Post Elvis – “Apocalypse Kid” Album Review

Post Elvis’ sophomore album, “Apocalypse Kid,” comes solely from the mind of Thomas Torres, and artistically, he’s bounding ahead towards musical greatness. Despite the album’s more experimental sound, especially when compared to his debut, Torres has crafted a riveting and cohesive listening experience for anyone who dares enter his musical wasteland.

In Post Elvis’ self-titled debut, Torres stated that people live in “an era of endless references, a dead pop cultural graveyard left for us to inspect.” Moving onto this latest project, it’s easy to see how heavily Torres leans into this idea, as he samples the familiar and the obscure to create something fresh and interesting. While Torres does utilize his well of pop culture references within his lyrics, the musical sound and style of “Apocalypse Kid” embraces the experimental. Songs such as “Delaware” begin with screeching alarms which transitions into a hip-hop beat, yet this doesn’t feel at odds with the droning, noise-rock of, “Wasteland Man.” Similarly, the 16-bit inspired “Max Pills” drops listeners straight into something that sounds as though it was remixed off an arcade machine just before it turns into a frantic dance song.

Sonically, this album sounds fantastic. Audiophiles may revel in the fact that Torres composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered this album himself; an impressive feat which is heightened when one notices the flairs added to this project. Hearing samples of swords, countdown timers, disconnected phonelines, and (dare I guess?) lasers(!) integrated into the tracks demonstrates Torres’ advancing skills as a producer. Even from the opening track “Live by the Bomb, Die by the Bomb,” and the album’s subsequent interludes, Torres works his magic layering, warping, and finally distorting sample after sample of speeches and soundbites. And fortunately, he doesn’t stop there, as he delivers complex songs which build and deconstruct themselves naturally, without ever overstaying their welcome. Even on slower songs such as “Know Equals Love,” the introduction entrances the listener in a dream-like state, as Torres builds the song up from a rough-sounding, drum pattern, to this almost upbeat-sounding movement whose notes all trail off like a question mark on an incomplete sentence.

Overall, “Apocalypse Kid” is a phenomenal next step for Post Elvis. However, for all intents and purposes, it needs to be noted that this is a bleak album. Tracks include Torres’ wailing, drawn-out, almost broken sounding instrumental recordings — even the “dance” track I mentioned earlier, “Max Pills,” has a frantic, almost anxiety inducing nervous energy pulsing throughout. Lyrically, the themes throughout this album are equally heavy, with dissociation, loneliness, and pain being the paths Torres prefers to lead listeners down. Should however, one believe themselves capable of stomaching the subject matter, then one will find an absolute gem of an album.

If you want more Post Elvis, you can look at him here…
 
Or hear his music on bandcamp at https://postelvis.bandcamp.com/

Back from the Dead: Citizen’s ‘As You Please’

Citizen has been an ever-evolving band since the release of their 2013 album, “Youth.” The dark themes paired with heavy instrumentation and lyricism made it a fan favorite. Songs such as “Sleep” and “The Summer” set the tone early for a band still craving experimentation.

In their second album, “Everybody is Going to Heaven,” Citizen took an even heavier approach. Mat Kerkes’s vocals were much more morbid with heavy bass instrumentation. The album was almost haunting. “As You Please,” however, is the perfect mixture of the pop punk and post-grunge sound Citizen has been dabbling in.

The album opens up with their lead single “Jet” which has to be one of the best songs on the track list. Fuzz-toned guitars manned by Ryland Oehlers and Nick Hamm steadily start the song off as the drums and bass create the full sound. The shoegaze-esque instrumentation is accompanied by Mat Kerkes’ well-developed voice. He shows off his pipes and even a falsetto in the chorus, proving he has matured as a vocalist. Tracks like “In the Middle of it All,” “World” and “Flowerchild” also show off his vocal talent.

Many fans love the nostalgic sound of “Youth,” but those who say it’s better than their most recent release are completely wrong. Here’s why. “As You Please” is a post-grunge effort with heavy yet atmospheric instruments that are crisp and well-defined. For example, “Fever Days” starts with ethereal plucking that was previously unheard in Citizen’s discography. A heavy bass-driven riff then cuts off the entrancing guitar as it subtly rings throughout the song. It fills up the empty sound accompanied only by sustained guitar notes and drums. Kerkes’ aggressive vocals is the last, satisfying touch to this perfect Citizen song.

“World” is another passionate song that is well written both musically and lyrically. With its bright guitars, crisp drums, rich bass and ambient backing vocals, the song is finalized with some of my favorite thought-provoking lyrics. In the post-chorus, Kerkes sings “Split me open/Let the air out/I’m your old friend,” with so much gut wrenching grit and emotion that I can’t help but shed a few tears. His songwriting is some of the most profound and eloquent out there and, for once, it forces me to pay attention to the words, not just the instruments.

“Fever Days” and “World” are definitely favorites for their unique musicality – which was missing from the band’s previous albums. I appreciate bands that aren’t afraid to experiment in different genres, but still maintain their established sound, like Citizen. “As You Please” shows fans that change is necessary. In a scene that tends to always sound the same, this album is step forward in musical experimentation and progress.

Favorites: “Jet,” “In the Middle of it All,” “Fever Days” and “World”

Least Favorites: “I Forgive No One” and “You are a Star”

Featured Image by Chloe Muro.

It’s All It’s Cracked Up To Be

After releasing their first self-titled EP in 2006, Fleet Foxes quickly swept the indie folk scene. It wasn’t until 2008 when they released their second EP “Sun Giant” did the band start to make a greater impact in the indie music world.

After their 2011 release “Helplessness Blues,” the band’s then drummer and now superstar extraordinaire Josh Tillman a.k.a. Father John Misty decided to leave. Fleet Foxes then went into hibernation not too soon after.

Fronted by Robin Pecknold, who sings and plays guitar, along with now permanent members, Skyler Skjelset (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Casey Wescott (keyboards), Christian Wargo (bass guitar) and Morgan Henderson (upright bass, woodwinds, violin, percussion), Fleet Foxes have risen out of their hiatus with a new piece of artistry titled “Crack-Up.”

This album works to be something separate from prior releases, but still holds true to the band’s indie folk roots. With tracks like “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” the wave of instrumentation washes over with a driving piano and bass lines that carry Pecknold’s voice and remind listeners what Fleet Foxes are all about. The song is like the ebb and flow of waves on a shore. Moments of nothing but an acoustic guitar and whisper-like vocals cut to the same driving guitars and percussion.

Other notable tracks include “Fool’s Errand,” an eerily upbeat rhythm that crescendos into a love song driven by Robin’s drawn-out lyrics. Although past albums were as genuine and raw, this album’s lyrics stand out as even more emotionally charged. When the hard hitting music subsides and it’s just Pecknold’s voice, this album has something more intimate.

If you’re already a fan of Fleet Foxes, dive right in to this album and don’t look back. If you’re looking for an album to sink your teeth into and want to find your new favorite band please be sure to give Fleets Foxes’ newest effort “Crack-Up” a wholehearted listen.

Featured Image: https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/03/fleet-foxes-detail-new-album-crack-up-share-sprawling-third-of-mayodaigahara-listen/

Illenium’s Sophomore Album Is A Journey

“Dude you gotta check out this Illenium guy!”

In the past, some of my friends have told me to check out this random EDM DJ/producer, but I never listened to them.

One day within the month of August, I decided to let Spotify DJ and play random songs for me on my drive. The immersive sounds of the bass line and the featured vocals of Annika Wells in the song “Crawl Outta Love” captivated me and left me wanting more of the future bass artist.

A month later, Nick Miller, better known as Illenium, released his sophomore album “Awake,” consisting of 13 tracks that all play a crucial role in the journey it takes you on.

The album starts off peacefully with “Needed You,” featuring Dia Frampton singing com vocals that compliment the build up of the song. The uplifting beat of this song picks up the overall tone of Illenium’s work within “Awake.”

“Crawl Outta Love” picks up where “Needed You” left off and takes things up another level, with lyrics that paint a picture of a relationship that should have never been – one side struggling to forget memories of the past.

Things slow down for a bit with “No Time Like Now,” which then prepares us for “Free Fall” featuring RUNN. Her smooth vocals are the main buildup before the drop, which then takes things back to that immersive sound of the synths and bass.

“Where’d You Go” pulls off a feel good vibe similar to the one that Porter Robinson and Madeon’s single, “Shelter,” radiates. Though neither a rise nor a fall, this track keeps us in a neutral position of an uplifting state of mind, waiting for more to come.

The chords of a guitar and the sound of the drums welcome you to the world of “Fractures” featuring Nevve and her soothing, high notes. Synths, drums, bass, guitar chords and vocals all make a recipe for a work of art that should be heard.

“No Time Like Now,” is one of those falls within the album that showcases the calm elements that make up part of the Illenium sound.  

One of the most beautiful songs within the album has to be “Leaving.” At first, the song starts out really slow with audio of a woman leaving a voicemail. This song is full of surprises, and gathers every single awesome individual aspect of Illenium into one: surprising, uplifting, and emotional. This song is one of the best tracks in “Awake.”

“Lost,” featuring Emilie Brandt, switches things up with a change of tone and pace that is very unique for the album as a whole. The same feeling is found in Illenium’s “Sound of Walking Away,” featuring the high the vocals of Kerli.

“Taking Me Higher” starts to hint that the journey is coming to an end soon, and plays a part in one of those massive falls of energy that are seen within “Awake.” A rise is brought back once again with “Feel Good” and “Beautiful” reminding us that the album is not complete just yet.

Illenium, along with the musical group Ember Island, decided to end things with a soft vibe through “Let You Go.” The title, positioning and delicacy of the track signify closure, but the lyrics beg-to-differ, creating a deeper message than the soft melody of the song would convey at first listen.

Illenium shows how he can integrate rises and falls within “Awake,” making it feel as if he was performing a solid live-set.

“Awake” is definitely a valuable gem for the EDM community. It’s a journey; a journey where every single emotion one can possibly feel is conjured by each song – songs that no one could ever get enough of.