Sick Scenes – Los Campesinos!
The UK band, Los Campesinos! (LC!) — advertised as “your ex-girlfriend’s favorite band” — return to the alternative indie-rock scene with their sixth album, Sick Scenes.
Sick Scenes is about battling mental health issues, relationships, and the uncertainty and anxiety of ascending past emerging adulthood. In LC! fashion, it’s filled with football (soccer for us non-Brits) references.
The songs demonstrate LC!’s dynamic sound as they switch between upbeat or infectiously energetic (“Here’s to the Fourth Time”), to sullen and introspective (“Slow, Slow Death”) paired with lyrics that read like poetry without bordering on pretentious. The album sounds like a more upbeat Pavement meets Brand New with the depth of Elliott Smith, except they include a seven-piece band.
Overall, Sick Scenes demonstrates the band’s growth while still maintaining their trademark LC! enthusiasm and anthemic “proper emo” sound which definitely earns it a listen. –WY
HNDRXX – Future
I will be the first to admit I’ve never really gotten the Future hype. I always just sort of figured he was yet another rapper who was REALLY into autotune. However, now having listened to HNDRXX I can at least begin to understand the hype.
While he still liberally uses autotune throughout, he actually can write lyrics. While he doesn’t have the political fire of Kendrick Lamar, or the bananas artistic overtones of Kanye West, there is something about him that works. You just have to get past the autotune, because when you do it’s pretty clear that Future can actually rap.
If you can’t get past the autotune, there’s at least decent beats as a reward for your suffering. And that’s really where HNDRXX shines, in its production. Even with the most T-Pained-up vocals the production values are still incredibly high, and that’s always refreshing when most songs sound pretty much the same.
So will Future ever be my favourite rapper? Probably not. But if he ditches the autotune and keeps up the high production values, he could make make my top five. –JW
÷ (Divide) – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran’s new album is as fiery as his ginger hair.
As a longtime fan of the British pop-meets-rap artist, I was immediately in love with Divide. Upbeat tracks are appropriately peppered throughout an album that is for the most part, soulful ballads that are drawn from Sheeran’s lovelorn past.
Divide is more refined, and more diverse than his earlier albums. While there are still traces of the loop-pedal-stepping-nice-guy, it’s clear Sheeran is entering a new, more polished period. This being said, those in love with the rough-around-the-edges charm of the boy from small town England, might not appreciate the trimmed and transformed billboard sound. Overall, a great soundtrack with strong narrative and catchy beats. Highlights from the album include “Castle on the Hill,” and “What Do I Know.” –TC
Oh the Larceny – Oh the Larceny
I found out about Oh the Larceny because their song “Check It Out” was in a video about UBC’s new swimming pool. Googling them is probably the best decision I’ve made this week.
They’re a combination of the best things in certain genres: big pop beats, growly rock guitar, and bluesy soulful vocals. The entire EP is solid, delivering old-school feeling, badass new music that just grows on me every time I spin this record.
“Can’t Stop Me Now” is full of such swagger, that combined with the percussion and bass, it’s one of my favourite pump-up songs. All five songs are like that: empowering. If you like Kaleo, or the Lucifer soundtrack, it has that same devilish and engaging sound that’ll keep you rocking into the wee hours of the night.
Bonus: They also have instrumentals of their songs, for when you need to slay some homework and can’t get distracted by lyrics. –CM