Mandy, Indiana - i've seen a way - May 19, 2023
Blending a post-punk ethos with noir dance rhythms and industrial-esque noise, Mandy, Indiana have turned quite a few heads with the release of their jarring debut album, i've seen a way. Frontwoman Valentine Caulfield's blunt French delivery and sprechgesang approach to the lyrical side help bring them to a comparable level of shock factor as the instrumentation, though only about half the songs have lyrics at all. The band clearly strives to surprise the listener on their first spin, and if they are committed enough, leave them with a new little nuance or texture to discover each time following. The album opens with a dense, beautiful arpeggiated synth instrumental titled "Love Theme (4K VHS)," and only descends further into madness on the subsequent tracks. It's not every day you hear something so unique and unprecedented that you genuinely can't tell if its good or not, but there is a certain energy about the group and their sound that is so hypnotizing I can't keep from listening to it.
Favorite Tracks: "The Driving Rain (18)" ; "2 Stripe" ; "Peach Fuzz"
- Will Lewis
Everyone Asked About You - Let’s Be Enemies - May 12, 2023
In the late ‘90s, a group of high schoolers from Little Rock created a band. This band, “Everyone Asked About You”, would’ve faded into obscurity like many young artists if it wasn’t for their first EP gaining a cult following. Now in 2023, the midwest emo quartet gets a second chance at life. Their first and only album, “Let’s Be Enemies”, was released on all streaming platforms on May 12th by the Numero Group. Originally recorded in 1999, the 11-song album has a runtime of 32 minutes. The band’s signature twin-guitar act takes control of the album, guiding the listener through every song. The album features a Chris Sheppard and Hannah Vogan on vocals, who trade off songs and harmonize on most choruses. Sheppard’s angsty, angry voice is a stark difference from Vogan’s high pitched and almost angelic voice. But they work together really well. If you’re into midwest emo, I’d strongly recommend giving the album a try.
Favorite tracks: "Taxi" ; "Across Puddles" ; "Solitaire" ; "Crazy" ; "Outro"
- Logan Hurston
KAYTRAMINÉ - KAYTRAMINÉ - May 19, 2023
It seems like 2023 is the year of two types of albums: the live album and the collab album. In this review, I want to fixate on the concept of the collab album, because this is a phenomenon we’re seeing become increasingly more and more popular, especially in the world of hip hop. This year already we’ve had collaborative records from JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown, billy woods & Kenny Segal, Talib Kweli & Madlib, Black Thought & El Michels Affair, Larry June & The Alchemist, and Boldy James & Real Bad Man. Later on in the year, we're due for collab albums from Mac Miller & Madlib, Boldy James & J Dilla, JID & Metro Boomin, Future & Metro Boomin, and even Erykah Badu & Madlib. Now, the newest addition to the collection of 2020’s collab albums comes from Aminé & KAYTRANADA. I’m using this review specifically to talk about collaborative records, and that’s because this newest project, KAYTRAMINÉ, came from two artists who don’t normally collaborate with other artists on full length projects. KAYTRANADA only has one other collab album under his thirteen yearlong discography and that project was with IDK on Simple., which came out last year. Aside from this new movement in hip hop, the music that came from this unexpected duo is a perfect way to start off the summer. KAYTRANADA delivers a nice variety of pop rap / house instrumentals that Aminé’s intoxicating personality flourishes over. The entire atmosphere of the LP is chill and relaxed with sporadic bursts of energy that pop up out of nowhere as the runtime progresses. In fact, the album cover to this project encapsulates its spirit perfectly, as listening to this project feels like you’re hanging out on the side of the pool with all your friends. In addition to Aminé, KAYTRANADA’s stellar production brings out the best in some of the features on this album such as Freddie Gibbs, Pharrell Williams, and Big Sean. KAYTRAMINÉ not only adds to the collaborative album movement, but also the house / hip house movement that’s started to bud up from last year. In 2022, we got three separate house / hip house albums from artists who no one would even suspect to dive in that direction. Those albums were Simple., RENAISSANCE, and Honestly, Nevermind. With KAYTRAMINÉ being the newest addition to this movement, I would honestly suspect some more artists to start releasing house or house influenced projects. If you’re looking for a laid back, bubbly project that doesn’t take itself too seriously then I would recommend you give KAYTRAMINÉ a listen.
Favorite Tracks: “letstalkaboutit” ; “4EVA” ; “Master P” ; “K&A”
- Gerrit Notch
KayCyy & Gesaffelstein - TW2052 - May 26, 2023
A little less than a year ago, KayCyy made his debut as Kanye’s newest protegee and dropped multiple projects in the span of a couple months. While his mixtape Get Used To It was pretty good, the EP he dropped with Gesaffelstein was notably a lot more unique and exhilarating. TW20 50 was a shorter collaborative EP that consisted of three tracks with absolute dystopian production from Gesaffelstein and innovative melodies/bars from KayCyy. After this, the upcoming artist was determined to drop his debut album WHO IS KAYCYY?, however with Kanye as executive producer of the unreleased project and having several controversies budding towards the end of last year, the project was rumored to be scrapped or vaulted until a much later release date. KayCyy’s fans have been wondering what was in store given the circumstances his mentor left him with, and as of May 26th, we’re finally getting to see where his creatively can lie on. KayCyy and Gesaffelstein expanded the TW20 50 EP, and released KayCyy’s debut album TW2052. With four additional tracks to the initial release, this short, but concise LP continues to give a glimpse of the sound that KayCyy is able to come up with, a sound that could probably influence the futures of both commercial trap and R&B. The production that Gesaffelstein puts forward on this album is bold and futuristic, delving into synth heavy territories that any other hip hop producer isn’t currently venturing. These two innovative minds coming together to deliver more material expanded upon their previous work accounts for an amazing listen.
Favorite Tracks: “TIMELESS” ; “OKAY!” ; “THE SUN”
- Gerrit Notch
Westerman - An Inbuilt Fault - May 5, 2023
English singer-songwriter Will Westerman, currently based in Athens, Greece, has evolved far past his shimmery pop-rock sound on the release of his second full length LP, An Inbuilt Fault. Having garnered some attention with his debut in 2020 for his tender and soothing voice and his unique style of songwriting, he built on these elements in his latest album, all the while pairing them with extremely dense and textured instrumentals, most of which build off of an acoustic, folky base. It's easy to hear the Nick Drake and Arthur Russell influence in his playing and lyrics, but An Inbuilt Fault takes advantage of horns, strings, synths, and some tight percussion to truly ascend it to another level sonically, teetering between sparse barebones and orchestral smothering. However, Westerman really impresses me with ability to save room for his lyrical ideas in all the layers of instrumentation, and more so his gracious melodic navigation through said instrumentals, especially with many songs lacking the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. Many of the tracks speak of different characters, each one perhaps reflecting a different element of modern life that Will has trouble coming to terms with, or better yet, different elements within himself. I'll spare myself from making any far fetched assumptions about the messages at hand, however, and leave it to all of you to connect with your own moments on the album.
Favorite tracks: "I, Catallus." ; "CSI: Petralona" ; "A Lens Turning"