• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: July 31, 2017

Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy (California)

Pulling the hate out of his music and personal life has seemed to have had a cleansing affect on Tyler, The Creator. A much more sonically rich album than he's put out in some time, the album is much more lyrically dense as well, for his best since Goblin. "Foreword" opens the album on a smooth blend of synth glides and creamy vocals from Rex Orange County, while Tyler runs a playfully poetic verse of chained lyrics. Going full R&B on "See You Again" Tyler blends his own harmonies and lightly melodic hooks over Kali Uchis' heavenly vocals to make a track that's lush. A clear standout, "911 / Mr. Lonely" has the most memorable hooks of the record as it alternates between two equally addictive retro-infused tracks. Elevated by the vocal work of both Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy, it's a track that finds Tyler transcending from just a rapper to someone who can focus talent in truly unique directions. "Glitter" flies on its jittery synth lines and sublime grooves, making its vintage sound all the more glowing.

Species At Risk – Species At Risk (Ottawa)

Bringing a moody mix of dark tones and emotionally charged instrumentation, deliver a solid rock instrumental album. "Waste Of Survivor" blends piano hooks and some tumbling guitar lines for an emotive piece that could score films in a heartbeat. With a much heavier charge, "Strangers in the Background" shreds along, with a hefty push to give a destructive drive to its beat. "Defenestrate" slips between its ambient guitar notes to cascading pop-infused choruses for a song that hits both ends with vigor. Closing the album, "Incite To Riot" builds a tangible tension in its running guitar line and lets its drum explosions release the pressure epically. Blending its trippy guitar voicing with pumping hits, it creates a powerful blend of loud and pensive.

Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life (New York City)

One of the few pop songstresses left who continues to subtly evolve her sound rather than take massive and jarring jumps, Lana Del Rey is back with more venom than ever. Blending elements of her retro pop, hip hop, and something heavy and brooding, she delivers a lengthy and strong album, that admittedly starts a little slow. "In My Feelings" comes right in the middle of the album's stride, with Del Rey commanding along the smoky production. In a dreamy haze "When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing" shuffles in its ethereal vocals, as Del Rey reminisces to her past love. In one of the most delightful passing-of-the-torch moments in recent musical memory, "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks)" finds Nicks and Del Rey blending their talents sublimely for magic that doesn't even feel out of place on the record. "Tomorrow Never Came (feat. Sean Ono Lennon)" finds Del Rey singing a blend of her own lines with classically-inspired lyrics, with Lennon laying out melodies in equal parts that cover many Beatles tones and 60s sounds on the whole.

Coveter- Love Me To Pieces (Ottawa)

Throwing their rock into distorted swing, Coveter's first release brings a lot of talent to the table in its few offerings. Rocking back and forth "Who Knows" lies in a constantly rollicking groove as its swaying guitars make both funky tones and something heavier. "Break Bank" goes more sunny for its constantly building tones, as its choruses turn into explosive mixes of crashing drums and guitars. Maxing out the funk-shredding on guitar "No Dice" goes intense on its riffing. Blending heavy movements and constantly driving since of rhythm the track doesn't let up. Spinning something that recall Hall and Oates, "Love Me To Pieces" blends the most pop into its softer grooves. It's the choruses however, spilling over the top with drum breaks, that make the song something mind-blowing.

Nicole Atkins – Goodnight Rhonda Lee (New Jersey)

It wasn't too many years ago that Nicole Atkins was making bombastic, Southern-infused alt-pop, but after some time away, she's found beauty in jazz. "A Little Crazy" starts the album through 50s pop song writing, with Atkins using her emotional delivery to turn it into an emotional rollercoaster of a track. Going into a jazzy stomp "Darkness Falls So Quiet" finds attitude in her mix of piano, strings and brass as she throws some grit into Norah Jones-esque jazz-pop. "If I Could" finds Atkins and her guitar trading jabs on their addictive melodies to build one knockout track, and the instrumental depth here is well worth the wait. Recalling notes of Amy Winehouse, "Sleepwalking" is a groovy and relaxing track, that lands in its groove deliciously from one of the most fun shakers of the album.