So, this is going to be (yet another) segment for RichReviewz. Out of running late with time with work, gigs and other business it seems this is the best way to keep up with reviews I plan to do. In an ideal world, I would do full length reviews of each of these reviews, but now it would set me back even further as more and more are released now. So, I’d rather do something small than miss out at all, so here goes the first “Catch-Up Reviews”!
Chance The Rapper – “Acid Rap”
Chance The Rapper is Chancelor Bennett from Chicago, who released “Acid Rap” (his second mixtape) in April. The thing that instantly hits you about Chance The Rapper – if the cover doesn’t make it obvious – is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He made an appearance on Childish Gambino’s last mixtape, and the two share a similiar unorthodox approach to hip-hop: while there’s a fair poppy feel to it, it’s far from ‘safe’ commercial hip-hop.
With an “AH!” adlib peppered througout, an actual good use of autotune (in opener Good Ass Intro) and witty social raps, “Acid Rap” is an absolute grower. It might feel a bit a chaotic at first but Chance is just free of borders. Pusha Man is split into two sections, the first a feel-good kind of ‘swag’ rap, but cuts into silence, and what follows is a morose opposite with lines like “Down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a fucking parking spot / No love for the opposition, specifically a cop position”.
Everybody’s Something has a great message too (“Everybody’s somebody’s everything”) with a smooth, bass-heavy beat that is ridiculously addictive. “Acid Rap” also has its good share of guests too: Action Bronson on NaNa, Ab-Soul on Smoke Again, Childish Gambino on Favourite Song and more. If you’re looking for more experimental hip-hop that’s free of being stuck in the same sound, then “Acid Rap” is a must.
Daft Punk – “Random Access Memories”
Considering how late I am with this review, is there any point in even a brief background check? So, the electronic/french-house duo came back in 2013 after several years of silence (if you ignore the Tron OST) and came back in a very different direction than anyone remembered them to be. While past releases were mostly electronic-based, this is more of a ‘band’ release: a whole lot more guitar, guest vocals and more fleshy instrumentation.
While the hit single Get Lucky still remains undeniably catchy with Pharrell’s seductive appearance and Doin’ It Right is so, so, so addictive with its synth progression and slightly off-tempo vocals; this album got old very fast, personally. Most tracks fall over the 5-minute mark and are dense on repetition – not to mention the very static disco/funk style of the 13-song album.
The album gets sickly at times, especially considering the monotony with tracks like Lose Yourself to Dance and Give Life Back to Music. In conclusion, it does feel like the album title explains it best: think of a musical time machine set back to the late 70’s/early 80’s, and the disco/funk/electronic music of that period getting curdled into one cake you just can’t finish without feeling bloated. It’s a very dense listen.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – “One Of Us Is The Killer”
The Dillinger Escape Plan are a technical metal quintet from New Jersey. Well known for their extreme, jazz-influenced metal and their fiery (literally) performances, TDEP are a band who have experienced a great deal of success with each release since their debut “Calculating Infinity”. Now, “One Of Us Is The Killer” is their fifth album.
TDEP are still strong, that much is clear on this record. To save a lot of time: this album feels like a mix between “Miss Machine” and “Option Paralysis”, mixing the jarring heavy moments well with catchy choruses – which they successfully did on “Option Paralysis” too, but this doesn’t feel like a smooth follow-up or rip-off. The personal highlights are probably the first two tracks, Prancer and When I Lost My Bet, the former full of driving riffs that would catapult whole crowds into frenzies and the latter having that nice jazzy feel that was the pillar of the brilliance behind “Calculating Infinity”.
While this is far from an average album – it’s thoroughly enjoyable throughout – it feels like Dillinger’s keyhole of possibilities is getting much, much smaller unless they change their direction drastically in the future. The band’s varying styles are becoming much more clear now, and isn’t as varying as you might have thought before. However, “One Of Us Is The Killer” is a really solid release from New Jersey’s chaos-starters.
Kylesa – “Ultraviolet”
Kylesa have been leaving fans dry in the mouth for more material since 2010’s “Spiral Shadow”, which saw the band experiment with a more accessible sound with tracks like Don’t Look Back and To Forget, while still maintaining the overall proggy-sludge they’re known for. This time though, it seems like Kylesa has drawn further back to a sludge/stoner rock feel. If this album were a type of weather, it would be overcast, close to thunder.
While that sounds like a negative description, it’s not meant to be, it’s just that the album has a very consistent brooding/morose feel to it. Unspoken has a dire, mournful sound its trudging drums and echoed guitars bring a reminiscent feel that’s culminated in Laura Pleasants’s verse “My own heart has failed me / You looked the other way / A heated reaction / With thoughts of yesterday”. We’re Taking This however takes a more angsty approach (familiar with their past releases) as Laura brings back her roaring vocals while Phil repeats “Pushed down and beaten / The underdog bites bag”, and the guitars are just heavy.
Having to write a new album with one drummer less than before (they had two) has obviously limited the band in reaching their usual majestic stance; and if there is one complaint about this album it’s really quiet, even on full volume on my record player and laptop. But as for the material itself, it features the classic Kylesa sound that any fan loves, if a little darker and a little less psychedelic.
Favourite tracks: Grounded, We’re Taking This, Low Tide.