Tag Archives: New albums

Album Review: Women In Music Pt. III – The HAIM Sister Are Up to… Something.

Women In Music Pt. III; Haim

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan./

Haim – The Steps

The Haim sisters are known for their love of LA and taking walks on the sunny streets of the city, and it is also the feeling that carries on into their projects – little happy/sad sunny pop songs that go perfect with the mood of driving around Los Angeles on a summer morning. I really enjoyed their first album but to be honest I was kinda disappointed by their second as it really really didn’t have much to offer except the unique bright style the band has cultivated. This is where Women in Music Pt. III really succeeds, while it is still a collection of sunny happy/sad songs, it is also much more. With this album, it feels as though the Haim sisters are finally up to something – a big exploration of themselves and their journey.

The videos to accompany their third album, Women in Music Part III, nod to the strolls of the past and add in a few new twists. In “Now I’m in it” directed again by the master Paul Thomas Anderson, bassist Este and guitarist Alana carry Danielle (lead vocals, production, guitar) on a stretcher; when Danielle is revived and joins her sisters for their signature walk, she casts a knowing glance straight to camera. In another video, they’re followed by a gloomy saxophonist ; in another, they stand rooted to their spots. These videos show the evolution of Haim, whose songwriting on WIMPIII is likewise more nuanced, more self-aware, and frequently darker than ever before.

The biting satire of the album’s title is something of a red herring for its explicitly personal content. In interviews, each sister has described a personal trauma that she brought to the studio. Alana has spoken of the grief she suffered when a best friend passed away at age 20, and Este has talked about the low points of living with Type 1 diabetes. Most felt is Danielle’s deep depression; she traces its origin to when her partner (and co-producer) Ariel Rechtstaid was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015.

Historically, Haim’s lyrics have been conversational and straightforward: emotionally incisive, sure, but usually vague enough that you could easily place yourself inside them. On WIMPIII, though, Danielle writes in vivid scenes, pulling you inside her personal depression fog. She blinks awake and finds herself at the wheel of a car; she watches TV and stares at the ceiling; she goes to the boulevard and can’t stop crying. On the stomping country-rock of “I’ve Been Down,” she sings about taping up the windows of her house, adding sardonically, “But I ain’t dead yet. Elsewhere, the sisters cut and paste the most offensive interview questions they’ve faced from music journalists (“Do you make the same faces in bed?”) into a candid folk song that channels the spirit of Joni Mitchell.

Danielle was also inspired by André 3000’s solo album The Love Below, an exploratory record that sewed together disparate genres with uninhibited slapstick humor. While WIMPIII is more theatrical than Haim have been before—there’s the gasp that opens the underwater rock song “Up From a Dream,” the “you up?” voicemail skits on “3 AM”—the most obvious similarity is in the band’s newfound musical fluidity. With signature production touches from Rostam throughout, these songs shift gears, often eschewing Haim’s usual summery rock to find the right genre for the mood, sometimes containing different shades within the same track. “All That Ever Mattered” peppers Danielle’s vocals with distorted screams and a mumbled interjection of “fuck no, before pirouetting away into a glam-rock guitar solo. “3 AM” and “Another Try” flirt with falsetto-driven funk and R&B, and “I Know Alone,” a song about depression-scrolling and sleeping through the day, contains dusty echoes of UK garage.

Not every song feels like a pioneering event. “Don’t Wanna” could have lived on any of Haim’s three albums: a tight pop-rock song built around an irrepressible guitar lick and an oblique story of a relationship in trouble. But their most exciting trips go off the beaten path, like the crystalline sad banger “Now I’m in It”—a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Taylor Swift’s Lover. This may be the first Haim album that steps out of its retro groove long enough to draw parallels with other contemporary pop music, specifically Rechtshaid and Danielle’s recent work with Vampire Weekend. Having long since proven their chops when it comes to writing a breezy 1970s-style rock song, they now sound comfortable enough within their niche to push beyond it.

WIMPIII is bookended by two songs about L.A., both featuring a saxophone and wistful “doot-do-do” backing vocals. On the first, “Los Angeles,” Danielle describes falling out of love with her hometown. But in the final song, “Summer Girl”—while its melody hits a similarly melancholic vein—she interpolates Lou Reed as she sings about the relief of coming home to L.A. from tour to be with her partner. She’s anguished when she sings that she’s “thinking ’bout leaving” the city, but hushed and reverent on a later line when she reflects on how much she misses it: “L.A. on my mind, I can’t breathe.” Placed beside each other, the two songs take on new dimensions. It’s Haim as we haven’t quite heard them before: not just eminently proficient musicians, entertainers, and “women in music,” but full of flaws and contradictions, becoming something much greater.

Fav Tracks: //The Steps/ Up from a Dream/ Gasoline/ Don’t Wanna/ Leaning on you/ Man from the Magazine/ FUBT/ Bonus Tracks- Now I’m in it/ Hallelujah//

Least Fav Tracks- //Another Try//

Women In Music Pt III review

So what did you think Haim’s new album?

Do let me know in the comments!

Album Review: EARTH – Radiohead Guitarist Ed O’Brien Comes to his own On This Nostalgic Debut.

EARTH; EOB (Ed O’Brien)

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan/

Even if you’re not quite familiar with him you’ve definitely seen or heard of Ed O’Brien somewhere – the tall guy who plays on the left of Thom Yorke in every Radiohead concert. For all of the radical reinventions Radiohead have undergone over the past 30-odd years—the shift to experimental electronica, the redrafting of instrumental roles, Thom Yorke’s ponytail—guitarist Ed O’Brien has always remained guitarist Ed O’Brien. Amid the flurry of instrument swapping and machine tweaking that occurs at a typical Radiohead concert, O’Brien is rarely without his six-string and trusty bank of effects pedals, while his backing vocals often provide a crucial melodic underpinning for Yorke’s flights of fancy. Thus, amid the flashy contributions of guitarist Jonny Greenwood and frontman Thom Yorke, it is easy to forget about Ed O’Brien, but it is his consistent contributions that holds the band together.That grounding principle carries over to his first proper solo album. Where Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have used their extracurricular projects to further explore dissonant techno and avant-garde orchestration, O’Brien’s debut as EOB revisits the late-’80s/early-’90s student-disco sounds that gave rise to his main gig. While his bandmates are going on about Flying Lotus and Oliver Messiaen, O’Brien is preaching the life-changing effects of Screamadelia.

It’s taken some time, but O’Brien has finally stepped out from the shadows with the release of his exceptional solo debut, Earth, under the moniker EOB. He’s noted in interviews that he felt he had to release the record, that part of him would “die” if he didn’t. That sense of urgency is felt all over Earth. The opener “Shangri-La,” is a triumphant scorcher sprinkled with percussion as O’Brien acknowledges feelings he didn’t realize he had before finding the song’s titular mystical harmonious place. Never has his voice sounded so prominent — so recognizable — until now.

Much of Earth is laidback and peaceful, centered around the cerebral “Brasil” and “Olympik,” which clock in over eight minutes, tickling the brain with swirling synths and dreamy lines about love and perfection. “A love supreme is all I need,” he sings on the latter. “To be waking up from the deepest sea.” Tucked right behind “Brasil” is the stunning “Deep Days,” an acoustic slow burner that acts like a respite to the lengthy track before it: “Where you go, I will go/where you stay, I will stay,” he pledges. “And when you rise, I will rise/and if you fall, you can fall on me.”

The sparse, fairytale-like “Long Time Coming” is another standout (“A lonely city girl/looks out into her world”), but it’s the album closer, “Cloak on the Night,” that serves as the LP’s gut-wrenching highlight. Joined by Laura Marling, O’Brien carefully lays down each line over twinkling acoustic guitar: “You and me all night long,” they sing in harmony. “You and me in this storm/holding tight.”

Earth is at it’s best when it’s at it’s subtlest – it has that dreamy quality that transports you memories hanging on the brink of nostalgia. To me, nostalgia seems like the main theme of this project, it is what Ed O’Brien is drawing from, even going back to early sound of Radiohead, a sound that the band has mostly disregarded now. There are few tracks in this projects that take a total left swing from the familiar Radiohead sound, but to me those are this album’s weakest points. Like the song “Banksters”, which is good song and I do see myself to occasionally listening to i, but it feels so left out in the whole album that it hurts it in the end.

With Earth, O’Brien becomes the fourth Radiohead member to branch out and release a record of his own, following Yorke, guitarist Jonny Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway. It leaves bassist Colin Greenwood as the only person in the band yet to step out on his own. The success of all these extracurricular releases, including Earth, suggests that when he does, it’ll be worth waiting for.

Fav Tracks: //Shangri-La/ Brasil/ Long Time Coming/ Mass/ Sail On/ Olympik/ Cloak of the Night//

Least Fav Track: /Banksters/

So what did you think of this album, and what is your favorite solo project from a Radiohead member?

Do let me know in the comments!

Album Review: Notes on a Conditional Form – The experimental new record from the 1975 is truly an album for our Generation.

Notes on a Conditional Form; the 1975

Rating – “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Notes on a Conditional Form begins, like all other the 1975 albums, with a track named ‘The 1975′ which samples audio from a Greta Thunberg speech. Greta talks in her melancholic voice about climate change and the human species’ losing battle with nature, as a really sombre piano piece is played in background. She urges people to perform civil disobedience and rebel against any sorts of politics that is keeping us from bringing about a change. But there lies the irony. You see, the 1975 are often criticised in the rock and roll music community for not being “rebellious” or “edgy” enough for an alternative/indie rock band. They are typically known to make clean synthesized ‘white girl’ music for teenagers with Matty Healy’s charming laid back observations of modern relationships. While, I don’t agree with those accusations, if you’re someone who believes them – you’re in for a surprise.

THE 1975 – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Notes on a Conditional Form is not your typical the 1975 album. Like I said earlier, they make it very clear right from the very first track that they are trying to explore something deeper on this And the theme they are trying to explore is our generation’s modern life and struggles. Matty says the reason Greta’s speech was sampled into the album was because they wanted to give her some sort of pop culture relevance for being the voice of our generation’s eco friendly demands. The theme is nothing new The 1975 though, their last album ‘A brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ dealt with similar themes. In fact ‘Notes on a Conditional Form ‘ is a sequel to that album, in their third release cycle “Music for Cars”. Originally supposed to come only months after the first album, the production of the album got delayed and after a long recording sessions in 16 different studios, the album has has finally arrived more than a year after it’s initial release date. But that long stretched production has given this album a sound you couldn’t have imagined otherwise. This with out a doubt, the most experimental the 1975 has ever been. From hypno rock to elctro-dance pop and even heavy metal, this album is mixture of sounds from variety of genre – all distorted but still connected to form a really meaningful experience. I completed listening to the album and instantly went back again. The album consists of these very ambitious àmbient music that is really exceptional all guided by the 1975’s classic books to lift them up. Also there a a couple of alternative post rock tracks sprinkled in this record, and those were just some of the best listening experiences I have had this year.

the 1975 – Guys – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Matty’s laid back vocals with his observational song writing are still here on this album, but it’s much more introspective here. You can surely break them apart individually and find beautiful meaning in them. Matty said in an interview that the genesis of this album came from a time he watching watching Netflix alone in his room and immediately wanted more episodes as soon as the season ended. While that might not be a good analogy to explain the theme of this album, the theme of isolation runs throughout it. But the band’s secret weapon remains drummer and producer George Daniel, who has grown increasingly adept at matching Healy’s every whim as a songwriter. It’s easy to take for granted by now that, no matter what style the 1975 attempt, it will at least sound great. A slapstick country-emo travelogue? Go for it. A shoegaze snippet with Auto-Tuned ad-libs? Why not. A lush, futuristic Americana story-song? Fetch the pedal steel.

From a production stand point this is their most ambitious and intricate work yet. If the lyrics don’t tell a story, the music is telling an unified story in itself with its strange transition and sudden blows. The music packs a punch, you don’t know what to expect next as the 1975 change from one song to another. Which is ultimately my one gripe with this album, due so many unique sonic directions sometimes it feels lost and unmotivated. The songs don’t flow into each other naturally. But the tracks are finally bound together by a deep sense of isolation, which makes them great individually. For all its sonic experiments, Notes is filled with these quiet, self-affirming moments. If the 1975’s early work felt like pop music compulsively interrupted with provocations and footnotes, then Notes takes an inverse approach: It is a long, messy experiment that just so happens to peak with some of their sharpest songs. Yes, they have expressed some of these thoughts more succinctly in the past; and yes, the tracklist could be condensed so that you don’t have to clear your schedule to get through it. But when everything clicks, their work has never sounded so patient, so personal. And in the last song of album ‘Guys’, where it Matty sings about their early days and friendship among the band mates, all the societal and personal themes come together to form one beautiful mess.

In all of it’s experimentation and observational lyricism, Notes on a Conditional Form is truly an album for our Generation- with all the perils of of our times. In the song –  “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know),” a late-album highlight and their highest-charting single to date in the UK. Evolving from a slow-building intro into a mechanical chug, it is the record’s closest thing to a typical 1975 song—a glittery ’80s arrangement, a ridiculous saxophone solo, a charmingly sleazy hook. Matty sings about his obsession with the cam girl of his dreams – how he’s drawn towards the laptop every time and seduced into the screen by a girl he can’t meet. “I need to get back, I gotta see the girl on screen” Matty sings with bravado, and you’re left wondering if this is what the meaning of love and connection has come to in our digital age.

Fav Tracks – //The 1975/People/Frail State of Mind/Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America/ Straming/ Roadkill/ The End (Music for Cars)/ If you’re too shy (let me know)/ Having no Head/Me and you together songs/ I think there’s something you should know/ Don’t Worry/ Guys//

Least Fav Track – Shiny Collarbone

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jason Sheldon/Shutterstock (10567289o) The 1975 – Matty Healy The 1975 in concert at the Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, UK – 25 Feb 2020

You can listen to Notes on a Conditional Form by the 1975 here – https://open.spotify.com/album/0o5xjCboti8vXhdoUG9LYi?si=crfp7HfXSG2iCRoJ6ZuhFA