For a couple of years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We’re supposed to review/rate whatever’s shared with us, but that doesn’t always happen.
Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (2015)
I don’t know much about them other than they are from Australia and claim they make soul music from the future, but the album art seems weird and awesome.
After listening to the album, I get the “music from the future” bit, and the artwork mostly seems to accurately depict the music (although that mandrill seems more aggressive than the music). The album started out kind of weird, and while it continued being weird, it grew on me. People say Björk is weird, but I think Hiatus Kaiyote gives her a run for her money in that department. Sometimes that really works. Prince Minikid, for example, was dreamy and spacey and weird, but it wasn’t at all bad. Borderline with My Atoms was probably one of the weakest tracks. I just got bored with it. At least the weird stuff is stimulating.
Some of the highlights for me include Breathing Underwater, Jekyll and The Lung. They just had more movement than a lot of the other tunes.
Atari had a good groove, and the more electronic elements of the songs were appropriate, but the song seemed a little disjointed and cobbled together. I wanted to really like it, but it’s just kind of ok. Until the end, where they were playing some Space Mandrill Attack game or something. That was sweet. I feel the same about By Fire as I do about Atari.
The album as a whole seemed more R&B, gospel-influenced soul than the funk or motown kind of soul I prefer. I think a lot of it is her vocal style (which would also explain why I couldn’t tell you what any of the songs were actually about or any of the lyrics). The album’s okay and there were some impressive moments, but I’ll probably just come back to the highlights. 2.7/5
And, on Spotify anyway, there was a version of the album that had commentary from different members of the band on the tracks, although they were missing a few songs. I always find that kind of stuff interesting. Although Naomi Saalfield’s interviews were odd and wandering and remind me of some of the recovering drug addicts I used to work with. Although I identified with her commentary on the appeal of video games for Atari. not surprisingly, Naomi mentions she likes to listen to Björk when she’s not in a good mood. It was interesting to hear Breathing Underwater was a tribute to Stevie Wonder, and Prince Minikid was, musically, a Beach Boys tribute.
The only track I wanted to re-listen to, just based on the commentary, was Fingerprints, but I didn’t like it any more after my second listen that I did after my first.
OneRepublic – Oh My My (2016)
I remember liking OneRepublic’s last album, so even though they’re not a band I really follow or think I’d ever go see live, I’m kind of excited for this one.
And they didn’t disappoint. I felt like the album opened strong, but it felt controlled. Like they were rocking out while they were writing it, but in post-production they got timid and conservative. The acoustic guitar sections were good, but everything else didn’t feel as big as I ‘d want. One thing that impressed me about OneRepublic was how big they felt and sounded. And I missed that. Maybe I would see them live so I can get the big sound.
The title track had some Herbie Hancock Chameleon vibes to the bass line, but the rest of the song was way dancier. It was ok. Mostly it made me want to listen to Herbie.
The album started strong, but by the time I got to Better, I needed a break. After that, it just felt like a mix between Maroon Five and Coldplay. It was wasn’t bad. It just felt unoriginal and kind of un-notable.
Also, I don’t know if it’s just the Spotify versions of Future Looks Good, Dream and Lift Me Up, or if it’s all versions, but the mild cursing was obviously edited. At the point where you know what they said and you fill in the blank yourself, they should just own up to it and leave it in instead of giving us some false purity. 3.1/5
There were also a few bonus tracks. The Less I Know and the acoustic version of Heaven were worth looking up.
From my friends:
“I found this to be a lot like BlurryFace where there was some interesting stuff, but the sound just seems pretty much like I’d expect modern pop. Its some of the best pop stuff coming out, but it doesn’t really move me. I gave it several listens (though not careful ones, I was busy) and nothing really ever stood out.” 3.5/5 – Spencer
The Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
It wasn’t intentional, but in the vein of albums with non-human primates on the cover, here’s a gem from the ’80s. I don’t even remember how I discovered these guys, but here you go. Some of the stand out tacks are Debaser and Here Comes Your Man.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“I’ve listened to this album in full before and this time I pretty much came off with the same feeling: what? I don’t quite get it. Theres enough dischord/cacophony in here that it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere sensible. Its not like its noise rock, but its not nice pretty melodies either. Wave of Mutilation actually is quite catchy and thats the track that I always think of from this album. Its probably the most mainstream on the album, which is ironic since I’m usually trying to find interesting things that are a departure from the norm. Once again I think I just don’t quite get it.” 3.7/5 – Spencer
Leave your own thoughts on Hiatus Kaiyote, OneRepublic or The Pixies in the comments.