Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2


Alright, here’s the deal with trap rap: it has to stop. The industry is totally oversaturated with releases that are simply bad and underwhelming. That’s the general opinion and I totally agree with it. That being said, every once in a while an album comes along that balances everything pretty well and is actually quite enjoyable. And Lil Boat 2 is that album.

Of course it’s far from being a masterpiece, but it definitely doesn’t deserve all the hate and negativity. Yachty’s lyrics ain’t profound and the production isn’t groundbreaking, but he never aimed for that. This record is filled with short bangers, full of catchy hooks, heavy basslines and hillarious ad-libs (seriously, it’s getting ridiculous now). It’s a party record, and it serves its purpose great. Yachty can obviously rap really well, the features  are on point (especially 2Chainz and Quavo). Within 45 minutes it encapsulates everything about modern rap, the good and the bad. BOOM!, Talk To Me Nice and NBAYoungBoat are among the highlits here, and are quite representative of the entire album’s quality. If you didn’t like these tracks, don’t bother listening to the whole thing.

I can perfectly understand all the hate towards trap (and I genuinely hope the genre will start to fade away soon). However, I will defend Lil Yachty at every occasion, because he truly is one of the better artists that the genre has to offer. Lil Boat 2 is not a decade-defining record, but it’s well-made and it serves its purpose well. Go check it out, it’s definitely a worthy listen.




Anna von Hausswolff – Dead Magic


It seems impossible to navigate the music-themed parts of the Internet without seeing the name Anna von Hausswolff recently, so of course I had to give this record a chance. And despite the fact that I was sceptical at first (I usually avoid anything even remotely related to the term “neoclassical darkwave”) I ended up completely stunned by the unique beauty – even if the album isn’t flawless.

Dead Magic is 47 minutes long and features only five tracks, so get ready for some huge (like, 16 minutes huge) pieces with tons of different parts and mood changes. The opening track, called The Truth, The Glow, The Fall is a perfect example – it flows perfectly, and all the pieces compliment each other perfectly – the monumental organs, epic arrangements (sometimes purely orchestral, sometimes like a conventional rock band), and of course Anna’s vocals – switching from beautifully ethereal to hauntingly howling.

The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra is a thunderous, rhythmic song that echoes Swans’ recent efforts, but Anna has enough personality on her own to make it sound original and unique. It’s so immensely powerful and epic that it makes you feel many things, and I’m wondering when was the last time that I heard something that resonated with me on so many emotional levels. At this point of the record, I thought to myself that if the next three tracks are on the same level, Dead Magic will be crowned my undisputed AOTY. But… while the second part of the album is certainly good, you can feel a certain drop in terms of quality. The 16-minute long monster that is Ugly and Vengeful has many great things happeninig in it, but it’s not put together as well as in the opening track. The Marble Eye is an instrumental piece, focused mostly on the sound of the organ, and the closer, Källans återuppståndelse is quite beautiful, but not really that memorable.

In conclusion, though, Dead Magic as a whole is a mysterious, dark and monumental journey, and it’s definitely worth listening to in its entirety. I can’t help, but I’m just a tiny bit dissapointed, because the first two songs promised something extraordinary, and instead we got something that is “just” good. Still a great record, though, and I’m sure I’ll be coming back to it many, many times this year.


Albert Hammond, Jr. – Francis Trouble


While the world is still waiting for The Strokes’ sixth record, the members of the band seem rather uninterested in making one. Despite the release of the brilliant Future Present Past EP in 2016, no new material was released. But that doesn’t mean that they were idle. Nick Valensi has made a great debut album with CRX, Nikolai Fraiture has been busy with Summer Moon, and Julian Casablancas’ The Voidz are set to release a new album by the end of March. Meanwhile, the band’s guitarist drops his fourth solo effort, and it’s definitely worth your attention.

Albert is not trying to reinvent himself here: from the opening notes of DvsL it’s quite clear that the album will not stray far from the sound of his main band. The main reason for that is of course Hammond’s guitar playing style – instantly recognizable and still pretty fresh. Combine that with a tight rhythm section and energetic vocals with a dose of melancholia, and you have 10 songs that would have fitted perfectly on, let’s say First Impressions of Earth. Now, before you reach the conclusion that the album is redundant and full of filler, I’ll have to stop you – the top-class songwriting really sets it apart.

The lead single Muted Beatings is a great example – great guitar parts, a simple, yet memorable chorus – I mean, what more do you need? Far Away Truths is also instantly rewarding, and Albert stays on that level of quality for the majority of the record. The mood switches from dark and a bit disturbing (Tea for Two) to furious and energetic (Screamer). The lyrical content is also worth getting into, as it was inspired by the death of Albert’s stillborn twin brother.

It’s pretty tough to pinpoint any highlights, because the songs are just so well written, absolutely no filler there (although the first half is arguably a little bit better). The songs are well written, the hooks are memorable, the guitar work is genius, and the concept keeps it all together. What more can you want?


of Montreal – White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood


Despite the fact that the previous of Montreal’s albums were a bit of a letdown, White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood was still one of my most anticipated records of March. It’s a well known fact that Kevin Barnes is always able to deliver the most wild, batshit crazy and epic dance album of the year, and he does just that. This time however, it’s oriented more towards electronic sound, sometimes bordering electropop or dance-pop. It seemed a bit risky to me initially, but it turned out just great, perfectly complimenting the band’s sparkling sound.

The opening track, Soft Music / Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky features some of the best hooks I’ve heard in a while (that You don’t know me tho refrain – pure perfection). The song switches moods all the time, ranging from delicate to ridiculously flamboyant, and is a great representation of what we can expect further into the album (I’m surprised it wasn’t the lead single).

Paranoiac Intervals / Body Dysmorphia starts of as a total banger – great build-up, even better chorus and those sweeping synths – fantastic! It’s one of the catchiest songs here, and it seamlessly transitions into a dark, moody coda (it’s quite common, since all of the songs have split titles here, so basically while the setlist states only six tracks, what we’re getting is much closer to 12).

Writing the Circles / Orgone Tropics is one big, psychedelic trip, completed with a jazzy saxophone part near the end. Meanwhile, Plateau Phase / No Careerism No Corruption is perhaps the only song that hasn’t quite stuck with me – it’s dangerously close to Top 40 pop and the chorus seems kinda forced. Fortunately, it’s the only mis-step here, as the two remaining sons (both clocking at 8 minutes) are much closer to the quality of the first half of the album – especially Sophie Calle Private Game / Every Person Is A Pussy, Every Pussy Is A Star! sounds great, retaining its catchiness despite the ambitious structure.

While that one damn track prevents White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood from being a perfect album, it’s still very, very close to perfection. It’s sensual, it’s lush, it’s crazy, it’s filthy. And it’s also the best material of Montreal has released since over a decade.


Superorganism – Superorganism


On paper, this one really looked like one of the most promising debuts in recent memory: a multi-national collective, creating extraordinary, psychedelic indietronica sounds. That’s all I’ve heard about them, nothing but praise. So naturally, I started listening to this record as soon as it came out. And now my dissappointment is immeasurable, and my day is ruined.

I totally see what was the direction and how this album was supposed to sound like: a bit of early MGMT mixed with Animal Collective’s weird deconstruction of indie pop. But all of these things that were supposed to make the music sound “quirky”: unnecessary pauses, glitchy sounds, etc, are just plain annoying. The best example is the song Something for Your M.I.N.D. – it’s not really that intriguing, seems more like a desperate attempt to cover up poor songwriting. Speaking of which, whenever the band has some sort of a hook that’s relatively catchy, they brutally murder it by repeating it over and over and over again.

All of the “experimental” features fail to bring anything memorable or just interesting – maybe if they had decided to make the songs a little bit longer it could work out – when most of the songs clocking at just 3 minutes, it kinda feels like it lacks time to properly develop. I don’t want to seem too harsh, but it’s really difficult to find anything redeeming here. Well, Orono’s vocals are quite nice (and I would really prefer if she was the only singer), Everybody Wants To Be Famous is a nice little pop song (but a rather forgettable one, too) and SPRORGNSM showcases some flashes of potential that I was looking for, but it’s still way below the quality I expected.

If you were expecting something fresh and exciting here, you will be dissapointed. If you had no expectations at all, you’ll still be dissapointed. An album that was supposed to be this year’s breakthrough act turned out to be an overhyped, undercooked mess of a record.


The Regrettes – Attention Seeker EP

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The Regrettes’ career exploded with the release of their energetic and passionate debut album a year ago. That record provided a relly fun mixture of punk, indie and power pop, and featured some of the catchiest melodies I’ve heard all year, as well as some great lyrics, blending together teenage anger and a feminist outlook. This EP proves that the first album wasn’t a fluke: the LA-based quartet is still going strong.

It starts out just perfectly: Come Through builds up with a great bassline and sweet backing vocals, before a loud and dirty guitar strikes in the ultra-catchy chorus. It’s a perfectly constructed pop song, perhaps showing that the band is going into a more accesible direction – but that’s not a bad thing, certainly not when you can writes such great tunes.

Red Light may not be as memorable, but its energy is infectious, and you can genuinely hear the emotions in Lydia Night’s vocals. Her personality is the driving force of the band, and the way she can effortlessly switch between a voice that’s all cute and sassy into a furious scream is just brilliant. Up next, we have a cover of A Teenager in Love, delivered with all the 60s glamour and sass possible (lovely harmonies!). After a start like that, you’d wish for more of the same, but… the premiere material stops here. The two remaining songs are acoustic versions of tracks from the first album. While certainly good, they’re hardly better than the original versions.

And that’s the biggest problem I have with Attetion Seeker: it promises great things, but ends abruptly before it properly gets going. Clocking at less than 15 minutes, it feels more like and elongated single than a proper EP. While musically it’s certainly good, it’s also quite dissapointing. Hopefully, new material is a sign that the second album is coming really soon. And I have no doubts that it will be a great one.



Ravyn Lenae – Crush EP


This is the third EP by Chicago-born singer Ravyn Lenae, and considering she just signed a major deal with Atlantic, it seems like Crush is some sort of a warm-up before the release of a proper debut album. A warm-up that already shows that she’s a unique, talented artist with a vision, and it’s just a matter of time before she rises to stardom.

Sticky, the lead single and the opening track is one of my favourites of the year so far: great, catchy chorus, sensual verses and some very playful and quirky vocals right at the beginning make it a truly brilliant and memorable song. That’s a very impressive start, but during its 5-song runtime, Crush maintains a solid level of songwriting and performance. There are two superb appearances by Steve Lacy (who also produced the thing) that make it even better – especially on Computer Luv. Meanwhile, The Night Song is a relatively simple track, but great production and vocal harmonies turn it into a highlight of this record.

A great piece of warm, psychedelic R&B that’s obviously rooted in the 90s, but at the same time is undeniably modern – despite her young age, Ravyn already has developed a unique trademark, and Crush is an excellent realisation of her artistic vision. The only problem I have with this release is that it’s way too short – it really makes you hungry for a full-length album. Let’s hope it arrives soon, because I have a feeling it may be a great one.


Black Panther the Album: Music From and Inspired By


Black Panther is certainly one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year. The trailers looked awesome, early reviews promise something great and there’s also this album. I always approach these kind of records with caution, because the quality of “Music inspired by [insert title here]” is usually questionable (looking at you, Fast and Furious). But this one looked like it will be different. When I heard that the album was produced and curated by Anthony Tiffith and Kendrick Lamar I realised that Black Panther truly may be something new in terms of movie soundtracks. And it is THAT good.

First of all, the selection of artists is just brilliant. There are no A-list superstars here (with the exception of The Weeknd and, well, Kendrick). Instead, the album features mostly young artists who are already critically acclaimed and have all the potential to be superstars in the near future (like SZA or Vince Staples) as well as some really obscure, but also really good artists from South Africa, who bring a very unique flavour here (Babes Wodumo or Yugen Blakrok).

The tracklist provides a unique mix of rap and R&B, allowing all the artists to shine in a way most fitting for them. The songs are ranging from warm, tribal R&B in Redemption to the cold, agressive electronic beats on Opps. K Dot can be heard in most of the songs, and his appearances never dissapoint – from melodic hooks to rapid-fire verses, his brilliance is undeniable. The great thing is that he never fully steals the spotlight and leaves plenty of room for the artists he invited here to show their skills.

Of course, since the album is stylistically all over the place there are some tracks that may be viewed as filler, like Seasons or the flute-driven Big Shot. And don’t forget about that dreadful Future verse that ruins the otherwise excellent King’s Dead. But the weak songs are clearly a minority here, as most of the record delivers great tracks such as the psychedelic Bloody Waters, bangers such as Paramedic! and X, as well as two songs with huge choruses, destined to be hit singles: All the Stars and Pray For Me.

The best thing about Black Panther is that it proves that movie soundtracks don’t have to be a loose collection of undercooked songs by Top 40 artists. Kendrick did a great job as a man with a vison, creating an album that has depth, diversity, concept and great quality. This record is a wonderful celebration of black culture and its music, and if you’re unfamilar with it, this album may be a great place to start.


MGMT – Little Dark Age


I’ll have to admit, I’ve never really treated MGMT as a serious band before. I mean, Oracular Spectacular was okay, but apart from the three hit singles the album had very little to offer. After that, the band kinda struggled to fulfill the fans’ expectations on Congratulations and their self-titled 2013 release. Now, after five years they’re back with Little Dark Age. An album that drastically shifted my perception of the duo.

The concept of this album is pretty simple: let’s take all the possible subgenres of 80s synthpop and then drown them heavily in psychedelia. But it’s the flawless execution of this concept that makes this record shine so bright: from the quirky opener She Works Out Too Much to the dreamy closer Hand It Over Andrew and Ben manage to do something very rare these days: all 10 songs are on the same, very high level when it comes to quality (well, maybe James sticks out a little, but 9 out of 10 is still pretty good).

The bittersweet taste of the album is really moving, and MGMT use a wide palette of colours to get that effect: the title track has a bit of a gothic feel to it, Me and Michael draws heavily from new romantic and Days That Got Away is an instrumental, psychedelic trip. The ever-present synthesisers sound wonderfully old-school, but the album is far from being a nostalgic trip to the past – it sounds fresh, lush, and most importantly – relevant.

It’s hard to really pick a standout track – it truly is a cohesive and well-thought piece of art. I didn’t expect to hear something good from these guys, yet here they are, dropping the best album of 2018 so far. Color me impressed. I guess I’m a fan now.


Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending


It’s always interesting to see how a band can cope with personnel changes. There’s no doubt that Nick McCarthy was essential to the success of the Glaswegian band (the fact that the band had to replace him with two new members speaks for itself), therefore I approached this record with equal measures of hope and fear. But we’re talking about one of the most consistent bands on the indie scene, a band that is yet to release a bad album. Always Ascending is NOT that album. Even though you can see a slight decrease in quality.

The setlist can be divided into three groups: the pretty good (but not flawless) opening sequence, the rather dull and skippable middle part and the absolutelty gorgeous final three tracks. Let’s start with what went wrong here: theatrical The Academy Award sounds like it was heavily inspired by the recent collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, but it’s lacking that lightness that the Mael brothers have brought. Instead, it comes off pretty boring, and feels like the worst track on the album (the lyrics are quite interesting though, and the Show me the body wordplay is very clever – too bad the song quality doesn’t quite match the words’). Lois Lane is kinda ok, but it could really  use a strong guitar punch (especially in the coda). Meanwhile, Huck and Jim features a really weird chorus that sounds nothing like I would have expected from them – I’m still kinda getting used to that track, maybe at some point I’ll change my mind about it.

Alright, moving on to the opening tracks (I’m sorry for the order, but it’s really easier for me to write like that). The title track has this odd thing about it – it seems like a couple of sketches from different songs were glued together, hoping that it would stick. For the most part it does, but some segments of this song are really contrasting with each other, creating a weird, jarring feeling. It was a great choice for a lead single, because it showcases the more synth-driven approach the band has taken on this album. Plus, it works out really well as the opening track. Meanwhile, Lazy Boy initially seems relatively simple, but the boys are really messing with the rhythm here – that makes it so brilliantly unpredictable. I also love the guitar tones in this song – they sound like they were taken straight out of their 2004 debut. Paper Cages has a truly wonderful chorus, but the verses could really use… something. There is so much space there that they seem empty. Although it makes the chorus shine even brighter by comparision.

Now, let’s talk about the closing songs, because that is where Kapranos and company really shine – Glimpse of Love, taken straight out of an 80s disco is a beautiful earworm covered in sparkling synths – this might be the next single. Feel the Love Go (quite possibly the best song on the album) starts off with a simple, Ulysses-like bassline, then proceeds into a classic Tonight-era Franz song, but… just before the 3rd minute mark, suddenly the sax kicks in and the song goes absolutely batshit crazy. That has to be one of my favourite music moments of 2018. The ethereal closer Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow is great in its own right, and serves as a really nice conclusion.

Uneven? Maybe. Maybe even a little chaotic, defenitely their least cohesive album to date. But despite all its flaws, Always Ascending is the sound of a band determined to reinvent themselves, and looking into the future with hope and optimism.