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It’s totally fine if you don’t know that John Congleton helped produced her last three albums (that’s including Love This Giant) or for that matter who John Congleton is. He is more known for his engineering but I promise you that he is doing a fan-fucking-tastic job with St. Vincent and it would appear that she agrees (to my ears it sounds like he is continuing to work with her on the new album as well).
Check out Congleton’s list of album credits on allmusic or just type his name into npr to read a profile on him. His work is pretty subtle but his production, mixing, and engineering share similar qualities that I like in the work of Steve Ablini and Dave Sitek. I could try to explain that a bit further but I (would probably sound dumb and) trust that your ears work enough to not worry about comparisons and just listen to some damn good music. I recommend all of the aforementioned St. Vincent albums (of course) the new Black Joe Lewis album, the new Thao & the Get Down Stay Down album, the new Anna Calvi album, and Lisbon by the Walkmen.
Agreed. Music blogs and publications love Drake because he makes Donald Glover sound like Chuck D…I’m just joking, I’m not joking, I’m just joking…jokes and jokes and spaghetti! I realize that they don’t like the way he presents himself (he didn’t do himself any favors with the way he reacted to “the score”) but I’ll take Gambino’s depressing existential crisis over Drake’s depressing narcissistic crisis everyday of the week excluding Blue Monday.
My guesses are: 1. Something to do with him not starting his music career from a place of relative anonymity (he has a bunch of connections, just check out Royalty’s featured artists). 2. The first releases he put out were very indebted to Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, and Drake (if you have listened to everything he has put out up until Royalty he was brandishing his influences too much). 3. The seriousness with which he has decided to pursue his musical career at the expense of other avenues in which he could easily excel (primarily Community comes to mind, but dude is pretty great at stand-up and comedic writing in general). 4. I’m pretty sure that he is the only rapper on Glassnote Records (if you aren’t familiar with that label I think that they are technically independent but the roster includes Phoenix and Mumford & Sons so they are most likely very stable, rising, and polarizing).
But yeah, I would say that although he seems to be popular enough to where being shunned by some of the bigger music blogs isn’t going to hurt his career, I’m still pretty disappointed as well. From a rapping and singing standpoint, I honestly enjoyed because the internet more than Nothing Was the Same or Yeezus. His production team is getting a better but I wish that he would stray form those Bonfire-esque stadium drum beats (those are pretty corny, especially live and I’m mad that Kendrick followed suit from the way his band approaches some of GKMC).
To comment on the inclusion of Chance but not giving him a verse, no harm in that, it’s his album. I (and probably a bunch of other people outside the loop) didn’t know who Chance was until he stole They Don’t Like Me from Gambino in Royalty. I’m not going to talk like Chance owes anything to Glover because dude is talented enough to where he was eventually going to attain the status that he currently has, but Glover did a huge favor by taking Chance across the country and exposing him to people that don’t frequent music blogs and such. I hope that he keeps his trend of being the only artist that raps on his studio releases.
Rant over; you’re still the best, Tom!
Adding my two cents in the hopes that it will help propel this article to be one of the most commented/viewed and at least one person who hasn’t before will take a chance and be exposed to the simultaneously beautiful and ugly (meant as a compliment) but always thought provoking music of Lou Reed. The Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat were essential to the development of my appreciation for music outside of my normal listening habits as I had the backtrack to get to his catalog upon learning his immeasurable influence on many of my favorite musicians/bands. Those two albums are just scratching the surface of his genius but they were enough to expand my mind. I’ll never forget being a dumb ass “musician” attempting to replicate his “Ostrich Tuning” without realizing the tension and limits of certain strings on the guitar. However, I learned my lesson, continued on that path, and I owe my thanks to Lou the Legend.
O’ Reilly, you’re such a good troll. I can’t wait to read your review of your least favorite album from your most favorite band. It ‘s old kinderhook to be mad.
Hey man, woman, or demon, I hope that you (and only you) get a kick out of my above letter. Until we speak again, va te faire foutre!
Finally, someone around here understand me! Two questions: 1. Where have you been my whole life (Seriously, when my mother got cancer and I decided to move back in to help out and see her depart and we decided to spend two of her precious hours watching SNL/Here Comes the Night Time…where were you, God (I haven’t told you this yet, obviously because we haven’t spoke in a while, but you killed it on Yeezus)?)? 2. Why are you so hard on yourself (You only posted less than thirty times about your unconditional love for Arcade Fire, however, I’ve always felt that as long as you aren’t hurting anybody but yourself, you should do more of the things that cause you the most joy.)?
I don’t speak for everyone, but if I did, I would say, “We accept you for who you are.” A great man once said, “Half a truth is often a great lie.” He was probably lying but I’m not lying when I say that you bring a much needed viewpoint to this website, you should posts here more often, and my mother has cancer. I’ll be real gone until next year but please, stay for a while.
Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy, and Alcohol,
Dammit, I’m not as clever as I think I am, and I got ethered in one sentence! Back to the drawing board…
It’s a shame that Arcade Fire weren’t able to save this special and their music spot for Halloween weekend, but for marketing purposes it makes since to kick start interest in the album at the beginning of October and with SNL’s premier. Regardless, last night was legendary!
Quick (Cool) Story (Bro): Of the many bands that I adore, Arcade Fire definitely have the funniest reputation with my parents. Their only exposure to the group’s music and aesthetics have been from the Grammys (it will be hard to ever forget the strobed-out bike camera mayhem of “Month of May”, the surprise winning of album of the year, and the subsequent victory lap with “Ready to Start”), last night’s SNL performances, and the following special above. So, I have first hand experience of seeing/hearing the “Who the F*** is Arcade Fire” reaction and the band winning that audience over (my parents were my age during the disco era so they loved the music and costumes during “Reflektor” and “Afterlife.”) However, Arcade Fire unknowingly set the bridge, they just created with my parents, ablaze with the extended programming, and my parents reverted back to their original state of “Who, Why, and Will the F*** is Arcade Fire?!?” It’s too bad that they didn’t either indulge in cocaine during the pinnacle of disco (I could be making an ass of me because u might already know and I might be in denial) or marijuana with Tim and Eric three years ago…like my friends in college. Otherwise, they totally would have understood last night. *sigh* Parents just don’t understand.
Honestly and sincerely, thank you both (and Tom Breihan) for making my day with your posts.
Touché, RJ, and one hundred points to Gryffindor! I didn’t really go into any of my opinions about Jay-Z (everyone here (including all of you above this comment) already did a good enough job summing up his shrewd practices and someone already made a reference to his lyric, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”), because my argument was primarily about how (I’mma let you finish but) JT had the “best” (most) promotional/appearance material of all time (that has really stood out to me in recent times).
Like y’all said, nothing wrong with that if you are working your ass off, have the talent, and you have the money. However, I was also speaking on the level of details and planning that went into making sure that JT would be seen/heard for the better part of the year 2013 and 2014 (he still has a Cohen brother film, Inside Llewyn Davis coming out in the near future (starting its promotional campaign with “oscar buzz” from Sundance already), the second part of the 20/20 Experience later this year, and there is no way he won’t be nominated for Grammys next year unless his records somehow cancel each other out (I guess Kanye did this in a way with the releases of MBDTF and Watch the Throne in the same year if it is to be believed that his shut-out from Album of the Year category wasn’t the panel ostracizing him for the Taylor Swift incident). It is genius (or maybe more accurate words are very proficient and efficient), and yet, I can’t help but find fault (probably because I’m a hater and jealous).
And for the record, yes, my parents dropped me enough in childhood, and I consumed enough alcohol (cop-out: I was drunk before and during the above spiel) and acid in adulthood to identify as brain-dead on my tax returns.
I’m going to sound very mean (I don’t know any other way to ask it), but were you in a coma during the promotional blitz for The 20/20 Experience? Much more noble than signing a deal for Samsung to buy 1 million copies of your album and the “Rick Reveal” but still annoying and expensive as f***.
Sure, Jay-Z has bombarded us for about a month but Justin Timberlake (maybe more so their respective management and labels) basically had the months of February and March (as he will get, the months of August and September (more on that later)). Countless websites and magazines had 20/20 Experience ads, JT did a bunch of s*** with Tom Ford (who is also slated to have a Jay-Z song named after him on MCHG), JT was able to perform in conjunction with the Super Bowl, host and perform on SNL, perform at the Grammys and Brit Awards, and he had a week residency on Jimmy Fallon. Then after his record was finally released and the media lost their s***, Questlove leaks news that there is a part two coming out in September. Of course on top of all of this, Jay-Z and JT are in cahoots to play an epic summer tour together. All in all, Jay-Z and JT have sort of kind of been making power moves for about a year now and I’m sure that we’ll be hearing/seeing more of them in the coming months. I want to like JT because he is talented, appears to be a genuinely nice guy, and people that I respect enjoy his art but most of the things that he does reminds me of desperate people; cute but not a good look.
I’m not really mad but I’m glad that I got that minor rant out of my system, and if you actually happened to be in a coma earlier this year, I apologize. You and a bunch of other people may have been too busy with school, work, and/or more important matters of life to notice the constant barrage…which is the reason for the constant barrage?!?! F***!!!
If I read “maximalism”, “minimalism”, “deconstructionism”, or any other “ism” associated with Kanye’s music and lyrics I might be “going Bobby Boucher,” myself. I want to give the man the benefit of the doubt in his “art” because yeah, he has had some remarkable moments and is arguably a genius. But please don’t defend his music by telling people to “stop bitching about the lyrics and loosen up a bit.” I don’t like to speak on behalf of others, especially people that I personally don’t know, but I suspect that Kanye would take offense to some of your questions and statements on the importance of lyrics (especially in hip hop) in the music.
You and a few others may have already forgotten or aren’t aware, but three months ago, Kanye spoke to Hot 97 to argue about his placement on MTV’s Hottest MC’s List. In the beginning, he spoke calmly and even put others ahead of himself but he voiced his criticism and talked about why he deserved a higher spot. By the end though in classic Kanye style, he got pretty heated and hung up the phone in anger. My number one takeaway from this interview ( and practically every other one he has ever had) was that he was completely confident in his lyrics and vision. I don’t know if his confidence is marked with delusion, he is in on the joke (acting as an Andy Kaufman type artist), or a little bit of both. It is hard to tell for me, which is another reason why I’m extra critical of his work. I (and, hopefully many others) don’t think that he or any other “legendary” artist deserves a free pass on criticism because of what he or she has done in the past. I don’t think you are completely wrong in your interpretation (it is “art” by the way) and we may never know unless the man directly says so himself. But of course that would potentially compromise the “art”, many rants (like this) and conversation about its value would never happen, and no one would be completely satisfied…So, yeah it could all be an act for a bigger statement (pop) etc. but I’m not completely satisfied with that view because it gives Kanye too much power and even he agrees with me (“No one man should have all that power”)…Oh, is that what this album is about?!?#EUREKA
TLDR: I wasn’t trying to come off as an asshole (Has Kanye ever said this? Yeah, he did…and then he took it back), but I didn’t agree with a few of your statements and I tried to explain why…but by the end I had an epiphany and maybe you were right from the beginning? We’ll probably never know for sure, (sigh), f*** art…I still think that he needs to step up his bars, though.
Dammit…I thought that the third time was supposed to be the charm. F*** it, I’ll do it live (a.k.a. without a jpg…well, there’s the problem)!
I would be more impressed with Yeezus if I had not already heard and fallen in love with The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust six years ago. It’s too bad that album was before it’s time, underrated, and overshadowed by the likes of In Rainbows, Kala, and Graduation amongst other notable releases of 2007 (I highlighted those particular albums because they happened to fall closer to TIRALONT’s release date and/or shared certain similar qualities.)
There are many differences between these two albums and artists but yet I would argue that these albums share similarities in the commentary they are trying to provide and harsh genre-mashed (primarily skittering amongst hip-hop, electronica, and punk (sound and attitude)) backing tracks that accompany the messages. Comparing the lyrical content, Williams is going in and out of character to make observations from different viewpoints, whereas Kanye seems to mostly be in in id mode ( I want to believe that it is an act for his art but I can’t readily distinguish Kanye’s intentions with a lot of his lyrics which I know alot of people love). Although I suspect that some people aren’t or will not be into Saul Williams slam poetry delivery and singing, many would be into his lyrical content and the production/engineering by Trent Reznor. Yeah, the Trent Reznor whose production was rumored to be sampled on Yeezus. Also, speaking of producer coincidences, Rick Rubin produced Saul Williams first album…
I don’t think that Williams was used as a template for the ideas of Kanye (or I hope he wasn’t), and I applaud the cajones that it takes for someone in West’s position to release something like Yeezus. IMO, the first four tracks of Yeezus are pretty damn great. I won’t give them all of the credit but I don’t think it is mere coincidence that my favorite tracks were allegedly touched at some point by Daft Punk. But then as “Hold My Liquor” begins, the production choices and lyrics begin to make me cringe and the listening experience becomes a frustrating experience. I just think that there were too many cooks in the kitchen in terms of where the songs twist and turn and maybe the project would have been more cohesive with less people involved. Although, I will say that to my ears, the engineering and mixing are phenomenal (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Kanye and his team on that front). Of course, I could get messed up on drugs and/or alcohol and would most likely enjoy the second half of Yeezus (maybe that is the way it is meant to be heard with all of that bass, damn!) but I feel like the music should take me to that high first without me having to alter my state of mind.
TLDR: For me the “shock” and “genius” of Yeezus was a little bit blunted by the release of an album six years ago with similar ideas and messages, albeit a different approach (hip-hop is mixed a bit more with rock than electronica, although the punk attitude is still present) and IMO more intelligent lyrics/execution. Whether you did or didn’t like Yeezus, as an alternative and/or complementary album I recommend listening to The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust by Saul Williams (with a little help from his friend, Trent Reznor). Also, I’m not a huge fan of Drake but I’ll quote him here, “You should print the lyrics out and have a f***ing read-along.”
…My apologies, I wasn’t expecting my comment to become “Ass-Kicked’s Premature Evaluation.” I’ll work on my concision while I’m listenin’ to Modern Vampires of the City. Also, f*** comma’s!
First impressions of the City: There is no doubt in my mind that the lyrics and vocal performances throughout the album are Ezra’s collective best. He absolutely hits the ball out of the park. Sadly, I don’t feel the same way about all of the music. Before you (those of you that have fallen completely in love with the album) shun my opinion, I think that the first seven songs on the album are more or less a perfect sequence of songs in terms of being diverse and containing signature elements of VW’s “sound.” To my ears, the songs almost seem to be sequenced in pairs with “Young Lion” operating in a very clever way as a cyclical piece between “Hudson” and “Obvious Bicycle.” However, the flow of the album is derailed for me after “Everlasting Arms.”
“Worship You” is my least favorite song on the album, and it might be my least favorite song in VW’s discography (maybe a tie with “Giving Up the Gun”). My dislike for the song doesn’t necessarily stem from the lyrics and I appreciate the risk and performances throughout it but to my ears, the song is a structural mess. In defense of the song, its inclusion seems to be pretty important to the record with the lyrical parallels between “Unbelievers” and its pairing with “Ya Hey” (nothing new to add to its criticism; I like it and could do without the high pitched vocals but could see human sounding chants being tossed out during the making of for not working). I do kind of wish that Steve Buscemi directed a video of his reaction to hearing Ezra’s rapid-fire delivery on “Worship You,” that would be gold.
Arguably, “Finger Back” isn’t a weak song by any means, but (and this isn’t VW’s fault) I hear a bizzarre combination of Avey Tare in the verses (I think that is what the commenter above meant when he or she heard Animal Collective), Dirty Projectors’ “About to Die” (IMO VW wouldn’t sound the way they do without their earlier influence) and GIVERS’ “Up Up Up” (IMO they wouldn’t sound the way they do without VW). So, the song sounds strangely derivative to me which is a problem that I don’t really have with any of the other songs.
The ending of the album is great, though. “Hudson” sounds to me like what I would expect a song from a band called Vampire Weekend to sound like and has to be the darkest song in their discography; it is a pretty good penultimate song with respect to the rest of the record. I didn’t know the track times in advance so when I expected VW to pull a “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven”/”Demon Days” maneuver afterwards with “Young Lion,” I was pleasantly surprised with its brevity.
I was a bit on the fence with some of the musical arrangements bordering on overwrought after my first listen but by my third time through, I believe that VW has struck a good balance between band mode and orchestra mode. I will say that although I appreciate Appalachian Spring Suite as much as the next person, its allusion (?) in “Unbelievers” climax is an example of too much for me.
TLDR: I believe that the album is pretty close to perfect in terms of coherence and vision but I could do without two songs. Although, I’m not completely sold on all of the musical arrangements (the album sounds like Vampire Weekend on Broadway at points), the band does a brilliant job of keeping the songs diverse, thrilling, beautiful, and intelligent by adding new features to their “sound” (I see you female choir) without completely alienating fans of their previous records. Well done, VW!
I haven’t commented on here and forever, but I can’t resist when someone makes a comment like “disposable genres like rap have been hit way harder by downloading, plus those guys don’t really tour…so the only money is in Kesha, etc.” That is ignorant as ****. Have you ever heard of a mixtape? I would argue with the history of the mixtape that there is a (proven) much stronger bond between countless rap artists and their respective audience members but you would probably ignore whatever I said as you think it is a disposable genre…
I used to be able to just chill and at most, dance with Beck’s music on in the background. Now, the asshole wants me to have fun learning his new album on piano and play on his songs via PS3. Damn you ,Beck! You are going to be occupying a bunch of my free time the next few months.
Now, I know the feeling of someone making up his/her mind that an album, book, song, movie, video, etc. is the best of the year without the year being over or having heard/read/seen every other work in that category. #VOTY?
Haha comment of the week!
No, there was never a need to compare the two completely different groups in the first place (unless it is your job or you are a list fetishist). I could maybe see a comparison between groups with similar aesthetics, influences, and career trajectories (Grizzly Bear vs. Fleet Foxes or Animal Collective vs…The Residents? (Maybe Liars from a trajectory standpoint)) but I don’t see the need to do Grizzly Bear vs. Animal Collective (Four LP’s perfecting one direction vs. Nine LP’s going in different directions is absurd).
I love the music of both of these groups, and I’ll just cut to the chase and say that I am not a fan of the progeny of Hipster Runoff who took the joke too far. I don’t mean to be an asshole, but every time you open your mouth about either group, you sound similar to the “music snob teenage boys” that you detest. If I am missing your sarcasm, sorry, it is over my head; if not, I would advise waiting for Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear to release the remaining ten and eight tracks of their albums, respectively, so that in the future, you won’t have to backtrack on any statements you make about them.