Author Archives: Kate's Album Reviews

SATURATION (2017) Review

SATURATION also referred to as SATURATION I is BROCKHAMPTON’s debut album, released in 2017. The album marks the first of a trilogy, SATURATION II and SATURATION III were dropped that same year. Upon release, it was gaining traction in the underground hip-hop scene and received high acclaim off the bat. Although it may be hard to keep track of all the different voices throughout the album, each member of the boy band shares their musical and lyrical styles and personalities, which make up the album’s versatile talent and creativity. It is clear that the members play well off of each other and share a lot of chemistry.

The first three tracks of the album, “HEAT,” “GOLD,” and “STAR” are by far the project’s highlights. “HEAT” features insane, aggressive lyrics alongside a heavy drum beat with a heavily distorted bassline. The chorus features an explosion of noise, with ear-piercing sounds and shrill melodies. “GOLD” is more dialed back in comparison, a smoother, lighter track with a lot of personality. This song features almost all of the band’s members, giving each of them a moment in the spotlight. This song emphasizes their confidence, where each rapper lends their strongest flow. This track is next level, with its futuristic beat and the best hook on the whole project. “STAR” contains countless pop culture references, ranging from music to films. The song emphasizes the boys’ desire to be famous, to be the stars. This beat also hits extremely hard, with flawless flow from every member and insane production.

The tracks mentioned above are already some of my favorites, but “FAKE” and “WASTE” are two others that drive the project home, in my opinion. “FAKE” is a more laid-back track compared to the rest. The song highlights how the music industry does not always allow artists to say what they like, which leads many of them to create fake personas that they have to keep up with. Their voices are also heavily distorted to reinforce this notion of ‘fakeness.’ The album’s final track, “WASTE,” is a deeply melodic, passionate guitar ballad with the spotlight on bearface. It focuses on the fear of being forgotten, creating amazing memories with another person that they ultimately forget. 

I first heard SATURATION days after its release, as my brother recommended it to me with high praise. It was like nothing I had ever heard before, colorful and bouncy, catchy with insane production. It is consistent in terms of quality, though lacking an overarching narrative or concept. Its versatility, switching between introspective moments like “WASTE” to hard-hitting bangers like “HEAT” was another compelling aspect. Each member plays off the others exceptionally well, and I soon became obsessed with the band. I have seen BROCKHAMPTON three times, their “Love Your Parents” tour, “I’ll Be There” tour, and “Heaven Belongs to You” tour. Over the past few years, I have noticed progressive growth in their sound and chemistry, and they will forever be one of my favorite bands. This is another album that I cannot say enough good things about and gets better with every listen.

This track, “LAMB” is another one of my favorites, however it never made it on to the final cut of the record.

Favorite tracks: “GOLD,” “STAR,” and “WASTE”

Least favorite track (excluding interludes): “CASH”

Overall rating: 5/5

 

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6 Feet Beneath The Moon (2013) Review

Archy Marshall, professionally known as King Krule, released 6 Feet Beneath The Moon in 2013, at only 19 years old. This album combines aspects of jazz, indie, hip-hop, and most prevalently, rock. Each song is a lyrical portrayal of Archy himself, depressed and uncertain as he drifts through his teenage years into adulthood. As solemn as the lyrics are, they are delivered urgently in his easily recognizable, aggressive, gravelly voice. There are countless moments where it is clear that Archy is still growing up, his perspective on life is still fresh and edgy. Which pairs beautifully with the consistent frenzied strumming of his electric guitar. King Krule explains that the title of this album is inspired by his fascination with the moon. To him, it represents comfort and his aspirations, something he is always looking up to.

Highlights include the album’s sixth track, “Baby Blue” where Archy explains that he is fed up with his relationship with ‘Blue.’ Though, he indicates that they are not in a formal relationship. This track highlights a more delicate tone of voice, exploring another aspect of his growing talent. This song could be classified as a ballad of sorts, where he croons over slick guitar chords with a swooning vocal melody. It is romantic in an unexpected way. “Out Getting Ribs” gets its name from a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece from 1982. Written at age 16, Archy employs deep imagery and complex lyrics to outline his unrequited love and bittersweet relationship with ‘Blue.’ The track’s bleak lyrics over simple guitar chords give a sense of comfort and intimacy with an emotional twist. Another highlight is “Easy Easy,” a song about remaining optimistic despite feeling like the world is working against you. The song, again, mainly composed of Archy’s electric guitar and powerful voice, provides a strong start to the album and introduces some of its most crucial themes.

My personal favorites include “A Lizard State,” which picks up tempo in a more jazz-influenced rock beat, with a frenzied horn portion throughout the chorus. Archy gains confidence and pleads with a lover to do what he tells her. He has dealt with a great amount of unrequited love. However, on this track, he lets these feelings go and the lyrics expose that he is falling out of love with this person, and begins to resent them. This song’s more upbeat tempo, with Archy’s manic voice over the chaotic horn section, caught my attention the first time I listened to it. Finally, “Cementality” is about his thoughts of committing suicide, in his own words, “becoming one with the cement.” This track is likely the album’s most depressing, as Archy depicts how awful he feels, guiltless, loveless, and worthless. Archy’s smooth voice over the song’s deep bass and reverberating electric guitar is enough to send shivers down your spine.

Although there is not much to be said about the album’s consistency, leaps between light-hearted tracks like “Border Line,” and hip-hop-influenced ones like “Has This Hit” show the ever-growing facets of King Krule’s talent. The different sounds grasp your attention and hold it through the album’s 52-minute run time. Archy guides the listener through the wisdom he has earned through his tumultuous relationships and fluctuating mental health. Though fairly depressing, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon demonstrates his stellar wordplay, unique sound, and I truly cannot say enough good things about it.

 

Favorite tracks: “A Lizard State”

Least favorite track: “Has This Hit?”

Overall rating: 5/5

 

This is “Little Wild,” which is the bonus track on the Japanese CD of this album.

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Transmedia Integration on My Blog

Transmedia integration or transmedia storytelling is when “elements of a fiction get dispersed across multiple media for the purpose of creating a coordinated entertainment experience.” The example given in the reading is the Pokémon franchise, which is composed of trading cards, a manga series, movies, and more. Each of these different facets must be accessible on its own, and add unique details to the overarching narrative. Each aspect is vital in its own terms, but can also be understood and enjoyed separately.

In terms of my blog, I already try to incorporate links to my Spotify and SoundCloud to enrich the experience, as there is not an overall narrative to what I am writing on here. These channels make the most sense on my blog because music is the most important aspect of it. In the future, I could incorporate more links to my social media to make the experience more personal. This would add a more individualized feel to my blog.

References:

BO Y (2019) Review

Deaton Chris Anthony’s sophomore album, BO Y, is an eccentric, insanely creative masterpiece that caught my attention the very first time I heard it. He experiments with different genres from bedroom pop, “U Got Talent,” to trap, “Tony Hawk (ft. LA),” and even spoken word, “Deaton’s Meditation”. Some beats are simple, while others incorporate elaborate sonic freakouts that briefly interrupt and alter the song altogether, for example, “Coca Cola Cutie”. There are vapor-wave and dance-house influences, and it is clear that DCA is very forward-thinking in his production. Although there are so many different factors at play, DCA manages to achieve a seamless, cohesive project with flawless production.

Highlights include “RACECAR (ft. Clairo, Coco & Clair Clair)” which is DCA’s most-streamed song, as it went viral on TikTok about a year ago. Heavy bass kicks off the song with Clairo almost rapping, a side of her I have not yet seen much of. DCA lets the features really shine on this track, and all of their voices blend together beautifully. The production on this song is slick, and heavy synth-use adds a really fun texture. Another song popularized by TikTok is “1999 She”. This track is super catchy with an up-tempo beat, including lots of synths and keys. The beat switches around 1:00 and gets even faster. Another honorable mention goes to “Hello Honeybee, Goodbye Butterfly” which is undoubtedly the climax of the album. It is an eight-minute-long interlude that kind of shifts between genres. It is full of emotion and best conveys DCA’s talent.

My personal favorites include “Mr. Call You Back (ft. Triathalon)” which is characterized by its bouncy synth chords, funny adlibs, and a catchy bridge/chorus. Also, “Tony Hawk (ft. LA)” is more of a bass-heavy trap beat. Finally, “Late Night Lovin’” (ft. Jean Dawson, Korbin in Orbit & Omar Apollo)” which has an upbeat bedroom pop vibe. DCA often uses his voice as a vocal bridge between songs, resulting in an album that flows well, where each song develops ideas previously presented. This is impressive due to the sheer versatility in sound throughout his entire project.

Though generally unorthodox, BO Y’s bright, colorful production, goofy yet catchy lyrics, and silly songwriting are what make this album so special. Through these cryptic lyrics, DCA emphasizes themes like heartbreak, loss, and superficial happiness. He is vulnerable and expresses his optimism, obvious through his catchphrase “Have a great day.” Humor is also center on this album, DCA’s persona is funny and charming, it really comes through on tracks like “Deaton’s Meditation”. The synth use is reminiscent of 90s dance-house and though it pulls inspiration from a lot of older music, though BO Y is extremely modern sounding. It feels original, well-thought-out, and works through many genres successfully. In my opinion, BO Y is one of the most slept on albums I have encountered, it is full of charisma and creativity and leaves me inspired every time I listen.

 

Favorite tracks: “Late Night Lovin'”

Least favorite track: “(Bonus) Sid The Kid”

Overall rating: 5/5

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dangers of Advertising in Journalism

Tom Bleymaier’s article, On Advertising – Maria Popova, opened my eyes to the dangers of advertising in journalism. In the case of Maria Popova, she has made an immense amount of money by using affiliate links and generating even more by soliciting donations. All while claiming her site is “ad-free.” According to Bleymaier, the Affiliate form of advertising is more disruptive, as it interrupts the reader with a link, and encourages the writer to change their tone in order to encourage the purchase. Ultimately, Bleymaier argues that it is morally wrong to claim to be “ad-free” when benefitting from Affiliate links and donations. He underscores the importance of transparency when using programs such as Amazon’s Affiliate links.

In terms of my site, it may be difficult to incorporate Affiliate links as there is not much for me to advertise. Hopefully, I will be able to come up with something down the road!

References:

My Spotify Infographic

For this week’s mini assignment, I decided to summarize my online self by focusing on what I spend most of my time online doing, listening to music. I chose to highlight my top tracks, genres, and artists to give a better idea of the music I tend to listen to. I used Canva to make the infographic.

Here are some links to help find out your Spotify statistics:

Ye (2018) Review

 

Ye is Kanye West’s eighth studio album, released in June of 2018. The album paints a vivid picture of the state of his relationship with himself, his family, his mental health, and addiction at the time of the album’s release. Mental health is especially prevalent, considering he officially announces his diagnosis of bipolar disorder on the album cover.

Kanye starts off Ye with one of the darkest tracks on the album. “I Thought About Killing You,” unapologetically explores the deepest corners of his mind and admits to the thought of premeditated murder. Throughout the song, Kanye explores the dichotomy of Kanye as a figure and artist, as well as Kanye as a human being. The song could be interpreted to explain that he has considered killing Kanye as an artist, meaning he would quit music, as well as killing human Kanye, committing suicide. He struggles with these thoughts despite loving himself. The “you” he references, likely being himself, introduces the bipolar angle of the album. During the spoken-word portion of the song, he uses a pitch-shift effect to symbolize the bipolar nature of his internal monologue. The track begins with subtle, angelic vocal harmonies which border extraterrestrial. At 3:10, the beat switches, turning into a combination of glossy synths and creating a more aggressive mood and atmosphere. This track functions as a good beginning to the album, introducing many prevalent themes and exploring Kanye’s mind frame around the time of the album’s release.

“Yikes” is another track with dark undertones, highlighting Kanye’s struggles with drug abuse and mental illness. He explains that his frequent use of hallucinogens and prescription opioids have caused him to have suicidal thoughts, a common result of opioid addiction. The narrative shifts from Kanye speaking about himself in the first person to the third person may be indicative of his bipolar disorder, which causes quick shifts in mental and emotional states. At the end of the song, Kanye comes to terms with his struggles, as opposed to seeing his disorder as a disability, he chooses to see it as a superpower. Overall, the song’s simple beat and Kanye’s killer flow depict a man on the edge. The song’s content is again, very dark, but the song itself is catchy. “Wouldn’t Leave” is an ode to Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian. The song depicts a more sincere side of Kanye, as he expresses gratitude for his wife for sticking by him through thick and thin. He references faults of his such as his famous rant on Sway in the Morning or his more recent TMZ interview. He outlines much of the adversity he experienced in the months leading up to the release of this album, including that which he faced behind closed doors. This song is reminiscent of the old Kanye and has a sort of throwback 80s R&B energy. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s slick, harmonized vocals mixed with the track’s glittering keys and subtle percussion make this a highlight on the album.

The most notable song on the album is “Ghost Town” which is an ode to complete numbness, ironic that it is also the album’s emotional and sonic climax. In the chorus, Kid Cudi confesses Kanye’s deepest desire, to be loved and adored by the masses. However, the deeper you analyze the song, the more you come to understand that these desires are directed toward himself. Acceptance is a huge theme on the entire album. Kanye switches between addressing himself in the second and first-person, again drawing on Ye’s bipolar angle. Cudi’s deep voice and mournful vocals emphasize feelings of rejection, whereas 070 Shake sings about being invincible. The juxtaposition between their voices and the content of what they proclaim brilliantly highlights the depression and mania that accompany bipolar disorder. “Ghost Town” has a nostalgic beat with a blaring, distorted guitar, and some of Kanye’s best singing. My favorite part of the track is 070 Shake’s chilling two-minute-long outro. 

Heji Shin, Kanye III, 2018.

Overall, the album is raw and unfiltered both emotionally and sonically, with simple mixes, synths, and obscure samples. However, the production is a bit rough and I wish the album as a whole were longer. It tackles such deep topics that it seems unfair to make the album so brief. Since most of the album was written and produced the week leading up to its release, a lot of these issues could likely have been tweaked if given more time.

 

Favorite tracks: “Ghost Town”

Least favorite track: “All Mine”

Overall rating: 4.5/5

 

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Beware of the Dogs Album Cover Remix

For this Mini Assignment I decided to remix the cover of an album I have been really into recently. Stella Donnelly’s 2019 debut studio album, Beware of the Dogs, has been on repeat for the last few months. Between her captivating voice, strong message, and indie-rock sound, I cannot get enough. My favorite tracks on the album include, “Old Man”, “Tricks”, and “Boys Will Be Boys”.

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