Search This Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free Album of the Week(end) #4

I’m hard at work on this year’s buyer’s guide, so this will be a quick one.

This week’s album is by an atmospheric black metal band called Embers. That style of black metal has become commonplace in the underground metal scene, but Embers stand out with a raw, almost punk-ish feel to their sound. This is incredibly strong for a debut album, and while it just missed landing a spot on my 2011 Holiday Buyer’s Guide (which will be posted in the very near future), fans of extreme metal should give this one a shot. If you’re in the mood for some free original black metal, you can listen to Shadows by Embers right here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Free Album of the Week(end) #3

Hardcore punk has become one of my recent musical obsessions, and one of the absolute best albums that I’ve heard in that genre is pg 99’s Document #8. Originally released in 2001, this brilliant screamo record is now available to download at whatever price you want to pay. Even if you’re not a fan of hardcore or screamo, this is the type of release that could change your mind. Point being, I recommend that anyone with an open mind towards heavy music give it a listen here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Free Album of the Week(end) #2

This week(end)’s album comes to us via Neurotangent, an ambient electronic project by a fellow student at The Evergreen State College. His album/demo is called First Tangent, and it’s pretty impressive for a first release, nevertheless one recorded by a student on an outdated laptop.

This is clearly more of a starting point than anything else, but I like Neurotangent’s foundation for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the sounds here come from a wide variety of influences. While the mood of the album is certainly mellow, there are quite of few different styles of electronic music being merged, and I appreciate producers who can incorporate industrial sounds in more relaxed pieces of music. The other aspect of First Tangent that impresses me is the way the that the beats build. Far too often amateur producers either repeat the same sounds until they become boring and repetitive, or they add new sounds before tension can be created. The latter is especially common among ambient producer, but Neurotangent avoids both traps.

Again, it’s a starting point, but I like what I hear. It’s rare that a producer has interesting beats that change and evolve at just the right times, and I expect great things from Neurotangent in the future. Fans of ambient/electronic music can download First Tangent right here

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A long overdue review of “Goblin”

Looking back, I think this review was one of the reasons I stopped posting for so long. It was one of the most challenging I've ever had to write, as there was a period initially where I was more divided than I think I've ever been on an album. I ended up forming a stronger opinion, and giving it a recommendation, but writing this was still an obstacle that I wasn't able to overcome. After ignoring my initial draft for months, I've gone back and edited it with a clearer mind, and I'm now posting it. Hopefully there’s still someone out there who is interested in my opinion of this one.

Tyler, The Creator- Goblin (3/4)


The first time I listened to Goblin, the second solo album and first paid release from Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator, I had honestly no idea what to think of it. I had heard Bastard, Tyler’s near cult-classic of a first album, and had a pretty similar reaction- a mix of intrigue, awe, and distaste.

Goblin picks up right where Bastard’s story left off, with Tyler in a therapy session. The dialogue between Tyler and his therapist was used interestingly on Bastard, but Goblin greatly expands on the concept. There is some real depth to the conversations, and even throughout the ridiculously over-the-top lyrics about rape, murder, and the occult that soon follow, Tyler shows himself as a relatable human being right from the start. The setting of the therapy session is never abandoned, and it’s interesting to hear Dr. TC or one of Tyler’s many alter-egos argue with him throughout the album. It’s clear that Eminem is an influence, and not since his early material has this sort of multiple personality rap worked so well.

There is also a defined narrative here, and many of Tyler’s fellow Odd Future members appear. Other than Hodgy Beats on “Sandwitches” and Frank Ocean on “She,” however, none the guest spots add much past advancing the story. This is especially true for a good 15 minute stretch towards the end of the album, where the listener is treated to such tracks as “Boppin’ Bitch” and “Bitch Suck Dick.” These tracks are intentionally bad, as evidenced by the inclusion of non-musical Odd Future members Taco Bennett and Jasper Dolphin (seriously), but that doesn’t make up for them being, you know, bad. Goblin is a fairly lengthy album, and even though it ends perfectly with “Golden,” a heated back-and-forth between Tyler and his therapist, I suspect that listeners who are not obliged to finish the album may simply turn it off part way through. That’s unfortunate, because for all of its flaws, there really is a great album here, or a at least part of one. Much of Goblin’s first half is downright brilliant, merging hardcore flow and lyrics with unique borderline drone beats, and the aforementioned humanity often lacking from hardcore rap albums.

“Yonkers” may be the song that everyone has heard, but there’s more her than just that track, and honestly its quality is worth noting. Very rarely does a hip-hop single with such a unique beat become big, and just as rarely does one with strong lyrics become a hit as well. “Yonkers” has both, and they come together to form what is truly one of the best songs of 2011. Again though, that’s no the only gem here. “Nightmare,” a personal reflection of what’s changed in Tyler’s life since his last record, is far more powerful and shocking than any of the “shock value” tracks, and even the pure shock values tracks have some merit. “Tron Cat” revels in its immaturity, but it’s entertaining throughout, and fits surprisingly well in the middle of what could be described as a very personal album. The way that Tyler merges the shock value with more personal moments is actually pretty incredible, and again, a skill that made the hip-hop world embrace Eminem just over a decade ago.

Hype has nothing to do with how an album turns out, and it’s irrelevant whether Tyler or Odd Future lives up to their hype. The fact of the matter is that they’ve become huge doing things their way, and I have to respect that. What matters here, though, is the quality of the music. Goblin is certainly not for everyone, in part because it’s so different from what else is out there, but also because it’s hard to stomach some of its readily apparently flaws. It’s hard to say whether the good and bad of Goblin outweigh each other, but it’s certainly something I feel like should be given a fair chance. There are moments of pure brilliance and creativity here, and I encourage any open minded hip-hop fan to give it a serious listen. I can’t promise that you’ll like it, but I doubt you’ll ever hear anything quite like it.

Free Album of the Week(end) #1

In a new feature for Sound Writer, I’ll be linking every Friday or Saturday to a quality free or name-your-price album, all available 100% legally.

Most of the time I’ll be linking to a lesser known artist that deserves some more exposure, but I’ll start things off with a big name for the first week. Immortal Technique, one of the artists that helped get me into hip-hop back in high school, released his latest album this week. It’s called The Martyr, and it’s available to download free of charge right here.

In terms of quality, I’d compare it favorably to The 3rd World, Technique’s collaboration album with DJ Green Lantern back in 2008. That is to say it’s a solid collection of political and hardcore hip-hop tracks. It’s nowhere near his Revolutionary albums, but it really doesn’t need to be. There are guest spots from Vinnie Paz, Brother Ali, Chuck D, and plenty of others, and Immortal Technique himself is still in fine form. I’d recommend it, even as a paid album, and the lack of a price tag makes it pretty much essential.