Friday, 6 May 2016

Beyonce - Lemonade

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Beyonce surprised us all with the release of her album Lemonade on the 24th of April, well it wasn't a surprise to all because she had booked a whole hour-long slot on HBO simply titled Lemonade which many fans speculated but there wasn't really any way of knowing. The hour long special contained every song on the album along with alot of poetry related to the songs, it's a really good watch if you like Beyonce I recommend getting the Tidal free trial for it (If you didn't already get it for The Life of Pablo). This album follows on from the album Beyonce, the 2013 release was probably my favourite Bey release to date because it contained fun, seriousness and overall good music, it set a path about for Beyonce to create music as she grows older and her music matures, however this album took an unforeseen swerve after the release of Formation I was effectively expecting Beyonce part 2, this isn't what we got, not in the slightest. What we got was, as I'm sure you've heard by now, an album about infidelity, feminism and power struggles.

The album opens with the slow and haunting Pray You Catch Me, this album contains a James Blake credit for song writing and it's evident in the music, it's intense and it's like those parts in blockbuster films where they're hiding in the closet, she sings 'pray you catch me listening' it's the whole she's too scared to confront him but she wants him to find out for himself that she knows. The song is slow but in many  ways exhilarating, like I said before you can almost imagine Beyonce hiding away listening in on the phone conversations of her estranged lover (We'll steer clear of the Jay-Z accusations for the purpose of this review, and the fact it's not ENTIRELY confirmed that is about him). The album then takes a completely different swerve as it slides into the joyful and Jamaican-esque Hold Up, now in the HBO special Beyonce is seen wandering the streets with a baseball bat smashing things up with a smile on her face, it's not the most clear sign of happiness but the Diplo enticed beat to this song creates that vibe despite the threatening lyrics to her lovers side chick. You would hardly know that this is a Diplo beat, it's extremely different to all the things I've heard of him and I love this new direction for him, it's joyful, it's not over-produced and that's something that I've always found with his music. Now, song wise this is one of the weakest songs on the album, mainly due to the fact that it sounds like a Rihanna reject, and once I thought that I could not help but picture that when listening to it, especially after the woeful Anti album. 
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Don't Hurt Yourself is by far and away the best song, it is basically a Jack White song with Beyonce showing off a synthed out White type vocal throughout the song, she has anger, passion and ultimately harmony in her voice. Not to mention that White's riffs in this song are amazing and hark back to the sounds of High Ball Stepper and Black Bat Liquorice on the amazing 2014 album Lazaretto, his feature is little more than a fleeting pass by but this does not mean that he has no influence on this song because like I said this is basically a Jack White song. Beyonce's brashness continues throughout the song threatening "Who the f*ck do you think you're playing" it's a side to Beyonce that I have never seen and what is effectively a rock song is something I never expected to hear from Beyonce, who always seems to hark back to her Destiny's Child days with slow, emotional songs like Best Thing I never Had on 4. This song climaxes with something that finally got people wondering about THOSE Jay Z rumours when she threateningly warbles "Try this sh*t again, you gon' lose your wife". After an exceptionally great you expect Beyonce to carry on with that style and evolve the album. No, she doesn't do this. She goes back to a boring ass song called Sorry where she says she isn't sorry at least a million times, it's just an album filler that is basically there to put in the line about "Becky with the good hair", I have absolutely no love for this song, it takes up the position where Formation should be, but more on that later. Although, this song does a good job of continuing the story of a wronged woman which I enjoyed exploring that part of this song, with the confusion of wanting to leave but then having to stay because she loves him, it's the exact emotions you would expect her to go through.
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6 inch is probably the biggest waste of a feature this year, The Weeknd lends his vocals to this disturbed track about the life of a prostitute in the red light district but he doesn't really add anything that Beyonce couldn't have done herself, it's sort of like he's there to take in some of that Weeknd hype that has been rolling around since the release of Can't Feel My Face. However, the change into this dark subject matter by Queen B is a welcome change because it shows off the lyrical delivery of Mrs Carter and it is a beat that hits hard and is darkly entertaining, something that would not be expected on any album by her. We're then thrown into a country track called Daddy Lessons, it's a soft ballad that shows a deep, emotional side and it brings about an aura of softness, with subject matter about families and obviously specifically focusing how she doesn't want her estranged lover to become like her father did when he mistreated her mother. It's an evolution into the grief stage, of reflection on what has happened in her newly demolished world. It's an exceptionally beautiful song but it's once again out of place and it's becoming a regular occurrence on the album, it darts all over the place at times and in a way that is something I love about it, because it's an attention to detail of the state of mind of this wronged woman, her mind shoots all over the place, it races from one thought to another and whether this intentional is yet to be seen but with such an experienced and well critiqued artist I'm sure this is something that she meant when making the album.

The end of the album is little more than mediocre until we reach the exceptional final track, it brings the whole experience together as a whole. All Night coincides perfectly to become a finale that rally's this album up to a climax then lets it down smoothly. It's a beautifully written and produced song, with a line such as "I've seen your scars and kissed your crimes" it's almost poetry that echoes the poet-lauriette pieces that were read in her HBO special. Overall, this an addictive song and definitely one of my favourites on the album, it really brings it to that point where she is trying to move on from this whole debauchery and forgive her husband. A perfect end to a brilliantly written album. EXCEPT this isn't the goddamn end, Formation is tagged on to the end of this album for whatever ridiculous reason and it just ruins the ending of the album, even the HBO special finished on All Night and then after the credits had rolled tagged on the video for Formation. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this song and when it was released I could not stop listening to it but I really grew to love the story of this album to then be satisfied with what I thought was the closer and then for this to be on the end, it should have been put after Don't Hurt Yourself, there it would have fitted perfectly. Not lyrically but sonically.

Overall, the album is absolutely fantastic, the story and the evolution of the mindset of this cheated woman is a simplistic, yet terribly emotional story that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Once, you throw some Diplo produced songs in there and a Jack White feature that really amplifies the opening of the album. This is arguably my favourite Bey project yet, with a cool mix of slow songs and hype bangers it comes together in an album full of switches and turns but in a way that is artistically acceptable considering the subject matter. Well done Beyonce, and for Jay Z's sake I really hope that he isn't who this album is about. Sensational album.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect

The Last Shadow Puppets - Everythin You've Come To Expect Album Art, tina turner, alex turner, miles kane, arctic monkeys, review, album, 2016, vinyl, records, collection

The Last Shadow Puppets are back after 8 years, the duo made up of the Arctic Monkeys superstar Alex Turner and ex The Rascals frontman Miles Kane. The first album was somewhat average in my opinion but I was still excited for this album because I know the meta music that these two can make separately. As Arctic Monkeys are one of my favourite bands, and I consider Alex Turner as one of the best songwriters out there at the moment, with amazing songs dating back to the days of Whatever People Say I Am in 2006, not to mention Miles Kane's solo albums are extremely good albums full of toe tappers and stadium fillers, when I saw him live 2 years ago he put on an incredible performance which marked one of the best shows I've been to simply for the vibe and performance from Mr Kane himself. 

Now the record opens up with the incredible 'Aviation', this song blends the mix of their completely different voice performances perfectly, it's slow but ups the temp for the chorus perfectly. There's also a clear mix of Kane's guitar skills with some Monkeys-esque drumming in there aswell. This song has pretty much been on constant repeat since I first heard it back just before the albums release. Now the second song on the album, Miracle Aligner, is by far and away the highlight of the album. It contains some really soulful singing from Alex Turner, a theme of this album, with a toned down Miles Kane which is also a theme on this album. Now, this song right here will never leave your head once it gets stuck in there, it's been stuck in mine for days now and the same applies to Bad Habits which really sets this album up there the more and more you listen to it.

The first single off the album, Bad Habits, never really stuck with me mainly due tot he fact that the guitars seem kind of lazy and although it's more up tempo than the rest of the album it never really gets anywhere and after a while it just becomes annoying and really skippable on the album. Not to mention, the fact that the rest of the album is really mellow and chilled out and the hard hitting guitars and high hats on this album make it just intrude on the feeling and the vibe of the album. The title track of the album is really something that also stands out, I believe this was released as a single merely days before the release of the album on April 1st. This song just really hits that slow vibe that is commonplace and it hits it well, mainly due to the soft and soothing vocals of Alex Turner and basically the complete lack of any overbearing instrumentation, with incredibly shy guitars and slow drum beats. 

And this is something that becomes apparent throughout the album, Alex Turner had a lot more creative control over this than Miles Kane did, because this album could easily fit in with Humbug era Arctic Monkeys and a few songs hark back to AM in 2013 but it bears no representation of any of Miles Kane's solo music and on some of the songs you would do well to pick out the parts where he comes in and out because ultimately Alex Turner is the driving force behind this and Miles Kane merely plays a passing part every now and then. Also, the album really follows through with the softness of both artists here, and although that isn't particularly a bad side, it's not a very exciting one and at the end of the day, even though I didn't like the song, I would of liked more songs like Bad Habits towards the end of the album just to perk it up to get it over the finish line, because ultimately you can actually forget that this album is on, and the last few tracks just merge into one, and become extremely forgettable.

The album has its ups and it has its downs, song like Miracle Aligner, Everything You've Come To Expect and Dracula Teeth really pose some incredible musical moments on this album but after the first half it really starts to fall off, now don't let the score fool you, I recommend that you listen to it because I can see others loving this album from start to finish but I can guarantee that you will finish the album realising that the first half received a lot more effort than the second half.


Thursday, 28 April 2016

My Vinyl Collection: Part 6

We're steaming through my record collection at this point, I hope that you've had a look at all my other posts to see what other records I have and as always I'd love to hear about your collection through my Twitter (@KMMReviews) or in the comments below.

Coldplay - X&Y

Coldplay X&Y is one of my favourite albums by them, Speed of Sound is the first time I was introduced to the band by my Dad. That song absolutely blew me away, I love the structure of that song and just the way it feels like an arena song. It's simply perfection. And then songs like Fix You, one of the most beautiful songs ever and the song Talk which is just absolutely fantastic. This is arguably my favourite Coldplay album and it comes in a really nice slipcase for the record, it feels so well made.

The inside of the gatefold is some sort of equalizer/music board, it looks pretty cool and then you just look away and forget about it, Another thing that astounds me about this record is the weight of the whole thing, it really feels like you're holding something special.

The records are 180gm which means that the pressing is simply perfection, they are housed in these record sleeves which contain arguably the most awkward pictures ever, they look like they caught the band off guard. Not to mention I wish one of them wasn't yellow, it doesn't fit with the album and you can see it poking out.

The record also comes with this pretty nifty poster, I have nowhere to put this and even if I did I don't think I would put it up but then again it's a nice thing to include. It shows once again the effort that was put into the record.

As you can see by the sticker on the sleeve it says Limited Edition which I'm quite sure it isn't as it's only £20 on Amazon, It also states the weight of the vinyl which was a big swinger when I bought the record.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Another Coldplay record is on here, you're probably sick of looking at them by now but I'm not tired of listening to them, so that;s the way it goes. Viva La Vida is arguably the best artwork of any record I own, It annoys me that the sticker isn't on the back, it's the way I like my vinyl. This cost me about £18 when I bought it a while ago, it was roughly about when vinyl started to get big again so price inflated through the roof.

The inside of the gatefold is a stark contrast to the cover, it's quite plain and simple with just a picture of the band individually, a common theme throughout Coldplay records evidently. Although I have to say I love the simplicity of this inner gatefold, and that the colour scheme continues, it's a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Not to mention that the record comes with this artbook, it's nothing particularly special, some of the pieces in here are quite nice and intriguing but apart from that it seems like a complete waste of time, I love it when they include books that detail things about the album and what it took to make it, some stories about the songs and the band, that would be more worthwhile.

The record is once again 180gm I believe, and I have to say this one of my favourite pressings, I think it really amplifies the music on vinyl, the songs on this album were just created for this format especially some of the more mellow numbers like Violet Hill.

Danny Brown - XXX

Danny Brown is the most obscure rapper I listen to, his music is dark and intriguing not to mention incredibly self reflective. Now his mixtape/album here was released when he was 30 (hence the name). It just makes you wonder the hardship he went through in those early years to get to this point, Not to mention the drugged out, trippy songs on this album really set the Detroit rapper apart from his competitors.


The pressing of the record is really nice, I haven't gave it too many spins because I've simply just never got round to it, and Danny Brown is one of those artists that you really have to be in the mood to listen to. But I recommend listening to this project, it really is a great project.

Danny Brown - Old

And obviously I own Old on vinyl aswell, for me this is my favourite Danny Brown project. I know that many people opt for XXX when askeed but for me it's this. Danny Brown really gets to be his own artist on this one, you can see that he is making the music that he really wants to make and he's really introspective at points about his addiction and his problems but then he's just having fun on others such as Dip and Kush Coma. For any rap fan this is a must listen to.

Danny Brown smoking on the inside of the gatefold is pretty obligatory of him. Also, the pressing of this album is one of my favourite hip hop pressings that I own, possibly due to the fact that it may be my most played Hip Hop record so I've fooled myself into thinking it's the best, but still in my opinion this is a great album and you definitely need to go and check out Danny Brown's music if you haven't already.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Fallout 4

THE most anticipated game of 2015 was finally released in early november, this game has been highly sought after since Fallout: New Vegas which I know received a mixed bag of reviews from the public and critiques alike but I really enjoyed that game, yes the story was weak but the setting more than made up for it and it's an awful shame that the amazing set of the Vegas strip was wasted on a story of basic revenge. Bethesda are renowned for their RPG expertise and after some incredible marketing for this game I ripped it open on christmas day and immediately loaded it up, I played it once then left it for 3 months. I still don't know why, I didn't dislike it, I guess I was just overwhelmed by the size of the game and I had a LOT of other games to play through before I delved into something so deep, so I put it to one side and this was a mistake because with every game I finished I was constantly thinking of this one, like the one that got away. But a two weeks ago I loaded this wasteland extravaganza back up and propelled myself into the commonwealth.

Firstly, this is probably the greatest opening sequence to a game ever, I won't say what happened because I don't want to ruin it for anyone but I was stunned and after I took control of my character, whom I have characterized to look exactly like me, I was completely and utterly emotionally invested. I was then thrown into a forced friendship with Codsworth, my trusty companion whom can either come with me or look after my first base. I chose to do the latter because I've seen that he's a pretty useless companion. After completing my first few missions for the decimated Minutemen, I was extremely excited to get into building my settlements. This was probably the thing that I was looking forward to most in Fallout 4 when it was announced at the Bethesda conference and to actually finally be able to do it was bliss. It did not let down, I was scrapping everything I could find and building myself a ridiculously large house just for me before I knew it at Sanctuary Hills, admittedly I lost sight of what Fallout was actually about altogether for about 3 hours and I completely and utterly forgot about my kidnapped son whom I was meant to be looking for.

Now building the settlements is what makes this game put itself aside from the other A to B RPG's out there, because it adds this different side to the game in the way that I felt that I was actually making a difference in the destroyed Boston even though deep down I know that no matter how many defences I build or people I save from the wasteland with my extremely magnificent settlement (Trust me, my settlement is better than yours) the number of things wanting to kill me in the wasteland will probably never reduce in size. Moving on, another thing I noticed about this game is the fact that none of the characters so far have annoyed me to the extent of taking on the whole town in a firefight just to kill that one character (I did this in 3 towns in Skyrim, I f*cked up... alot). If you take characters like Preston Garvey or Piper then you find that these have some real depth once you start to talk to them and it really starts to add to the depth of the game and ultimately my enjoyment of it.

Now you can't fault Fallout for its depth, because there is a ridiculous amount of missions to be picked up over an expansive map which contains more settlements for you to build on and even more cities for you to become the hero of or for you to completely destroy and obliterate. But, this game creates that really eery atmosphere that can lead you into thinking there's an enemy around every corner, even when in a completely open room. Many a time have I jumped out of my skin when a Ghoul has thrown itself at me in the dark depths of a train station (surprisingly commonplace in this game). Now what annoys me about this game is not only the outdated game engine, which I know has been talked about a lot but this coincides with them. It's the loading screens, never have I ever sat somewhere for so long simply waiting for a screen to load, now I'm not exaggerating I timed one loading screen once and it was 1 minute 56 seconds. That's ridiculous! It's 2016 and Bethesda should really be doing better than that, it's simply awful and boring. Many a time it's not as bad because I look down twitter whilst it's loading but when I'm doing side missions and I'm constantly """Fast""" travelling between locations then it's extremely tedious.

All in all, this game is incredibly addictive, I find myself thinking about this game way too often and most of the time I just want to get back to my settlements and build even more because it's like Lego for adults. Not to mention I feel this constant need to build my character by levelling up and unlocking perks that make my character so powerful a Deathclaw will quiver when it hears me instead of the other way around. This game gives you more than the price tag that it demands and it builds in momentum as you play through and gets more and more addictive, this was THE game of 2015 for a reason, so go and play it already.


Saturday, 23 April 2016

My Vinyl Collection: Part 5

We are finally onto Part 5, in this part we will carry on with the B's. If you havent seen any of the other 4 parts then definitely go and check these out through the other links!

Brother Ali - Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

I have to admit that I've never really delved into Brother Ali's music with the exception of this album, I don't know why I never have because this album is brilliant in my opinion. Also, the cover has potential to be iconic, if only he was a more famous rapper.

This album is on beautiful splattered vinyl of red and blue. I think the vinyl looks absolutely amazing and it is really a must buy if you are into Brother Ali's music. Not to mention that the pressing is amazing as well.

The record also comes with this really cool poster, which I won't put up anywhere because it doesn't really fit my room, but in the right room this could be a really cool asset. I picked this up before vinyl started to get popular again and it really was cheap, with postage and packaging off Amazon it came to only just over £10.

Chiddy Bang - The Preview

We finally get to the first ever record that I bought, this cost me only £6 when I bought it off Amazon way, way back. This was the first ever record in my collection and I actually owned this a few weeks before I got my actual record player. So it was just sat there waiting until christmas, but this was an absolute steal at the time, before the inevitable price inflation when vinyl became cool again.

It is hardly an album, with only 8 or so songs I think but when this came out I did not stop playing it, and this really takes me back to those years that ensued especially the absolutely timeless 'Opposite of Adults' which uses an extended sample of MGMT's 'Kids'. GO listen to that song if you have never heard it.

Childish Gambino - Because The Internet

This album is literally the definition of perfection, and has a pretty cool story behind it.  When I last went to Holland in 2014, there's the most amazing record store in the city of Venlo. I messaged them about a week before I went and they said they had one in stock and would keep it aside for me, all in perfect English. This is why that is my favourite place on the planet. If you're ever in the area check that place out.

This is the book inside the slipcase of a cover, it contains the screenplay behind the album, which you can see below, the screenplay is really cool because you read up to a certain point and it tells you to listen to a certain song which all fits together into this film that isn't a film but I wish was a film. (Especially the bit with Ylvis, make it happen Gambino).

The records don't actually say on the inside stamp whether it is the A or B side, which is really annoying because you have to get it into the light to see which side it even is. But the pressing is really good and really justifies the 44 euros that I paid for it.

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood To The Head

It seems Coldplay are like Marmite to music fans, especially their early stuff. I don't like Marmite, but i certainly like Coldplay, I'm going to see them in the summer which I am absolutely hyped for. But this album contains, in my opinion, one of the most iconic album covers of all time. I'm not quite sure what it is but it looks really cool expanded onto the record cover.

The inside of the gatefold is pretty simple with just a photograph of the band working on the album in the studio. It doesn't look like anything particularly special.

The pressing of the album is really nice, it's not extraordinary but it is by no means bad. Now the songs on this album are pretty much all a 10, with tunes like 'In My Place', 'Politik' and 'The Scientist'. The album sleeve actually feels really nice and smooth, you can tell this record was well made with the aesthetics and the music as well.