Say Hi to Your Mom- The Impeccable Blahs

say hi to your mom

There are some bands that transcend everything else that is out there; musicians that choose not to be defined by genre restrictions and release passionate, unrestrained music. Say Hi to Your Mom (later shortened to Say Hi) is not one of those artists. It can probably be surmised from the name of the project or the album title which is similarly pedestrian and goofy, that this music is light-hearted and frothy. Those assumptions would be somewhat true, but that doesn’t necessarily discount the value of The Impeccable Blahs as a worthy listen. The low-fi and synth-heavy sound on this album is simultaneously more fun and depressing than anything else out there of this ilk. This certainly isn’t radio-friendly pop, ready to be given to the masses on a silver platter, but rather fun and simplistic music accompanied by Robert Smith-esque vocals. It can get a bit confounding trying to describe the vibe of the music to someone that hasn’t heard it, because it honestly shifts from song to song. “These Fangs” is bouncy and catchy, with angular guitars and an overzealous synth line in the chorus; on the other side of the spectrum is the track “She Just Happens to Date the Prince of Darkness”, which builds slowly and relies on vocalist Eric Elbogen’s fevered yell in the refrain. For two songs that seem so different to be two standout tracks goes far in telling what a mixed bag The Impeccable Blahs is, and it is somehow much more endearing because of the imperfections that are surreptitiously thrown in.

Although Say Hi play to their strengths throughout most of The Impeccable Blahs, there are just some songs that seem to run through the motions. “Sad, But Endearingly So” plods along at a medium pace without introducing any new elements to the overarching formula, and “Prefers Happy Endings” is simply a song that overstays its welcome. The lack of variation in songs such as these makes it difficult to sit through the entirety of the album without becoming bored. One of the greatest assets of the band is Elbogen’s vocals, as evidenced by the variety of emotions that his voice embodies over these ten tracks. Whether he is sounding disassociated and hushed (“Sweet Sweet Heartkiller”) or wailing as if his heart will come undone if he can’t get it out fast enough (“Snowcones and Puppies”), his voice is arresting and passionate. Never mind the fact that all of the lyrics in one way or another deal with vampires, as the lyrics don’t really matter here. Nor does it matter that Say Hi aren’t pushing any genre limitations, because it’s obvious that this wasn’t made for that reason. This is a very fun album with a depressive undertone, and any listener that enjoys indie pop will find themselves coming back to quite a few tracks after the fact.

Rating:

3.6/5

Tracklist:

1. These Fangs

2. Snowcones and Puppies

3. Blah Blah Blah

4. Sad, But Endearingly So

5. She Just Happens To Date the Prince of Darkness

6. Prefers Unhappy Feelings

7. Angels and Darlas

8. Not As Goth As They Say We Are

9. Sweet Sweet Heartkiller

10. The Reigning Champ of the Teething Crowd

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Matthew Robert Cooper- Miniatures

mathew robert cooper

Matthew Robert Cooper has something incredibly special to bestow upon listeners. It is the gift of feeling through music; the ability to convey emotion through subtle shifts in tone and pace. It is the ability to speak of lost love, or a forlorn feeling of loneliness without using words or vocals. His moniker Eluvium has put out heart-breaking beautiful instrumental albums for years now, and there is no reason to put this release up as one of his finest. The glacial sounds on Miniatures are a perfect melding of the two main sounds that he has perfected on albums past; the piano pieces are at once strikingly haunting and starkly different than the lush soundscapes created on other tracks. The strength of this album is not that the songwriting is brilliant (which it is), but rather that the variation of the tracks allow for the progression of songs to ebb and flow perfectly without sounding to similar to each other. That is an unfortunate pitfall of many musicians that take an entire album on by themselves; each track bleeds into the next, and by the end of the album, the listener is begging for the end of the monotony. The brilliance of Cooper is that he is intelligent on this release especially in terms of choosing the right progression for the listener. The choices that were made on how the album progresses track by track allow for one to hear a gentle and heartbreaking piano melody one track, and then get hit hard by a dense, yet expansive orchestral sound with the next track. It takes away the obvious limitations of the genre, and allows for the variation to play an active role in reeling the listener in for an experience of highs and lows, rather than listening to an album that gently drowses away.

“Miniature 1” starts off as reverb-laden masterpiece. Its sorrowful nature hints at beauty and nostalgia while repeating the same structure over and over. It is wholly affecting, and swallows the listener whole. The straightforward piano piece that follows is both short and telling, as one can tell the alternating sounds of the album strategically allows for variation without it seeming to be jarring. It flows from track to track, allowing sounds of happiness and jubiliation to punctuate the beautiful melancholy. This music is for the listener that wants to get lost in music, to become a recluse in a beautiful soundscape that no one can touch for a short while. The transition from piano to organ in “Miniature 5” is nothing short of startling, but the patterns of “Miniature 4” can be detected, and one can tell that Cooper was not ready to give that gorgeous melody up quite yet. The sound of pages flapping towards the end of “Miniature 7” is precisely why this album works so well; it is the details that create a world within the music. At 34 minutes in length, this album does not overstay its welcome in the least, and the brevity of most songs allow for the ideas to not become stale or overdone. In this way, it stays in your head long after the last notes fade out slowly on “Miniature 9”.

There is beauty and substance to be found on this record, and it does not hide or shy away from what it really is. This is an album that people will love or hate, depending on music taste. Many may find it too subtle to enjoy, too low-key to fully embrace it as a work of art. But for those that delve into this release, many will find an album that speaks to them without words, the way that a painting will move one to tears without motion. The devil may be in the details, but the details of this release are what keeps me coming back to this album over and over again to replay the home movies of my life in my head. The trials and tribulations of adulthood are given a soundtrack here, and what a sorrowful yet redeeming one it is.

Rating:

4.7/5

Tracklist:

1. Miniature 1

2. Miniature 2

3. Miniature 3

4. Miniature 4

5. Miniature 5

6. Miniature 6

7. Miniature 7

8. Miniature 8

9. Miniature 9

Odd Future- 12 Odd Future Songs

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Odd Future as a collective have always put out the message that they frankly don’t care how they are viewed by critics, fans, and the general population alike. Shock value lyrics and deeply-rooted cynicism are peppered throughout all of their releases and coupled with their innovative and off-kilter production, they are at the very least worthy of all the talk that they have garnered the past several years. With that being said, it doesn’t change the reality of the actual music, which ranges from incredibly impressive to just plain mediocre. 12 Odd Future Songs,is a mixtape giving listeners a look at the gamut of rappers and styles that they each embody. In their quest to be as different as they can from every other hip-hop collective, they occasionally stumble across greatness and also take some ill-advised turns. It is easy to take the vitriolic lyrics at face value and make the argument that the superfluous swearing are aimed at a younger audience, but when the listener digs through the already impressive discography of the members involved, they will find creative producers and unique MCs.

The album starts off with “Bastard”, a Tyler, the Creator track from the same titled album. The track is a personal narrative rapped over an eerie piano and synth tracking, and immediately proves that depth is not beyond the Odd Future’s leader. The last lines of the song sum up the rapper’s youthful pent-up anger:

This my zombie circusI hope the majors heard this
Fuck a deal, I just want my father’s email
So I can tell him how much I fucking hate him in detail

The following track, entitled “67” boasts one of the strongest tracks of the collection of odds and ends here. MellowHype is a collaboration between Hodgy Beats (rapper) and Left Brain (producer), and this track is possibly the best output from these two. Hodgy Beats took an unnaturally serious tone, which matches the incredibly expansive beat supplied by Left Brain. The solemn backing vocals help the song transcend into subject matter that is not touched on very much by the OF members. It soon becomes obvious through the release that the music is just created for listeners addled with ADD, as it goes from the dreamy electronica of “But She’s Not My Lover” to the bass-heavy banger of “Bankrolls”. It doesn’t necessarily make 12 Odd Future Songs a bad release, but rather just makes it much more difficult to enjoy it all the way through as a collective effort. Mike G makes a noteworthy appearance on the album with his song “King”, an incredibly unique track that is dedicated to the horror writer Stephen King, making a myriad of excellent references to his works of writing.

With so many strong songs on this release, there are still a few that fall short of enjoyable. Domo Genesis’ track “Steamroller” plods along with an uninspired beat and even less inspired lyrics, and “Rok Rok” is laughably bad compared to the other two tracks contributed by MellowHype. “French” is a nonsensical track that Tyler and Hodgy seemed to create just to be gleefully profane, and the synth line in the beat seems recycled compared to the creative ones that dominate the great songs on here. The reality of this release is that Odd Future are collectively creating music that they want to, and there are no rules to what they decide to create. For people that have never listened to them, this is the perfect release to decide if Odd Future’s particular brand of profane-laden, strange music is for them or not. As it stands, this is a strong collection of songs from a group of irreverent young MCs that are criticized far more than they should be.

Score:

3.5/5

Tracklist:

1. Bastard- Tyler, the Creator

2. 67- MellowHype

3. Forest Green- Mike G

4. Welcome Home (featuring Tyler, the Creator and Casey Veggies)- Jet Age of Tomorrow

5. French (featuring Hodgy Beats)- Tyler, the Creator

6. Rolling Papers (featuring Tyler, the Creator)- Domo Genesis

7. King- Mike G

8. Bankrolls- MellowHype

9. But She’s Not My Lover- Jet Age of Tomorrow

10. Vcr- Tyler, the Creator

11. Steam Roller (featuring Hodgy Beats and Frank Ocean)- Domo Genesis

12. Rok Rok- MellowHype

13. They Say (featuring Tay Walker)- The Internet