May 22, 2020


BRELAND – BRELAND EP (Bad Realm Records)

Oh boy, where do we start.

So what Breland – I apologize, I mean BRELAND – and his team have produced here can definitely be considered “music”.  I will give him that.  But that’s where the compliments end, because the BRELAND EP is doodoo.

The tracks on BRELAND EP are mostly bad hip-hop songs with bad country aspects shoehorned in.  The best tracks are the ones that don’t feature any of those country leanings – for example, “WiFi” is pretty solid.  But there are plenty of tracks in the other category, including “Hot Sauce”, “Horseride”, and the absolute abomination known as “My Truck”.  I’ve heard plenty of samples and beats in my day, but never one that sounded like forest animals in various levels of distress.  It’s easily the worst song I’ve heard this year; I would gladly put it up against several other years too, and feel good about my chances.

I’ll also say that none of this is a knock to BRELAND’s vocals, as he sings pretty well!  But his voice is ridiculously overshadowed by the overproduction inherent in most of the track, and that’s a shame.  I’d definitely give him another chance if he stepped out of the contrived country-rap space and made a more traditional R&B album.

FFO: Lil Nas X, Sam Hunt (who unsurprisingly features on a “My Truck” remix)

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May 15, 2020


The Dears – Lovers Rock (Dangerbird)

Before getting into the music on this album, a couple points of clarification need to be made. Firstly, this is not a band. It is an undefined collective led by Montreal-based icon and presumed Bond villain, Murray Lightburn. Secondly, any act that self-indentifies with Serge Gainsbourg is saying 2 things: 1) “We don’t want to be pigeon-holed into a genre”, and b) “We might be French”. 

Their eighth studio release is a collection of reflective tunes that can best be described as eclectic orchestral pop. From the Bowie-esque “Is This What You Really Want?”, to the early-Weezer sounding “I Know What You’re Thinking About And It’s Awful”, to the Motown love song “Play Dead”, the instrumentation is always full and rich. This is no surprise, since the list of contributors on the album may as well be the Montreal phone book. 

Throughout all of it, Lightburn’s voice shifts between styles effortlessly, doing what is needed to float, cut through, punch up and generally take control of every track. His charisma has a Neil Diamond-at-the-cabaret quality to it that’s undeniable and enchanting. The flow of the record feels more like a well-crafted playlist, easily moving from song to song without seeming repetitive or jarringly different. 

It’s brilliant.

FFO: Serge Gainsbourg, Broken Social Scene, British Sea Power

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