The Shins-Heartworms (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 76%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 73%

Average Rating: 80% (B+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Name for You
  2. Painting A Hole
  3. Cherry Hearts
  4. Fantasy Island
  5. Mildenhall
  6. Rubber Ballz
  7. Half a Million
  8. Dead Alive
  9. Heartworms
  10. So Now What
  11. The Fear

Label:

Columbia

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling like a mix of Arcade Fire and Empire of the Sun.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Anything acid art is pretty much a win, so this one really works for me.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Just bought it! So stoked on it.

Final Thoughts:

I hate when a band I’ve loved for a long time releases an album that trumps all their previous work, why? It always makes me sound like an amateur fan and I lose 100 pretentious points. Heartworms is The Shins best album yet, it’s a good mix of awesome instrumentals and really unique vocal performances. The album reinvents the band in a good way, they rolled the dice on this release and won big. It’s like we got a little bit of both worlds between The Shins and Breaking Bells on Heartworms. Controversial claim or otherwise, The Shins have never been this good, Heartworms is a huge accomplishment from this instantly lovable band.

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Sean Anonymous & Dimitry Killstorm-Better Days (2015)

My Rating: 58% (D+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 58% (D+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Better Days
  2. 54 Bison
  3. They Be Like (Featuring Metasota)
  4. Big Bang (Featuring P.O.S & Lizzo)
  5. Invisible Ink
  6. What Is Your Name (Featuring Haphduzn & Del The Funky Homosapien)
  7. Pack Your Bags
  8. Begin, Begun
  9. Ring The Bell (Featuring Haphduzn, Phillip Morris, Aceyalone & Wordsworth)
  10. Like I Do
  11. Chapters
  12. Je T’aime
  13. Timeless

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Diggin’ for some underground hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love the album cover, really unique.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not really.

Final Thoughts:

I’m realizing with age how much confidence makes a difference in a lot of aspects of your life, and that’s the main problem with Better Days, the artists don’t seem completely confident yet. Not to say they’re bad, but they need some time to feel more comfortable behind the mic. No matter the featuring artist (Del, P.O.S., Aceyalone) the whole thing just is a little off. I can see Sean Anonymous gaining traction with a little more authority in his voice behind the mic, but this feels a little rough yet.

SBTRKT-SBTRKT (2011)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 81%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 76%

Average Rating: 79% (B)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Heatwave
  2. Hold On
  3. Wildfire Feat. Little Dragon
  4. Sanctuary
  5. Trials of the Past
  6. Right Thing to Do
  7. Something Goes Right
  8. Pharoahs
  9. Ready Set Loop
  10. Never Never
  11. Go Bang
  12. Living Like I Do (feat. Sampha)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting an electronic album with lots of singing.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s creepy just like the music.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Oh for sure!

Final Thoughts:

This may sound weird, but this is as close to R&B as I’ll get. For the most part I find the singing in R&B a little boring, but with fun electronic music it accompanies the singing well. That’s not to say that SBTRKT is solely R&B, I’d say there’s a lot of down tempo, dance, and even hip hop influences on this self titled album. SBTRKT is the kind of band that Little Dragon fans would feel comfortable with (as they should, they feature them on this album). I was a huge fan of their song New Dorp. New York off their album Wonder Where We Land, so I’m excited to watch this band progress.

Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts-Future Blues (2001)

My Rating: 50% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 50% (D)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. 24 hours Open
  2. Pushing The Sky
  3. Time To Know
  4. Clutch
  5. Musawe
  6. Yo Pumpkin Head
  7. Diggin’
  8. 3.14
  9. What Planet Is This
  10. 7 Minutes
  11. Fingers
  12. Powder
  13. Butterfly
  14. No Reply
  15. Dijurido
  16. Gotta Knock A Little Harder ft. Mai Yamane
  17. No Money
  18. Rain (Demo Version) ft. Mai Yamane

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Cooking.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I would’ve gone with a Cowboy Bebop still frame, but this is pretty good too.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Well yes because I must own everything Bebop.

Final Thoughts:

The Seatbelts are the 6th member of the Bebop, meaning that their music played such an important role in the anime series that they deserve a good chunk of the critical acclaim being poured on Cowboy Bebop. It’s crazy to think that a band that was created for a TV show has released multiple albums and even gone on tour. Future Blues is not their best release, when I think of Bebop none of these songs really come to mind, although it’s great fun at times (Yo Pumpkin Head, Diggin’ and What Planet Is This especially) it’s not their best release. I would gravitate towards their album Blue as having more of the classics, but Future Blues does have a few really good moments on it as well.

St. Vincent-MASSEDUCTION (2017)

My Rating: 92% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 76%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 88%

Average Rating: 84% (B++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Hang On Me
  2. Pills
  3. Masseduction
  4. Sugarboy
  5. Los Ageless
  6. Happy Birthday, Johnny
  7. Savior
  8. New York
  9. Fear The Future
  10. Young Lover
  11. Dancing With A Ghost
  12. Slow Disco
  13. Smoking Section

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting a glittery pop-esque album that has more to it then what’s on the surface.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Anything I say will make me sound like a pervert.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely!

Final Thoughts:

When an artist takes the stage to cover a Nirvana song for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s time to take notice. That’s exactly what St. Vincent did, she covered Lithium (one of my all time favourite Nirvana tracks) and rocked it, which is not easy to do. MASSEDUCTION is very much like that Nirvana cover: a little shocking. Before this album both of her albums had a more “innocent” feel to them, then we’re given MASSEDUCTION where she is very clearly not just another pop icon, taking a darker, edgier, and somewhat apocalyptic turn, and I loved it. It’s just so out of nowhere, but I think that’s what St. Vincent does best, she surprises you and keeps you on your toes.

Said The Whale-As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide (2017)

My Rating: 45% (D-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 45%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Step into the Darkness
  2. More Than Ever
  3. Heaven
  4. I Will Follow You
  5. Realize Real Eyes
  6. Confidence
  7. Miscarriage
  8. Beautiful Morning
  9. Emily Rose
  10. Lilac and Willow

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Just need to add a couple more Said The Whale songs to your playlist.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Probably the best part of this album.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the least.

Final Thoughts:

Said The Whale has always been a good pick-me-up band for me, singing about Vancouver and Canadian lifestyle in general is an easy way to my heart, but they strayed too far from their core sound on As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide and the result is this disastrous album. First off every song sounds the damn same. Secondly it’s desperately trying to get radio-play, it’s typical mall music without the catchiness of mall music. And the biggest offender is the repetitiveness of the whole thing, good lord sit down and write some lyrics out. As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide is the worst Said The Whale album I’ve heard, I usually like these guys but this was just so miscalculated.

San Cisco-Gracetown (2015)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Run
  2. Too Much Time Together
  3. Magic
  4. Snow
  5. Wash It All Away
  6. Bitter Winter
  7. Jealousy
  8. Super Slow
  9. Mistakes
  10. About You
  11. Skool
  12. Just For A Minute

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing some happy music.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I actually love these guys’ covers, they always look super artsy and cool.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to bouncy stupid pop music, San Cisco is my go to. They’re the embodiment of the rule “keep it simple stupid”. Their albums are exactly what I want pop to be: fun, happy, catchy, not too repetitive, not too experimental. They aim for their mark and they hit it on Gracetown. The album is a great example of what pop should be, a genre you can put on in a mall or restaurant without offending anyone. Is Gracetown going to go down in history as an influential album? Absolutely not. But there’s something to be said about making an album that aims for a genre and gets it 100% correct, no need to get fancy with the spices, this is pure pop.

Spoon-Telephono (1996)

My Rating: 50% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: 75%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 63%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Don’t Buy The Realistic
  2. Not Turning Off
  3. All The Negatives Have Been Destroyed
  4. Cvantez
  5. Nefarious
  6. Claws Tracking
  7. Dismember
  8. Idiot Driver
  9. Towner
  10. Wanted To Be Your
  11. Theme To Wendel Stivers
  12. Primary
  13. The Government Darling
  14. Plastic Mylar

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for unedited garage rock.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s pretty meh, doesn’t do a lot for me.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the least.

Final Thoughts:

Spoon has always been an intriguing band to me since I heard their song I Turn My Camera On, I never really checked out their discography, but have decided that I would dig in through this site. Telephono is their first release, and it is a growing pains album, it’s almost unlistenable at moments, and doesn’t reflect their later style that made them catch my attention. The album sounds like a watered down Sex Pistols mixed with a watered down Sonic Youth, if that sounds like something you want to hear than maybe check Telephono out, but if you, like me, like their later radio hits then start at a later album.

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister-Planetarium (2017)

My Rating: 50% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: 60%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 72%

Average Rating: 61%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Neptune
  2. Jupiter
  3. Halley’s Comet
  4. Venus
  5. Uranus
  6. Mars
  7. Black Energy
  8. Sun
  9. Tides
  10. Moon
  11. Pluto
  12. Kuiper Belt
  13. Black Hole
  14. Saturn
  15. In The Beginning
  16. Earth
  17. Mercury

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking to brush up on the solar system, I guess.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Reminds me of something from the 80’s, it’s neat.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the least.

Final Thoughts:

Sufjan Stevens Planetarium is a swing and a miss. He continues to try to flirt with electronic music, and it is not so great this time. The concept album is all too familiar without being very memorable, seriously there have been too many albums that explore space like this. The few songs that do stick out are good, but they’re not even close to comparable to B-Sides from Sufjan’s better albums. This album seems like it was a lot of fun to make, but it’s really not that fun to listen to. It’s just a big yawn, when it should be a lot of fun. Overused concept. Mediocre songs. Skip this Sufjan.

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