesterday, one of the most successful record labels in vaporwave, Business Casual, announced that they will be releasing the next installment to their bi-monthly cassette box set release, BIZBOX, this Friday.  In the past, the previous 4 BIZBOX’s included 1-3 known items and at least 1 mystery item was also included.  However, for BIZBOX 5, it appears that this will be the first BIZBOX package without a mystery release.  The reason for this is because the albums featured in March’s BIZBOX package are extremely important.  The next installment will include releases from the notable Youtube artist, FrankJavCee.

If you follow Anthony Fantano’s, “Theneedledrop”, or any prominent figures in the vaporwave community, then I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of Frank and his music.  FrankJavCee focuses more on the comedic aspect of vaporwave, the aesthetic involved in vaporwave and its art and community, and also in meme and internet culture, and this approach to his social media presence directly correlates to his music.  Actually being a very skilled producer and songwriter, FrankJavCee has seen widespread positive feedback for his two most prominent projects “FrankJavCee Collection, Vol. 1” and “FrankJavCee Volume 2”, and now they are both being released on cassette this Friday through the already historic label, Business Casual.

I can guarantee that these tapes will sell ridiculously fast, and I for one will be sure to snag a copy the minute they are released.  Having already picked up BIZBOX 3 and 4 and really enjoying the products I received in the packages, I definitely plan on picking up copies of future BIZBOX releases, and you should too!  Check out Frank’s latest successful album, “FrankJavCee Volume 2”, below through its stream on bandcamp and view the announcement of BIZBOX 5 “Frank”!  Also, if you would like to pick up a copy of the new Business Casual release, you can do so here this Friday.

 

Track of the Day Tuesday: KILL SURF CITY Weird World

ksc-weird-world

Late last week Kill Surf City (aka Grey Gordon) released a surprise new single called “Weird World”.  The first new material from the lo-fi indie act since his phenomenal EP “Wreckage”, “Weird World” is a catchy new track with stellar lyricism.  Using an upbeat, cymbal riding drum beat with an instantly memorable guitar riff in each verse that is reminiscent of early 2000s and even late 90’s alternative punk, “Weird World” is the great evolution of Kill Surf City’s sound, and it is, without a doubt, the “Track of the Day Tuesday”.

Starting off with a hazy acoustic guitar strumming a constant chord and the iconic, reverb filled vocals of Gordon himself, the track can easily be determined as one of the best releases by KSC.  Listening through the short track I was pleasantly surprised to hear multiple solos with a dream pop, almost shoegaze-esque, guitar tone that was present in both the verse and the chorus.  This perfectly complimented, not only the choruses that sounded reminiscent of something you would hear on “Hyperview”, but also the song structure of modern KSC songs themselves, and I hope it is something that is mixed into more Kill Surf City songs in the future.  It’s hard to say if this is my favorite project from Kill Surf City, as I absolutely love “Wreckage” and really enjoy “Split Yr Head”, but I guarantee this new track makes a strong argument as to why it deserves to be considered one of the act’s best releases.  Overall, if I was to give this single a rating, I would give it a 9.7/10 and it is easily one of my favorite new releases of the year so far!

Like usual, you can stream the track below.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of KSC’s short discography, and while you’re at it, give “Wreckage a listen here.  Let us know what you think of “Weird World”, the track you absolutely need to give a listen to today, and send us any tracks you think should be on next week’s “Track of the Day Tuesday”

Track of the Day Tuesday: OFF LAND Inertia

off-land

This week the “Track of the Day Tuesday” features Massachusetts’ own Off Land and his track, “Inertia”.  “Inertia”, the second song on the project, “Slow Waves”, is an ambient electronic song released through the Chile based label, No Problema Tapes.  The track is a prominent example of ambient vaporwave as it incorporates an atmospheric sound accompanied by various soundscapes, soothing samples, and harmonizing pads and other soft leads that make this song, and this project, an instant classic.  However, even though this track is under the category of vaporwave, I believe a more better fitting description could easily be music that is simply relaxing and calming.

I personally found this project while browsing through random bandcamp based vaporwave labels.  By discovering No Problema Tapes, I was able to find amazing artists like Off Land, Sangam, Rhucle, and many others!  Today, you need to check out “Inertia”.  Off Land’s signature sound and style of music is something that any music fan can enjoy.  It literally does not matter who your favorite artist is, or what genre of music you listen to, if you are a fan of music, you will be a fan of Off Land.  Check out “Inertia” on the stream of “Slow Waves” below and don’t forget to visit next Tuesday when we discuss the next “Track of the Day Tuesday”!

Track of the Day Tuesday: PZA “BEAUT1FUL”

american-rituals

PZA, the prominent vaporwave/trapwave artist, has officially become the first artist to be featured at least twice on the “Track of the Day Tuesday” segment.  This might be due in part to the fact that PZA has an immense discography, but it is mostly because PZA is one of the greatest producers in vaporwave and “American Rituals” is one of his best releases to date.  Being released on New Years Day of 2016, “American Rituals” is a project by PZA that combines the use of plunderphonics, his signature EDM/trap inspired synths and beats, and chopped and altered samples of modern pop music classics.  Taking samples from artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, and Lana Del Rey, PZA puts his own twist on these famous songs, and in return, creates one of the greatest vaporwave projects I’ve ever heard.  This style of songwriting is slightly different from PZA’s usual sound, but the experimentation results in one of his best releases that has the potential to be an Album of the Year contender.

The entire album is phenomenal in my opinion, but if there is one track you have to listen to, it is “BEAUT1FUL”. “BEAUT1FUL”, which samples Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”, is probably the best track you will hear on “American Rituals”.  By altering the various Lana samples and adding reverb filled synths and instrumental fills, PZA is able to turn this fantastic pop song into a dreamy, captivating vaporwave song.  If you like any form of vaporwave or Lana Del Rey’s music you need to listen to this song, which is attached below.  Unfortunately, the only stream of the track I could find was the stream of “American Rituals” on PZA’s bandcamp page.  “BEAUT1FUL”, along with the rest of “American Rituals”, is attached below.  I highly suggest listening to the entire project, but if you just want to hear “BEAUT1FUL”, then skip to track 5 and enjoy the stellar PZA track.  I will also attach the link to PZA’s bandcamp page as well for those who would like to check out more releases from the vaporwave artist.  Only a few of his releases are posted there, but it is a great place to start for those who are not familiar with his work.  We often post about electronic music and vaporwave in particular on Erik’s Album Reviews, so if you are a fan of these genres make sure to visit often for more electronic music news and content!

PZA’s Bandcamp page:

https://pza420.bandcamp.com/

“American Rituals” (“BEAUT1FUL” is track 5):

Vinyl and Cassette News: Burial’s “YOUNG DEATH / NIGHTMARKET” Accidently Gets Released Early On Vinyl

burial-2016

In case you missed it, Burial, the legendary English electronic producer and recording artist, recently released his latest project “YOUNG DEATH / NIGHTMARKET (HDB100).  The short EP, which was officially released only a few days ago, features an experimental ambient sound accompanied with reverb filled synths and multiple, altered samples that give the project an overall sound unique to Burial himself.  This new EP is very fascinating and is both relaxing and compelling, causing the listener to feel at ease yet never lose interest or focus on the material.

The release itself is stellar, and I will most likely follow up this post with an official review of the project, but the most prominent news to come from this release actually isn’t about the material, but how it was distributed.  Days before the EP was supposed to have a surprise release, it suddenly surfaced on Discogs.  Stunned, Burial fans quickly reacted to this update and wondered if this was a legitimate, new release from Burial and where they could get themselves a copy of this record.  It was soon realized that the Discogs update was made in response to a Toronto record shop, called Sonic Boom Records, accidentally selling the release early on Black Friday.  Sonic Boom Records, who received the new 12″ records by mail, assumed the new release was a Black Friday secret listing and because of this 5 copies were accidentally sold to Toronto customers.  This project, which was eventually officially released on Burial’s official Bandcamp page on November 28th, is the first solo project of 2016 by the British artist.  Once the vinyl EP was officially released it quickly sold out on Burial’s site and has since been selling extremely fast at local record shops in both North America and Europe.  There are still numerous places that have a copy left to purchase, including the 53 individual listings on Discogs selling the 12″ for as little as $8.57, however this record will definitely sell out completely eventually.

If you are an electronic music fan you need to listen to this release.  In my opinion, this will most likely be one of the best EPs you hear all year.  If you are unfamiliar with Burial this is a very good place to start, however his discography is extremely immense and filled with great material, so checking out any release from the South London based artist is highly recommended.  The link to purchase the 12” vinyl record from Discogs is attached below along with the full EP stream.  Give it a listen, check out the other electronic reviews and music content posted on this site, and be sure to visit often for more electronic, vinyl, and cassette news!

https://www.discogs.com/Burial-Young-Death-Nightmarket/release/9412422