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Album Preview – YEEZUS by Kanye West

7 Jun

Before you read on let me introduce you to the author of this post and new Music Court contributor, Jamie Waller. We are excited to have him on board. Jamie will cover the rap and indie rock beat. Keep an eye out for his posts every Friday. Check out Jamie’s bio:

“I’m from Mansfield in UK, and am studying Journalism and History at the University of Lincoln. I’m a keen marathon runner and often write about running on my blog – http://feetfailmenot2.wordpress.com/. I’m a big fan of both rock and rap – my favourite bands are Arctic Monkeys and Gaslight Anthem, and I also enjoy rappers like Eminem, Nas and Kendrick Lamar.”

 

Kanye West

Whether you are rap fan or not, you won’t be able to avoid hearing about Kanye West’s new album YEEZUS for the next few months. Kanye announced its entrance into the world by projecting the lead single on the side of 66 buildings across America. Here is what we do and don’t know about one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

What we do know

Kanye’s god complex hasn’t gotten any smaller. Kanye has always been one of the most eccentric (some would say arrogant) character in the world of rap, but he seems to be now taking it to new heights. Yeezus is a combination of his nickname, Yeezy, and Jesus. After his smash hit song New God Flow last year, he has now developed a god complex of his own.

The Dropout Bear isn’t back. The adorable bear from his first three album covers still isn’t back – instead he has opted for a minimalistic cover that mimics bootlegged CDs, complete with a handwritten sticker saying ‘YEEZUS.’ Perhaps the moral is ‘Don’t judge a CD by its cover?’

The guest list will be as huge as usual. The list of people he has worked with in the studio just keeps growing, from regular collaborators like Frank Ocean, John Legend and Pusha T, to some people you might not expect – Skrillex and Daft Punk, for example. The French duo reportedly produced the single ‘Black Skinhead’ while Skrillex’s role is still a mystery. Jay-Z will almost certainly have a guest verse too as usual.

It won’t be like anything we’ve heard before. If there’s one thing you can rely on Kanye for, it’s to constantly reinvent his musical style. From the slowed-down horns of his debut to autotune, there’s little telling what he will do next. People who have worked with him have hinted towards the album being ‘dark’, ‘primal’ and ‘tribal’, whatever that means.

It will be released on 18th June. That is, if you believe Kanye’s mysterious tweets.

What we don’t know

What’s actually going to be on the CD. Kanye may be very ostentatious but he can keep a secret when he needs to; there have been almost no leaks about YEEZUS. Going against the current trend, the album won’t be streamed before release either. Kanye has performed the songs New Slaves and Black Skinhead live, but besides that everything else is under wraps.

Whether his rapping has improved. Without being disrespectful, Kanye has never been the most gifted lyricist. His talents lie in producing songs and getting the best out of other rappers, but he constantly gets outshined by them. He has definitely made strides in recent albums – for example, take lines like “They say I’m the abomination of Obama’s nation/ Well that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation.”  It will be interesting to see whether he can actually hold his own now.

Is he really going political? The first single from the album touches on themes about how consumerism is used to keep black people down, while the word Skinhead has strong political connotations. While he’s never been afraid to touch on struggles black people face before, this is the first time he’s placed them as the centre piece of his album.

Whether it will live up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Nightmare. Kanye’s last solo album wowed critics and the buying public alike back in 2010. Looking at fame through the prism fairy tales, it dove into the grimy heart of celebrity, winning the Grammy for Best Rap Album. There was an outcry when it was snubbed by the main award in favour of more commercial albums. The question now – and the only one that will really matter to listeners – is if whether Kanye can return to the heights of his masterpiece.

Fall 2012 Music Preview

29 Sep

 

Fall is not only Oscar season. Some of the best albums are also released. This Fall is no different. There are several promising albums coming out. I often find it is difficult to keep track of all the albums that are being released. Often, an album is released, and you don’t find out about it until it is already old news. And, come on, I know everyone likes being a Hipster and knowing about things “before they are cool.” So, consider this your Hipster Fall 2012 primer. Here are some albums you should be looking forward to.

Just to be clear, Mumford and Sons released their second LP Babel earlier this week. Ben Folds Five released their comeback album the week before, and the Killers released Battle Born on 9/18 as well. These albums are not on the list because they have already been released. Here are some more that have been recently released for your consumption

– Green Day album Uno (bet you can guess what the follow-up is going to be called)

– Bob Dylan’s Temptest (soon enough, his albums will be composed of one 60-minute poetic narrative)

– The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter

– Pete Seeger: Peter Remembers Woody AND A More Perfect Union

The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth – October 2

What is it?: The Mountain Goats’ ambitious 14th album

Why should I be excited?: Because lead-goat Darnielle is a lyrical master and the Goats’ music has just become more diverse and creative. This supreme cult-band is among my favorite acts, and the album will most likely be crafty, original, and depressing (like all good Mountain Goats albums).

Muse – The 2nd Law – October 2

What is it?: Muse’s 6th studio album featuring “Survival” which was the official song of the London Olympics this year

Why should I be excited?: Muse has been working on this article since last September. This is their first release since 2009, and that album featured the incredibly popular “Uprising.” The band is comfortably in the zone of solid releases. The album combines their blend of symphonic rock with dubstep and synth pop. Will it overtake the popularity of their last release. I don’t know. Check it out to see.

John Cale – Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood – October 2

What is it?: John Cale, of Velvet Underground fame, is releasing his first studio album in seven years.

Why should I be excited?:  John Cale is a talented musician, and he is combining his alt/rock electronic talents with a staff of uber-talented musicians – Danger Mouse, Mike Jerome, Dustin Boyer. This is one of the more interesting releases on the list, and I am anticipating some handy work by these guys

Other Releases to be Excited About:

10/2

  • Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes
  • The Wallflowers: Glad All Over
  • Chris Rene: I’m Right Here

10/9

  • Freelance Whales: Diluvia

10/18

  • Jason Lytle: Dept. of Disappearance

10/30

  • Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory

11/13

  • One Republic: Native

 

Albums after Labor Day – A Fall 2011 Preview

6 Sep

It’s almost time to reap Fall’s musical harvest and hunker down for winter. Okay, not really. We are still in early September and summer hasn’t even officially ended. But the coolness of Fall is beginning to wash over NYC and I thought this would be a good time to provide the seasonal album preview post. There are several albums that will be released to the public during the Fall, including high-profile releases from band’s like Coldplay and Florence & The Machine. Below is a short list of album’s you should look out for this Fall, 2011.

 

The Beach Boys
The SMiLE Sessions –  November 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those unfamiliar with the story of Smile let me quickly review the tale of this gigantic release that never was. Intended as the follow-up to the massively succesful Pet Sounds, Smile fell apart because of Brian Wilson’s increasingly fragile mental state and erratic behavior, as well as impending business and legal issues for the entire family band. And, despite various attempts to release the album, the project was abandoned and Wilson fell deeper and deeper into the wormhole of drug-induced psychoticism. A dark, dark time.

But we are in the new century now and efforts to release the album have resulted in success, creating now one of the most exciting releases of the Fall and, hell, the last 50 years. While Brian Wilson did release elements of Smile as a solo album in 2004 (which ended up winning him some Grammy Awards), it was not the original recordings of the songs.

Well, come November 1, the recordings will finally be available for the world to hear. The album is scheduled to be released in a 2-CD package under the title The Smile Sessions. A limited edition box set will comprise 5 CDs, 2 LPs, 2 45rpm singles and a 60 page booklet; there will also be a digital download version. Going to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Blink-182
Neighborhoods – September 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is something I don’t think many people thought they would see in the year 2011. A new Blink 182 CD? Their first album of new material in eight years. And, in between those years there has been a band hiatus, drummer Travis Barker’s near-death experience in a plane accident, and Jerry Finn’s death. Finn was a staple on  Blink 182 albums as a constant producer. But after the three-piece band got back together in 2009, they all came in with song ideas and they immediately began recording new material. The album, self produced because of Finn’s death, is sure to have a massive amount of emotion in its tracks, and, according to the band, it is weird and expansive, covering the music tastes of each individual member. Consider this. Mark Hoppus is almost 40. They have come a long way since “All the Small Things.”

 

Coldplay
Mylo Xyloto – October 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The album name is gibberish and we are still waiting for the band to tell us what the hell it means. Or, perhaps, the name has no meaning, but is just a string of letters picked out of a scrabble pouch. Who knows? It is Coldplay we are talking about. Coldplay is well on their way to releasing this album in October. They released the first single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” on May 31 and will release #2, “Paradise” on Sept. 12. Prepare yourself for a more intimate album than Viva La Vida.

 

Florence and the Machine
tbd November – November 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just to clarify for any literalists, the name of the album is not TBD. But it is Florence and the Machine’s new project and it will be released in early November. This much anticipated release will be more soul-influenced than Lungs. The band has revealed that one track is called “Strangeness and Charm”, which Florence Welch describes as “about seven minutes long and pretty relentless.” And, the first single, “What the Water Gave Me” was released in June. What’s with all the Fall water motifs? Will The Machine, well mainly Florence, fall into the Sophomore release trap, or will they succeed. I have faith in them. But Lungs set the bar high, so we will see.

 

Other Interesting Releases:

Metallica & Lou Reed | TBD
Date: Nov. 1 Twitter: @Metallica,

SuperHeavy | “SuperHeavy”
Date: Sept. 20 Twitter: @SuperHeavy

Evanescence
Evanescence October 11

Feist
Metals October 4

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