Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love Review 


Donald Glover is a man of many talents. He can write music or television shows, he can rap, sing and make you laugh etc. With all of the various TV and Film projects he’s got on at the moment, it seems like a feat in itself that here we have his third studio album as Childish Gambino with Awaken My Love. There was a relatively short release schedule from first single to album and with December being a rather sparse time for new releases, this album will certainly occupy more attention then it might have done in April or September. Whilst this also makes the spotlight burn just that brighter, with increasingly bored journalists baying for critical blood, it’s not hard to imagine Donald Glover taking it all in his stride before moving on to his next project. 

As for his first single ‘Me and Your Mama’? Our Katie Hayes had a fair bit of wisdom on offer for it… The focus this time is on the dark and atmospheric, yet stunningly beautiful musical arrangement and Glover’s haunting vocals. It feels entirely different to anything we’ve heard from the rapper before, but there are enough familiar elements in there that fans of his usual musical style won’t feel alienated. It feels mature, soulful, bold and brash- yet unrestrained and perhaps even a little unrefined in places. However, in losing some of his trademark silliness and crudeness, Glover may have also lost some of his charm. Gone are the memorable one liners, such as “Too fly- Jeff Goldblum” that we have come to expect from a Childish Gambino track, and while the sound this has been replaced with is undoubtedly incredible, at times it feels like something is missing. Along with the fact that 2 minutes of this 6 minute track are taken up by a meandering, confused intro, this makes for something that doesn’t feel quite as listenable as his previous efforts. ‘Me and Your Mama’ is definitely a track that grows more interesting with every listen, but it’s not necessarily going to be your favourite Childish Gambino track. 

‘Redbone’ delivers coolness and Pop beauty full of luscious and flowering melodies with a buoyant bass line. The track is effortless and yet so dynamic and is topped by Glover’s simply exquisite falsetto which ties everything together. The psych-soul feel and production of the track is enhanced by the wiry, hazy riffs at the close of the track. The fact that so many different comparisons have been drawn to the track from a plethora of different styles shows the versatility of this track. ‘Have Some Love’ lets loose a rumbling piece of Funk with Soulful injections that included Glover delivering frantic and strained falsettos to balanace off against the low lying bass lines and smooth instrumentals on the whole. There is a lot going on at times and the song loses it’s brilliant flow at times, but to hear his scream from amongst the musical crowd is a highlight that makes it worthwhile.

‘Boogieman’ is a theatrical track enthused with a tearing electricity from the shredding guitars and bold vocal harmonies which drive the song here and Glover is often responding to them in the track as opposed to leading them. A clever move to create another energetic experience. ‘Zombies’ does the same job with a Wings-Esque meandering riff with the basic back beat behind it and the piano chords cascading from it. From there, are shots of deep, reverberating electronica and the piano chords warp at the fringes and when locked together with Glovers smooth delivery, it makes for a well thought out track that you wished had a never ending outro. Some of the closing tracks don’t work in this captivating manner and often reach destinations that are seemingly only in Donald’s head and after being given such joyous experiences earlier on, you have to settle for flashes of brilliance within a confusing myriad of songs. Nevertheless, the album is a great one and undoubtedly his best. He puts his own take on Funk, Soul and Pop and the result is eccentric and infectious. The album on the whole doesn’t quite deliver on the potential suggested by the first two singles, but most of the album tracks required another listen before making sense and when they do, they are wondrous pieces of music. It has weak links where perhaps we get lost in Glover’s musical ambition, but its definitely worth taking the time to breathe in the whole album. 

Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle & Katie Hayes 

Single Review – Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama

2016 has been a busy year for Donald Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino, with the airing of his new (outstanding) TV series, ‘Atlanta’, the news of his role in the upcoming Star Wars film, and now the announcement of his new album ‘Awaken, My Love!’, set for release on December 2nd. With this announcement comes the arrival of new single ‘Me and Your Mama’, offering an incredibly exciting taste of what’s to come.

Glover has switched up his usual style of rap-centered hip-hop that makes up the majority of his last album ‘Because the Internet’, dropping the heavy focus on his clever wordplay and tongue in cheek witticisms and moving into an altogether more refined, grown-up territory. The focus this time is on the dark and atmospheric, yet stunningly beautiful musical arrangement and Glover’s haunting vocals. It feels entirely different to anything we’ve heard from the rapper before, but there are enough familiar elements in there that fans of his usual musical style won’t feel alienated. It feels mature, soulful, bold and brash- yet unrestrained and perhaps even a little unrefined in places.

However, in losing some of his trademark silliness and crudeness, Glover may have also lost some of his charm. Gone are the memorable one liners, such as “Too fly- Jeff Goldblum” that we have come to expect from a Childish Gambino track, and while the sound this has been replaced with is undoubtedly incredible, at times it feels like something is missing. Along with the fact that 2 minutes of this 6 minute track are taken up by a meandering, confused intro, this makes for something that doesn’t feel quite as listenable as his previous efforts.

‘Me and Your Mama’ is absolutely a must-listen, and it’s also definitely a track that grows more interesting with every listen, but it’s not necessarily going to be your favourite Childish Gambino track.

Katie Hayes

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier Review

Deerhunter are an American rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2001 consisting of Bradford Cox, Moses Archuleta, Lockett Pundt and Josh McKay. Now on their seventh full length album Deerhunter have just released ‘Fading Frontier’, in which guitarist, vocalist and front man Cox has drawn upon a variety of influences from Pedro Almodovar, Tom Petty and ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ era R.E.M. However, its arguably the car accident, that left him with a broken pelvis and jaw, in ‘incredible’ pain and on anti depressants, that put him into a deep depression whilst simultaneously reshaping his ideas of home and security, that have been Cox’s biggest influence.

Fading Fronteir is Deerhunter’s most uplifting, pop infused album to date consisting of 9 tracks that cover just over 36 minutes of relaxed, melodic sounds. Throughout the album it is often awash with glossy synths, uplifting melodies and ambiguous lyrics often seemingly surrounding the notion that happiness often seems to vanish. The opener ‘All The Same’ showcases a relaxed and smooth sound whilst offering up inspirationally homely lyrics such as – “Take your handicaps, channel them and feed them back until they become your strengths”. Tracks such as ‘Duplex Planet’ and ‘Breaker’ submerge themselves in smooth synths with ‘Take Care’ offering up chiming guitars flowing through the air, with a certain low-lit demeanor accompanying it. Although on the whole there is a somewhat uplifting melodic feel to the whole album, this is all relative, there are certainly more soaring melodies here than on their previous album ‘Monomania’ tracks such as ‘Leather and Wood’ offering dissonant piano sounds, flickers of agitated guitars and crawling tempo give a more intimate melancholic feel to the track than on others. Throughout the album there are enough straight fowardly commercial-sounding tracks that could turn Deerhunter from cult icon to mainstream success. The sprightly guitars and general feel of the album seem to fit into the commercial/chart category that will appeal to the masses, with not much to separate itself from other acts of the rock/indie genre.

Overall the album offers a well-produced, melodic sound (if perhaps a little to commercial and ‘safe’) that has the potential to reach the masses and impact commercially.

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier = 7/10

Matthew Kay

Single Review – Deerhunter – Snakeskin

Deerhunter are an all American four-piece from Atlanta Georgia, and this October they’re releasing a new album, “Fading Frontier”. It’s a pretty significant release as it marks frontman Bradford Cox’s return to music after a nasty car accident in 2014 that left him hospitalised. But nevertheless, the boys are back with a track preview to prepare us for their October release, and it goes by the name of “Snakeskin”.

The video for “Snakeskin” is obscure to say the least. It’s trippy, filled with creepy smiles, dungarees, and sung in a sort of slur that made me think of Anna Nicole Smith at the 2004 Billboard awards, but a lot more enjoyable. All of the songs on the upcoming album were written by Cox bar one, and his lyrics are a bit on the sinister side- “I was born already nailed to the cross/I was born with a feeling I was lost”. It has a slightly autobiographical feel to it when you take into consideration Cox’s car accident, like he’s been aching to get a weight off his shoulders through the music he makes.
Big things are promised for “Fading Frontier”. A press release has stated it’s going to be something “strikingly balanced, focused on melody and texture”, so Deerhunter fans should keep themselves in the loop until October 16th
Hannah Crowe

Gringo Star – Floating Out To See Review

Gringo Star have undergone a transformation of sorts since their second album Count Yer Lucky Stars in 2011. A large part of the driving force of the band in Pete DeLorenzo left early in the album formative stages which takes out any aspect or ideas he might have brought to the process, but at the same time the shift from a quartet to a trio can focus a group and allow them to reflect on what they’ve done and either refine or alter it and in many ways they’ve been able to do that as a duo with the several different drummers occupying the kit. In many ways they’ve refined and altered their sound at the same time. The recording approach has been stripped down to a DIY way of doing things. They’ve scrapped the producer, engineers, even the recording studio and splashed out on a high end microphone and went down to a basement to work on Floating Out To See. They’ve talked about how they’ve been able to record everything at their own leisure and have been able to experiment a lot more as a result. The third album is perhaps a better time than any to so but it doesn’t always mean it works.

‘Going Way Out’ is a swooning 50’s serenade being blasted through a psychedelic landscape. The guitars cascade-like rise and fall which is followed by the traditional bass-line is glossed over by the light whirring of the organs and the spiralling synth sounds. These all rotate well but they utilise their vocals to full effect too. The spaced out and echoed backing vocals fall into a sort of dreamscape feel when used in conjunction with the instrumentals. On top of that, they’ve echoed and spaced out the overall sound to completely change the tone of the song in spite of the traditional methodology they’ve used on the practical side of the music. ‘Find A Love’ starts off with the off key and high pitched riff before throwing itself into a full on neo-psychedelic experience with the fuzzy and distorted guitars making that large and relentless wave of sound. With that are the faded out and dreamy vocals that contrast with base sound of the guitars but are echoed and faded out enough to fall neatly back into the instrumentals.

‘In The Heat’ is a fuzzed and faded out psychedelic experience with no vocals needed. The slow groove from the bass and spread outwards and is expanded by distorted and reverberating guitar riffs and the various synths and effects the swirl and spiral of it all. As the albums opening track it gives you a great feel for the album while perhaps not giving you the full picture. ‘Look For More’ is introduced as some Western soundtrack filtered through the fuzz and the great expanding sound before hitting a great hook with the churning and distorted riff as it goes up a chord. The songs progression is slick and fluid and a little nostalgic too. That’s what Gringo Star have done throughout Floating Out To See and the odd and interesting combinations of sounds are highly effective and the little bit of innovation and imagination of Peter and Nick Furgiuele has paid off, as well as their recording method and approaches with which the experimentation that they gained from it had paid off greatly for them. They have developed and flourished as a group in spite of their losses and are testament of what can be done if you take a risk or simply use your imagination.

Gringo Star – Floating Out To See = 8/10

gringo star floating out to see

Images from consequenceofsound.net