“Airbrushed” was the song I lost 80 pounds to.
Author Archives: Matt
2010 seems to be the year for new artists coming out and rocking all of our faces. We had Baths come out with “Cerulean,” and while not rocking our faces off, it showed us that Trip-hop is still a thing that’s awesome. Sleigh Bells released “Treats” and has been acquainted to a love it or hate it reaction, but nonetheless still known. So who was it that we thought had the strongest debut album of 2010?
Best Coast! Nah, just kidding. Continue reading
For every best there’s always a worst to accompany it. Let’s be honest here, it’s been a pretty good year for music. We here at the FOWR offices have been saying that for a while. But that still doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot of shit floating around out there. In turn, we decided to give an award to the the worst album of the year.
Can you guess what it is?
It’s totally not what you’re thinking.
I think. Continue reading
Music’s never been an emotional escape for me. In most cases, creating music has taken over that role instead, while listening to it is more recreational. What I seek in music, usually, ends up being simple, catchy pop songs. That’s how I’ve always been, really. People will tell me about the inner rolercoasters that “Album A” put them on and I more often than not find myself unable to reciprocate those feelings. So what am I supposed to say when an album finally does that to me — makes me have a real emotional response? Continue reading
When you’re working with samples, loops and hooks you run a fine line. On one hand, a repeating hook serves a lot of purpose. It’s something simple, but catchy enough to keep you entertained. But working with a looping hook is a double-edged sword – if you let it run on for too long, eventually you begin to cross the threshold from being catchy into being monotonous. “Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” is a prime example of what happens when you let your hooks take up too much of the heavy lifting: You inevitably end up with a droning, soulless, boring product. Continue reading
Baths’ “Cerulean” is probably my favourite album of 2010. Actually, it’s up for the running as one of my favourite albums ever – it being a strong contender with Phoenix’s 2009 “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.” But, the odd thing about this is, if you’ve listened to the Podcast? Episode #4 where we talked about Baths, you’ll know that the release of “Cerulean,” or at least what’s out there on the interwebs of it, is extremely disjointed and mixed up. The short of it is, I’m not 100% sure how to review this since some of my favourite songs from my version of the album aren’t actually on the album. So in my hardest effort to give our readers — Ben, Ryan — the true, informed assessment of this thing here, I’ll have to ignore stuff like “Palatial Disappointment.”
Now, “Cerulean.” Possibly the best set of dreamy, electronic music I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. I say dreamy. Yes, this is one of those albums that can actually help you sleep – or rather, it’s one of those albums that will lull you to sleep; not out of boredom. This is an album that feels like it’s a collection of songs by a man stuck in a forever dream-like state (I’m a hippie). “Cerulean” is actually what sparked the idea of our new feature, the Fermixtapes, Baths being on a playlist of “songs to sleep to.”
The cloudy, trance sound isn’t the only thing that Baths is capable of pulling off; this is a brilliantly done pop album too. Songs like “Lovely Bloodflow” feature a bizarre set of falsetto vocals and catchy, crunchy drum lines that damn well beat any mainstream hip-hop song you’ve heard. Then you have stuff like “Animals,” that manages to combine both euphoric, fantasy and poppy hip-hop elements.
If you had trouble listening to bands like Passion Pit because of their unique vocal style, then “Cerulean” will most likely run you up a wall. Baths guy sounds, well, exactly like Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. There are some tracks that have layers upon layers of vocals, which, if you already hate that kind of stuff, wont enhance your experience.
But you’ll like “Cerulean.” Trust me. It’s playful, energetic, and even emotional at times – everything you need to hit the right nerves in your brain. While the lyrics can slightly be on the immature side, the actual components of the music make up for whatever childish inklings you may notice.
Winner: “Cerulean” by Baths
Why: The catchy, out-of-this-world sound of “Cerulean” is calm and peaceful, but still manages to sound enthusiastic.
“Memories” can, in some way, be seen as a nostalgic cry for help. I mean, nowhere in the song does Rivers explicitly say anything about Weezer‘s serious case of the “not what they used to be’s” but with a track like “Memories,” it’s at least heavily implied. There’s no way that wasn’t going through his head when he wrote this song; his band has fallen victim to the same criticism too many times in the past. But the thing is, I don’t actually believe Rivers wants to be respected like he used to be – rather, I believe he doesn’t give a shit. And this song, this deceivingly written song, in my eyes, is simply a slap in the face of every person who said “Weezer was better in the 90s” or “I wish they were like they used to be.” I being one of those people.
You might wonder if I’m being over presumptuous in thinking there’s a deeper meaning behind this song, when, ostensibly, this is a song about remembering the days “When Audioslave was still Rage.” But try to understand my rationale: Weezer, a band once widely praised by fans and critics alike, now under the focus of the critical eye, to the point where anytime they do anything at all, you get the same collective of “I miss the Blue/Pinkerton days” from Youtube Commenter #35. Are these fans a victim of the herd mentality? Possibly — probably. But you have to admit, things have changed a lot, Weezer has grown up, and maybe not even for the better. And then, imagine that from the artist’s point of view, comments like that are probably going to hit you hard, whether you believe or not; you will always have some deep scars in your psyche, no matter how little you think you care about others’ criticisms. So I want to go back and say: I truly believe that, at one point, during the writing process of this song, exactly those criticisms Rivers/Weezer have been a victim of, were flowing through everyone’s minds, albeit subconsciously.
A part of me was hoping “Memories” would bring Weezer‘s naysayers into question more bluntly, maybe just a little bit. I wouldn’t ever expect them to go too deep into that idea, that would be far too much of a risk for any band, really, and I don’t demand anything like that from Weezer. (But maybe they’re rich enough that it wouldn’t realistically matter to them?) Instead, it somewhat meanders around, talking about how cool being a teenager in the 90s was (I being a teenager in the 2000s might not get it as well as others), and in the back it leaves their history in question, without any real mention. But then again, maybe that was the “slap in the face” to the fans. Maybe Rivers doesn’t want to give the satisfaction of acknowledging his critics because he doesn’t care. This entire song could simply be a tease for all I know. That would be a ballsy move for any band, I would think.
My pretentious pontificating aside, “Memories,” structurally and instrumentally, holds well, and is pretty solid all around. There a few questionable points in the song: The intro, for a prime example, is an orchestra of string instruments tuning up, and it then cuts abruptly into the starting guitar riff and moves on from there. The only issue I had, really, was that it didn’t flow with the song in anyway and it felt copied and pasted. Besides that, though, you have a very well produced — but not overproduced — poppy, energetic song here. The youthful exuberance of the song is very apparent, from the thrashing, distorted power-chords, to Rivers’ line delivery. The chorus ramps up the song in a big way, as well, with its full back up vocals and synth following the melody. It’s all very catchy and fun, but in return becomes repetitive. The song is about two hooks, with little to no variation besides lyrics, thrown together. I grew tired of it after multiple listens, but that’s normally the case for any pop song.
“Memories” holds a lot of promise for the upcoming Hurley album, its repetitive nature aside. Weezer had their weird, out of left field phase with Raditude, but Hurley sounds like it may, probably unintentionally, bring back a bit of history. As a person who misses the days of Blue and Pinkerton, I’m happy with that direction – if they succeed or not is still up for question.
WINNER: “Memories” by Weezer
WHY: “Memories” is a good sign for things to come: it’s loud, vibrant, fresh, and — possibly — bold. Also, it doesn’t have Lil’ Wayne in it.
Promises are made to be broken.
Caroline is an Okinawan-American singer/songwriter and “Murmurs” — I think — is her first and only album. When I learned about this information I was greatly disappointed that there wasn’t more music of her’s out there. It’s really too bad because I saw a lot of untapped potential in her, even though “Murmurs” is quite lacking in some areas.
“Murmurs” is slow techno-pop. Synth drums, keyboards, the works, everything you’d expect from a techno/trance album is here. A lot of the songs tend to be slow and low-key. The easiest comparison I can make here is that Caroline is like a Japanese Imogen Heap. Take that for what you will. Much of the instrumentation, I find, is pretty predictable and serves its purpose. The real point of intrigue is Caroline’s voice.
Caroline sounds like a small person trying to sound bigger than they actually are – puffing out their chest and raising their hands in the air wildly. She has a tiny voice, as most of the Japanese female singers I’ve heard do. It works pretty well. Songs like “Drove Me to the Wall,” especially in the chorus, makes her sound like she’s trying to be powerful but fails and kind of comes off as cute, which I find endearing in an odd way.
Unfortunately besides Caroline’s voice, there isn’t much interesting content in this album. The songs have a great atmosphere to them, but the tone is held throughout the entirety of the album and rarely deviates. A lot of the same tricks are used; the same chord structures, the set of sounds. It has a great set of songs to listen to individually but as a whole comes off as fairly uncreative.
My inner Japanophile wants to really like this album – and, believe me, I do to some degree – but on the basis that I don’t think it actually does anything original, I can’t really recommend it. It’s simple pop music and it doesn’t really need to be innovative, but when all of the songs sound the same and you make it obvious that they do, it’s hard to not get frustrated by that.
WHY: Caroline Lufkin is a good songwriter and “Murmurs” has good songs on it — the problem is that they’re all the same and it just doesn’t work as a whole product.
Note: I’m lending my impressions on this performance of the song specifically. The studio recording is somewhat different, but a lot of what I say here still stands with the original track.
I never thought there would be a point in my life where I would stumble upon “Gay Church Folk Music,” but then I opened up an album by The Hidden Cameras and was surprised at what I had found.
Joel Gibb, The Hidden Cameras’ frontman/songwriter, is, for lack of a better word, a giant pervert. This guy isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with the… down and dirty, discussing such topics as underage sex, drinking semen, and being peed on. The Hidden Cameras’ albums are usually filled to the brim with dark, perverted undertones that are subsequently drowned out by a buoyant choir and full orchestra.
But I’m not going to be talking about their albums as a whole. Instead I’m supposed to be talking about a specific song — “Breathe On It.” Now, I don’t really know what the song is about. Some speculate it’s about fellatio, some say it’s about being proud of your sexuality, some say it’s about individualism – again, I have no clue. I’m not here to analyze the words, just the sound, mainly because I’m too stupid to understand subtly.
“Breathe On It” is much like what I described in the above. The song sounds as though it has a dark, more serious meaning behind it, but is accompanied by the instrumentation that is far away on the other side of the field. It’s almost as if Joel originally wrote this song to have a different tone, but then the band came over to his house and fucked everything up. Everyone started playing cellos and violins and Joel just said, “Ah fuck it, this is fine.” Not to say this is a bad thing, the contrast between the words and the sound are actually kind of refreshing, even though I hardly ever listened to the words because I was too caught up in the instruments (you’ve probably heard this from me before).
SECOND TANGENT OF THE NEW BLOG: It’s odd. I say I’m not smart enough to understand the meaning behind this song, but it’s more that I don’t need to. I’m more inclined to just sit back and listen, because the feelings the song makes me experience are holding me in such a way that I don’t want to dig deeper. It’s ignorant, I know, but I believe that the most important part of music is the sound (when I say that aloud it just sounds painfully obvious), and I want to take my time and deal with that instead. If I’m interested enough in what you have to say, I might snap myself out of my trance to check that out.
“Breathe On It” holds me in the same manner. The song is larger than life, but at the same time grounded in some sense of reality. It starts out timid with Joel leading with his guitar and voice. As the chorus hits, the back up vocals and strings come into the mix. From there on they just keep adding to that, the back up choir becomes more persistent though the verses, the strings are a lot more prominent. At that moment, I stopped thinking about everything that was going on around me, and I became perfectly in sync with The Hidden Cameras’ performance. It was just me and the music. I soaked up everything I could. I was in tune with my senses. Every bit of rational thought I was capable of disappeared for a brief time.
This, I believe, is the affect every song should have on me. When I listen to a new track, I should be taken away from my reality. Each piece of music should be a gateway to a new world, filled with new sights, sounds, people, feelings. “Breathe On It,” for whatever reason, hit all of the right nerves. While listening to it, for the first time — as stupid as it sounds — I felt as if I was lifted away from all of my problems. For a series of minutes, I was in another place.
And it was a truly fabulous experience.
WINNER: “Breathe On It” by The Hidden Cameras
WHY: For giving Matt a new perspective on the power music can have over a person.
Passion Pit has always astounded me with their unabashed, catchy synth-pop. I like “Manners” for the same reason I liked “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:” While each song can be too consistent with each other, it still manages to work and feel fresh even though track 3 is the same as track 2.
“Manners” is hard for me to talk about. There isn’t a lot I can say about it besides that it makes me want to… dance? I don’t know — each song is full of hooks carefully constructed to keep you around. As a song goes on you can’t help but make it to the end every time because it wont let you go away. For one minute the synth and the bass are creating a tastefully addictive melody that entrances you. Soon, before you get the chance to get bored of the sound, it flips right into a new hook further pulling you in. It’s pop music. It’s not complicated. But it’s tricking you into thinking that it is.
There’s no shame in how dance-y this album is. It’s fun to listen to. It’s one of those albums that I like to listen to when I want to stop thinking hard about stuff. Turn your brain off and fall into the sweet bliss that is the sound of “Manners.” In a world where everything has to be artsy, or have some kind of meaning, Passion Pit is mindless enjoyment. Sure, I think Michael Angelakos (Lead Singer) is saying something in his songs – I think “The Reeling” is about homelessness. But, frankly, I’m more mystified by the sound of his voice to pay that much attention to the words.
That’s another thing that I love about “Manners.” Angelakos’ voice, while at first can be jarring, works with the style they have going on. His falsetto technique matches itself well with the overly-happy bliss-pop. It’s the same as the upbeat sound that accompanies it — all working together in harmony with one goal in mind: To make you happy. It’s just too bad Angelakos can’t actually keep up his vocal technique in their live shows.
A lot of people I know have only listened to “Sleepyhead.” And I have to say to anyone who hasn’t gone beyond that, you’re missing out. If you like “Sleepyhead” to any degree, I guarantee that you’ll love every single track on “Manners.” The album is full of songs that trump “Sleepyhead” in so many ways. Songs like “Eyes As Candles” or “Little Secrets.” In comparison “Sleepyhead” is the worst song on the album, which is saying a lot because it’s still an amazing track.
WINNER: “Manners” by Passion Pit
WHY: It’s simple, and that’s probably why it’s so refreshing. Pure audio bliss.