Track Reviews | Animalia – Paradise

Australian born, Ireland raised and Canada based songwriter Animalia signposts her upcoming album (dissonance) with the haunting piano dirge Paradise. Through tastefully echoing atmospherics Animalia sweetly coos an emotionally weighty tale, supposedly influenced by extensive gun violence. With a voice that can be likened to a more restrained Bjork, Animalia is arresting throughout the song, swerving between fragile during the unaccompanied piano intro, and forceful and stalwart in the grandly sweeping synth-wash outro. Running at just under 2:30 minutes, Paradise never gets a chance to overstay its welcome, and can easily be enjoyed on repeat listens, a tough pitch for a song as emotionally weighty and dark as Paradise, but it succeeds very nicely.

dissonance releases in April 2016 through Culvert Music

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Merival – Kicking You Out

Toronto singer/songwriter Merival showcases a lovingly fragile sound laced with a slight twist of bitter realisation on her singer Kicking You Out. Kicking You Out makes the most out of its musical indebtedness to Bright Eyes’ similar acoustic strum Lua, choosing to marry gorgeous melodic vocal lines in entrancing harmony, with a lyrical output that serves as a relative wishlist of grand wants…all which can and hopefully will be achieved after a certain lover is kicked out. It is polite and pretty, and assuredly worth it’s nice 3 minute running time.

Kicking You Out appears on Merival’s debut EP Lovers, out the 29th of January 2016.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Groove Platoon – Groove Platoon EP

UntitledMelbourne’s funk, soul and blues entity Groove Platoon have just released their debut self-titled EP. Accompanied with a psychedelic colour collage for a cover where one half looks to be depicting some sort of vibrant alien planet, there’s not much else that isn’t already self-explanatory to be said about this release. This EP puts funk and mild psychedelia with soulful vocals, and doesn’t really try to be anything beyond that. Continue reading

David Bowie – Blackstar

I started writing this review in absolute elation, but it looks like I will be in utter despair by the time I finish it. Literally as I was writing this review of David Bowie’s wondrous return to form Blackstar, I found out that David Bowie had died. The man that words cannot ever hope to describe, the man who unquestionably shaped the face of popular music forever, the man who managed to change the perception of society’s downtrodden and misrepresented into something proud. The man, myth, and legend: David Bowie. Is dead. Continue reading

Track Reviews | Kanye West – Real Friends

Asides from a few select releases in the past 5 or 6 years, Kanye West seemed to have given up on the idea that of emotional rawness through fragility that found its way onto much of his first three albums, and practically constructed his 808s & Heartbreak. And while he has touched on the idea in recent years, it either comes off far too epic and grand (the brilliant Runaway) or too cheesy and manufactured (the ‘meh’ Only One). What made tracks like Family BusinessRoses, and Flashing Lights so effective and revolutionary was the faultless ability they had to dive into a personal life not usually seen in hip-hop folklore. It was this that was one of the main reasons Kanye West stood so far apart from the pack in the 2000s. And at long last, West seems to have found that emotional pinpoint that lies next to heartbreak and family drama with Real Friends, one of his best songs of the new decade.

Riding a beautifully soulful sample, submerged into a pool of sorrow, West raps with obvious sincerity about personal life in an almost-sequel to Welcome To Heartbreak and Family Business. However, while this time around, things are far less bitter, they are also much less positive, with West bemoaning what a life of success can do: Forgetting people’s birthdays, people blackmailing him, the constant stream of abuse for not releasing an album, it is enough to make you feel sorry for Kanye. That you eventually DO by the end of the song’s poignant outro, is the mark of a fascinating return to form.

“When was the last time I wasn’t in a hurry?” West raps. You know he means it. For all of the teasing and delays  in Kanye West’s 2015, 2016  looks to set things straight. We already have a release date for SWISH (confirmed on Twitter as February 11th), and if the calibre of tracks like Real Friends persists throughout the entire album (and not like the godawful diss-track misfire Facts), we should all be in for a treat.

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Track Reviews | Kendrick Lamar – Untitled 2

2015 undoubtedly belonged to Kendrick Lamar, and so far into 2016, he shows no signs of letting go of relevancy. On paper, Untitled 2 does little to land in within the field of conventional hip/hop, let alone commercial rap. Multi-sectional song structure, no chorus, no hook, no bling talk, Untitled 2 proudly and gleefully eschews standard practices and dives head first into the gloriously funky and afro-centric stew that was crystallised so well on To Pimp A Butterfly. Performing the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Lamar is in his moment, commanding audience attention with each line spitting from his lips. All this builds up to the one line Lamar wants you to retain: “You ain’t gotta tell me that I’m the one” – this is repeated with intensifying force and serves to remind everyone what we should already know: Kendrick Lamar is the one, but there are more important things we need to talk about, and more important things to do. Untitled 2 is just serves as further proof that Kendrick Lamar is one of the finest and most exceptional artists of our time. But hey, he already knows that he’s the one, remember?

Yanni Markovina

yannimarkovina@hotmail.com

Dead Vandals – MOON UNIT EP

This EP was teased for a release right on the end of 2015, literally on New Years Eve. Yes, I was excited. Dead Vandals are a duo from Melbourne, Australia, who are credited on this EP as ‘Lazy8: Words, Mr.Society: Beats,’ and they first introduced their brand of Noisy Hop-Hop (quite literal on the term ‘noisy’) with their debut release # which proved a solid gem back in 2014, and I can only see future listeners going back to the firm roots of where Dead Vandals began. Then MOON UNIT was announced, and I thought an EP might be a fruitful outlet for further experimentation, maybe even a release that could be looked back on as a transition record for whatever is to come. Continue reading

The 20 Best Albums of 2015

2015 was one of the best years in music in recent memory. No overstatement. The artistic medium of the album was once again pushed to its limits by some of the most talented minds of our generation. If there was one thing to learn from the music of 2015, it was that the door of creativity will never shut. That is a lesson you can take home at night. Anyway, on with the list! Continue reading