(EDITOR’S NOTE: We only got quickies for you this week, due to dat bird with the fixins… you know the one. Regular biweekly reviews pick up again on December 4!)
Dark Psychosis – The Edge of Nowhere (Moribund)
Psychedelic black metal from Lansing, Michigan. This is a one man operation, and sounds like it.
Honestly, aside from some creepy-cool ambient effects, there’s not a lot to grab hold of. I am in favor of lo-fi recordings and underproduction in general, but this album treads that murky area in between. He tried really hard to have quality sound production, but has no idea how to put it all together. The result is sterile feeling and awkward, which might work for garage-indie, but black metal needs to feel visceral or it doesn’t work.
Sean. Buddy. Stop going by Xaphan because no one is actually going to call you that and stick to working with Cavalcade. Their input would most likely have helped this record quite a bit.
The best track on the album is the Digital Only cut, “Drink Fight and Fuck”. What makes it good is the raw, live feel to it. No production whatsoever. Sounds like shit and is better for it.
Start with: “Born to Lose”, “Dark Call…”, “Drink Fight and Fuck”
FFO: Satanarchy, Ghoul Cult
Boys of Fall – Distance (InVogue)
Some people never got over the mid-2000s screamo phase. Most of the time, I find that to be sad. Not “emo” sad, just “pathetic” sad. This quintet from Detroit has me rethinking that position slightly.
With melodic sensibilities that go beyond the expectations of loud music and rhythmic chops that keep everything interesting, they captured my attention and held it for 10 songs over 33 minutes. Then I went back and listened to 2018’s Better Moments. And I learned something.
They are growing.
This is their 3rd album and shows tremendous maturity compared to earlier work. Song structures more complex. Production improved. They switch between clean/melodic and and angry growling vocals without so much as a build up. The first few times it happens, it’s a little jarring, but starts to make sense pretty quickly.
Lyrically, Boys of Fall still have a teen-angst poet’s idea of depth. Phrases like “drowning in the dark” and “worth it” pop up repeatedly throughout the album. And clearly someone here has gone through a bad breakup, because the buzz words on “Distance” are toxic, fake pressure/weight, dig deep, fake, haunted, and fake.
You know what? Even though the Boys remind me of what skill can be involved in the Emo field of view, the stagnant, high-school breakup lyrics and general lack of formulaic distinction have given me cause to revert to my previously assumed position:
Emo is Over.
Dead-er than Grunge.
Let’s leave it buried.
FFO: The Used, Hawthorne Heights, Chiodos
Brit Taylor – Real Me (Cut A Shine)
Being heralded as “a new voice in country music” when you’re from Nashville is a little like saying, “I like losing” if you’re from Cleveland. It’s sort of a whisper on a scream at that point.
This is Brit’s debut album.
And it’s okay.
Maybe even the okayest Nashville country record released this…month. She definitely shows promise, though. Her voice is beautiful and her sense of melody and timing is everything you want in this genre. Brit even has a leg up in my book by having Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys in her corner, or at least writing several songs that show up on her record. Unfortunately, every song is either about a troublesome relationship or wishing to be in a troublesome relationship, fully displaying the range of emotions necessary for a female country artist: lonely to sad to insecure and needy.
At least her yodel at the end of “Broken Heart Breaks” is solid.
Start with: “Back in the Fire”, “Married Again”
FFO: Miranda Lambert, LeAnn Rimes, Tori Kelly
Megan Thee Stallion – Good News (1501 Certified Entertainment)
In case you forgot – understandable, as we’ve shoved a few decades worth of shitty shit inside the confines of one year, with a month of potential additional shit left to go – Megan Thee Stallion was shot in July, with fellow artist Tory Lanez’s next court date for his alleged role coming in January of 2021. Megan decided to start her album with “Shots Fired”, which is essentially a spin on the Biggie classic “Who Shot Ya?”. It’s hard af.
Additional hard af tracks include “Do it on the Tip” (feat. City Girls), Freaky Girls (feat. SZA), and of course, “Savage Remix” (feat. noted queen Beyoncé). “Z”, you ask, “you mention all these specific tracks on Good News are ‘hard af’, as you say. But are there any soft tracks in this album that should be discussed?”
How dare you. How… dare you. Dear Reader, I’m just glad it’s you that’s on Megan Thee Stallion’s bad side, and not I.
FFO: Saweetie, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B.
XYLØ – OUTSIDERS CLUB (Pretty Records)
Paige Duddy, better known as XYLØ, has created a delightful short little EP in OUTSIDERS CLUB – 5 tracks, 18 minutes, in-and-out in a flash. Not only did I enjoy it though, but I found myself wishing it was just a bit longer. Maybe not 25 tracks… but 10? 10 would be dope. She opted for the “leave ’em wanting more” route, which I respect.
Each track offers something a bit different:
– “ALONE” opts for a disconcerting, graveyard-esque instrumental for a song about being alone, which is very fitting.
– “LIFE OR DEATH” is more generic upbeat pop on the surface, with a darker, anxiety-laden creme filling within (“I keep a bottle of water by my bed / Just in case I get thirsty in my nightmares”… not a bad idea, actually).
– “CHLORINE” sports a more electronica feel, which matches the theme of escape in various forms quite nicely.
– “LEFTY” goes back to the upbeat pop, and is a beautiful ode to XYLØ’s recently-departed grandfather.
– “APPLE PIE” closes us out with a sexy beat, paired with a sultry track about finding a love needle in a people haystack.
It’s an awesome way to spend 18 minutes – and more time than that, if you want to check out the rest of XYLØ’s discography. yes & no (both the album, and the track within) are a perfect follow-up to OUTSIDERS CLUB – or vice-versa.
FFO: Taylor Swift (specifically from reputation), Transviolet