It’s hard to believe that one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year might be that of a 16-year-old teen whose name meant nothing to us a year ago. Lorde has climbed to where she is faster than perhaps any artist I’ve seen make it since I started blogging in 2008. It hit me when I got into a car with a 50+ year old Lyft driver who asked me who my favorite artist was at the time. I almost thought to just lie and say somebody like Jimi Hendrix so at least he’d know who I was talking about, but I went with the moral and truthful answer and said Lorde, only expecting to get a “huh…haven’t heard of her,” like I typically do I when I talk about artists I love. I was wrong. He said, “Oh, I know her. I heard her song on the radio the other day.” I could hardly believe it. Until I stopped and thought about what was really happening: the radio is actually picking up on “indie” artists whose music is actually worth listening to. It happened with The Neighbourhood, lately, and now it’s happening with Lorde. And honestly, it makes a lot of sense.
Anywho, her album Pure Heroine, is out to stream today and it’s brilliant. Take a listen. And hit the jump for the full tracklist.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about celebrities and how they got to where they are. I’ve mostly been thinking about actors and actresses, but I think a lot of what I’m thinking about applies to talented musicians as well. So my thought is that it’s funny how so many of us idolize these celebrities just because they’re on the big screen and always in the spotlight. But if you think about it, these were likely the weird kids growing up. While their classmates may have been on the sports fields, they were likely in theater or music class (I’m pushing the limits here…I realize that’s probably a generalization that isn’t fair to make). They probably got teased for being artsy and a little offbeat, because that’s just how young jerks are. We all knew them…lots of us probably were them. But then a handful of those artsy kids make it to Hollywood, or even to the big stages via a career in music, and suddenly the joke’s on us, right?
I started thinking about this and relating it to music after seeing the Justin Timberlake and Jay Z concert. I think Jay Z was probably always really cool, but something tells me Justin Timberlake might have been a victim of this teasing. He dances, he sings…growing up, boys tend to get teased for that. But classic case of this ‘joke’s on us’ theory, am I right?
So now I’m here listening to this Kyle album and particularly his monologue on the opening track. One line that stood out to me because of how perfectly it fits into this theory is ‘It’s a beautiful thing when a loser gets to live his dreams...I was writing plays instead of pounding beers.’ That’s it right there. From the sounds of it, he has devoted his life to making art…and it seems to be paying off. This is Kyle’s debut album, called Beautiful Loser, and it’s capturing the attention of a lot critics right now.
Several of the songs are classic 2013 hip hop: synth-laden beats and quick rhymes that throw out things like the names of nice cars, social media terminology, girls and sex. Those songs don’t stand out too much to me…they sound a lot like other hip hop songs, and they don’t really build on this character that Kyle introduces in his monologue on “This Is A Hit.” But what stands out to me in this album is Kyle’s raw flow–you can hear a little chuckle in his voice when he spits–and his blending of different genres throughout the album. Some songs are heavier electronic, some are more acoustic-pop sounding, others sound more inspired by jazz, and there’s even one track inspired by Super Mario Brothers. To me, it’s a sign of Kyle trying to keep things broad right now while he’s really just starting to make a name for himself.
It’s good to see people who took their own path growing up really pursue their dreams. It seems that Kyle is doing just that, and having fun while he does it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to make a name for himself. I don’t think this debut album is going to propel him onto the big stages just yet, as I think there’s a lot of refining of his sound that he can do, but this is certainly the first step to getting noticed. Keep living your dreams, my dude.
The album’s official release is August 5th. Buy your copy on iTunes here.
Standout Tracks: This Is A Hit, Fruit Snacks, Focus On You, Love 4 You, When Can We, FUN
Aaaaand here we have Modern Vampires of the City, the latest album by Vampire Weekend, in its entirety. The band performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, which sparked a ton of rumors about an early release of the album, yadda yadda yadda. Once the dust cleared and the fakes were weeded out, we were left with this: an iTunes stream of a lot of people’s most anticipated album of 2013 (and that’s REALLY saying something, seeing as 2013 has been amazing so far and shows no signs of slowing down). If you like it, go ahead and pre-order for next week’s release.
[Oh. When you click the link, open in iTunes and then click on “Vampire Weekend” right there. That’ll take you to where you can stream it. For a teenager, I’m not very good at this “internet” thing.)
My calendar says the first day of spring was March 20th but I think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t really begin until the release of the year’s first great sun-drenched indie pop albums. Fortunately for us, Generationals just got the ball rolling. Blending danceable electronic elements and ridiculously catchy vocals with 60s-influenced guitar rock, the New Orleans duo’s new album Heza is a perfect choice for the soundtrack to your next trip to the beach (or whatever else you plan on doing when the sun comes out). Over impressive backdrops where modern synths collide with retro guitar riffs, Generationals’ biggest strength is an obvious one — creating addicting pop hooks that’ll probably be stuck in your head until next fall.
Watch a quirky new video for their lighthearted single “Put a Light On” below and catch a full album stream (brought to us by Hype Machine) a week before its April 2nd release date.
Delta Rae, a six-piece band from North Carolina, is making a splash in 2012 with the release of their album Carry the Fire. The band has been revered in the press for their ability to create a full sound, and better yet, a full presence on stage. They have a firm grip on soul influences, they reflect the likes of Fleetwood Mac with their cast of multiple lead singers, and they have a keen ability to blend gospel, soul, folk, country, acapella and pop music into one unforgettable sound. Delta Rae songs are rooted in emotional experiences that most of us can relate to, but we may not have the creative skill to turn them into the poetic stories that Delta Rae has created for us. Their sound is one I don’t hear often today, and with this release, we are given an album sprinkled with subtle intricacies that prove their mastery of songwriting.
Similar to what we heard in Fun.’s Some Nights earlier this year, Delta Rae capitalizes on the idea of building and breaking a song down as it goes along. Many of the tracks on this album start relatively softly, often in the form of acapella, and they gradually build and build to a point of near explosion, only to hit a bridge that decomposes what they’ve created, leaving us a soft and simplistic glance at the work of art. Seconds later, the explosion occurs and the first few times it happens, it’s incredible. However, Delta Rae might be overusing this technique, as by the middle of the album, it becomes a bit predictable, leaving little room for guessing. That weakness, though, is most times overshadowed by their strength in lyrics, in creating a full story in not just words but also orchestration. This album really highlights Delta Rae’s ability to create songs that are crafted by true artists of our age.
A Song by Song Review:
Holding On To Good (5/5):
“Holding On To Good” opens the album with a beautiful piano pulsing line, accompanied by beautiful vocals sung by Brittany Holljes. As the song progresses, the sound gets bigger, to the point where we hit harmonization around the 2-minute mark that creates a new and irresistible layer of sound. “In the morning, sometimes I think about the way you held me.” We’re told the story of loving a new person, but waking up to remember the way your old love held you. You’re lucky if you’ve never felt that way, but something tells me most of us have. I think this song is the perfect opening for the album—it adds the first color to a canvas, adorning it with piano intricacies, beautiful vocal patterns, and invigorating percussion that brings the song to life.
Is There Anyone Out There (2/5):
Is there anyone out there? You know me. I am the sun, I’m a lost country of a new world and we’re born to run. Have a look at me.
The vocal accompaniment and backdrop that draws me in on most Delta Rae songs just isn’t quite there on this song; instead it seems to be a bit of a distracter and perhaps a bit of an annoyance.
Morning Comes (5/5):
This song starts with an acapella vibe, but the leads into gentle guitar strumming accompanied by Eric Holljes’s beautiful voice. It seems that with the album version, Delta Rae has broken this song down to its bare bones at its start, which adds a whole new layer of attraction. This is my favorite Delta Rae song to date. It’s amazing to see what wonders four simple handclaps can do to a song; Delta Rae took that simple idea and formed a song around it, leaving us with an exhilarating feeling when you get to those points in the song, even if you’re just listening through a pair of headphones. But prepare yourself, for if you happen to be at a live show, you’ll find that the whole room joins the band in those handclaps.
Hit ‘Continue Reading’ to read the full review…
One of my favorite Swedish artists, The Tallest Man On Earth, is allowing all of us to stream his full album, There’s No Leaving Now, through NPR before its official release on 6/12 via Dead Oceans. This, alongside the new song from Young Galaxy, is getting me through this rainy day in San Francisco/Redwood City. That voice of his just tugs at my heartstrings. I cannot wait to buy this record on vinyl. Give it a spin and let me know what you think of it. Will it be deserving of a Top 20 Album of 2012, like The Wild Hunt was in 2010?
This one is dedicated to a Swedish friend of mine.
Moving on from the awfully-forced-acronym-mixtape EPiC, Bobby Ray is letting us stream his sophomore LP at the cost of a single tweet. Just click the link below, log in to Twitter, and listen away. What do you guys think? I’m a fan of anything involving Taylor Swift because I’m going to marry her and that’s that.
Shoutout to @LoneXionc at MostlyJunkFood for the heads-up.
As we wait for the official release on May 1 (my birthday, woo!), Reptar is kind enough to let us stream the full album in its entirety via this adorable little YouTube video. From now until then, I’ll be listening to this, and then I’ll go find a local record store and buy this album on vinyl. That’s what a good person I am. And that’s how much I love Reptar, and this album.
Eat this shit up, you little brussel sprouts.
Related: Sunset Interview with Reptar
Review forthcoming of this new album by Bon Iver aptly titled Bon Iver. Let me just say for now that I have listened to this album about 10 times through already, and not for one second have I had any sensation other than extreme love. Listen and swoon, brethren.