Uneven Noise
2014’s Best Albums So Far Number 1: Here and Nowhere Else by Cloud Nothings

                                           

     The best album of this year so far is the new album from the Cleveland band Cloud Nothings called Here and Nowhere Else. This album follows the group’s breakthrough album Attack on Memory. Ever since that album, I have been a fan of the group and I was extremely happy to hear that they released a new album. I never anticipated that this album could surpass the greatness of Attack on Memory. This album shows off great lyricism, authentic emotion, and fast paced rock that makes Cloud Nothings such a great band to listen to. The album begins with the song “Now Hear In”. The opening paints a picture similar to that of “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles. However, it has a more psychological approach to it as evident by the opening lyrics “I go outside and see all these things that should be real. Come on you’re a part of it: can you breathe or can you feel? You’re not the same as me but I know we share a thing. No use remembering how it used to be so real”. The narrator of the song is experiencing emotions that are causing them to be disconnected from life. The song builds after the first verse and explodes with the chorus where Jayson Gerycz smacks the crap out of crash cymbals. It’s moments like that where I find myself completely pumped up from listening to the album. Another notable song on this album is the seventh track, “Pattern Walks”. The opening of the track sets the tone with feelings of being paranoid. The group builds and drops the feeling of the song that plays well. In this song, we find our narrator struggling with wanting to change but the past keeps sticking around. The way that Dylan Baldi sings the chorus in this song makes it sound like he is singing “padded walls” instead of “pattern walks” which adds to the emotion of the song. The song’s climaxes show off the pure rawness of the group with the lyrics “I don’t feel bored and worried. I just feel strange. Coming up the middle of the thought that I can change”. The album’s lead single is another great song to be found on here. This is where we find our narrator coming to grips with how life has changed for him. This could reflect the struggles of dealing with becoming an adult. The lyrics gives hints to moving forward to a new place in life. Baldi sings in the chorus “But I’m not, I’m not you. You’re a part of me, a part of me” which could be a send off to a former part of life that Baldi has outgrown. Overall, I really love where Cloud Nothings has done with the career so far. I will for sure be listening to anything else that they decide to release.

2014’s Best Albums So Far Number 2: To Be Kind by Swans

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     The runner-up to the number one Best Album of 2014 So Far is the new album from Swans called To Be Kind. This is Swan’s third album since their reformation in 2010 thanks to Michael Gira. Now this album’s length might turn some people away from listening to it (the album’s play time clocks in at two hours and one minute). However, there are plenty of good things to be found in this album if people can settle down, be kind, and listen to the album. Right from the start the album, Swans locks you into a guitar-based groove in the song opening track “Screen Shot”. Just as you get settled into the groove, a snare drum whacks you right out of your seat and won’t allow you to get comfortable. The song then evolves into a mystical chant as Gira says things that encompass everyday life. Usually, I am a stiff when it comes to lyrical content being limited. However, it’s within the context of the songs that the lyrical content truly shines like in the opening song. The lyrics are a screen shot of life. Another perfect example of the lyrics shining within the contexts of their songs is the longest track on the album: “Bring The Sun/Toussaint L’Ouverture”. To get clarity on the song, Toussaint L’Ouverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. He took an entire society and transformed it into an independent state of Haiti which essentially shook the institution of slavery in the new world. Keeping that in mind, the lyrics in the song only serve to supplement the crazy instrumentation going on. Gira chants “bring the sun”, the instrumentation is rising like something completely life changing is coming this way. The rest of the song is one big journey that depicts the change that L’Ouverture brought to Haiti and the new world. The very next song, “Something Things We Do” takes a very different take on life. Gira takes the idea of naming things we encounter in life and says things that we do. There is something very haunting about the way that Gira does it that makes the human life seem so shallow and small. The entire album is crazy awesome while bordering on the edge of being pretentious. Overall, To Be Kind is a fantastic listen for anyone who is patient enough to listen to the album because it does require that out of the listener.

2014’s Best Albums So Far Number 3: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything by Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

             

     Taking third place in this countdown of 2014’s Best Albums So Far is the new album from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra entitled Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light Over Everything. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (formerly known as A Silver Mt. Zion)  formed in 1999 by musicians from Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Efrim Menuck, Sophie Trudeau and Thierry Amar. Originally, the group was a project used to show Menuck how to properly score music. That plan went out the window quickly because he preferred music not to be defined by rules. This new album is the group’s heaviest and noisiest record to date. The album opens up with the track “Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island of Montreal)”. In the starting moments of this track, my attention focuses as I hear a small girl say almost giggling “we live on the island of Montreal and we make a lot of noise because we love each other”. After that, a sandstorm of guitars make a lot of noise and I love them for it. The lyrical content of this song depicts the desires of the common man despite the corruption of big business. The phrase “there’s fire in our dreams, fire in our dreams, fire in our dreams” is repeated a few times throughout the song and it makes me really feel the inner desire of the everyday man to seize their dreams. This desire climaxes as the common man unites and takes a stand against impure businesses that have been standing in the way of their happiness as evident by the lyrical lines “our dreams are all of us until the end; fuck off we get free we pour light over everything”. The rest of the album deals with themes of desire, struggle, and loss. My absolute favorite track on this album is perhaps the most soul-draining and that is “What We Loved Was Not Enough”. As compared to the common man being ignited by his desire, this song depicts the cries of a man who has given up on the world. You can just hear the utter heartbreak and despair coming from Menuck as he sings lines like “The world itself consumed. Man that’s the only truth. And what we loved was not enough. Even though we wanted to”.  The rest of the song takes you on this grim adventure where hope and love have no power despite our wishes. The keynote moment in this song and album is when Menuck sings “So good night vain children. Tonight is yours. The lights are yours. If you’d just ask for more than poverty and war. If you’d just ask for more”. Its those moments that make the whole album such an enjoyable listen.

2014’s Best Albums So Far Number 4: Lazaretto by Jack White

                              

     Coming in at number four in this countdown of 2014’s Best Albums So Far is the sophomore solo album from the modern day rock legend Jack White called Lazaretto. This album follows White’s tremendous solo debut album Blunderbuss. In Blunderbuss, White explored genres of music that began to reveal what sort of artist he was. Lazaretto shows off what White can really do if he really follows his own musical compass. The opening track “Three Women” has White playing with a traditional fast past blues format. This track has White singing of three women that he has. The real beauty of this song is that it starts to show White’s personality while blending blues with some gospel. This personality that I speak of is confident while bordering on the edge of being arrogant. White does justify himself in the song in the last verse: “Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What gives you the right? Well, these women must be getting something cause they come and see me every night”. Another fantastic track found on Lazaretto is “That Black Bat Licorice”. The track starts with this jam that serves as an earworm that will get your head bobbing like crazy. From there, White seems to be delivering some sort of rap that flows so well with the instrumentation. The whole song plays out more like a jam session that I can not get enough of. After the first chorus, the sound texture becomes dull to compliment White’s lyrics “I wanna cut out my tongue and let you hold onto it for me cause without my skull to amplify my sounds it might get boring”. At the very end of the song, White gets tired of singing the chorus so he shouts “now state the same damn thing with the violin”. The closing track “Want and Able” reminds me of the closing track to the last White Stripes album Icky Thump. The whole track deals with the balance of wanting to do something and being able to do it. White expresses that want is desire and able is the means. The ending of the song and album seems sweet, but abrupt. However, it is a good closing track at the end of the album. Overall, Lazaretto is a great album that has White doing what he does best while having a blast doing it.

2014’s Best Albums So Far Number 5: Cope by Manchester Orchestra

                            

     Starting off this mini-countdown of 2014’s Best Albums So Far is the fourth album from the Atlanta-based rock band Manchester Orchestra called Cope. This album comes after the group’s 2011 album Simple Math which saw Manchester Orchestra focusing on heavier production and string arrangements. Cope is somewhat of a return-to-form album for the group, but they do not entirely abandon the song writing style of their previous album. A perfect example of this balance is found within the opening track “Top Notch”. Out of the starting gate, the band comes in with a heavy jam that sets the tone at a dire pace. This is complimented so well by Andy Hull singing of two deaf twins that have to make an important decision. This song talks about the struggle that these brothers are having, but there is a shift in focus in the third verse. This verse draws me to Hull’s lyricism with lines like “we all believed in ghosts until you walked into the wall”. With all of the verses telling stories of struggle, the chorus explodes with the line “all that I know, it’s no way to fix it.” The rest of the album shows off some amazing lyricism with lines like “underneath the Christian Court there was this saying in the bricks that you don’t determine greatness by a man’s intelligence; no you won’t determine greatness til you really start to dig and you find out all those empty things that he lets discourage him”. It really explores what it means to cope with the struggles that come from everyday life. The only downside I found with this album is the instrumentation. The album’s instrumentation as a whole is a bit dull and does not really do anything that catches my interest. The title track “Cope” brings the album to a close by really driving home the album’s themes and hard hitting songwriting that has made the album such an enjoyable listen. The track’s final verse draws the whole album to a close with the lyrics “now I hope if there is one thing that we know from the way that you and I will wander on and we won’t become a lifeless lope that wanders round and hopes for sorrow,” inviting the listener to change with how they cope with life.

Album Review: There’s No Growth If There’s No Rest By Red Hands

                                    

     Red Hands are a five piece alternative rock band that has been making some good noise in the Pittsburgh scene for the past couple of years. In 2012, they released their debut EP entitled In The End… which featured great tracks such as “The Waves Won’t Destroy Themselves” and “Little Big Horn”. Overall, In The End… is a fantastic EP that is well worth a listen. So when I heard that Red Hands released a new EP called There’s No Growth If There’s No Rest, I decided to take some time and give it a listen.

     The EP opens up with the track “Oh, Lord Of Ages (Part II)”. This track opens up with a slight swell that gives birth to hard hitting instrumentation accompanying Tyler Krin’s powerful vocals that sound like he has just hit rock bottom exemplified by the opening lyrics: “It’s a long way down to the bottom of the darkest holes. Where I can see the things that I’ve done with clarity I can’t ignore”.  The track explores the subject of hitting rock bottom quite well. There are times where the lyrics and instrumentation make the song become transparent. For example, right before the second chorus the instrumentation pulls back while Krin delivers the line “If I could only get out of my own way” with a defeatist tone. That quiet moment in the track delivers a new dimension to the track by reminding the listener that a person’s greatest enemy is themselves. While that concept is cliche on its own, Red Hands delivers that concept in a refreshing manner.

     One of my favorite tracks off this EP is the third track “The Worth Of Water”. This track explores the subject material of taking something for granted that is essential to our existence. There are so many things about this track that I really appreciate. For starters, the chorus of this track is easily the heaviest on the whole EP. While its lyrical content is limited, the way that the band comes to together with the sludging instrumentation and Krin’s vocals that seem to be coming from the bottom of his soul to the top of his lungs. The whole chorus gives me this sinking feeling like someone has been caught in quicksand and they are pleading to escape this mess. However, one things on this EP that I do not like is that Krin tends to get long winded. For example in the fourth track “Bury Your Friends”, the second verse feels a bit awkward because the vocals seem forced and the instrumentation does not get the chance to breathe. While I do not necessarily hate extensive lyrical content, these lyrics are not delivered organically. I feel like there are some sections on this EP where this occurs that could have benefited from a simple rewrite.

     The track that closes out this EP is “In One Ear and Out the Other”. This track wraps up the EP quite nicely. The track is all about trying to make a situation work out even though you know there is no way it can ever work. The lyrical content of this closing track is by far my favorite out of any track on this EP. It’s lyrics like “my human nature hopes that you’re burning in hell while grace speaks my mind that this finds you well” that really bring such life to the song. There is also a nice connection to the opening track that really brings the whole EP full circle. In the opening track, Krin sings about wanting to learn from mistakes that have been in his past. This idea is mirrored in the closing track when Krin sings of how “failure always goes in one ear and out the other”. This connection really brings a really human aspect to the EP: even though we always want to learn from mistakes, chances are that we will continue to commit mistakes until we truly want to learn from our mistakes.

     Overall, Red Hands have delivered a good EP with There’s No Growth If There’s No Rest. On this EP, Red Hands explores several themes of life and the intense battles that come with it. There are some truly great tracks on here that showcase Red Hands at their best “Worth of Water”, “Bury Your Friends”, and “In One Ear and Out the Other”. With two solid EPs in their catalogue, Red Hands has my attention for whatever they will be releasing in the future.

Overall Score: 7.3/10

Listen To: Worth of Water, In One Ear and Out the Other

Skip:  Right Reward

Purchase/Stream There’s No Growth If There’s No Rest Here:

http://everyonehasredhands.bandcamp.com/album/theres-no-growth-if-theres-no-rest

Album Review: Wildlife by La Dispute

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     La Dispute is a Grand Rapids five piece band that have caught my attention in the past year with the album Wildlife. The band has a firm passion for music and art acting as a medium for bonding people together. These guys take their approach seriously in that they make music that aims to get to some deeply rooted things about life. While some might pigeon hole their music as being post-hardcore, La Dispute does not fit one particular genre. The reason is their music comes off as more of a performance than just a standard tune. So with that in mind, I decided to review their latest LP Wildlife.

     La Dispute separates Wildlife into four sections. These sections begin with songs that has Jordan Dreyer, their vocalist, focusing very introspectively about struggles that are played out in the record. The first section of Wildlife begins with the track “a Departure.” This opening track does such a fantastic job in opening up this LP. The exposition to “a Departure” consists of a stripped down guitar doing this driving riff accompanied by faint sounds of auxiliary percussion in the background. After that intro, the band kicks in full force keeping the same groove set by the intro. Once the band has a chance to run through that once, Dreyer comes in to finish painting the picture set by the background colors of the band. Through this song, you get the sense that Dreyer is in this frantic state of mind that has him at ends with a battle between hope and despair. “a Departure” features some great lyrics: “Not sure why I’m even writing this. But I guess it feels right. It sort of feels like I have to-like an exorcism” and “I used to feel like everything was perfectly in order, a normal life, but I guess then came a departure. That I know you understand (or would’ve understood). I guess things changed after that, and I’m mostly scared now”. Those lyrics show what La Dispute is going to be delivering to throughout Wildlife. Right from the starting gate, La Dispute grabbed my attention with the raw emotions portrayed in all aspects of their music. So after “a Departure,” I sat back and got ready to hear the rest of the album.

    The entire rest of Wildlife takes the listener on an experience that will ultimately change the way they think about music. Whether it’s through fast punk rock songs like “Edit Your Hometown” or incredible climatic songs like “King Park”, La Dispute explores what it truly means to face your own demons. The result of that is one incredible album. Like for example, the second track “Harder Harmonies” picks up where the opener “a Departure” left off with a chaotic 6/8 feel packed nice and tight which serves as backdrop to the story that Dreyer tells about a man who struggles with maintaining life. This man finds order only when playing his piano. Throughout this song, this man struggles to make his life connect with his piano playing. This of course pays off big time with the explosive outro when the lyrics highlight the big picture of the song: “There’s a melody in everything, I’m trying to find a harmony, but nothing seems to work, nothing seems to fit”. Thus showing “Harder Harmonies” as a track about trying to find your place in the world. Another great example of a fantastic cut off of this album is the eleventh track “I See Everything”. This track opens with the narrator going to school just like any morning, but the atmosphere is somber. The teacher in the classroom speaks in a bittersweet tone. Then,  she passes out photo copies of a journal from which she reads off journal entries that depict a tale of a family who battles cancer that found its way into their seven year old son. The tale sees its ups and downs with the cancer eventually taking the kid’s life. What I found most interesting is the particular lyric set “He said it’s easy to find people who have suffered worse than him. ’Like Jesus, suffered worse than anyone,’ he told me last night, ‘when God abandoned him’ ”. I feel like that set of lyrics drives home the point of the song: we all suffer, but that is life. Until we come to terms with that, we won’t “see everything”.

     The closing track “You and I in Unison” sheds light on what Dreyer was struggling with in the opening track “a Departure”. The track starts with Dreyer talking about how “No one should ever have to walk through the fire alone. No one should ever have to brave that storm”. At first I thought this track was a conversation between Dreyer and God, but the rest of the song makes me think that this is Dreyer talking with a loved who has passed on to the other life. This whole track draws the whole album to a close quite wonderfully because it draws upon themes that are hinted all over the album: finding order in life, hope after tragedy, and believing in things. These subjects, while generic, smack the listener in the face in such an impactful way that drives the point home. The end of the album has Dreyer coming to terms with the death of his loved one with the lyrics repeating his message: “I will sing sweetly hope that the notes change, but I do not need it to happen. I’m not resigned to it”.

     Wildlife (to put it lightly) sets a new standard when it comes to art. The way this drives in themes about how life can be and how humans should deal with it just blows my mind. The album plays out more like a movie with no visuals. With La Dispute coming out with a new record in March of this year, I will for sure be on the lookout for when it drops.

Overall Score: 10/10

Listen To: Everything

Skip: Nothing

Purchase/Stream Wildlife Here: http://nosleepsampler.com/album/wildlife


2014 Grammy Awards Nominees: Who Should Win/Who Will Win

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Record of the Year

  • Get Lucky by Daft Punk (ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) 
  • Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
  • Royals by Lorde
  • Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (ft. T.I. & Pharrell Williams)

Will Win: Get Lucky by Daft Punk (ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) 

Should Win: Get Lucky by Daft Punk (ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) 

Album of the Year

  • The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles
  • Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
  • Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar
  • The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Red by Taylor Swift

Will Win: The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Should Win: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar

Song of the Year

  • Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk (ft. Nate Ruess)
  • Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars
  • Roar by Katy Perry 
  • Royals by Lorde
  • Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Will Win: Royals by Lorde

Should Win: Royals by Lorde

Best New Artist

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Ed Sheeran

Will Win: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar

Best Pop Solo Performance

  • Brave by Sara Bareilles
  • Royals by Lorde
  • When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars
  • Roar by Katy Perry
  • Mirrors by Justin Timberlake

Will Win: Royals by Lorde

Should Win: Mirrors by Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

  • Get Lucky by Daft Punk (ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) 
  • Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk (ft. Nate Ruess)
  • Stay by Rihanna (ft. Mikky Ekko)
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (ft. T.I. & Pharrell Williams)
  • Suite & Tie by Justin Timberlake (ft. Jay Z)

Will Win: Get Lucky by Daft Punk (ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) 

Should Win: Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk (ft. Nate Ruess)

Best Pop Vocal Album

  • Paradise by Lana Del Rey
  • Pure Heroine by Lorde
  • Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
  • The 20/20 Experience - The Complete Experience by Justin Timberlake

Will Win: Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars

Should Win: The 20/20 Experience - The Complete Experience by Justin Timberlake

Best Rock Performance

  • Always Alright by Alabama Shakes
  • The Stars (Are Out Tonight) by David Bowie
  • Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
  • Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
  • My God Is The Sun by Queens of the Stone Age
  • I’m Shakin’ by Jack White

Will Win: My God Is The Sun by Queens of the Stone Age

Should Win: My God Is The Sun by Queens of the Stone Age

Best Rock Song

  • Ain’t Messin ‘Round by Gary Clark Jr.
  • Cut Me Some Slack by Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic,and Pat Smear
  • Doom And Gloom by The Rolling Stones
  • God Is Dead? by Black Sabbath
  • Panic Station by Muse

Will Win: Cut Me Some Slack by Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic,and Pat Smear

Should Win: Cut Me Some Slack by Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic,and Pat Smear

Best Rock Album

  • 13 by Black Sabbath
  • The Next Day by David Bowie
  • Mechanical Bull by Kings of Leon
  • Celebration Day by Led Zeppelin
  • …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age
  • Psychedelic Pill by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Will Win: …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age

Should Win: …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age

Best Rap Perfomance

  • Started From The Bottom by Drake
  • Berzerk by Eminem
  • Tom Ford by Jay Z
  • Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar
  • Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis                                    

Will Win: Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Should Win: Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Song

  • F**kin’ Problems by A$AP Rocky (ft. Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar)
  • Holy Grail by Jay Z (ft. Justin Timberlake)
  • New Slaves by Kanye West
  • Started From The Bottom by Drake
  • Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Will Win: Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Should Win: Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best Rap Album

  • Nothing Was The Same by Drake
  • Magna Carta…Holy Grail by Jay Z
  • Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar
  • The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Yeezus by Kanye West

Will Win: The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Should Win: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar

Best Country Song

  • Begin Again by Taylor Swift
  • I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice
  • Mama’s Broken Heart  by Miranda Lambert
  • Merry Go ‘Round by Kacey Musgraves
  • Mine Would Be You by Blake Shelton

Will Win: Begin Again by Taylor Swift

Should Win: Merry Go ‘Round by Kacey Musgraves

Best Country Album

  • Night Train by Jason Aldean
  • Two Lanes Of Freedom by Tim McGraw
  • Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves
  • Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton

Will Win: Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton

Should Win: Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves

The Year 2013 in Music

Ten Worst Albums: 

1. Magna Carta… Holy Grail By Jay-Z 
2. AM By Arctic Monkeys
3. Hesitation Marks By Nine Inch Nails
4. Welcome oblivion By How To Destroy Angels
5. ARTPOP By Lady Gaga
6. The Terror By The Flaming Lips
7. Migrant By The Dear Hunter 
8. Temper Temper By Bullet For My Valentine 
9. Save Rock And Roll By Fall Out Boy
10. Yeezus By Kanye West

Ten Best Albums:

1. Is Survived By By Touche Amore
2. …Like Clockwork By Queens Of The Stone Age
3. Sons of the Sea By Sons of the Sea
4. Kveikur By Sigur Ros 
5. Government Plates By Death Grips 
6. Marshall Mathers LP 2 By Eminem
7. Subsume By Cloudkicker 
8. The Hands The Thieve By Streetlight Manifesto
9. Brasil By Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun
10. Tape Deck Heart By Frank Turner

Twenty Worst Songs:

1. S.D.S. By Mac Miller
2. Started From The Bottom By Drake
3. G.U.Y. By Lady Gaga
4. Love Me By Lil Wayne, Drake, Future
5. I’m In It By Kanye West
6. Blurred Lines By Robin Thicke, T.I., Pharrell
7. Cruise - Remix By Florida Georgia Line, Nelly
8. Timber By Pitbull, Ke$ha
9. Tom Ford By Jay-Z
10. Roar By Katy Perry
11. Still Into You By Paramore
12. One Way Trigger By The Strokes
13. Where Did The Party Go By Fall Out Boy
14. The Game of Love By Daft Punk
15. The loop closes By How To Destroy Angels
16. Running By Nine Inch Nails
17. The Way By Ariana Grande, Mac Miller
18. Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2) By Bullet For My Valentine
19. Counting Stars By Onerepublic
20. Wake Me Up By Avicii

Twenty Best Songs:

1. Kalopsia By Queens Of The Stone Age
2. Non Fiction By Touche Amore
3. Untethered By Sons of The Sea
4. Mirrors By Justin Timberlake
5. Get Lucky By Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams 
6. Reflektor By Arcade Fire
7. You Could Laugh Forever but Never End up Happy By Cloudkicker
8. Their Planes By Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun
9. Under the Starlit Sky By The Stars Above
10. Birds By Death Grips
11. Royals By Lorde
12. The Hands That Thieve By Streetlight Manifesto 
13. Default By Atoms for Peace
14. Headlights By Eminem, Nate Ruess
15. Recovery By Frank Turner
16. Diane Young By Vampire Weekend
17. A New Life By Jim James
18. I Love It By Icona Pop, Charli XCX
19. 50/50 By The Strokes
20. Bitter Rivals By Sleigh Bells

Album Review: We Were Giants By Selles

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     Selles is the brainchild of Michael Jakucs who has been making music for the past couple years under the name of The Stars Above. For anybody who has been following me for the past year or so, you will know of this name fairly well since I interviewed him and did a brief album review for The Stars Above LP Shoreline. Naturally being the fan of this man’s work that I am, I picked Selles’ debut LP We Were Giants when it dropped last month. While it may not match up to Shoreline in some areas, We Were Giants shows off what Jakucs does best through his music: creating music that anybody can relate to in some time in their lives.

     We Were Giants opens with the appropriately titled track “Wander”. The whole song swells and gives breath into the stage of the album. For those familiar with the game (or have access to Youtube), the song reminds me of the opening to the Shadow of Colossus. For those who do not want to take the time Youtube the video, “Wander” gives the listener imagery of someone traveling in the desert on a horse approaching a mystical place. The track is rather short, but it does the trick as the opening track for this album. “Wander” begins the journey that Selles wishes to take the listener on by starting out with a gentle rise. As this track plays on, this rise swells with undertones that are perfectly complemented by this top melodic layer that seems to be searching for something. As the track ends, the album begins to enfold to take the listener on a journey through their memories of life.

     The rest of the album plays out fairly well. I use the phrase “fairly well” because I am not a fan of ambient music. However, this album serves as a great introduction into this one particular realm of music that I have overlooked for the longest time. A track like “A Distant Blue” serves as a great introduction track into this genre. The song comes in right after the semi-depressing track “Fading Moments”. This plays to the nature of the “A Distant Blue” quite well because it seems to breathe life back into feeling of the album. The track begins with these short swells that are soon accompanied by a short piano riff. This continues until about a third of the way through then the song changes into this open feeling with that this echoing guitar does with some very nicely place chords. “A Distant Blue” continues with this echoing guitar that is eventually is accompanied gently by a piano texture. The track just gives me imagery of seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. The only true downside to this album is that many of these songs fit so well within the context of the album that if taken of out context of the album: they lose their impact upon the listener. For example, the tenth track “Remembrance” plays off concepts that are played out through all such as the past and the future, but the song by itself is weak. For the majority of the track, there is this droning that dominates the songs. It is not until the song is almost done that we truly get anything that creates a solid music structure.

     The closer of We Were Giants stands out for several reasons. For starters, it is called “Prelude to a Dream”. Which normally might throw the casual listener off balance while they are glancing at the album, however “Prelude to a Dream” wraps up the listening experience to We Were Giants in the best way possible. The track reminds me clearly how Godspeed You! Black Emperor closed out their album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven with the feeling of leaving a great thing. “Prelude to a Dream” takes a spin off that concept by intensifying the feel of the track up until the very end. While the album might have been on the bleak side at times, We Were Giants wraps up with “Prelude to a Dream” reminding the listener to always look on the bright-side of life.

     Overall, We Were Giants was a fantastic introduction to the world of ambient music for me. The whole album resonated with me in the same way that The Stars Above’s Shoreline did. Jakucs rewards those who take the time to actually listen closely to this album. 

Overall Score: 7.8/10

Listen To: A Distant Blue, Under The City Lights, Fading Moments

Skip: For The Departing, Remembrance, Constructing Idols

 Purchase/Stream We Were Giants Here: http://selles.bandcamp.com/