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by Ryo Miyauchi

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Courtesy Rate Your Music

RECORD OF THE WEEK

9 / 10

Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Genre: Post-Rock

One of the most celebrated reunions of bands this year came from the sudden return of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The nonet have created evocative free-form Rock pieces since the ‘90s that span influence of classical movements and brutal experimental drones. It’s been 7 years since their hiatus, and now the band comes back with the monolithic piece Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend that expands their powerful craft.

The central pieces to the 4-track album is definitely “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire” which both clock in at almost 20 minutes. But in those 20 minutes, GY!BE continuously evolve themes and ideas that takes an exciting life on its own. The songs elegantly run as a cycle, going through dramatic stages through its transformation. Abrasive destruction grows into grand triumph and in the end, finishes into celebratory victory.

GY!BE’s music requires an investment of attention but the experience is rewarding as the entire record grants a spectrum of emotions and ideas. The guitars shed both darkness and brightness. The strings shriek in terror and at times bear with comfort. There are no vocals but the instruments speak huge for themselves entirely, either loudly or in silence. Cult fans of GY!BE has been following their work intensely. Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is definitely the return of a magic they’ve been chasing.

SINGLES OF THE WEEK

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“Good for You” by Icona Pop

Swedish dance duo Icona Pop is still working on their debut but they released an EP this week to hold us over until they get that done. Following Charli XCX-penned summer smash “I Love It,” the duo premiered another fun Pop “Good for You.” The single has Icona Pop in their signature cool-girl with an attitude persona. They’re not destructive enough to crash your car this time around, but the duo still are not girls to be messed with.  Synths bounce energetic and the hook is laid perfect with Icona Pop’s anthem-ready shout-sing. “Gone for Good” is another fun Icona Pop song for the independent girls tough against the crawling jerks.

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“Rivers of Blood” by Wu-Tang Clan & Kool G Rap

Wu-Tang fans, rejoice: RZA’s mega-feature soundtrack The Man with the Iron Fist has been releasing songs so far that do not disappoint. We’ve already seen a new Kanye track, RZA & Black Keys, and now crime-rap godfather Kool G Rap with the one and only Wu-Tang Clan. “Rivers of Blood” is produced by Frank Dukes and BADBADNOTGOOD, and it fuzzes with gritty live band soul. The live rendition vision evokes what 8 Diagrams tried to do and nailing it to the next degree. The legendary emcees chops with cinematic finesse. Everything is helmed at just the right amount of fancy and seriousness. RZA’s soundtrack is out next Tuesday, and it’s a record to keep an eye on.

 

Courtesy Rate Your Music

MISS OF THE WEEK

Courtesy: HypeTrak

6 / 10

Cabin Fever 2 mixtape by Wiz Khalifa

Genre: Hip Hop

A second installment of Wiz Khalifa’s Cabin Fever tapes reminds me how overlooked the first one was.  The first tape from early 2011 had Wiz doing trap-rap featuring a couple of Lex Luger production when that was starting to become in demand. It was enjoyable but looking back now, it looks so easy for Wiz to make such a tape. And almost 2 years later with a sequel, Wiz Khalifa just rehashes this same territory which at this point has become dull and formulaic.

The overall vibe of Cabin Fever 2 follows the Lex Luger descendant club-rap that we have all recently seen goon rappers retreat to when they want to spit stereotypical Hip Hop recipes of money, clothes and hoes. It’s okay to have trunk rattling bangers about money stacking once in a while but when your songs start becoming cookie-cutter creations, things start to sound bland.

Wiz Khalifa has capitalized on the essentials of party-rap these last few years, and now his once-superb hook writing to casual swag-boast has fell into predictability. We can almost see the flowchart he works with. Hooks are reduced to repetitive mantra of “smoke and drink” while blank calling of “bout that” fails to assert his cool. His now labelmate Juicy J can’t really save this one. And are fans really satisfied with Wiz Khalifa boringly dishing out “what they want”? Taylor Gang has been looking like a caterer to trending hashtags and Cabin Fever certainly doesn’t make it any better.

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