Archive by Author

Jidenna – The Chief

22 Mar

Thecheifjidenna.jpeg

Jidenna’s chief gimmick of dressing up makes it tempting to write him off as a one-hit wonder, but that would be unfair. He’s had at least two. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to carry a full album.

He gets points for variety, but not many for imagination. There are some interesting snippets, like learning that he refused Harvard, some decent stunting, and some clever lines, but nothing really compelling anywhere.

As a whole, The Chief is just not really worth a listen. I look forward to hearing Jidenna drop a verse on the occasional Kendrick or Janelle Monae track, but that is probably the most we should hope for from him.

@murthynikhil

Bria Skonberg- Bria

30 Jan

42471c_2d54c26fe7cd45fa8150c9955310985bmv2Bria is a charming Jazz album well worth a listen no matter your experience with the genre. The music is very listenable and packed full of interesting moments. The Arabic tint of “Curious Game” is intriguing and the trumpet solo into vibraphone solo of “I Was A Little Too Lonely” is excellent.

Bria Skonberg herself has a wonderful voice for Jazz standards and it really sells songs like “Don’t Be That Way” and “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me.” Her chanting is the lovely and intricate “Malaguena” is also of note. None of this is to diminish her trumpet playing or the rest of the musicians, all of whom are irreproachable.

The album is a whole is laid back and not very challenging, but nevertheless quite good and packed with interesting little moments. Highly recommended for people looking to get into Jazz and worth a listen from those already invested.

@murthynikhil

Joey Alexander – Countdown

1 Dec

Joey Alexander’s second album continues the clean, proficient jazz that defined his previous one. The piano sparkles in tracks like “Smile” or “Sunday Waltz” with a sound that feels simple, but perfect. This holds true for “Soul Dreamer” where every note is individual and the music takes on a wonderful clarity. Even in the up-tempo “City Lights” and “Countdown”, the pace increases and the music constantly moves, but the sharpness of the notes keep you moving with it. This version of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” is also fantastic with superb work on the saxophone by Chris Potter.

This album lacks a little of the fire of the true jazz classics, but that’s really the only criticism that can be made of it. This is a fantastic album and worth a listen from anyone keeping up with present-day jazz. Joey Alexander is an incredibly promising young talent, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

@murthynikhil

Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

10 Sep

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This is the album that moves Chance from outsider to establishment for me. He’s been doing well for himself, from opening Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo to being the centerpiece of 2015’s Surf and that’s great to see. His raps are so sincere and so joyful that he’s impossible to hate. He’s just a lot of fun to listen to.

Coloring Book takes all of him, adds a number of star collaborators and a ton of gospel and blends it together into an undeniably excellent album. He goes from running his verses with a laid-back Weezy verse over an upbeat vocal backing in “No Problem” to posturing with Thugger and Lil Yachty on “Mixtape” to heartfelt in the slower “Juke Jam” and highly personal tale of growing apart “Same Drugs.” Despite some more forgettable cuts to fill the album out, this is one of the best rap albums of the year and definitely worth a listen.

@murthynikhil

Drake – Views

2 Jul

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This album needed to be great. To Pimp A Butterfly is a landmark album and while The Life of Pablo is not Kanye’s best, it remains a very strong album. Things were looking good for Drake too, he comprehensively demolished Meek Mill in their beef and “Hotline Bling” was not only the best song, but also the best meme of the past year. Views however is the kind of album that collapses an empire.

The biggest issue is how repetitive it is. A cut like “9” could have survived on a different album, but here it just reinforces the faults of the album, namely that it is repetitive and just slightly boring. We’ve heard the petty Drake for far too long and by this point his mix of hurtful and hurting is no longer interesting. He raps “Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake/ You know I love to go there” in “Child’s Play”, but really who cares? This act has gotten tiring and his monotonous beats and flow in Views does not help. I can still listen to the incredibly petty “Marvins Room” indefinitely, but half of the music of this album is tedious from the first listen.

There are some strong pieces to this album though. “Too Good” with Rihanna is quite good and has enough self-awareness to become meaningful and “Hotline Bling” is still fantastic. I just cannot recommend that people track this album down however. Overall, it just lacks in ideas and in quality.

@murthynikhil

Your Chin at The Humming Tree – 22/5/2016

5 Jun

As far as shows in Bangalore go, seeing Your Chin at The Humming Tree is not bad. Your Chin is essentially royalty in the Indian indie scene and The Humming Tree is the one of the few major concert venues that Bangalore has to offer. It’s just a shame that both disappointed.

via The Humming Tree

The Humming Tree has a problem. People interested in the show, people who know Your Chin and like his music, skipped this show simply because of the venue. It’s crowded, it’s expensive and it’s shaped completely wrong. The Humming Tree gives the impression of a minor bar that puts up shows simply to differentiate itself. It is not designed for people to listen to live music and doesn’t give the impression that it’s particularly enthusiastic about the fact that people do. It exists less for the show and more for the Instagram updates of the day after.

And yet, The Humming Tree performs a very important function. India has a lot of very literate people making contemporary culture. Like everything else, Indian indie music is just waiting for the one breakout success to give credibility to the others. The fact that music is doing so much better than the other fields is in part thanks to places like The Humming Tree. It is fantastic that there are places that I can go to see my favorite Indian bands, and it’s necessary for there to be a place where I can interact with my favorite musicians.

The problem is that The Humming Tree is not a satisfactory place to go for the music – it is just the place where the music happens.

Komorebi


via The Humming Tree

The opening act was actually very good. They ran some very clever music that put down excellent foundations and then chopped the weirdest interludes into them. They played like a stranger, more interesting SOHN. Their performance was possibly a little rougher than it should have been, and a couple of songs would have benefited from some refinement with fresh ears, but it was still an excellent act. The venue failed them a bit, as their lights were atrocious and Your Chin’s set-up took up much of their stage, but they nevertheless had a great live presence. They were just fun to watch and fun to listen to. I’m definitely going to check them out again when they are next in Bangalore.

Your Chin

via The Humming Tree

I actually really like the new Your Chin EP, Peeping Till It’s Noise. It’s light-hearted, it’s energetic and it just makes your day better. It could be a little smarter and slightly more varied, but it is still just fun to listen to. This is also true live, just far less so. Raxit Tewari just had no stage presence. His low-energy, laid back demeanor on stage did nothing to help his music. His visuals helped, but were overall unimpressive.

Contrast him with Broken Bells or with The Postal Service, both of whom had highly energetic shows that really helped make the experience. No matter how fun the music, if the singer doesn’t involve himself with the show, it’s hard for the listeners to have fun as well.

Additionally, his music was far too repetitive and took no advantage of being live to become varied. Part of the point of a live concert is that, as a listener, you can focus on the music. It’s then incumbent on the artist to hold up their end of that deal and reward your focus. The best concerts have their music step up, but failing that, the artist must. Swaying slightly back and forth just does not make for a compelling show.

Peeping Till It’s Noise is a fun EP and I highly recommend that you check it out. It’s free to listen to on Soundcloud and is just good, solid electro-pop. It’s absolutely the perfect thing to put on while taking some time to relax. It’s just not worth going to see live.

@murthynikhil

Savages – Adore Life

5 May

Savages-Adore-Life

The Savages have a very particular niche and they own that niche completely. Their music is savage and raw, but oh so intelligent. Silence Yourself is the rage of a genius and the two parts are inseparable. There are moments that are pure insight just as there are moments of pure rage, but the whole is defined most by the adjective, pure. Adore Life maintains much of the same tone, but looks a little muted, a little scattered when compared to their debut album.

It is still focused to a point beyond the reach of most musicians. “Sad Person”, for instance, is excellent. It holds a fierce intelligence, yet is primal in its savagery. Adore Life arrests the listener constantly, from the riff of “When In Love” to the scream in “Slowing Down The World” to the fascinating beats of “Surrender”, and yet, the album lacks a piece like “She Will” from Silence Yourself that can consume the listener.

Nevertheless, Adore Life is a very good album and even if not quite to the bar that The Savages have set for themselves, it is still some of the best post-punk rock of today.

– @murthynikhil

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