New Music 4/19/19

This is week 15 of the year, where I’m reviewing new music through the Tidal streaming service. Up until this point, I had been reviewing just five albums per week but moving forward, I’m going to review as many as I find interesting each week. What I’m still going to do is download albums from artists I recognize by name and also records with albums covers that catch my eye. The fun part of this for me is that for many of these records, I’m going in blindly – and I love discovering new music (or at least music that’s new to me).

Song of the Week: Lizzo, “Juice”
  • Album: Beyonce – Homecoming: The Live Album
  • Previous knowledge: Hard to not know who Queen Bey is.
  • Review: Well, when B releases a new album, you kind of have to listen, don’t you? I will stop short of saying I’m an actual fan of Beyonce but even so, I can’t deny that there’s really no other artist that sounds like her and I do gravitate to those few that continue to move the musical bar forward. And with Beyonce, even if I’m not a fan of everything, her larger than life presence is felt on every song.

Those that have been reading my posts for ages already know that I’m not a big fan of live albums in general. And a Beyonce concert is one I feel really needs to be seen and heard at the same time as it’s surely a spectacle. For instance, I really just want to see what happens in the live show when she spits the line “When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster” in “Formation.”

One of the parts of hip-hop/R&B concerts that I really can’t stand is that artists rarely play songs in full. Now this allows someone like Beyonce to go to Cochella (which is what this set is) and perform 40 tracks. But almost every song is either one verse and a chorus, one verse only, or one chorus only. Only a handful of tracks are full tunes. At the same time, it allows the audience to get at least a taste of all their favorite tracks (and, the chant of background singers repeating the line, “suck on my balls.” )

At nearly two hours, this is really long for someone that’s not a big fan but if you want the top example of a queen at the top of her game, listen to this record. You’re not likely to find a better R&B/Hip-Hop concert anytime soon.

  • Rating: 9/10
Beyonce, “Formation”
  • Album: Cayucas – Real Life
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: Having looked these guys up on Wikipedia, they are a duo of brothers, formerly called Oregon Bike Trails. While neither of these monikers are really that great, the album itself makes up for it. This is their 3rd full length but their first album in nearly four years. Real Life is a fantastic Indie Pop record, with hooks for days and some funky keyboards. This feels like a blend of late 90s and early 2000’s indie pop with a sweet modern update. It’s very hard to imagine any pop fan not finding at least a handful of tracks right up their alley here.
  • Rating: 9.5/10
Cayucas, “Jessica WJ”
  • Album: Lizzo – Cuz I Love You”
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: Since 1998, there has been really no debate as to how to answer the question, “What’s the best female R&B/Hip-Hop album of all time?” (Obviously, it’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.) Give it some time. Lizzo’s major label debut may just be better than that album. That’s not a typo. Listen to the perfect mix of hip-hop, R&B, rock and funk on the album and make sure you dig into the brilliant lyrics, like “I’m a thick bitch, I need tempo / fuck it up to the tempo / slow songs are for skinny hoes” in “Tempo” or the dis of her ex “Jerome” with the lines “I never said I was perfect / Or you don’t deserve a good person to carry your baggage / I know a few girls that can handle it /I ain’t that kind of chick, but I can call ’em for you if you want.” This is as good as it gets, folks. If this doesn’t make Lizzo a household name, then the world has gone mad.
  • Rating: 10/10
Lizzo, “Jerome”
  • Album: Heart Attack Man, Fake Blood
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: Beyonce must be reviewed, that’s a given. But the reason I listen to albums blindly and write about them on first listen is for artists like the two above and right here, with Cleveland, Ohio’s Heart Attack Man. Since the start of the year I have listened to so many albums that sound like they are pulled directly out of a previous decade that there has to be some kind of retro resurgence going on right now. Granted, this is the first year in the last four or five that I’ve focused on listening to new music, so I may very well be catching up on it myself, but it surely feels new. What’s old is new again.

Heart Attack Man is a emo power pop band and Fake Blood sounds very much like it’s pulled from the late 90s/early 2000’s. This is the type of music that takes me back to my WTSR days listening to Brand New, Verbeena and Something Corporate. The album is punctuated by quick bursts of energy and killer riffs – some emo and some full of power. This is a fantastic throwback to the days of emo pop that should please all of those that want to think back fondly of those days.

  • Rating: 9/10
Heart Attack Man, “Out for Blood”
  • Album: Boo4rmda4 – Boo What You Lookin At?
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: First, how the fuck do you say this artist’s name? It’s like playing a road trip game trying to pronounce the weird ass vanity plates you see on some cars. So I’m glad this isn’t a podcast or a youtube video, because I’d sound like an idiot here. Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know how you say it as I’m really curious. But I don’t see too many of my current group of readers really listening to this record, so it’s gonna have to come from outside the circle for sure.

However you pronounce this, it’s a female rapper and compared to the trap hits of today, she’s fantastic but in reality, while I’m happy this isn’t manufactured radio dreck, this album doesn’t stand out amongst her peers. I can see her being given a place on hip-hop radio as her beats could be compared to some of the less poppy ones on Cardi B’s album with a mix of hip-hop and autotuned sung choruses. There’s some talent here for sure but, I fail to see how this isn’t one of fifty records in the last six months that sound exactly like this. But being exactly like your peers is what works these days in rap, so who knows.

  • Rating: 7/10
Boo4rmda4, “On Me”
  • Album: Cerebral Engorgement – Cerebral Chronicles
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: Who’s the man that can go from Indie rock, to hip-hop to Brutal Death Metal all in the same post? Yeah, you found him. I haven’t listened to a lot of metal lately but I still love it, so now and again, I’ll get one in.

This is another project from Mike Simon, of Engutteralment Cephaloslamectomy fame. Wait, there was no fame for them? Okay, so this is a very typical brutal death metal record, filled with slams and guttural vocals. It’s not very impressive though. As with his other records, this just isn’t mixed well. The instruments all blend together and the drum tone is really weird at times. There are plenty of BDM records that are much better than this.

  • Rating: 4/10
Cerebral Engorgement. Be Afraid.

Albums ranked 10/10 so far in 2019 (in order of release date)

  1. Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
  2. Emily King – Scenery
  3. Good Fuck – Good Fuck
  4. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
  5. UB40 – For the Many
  6. Griz – Ride Waves
  7. Pup – Morbid Stuff
  8. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You