By Benjamin J.N. Harrison
In the Internet age, where the amount of available music online is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, sifting through heaps of banal imitations and uninspired refuse to find one noteworthy new artist is commonplace; the feeling of gratification, however, which accompanies such a discovery is incomparable. It’s a feeling that washes away any sense of guilt for scouring the Internet for hours in search of something fresh, a feeling that rewards the listener for their patience. At least, this was the case for me when I discovered Folie and her newest single, “Les Bean”, featuring William Crooks, a near-perfect experimental mélange of many of the trends currently permeating the underground electronic and pop scene.
“Les Bean” is a vulnerable track about feelings of confusion and loss. Although sonically, it’s behind the guise of distorted and occasionally jarring melodies, the lyrics Folie auto-croons through in the chorus of the song are strikingly revealing; she references what I can only assume is some sort of difficult and cold relationship, in which an outline of a clear lack of understanding is provided: “Misreading all my whims/You know I’m a lesbian/Seeing through my skin/She doesn’t let me in/I never wanted in/I never wanted in”. The psychic intensity is indubitable, with Folie yelping as if for a cry of help, or at least for compassion she is not receiving. Vocally, to me, Folie is very reminiscent of Laura Les of 100 Gecs, with similar pitch-shifting and frenetic emotion in her voice.
The William Crooks feature is a noteworthy addition to the track; he tackles the verse of the track, musing about feelings of depression and isolation. Particularly powerful are Crooks’ ending lines, in which he hopelessly contemplates the confusion he faces about the intended direction in his life; his pitch-shifted voice floats pathetically above the beat of the track, emphasizing the direness of his situation. While I wish some of the lyrical concepts here were explored to a greater extent, as there is no clear focus but general melancholy, I find it hard to complain too much, as the emotion carrying the lyrics practically makes up for it.
The instrumentation of the track is brash and occasionally off tempo, but simultaneously exquisite and elegant; combining many of the trends permeating the current state of electropop and electronic à la PC Music, as well as those found in certain camps of hip-hop, “Les Bean” is an oddly gorgeous and unique experience. It begins in an almost industrial-sounding fashion and transitions into a frantic pop dream (or perhaps nightmare) found on the most obscure corners of Bandcamp. By the end, the listener is enchanted and craves more. At least, that was the case for me. According to Apple Music, I have listened to the track twenty-six times, and I anticipate that number merely to grow throughout these next few weeks.
By Benjamin J.N. Harrison
For the past couple years, I have been observing the expansion of a certain crop of musicians embracing a hyperfuturistic, synthetically texturized, and surreal take on electronic pop. Akin to the early 20th-century European Dadaists, artists such as Charli XCX, Dorian Electra, and any involved with PC Music, have found a way to manipulate a widely enjoyed form of art into a spectacle of absurdity and exaggeration, often to the point of senselessness. Inspired heavily by cyberculture, the vocals of such music are often pitch-shifted ad nauseum, exhibiting intense femininity and significant distortion – a feature which, to many, is an immediate turn-off, but which has nonetheless cemented itself deep into the hearts of millions of freaks, such as myself.
An emerging project, which I would associate loosely with the previously mentioned artists, but hesitate to definitively give label to, is 100 Gecs: a duo consisting of eccentrics Laura Les and Dylan Brady. It was only a month ago when I stumbled upon their most popular track, “money machine”, while exploring YouTube for new music discoveries. The track begins with Les rapping, criticizing a certain “piss baby” with a small truck and even smaller arms. The track then descends, or perhaps ascends, into an abrasively autotuned exhibition of vanity, with Les screaming about how she feels “so clean like a money machine”. The track’s influences are extremely diverse, blending elements of pop-punk, emo rap, bubblegum bass, deconstructed club, and metal into one beautiful catastrophe.
Naturally, I was intrigued; I listened to their debut project, 1000 Gecs, immediately after my discovery, and was extremely impressed. While certain tracks off the album exist perhaps purely for novelty, their flexible, mishmashed sound is insane and catchy enough to get one addicted – at least, that was the case for me. I find it hard to go a day without having my ears terrorized by the ska-inspired hook of “stupid horse”, or the maximalist distortion of “800db cloud”; needless to say, my newest obsession had arrived.
Last night, I was lucky enough to see the duo perform live, as the opening act for the now-beloved, self-proclaimed boyband, Brockhampton. While Brockhampton’s music is worth attention, I am certain they will be getting more than enough of it throughout their Heaven Belongs to You tour, and I would thus like to shift my scrutiny instead to 100 Gecs.
Before the duo even began performing their first song, there was already a prevalent air of strangeness: decorating the stage was a lonely pine tree; Dylan nonchalantly walked on stage wearing a hat similar in style to the sorting hat from the Harry Potter series, complemented by wide-leg trousers and a Gaultier-esque mesh printed top; and the figures of Laura and Dylan were masked by a thick blue haze. The presentation was odd, but in an effortless and natural fashion, much like the sounds the audience would soon be assaulted with.
Opening the show was the aforementioned ska-inspired banger, ‘stupid horse’. As is expected with their music, the lyrics are absurd; Laura, in an incredibly high voice, recounts her story of losing money on a horse at the derby. Instead of merely feeling this disappointment and going home with money lost, like most people would, she assaults the jockey, steals his belongings, and rides the horse home. What follows is a delightfully comical hook: “stupid horse, I just fell out of the Porsche/Lost the money in my bank account, oh no”. For Gecs fans such as myself, this was a perfect opener; it established the maximalism and absurdity that would continue into their performance while still leaving the audience wondering as to what they would do next.
For the duration of the show, Laura and Dylan met my expectations with great song after great song. A couple particular highlights for me were “hand crushed by a mallet”, in which the duo brought their signature psychotic energy to a moody ballad rife with R&B and deconstructed club influence, as well as their upbeat “ringtone”, a cutesy pop tune about hearing from one’s partner.
While my remarks about the set are mostly positive, there are nonetheless a few criticisms I can’t help but bring up. Firstly, the set was very short; now, the duo is relatively new, and as such their discography is extremely limited. It might be a while until we get to see a full show from the two; regardless, there was quite a bit of dead time in between 100 Gecs and Brockhampton in which a couple more songs could have been played. Personally, I would have loved to hear the trance-inspired “xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx”, an exaggeratedly sentimental love ballad that was indubitably a highlight from their debut album. Another aspect of the set I remain hesitant to embrace is their pairing with Brockhampton; while the opportunity is fantastic for the group, and I am more than happy that the two acts are touring together, I feel as if the Brockhampton crowd does not exactly mesh with the 100 Gecs crowd. Perhaps 100 Gecs would be better loved by an audience of PC Music fanboys and electropop enthusiasts? Just a thought. Nevertheless, I am happy that Brockhampton has provided the act with a pretty significant amount of exposure; they certainly deserve it.
While I do have my criticisms of the 100 Gecs set, they practically vanish when considering the wild and euphoric energy the duo brings to the concert setting. I would absolutely love to see 100 Gecs perform a live show once their discography expands; for now, we’re left with them as an opening act, and even then, they outshined the headliner.
A local favourite in Tsawwassen, Mario's Kitchen is located in the heart of town adjacent to a handful of other dining establishments. The interior of the restaurant is softly lit with booths that promise privacy, lulling customers in for a quiet dinner with close friends.
The menu offers a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes. I personally recommend the fresh, bright bruschetta as a starter and the smoked salmon penne, a hearty pasta dish seasoned to perfection with herbs and spices in a creamy tomato sauce as an entree. The service at Mario's is tremendous, with attentive staff, efficient, fresh food, and a guaranteed worth-while experience.
I highly recommend a visit to this Tsawwassen gem the next time you're looking for a cozy spot to enjoy a nice dinner.
You've probably heard of or seen some of the weird stuff this two-man band does; odd face makeup, strange wardrobe, a few fast-paced electronic songs. It takes some getting used to, but Twenty One Pilots' music is some powerful and interesting stuff. It's hard to describe as one genre - sort of alternative/indie/electronic with some weird kind of rap, and each song is really different. Their lyrics, though, that's what gets you - there are some powerful things present in lead singer/songwriter Tyler Joseph's words. He talks about depression, anxiety, and other issues he and lots of people have to deal with. A lot of it is really relatable and eye-opening, but also sad. They can really help you through some tough times, though.
I'd recommend Polarize and Hometown if you're giving them a listen for the first time.
P.S. - My favourites are Trees and A Car, A Torch, A Death if you want to take a listen to those too. Or just listen to them all. That's good too.
The "King of Soul" may have only had a short life, but he had a huge impact on the music industry, especially soul. He was born in 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and along with his seven siblings, performed in The Singing Children choir. After singing with the Highway QC's and graduating high school, he sung in the Soul Stirrers. From there on, he and his group performed and after he released his first single, Lovable, he received quite a bit of attention. He released thirteen studio albums between the years 1958 and 1964. On December 11, 1964, Bertha Franklin, the hotel manager of the Hacienda Motel, where Cooke was staying, shot him fatefully in the heart. Apparently, Cooke tried to assault Franklin, which resulted in the shooting and the motel owner, Evelyn Carr, to call the police. Since Cooke died on the scene, his side of the story was never told. Since the stories of Carr, Franklin and other witnesses do not quite match up, investigators are still not exactly sure what happened. Posthumously, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Have a listen:
P.S. I recommend "Having a Party", "Twistin' the Night Away", "You Send Me" and "Cupid" as well...
From Worcester, England: indie rockers Peace. The quartet, composed of brothers Harry and Samuel Koisser as well as Douglas Castle and Dominic Boyce, formed Peace in 2009. After signing onto Columbia Records and releasing an EP titled “Delicious”, Peace became better known through magazines such as NME and The Guardian. With Palma Violets, Miles Kane and Django Django, Peace performed at the NME Awards Tour 2013. They then released their first album “In Love”, in March of 2013. Listening to their music, you can just that they’re the future of indie rock. Compared a lot to Swim Deep, Vampire Weekend and Foals, they have the young talent and energy of newcomers. They know that they have to please, and they know they will. Their rebel attitude, classic British flair and spontaneous actions make it all the more entertaining. Their lyrics in “Lovesick” show their youthfulness such as “I don’t wanna go to school/I don’t wanna take the call” and “I don’t wanna make no sense/I don’t wanna pay the rent”. “California Daze” shows they are more than capable of writing love songs as “She tastes like sunlight and she's always gonna be there in the back of your mind” plays. “Wraith” and “Delicious” are the kind that’ll be stuck in your head by the end of the week. The six minute song “Drain” is perfect and the song “Say you feel drained/Say you never felt so empty/Never leave a stain”. While the band Peace is still young, their talent and wonderful lyrics are intense. Expect some more great music from them!
Jake Bugg released his second album earlier this month, and I have one word to describe it: fantastic. While there was a taste of rock in his debut album, Shangri La shows more of his punkier style. Maybe it’s just because this album was collaboration between him and Rick Rubin, or maybe this is what he’s leaning towards career wise. Either way, he nailed it. He still managed to maintain his roots with Bob Dylan and Oasis, and he pulled off a different kind of album from his previous one. The first three tracks are more rock, complete with heavy guitar riffs. “Me and You” is something straight out of a country album and shows his innocence. It more or less reminds you of the fact that he is only a 19 year-old, a pretty crazy talented 19 year-old at that. “Messed up Kids” changes back into his rockier style, while the next two songs are an exact follow-up from his debut album. “Kingpin” and “Kitchen Table” contain an unfamiliar twang that fans will surely enjoy. “Pine Trees”, a kind of contemplation song, truly shows a deeper side, especially with these lines:
"I try not to visualize other people's eyes
and they're compromising ways
And as I leave them far behind
I try to hide the route of my escape
You can sit in the pine tress
You can sit at home,
You can breath a sigh of silence in the woods".
The song is almost comparable to the unforgettable track “Broken”, on his debut album. “Simple Pleasures” and “Storm Passes Away” give off some country vibes that only Bugg could pull off. Shangri La may not have the same amount of slow songs that his previous album had, but it delves deeper into his sound. After listening to his first album and seeing him in concert two months ago, I couldn’t believe someone his age was performing and writing the music that I had heard. This album just confirmed how great of a musician he is (there’s a reason that I’m seeing him again in January). Take a listen to his new album, it’s worth it!
“I want to sound like 50 Cent’s In Da Club”, and that’s exactly where the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album, AM, is heading. Long gone are the days of their classic british style and Beatles’ inspired haircuts. Here comes the newer, bolder Arctic Monkeys, led by frontman Alex Turner. According to him, the band was trying to distance themselves from their original sound and create a more R & B record, something with a heavy influence of 90’s hip hop. However, it was still to be a mix of hip hop and 70’s rock. The first five songs on the album all represent their goal; “Arabella” even mentions “helter skelter”. “No.1 Party Anthem” may sound like a pop song but it actually jumps back to their previous work. Fans familiar with their other albums will recognize the sound. It’s almost a combination between some of Alex Turner’s solo work (the soundtrack for the movie Submarine, which is AMAZING, as is the movie), and earlier collaboration with Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets, there’s a review for them on this page from last year). “Mad Sounds” is similar to this as well. “Fireside” and “Why You Only Call Me When You’re H*gh” skip back to the first half of the album, with the edgier, more Dr. Dre inspired tracks. The final three songs, “Snap Out Of It”, “Knee Socks” and “I Wanna Be Yours” are part of the smoother, newer style. All in all, if you are a fan of their older, rockier music, you may not be a fan of this album. However, it's still an awesome album, so you should check it out!
The cutest smile you’ll ever see, a killer voice, and an infinite amount of love for dedicated fans is the secret recipe for the rising star of 2013; Ariana Grande. One would be quick to assume her stardom originates from that fact that she has the same manager as Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, but frankly, I think Scooter Braun is the one that got lucky here. She performed on Broadway at the age of 15, was part the mega-popular teen TV show ‘Victorious’, and now has a debut album that flew straight to the top of the charts practically the moment it was released. This 20 year old actress/singer said she was largely inspired by the ultimate divas like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston for her record, Yours Truly. The album is a collection of romantic pop/R&B songs that’ll throw you right back into the 60’s, where everyone’s favorite pastime was snapping and harmonizing their doo-wops. The sky high vocals and lovey-dovey lyrics perfectly embody Ariana’s classy vintage persona, and her strong live performances never fail to exceed my expectations. The album features collaborations from classic faces of the pop music industry like Mac Miller, Nathan Sykes, Mika and Big Sean, and her hit single ‘Baby I’ was originally written for none other than everybody’s queen - Beyonce. It’s shocking how such a bold voice can come from such a tiny lady (she towers at 5’1”), and if any of you think she lip-sings or uses autotune, please go and submerge yourself in the disgustingly large amount of evidence I have gathered below to prove you wrong; whether it’s the covers she recorded in her own bedroom or singles performed on national television, she nails every song and I cannot praise her talent enough.
LONG STORY SHORT: Perfection takes on the human form that is Ariana Grande.
- ONE OF MY FAVOURITES OFF THE ALBUM; 'TATTOOED HEART'
- THERE'S A REASON PEOPLE CALL HER THE NEXT MARIAH CAREY
- A LITTLE LADY MARMALADE
- DON'T LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER? THAT'S OK, YOU CAN LIKE ARIANA GRANDE
- JUST 40 MILLION VIEWS ON A CASUAL COVER, IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL
- GO TO 2:26, YEAH I CAN DO THAT, TOO
- THIS IS PROBABLY ILLEGAL BUT IT'S ON YOUTUBE SO I'M GOING TO TAKE THE LIBERTY OF TELLING YOU TO CLICK HERE AND THEN BUY THE ALBUM AFTERWARDS