Album Reviews: November 26, 2018
Graham Van Pelt – Time Travel (Toronto)
It's always interesting with certain solo spin-off artists to see how much of a driving force they are for specific sounds in their band. In the case of Graham Van Pelt, we hear many of Miracle Fortress's electronics and synths shining solo for an album that grooves. For the patient listener, "New Friends" slowly bleed more colourful noises across the track with less drive and more of a focus every little aspect of the sonic palette. Beats rule the world of "Release Yourself" however and create a powerful mesh of rhythms to create a dance track you won't want to shake off. Through all the delay and reverb of "Out Of This World," Van Pelt creates a cave to bounce his sounds around and play with genre in his mechanical take on dance music. For anyone just looking for a straightforward old-school house track, "Vanishing Point" is much more direct if at times a little less sonically gripping.
JAD – Pictures Of You (& Me) (Ottawa)
After some recent recording time down in Los Angeles, JAD is starting to give us peaks behind the curtain of his new work. There's a strong mix of that smooth kind of sad rock that goes down sweet and a weirdly punk drive to the quieter parts of "Pictures Of You (& Me)." The humble but fitting production serves Jad well here as everything hums with just the right edge to feel fun. Along with his strong melodies, the bridge also shows a beautiful sensibility of harmonies that only shines brighter the further you get into the song. For more of this vocal mixing joy, JAD's cover of Mother Mother's "Ghosting" is also worth a listen.
Lil Yachty – Nuthin' 2 Prove (Atlanta, Georgia)
While it's not totally wise for artists to taunt their listeners with presumptuous album titles, it can make for a fun listen. All delivery notes aside, there's something truly unhinged to the sounds of "Gimmie My Respect" that give the track a kind of unusual life that you wouldn't anticipate from Yachty. This is upped once again in "Get Dripped" where production is much dirtier and Yachty works with Playboi Carti to get a much more fun vocal play out of each other. Cardi B earned a lot of respect from me on this record however, as she surpasses Yachty on "Who Want The Smoke" for vicious bar after vicious bar. With Yacthy slipping into the back on "Nolia" as well, perhaps he sees his role these days as more of a guiding force for other rappers.
Wottss – Rivver (Ottawa)
All the high gloss production of the mainstream makes the indie hip hop of Wotts sound crisp and powerful. For this powerful new release from the Ottawa group, there's so much amazing sound behind the raps that it's hard to decide what's more hypnotic. The flowing electronics of "Red Sky" glide along effortlessly, leaving you in a hazy wonder and laying a light bed for the vocals to play on. Even a more moody interlude like "Sentinels" crams a surprising amount of life into what you'd expect to be a sparse track. "365" is full of vintage glowing synths, as the group capture a lush feeling and see their vocals serving the music a little more. With xylophones ringing, "Rivver" is a sweet feeling track that moves its melodies all over their arrangements for a heavenly blend of sounds.
Joji – Ballads 1 (New York City)
Admittedly know internet comedian George Miller first through his days as YouTube star Filthy Frank had made me skeptical of a legitimate music career. But seeing all the skills from his comedic records applied here shows we have a lot to expect from Joji yet again. Yes the textures and progressions of "Attention" are pulling from a mainstream faucet, but it's how Joji plays in the space of a song like this that is truly interesting. "Slow Dancing In The Dark" on the other hand is a much more open and slow-burning track that sees Joji delivering satisfying moments whenever he goes all-in. Where he is often emulating something else in this record and discovering his artistic voice, "Can't Get Over You" shows how he can maintain a unique perspective on just about anyone's sound. Joji also manages one of the few fun mumbled pop songs of the year on "Yeah Right" where he's able to give a kind of groove to his vocals to spruce them up right.