Song Of The Day
Abandoning a familiar and popular sound after just one release can be dangerous. It might have worked for The Horrors (although they could never really be described as popular circa their first album), but plenty of other acts have attempted to spread their wings on a second record, only to have them melted by the sun and crash back to earth.
Nai Harvest’s debut album Whatever was a crystallised example of the increasingly popular modern emo sound. But the throaty yells and fast-fingered guitar licks of old have been phased out for a tighter, smoother sound, more indebted to the grunge and alt-rock of the ‘90s, than the Sheffield duo’s contemporary scene. EP opener “Rush” is a golden nugget of fuzzy pop-punk which would fill hearts with joy, if it weren’t for the repeated refrain “Everything I love is dead/kill my heart, kill my head/I’ll be here lying in bed/everything I love is dead”. Actually, even with that it still fills mine with joy, it’s just a slightly miserable joy. I’m always loath to call the first track of anything the best on the record, but “Rush” certainly is.
That’s not to say it does’t have competition from the powerful and accomplished title track. Melodic as hell, it showcases Nai Harvest’s songwriting and musicianship, with both the verse instrumentation and breakdown impressing; there are bands a decade into their careers who have never written something this good. The remaining two tracks “Pastel” and “I Don’t Know” find an intersection between the emo stylings of the past and the proper rock band they’ve now become. They’re as scrappy and full of ideas as the earlier material, but with a sheen and enough hooks to hang Jaws on.
It’s a vivacious and uplifting collection - certainly not what’s come to be expected from bands under the emo umbrella - and a fantastic sign of rude health for one of Britain’s great guitar bands of the moment, especially one with such a DIY ethos. That second album is going to be cracking.
Song Of The Day
Today’s tune was Number One in the charts (thanks to a Levi’s Jeans ad campaign, no less) when Hitsville’s Adam Hollis was born. Happy birthday Adam!
Listen: Bowie & Queen vs TEED & Dillon Francis
A mashup of “Under Pressure” and the smooth EDM of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs should never work, but dammit, The Hood Internet are either geniuses or magicians because this is great. I was half tempted to just make this description five-hundred exclamation marks, it’s that good.
Only Slightly Ironic Pop Cover of the day: Fresh from the release of their fourth album Present Tense (which we gave an 8/10), here’s Wild Beasts covering a certain Ms Cyrus at a free show at Other Music in New York. On the scale of “Wrecking Ball” covers & parodies, it’s closer to HAIM’s great take than whatever the hell Hulk Hogan was doing.
Song Of The Day
A subdued, beat-heavy groove that slowly builds into a cavernous swirl of synths and looped vocals, “Like Lust” is smoother, more sensual and more crafted than anything else in the alt-R&B game. The eponymous EP, out in April, might just be a gem.
Coldplay reveal new album details: If you’re announcing the release of your anticipated sixth album, it’s probably best not to do it when the world’s eyes are on Hollywood for the night. But regardless, Coldplay’s Ghost Stories will be out on May 19th and features nine tracks, including the recently debuted “Midnight”
The tracklisting is as follow:
- Always in My Head
- True Love
- Another’s Arms
- A Sky Full of Stars
Recipes of the day: Dean Martin’s burger recipe vs Frank Sinatra’s burger recipe. We’d probably go with Ol’ Blue Eyes’ method, to be honest.
It doesn’t matter what Schoolboy Q does, he always seems to be in the shadows of his Black Hippie associate, and Interscope labelmate, Kendrick Lamar. Sure, his previous album, Habits and Contradictions, enjoyed modest chart success in America, and was universally well received by both fans and critics, but compared to Kendrick’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, it was a mere drop in the ocean, both critically and commercially. However, with Kendrick kicking back and dropping features this year, and this being Q’s major label debut, it could be his time to enjoy the spotlight, and become the second Black Hippy member to enjoy universal acclaim.
Evidently, there’s a lot riding on the success, and this might be why Oxymoron sounds custom built for climbing the charts. The production is immaculate throughout, the choruses lodge themselves in your brain for days, and there is a plethora of famous features. Everyone from Pharrell Williams to Tyler, The Creator got their grubbing fingers in the Oxymoron pie, and, to their credit, they seemed to be on top form. Pharrell’s beat, “Collard Greens”, is destined for rap radio, and features a bilingual and typically impressive verse from Kendrick. Meanwhile, Tyler’s vocal and instrumental contributions on “The Purge” carefully tread the line between Tyler’s weirdness and the throwback gangsta vibes of the rest of the album, making it one of the most interesting tracks on the album.
However, the “gangsta vibes” Q puts out on Oxymoron may also be the albums downfall. Of course, there is a near infinite list of rappers that have tackled the subjects of women, money and violence, and you would have to be one of those annoying basement dwellers who sits on YouTube commenting about “real hip-hop” to be believe otherwise. However, the way Q tackles these subjects often seems downright clichéd. This hits you straight away, with opening track Gangsta’s refrain of “gangsta gangsta gangsta” providing your introduction to the album. This trend continues at several points on this album, such as “Break The Bank”’s “money be on my mind” chorus, which is a sentence that could have been uttered in any rap song in the last 10 years.
In this way, Oxymoron is more reminiscent of A$AP Rocky’s LONG.LIVE.A$AP than the more obvious Kendrick comparisons. LONG.LIVE dropped early in the year of its release, broke Rocky into the mainstream’s consciousness with a mixture of smooth, Clams Casino-influenced beats and lyrics about drugs and women that harked back to gangsta rap. If you loved that album, then Oxymoron is definitely for you.
Another problem that presents itself with Oxymoron is that is simply a patchy album. Sure, nothing on the album is outright terrible (bar “Los Awesome”, which has one of the most annoying beats and choruses you are ever likely to hear), but it is peppered with tracks that simply leave no impact on the listener. For example, the fantastically smooth “Collard Greens” flows straight into “What They Want”, which is a wholly uninspired track with a 2 Chainz feature that only seems to be included because 2 Chainz is now required by law to have a feature on every hip-hop album. This trend continues later on in the album with “Hoover Street”, which despite featuring enthrallingly autobiographical lyrics from Q, has an aimless, hookless beat that in no way justifies its six-minute-plus running time.
In spite of these complaints, however, Oxymoron definitely has its saving graces. Album highlight “Blind Threats” is a contender for rap song of the year so far, with its solemn, yet slick, beat, whilst Q seamlessly weaves references to Christianity and themes of redemption throughout. Meanwhile, tracks such as “Man Of The Year” serves as perfect party fodder, with its deep, thumping bass drums and double-time vocal rhythms that make the track perfectly suited for the club floor.
A lot of people will love Oxymoron, and with good reason. It’s consistently sleek, and offers some amazing singles. However, it’s not exactly breaking new ground in any area. For what it is, it’s solid, but don’t expect a life-changing experience.