Track Reviews: Best Coast, Death Grips, Grimes, Kanye West, St. Vincent, The Tallest Man on Earth, Will Butler

Best Coast – “California Nights”

I’m not gonna lie. When I first heard that Best Coast was taking a huge turn on their new album, I was anticipating the same simple surf-rock tunes signature to Best Coast’s oeuvre. However, “California Nights,” the title track and first single of their third album, soars beyond my predictions. The first few opening bars solidified these expectations, featuring the same simple rhythms and rhymes of the lyrics, so familiar to Best Coast fans. Though I’m a little tired of the almost nursery-rhyme like verses, all my preconceptions vanished when the drums were introduced, transitioning what seems to be a regular lovelorn Best Coast ballad, to a (dare I say) shoegazey aria, hazy like an orange sunset falling over the Californian horizon. Not only does this song truly capture and celebrate the occult nostalgia of a Californian night, the stunning serenade of Bethany Cosentino’s vocals over the echoey drums transition Best Coast from pop rock, day-at-the-beach playlists to a reminiscent, dimensional band. I’m excited to hear what else Best Coast has in store. Emo Coast is good to go. – Dora Boras

Death Grips – “On GP”

Being a Death Grips fan is tough, having to constantly endure their dick moves and dick pics. After their festival no-shows and abrupt breakup, the trio’s final album Jenny Death, felt more like a red herring than an actual album. But “On GP” is reason to hope again. The trio have come full circle to their rock-influenced sound on Exmilitary. It’s not exactly a return to form. In fact, it’s hard to tell what it is. The watery guitars and humming organ suggest something bigger and more progressive than their previous material. And MC Ride is more emotionally fraught than he usually is, threatening to hang himself, having a late-night conversation with Death, and deciding not to commit suicide. Knowing Death Grips, they’ll have something up their sleeves for their final album, and if “On GP” is anything to go by, Jenny Death is going to be a hell of a final statement. – James Li

Grimes – “REALiTi”

Grimes never intended to release “REALiTI” but now that it’s out, I have questions. Namely, how is a demo-quality throwaway this good? REALiTi” might be unmixed and unmastered, but it’s still dazzling. The video for “REALiTi” consists of Grimes’ tour footage from Asia: many of the shots include her dancing late at night, swallowed under the neon lights, and the track has that same contrast between light and darkness. Grimes brings some EDM sounds into her fold – the thumping bass and the “Sandstorm”-like synths make “REALiTi” shine. But Grime’s signature sirenlike coo takes the track in the other direction, making the track darker and dreamier. “REALiTi” strikes the perfect balance between EDM-like immediacy and intimate atmosphere. My other question: how many other sparkling pop gems are hidden among Grimes’ 1000 gigabytes of unreleased material? – James Li

Kanye West – “All Day” (ft. Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom)

One week was all that was needed for Kanye West to reclaim his throne in the arts, covering music, fashion, and culture. From the launch of his clothing line, the Yeezy Boost push, and his barebones performance with Sia for Saturday Night Live, it was clear that West was coming back stronger than ever. The premiere of “All Day” was seen at this years Brit Awards, where West was accompanied on stage by a posse of men, two of which were holding massive blow torches set to fire off whenever they felt it was necessary, giving a vicious and crude, but clean performance. Keeping Paul McCartney constantly in the loop with the new album, Kanye takes on Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom for additional guest spots to tie together the refrain, as well as a few bridge verses. Disregarding the verses, the instrumental, co-produced with French Montana, delivers a heavily repetitive track with massive bass, accompanied by a higher pitch synth overlay. West’s verses are clean cut and very careful, as he packs lyrical punches by cutting himself off right in the wake of the complete fire he is laying out, allowing for the refrain to ring in to bring a sense of serenity to the track. With West, it doesn’t seem to be all about extremely meaningful lyrics, but more so a combination of cacophonic phrases that deliver harshly to the ear, leaving a lingering realization of just how raw the track as a whole presents itself. Kanye is completely carrying out a full attack on all musical bases, dropping “Only One” and “Wolves”, then concluding with “All Day”, essentially seals the deal in regards to completing the spectrum of intensity. As everyone by now is surely familiar with West possessing the worlds biggest ego, I highly doubt he will show any signs of slowing down in all of his areas of interest, and with the spotlight constantly on him, I believe it is fair to say 2015 belongs to him. – Claire Cowan

St. Vincent – “Teenage Talk”

The catharsis that comes with listening to St. Vincent’s latest track “Teenage Talk” is one that feels like the first warm day after a cold winter. The jarring (and yet still lovely) discordance of her eponymous album is left behind for a significantly more contemplative, and nostalgic synth track. Debuting on HBO’s Girls last week, Teenage Talk is reflective piece on Clark’s younger self. It is an ephemeral musical retrospection met both instrumentally and lyrically with a maturity expressed in the line “I don’t think the past is better.” Sounding almost as if she’s apologizing to herself, St. Vincent forgives her teenage mistakes and faces towards the sun. – Elle Laffling

The Tallest Man on Earth – “Sagres”

The Tallest Man on Earth’s latest track “Sagres” feels like reuniting with an old friend. The familiarity of Matsson’s aching lyricism is now reticulated with a neater instrumental arrangement; a some what different, but perhaps inevitable progression from the rawness of his previous albums. The nuances of Tallest Man are found in the captivating and controlled layerings of the guitar, and percussion. Sagres suggests a more settled and mature version of Tallest Man capturing a musical and personal growth for Matsson, almost leaving behind his Dylanesque undercurrents. This track sounds like an invitation to grab a beer and catch up. – Elle Laffling

Will Butler – “Anna”

It’s been over a year since Arcade Fire’s Reflektor was released, but during this tough time of withdrawal, fans should look no further than the band’s multi-instrumentalist Will Butler. Butler recently released his solo album, Policy, from which “Anna” is the lead single. With upbeat synthesizers, the lyrics stay in the bounds of simplicity and don’t go further than “rising before that lazy sun.” The song begins with mention of Anna who is claimed to be “the one”, but is momentarily forgotten, despite being the track’s name. It moves on to a tangent from Anna as he becomes preoccupied with “money” and lazily chants the word repeatedly. Following a chaotic piano bridge, Butler remembers Anna but equates her importance to that of money, causing confusion as to what their relationship is and why the song was named after her at all. Although the horns are a nice addition, they are somewhat unnecessary and overpower the lyrics. However, despite its flaws, the song has won me over with its consistent percussion and lively vocals; thus “Anna” leaves a good impression and takes the money. – Victoria Prepelita


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