Music reviews November 2016

Mac Miller: The Divine Feminine – 9/10

mac-miller

The Divine Feminine will certainly help to establish Mac Miller as an intelligent and popular musician. Already, the likes of Kendrick Lamar and CeeLo Green have collaborated with Miller, illustrating his growing prowess.

Miller shapes The Divine Feminine by bringing a cruder-style of R&B, keeping glimpses of hip-hop, in an attempt to keep this album as versatile as possible whilst maintaining rigidity. Perhaps most fantastically illustrated by sampling a Robin Williams speech from Good Will Hunting (1997) in his track Soulmate, Miller manages to capture the nostalgia perfectly; a testimonial song to mark a culturally broad album.

Standout track: Soulmate

Local Natives: Sunlit Youth – 8/10

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A sophisticated return from the L.A based indie band, boasting an album which shows a more defined sound and musical direction. Adequately placed vocals plus an array of instruments characterises Sunlit Youth as an archetypal indie album. This album should be wagered as one which will transcend well onto the stage, and even better come next year’s festival season. Local Natives strike a balance between the melancholy and the upbeat, a demonstration of their sophistication making Sunlit Youth an album marking the band’s coming of age.

Standout track: Psycho Lovers

Kaiser Chiefs: Stay together – 7/10

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Probably the most used pun when reviewing Kaiser Chiefs, but with their expressive sixth album, we should certainly predict a riot. Stay Together poses an interesting mix of a hearty guitar sound and estranged 80s synth brought into 2016, ultimately creating a tastefully bizarre new breed of indie.

Frontman Ricky Wilson will have no trouble in converting the seemingly reserved (in Kaiser Chiefs terms, anyway) album into pure live energy when they embark on their Stay Together tour.

In short, simplistic yet striking album cover contrasts the complexity of their latest album; a band once defined by its ability to create indie anthem after anthem now demonstrates its ability to succeed in something different.

Standout track: Good Clean Fun

Regina Spektor: Remember Us To Life – 6/10

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Soulful piano and an impressive vocal range are continuing features amongst Regina Spektor’s albums. An underrated artist stepping out of the prominent New York music scene, inspired by the likes of Paul Simon and Kate Nash, Regina Spektor holds onto her light-hearted tendencies through relaxed melody.

However, that is not to say that she has failed to demonstrate her surprising poignancy through intricate piano accompanied by story-telling lyrics.

Standout track: Grand Hotel

Fleetwood Mac: Mirage (Remastered) – 5/10

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A band which really needs no introduction, Fleetwood Mac define rock n’ roll, with a  whole culture surrounding their existence.

The re-release of Mirage follows chronologically from a remastered edition of Tusk. The usual Fleetwood Mac guitar twang creates a solid state of nostalgia from a band which has been around for literally, a number of generations. The defining voices of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie add to the nostalgia.

Overall, Mirage has a welcoming sound but lacks the Fleetwood Mac edge to christen them one of the world’s best bands.

Standout track: Gypsy

The Head & The Heart: Sings Of Light – 8/10

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Far removed from the Seattle scene of the past boasting grunge throughout the Washington State as well as being the birthplace of the one and only Jimmy Hendrix with Nirvana and Pearl Jam taking the world by storm in the 90s, The Head and the Heart are about as far apart from Seattle’s musical routes as would be deemed possible.

However, the largely pretty album boasts light-hearted folk tones, making the listener succumb to a Sunday afternoon mellow. It may never be in your top 10, maybe even top 50 albums, yet at the right time and in the right environment, Sings of Light possess that perfect mellow and serene listening you require.

Standout track: I Don’t Mind

Bon Iver: 22, A Million – 6/10

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There is certainly evidence of the Bon Iver brilliance of the past, but it should be overlooked by the conceptual nature of their third studio album, 22, A Million.

Whilst the songs show much promise, entwining Justin Vernon’s tuneful high notes and tasteful piano, one cannot overlook the disappointing synthetic vocals. As with many bands, a change in direction can create a new dynamic, often resulting in a positive progression of style.

Yet, whilst there are glimpses of greatness, shown in raw tracks like 33 “GOD” where the Bon Iver of old is put together brilliantly with their new direction, songs such as 715 – CR∑∑KS prove to make the album an extremely challenging listen.

Standout track: 33 “GOD”

Karl Jenkins: Cantata Memoria; For the Children – 10/10

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Welsh composer Karl Jenkins’ profound cantata commemorates 50 years since the Aberfan Disaster.116 children and 28 adults died in the landslide, reflected by the solemnness of Jenkins’ work.

The choir is particularly haunting, a reminder of the bleakness the event imposed upon the area.

Jenkins himself wrote in ‘The Guardian’ that the disaster was his ‘second JFK moment’; it had an impact upon his soul with an equally colossal impact upon his musical talent.

Standout track: Lament for the Valley

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