Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another issue of Stereotoid. This weeks issue is brimming with class acts from Dolores O'Riordan, Daedelus, deadmau5, CKY, St-Germain, and Hadouken.
Enjoy you saucy motherfuckers.
For Lack Of A Better Name
Mau5trap Recordings/Virgin Records
September 22, 2009
This album? A lot.
An electronic mixtape spanning various sub-genres...all from one man.
“After I'm gone, your Earth will be free to live out the span of it's miserable existence, as one of my satellites...and that's how it's gonna be...”
Throughout this album, it has always been this single sample that sticks with me the most, no matter how many times I listen to it. Because despite what anyone could ever say about the comments the man's made or his behavior outside the studio, deadmau5 is unmistakably one of the greatest to hit the electronic scene in years. He hasn't been around for long compared to some of the other big names in the club scene, but the time he has been around has been nothing short of phenomenal, releasing an astounding ten albums in only five years, not to mention the work he's done with other Djs under the pseudonym of BSOD. But out of those ten albums, I think one album has stuck with me more then all of them...
See, For Lack Of A Better Name is a bit different from other dance albums. Where most dance albums stick to their own respective genres, deadmau5 took a different route here, exploring the wide variety of sub-genres dance has to offer. I know the phrase is thrown around a lot in the music world, but this is one of those few albums that you can honestly say can't be truly pinned to one genre of electronic music. It's got it all- standard electronic, rave, dance-pop, the whole nine yards. And while most albums that attempt such a wide variety of sounds usually fall flat or come across as clashing, this one actually succeeds in not only sounding great, but making it come together in a cohesive flow that seamlessly goes from one track to another. That's actually perhaps my favorite thing about this album- you could sit down to it and listen, and it would come across as one huge 60+ minute long track rather then a ten track album.
Of course, like any album there's bound to be some tracks that stand out as opposed to others, and while each track on this album is spectacular in my opinion, I obviously have a few favorites. Of particular note is Ghosts N' Stuff, featuring none other then Rob Swire, vocalist of Pendulum. It's easily the most 'standard' song on the album, but everything about it screams club anthem, from the catchy chorus to the unmistakable beats and thumping basslines. The fact that it's in DJ Hero 2 (as well as deadmau5 himself!) makes it all the sweeter. Another personal favorite is Hi Friend!, which is so funky and danceable it sounds like it would fit in just fine in a Jet Set Radio game.
Of course, at the end of the day, all of these tracks are just incredible. Not just from an electronic standpoint, but from a musical standpoint in general. They're beats that I could listen to for hours and always experience the sudden rush to move and be active that dance music was practically born to instill on people. But perhaps the greatest feat of this album is how it seamlessly blends so many different kinds of dance music into one cohesive whole, expertly mixed from start to finish. And in the end, that's what will keep this album at the forefront of my favorite electronic albums of all time.
Personal favorite tracks: Ghosts N' Stuff
, Hi Friend!
, Soma TL;DR:
A masterwork of dance that's sure to go down as one of the best albums of the electronic genre.
Are You Listening?
Sequel Records/Sanctuary Records
May 7, 2007
Alternative rock, pop-rock
A crossroads between optimistic revelation and solemn depression.
When one of the greatest rock bands of all time goes on hiatus it’s a heartbreaking thing. Such was the case when The Cranberries went on hiatus. It was understandable, it was somewhat inevitable, but still it was saddening. When Dolores O’Riordan announced she was releasing her first solo album a confused emotion was sent through me. On the one hand this is one of my favorite musicians of all time getting free range to do whatever she visualizes without the input of the others. On the other solo albums after band hiatus’ are very iffy things.
The album opens up with Ordinary Day
which sounds very Cranberries-esque. It’s a pleasant way to ease into the album, reminding fans that this is still Dolores O’Riordan, and everything that made The Cranberries is still intact. However the album has considerably more edge and bite to it once When We Were Young
and In The Garden
come around. Driving guitars blasting walls of distortion, bass heavy drums, and O’Riordan’s Irish accented vocals in full affect definitely place this album in a different category from The Cranberries later albums such as Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
It’s that playful dance between edgy rock and soft alternative that makes the composition of Are You Listening?
so damn fascinating. Beautiful acoustic piano, thundering drums, driving bass, and varied guitar are the norm for each track. Songs like In The Garden
, and Human Spirit
are wonderful examples of all the ground this album carries. Some tracks even utilize wind instruments and violin. Between the composition, studio work, harmonies, the sound is kept wonderfully fresh.
The lyrics capture the spirit of the entire album wonderfully, especially with the graceful delivery of Dolores O’Riodan. Tracks such as Ecstacy
, and Black Widow
are prime examples of the aura this album has. That feeling of intense depression coupled with gaiety and wisdom.
Overall, Are You Listening?
by Dolores O’Riordan is a wonderful album that while stand on its own still manages to capture the spirit of the band that Dolores left behind. As talks of The Cranberries finishing the mysterious sixth album they left behind surge during their 2010 reunion tour this is definitely a fantastic album to chew on while we wait.
Personal favorite tracks: October
, and In The Garden TL;DR:
A wonderful solo album from The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan that resonates what made the band great while maintaining a distinct personality.
If Dave Brubeck, Wes Montgomery and French fanciness blended into one.
Jazz as a whole as always tried to evolve and progress throughout many different eras and phases. In the last decades or two, we’ve seen more and more artists rely on electronic archetypes and mixing to bring a whole new perspective on the genre. Nu-Jazz, Acid Jazz are the main sub-genres of this movement, and while most artists come and go. There is one album that really stood the test of time, even if the new way of making Jazz isn’t terribly booking seats. Most people don’t hate it, but there’s a reluctant disapproval of contemporary Jazz by a lot of people. Jazz Hip-Hop is definitely the leading force in reviving the classics of yesteryear, but there’s a strong sense of sophistication and rhythmic excellence when it comes to Tourist.
St-Germain has been inspired by a lot of artists in many different genres of music; Tourist is an incredible display of such inspiration. The album is extremely jazzy of course, but it also borrows from Funk, dub Reggae, lounge, chillout and dance music to diversify its sound. It’s that characteristic that makes the album so special in a lot of ways. It’s willing to go one step further and to graze several styles of rhythms, while still maintaining a level of coherence to the entire album. The piano is heavy and twirling, and extremely groovy, which makes pretty much all of track that do not have guitar as their main rhyming leads very smooth and mesmerizing.
The guitar is funky and sharp – combined with the tight mix of Navarre, it’s really amazing to see all the instruments, and dance-y mood coming together. The album is almost deprived of all lyrics, but the few that are added to the tracks are dredge into soul and passion. There hasn’t been a more iconic dance score in the past decade which has brought that much impact on how music could become so cool. This is the perfect album to chill out on, or even set in the background to bring a truly funky and suave atmosphere.
Everything about this album is extremely groovy and sophisticated, there’s nothing like listening to St-Germain -- dreaming about Paris and how beautiful the city really is. It’s the perfect chill-out and jazzy album you can find. If you have a sharp ear for jazz guitars, and perfect piano work, you’ll be delighted by this laid-back, extremely atmospheric album. If you are a fan of jazz, house, folk, hip-hop or electronic in general you will find something to love in this album. Tourist came from France, but its refinement is imprinted with a mark of excellence – music can be that sophisticated. Personal favorite tracks: Rose Rouge
, Montego Bay Spleen
, Ponts des Arts
, So Flute
An awesome mix between electronic music and jazz, with a added sip of dub Reggae. Tourist is a wonderful album.
May 19, 2009
metal, hard rock
horror metal, alternative metal
things and stuff
Have you ever gotten really into a band, followed them and their exploits, signed up for their newsletter, and sat idly by, twiddling your thumbs until they release new material? And then you finally get it!!
…and it sucks.
This is what happened to CKY. It’s an understood fact that the older a band is, the more their later work is going to be different. The Beatles, Green Day, Clutch, the Beastie Boys; all bands together more than a few years are going to change. Sometimes it’s good, as with Clutch and The Beatles. Sometimes, as is the case with Carver City, it’s not.
It’s tough watching your favorite band change. You fell in love with their old sound, now they have a new one? Damn. Well, sometimes their new sound is even better, taking what worked and combining it with something new and fresh. However, CKY’s new sound is the culmination of about half a decade’s worth of dilapidation. Gone are the long and powerful riffs, and replacing them are fast and furious series of random notes. The guitar has taken a backseat to frontman Derron Miller’s vocals, which are less cryptic and more forced than his previous work. The drums have also gotten less creative, resorting to standard metal fare such as double-bass pedal and basic cymbal work. While their first album offered something completely different with each track, the tracks on Carver City become difficult to differentiate between. The sound is a very generic alterna-metal sound, nothing you couldn’t get elsewhere. It’s a real shame too; I had been looking forward to this album for years, and then I finally get my hands on it and it’s incredibly disappointing. There are a few decent tracks, but it’s nothing compared to Vol. 1. Personal favorite tracks: Hellions on Parade
, Fisherman's Wharf, Pt. 1
and, Karmaworks TL;DR:
It’s a disappointment through and through. Only for CKY die-hards. Everyone else, pick up one of their other three albums and enjoy.
Ninja Tune/Mush Released:
Experimental Hip Hop
I’m a big fan of sampling. Something about taking various sounds, whether they are from other songs or from out in the world, and incorporating them into music to make your own unique sound appeals to me greatly, and if I ever had to go into the music industry as a solo artist, sampling would be right up my alley.
Until the magical day where I can understand music theory enough to throw in my own 2 cents, I guess listening to Daedelus show off his impressive craft in albums such as Exquisite Corpse
will have to do.
If you didn’t catch it from the first paragraph, Exquisite Corpse
is a sample heavy album. Almost everything in this album is ripped from somewhere else, and altered, looped, and just plain chopped and screwed with to fit the general them of hip hop. As a matter of fact, Exquisite Corpse
is a heavily hip hop themed album, with Daedlus going as far as to giving up various guess spots to rappers such as MF Doom. Daedelus really wanted to tap into that experimental/underground hip hop feel, and flawlessly succeeded.
The amount of different samples in Exquisite Corpse
is staggering. Everything from a samurai movie Yojimbo would probably be able to pick out if he heard the snippet, to various 1920-50s vocal pieces, to various drum beats, to all sorts of piano licks. Daedelus uses everything at his disposal to mix and match and effectively fuse together a hip hop sound that ranges from more low brow, old school stuff, to the faster paced experimental stuff of today.
In creating what is effectively a hip hop album made from things more than just hip hope, everything on Exquisite Corpse
sounds like it deserves its own vocal rap track. Some of the tracks feature artists such as MF Doom (interestingly enough, the track he’s featured on is called “Impending Doom”), while other tracks are purely instrumental affairs, but the instrumentals are so well put together, and feature that groove that a lot of rap stars look for when taking their own samples, that I wouldn’t be surprised if some underground artists have used some of the songs off of Exquisite Corpse
to rap too.
What’s best is that the album flows together so nicely. Every song fits in its natural place, there are now shockers that aren’t meant to actually shock you. The album flows so well that at times I couldn’t tell where one song ended and the next started. It gapless playback is a thing you enjoy, this album employ’s it greatly, and really adds to the entire experience, as if you where at a live DJ set.
All in all, Daedelus creates a very hip hop exocentric album with Exquisite Corpse
. The greatest thing I can say about this album is that it’s just like drinking a cup of really good coffee. All the different elements you put in, the sugar, the creamer, the coffee beans, makes a drink that goes down smooth. Fans of hip hop, sampling, or both will fall in love with Exquisite Corpse
. Personal favorite tracks: Impending Doom ft. MF DOOM
and Just Briefly TL;DR:
So many samples, you’ll be playing “Who’s That Sample” for weeks. Go get it.
For The Masses
January 25, 2010
New Rave, Dance Punk, Electronica
Teenage angst wrapped up in dancefloor excess.
You know...I...don't quite get it. Every now and then I get presented to a band or album that, despite my best attempts, I can't hate them. Case in point? This band. The lyrics are typical tired aggressive fluff. The music itself is all style, barely any substance. And yet, I CAN'T. STOP. FUCKING. LISTENING. Why? Why is something that I should for all intents and purposes despise be one of my most played albums recently? What is it about this particular album that makes it so much fun to listen to despite it's faults? Have I found my musical Deadly Premonition? Eh, idklol. Let's get this shit goin'.
So, if there's one thing I can say, it's that the band is certainly unique. They've somehow found a way to take hard-edged dance beats, grime-rap lyrical presentation, distorted guitars, and heavy synth action into a coherent sound that, surprisingly, works well. Granted, it's not anything that leads to any amazing acts of musical finesse, but it certainly gets the job done and sounds good in the process. It's also nice to see that they went for a more aggressive, dance-oriented sound for this album, as their previous efforts were skewed very heavily towards the grime-rap sound that they were inspired from (And that vocalist James Smith was a producer for before forming the band), which just sounded very out of place. Unique, but weird and out of place.
The very first thing that stands out about this album? Holy fucking shit is it catchy. And, though this may not gel well with a few of the other music critics out there, I've always been one of those people that's willing to turn a blind eye to albums with zero substance if they can manage to remain catchy and entertaining in the long run. And, unsurprisingly this album does just that. It's some bizarre combination of the aggressive dance hooks, fast paced vocal delivery, and repetitive lyric structure that firmly plants each tune in your head and absolutely refuses to leave. Songs like Mic Check with it's repeating “I wanna take your mind and soul” breakdown are a perfect display of this- taking something so incredibly simple and using it to the fullest effect, almost like turning nothing into something.
And ya know, maybe that's why I like this album. Maybe it's because, despite how superfluous and meh they seem initially, there's something about the blend of their sound that combines into something undeniably catchy, aggressively energetic, and just ridiculously fun to listen to. It's a testament to the band that they can even sound approachable with the chaotic blend of clashing styles present within them, but they manage to actually sound pretty good in the process, a perfect example of the sum being greater than it's parts. Sure, they might not be the most complicated, layered band in the world, but if you're just looking for something fun to listen to that'll get you out of your seat, then you could certainly do much worse then this.
...Also, they totally did take their name from a fucking Street Fighter move. That's gotta count for somethin'.
Personal favorite tracks: Mic Check
, Turn The Lights Out
, Bombshock (This might be the most adorable video in the world)
, House Is Falling TL;DR:
The band's pretty much all style no substance, but in this case that's hardly a bad thing.
Happy weekend you lovely people. And remember in the morning when he's nowhere to be found...we'll still be there.
LOOK WHO CAME: