I don’t feel like writing an intro today, this is going to be a cold open – let’s get into the reviews.

Uboa – The Origin of My Depression [Album of the month]

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Favorite tracks: ALL OF THEM

I first listened to this on a sleepless night (because I downed a mug of coffee a couple of hours before going to bed like an idiot) and by the end I was left wide-eyed and tensed up. It wasn’t a fun experience but a powerful one. Uboa is an experimental noise project run by Xandra Metcalfe. The way she riles up a stormy, crushing climax through textured, quieter intros, through tracks like Detransitioning, The Origin of My Depression and Lay Down and Rot, is stunning. The atmospheric quieter sections of the album is as compelling as the brain-melting noise passages. The static buildup throughout the acoustic flourishes in Epilation Joy transitions perfectly to Please Don’t Leave Me – which is agonizing and vividly nightmarish, it almost portrays the types of sounds I hear whenever I have brief nightmares of my head melting due to sleep paralysis.

An Angel of Great and Terrible Light is like a post rock track summing up to a doom metal climax – and it’s definitely a standout track. Misspent Youth is a track that feels like it overstays it length when I listen on its own, but in the context of the whole album, it sounds like the only way the record can complete its sonic circle. The lyrical themes of the album center around Metcalfe’s transness, transphobia, her coming out being queer, theology and depression. Her vocal delivery is nothing short of pained and even in the quieter moments of the album, she sounds distressed. The album is definitely not something I can say I “enjoy” but it’s hard not to look past the riveting and powerful artistry put into it, in spite of it being extremely personal and disturbing.

Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

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Favorite tracks: Igor’s Theme, Earfquake, I Think, A Boy Is a Gun*, Puppet, Gone, Gone/Thank You, I Don’t Love You Anymore, Are We Still Friends?

I love the overall rough sound of the album – it’s fizzy at bits, smoothly layered at some other bits so that it complements Tyler’s capricious delivery throughout its runtime. The genre-blending of hip-hop, soul and R&B is as smooth as the transitions between the tracks, which makes for a tight 40 minute listen.

The repetitive hooks are effective with their emotional weight and inviting with their catchiness, like in Igor’s Theme, Earfquake and I Think. It rarely fails to put me in a weird neo-soul trance, especially with tracks like Boy is a Gun, Puppet, Gone Gone and I Don’t Love You Anymore. I certainly preferred the soul and funky portions of the album over the rap sections, but I don’t think there’s a legitimately bad moment on the album.

Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits

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Favorite tracks: datsu hikage onna, S’il vous plait, bakuro book, What do you mean you have talk to me at this late date?, Introduce me to your family, Love is Short, Bad luck, 6 day working week is a pain, Binge eating binge drinking bulimia, ikezu

Damn, the energy of these 27 minutes of punk rock made for one of the most infectious first listens of this year. With barely any of the tracks overstaying their length, the band packs some great tempo switch-ups, amazing acceleration in their playing and a hell of a crude character in their vocal deliveries.

The genre tags on this album stem from riot and hardcore punk, there’s an element of pop group-like chemistry in the vocal performances permeating throughout the album and the repetitive chants are catchy. It’s amazing how seamless the transitions are despite a good portion of the album being a compilation of old stuff. Although the band sounds like they are content with producing a conventional type of punk rather than experiment or innovate on their sound, they still did a great job with this album.

SPELLLING – Mazy Fly

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Favorite tracks: Red, Haunted Water, Under the Sun, Real Fun, Hard to Please (Reprise), Afterlife, Dirty Desert Dreams, Secret Thread

Listening through this is akin to taking a long hike through a mystical desert, enchanted by the strange abstract lyricism of Tia Cabral against shiny eccentric synths in a witchy mix. And it’s not just the synths, there’s something hypnotic in the backdrop instruments, Cabral’s ad-libs and drum arrangements that add to the replay value of the LP. Cabral’s psychedelic mystique in her vocal delivery and manipulation, on top of that, makes Mazy Fly for a pretty uniform yet compelling art pop record.

Even though, while listening through the tracks, there’s a sense of the tracks having the same vibe and energy, I think there’s enough nuance in the arrangements to make them stand out from one another yet feel like they stem from the same project. Still, I think the album could have had a better pacing with a bit of trimming. Other than that, I think this record is quite a fine display of atmospheric, mystical art pop.

100 gecs – 1000 gecs

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Favorite tracks: 745 sticky, money machine, 800db cloud, stupid horse, ringtone, hand crushed by mallet, gec 2 Ü

Ah yes, bubblegum bass – one of the primary reasons why I like girl-group-Kpop and PC Music, no matter how cornily or freakishly its implemented, I will have a soft spot for it. But 100 gecs experiments with more genres than just glitched-out, distorted bubblegum in this project, they incorporate elements of deconstructed club, ska and emo rap… and even a bit of deathcore near the tail of 800db cloud.

The vocal work throughout the entire album is nothing short of awesomely bizarre. 745 sticky and ringtone are reminiscent of playful bubblegum pop but with a sick distortion slapped on their tails. Money machine, stupid horse and gec 2 Ü are squeaky clean earworms, while 800db cloud and hand crushed by a mallet have infectious distorted bass drops. While I don’t find the improvisational tracks in I Need Help Immediately and gecgecgec well put together, it’s hard to deny how hard the rest of the album slaps.

AAAMYYY – Body

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Favorite tracks: Gaia, Z, Poli Sci, Island, Ain’t No Tame, Eyes

Amy’s brand of synthpop in this album is freaky, futuristic and playfully textured in all the right ways. Her smooth soft vocals are juxtaposed against the synths really well, and that makes Body a nice balance of easy and attention-grabbing listen. I also loved the climactic psychedelic outros to Island and Ain’t No Tame.

Island is probably the standout track from this album, it’s probably one of favorite synthpop tunes of the year so far – it’s tropical and dreamy at the same time, aka the perfect summer tune and Matton’s feature is icy. Eyes is a nice balladic finish to the album, it’s probably the only song that sounds like it features live instruments. Playful tracks like Gaia, Z and Poli Sci feature just solid synth layering. My only complaint is that JIL’s feature in All by Myself wasn’t good and Over My Dead Body goes on a bit too long. Still, this LP is solid.

Quelle Chris – Guns

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Favorite tracks: Spray and Pray, Guns, Mind Ya Bidness, It’s the Law, Wild Minks, Box of Wheaties, Straightshot, Obamacare, You, Me & Nobody Else

I had never to Quelle Chris’ music before but after a first listen through this album told me what I’ve been missing on. I was thinking hip- hop hasn’t been great this year but this month proved it to be different. Trying to generalize the themes of this album isn’t a piece of cake, but they stem from communities Quelle’s been in, politics, mass shootings, and gun control.

The production in almost every track sound chopped up like samples and smooth at the same time, they sound super fresh. Quelle’s delivery is charged with wit and character, he takes up roles effortlessly. I don’t really have a lot to say on the lyrical content in this album since it’s dense with references but that didn’t deter me much from enjoying Quelle’s sharp delivery.

Denzel Curry – ZUU

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Favorite tracks: RICKY, WISH, BIRDZ, SPEEDBOAT, SHAKE 88, P.A.T.

This short Denzel Curry album is supposed to be a freestyle transitional project to a more conceptual album, and for a good section, it sounds like it. The interludes on this do nothing for me, they aren’t particularly well-placed and they don’t act as interstitial transitional bits between tracks.

The production for the most part is sticky and has a “oldschool” edge to it. Denzel’s energy in his deliveries being as prime as ever, especially in tracks like RICKY, BIRDZ and P.A.T. I don’t really have a lot else to say about this album, half of it is great while the other is pretty bland to my ears.

Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders – Wakage ga Itaru

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Favorite tracks: Shiken Zenya, Mayoeba Toutoshi, Masage Canavaro, Koi Geba, Okami no  Uta, Chirachirachirami Shiken Toujitsu

I am not really familiar with this group’s music but there are some nice fun cuts in this album. I really enjoy their jazzy instrumental improvisational passages in the middle of some of the songs. Their implementation of powerful vocals, gritty guitars, playful piano and dancy drums makes for energetic listens despite me not having the slightest idea of what they are singing about. I barely found any information on them through a couple of Homicidols articles. Apparently, a lot of their full MVs are locked behind region locks – which sucks, but at least the music is nice.

Red Velvet – ‘The ReVe Festival’ Day 1

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Favorite tracks: Zimzalabim, Bing Bing, LP

First of all – the title of the EP is awful. I thought it was going to be some concert blu-ray release or something similar. Anyway, a good portion of this EP sounds like recycled ideas for Red Velvet in uninteresting ways. I think the title track is pretty good, as messy as it sounded, there’s just this over-the-top ridiculous catchiness to it (like Rookie). Bing Bing is just straight up fun with that bassline in the chorus.

Sunny Side Up has some nice harmony and smooth bass in it, but it doesn’t stand out as a good song, it’s like filler. Even Milkshake sounds like filler, it feels super safely produced. Parade takes too much time to build up, but LP’s saxophone passage got me. Overall, I don’t think this mini-album is hot garbage (unlike RBB which was a disaster) but it’s barely a return to form.

Seiko Oomori – Re: Re: Love

I am feeling a big YES on this single. Seiko’s raw and emotive delivery, the thrashy chaotic climax, Mineta’s vocal chemistry with Seiko, the running tempo of the instruments – what’s not to love about the song? I just found myself humming the song way more often than any other song in this roundup – it’s that catchy. Even the B-sides are great – I have already raved about JUSTadICE in a previous roundup, and Mekkawa is a typical cute Seiko song and it just warms my heart.

CLC – Me

Glad to see  CLC putting out an actual song (unlike No). It’s in the same vein of No and Black Dress but the chorus here hits harder and the aesthetic in the MV isn’t black and red for once. It’s refreshing – and I will admit it, I liked this release mostly because of the MV’s wardrobe and set designs.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. Hope you all have a fine day/evening.