500 Word Review: Xiu Xiu “Forget”

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Do you find some sort of sick, masochistic joy in being depressed? If so, Xiu Xiu’s new album “Forget” might be just for you. Never known for making accessible music, Xiu Xiu gained notoriety last year for their rework of “The Music of Twin Peaks”, a haunting musical retelling of the chilling TV Show’s equally eerie soundtrack. After getting their weird out on that album (and weird in this context is definitely comparative), they have decided to return to what may be the most pop-oriented sound they can make. Despite it’s title, “Forget” makes you remember that not all ‘pop’ music has to be clean-cut and straight forward. Frontman Jamie Stewart and collaborators Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkleman have seemed to craft their sound on this album into the perfect mixture of experimental and pop, calling back hints of Depeche Mode and The Cure and blending them with ‘out’ production choices and often harrowing lyrics.

Although it’s hard to really pin down what a Xiu Xiu record should sound like, it is safe to say that when “Forget” starts, you probably won’t think it’s a Xiu Xiu record. Opening with what seems to be samples from some sort of gangster rap verse, “The Call” is an energetic little opener that right off the bat hints at the record’s more pop-ness while still maintaining it’s eccentrics and aggressiveness. The second song “Queen of The Losers,” is some sort of fucked-up spaghetti western dance song. It also shows the first hint of Xiu Xiu’s blunt fucked-upness. Towards the end of the song, over treated western guitar clangs and tinny percussion, the narrator asks himself “What am I?” He then proceeds to respond, “I’m fuckin’ nothing.” This is the first moment on the album where you really sit back and ask yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” The next couple of songs though give you hope that maybe this journey won’t be as bad as you think it could be.

“Wondering” may be the happiest sounding song Xiu Xiu has ever put on tape. It’s got a pumping dance beat, a catchy melody, and relatively normal lyrics. But the demented timbres of the instrumental give you that sense of “wait, isn’t this supposed to be fucked up,” therefore still giving every song on the album at list a little sense of the band’s well-known melancholy. The next song, “Get Up” takes the mold of it’s predecessor but manages to make it more horrific. I’ve never been so immediately taken in by a Xiu Xiu song, which is strange because it starts out with just a simple two-note guitar line over a bare drum machine. However, this time the masterfully creepy delivery of the vocals, and the content of the lyrics, make it still seem like there’s cracks in this safe wall.

The next set of tracks take a dark turn, starting with “Hay Choco Bananas.” This may be the most ill-fitting title for a song ever, because this song is highlighted by Jamie’s signature haunting vocals, bare and creepy synths, and a middle noise section that makes you feel like you’re trapped in a padded jail cell. It is then followed by “Jenny GoGo,” which has a techno dance beat and some of the creepiest lyrics on the album. These include ‘baby, I need a hubby inside me, don’t leave me baby.” Which is then followed by some yelling. In description this all sounds sort of campy and over-the-top, but Xiu Xiu’s strength has always been taking the over the top and making it fit. It’s not just experimentation for the sake of experimentation, it legitimately seems like experimentation for effect, and the effect works.

The next three songs, “At Last, At Last,” “Forget,” and “Petite” all follow a similar mold without making it sound like they’re just copy and pasting every song. Not standout tracks, but not bad tracks at all either. The album is wrapped up by “Faith, Torn Apart” which is a harrowing mix of noise and sung and spoken vocals that adds a fitting bookend to the album. Overall, this may be Xiu Xiu’s most accessible album to date, without losing of their experimental sensibility. It may even be one of the best records released this year so far.

 

Score: 8.8/10

 

Album Review by Ethan Lally, March 2017

“Forget”:

Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: PANOPTICON Into the North Woods, BLACK TONGUE In The Wake Ov The Wolf, PROTEST THE HERO Yellow Teeth, and SEVDALIZA That Other Girl

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After missing the first few weeks of 2017, we’re finally back with one of our favorite segments, “Track of the Day Tuesday”!  Usually, every Tuesday we post about what track you absolutely need to listen to today and why.  Since we had a slow start to the new year, we decided to make up for lost time and give you FOUR tracks that you need to give a listen to today!  Unfortunately, all of the songs, except for “That Other Girl”, are metal tracks, so there isn’t much diversity in the group.  However, each track and artist listed is fantastic and I highly suggest you give each song a listen today!  Here is our largest “Track of the Day Tuesday” segment ever!

First I want to discuss American Black Metal act, Panopticon’s, “Into the North Woods”.  Panopticon is one of the US based Black Metal groups that I have heard nothing but positive reviews about, but have continued to procrastinate with giving them a listen.  In fact, I first heard about how phenomenal Panopticon’s “Autumn Eternal” was through CountBlagorath’s Youtube channel.  After finally giving the Black Metal band a listen I can agree with all the hype that Panopticon is a fantastic band.  Despite only hearing a few projects by the Minnesota based band, it is obvious to any listener that their musical ability and skill in songwriting surpasses the standards set by modern Black Metal.  If you love melodic Black Metal with heavy folk influences, then you not only have to check out “Into the North Woods”, but the entire “Autumn Eternal” album.  Panopticon might be one of the greatest American Black Metal bands of all time, and I highly suggest you don’t sleep on this group like I did!

Next up on the list of tracks you need to listen to today is Black Tongue’s “In The Wake Ov The Wolf”.  If you’re familiar at all with the deathcore band, Infant Annihilator, then you will know that after the departure of Dan Watson, guitarist and drummer Eddie Pickard and Aaron Kitcher, went on to form a separate, downtempo deathcore group called Black Tongue.  Black Tongue, in the 3 years of being a full time band, have already seen an immense amount of success in the metal community and in their own songwriting.  Releasing 2 EPs and a full length record titled “The Unconquerable Dark”, Black Tongue have begun to solidify themselves as a prominent leader in the continuously growing sub-genre that is downtempo deathcore.  As you might have guessed, I also slept on their full length record despite the fact that I absolutely loved their fist two releases.  After finally checking out “The Unconquearable Dark” I cannot stop listening to the entire 2015 album.  That being said, this is a record you need to give a listen to as well, and I suggest you start off with the track “In The Wake Ov The Wolf”.  “In The Wake Ov The Wolf” was one of the first singles released off the debut full length and it has easily become one of the catchiest songs on the entire record.  I know it might be hard to imagine downtempo, beat down deathcore to be labeled as “catchy”, but the leads and chord progressions heard, especially in the chorus, are absolutely addicting and get stuck in your head immediately after listening to the entire track.  If you are not familiar with the new Black Tongue album, or the sub-genre they write in general, “In the Wake OV The Wolf” is the perfect place to start.

For those who have been reading the blog for the last few months you will remember that I wrote a blog post about the upcoming August Burns Red tour.  Last year, Lancaster’s own, August Burns Red, announced that they would do a North America tour performing “Messengers” for its 10th anniversary.  Recently, the 10 year Messengers tour went through Denver, Colorado and I was able to attend the show!  Of course, the concert itself was phenomenal, but what truly stuck out was actually Protest the Hero’s performance.  Once again, Protest the Hero was another band I heard great things about but never thought to give their discography a listen.  However, I was completely and absolutely blown away by their seamlessly flawless performance.  Every song was perfectly crafted with face melting riffs, intricate drumming, and (for a lack of a better term) impressive vocals that made me listen to the Canadian group non-stop for days after the show.  So far I can say that “Yellow Teeth” is my favorite track by Protest the Hero.  The high pitched vocals cry out as a speedy instrumental section burns through chugging and melodic shredding riffs.  If you want to be blown away by insane musicianship, then stop reading this post right now, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and listen to “Yellow Teeth” by Protest the Hero and enjoy one of the best Modern Progressive Metal acts.

Finally, the last track I want to share with you today is an experimental pop track by the Iranian upcoming pop artist, Sevdaliza.  Sevdaliza’s music, and the music videos that accompany her catalog, are mesmerizing to put it simply.  Sevdaliza’s approach to her songwriting and how she visually portrays these tracks is something that not only makes her unique, but will also allow her to reshape and change the genre of experimental pop completely.  There isn’t a single bad place to start when first listening to Sevdaliza, but I must say that Sevdaliza’s “That Other Girl” is one of her masterpieces so far and is a track that you must listen to, regardless of what other songs by the Iranian pop artist you’ve heard so far.  Plus the 2000s-esque style of animation featured in the music video for “That Other Girl” is not only trippy, but extremely nostalgic and entertaining.  I guarantee I’ll be writing a lot more about Sevdaliza in the future, so if you really enjoy this track stay tuned and I’ll be sure to post about other songs in her discography.

Of course, every song mentioned is attached below.  I know this is a lot to take in all at once, but these four songs are tracks you absolutely need to give a listen to today.  The “Track of the Day Tuesday” segment is a segment I greatly enjoy writing and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews is extremely glad that we can continue this segment into 2017.  Check out the songs mentioned below, let us know what you think of the tracks, and of course, let us know what songs you would like to see featured on future installments to “Track of the Day Tuesday”!

 

Panopticon’s “Into the North Woods”:

Black Tongue’s “In The Wake Ov The Wolf”:

Protest the Hero’s “Yellow Teeth”:

Sevdaliza’s “That Other Girl”:

Track of the Day Tuesday: PZA “BEAUT1FUL”

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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: Panic! At The Disco’s “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” To Be Repressed

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2016 has seen some huge vinyl represses this year, but this repress is probably the most significant repress we will see all year!  Las Vegas based rock band, Panic! At The Disco, will be repressing their iconic debut album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” this month.  Their debut record, along with their sophomore and third full length records, “Pretty. Odd.” and “Vices & Virtues”, will get represses this year as well after years of having previous presses completely sold out.  Panic! At The Disco’s first three records are some of their most successful and popular releases to date and it’s no surprise that their previous pressings of these records are extremely rare and hard to find online.  Almost all of these previous pressings have been resold for at least $100 and some have even seen sales close to $400!  That being said, this repressing of Panic!’s first three records gives collectors and fans of Panic! At The Disco the ability to finally purchase a copy of these great records for an affordable price!

Even though each of the albums mentioned are extremely limited on vinyl and in high demand from fans of the band, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” is still the most significant repressed album all year.  “AFYCSO” was the record that launched Panic! At The Disco into their massive successful career that we see today, and the record is widely received by fans as the group’s greatest record.  It also has the most previous pressings than any of the first three albums and has also been sold for as much as $399 on Discogs!  I personally never thought that “AFYCSO” would ever be repressed again due to the fact that there were already multiple pressings made for the debut album that are often resold on various websites.  However, this repressing, like mentioned earlier, gives fans a way to get a copy, whether or not they own a previous pressing.  Even though this repress will add more vinyl copies of the album to the vinyl and cassette market, I still think that older pressings will still have ridiculously high prices and the demand for these copies will still be great, similar to how certain Circa Survive pressings are still high in price and demand.  If you are one of the people who are still looking to get any copy of this record on vinyl you need to purchase this as soon as possible as this pressing will definitely sell out and could also be added to the list of expensive resold Panic! At The Disco records.

If you are looking to buy a copy online then check out the links I have posted below to srcvinyl and my favorite store ever, Bullmoose Records, who are both selling copies of the Panic! At The Disco records.  Again, and I cannot stress this enough, these represses will absolutely sell out so now is your chance to pick up a copy at a normal, affordable price, especially if you don’t care what pressing of any of the records you can get.  I also attached the full stream of “AFYCSO” for those who want to give the classic record a listen!  We have a lot more vinyl and cassette news to share in the upcoming week so make sure to visit the site to see more updates about the vinyl and cassette market!

srcvinyl:

https://www.srcvinyl.com/searchanise/result?q=panic+at+the+disco

Bullmoose Records:

http://www.bullmoose.com/search?Q=panic+at+the+disco&As=true&As=false&Cid=18&Pf=&Pt=&btnsearch=Search

“A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”:

The Thursday Ten: 11/24/16

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After missing last week we are now back with the next installment to “The Thursday Ten”!  Like usual, the rules for “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed and we encourage you to check out every album listed below on any of the major music streaming services.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums we should do next, and don’t forget to read previous “The Thursday Tens”, like the most recent one attached below!  Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

  1. Hail The Sun – Culture Scars: 8/10
  2. Stolas – Allomaternal: 8/10
  3. The Devil Wears Prada – Transit Blues: 7/10
  4. Gallant – Ology: 9/10
  5. Sianvar – Stay Lost: 8/10
  6. Memphis May Fire – This Light I Hold: 6/10
  7. Fire From The Gods – Narrative: 7/10
  8. twenty one pilots – Heathens *single/not an album*: 5/10
  9. Rob $tone – Chill Bill *single/not an album*: 9/10
  10. Leon Bridges – Coming Home: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/the-thursday-ten-111016/

Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: GALLANT Weight In Gold and ROB $TONE Chill Bill

As we mentioned before, last week was extremely hectic for the writers at Erik’s Album Reviews, so we were unable to create new installments for our weekly segments, like Track of the Day Tuesday.  So, like we’ve done before for weeks when we were unable to post a track of the day, we have TWO tracks for this week that you should listen to!  These tracks are Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” and Rob $tone’s “Chill Bill”.  Both of these songs I actually found through commercials and I have since become a fan of these artists!

Rob $tone is an up-and-coming rap artist who released his widely successful single, “Chill Bill”, earlier this year.  The track has been featured on Spotify commercials and features one of the catchiest hooks you will hear in all of 2016.  The track has solid flow and a well put together trap beat, however the most memorable part of this song is the whistling lead part, which serves as the melody to the addictive chorus.  It is impossible to listen to the chorus once and not want to play it again and whistle the melody yourself.  The only problem I have with the song is that I think the whistling melody is over used.  If it was prominent in the verse as well, I believe that the impact the melody would have on the chorus would be even greater than it is now.  This track, however, is still an amazing start for Rob $tone and I look forward to hearing what he chooses to release next!

Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” is the other track you must listen to today.  After hearing his best selling single on a Red Bull commercial I absolutely had to check out the full song.  Gallant is a modern day R&B artist with an absolutely stunning vocal range.  Gallant’s music also incorporates a lot of electronic influence and even some sections in “Weight In Gold” feature EDM like sections.  “Weight In Gold” is an instant classic and an all around well written, extremely impressive song.  “Ology”, Gallant’s debut album, is phenomenal as well and will definitely be an album of the year contender.

I’ve posted links to both songs below for you to check out!  I also attached Gallant’s live performance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.  If his live performance doesn’t convince you of his unfathomable talent and musical ability, then I don’t know what will.  Both of these artists will be house hold names in the next few years and I can’t wait to see what they do with their careers next!

Rob $tone “Chill Bill”:

Gallant “Weight In Gold”:

Gallant “Weight In Gold” Live:

The Thursday Ten: 11/3/16

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Last week saw an extreme lack of content, and as a result, the week of 10/23-10/29 was the first week without a “The Thursday Ten” post since the segment was first announced.  However, we are back this week with the latest “The Thursday Ten”.  For those of you who read the last installment to the segment, you will remember that the ratings for the 10 records mentioned all received scores within the range of 7/10-9/10.  Even though these ratings are a representation of my honest opinion of the albums, I understand that the ratings from the previous post might seem inflated, and that an average reader might think that almost every album receives around an 8/10.  In order to disprove this assumption, I decided to rate some albums that were released this year that I was not very fond of, in order to show a more broad spectrum of where certain records may fall on the rating system for “The Thursday Ten”.  The rules for giving these ratings have not changed and each album mentioned can be listened to on any major streaming service, and I highly encourage you to give them a listen!  Also, the previous “The Thursday Ten” is posted below and of course, if you disagree with any rating or want to submit a record to be rated, let us know in the comments or shot us an email!  Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

  1. Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty: 8/10
  2. D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.: 5/10
  3. The Word Alive – Dark Matter: 5/10
  4. Chelsea Grin – Self Inflicted: 5/10
  5. River Oaks – River Oaks – EP: 6/10
  6. Desiigner – New English: 7/10
  7. I Prevail – Lifelines: 7/10
  8. AlunaGeorge – I Remember: 4/10
  9. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues: 6/10
  10. Drake (singles) – Fake Love: 6/10 – Sneakin’ (feat. 21 Savage): 7/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/the-thursday-ten-102016/