Track Reviews: Alex G, Charli XCX, Kanye West, Liturgy, Rihanna, Torres, Travi$ Scott

Alex G – “Sarah”

Alex G’s song “Sarah” has been floating around the internet for a while now, grainy and fuzzy in Youtube videos and on Tumblr accounts run by fans. Now that it’s finally been released in a new, remastered version, you can fully enjoy the song without any unnecessary background noise. As he always does, Alex G sings honestly and openly about another relationship. We’ve heard how it went with “Harvey”, among others, and in this particular ditty, Alex describes Sarah, a runner, with his signature frankness. Arguably one of the best songs the bedroom pop prince has ever written, “Sarah” sounds so pretty and delicate that it’s easy to replay it so many times you become nearly hypnotized. It’s also packed with lyrics that do well standing alone, my personal favourite is “she loves me like a dog/and when we mess around I’ll let her know the truth I found.” Whether he’s making music about friendship, romance, or something in between, Alex G never fails to hit the nail on the head, and this track is certainly no exception. – Jessa Evenden

Charli XCX – “Doing It” (ft. Rita Ora)

Like her previous songs Break “The Rules” and “Boom Clap”, Charli XCX’s new single (featuring Rita Ora), “Doing It”, sets a tone of youthful fun. This time there’s a nice 80s throwback with synthesizer background music and a video filled with colourful outfits and grainy camera shots. As well, the song is catchy and upbeat, making it a great piece of bubble-gum pop.

Doing It would be a great addition to your girls’ night out playlist. The song celebrates friendships and good vibes.At first, I mistook the song to be a story of reunited lovers. In the first verse and chorus, Charli XCX sings “It’s been a long time / Since we’ve been around” and “Want you to know how I miss ya”. However the song’s true message becomes clear once Rita Ora appears in the second verse, belting out “Friends like a team in circle / We’re together, we’re so alive.” Together, Charli XCX and Rita Ora have made an awesome girl-power duet. The song celebrates friendship from start to finish, ending off with the singers charmingly chanting “C-X, with the R-I-T-A.” – Querobin Mendoza

Kanye West – “Only One” (ft. Paul McCartney)

Kanye West pays beautiful tribute to his late mother in his new release, “Only One”. The track was released on iTunes on New Year’s Day. I, like many who listened to the track that day, had their first cry of the year. Paul McCartney accompanies Ye on piano, setting the sentimental tone. West wrote the track in his mother’s perspective, claiming that it was as if it was her that was talking through him to his daughter, North. The track’s title comes from the Swahili translation of Kanye, which is in fact “Only One”. The music video has now been released on the artist’s site, which features Kanye walking around with his daughter, eliciting more crying on my part as I am sure was the case with many others. Who knew Yeezus could make us so emotional? – Samantha Capaldi

Liturgy – “Quetzalcoatl”

The Brooklyn-based “transcendental black metal” act Liturgy drops all pretence of being a metal band on their latest single “Quetzalcoatl”, from their upcoming third album The Ark Work. According to the band’s press release, the album adds elements of “occult-oriented rap.” It’s a weird description, but “Quetzalcoatl” combines rap and rock in a way that’s more akin to Death Grips than Liturgy’s black metal contemporaries. I enjoy “hipster black metal” as much as the next guy and I appreciate how Liturgy tests the boundaries of metal, but “Quetzalcoatl” misses the mark. The choppy guitar riffs sound like an interesting deconstructed take on metal, but they make some confusing choices. They go with programmed drums instead of using a live drummer, and the MIDI strings and Hunter-Hunt Hendrix’s affectless half-spoken vocals fall flat. – James Li

Rihanna – “FourFiveSeconds” (ft. Kanye West and Paul McCartney)

February brought about an unexpected collaboration: Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney came forward with “FourFiveSeconds”, a stripped down, guitar-dependent track that depicts the plight of two lovers. Rihanna, as always, kills it vocally; her gritty, wailing voice is the star of the track, which is refreshing considering the typical heavy production of her pop material. The bridge is easily the best part of the song; Rihanna is backed only by a faint church organ, and her raw vocal talent is allowed to come forward. Kanye also impresses with his sung vocals, rather than spitting his usual verses. However, something about the track just doesn’t add up. It begs to resolve into something bigger, something more epic, but it just maintains the same velocity without building up to anything. McCartney’s guitar part is wimpy at best, which is disappointing considering, well, he’s Paul McCartney. The goal of the track was probably to be minimalist and fresh, but in reality, it didn’t live up to its full potential. – Rebecca M. Williams

Torres – “Strange Hellos”

Every other female singer-songwriter gets compared to PJ Harvey, but I’m going to go ahead and compare Mackenzie Scott, the Brooklyn-via-Nashville singer-songwriter who records as Torres, to Polly Jean anyway. In fact, it’s no coincidence that Scott recorded “Strange Hellos”, the second single off her upcoming sophomore album Sprinter, with Rob Ellis and Ian Olliver – former members of the PJ Harvey Trio. The song begins with some slowly strummed chords, as Scott’s anger slowly simmers, before the overdriven guitars and Scott’s screamed vocals kick in. You can practically hear the venom in Scott’s voice when she forces out the words: “I love you all the same.” It might be a little on the nose as a tribute to PJ Harvey, but its power is hard to deny. On a previous single, Scott teamed up with Sharon Van Etten and The War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel, but despite her tendency to surround herself with talented people, Scott is coming into her own and proving herself to be a singer-songwriter worth watching. – James Li

Travi$ Scott – “High Fashion” (ft. Future)

With the announcement of his Rodeo tour, it was only appropriate that Travis Scott would release a couple singles to get the hype going for his upcoming album, Rodeo. The single “High Fashion” features rapper Future who handles the hooks and a verse, while Travis only covers one verse on the song.

As a play on the words “High Fashion”, the rappers discuss the high-end drugs they tend to enjoy, as well as the high-end clothing they like dress in, discussing how both go hand in hand for the two. Future and Travis are flaunting their success and are kind of pissed that fuccbois are jacking their swag just because they think it’s trendy. The two rappers are obviously at the top of their game and the song is about exactly that.The beat, produced by Metro Boomin, TM-88, and WondaGurl, provides us with a banger with those heavy drums that Travis uses so well, they make Kanye jealous.

There’s no word as to whether or not this single will be put on the album, or if it’s just something to quench our thirst for La Flame for now. That being said, however, I can’t wait for the album to drop next month because Travis knows that fire and will probably be releasing one of the top rap albums of 2015. – Sayem Khan

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