We’re not quite yet a week into 2017, so I’d better put down my thoughts on some albums that came out in 2016, but that didn’t quite fit any other posts, before they go stale.
Clarence Clarity - SAME and Vapid Feels are Vapid
Clarence Clarity is a British Progressive R&B artist. His 2015 debut album No Now is one of my favourites (he is currently ranked 47 in my music battle royale off of only one album). Clarence Clarity combines soulful singing with absurd lyrics, experimental sampling and production while still having a danceable beat. It’s the type of pop music I keep coming back to.
This year he released two songs - SAME (which was packaged as an album on soundcloud where every song is the same) and Vapid Feels are Vapid. SAME expands the repetoir of samples that can be incorporated into a functional R&B song, and the opening lines of the chorus are a nice mix of catchy rhyming and absurdity - Help! I been assaulted - I let the sun come and eat me up. Wait, no, I been exalted (Not really) I am a godless pyramid. It’s great, but I’m not sure it will stick around for long because it has an overly meandering ending.
Vapid Feels are Vapid in contrast, ends abruptly. It is closer to a traditional R&B song, and the singing and sentimentality are great. But it’s not as interesting as SAME. I like the direction he’s going in, but I hope that the songs on Clarence Clarity’s next album have more polished endings.
Be’lakor - Vessels
Be’lakor is an Australian Melodic Death Metal band beloved of /r/music. I liked their last albums on first listen, but soon got bored of them. I like the singing and the guitar solos, but dislike the overall composition, drumming and the repetitiveness of the guitar and bass lines. But, I had 10$ left in my bandcamp budget at the end of November so I decided to buy their latest album, Vessels.
I have two issues that keep me from liking Be’lakor. The first is that they can write metal epics, like An Ember’s Arc and Roots to Sever, but you have to listen to two minutes of the boring guitar lines and drumming first. The second issue is that the melodies on several songs, such as Withering Strands and Whelm, aren’t quite fleshed out in composition.
In short, I still don’t agree with /r/music.
Ghosts of Jupiter - The Great Bright Horses
Ghosts of Jupiter are a Boston-based psychadelic/progressive rock band. I first heard them when they were the opening act to Blue Öyster Cult, and ended up buying their 2011 debut album Ghosts of Jupiter.
The Great Bright Horses, their kickstarted followup, is leans into psychadelia and out of hard rock of their last album. The production quality is much better, and I appreciate the addition of the piano and flute. The lyrics and reverby melodies paint a picture of looking over a beautiful vista, like an early morning in a national park. It’s the perfect album to do yoga to. This album is a too sleepy - the song Lyra in particular has too many false starts and sounds like a Chopin piano lullaby. When the tempo does pick up, like on The Golden Age, the hard rock melodies are replaced by annoying 60s-style pop rock melodies that ruined the latest Purson album for me. This album is an improvement over their last album, but the absense of the harder grooves keeps it from being great.
FOES - The Summit Lies Skyward
FOES (Fall of Every Sparrow) are a British progressive band. They have the angelic vocals and alternative-rock drumming of a band like Keane crossed with the occasional harsh vocals and djent sounds of bands like Textures and TesseracT. I liked the single off of this album Beautiful Fiction, as well as their EP Ophir. The things I liked about the single generally apply to the rest of this album - I like the emotion, the nearly imperceptable counter-melodies. They blend styles really well. The lyrics are sometimes too wordy for the accompanying melody, like on the verses of Sworn Host and The Choir Invisible. But that complaint is minor. This band is something special.