New Track: Belle and Sebastian – The Party Line

image

You could say there’s a good reason why Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity called Belle and Sebastian “sad bastard music.” After all, the Scottish group originally rose to prominence with the melancholic chamber pop of their first few albums. Those who know them only for that, then, may get a bit of a surprise when they listen to B&S’s newest track, “The Party Line.”

This lead single off of their ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is possibility B&S’s first track with a bonafide beat (though I could be wrong—I’m partial to their sad bastard music myself). Synths permeate the song, anchored by the pulsating bass, while singer Stuart Murdoch’s characteristic plaintive voice sounds a little strange in this new musical environment—not to say that that’s a bad thing. In some ways, “The Party Line” is a little reminiscent of “Electronic Renaissance” from B&S’s first album, Tigermilk, so perhaps it’s not so much of a departure after all. Nonetheless, fans of the classic B&S sound shouldn’t be too worried—if the album trailer is any indication, there’ll be plenty of their typical orchestral pop on the record as well. And its producer, Ben H. Allen, has also worked on such great albums as Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion and Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest. So there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for this upcoming album, not the least of which is the fact that B&S is one of the most consistently excellent pop groups out there, in my humble opinion.

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance comes out on January 20th, and you can pre-order it now on iTunes or Amazon and get “The Party Line” as well. Alternatively, you can pre-order it at Matador Records, where you can also get the nice-looking deluxe box set (it even comes with a set of pins!).

image
LeAnn Nguyen

Album Review: “Alone For The First Time” by Ryan Hemsworth

image

HAPPY RYAN HEMSWORTH WEEK!

the canadian prince of future vibes and dope remixes dropped a new album November 4th named Alone For The First Time. the album is fairly short, just 7 songs totaling 27 minutes. 

TRACKLIST:

01 “Hurt Me”

02 “Walk Me Home” (Feat. Lontalius)

03 “Snow In Newark” (Feat. Dawn Golden)

04 “Blemish”

05 “Too Long Here” (Feat. Alex G)

06 “Surrounded” (Feat. Kotomi & DOSS)

07 “By Myself” (Feat. the GTW & Little Cloud)

the album is a super chill collection of songs that have great beats accompanied by really pretty and sometimes sad lyrics, a perfect follow up to last years album, Guilt Trips (which you should also check out if you haven’t). Hemsworth told vogue “Maybe it’s[Alone For The First Time] a reaction to all the party music out there now, but I just needed to do something a little quieter — every song I do is in a minor key.” this makes the album really flow together- i think it sounds best just played in order. Check out the stream below:

the first track, “Hurt Me”, is minimalistic with a bubbly electronic beat and simple lyrics (the only words are “don’t you hurt me”). how much more representative of Ryan Hemsworth’s style could that be…

“Walk Me Home” is that classic internal battle between wanting to be with someone but knowing they’re not good for ya. put those lyrics over Hemsworth’s spin on what sounds like a ballerina music box and it’s an amazing song; you’ll find yourself torn between dancing and curling up in a ball of sad- the best kind of sad.

“Snow in Newark” was the album’s first single, released September 22nd, 2014. this track is ESSENTIAL. this song is a sincere and relatable piece, you can’t help but wanna give ryan a big ol’ hug because he’s just so adorably glum. “I call my music happysad, one word, no spaces,” Ryan Hemsworth says, and that’s exactly what this is. 

“Blemish” is an instrumental electronic track, which is very different than the typical, crazy instrumentals that start to sound repetitive and almost aggressive, because Hemsworth’s mellow and unique style is so vibe-able. 

“Too Long Here” opens up with the lyric “Who ever thought of a big train / Going right in your mouth”. it’s a lonely song about feeling lost, but in a really common and not necessarily sad way. i think this is my favorite song on the album because the meaning isn’t really clear, so everyone’s gonna interpret it differently. and Alex G’s voice is dope, so that always helps.

“Surrounded” is great. the voices, one computerized-sounding, one soft and very classic, create a cool contrast with the electronic beat and bass. you really notice Hemsworth’s DJ skills on this track- they’re impossible to ignore.

finally, the last hoorah, “By Myself”.  this is such an amazing song, and i love the way Hemsworth, GTW & Little Cloud worked together, because the song seems accessible. you can relate to the lyrics and the beat, and you can be alone but with someone else, as the song is saying. it’s a cool way to end the album because when it finishes, it winds down to nothing and you do almost feel by yourself. 

overall, the album was a really successful project, and i think Ryan Hemsworth is just on the come up. he’s been touring around the world, doing big festival appearances and college fling concerts, but he’s had time to make this album and be really involved with his fans. he replies to a majority of the tweets he receives, and answers all of his tumblr asks, which reveals how humble and, honestly, timid he is. when a fan complimented his performance at the University of British Columbia, he replied “i felt funny at ubc for some reason.. i dunno if i’m good at like big college spring fling parties? or just 2 self conscious lol.” it’s essentially impossible to dislike Ryan Hemsworth as a person, which makes his music that much more attractive. 

Hemsworth detailed his reasoning for making this album shy away from the typical electronic club music on his tumblr: “i think just a lot of the places i found myself in the past year (big weird EDM festivals, etc) kind of pushed me to make something quieter / separate from that world. and also just the combo of never being home but meeting cute nice people on the road lots added up to a newfound appreciation of a lot of music i’d forgotten about.”

basically, you should totally check out his new album. and his instagram, which is where i pulled this picture from:

image

image
gnovs

New Video: Jesse Romo – The Beauty of One

Jazzy and slow, Jesse Romo, starts off his latest track, “The Beauty of One” with a casual collection of guitar and drums. As the vocals begin, a wave of relaxation washes through all the instruments at once. Although the music isn’t technically difficult, it does challenge the listener to take in the message that Jesse strives to convey. “It is about feeling lost and alone, having a spiritual experience, and coming to find connectedness with the Universe,” the artist shares in the description of the song’s music video:

//

A compilation of various Yosemite and Joshua Tree time lapses accompany the song as it drifts through various states of calamity. Check out the music video on Facebook or in the stream above.

This track is decidedly different than the music that can be found in Romo’s previous releases. While mixtapes like Listen, Love (Epilogue) and Afterthoughts rely heavily on sample-based production around jazz and hip-hop, other projects like happykid vibes out like old school Nintendo. This single ushers the first time that Jesse’s voice has appeared on a track – needless to say, I am glad to hear it.

To explain the inspiration behind the song, Romo states:

I started writing this song last summer, during a difficult couple of months in my life. Facing trials and tribulations again recently, but now with a greater sense of hope, I felt it was time to complete the song.”

There’s plenty of more beauty to be found in this artist’s work on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Feel free to stream and download anything as he has gladly offered it all up for free!

image
DJ Desman

Hozier: Let’s appreciate the man and the album (Artist/Album Review)

Hi I’m Ariana Rivera and I like writing words and music so I asked some people about a way to combine the two and they gave me this job.

So lately, I’ve been obsessed, and I think you know what I mean. I’m talking about soul-sucking, mind-numbing, “Wow, I can’t stop listening” plain obsessed. This entire album and the man who writes it has stolen my heart and although it’s only been a couple of weeks, I just can’t help but love it.

Meet Hozier.

image

Born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, 24, Irish born and gifted with a soulful, bluesy as hell voice, this man is relatively new to the industry, with his debut album, Hozier released in Ireland in September, and globally just last month. Studied music in Dublin for a bit and was involved in an Irish vocal choral group, but dropped that…to become who he is, a modern day, Van Morrison and a male Adele.

So let’s talk about his album, now that we have an understanding that he’s somewhat successful and a little bit beautiful.

image

Starting off with “Take Me to Church,” his first single that went viral on YouTube and topped the charts all around, we get a feel of how Hozier feels about love in his analogous parallel of love to religion: that falling in love essentially resulted in a death of everything. Not the happiest way to start the day, but the song starts off just a pure tone of his voice and some simple piano chords. Once we get going, background vocals come in, and for a second you see a hint of the vocal choral group roots that he has. The lyrics of this song are powerful once you reach the chorus, and we end the song not just with a pianist and smooth sounds of Hozier’s voice, but with a powerful guitar and drum combo, thundering through to make a statement.

So obviously, this guy has power, and we get a second hint of that in his second track off the album, “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” (which had a hint of influence from the Black Keys to me). At this point in the album, however, you might already have the feeling of, “Okay, I got that he can do powerful R&B and soul, but is this really the sound for the entire album?”

Hozier switches it up a bit and finally shows a softer bluesy side in “Jackie and Wilson,” with an asymmetric rhythm and feel. “From Eden,” the 6th track off the album, other than having incredible lyrics that reference a lil bit of Satan (“I slithered in from Eden”) has the oddest sound of the entire album in my opinion. Start a song off with some cello and guitar, and just a voice resonating “Babe,” and it just is too soulful. It sounds like you’re listening to a lullaby when you first start off. The lyrics come in, and the symbiotic relationship that the cello, guitar, and drums play off each other, and although the song loses its lullaby feel, the instrumentals alone still leave you feeling just serene and peaceful.

 “Work Song,” one of the later tracks, is my favorite of the entire album simply because of the melodic hums that swell beautifully and timed claps that start off the song (This is so weird, but I swear it reminds me of  Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Don’t judge.) He sings this track with almost a careless croon of just walking around mournfully. I dig the style. My favorite lyric off the entire album comes from this song: “When, my, time comes around/ Lay me gently in the cold dark earth/ No grave can hold my body down/ I’ll crawl home to her.” He’s an intense guy, but an intense lover all the same, and this lyric holds it true for me.

Take a listen.

We end the album, still soulful, but much more toned down from when we started. “Cherry Wine,” the last track of the album, is the live version, and features Hozier picking at his guitar and his voice. Unlike with previous songs in the album, in which he sings it with a completely folky, blues style similar to that of the earlier track “Like Real People Do, “ Hozier sings it pure, clean, and naked of any influence. It’s the purest song of the album, and the happiest song as, in terms of tone. With sound clips of blue birds in the background and pretty guitar riffs, “Cherry Wine” ends the album on a happier, more serendipitous note than the intense, tormented sound of “Take Me to Church” in the beginning.

If ya like Van Morrison, if you like The Black Keys, and if ya like some bluesy soul, grab a copy.

Where to get it: http://www.myplaydirect.com/hozier

Where to listen: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8KVn2EQ_jy3dXEtYoeTI0EPy40usREYO 

Overall? Obviously, I’m obsessed for a reason. There’s hints of the Gospel/choral influences in almost every track, and I thank it for it. Although his soulful, bluesy riffs are beautiful, they can be a bit intense, and the heavy content of his lyricism is nicely off put by the heart lifting melodic swells. Additional to that, it seems to add to the holy atmosphere he had in his sound and the love/religion obsession he has in his lyrics.

Maybe you won’t be obsessed, but I still love him for his soulful vibe. That, and the fact he followed me back on Instagram.

image
Ariana Rivera

LT’s Choice: Little Kid’s Album Logic Songs

This week, instead of posting a playlist, I feel obligated to post an album because no singular album that I have stumbled upon recently has captivated me in a similar fashion to this. 

Little Kid’s Logic Songs was recorded somewhere in Ontario, Canada. The only way we get a feel for where the location is is through the extensive use of train field recordings throughout the album. These overlap with guitar riffs and vocals that mirror the styles of both The Microphones and Elvis Depressedly

The first song starts out slow, as it is more of a cold invitation to the album, as opposed to a warm embrace of what is to come. The album defines itself from the second song out, so bare with it. With that being said, the album is one that is best listened to all the way through. 

Check it out in the bandcamp stream below:

Logic Songs by Little Kid

image
Lauren-Taylor Mansfield