Album Review: DANNY BROWN Atrocity Exhibition

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Last last year accomplished hip-hop artist, Danny Brown, released his latest project, the full length record, “Atrocity Exhibition”.  After switching labels to Warp Records, there was speculation that Danny would yet again venture into a different sound and approach for this 2016 release.  However, no one, including myself, could’ve seen this drastic new change in sound and experimentation coming.

Personally, I discovered Danny’s material during the “Old” album cycle and instantly fell in love with the EDM based hip hop tracks.  Songs like “Side B (Dope Song)”, “Kush Coma”, “Dip”, and his collaboration with EDM artist, Rustie, with the song, “Attak” almost immediately became not only some of the greatest rap songs I had ever heard by the Detroit based artist, but some of the most stellar hip hop tracks I ever heard period.  It was clear that Danny’s distinct songwriting and sound was unparalleled to the rest of the noise in the genre, even after hearing only a fraction of his entire discography.

After listening to “Atrocity Exhibition”, my first reaction was complete shock at how Danny Brown was able to take 15 of the most odd, peculiar, and to put it simply, weirdest, beats I had ever heard and turn them into successfully written hip hop tracks.  Especially starting out with tracks off “Old” that follow a very simplistic, catchy, festival-oriented structure, it completely took me off guard to hear such experimentation from Danny on “Atrocity Exhibition”.  Tracks like “Downward Spiral”, “Get Hi”, and “Goldust” left me utterly dumbfounded at how Danny can take these bizarre instrumental tracks and record a vocal performance that not only rhythmically makes sense, but actually results in well-written songs that I actually enjoy.

Despite the odd approach to songwriting, every track seems to fit well in the track listing.  The songs themselves, beats, and song structure may vary greatly, especially when comparing songs like “Really Doe” and “Goldust”, however each track seems to fit perfectly into the overall composition of the album as a whole. On one hand, “Really Doe” features a very modern, almost radio friendly beat with features from Kendrick, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. On the other, “Goldust” features multiple, repetitive horn section parts accompanied by an overly distorted electric guitar strumming barely audible chords.  However, each track features the same avant-garde influences while also including impactful lyricism that is often filled with dark imagery and honest depictions of Danny’s thoughts, experiences, and environment around him, like what is heard on “Ain’t It Funny”, “Really Doe”, “Pneumonia”, “When It Rain”, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know”, and “Get Hi”, showing how each track does not seem out of place on “Atrocity Exhibition”, despite the fact that no two songs are fairly alike in sound or overall composition.  The spectrum of influences, sounds, song structure, differences in beats, and even vocal delivery is extremely broad in Atrocity Exhibition and trying to compare any two songs on the album, whether its “Ain’t It Funny” vs “Hell For It”, “Get Hi” vs “Pneumonia”, or “When It Rain” vs “Downward Spiral”, perfectly exemplifies the blatant diversity that is without a doubt the most memorable aspect throughout the latest Danny Brown project.

There really aren’t any significant complaints I have about this album in general.  The only songs I really don’t like on “Atrocity Exhibition” are the “Downward Spiral” and “Rolling Stone”.  “Downward Spiral’s” beat is so bizarre that it takes multiple listens to just get used to its odd sound.  Also, “Downward Spiral” is a fairly weak way to start out the album.  The lyricism represents what is to come in “Atrocity Exhibition”, however, the very laid back, lazy sounding beat should not be the first thing you hear on this latest Danny Brown project.  Honestly, if “Downward Spiral” and “Pneumonia” switched places in track order I think this album would sound even better when listening to it from start to finish.  I personally can’t imagine how powerful it would sound to have “Pneumonia” as the first track you hear off of “Atrocity Exhibition”.  The haunting, echoing bells heard in the hook that starts the song would instantly grab my attention and keep it unwavering, which is something that “Downward Spiral” simply cannot do.  Also, having “Downward Spiral” at the halfway point of the record would symbolize how the audience is about to dive further into Danny’s unique songwriting and dark lyricism before hearing tracks like “Today, “When It Rain”, and “Dance In The Water”. To me, “Rolling Stone’s” hook is both redundant and annoying and I personally believe it slightly holds the entire album back.  If it had a different hook it might be better overall, but regardless it is definitely one of the weakest songs on the project.

Despite these minor setbacks, there are numerous aspects that I personally thoroughly enjoyed on “Atrocity Exhibition”.  For starters, the sampling on “Lost” is sensational.  The repeated looping of the horn part, keyboard melody, and female vocal track provide a simple, repetitive beat that fits Danny’s vocal performance flawlessly (not to mention this song would fit in well with any of the old Tony Hawk video game soundtracks, as it features the same looping beats heard on hip hop tracks on these soundtracks).  Interestingly enough, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know” and “From the Ground” are songs that don’t feature vocals from Danny himself.  This is something he’s done before on previous releases, but it’s very interesting to hear a song he wrote that does not feature any vocal performance from the rapper personally.  In my opinion, I would love to see more prominent hip hop artists write songs that don’t feature their own vocals, as I think this is a really interesting concept that adds further diversity to projects, but I can see how this idea might cause some negative feedback from these artists respective fan bases.  I absolutely loved “Dance in the Water”, as the internationally influenced beats, backing vocals, and overall melody make it an extremely catchy song that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear on the next FIFA soundtrack.  Lastly, I personally think that “Ain’t It Funny”, which recently saw the release of a music video directed by actor Jonah Hill made for the track itself, despite the criticism the song got.  The beat on “Ain’t It Funny” is stupid catchy, and when mixed with the self-destructive, dark, and honest lyricism featured, “Ain’t It Funny” instantly becomes one of the most significant songs you will hear from Danny Brown on this 2016 project.  My favorite tracks off “Atrocity Exhibition” have to be “Ain’t It Funny”, “Really Doe”, “Pneumonia”, “When It Rain”, and “Dance in the Water”, and the more I listen to the record the closer I get to declaring “Atrocity Exhibition” as the greatest Danny Brown release in his discography.

“Atrocity Exhibition” was the greatest hip hop release of 2016, and was the 6th best album of 2016, only falling behind artists like Saor, Trophy Eyes, Fallujah, Real Friends, and Every Time I Die.  This project truly pushes the limits and creativeness of hip-hop and will hopefully pave the way for future projects at the same caliber of excellence as “Atrocity Exhibition”.  Personally, I still can’t get over my initial reaction of how shook I was after hearing “When It Rain” and waiting for the bass to drop, like in “Dip”, only to never hear the anticipated drop.  Even though I was initially disappointed to not hear more EDM inspired tracks from Danny Brown, I am ecstatic to instead receive one of the best projects ever released in hip hop’s modern history.  Danny Brown will be remembered as a trailblazer in hip hop and his projects will surely inspire countless other phenomenal artists and projects.  In summation, I give “Atrocity Exhibition” a 9.6/10, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to and truly appreciate this album.  Danny Brown’s latest project is attached below.  Give it a listen and stay tuned for more reviews due out very soon!

 

“Atrocity Exhibition”:

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Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: KYLE iSpy (feat. Lil Yachty), LIL UZI VERT “XO TOUR Llif3”, and KHALID Location

Last week we were unable to add another installment to the Track of the Day Tuesday segment, so this week we have three songs that you need to check out!  Also, for the first time in months, a Track of the Day Tuesday post will feature exclusively hip hop artists, so this is an extremely significant week for the segment! Of course, all of the tracks mentioned will be attached below so don’t forget to give them a listen!

The first song you need to listen to today is Kyle’s “iSpy”, which is a collaboration between Kyle himself and Lil Yachty.  Kyle is a rapper who I’ve followed on and off for the last few years and it’s nice to finally see him receive mainstream attention.  With the single “iSpy” recently going Platinum (Music Canada) and being a top 5 selling track on US charts, it’s clear that Yachty and Kyle were meant to work together in a very similar way to how D.R.A.M. and Yachty were also destined to make a hit song together as well.  The track starts out with a feel good dialogue between Kyle and Lil Yachty, as the entire music video features the two rappers as cartoon characters moving through different scenarios on a fictitious beach.  It only takes a few seconds of Lil Yachty acting for any viewer to realize that the Atlanta based rapper needs to have his own cartoon show.  His dialogue, interaction with Kyle, and humorous and light hearted acting skills clearly shows that Lil Yachty has a natural talent as a cartoon voice actor, and I personally think a show about the rapper himself would be an instant classic (especially after seeing the great reaction Adult Swim’s “Mike Tyson Mysteries” has had since it’s launch).  The two rappers work together really well in this opening dialogue, as it becomes a perfect transition into Kyle’s first verse when the song opens.  Overall, this isn’t the most sophisticated or meaningful song you’ll ever hear, but it is without a doubt an extremely fun song to listen to regularly.  Yachty and Kyle’s ability to make a happy, fun song that is addictive to say the least clearly showcases what these two artists are best at.  In fact, the two of them did so well with “iSpy” that I’ve come to the conclusion that D.R.A.M, Lil Yachty, and Kyle all have to write an album together.  Not only were the three of them destined to work together, but a full length album, or even a mixtape, from these prominent artists could possibly result in one of the best hip hop albums of the year.  Needless to say, this collaboration absolutely needs to happen.

Next up is Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3”.  Lil Uzi Vert is an artist that, up until the release of this single, I had mixed opinions on.  Some of his tracks are very catchy and feature a solid song structure, but his recently released commercially successful mixtapes, like “The Perfect LUV Tape” and “Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World”, are projects that I can only listen to for 15-20 min before I start to get annoyed with Lil Uzi Vert’s signature sound.  Not to mention that there are even some tracks that I find to be just terrible overall.  However, “XO TOUR Llif3” is nothing like anything we’ve heard from Lil Uzi Vert so far.  For starters, he’s abandoned overusing the word “Yeah”, which is a promising sign.  Also, the beat, produced by TM88, is actually one that is somber and breaks away from his traditional upbeat, EDM inspired beats.  Lastly, and what I think is the most significant aspect of this new release from Lil Uzi Vert, the lyricism heard is actually very deep, personal, and above all well written.  The song basically depicts a past relationship Lil Uzi Vert was in, how it ended poorly, and how his dependency on narcotics greatly affected his life at the time.  The lyricism is specific enough that the listener can understand what the song is generally about, yet it is still vague, allowing interpretation of the lyrics to change per person and also exemplifying Lil Uzi Vert’s progress as a lyricist himself.  His use of primarily sung vocals allows the listener to actually hear the pain in Lil Uzi Vert’s voice through verses and choruses as he discusses this troubling time in his life, which is something fans of Lil Uzi Vert haven’t heard until now.  Personally, I really enjoy how Lil Uzi Vert wrote the chorus to “XO TOUR Llif3”.  Keeping the lyricism and perspective very vague has caused different interpretations of the meaning of the chorus to surface and it has personally left me anxious to hear the true meaning to the lines heard in the track.  This is without a doubt Lil Uzi Vert’s greatest song he has ever released and I hope he has more tracks similar to “XO TOUR Llif3” coming out soon.

Lastly, I want to talk about another hip hop artist who I have found through Youtube.  Khalid is an El Paso based R&B/Hip Hop artist who recently made significant waves with his successful debut album “American Teen”.  The album is full of successful singles like “Saved” and “Coaster”, but the track you’ve probably heard by now is “Location”.  “Location” features a chill, full sounding beat that perfectly compliments Khalid’s phenomenal tone and singing.  I’m actually not too found of the lyricism heard on “Location”.  It’s not bad, but the verses could have definitely been rewritten to better explain the situation with the girl Khalid mentions throughout the song without being too straight forward.  However, this is definitely a minor suggestion as the lyrics are fine as the way they are now.  Khalid has a ton of potential and I would consider him and 6lack to be the future of modern R&B.  If you haven’t had a chance to listen to his tracks before, or if you’ve put off watching the “Location” music video after seeing it recommended on Youtube for awhile now, then you without a doubt need to give it a listen today.

Thanks again to everyone who has kept up to date with the Track of the Day Tuesday segment!  This segment is absolutely my favorite segment to write about for Erik’s Album Reviews and it’s great to see such a positive, continued response from viewers across the globe.  If you haven’t yet, check out some of our older Track of the Day Tuesday installments and let us know who you think should be featured on next week’s Track of the Day Tuesday post!

Track of the Day Tuesday: FLA.MINGO Depression Drive

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This week, the track you need to give a listen to is “Depression Drive” by the vaporwave artist, Fla.mingo.  Fla.mingo’s album “Fantasy” was the first release of 2017 for Business Casual and I already know that it will be one of the greatest vaporwave albums of the year.  I’m not very familiar with Fla.mingo’s music, but based off “Fantasy”, it appears that he mixes both vaporwave/plunderphonics influences with house/EDM influences.  In fact, when listening to his music I instantly think about how some of the synths and vocal samples remind me of Porter Robinson and his two phenomenal full length records.  Combining both my love for vaporwave and EDM, I guarantee I’ll become a huge fan of Fla.mingo as I begin to check out more of his material.

“Depression Drive” is a great place to start when first listening to “Fantasy”.  It has a looping synth very similar to Porter Robinson, Minnesota, Seven Lions, and other notable EDM acts, while also incorporating a pitch shifted vocal track that compliments the rest of the track beautifully.  “Depression Drive” also has a simple, repetitive beat that gives the song a club/House vibe, which further makes the track even more addictive.  “Depression Drive” is a song you absolutely have to listen to today!  I’ve attached the entire bandcamp stream of the album below for those who want to give “Fantasy” a listen.  “Depression Drive” is track number 5, but I highly doubt you’ll be able to listen to only one song, as the entire release is phenomenal.  I look forward to seeing what else Fla.mingo has in store for us in the future and of course let us know what track you think should be the “Track of the Day Tuesday” next week!

 

The Thursday Ten: 11/15/16

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For those who visit Erik’s Album Reviews regularly, you will know that the staff has been very busy for the last two weeks.  Because of this we unfortunately missed the last two “The Thursday Ten” segments.  However, last week we announced that in order to make up for this lack of album ratings, we will give 20 album ratings for this week’s installment rather than the usual 10!  This week’s post features various releases over multiple genres covering everything from Black Metal to EDM.  Even though twice as many releases are feature in this installment, the rules to “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed, and of course, we encourage you to check out every album listed on any of the major music streaming platforms.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums you want us to rate next, and don’t forget to check out the previous installment to “The Thursday Ten”.  Here is this week’s post:

  1. Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom EP: 8/10
  2. The Acacia Strain, Thy Art Is Murder, and Fit For An Autopsy – The Depression Sessions: 9/10
  3. Power Trip/Integrity Split EP: 7/10
  4. Dan Mason – Summer Love: 7/10
  5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: 7/10
  6. Aborted – Termination Redux EP: 8/10
  7. Lamb of God – The Duke EP: 7/10
  8. Jason Richardson – I: 8/10
  9. bl00dwave – Distance: 8/10
  10. Defeater – Abandoned: 8/10

 

  1. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine: 8/10
  2. Blink-182 – California: 8/10
  3. Balance and Composure – Light We Made: 8/10
  4. Moose Blood – Blush: 8/10
  5. Wakrat – Wakrat: 4/10
  6. Tesseract – Polaris: 7/10
  7. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations: 6/10
  8. Adventure Club – Red // Blue: 5/10
  9. PZA – AMERICAN RITUALS: 9/10
  10. Vaerbitt – Tid: 9/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/the-thursday-ten-112416/

Breaking News: Deadmau5 Releases New Album “W:/2016ALBUM/” And His Single “Ghosts N Stuff” Goes Platinum

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Yesterday, electronic music titan, Deadmau5, released his latest album, “W:/2016ALBUM/”, through his own label, mau5trap.  The 2016 record is Deadmau5′ latest full length album and release since 2014’s, “while (1<2)”.  The album was released with hardly any promotion, and practically had a surprise release, but so far Deadmau5 fans have welcomed the new release with positive feedback and reviews!  Personally, I’ve only heard a track or two off “W:/2016ALBUM/”, but what I have heard is extremely promising and leads me to believe this latest Deadmau5 project could be his best release in years!  The release features a different sound from Deadmau5 that includes a significant amount of experimentation, different from his previous releases, while also showcasing the classic synth sounds and recognizable beats that make Deadmau5′ material iconic and timeless.

In other Deadmau5 news, Deadmau5′ most successful single, “Ghost N Stuff”, recently went platinum according to RIAA.  The single, which features vocals from Rob Swire and is featured on the highly praised album, “For Lack of a Better Name”, is one of the most well known Deadmau5 tracks.  The best part of this news story, however, is that according to RIAA “Ghosts N Stuff” went platinum  on Halloween this year.  Out of all the days in the year for a track titled “Ghosts N Stuff” to go platinum, Halloween has to be the best day for the track to do so.  Regardless of the well fitting date to go platinum, “Ghosts N Stuff” is still a fantastic electronic song and the fact that it is now certified platinum is a huge accomplishment!  Congrats to Deadmau5 for the remarkable feat and hopefully more singles of his reach this notable level of success!

Even though I am crazy behind on album reviews, I definitely plan on completing the review for “W:/2016ALBUM/” in the near future.  For the meantime check out the stream of the album below and let us know what you think of the latest Deadmau5 record.  Be sure to check back in for more reviews and music content and let us know if there are any records that you want us to review in the last few weeks of 2016!

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

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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

500 Word Review: Flume “Skin Companion EP I”

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Following his successful release of his sophomore full length album, “Skin”, which came out earlier this year, Australian EDM artist Flume is back with his latest EP “Skin Companion EP I”.  The EP, which apparently seems to be a continuation of “Skin” made up of what appears to be b-sides from the record, is a short, 4 song project that was released only a few days ago.  “Skin”, which in my opinion is an album of the year contender, saw widespread positive approval from his fan base and became Flume’s most successful release to date.  I personally was not familiar with Flume until after the release of “Skin”, but he has since become one of my favorite electronic artists and “Skin” is easily one of my favorite EDM albums of all time.  That being said I was both surprised and shocked when I recently opened my Youtube app to see new material from Flume.  “Skin” itself is a 16 track album running over an hour in length, so the fact that there is still material left over to be released is shocking to me.  However, I was still very excited to hear this latest project from Flume!

The songwriting on “Skin Companion EP I” is slightly different from “Skin”, but as the EP’s title suggests, it is still fairly similar to the sound heard on the 2016 full length.  Overall, “Skin Companion EP I” is a collection of upbeat, almost trance like songs.  The song structure for each track is eclectic with a heavy use of unique, peculiar beats and synths that is fairly similar to “Skin”, but is rather a perfect match to Flume’s signature style and the subgenre, wonky, that Flume often writes in.  Some percussion is mixed in in an odd manner, like for example what is heard throughout the track “v”, but this ultimately further compliments Flume’s signature style of electronic music.  The jittery randomness that flows well with the rhythmic beats can be, at some points, reminiscent of Blank Banshee’s material.  Honestly, despite the fact that pop influenced, high pitched female vocals are heard in nearly every track on “Skin Companion EP I”, this EP in my opinion, is actually closer to sounding like a vaportrap release than a radio friendly edm release, which is not a bad thing at all!  This collection of songs seems a little more experimental than what is heard on “Skin” and even though these tracks sound similar to the material on the 2016 full length, I can see why they are grouped together in a separate release altogether.  However, these variations heard from “Skin” are very slight and these four songs could easily have been mixed into “Skin”, and in fact, they could’ve served as trance like, calm sounding interludes or tracks that provide breathing room between the more intense songs heard on “Skin”.  This would give “Skin” even more range, from a song structure perspective, and would ultimately improve “Skin”.  Regardless, “Skin Companion EP I” is a great release on its own and is another phenomenal project from Flume.

In summation, I give “Skin Companion EP I” an 8.3/10 and I can without a doubt say that this release will be a fierce contender for the EPs of the year list!  This latest project from Flume is interesting, compelling, and extremely relaxing and enjoyable to listen to.  If you are a fan of electronic music you need to give this EP a listen.  Also, if “Skin Companion EP I” is the first installment to a list of projects associated with “Skin” to be released, which I am assuming it is, then I cannot wait to see what Flume releases next during this “Skin” era. Each of the four tracks from the album are posted below for those who want to check out the project and be sure to visit the site this week for more album reviews and music content!

“Trust”:

“v”:

“Heater”:

“Quirk”: