This Weeks Music Video with Nick Cave, Metallica, Tegan and Sara, Kings of Leon, New Order and Dirty Projectors
Walls is the seventh studio album from Nashville’s Kings of Leon and it’s coming for October 14th. With this in mind, the now hardened rockers have unveiled the title track to follow up from the premiere single ‘Waste A Moment’. As opposed to their driving lead single, ‘Walls’ is a slow burning, acoustic number with piano chords hanging predictably from each guitar string pluck. On occasion the song is expanded with piercing lead guitars and reverberating sounds that echo into the song’s larger expanses. The intimacy remains however and between the crossroads of the two atmospheres is Caleb’s assured and dominant vocals, easily commanding the track and the lyrics. It is an eloquent and cosy track, yet this can’t be the standard of the album of course. So far, we can say they have another solid effort on their hands, but hopefully they’ll be a higher level of praise for Walls than that come October 14th.
It seems like the phrase “Chicago born rapper” is quickly becoming a mute term simply because of the sheer number of interesting artists coming out of the city. Noname now adds her name to the list alongside the likes of Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins (who she has collaborated with on their respective albums) and Saba. In these collaborations Noname didn’t quite standout as an obvious “next big thing” on the Chicago rap scene and this was probably down to her very understated, relaxed and down to earth delivery. Never in your face or trying outdo anyone, noname comes across in a very relatable fashion and now that she has room to breathe in her first solo effort we can really get a feel for who noname is.
Her personality is unsurprisingly reflected even more so in her intimate lyrics and production style. These two elements contrast on certain tracks like “Casket Pretty”, “Bye Bye Baby” and “Shadow Man” where the super sweet production style is matched with deep emotional topics. In the former she raps about the racial violence in Chicago. Scared to even pick up the phone, she hopes her “casket pretty” friends will make it home alive. “Shadow Man” too touches on some of these aspects as noname, Saba and Smino take turns in describing their own funerals. “Bye Bye Baby” is the closest noname gets to a ballad as piano chords accompany her as she talks us through her feelings after having an abortion saying she can’t wait for a “play date up in heaven soon/ Soon I will see the King/ He reminds me/ Some give presents before they’re even ready”.
Noname doesn’t always take herself so seriously though and tracks like the aptly named “Sunny Duet” is both warm, sweet and catchy with its acapella-like riff and lyrics about a former crush of hers. Noname keeps it light hearted on the follow up track “Diddy Bop”, in which she takes us down her childhood memory lane when her “whole neighbourhood did the diddy bop”. Musically smooth, laid back and uplifting it encapsulates the album perfectly.
However, comparisons between Noname and Chance will inevitably be drawn considering their stylistic similarities and in some ways she could improve by having a more engaging rapping style like Chance. Although her understated style is part of her charm, she could perhaps be a little more engaging without losing out on that element. The only other fault on “Telefone”, despite it’s extremely good production value is its small rare losses in sharpness although this can be excused on a debut mixtape. Yet, this is just nit-picking and it is hard to criticise the mixtape since it’s so full of her infectious happiness and personality.
Noname – Telefone = 8.5/10
The talented and capable Art Rockers from California are back with their third studio album Heads Up and with it, Warpaint are looking to ‘add maturity to their sound’ according to Jenny Lee Lindberg. It has been a sound that always adds something more and tends to be more fluctuating within the realms of the three to six minutes of their tracks. This is yet to be pulled together into a brilliant body of work, yet they are clearly a talented bunch who can produce masterful tracks, just not that masterful album just yet. The sharper focus they’ve adopted for their third studio album could be what’s required to get that truly great album they’re capable of.
The first track from their third album is ‘New Song’ and it is another great single that makes the most of the changes to their sound. This new song has a noticeable change of tone and is in effect a smooth and coolly delivered piece of Dance Pop. The song maximises vocal samples and slick harmonies that echo out into the shifting rhythm sections and the rolling bass. The song reflects a welcome injection of energy without the band sacrificing their core sound, which remains with the atmospheric overtures enhancing the catchy features. Beyond that, it is a bold statement of intent from them. ‘Whiteout’ is a track that has a smoother feel and more gradual progression as opposed to ‘New Song’ with open bass lines and loose riffs ahead of brushed percussion. It shifts and chimes with a relaxed feel that builds to a subtle tension as the song goes on with the lax vocals nudging the song along to this end. It’s a cool and easily delivered track, but perhaps lacks much variation of tone without being good enough to stay the same throughout. ‘So Good’ is a low slung, kicked back piece of Rock leaning Pop with oscillating bass lines and crisp, prominent percussion. The song is given a greater prominence by how the guitars and electronica are brought to the fore with a raised volume compared to the other instrumentation. This gives the song immediate appeal and the vocal unisons make for a fun, but well thought out track with which the lyrical lapses can be forgiven.
The title track reflects a new side to the groups sound for they embrace a graceful piano ballad intro and they smoothly shift sound into a close and immediate of quick rock with heavy bass lines and ringing riffs. Perhaps they don’t go far enough with the bracing piano chords of the intro as it is dropped by the end of what ends up being a solid track, but just that. ‘Don’t Wanna’ is trimmed with a dark tone from low synth chords and a lower vocal key. When coupled with tumbling percussion and heavily chiming electronica it only forces the issue. The track signals another avenue in dark electronica that the band perhaps didn’t follow through with. ‘By Your Side’ is another track that hints at this style though the disjointed and unpredictable progression of the track seems a little too obvious here and they lose the song as a result. ‘The Stall’ offers grungier base with an atmospheric edge and is one of the highlights of the album for it’s brilliant arrangement and delivery. Sadly the album doesn’t offer up enough of these moments and despite the album offering up intrigue as Warpaint often do, it always met with wondrous discoveries. It is an album of a high standard, but disappointing when you find they had all the right ideas, but did not make the most of them. We still await that great Warpaint album.
Warpaint – Heads Up = 7.5/10
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