Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered Review

After accomplishing the feat of making a mark on the history of Rap music, Kendrick Lamar has gone on to advance the success he’s had in the last twelve months with a surprise album of demo and unfinished tracks from the recording sessions of the multi-Grammy award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. Indeed it was an album that should have won much more than did. Nevertheless, this eight track work of throwaway pieces has been assembled and published in a more coherent and inclusive fashion than The Life of Pablo. For those looking to make the comparison between Kendrick and Kanye, then this small, under the radar album is an example of Lamar’s ascendancy.

‘Untitled 3’ is a track that is a more rhythmic and a fusion of chamber Jazz and Soul. The music shifts and jolts smoothly and Lamar slots his cool, yet speedy delivery nicely into the chords around him. It is genuinely a catchy and effortless track with undeniable purpose behind the easy and soft edged setting. The lyrics further this feeling with their engaging and relevant content as he outlines the desires and attitudes of the multi-ethnic society in which he lives. With ‘Untitled 1’ this lyrical quality is fully unleashed in an unrestrained fashion as he speaks of abuse and class discrimination. Musically, the setting is a disjointed and distorted version of a typical Rap backing track and is symbolic of what Lamar is currently doing for the genre. ‘Untitled 4’ is a simple track with an acapella  opening. It has few additions to it other wise and it remains a subdued and rather dark affair with yet more politically provocative lyrics.

‘Untitled 8’ contains a sound that is perhaps most evocative of TPAB with it’s buoyant and slightly warped beats and easy backing vocals. The double tracked vocals lead to a greater casual feel to the song. ‘Untitled 6’ features Kendrick rapping with a more soft edged style within a smooth Jazz environment. Cee Lo Green joins the track’s vocals and this track has a raw and natural easiness to it. Such a style plays well to Lamar’s casual and flowing rapping style. The album on the whole demonstrates a different set of traits that Lamar possesses in that in an album that is more stripped down and under-produced, Lamar still shines on the track. In many ways this album more of a casual affair than his last album. The varying styles and tones are appreciated, even if there are some messy transitions due to the unfinished state of some of the tracks. Another prominent album nonetheless, despite it’s mismatched compilation.

 

Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered = 8.5/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Beck – Dreams

Beck has made a fairly rapid return from his Grammy Award Winning exploits of his graceful and sweeping album Morning Phase from last year. It saw him combine everything from Classical to Neo-Psychedelic and was an album closest to a one-man effort than you can get in the 21st Century, with Beck even scoring and conducting the orchestral pieces of his last album. But now with his so far untitled thirteenth album and the first single from it titled ‘Dreams’; Beck has decided to turn lasts year’s methods on their head. ‘Dreams’ is a typically infectious pop tune with it’s snappy beat, sing-a-long vocals and falsettos. It still retains that acoustic instrumentation that Beck is so synonymous with, but there’s nothing thought provoking or contemplative about this track. Though it’s pretty random, it’s delivered with absolute ease and Beck has no problem being a pop-star in this track. The funk and rhythms fade into a warped interlude before sliding back into pop formation again. It’s been suggested that this song serves the purpose of an upbeat track for Beck to play at his shows, but who knows where his next album will land on the musical scale. Just expected the unexpected.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Mumford & Sons – Believe

The folk-pop collective from London that is Mumford & Sons are quite a marmite-like band producing marmite-like music. Whilst being showered with Grammy’s and other awards they’re often slated for unimaginative and hopelessly repetitive sounds (or abuse of folk music as some say) with the wind up instrumentals taking a hold over their first two albums. Nevertheless they do maintain a certain warmth to their music that often comes from Marcus Mumford’s wide vocals, but surely they must be capable of much more than just being energetic live performers? Their third studio album Wilder Mind is due for a May 4th release and the first track to emerge from it ‘Believe’. It’s certainly an initial ditch of their wound up folk instrumentals which is very much welcome as they’ve made a song with fluctuating, if simple soundscapes with soft sweeping instrumentals that allow the close and intimate vocals to take focus. In then progresses into a cascading drum section that’s paired with a tearing guitar lead and more familiar, bolder vocals. It is by no means a quantum-leap in terms of their sound, but it certainly has a greater dynamic and perspective. Hopefully it will give way to a slightly improved Mumford & Sons.

Single Review – St. Vincent – Bad Believer

St Vincent announces trio of UK shows for May

St Vincent comes off the back of making the best album of 2014 and a Grammy to only justify it further (she’s even been nominated for a BRIT which is a victory of recognition in itself) with an expanded deluxe edition of her self titled fourth LP. With it, you get a Darkside remix of ‘Digital Witness’ and four new tracks including ‘Bad Believer’ which she unveiled last week. The track opens with immediate and intense percussion, full of static screams before directing her smooth, yet edgy vocals through her trademark bursts of churning, tuneful guitar and into a chorus of peculiar marrying of vocals and meandering, yet melodic synths to compliment the peculiarity. The song then tails off into soft edged synths to a whisper from Annie Clark to set up for a burst back into the chorus. Not her strongest track over the last twelve months, but one that shows that she still had even more sitting in her back pocket.