Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Fort Knox

Much has been promised for Noel’s third solo outing and we got a bit of a twist with Glam Rock influenced ‘Holy Mountain’ which whilst being uncharted territory for the driving Pop that it was, it wasn’t what was teased a couple of before. With ‘Fort Knox’ Noel begins to hint at the new styles and approaches he’s long promised to take. The Kanye West influenced track opens with a lintany of psychedelic strings and sitars before ringing distortion and punchy percussion drives the song on along with joyous backing vocals. These combine in unison to deliver an ever more theatrical sound which bursts towards a fruition with the rapid tempo change of the string sections. Noel’s few words are repetitive and merely serve as a tool of the dominant rhythms of the track. It is certainly different as far as Noel is concerned and if the mentality shown on this track is replicated throughout the Who Built the Moon then it will be one worth your undivided attention from November 24th

Owen Riddle

Musicandotherthingz Best Single of 2016

There’s been a almost too many rhythmic and hook-laden tracks in 2016 and they cover quite a wide range of genres from the Joyous Electro-Pop of Röyksopp to the reinvigorated, late era Punk Rockers Green Day. The classsic Eighties Pop thrills and undeniably infectious vocals from Tegan and Sara were a popular choice amongst voters as was dark Pop of The Weeknd with Daft Punk. They just missed out on getting into our top three however, which features very familiar and new acts below. 

3. Chance The Rapper – Angels (11.63% of the vote)

This year has been a strong year for Rap and Hip Hop music and nowhere is this more evident than with the success of Chance The Rapper. ‘Angels’ is a song bursting with joy and optimism about his home of Chicago. It is full of soaring brass, steady beats and enthused lyrics with a cool and easy contribution from Saba. 

2. Kanye West feat. Kendrick Lamar – No More Parties in L.A (21.00%) 

What made this single so popular was hearing someone as egocentric as Kanye getting fed up of the general excess of the party scene around him in Los Angeles which is mighty refreshing, but also a little comedic when his own personal excess is never far from mention. Kendrick Lamar adds context to Kanye’s message as he raps about the culture shock of coming from nothing and being thrusted into a distant and excessive high class society. There is slick use of sampling throughout and this ties the heavy verses together seamlessly.

1. Christine and the Queens – Tilted (30.23%)

‘Tilted’ is about not finding balance in your life, feeling out of place or feeling uneasy with yourself, even dealing with depression. It hardly seems like the appropriate lyrics for a Pop song, but sits this uncomfortable subject matter comfortably into this stylish and refined Pop song. As you’ll find with Christine, she can make so much from so little and she does that again here, with only nudging synths and gentle beats. Not only did she make a great Pop song with these lyrics and small amounts of music, but she made an oddly rhythmic song that has become of one the most popular dance tracks of the year and undoubtedly the most unique. 

Owen Riddle

Frank Ocean – Blonde Review 

Blonde – Frank Ocean

The silence. It consumed the R&B world for over four years. And just as the doubt surfaced that the silence would be never-ending, Frank Ocean released Blonde; an album that, despite its minimalism, speaks volumes.

Defining Frank Ocean is like defining life itself. Blonde explores every emotion we could ever experience. With hushed intensity, lightheaded instrumentalism snakes behind Ocean’s velvety vocals. The smooth, philosophical approach of channel ORANGE translates in his second LP, with a heavy minimalist slant. Many of the tracks have abandoned any percussion, which embodies the way Ocean has dropped all boundaries in terms of this album, heightened by his striking lyrics and desertion of R&B conventions. Stripping back the instruments accentuates Ocean’s flowing narration, but also provides a sense of spaciousness, giving both Frank and his listeners time to reflect on all the heady discussions. Despite the dizzy synths and distortion, profoundly exhibited in Ivy, there is an undeniable sense of hard-hitting reality zigzagging its way through this album. Ivy itself shatters the idea of love through naivety’s eyes. Skyline To faces how “summer’s not as long as it used to be”, and Futura Free demands a return to youth via a warp of vocals and synths, with only a piano to add some sanity. There’s also uncomfortable discrepancies between Be Yourself’s anti-substance abuse rant versus Solo’s cry for highs. Whereas the more traditional ‘music’ is emotionally moving, the spoken short tracks – the harsh instructional Be Yourself and outrageousness of Facebook Story that questions our use of social media – physically positions listeners and forces them into changing their actions or feelings. There is some solace, however, in tracks such as Siegfried, which fabricates a future for Ocean and his “two kids in the swimming pool” – possibly fathered by the potential love interests of Good Guy or Self-Control. Though the album mostly dwells in a longing for past euphoria and present hopelessness, Ocean signals a revival.

There are flashes of conventionality throughout the album. Pretty Sweet closes with a fast-tempo syncopated drum machine, whilst Solo (Reprise) features a stern rap from Andre 3000. Also, Ocean and the percussion of Close To You are glued together by helium-like backing vocals. Nights draws thoughts of travelling on the night tube, resting your head against the window as the train lurches along the track. And although this is when the city is meant to come to life, the lyrics sketch the troubles of inner city lives and solemn individual situations, embodied in the fierce electric guitar hook emerging from a smooth synths and an impressive vocal display from Ocean, before settling into a sombre piano-backed almost-rap that recalls the hardships of surviving in a low-paid job.

This is an album that you can pick apart again and again and find something new every time that adds to the incredible detail with which Blonde is laced. There is so much to commend Frank Ocean for with this album – the simply beautiful intricacies, hidden meanings and piercing minimalism just to name a few assets. It’s not very often you can term an R&B album quite charming, but then it’s not very often a talent like Frank Ocean arises.

Frank Ocean – Blonde: 9/10

By Eleanor Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Kanye West, Tegan and Sara, Massive Attack feat. Ghostpoet, Gregory Porter, NAO and Broods


This Weeks Music Video with Courtney Barnett, Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, Wild Beasts, Crystal Castles, Death Grips and Chvrches feat. Hayley Williams




https://youtu.be/B9BLMNn0PrQ

Single Review – Kanye West – Champions

With the chaotic release of The Life of Pablo only a matter of month ago, Kanye West is talking of the release of another album from the G.O.O.D music selection with Cruel Winter. This track is full of collaborating artists with 2 Chainz and Travi$ Scott to name just two. The track is outrageously crowded and with massive conflicting lyrical content from the meaningful to the material. The instrumentation is a primitive version of Drake’s much used style and the track lacks the flair and message of Kendrick Lamar’s recent efforts. I know it is said often, but this is again proof as to why Lamar is ahead of the game musically and lyrically. West did have his moments on this years album, but this won’t be one from the next.

Owen Riddle

Sunday Suggestion – Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney – Only One

Since this is the week of Kanye and all that… here is a look at a track from over a year ago that would have made The Life of Pablo sound quite different had he kept that direction. ‘Only One’ with Paul McCartney is a gentle and lapping track by Kanye’s standards and is an intimate and personal track that’s about family close to him from his Mother to his daughter. Such personal and intimate lyrics require music to compliment and respect it them and calling upon McCartney to help capture that was a wise move from Kanye. This is brought about by the soft, nudging organs and a more subtle auto-tune upon his vocal that is a little less ridiculous than it has been in the past. The chorus still gives way to a refined piece of joyousness with McCartney’s electronically charged backing vocal. It’s a close and emotional song, but one that builds up to more happier climbs too. Though his credibility as an out and out musician may always but questioned; Kanye West’s ability to produce a well made and layered track is becoming less questionable.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Kanye West – Life of Pablo Review

There is no greater enigma on this planet right now, than Kanye West. Recently he has been treading the fine line between genius and stupidity and I for one have no idea which side he’ll stumble. If this wasn’t a music review site I’d give the album 0 just for being exclusively on TIDAL. Such devices only serve to alienate and make music even less accessible. It is no solution for allowing fledging artists to flourish either as quite simply no one wants or needs to listen to TIDAL. It has been a well publicised flop. It almost seems that this album has became all bout saving TIDAL rather than being about Kanye himself. That is the real tragedy here as Kanye is at his best when he is self-indulgent. The complete improvisation of the finishing and release of this album is a little troubling and it feels like the fans have been the last priority in this saga. Nevertheless, comments on his debts and mental health should be left outside of any conversation about his album. Lets just hear Kanye.

‘FACTS’ is primarily a teasing of Drake and the song itself is not too dissimilar from him. With an opening of soulful and cinematic quality, the song quickly gets into the low beats and percussion samples. He boldly spouts “Yeezey Just Jumped Over Jumpman” as well as attacking Nike and running the 2020 election. Lyrically the track is full of recent relevancies and just sheer aloofness. His delivery ranges from more sustained half-notes and more rapid-fire deliveries. This song hints that Kendrick Lamar isn’t about to overshadow him yet and that Kanye still has it. Speaking of Lamar, he features on ‘No More Parties in L.A’. The track plays off the more casual style of Lamar against the louder, shouting style of West. Musically it is more evocative of West’s earlier work and that of Lamar last year with the use of smooth Jazz and Soul. Lyrically it deals with West’s disillusionment of the celebrity lifestyle of Los Angeles and the attitudes of other Rap stars in general. These are set against his own biographical accounts of the very celebrity lifestyle he complains about. ‘Real Friends’ features soft, muted synths and echoed beats. This brings the focus upon Kanye’s clear and isolated vocals and the lyrics they provide. It is a little more melodic and tuneful than other singles from the album, and offers up a change of pace from other tracks from the album.

’30 Hours’ is musically chilled with soft beats and rhythms along with warped backing vocals. This offers up a perfect foundation for West to fire off his lyrics with his typical meandering approach. ‘Waves’ with Chris Brown on lead vocals is stark in its lack of quality against the aforementioned tracks. Nothing makes it stand out from any other hip-hop inspired pop hit and there is no substance or flair to any of it. It just sounds like a Chris Brown track and there is nothing good about that. ‘Father Stretch my Hands’ from part 1 to 2 sees spaced out and pitch-shifted vocals at one end and sharp, chopping beats on the other which at the more garage end of hip hop. Tracks such as ‘Famous’ or ‘Highlights’ are a little lazy and unoriginal for Kanye’s standard and hint alternatively that Lamar is the more relevant artist for this generation. ‘Wolves’ temper this feeling amongst the core album tracks with shifts of imaginative instrumentation from rumbling beats to vocal instrumentation. The album on the whole is truly mixed. It is split between the brilliant and the mundane with some tracks acting as deadweight to accommodate some poor collaborations. It is still an album worth your attention, but Kanye, for all the talk could do better than this.

 

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo = 7.5/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – No More Parties in L.A feat. Kendrick Lamar

Another instalment from Kanye West’s long awaited release of SWISH features an equally anticipated collaboration between West and Kendrick Lamar; now the new standard for Rap and Hip Hop with To Pimp a Butterfly last year. The track plays off the more casual style of Lamar against the louder, shouting style of West. Musically it is more evocative of West’s earlier work and that of Lamar last year with the use of smooth Jazz and Soul. Lyrically it deals with West’s disillusionment of the celebrity lifestyle of Los Angeles and the attitudes of other Rap stars in general. These are set against his own biographical accounts of the very celebrity lifestyle he complains about. It is an interesting paradox and is a solid addition to what will be an interesting album to say the least.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Kanye West – Real Friends

 

We now know that Kanye West will release his follow up from 2013’s YEEZUS with SWISH on February 11th. Last weekend he released another track in ‘Real Friends’ which features soft, muted synths and echoed beats. This brings the focus upon Kanye’s clear and isolated vocals and the lyrics they provide. It is a little more melodic and tuneful than other singles from the album, and offers up a change of pace from other tracks from the album such as ‘All Day’ and ‘Facts’. These tracks offer up no new collaborators to join Paul McCartney so far, but we’re certain more will be revealed in due course.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995