Albums + Tracks

The Weeknd’s “My Dear Melancholy,” EP Review

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My Dear Melancholy, is The Weeknd’s first work that is absolutely pure sex from top to bottom. It has its faults, but this five song EP offers a touch of nostalgia with a whole lot of sensuality and plenty of sensitivity.

This EP feels like a bit of a regression to The Weeknd’s earlier work with Trilogy, but it’s a sound that is still distinctive from any other R&B artist. He may have changed his hair, but his sound has returned to all its former glory. While the pop lovers who bopped to “Starboy” in 2016 might be disappointed, long-time fans are in for a nice surprise. This EP is a return to the sensual and emotional Weeknd who R&B lovers fell for back in 2013. The only real danger with My Dear Melancholy, is that when The Weeknd performs these tracks there’s no way the crowd will be able to keep their pants on. Peeking through this layer of sensuality is an element of heart-wrenching emotional loss. With nearly every track the listener is caught in a constant limbo of not knowing whether to body roll or to sob. This emotional intensity is most clearly demonstrated in The Weeknd’s closing track, “Privilege,” which focuses on romantic loss and finding ways to cope with it.

The ever-present syncopated beats drive the whole EP forward, despite being something a kid could probably create using a beat making app on their mother’s iPhone. The most notable of these beats are probably the two tracks The Weeknd partnered up with French DJ and electronic musician Gesaffelstein: “I Was Never There” and “Hurt You.” The Weeknd’s allure is in his ability to make simple beats, simple lyrics, and simple melodies become the literal embodiment of seduction. In this allure lies an issue — only so much can be done with such simplicity, and The Weeknd ran the risk of paying too close a homage to his earlier work with this EP. The beat in the chorus of  “Call Out My Name” is exactly the same as that in “Earned It” from The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness. With his career only dating back to 2013, The Weeknd should be wary of failing to put forward truly new material.

All in all, My Dear Melancholy, leaves the listener quite satisfied (in more ways than one). This little glimpse of who The Weeknd used to be before “Can’t Feel My Face” shot him into the world of pop is a nice breath of fresh air and a reminder of the artist The Weeknd truly is. He falls short on managing to create entirely new music while still containing the same sentiments as Trilogy. The Weeknd has plenty of gas left in his career as long as he can drive himself forward with new ideas that continue to uphold his music’s sensual identity.

 

Read more music articles at Cliché Magazine
The Weeknd’s “My Dear Melancholy,” EP Review. Featured image credit: XO and Republic Records.

Best Soundtracks of 2017

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Warning, subjective post ahead! My determination for what makes a good movie soundtrack simply lies in its ability to return us back to special moments in the film, moments that were carefully thought out with music added to enhance its effect on us, the viewers. For some, even if the movie wasn’t too outstanding, the music can be its saving grace. And in 2017, here are a few soundtracks that stood out.

The Results

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

This film is based on the superhero team of a colorful characters (they all still kind of weird me out), with stars, a major score, and nostalgia that I can’t help but feel, as most comic-oriented films tend to have. The soundtrack however connected with movie watchers who grew up in the comic-heavy, side-stepping & heavy pastels & some assortment of collection of fabric & hair products years. Then there are those who are too young to recognize the music. It opens with “Mr. Blue Skyby ELO (hear that great transition at 3:38!), which is always great for a montage or those life moments where you want to block out the madness. The release also closes with a punching synth of the teams’ version of “Disco Inferno” called “Guardians Infernoby The Sneepers and David Hasselhoff. DAVID HASSELHOFF! Not to mention the whirr & funk Parliament brings in the classic “Flashlight” & “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” by Silver are great for reminding us life is full of surprises and good music is ageless.

Fifty Shades Darker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Hear me out. Well hear this soundtrack out. I promised you I wouldn’t watch it but to be fair, I skipped through all of those scenes. Yes, I thought I could get the price of a cable channel crime episode for about two hours. I was wrong. However the selected inclusion of all kinds of artists and genres piqued my interest to go beyond the film. There’s “Helium” by Sia which immediately caught my attention, and came at a cliche moment where the girl realizes she really loves the guy despite everything. There’s “Lies in the Dark” by Tove Lo, gritty & grating synth for after hours, and “The Scientist,performed by Corinne Bailey Rae in all her honesty. And then there was the dynamic “Not Afraid Anymore” by Halsey. Overall, what really dampened my disappointment definitely was the inclusion of tracks + artists suitable for your tastes at any hour of the day, or anytime of the year.

Baby Driver (Music from the Motion Picture)

We’ve all done it; you hear a song and can’t help but imagine a perfect scene to go along with it. That’s essentially how this movie started, which is pretty awesome and admirable. This film will be memorable simply for the state of awe I was in once I realized what was happening. A good chunk of the scenes carried out the same way it started, in the actors and their movement or behaviors all lining up. It was funny, helped me understand a relatives love for heist movies, and mocked any attempts I tried at recreating it during my time spent in Los Santos… Highlights were definitely opening with “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a weird but melody-driven song, with a “look at me!” appeal rightfully placed in the film’s opening, as was “Chase Me” a hip-hop brash and full with heavy-hitters Danger Mouse, Big Boi & Run The Jewels at the end of the soundtrack. Then there’s “Neat Neat Neat” by The Damned, I have a small guilty pleasure for punk, especially for a bass as just hitting like this one. By all means, start the song over, and let “Debraby Beck mellow you out.

Again this post is extremely subjective, but we’d love to hear your vote for the best soundtracks of 2017, and here’s hoping this year movie releases make the competition even tougher.

Read more on Music at Clichemag.com

The Most Influential Album Releases of 2017

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No matter how much hype an album gets in the moment, it’s easy to forget about it once the next one comes out. But here at Cliché, we are firm believers in giving credit where it is due. As 2017 comes to an end, it’s important to remember that in the midst of all the madness, we were truly blessed with some amazing releases in every genre from hip-hop to rock to pop. To make choosing your favorite album of 2017 just a bit easier, we rounded up a list of all the most influential album releases of 2017.

 

January

I See You by the xx
Genre: Indie Rock/Dream Pop

The third studio album from the dream-pop power-duo, I See You marked the return of the band after a four-year hiatus. After years of uncertainty, I See You ushered in an era of creative stability for the xx, exploring countless new sounds to much critical acclaim.

‘War & Leisure’ Album Review: The State of Miguel

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War & Leisure marks Miguel’s fourth album, two years after his critically acclaimed Wildheart. Upon news of an upcoming release, I expected nothing but consistency and something that will always be great to listen to. For some Miguel fans, Wildheart was too ‘classic’ but a departure from the Miguel they knew. For others, it showed his capabilities in reaching the artists influencing Miguel’s artistry. War & Leisure is an interesting title, but with changes regarding its initial single line-up, and hoping to speak more on the state of us and beyond, Miguel marks this piece a balance between the two spaces.

Highlights

Overall the album continues to show off Miguel’s artistry and even key artists that complement his work. There’s the hypnotic, alt-r&b track “Wolf,” with upcoming artist QUIÑ (Sticky Situations feat. Syd), who uses her sultry vocals to exclaim at Miguel’s revelations to his chosen, and the willing Red. There’s the sweet-titled “Pineapple Sky” and upbeat production from Detail (Beyonce, Wiz Khalifa, Akon), and soul influence on the recurring riff amidst the electronic influence, reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” (the song credits the original writing team as well). And then there’s the return of noted rapper and collaborator J.Cole, for “Come Through and Chill” in a jazz+rap track, and pearl-clutching and politically charged lyrics. Who else is able to compare the debate of American patriotism and racial identity, to thinking of someone at odd hours, for odd hours and being slighted?

The Stand Outs

Miguel’s art and its production is always something to admire and appreciate. With his continued involvement, and support and direction from key artists like Salaam Remi (Nas, The Fugees, Amy Winehouse), Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Fun.), Happy Perez (Miguel’s “Sure Thing,” Frankie J’s “Obsession”) Raphael Saaddiq and Kali Uchis (also featured on the tracks “Wolf” & the Spanish seduction of “Caramelo Duro” respectively), this album is rated R for “refined.” And there’s synth, which is always a tool for a dynamic track, a key element in “Told You So,” a bravado-filled, quirky yet ominous track reminiscent of something from the Tom Tom Club (“Vision of Love”) and plenty of apt guitar playing. Always a 10!

Survey Says?

The yin and yang of Miguel’s musical spirit, the dichotomy of the passion of humans, and the effects of it are clear in this album. Miguel explores more on the state of humanity with references to the Flint Water Crisis, Standing Rock, and protesting blind patriotism in “Now,” but stands strong with his appreciation for the form of someone he loves (“Anointed”), or once loved (“City of Angels”). If you’re looking for a taste of unfiltered and modern soul r&b, pop for any time of day, this is the album to get into.

Miguel isn’t for the faint of heart, but the world isn’t either; you can see this latest release as his, and perhaps our, latest confessions and preparation for something more. His solidification as an artist continues to be undisputed, and this album marks a proper release, keeping current and ahead.

Check out the album on Apple Music & Spotify

Read more Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com

3 Movie Soundtracks We Are Currently Loving

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There’s a simple formula to making a soundtrack that’ll be put on repeat. Of course, you need a collection of songs that are great and work together well. But really, you just need to throw together some songs from the ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s and you’ve got a guaranteed great soundtrack. There are three soundtracks that we currently love that just happen to highlight all three of these decades.

 

Atomic Blonde
This soundtrack isn’t the typical ’80s mix. Rather than a collection of happy-go-lucky ’80s pop, we get a harder new wave sound. It fits the film it comes from perfectly, with its great action scenes and paranoid Cold War setting. Even so, it’s also just great to listen to on its own. Featuring frenetic German new wave tracks like “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling and “99 Luftablloons” by Nena, contrasted with tense British rock songs “Der Kommissar” by After the Fire and “London Calling” by the Clash. We do get some slower moments thrown in to break things up with “Father Figure” by George Michael and “Voices Carry” by ‘Til Tuesday. And what ’80s collection would be complete without “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls?

Courtesy of Marvel Music, Inc.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did come out a while ago, but a tight collection of ’70s tracks like this is certain to last a lot longer than the movie’s theater run. We get the bouncy “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra to launch us into an assemblage that includes power pop hits “Fox On The Run” by Sweet and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, and soft rock grooves like “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass and “Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang” by Silver. But it’s not all pop and rock on this album with the inclusion of upbeat country tune “Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell and the inescapable funk of “Flash Light” by Parliament.

Courtesy of Motown Records

Detroit
For anyone who knows music history, a movie set in ’60s Detroit was always going to have a great soundtrack. Though this soundtrack isn’t just a Motown’s Greatest Hits record, we do get some famous Motown tracks like “Jimmy Mack” by Martha and the Vandellas and “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. These classic tracks are followed up by some less famous, perhaps even overlooked, Motown songs like “Till Johnny Comes” by Brenda Holloway and “Heaven Must Have Sent You” by The Elgins. It’s not all Motown on the album though, as it’s rounded out with other enjoyable R&B tracks like “All Because Of You” by The Dramatics and “You’re The Cream Of The Crop” by Lee Rogers. It’s a great collection if you’re looking for something to listen to while spending the day relaxing, but don’t be surprised if you spontaneously start to dance at some points.

Read more Entertainment articles at ClicheMag.com

3 Movie Soundtracks We Are Currently Loving. Featured image courtesy of Back Lot Music

Brockhampton’s Album ‘Saturation II’ is Their Declaration

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Their second release of the summer and part two of their trilogy, Saturation II, is L.A. rap group Brockhampton’s follow-up to their overnight sensation Saturation. The 16-person self-proclaimed hip-hop boy band (they reject the use of the word ‘collective’ and all comparisons to Odd Future) has been making waves in the rap scene ever since they packed up their lives and moved to L.A. together to pursue their dreams of being musicians. Made up of misfits, the members of Brockhampton met each other through KanyeToThe.com, a forum dedicated to fans of the rapper. Feeding off the momentum of a successful first release, Brockhampton isn’t wasting any time. If Saturation was their debut, then Saturation II is their declaration; they are here to stay, and they aren’t following any rules.

 

From the first few measures of opening track “GUMMY,” it’s made clear that Brockhampton isn’t the type of group that is going to fly under the radar. The use of orchestral strings sets up the track in an almost fantastical way—that is, until the de-facto group leader Kevin Abstract’s voice chimes in and effectively cuts it off. His clever opening verse is simultaneously a celebration of the group and a critique of himself. Although this track (and, frankly, the whole album) jumps from theme to theme, one concept remains consistent throughout: The group comes first. This idea is seen in Abstract’s first verse (“Keep my heart with my dogs”), Dom McLennon’s (“Don’t go no friends in the game, it’s me and my brothers alone”), Matt Champion’s (“Me and all my boys jet, swervin’ like a donut”).

The focus of this album is not one overarching theme; Brockhampton is not here to give you any answers about the meaning of life.

The reason why this album tackles so many different ideas is because each member has a distinct style and background. Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, JOBA, and Ameer Vann all met in high school in The Woodlands in Texas; Bearface is from Belfast, Ireland; Dom McLennon, from Hartford, Connecticut. This doesn’t even cover half the group. The rest of the team (producers, photographers, engineers, web developers), who also hail from all over, influence the sound, style, and brand of Brockhampton just as much as the artists. Abstract delegates himself to the catchy, often poppy M.I.A.-inspired hooks and verses about his sexuality. He jokes that he’s “Making out with Zayn in a lawn chair” in “JELLO” and calls out his critics in “JUNKY” with the lines “Why you always rap about being gay? / ‘Cause not enough n***** rap about being gay!” Vann is known for his confessional, aggressive verses about his past life, which usually focuses on drugs, like in the opening lines of “SWAMP”: “My daddy taught me how to sell dope / turn grams into elbows.” Merlyn is a vocal shapeshifter, JOBA can hit any high note, Bearface adds unexpected ballads to break up the album.

With so many different personas working together on one project, it’s not surprising that critics of the album have called it unfocused. It’s certainly true that this album does not flow in one clear direction—it’s a zigzagging frenzy of anger, surprise, relief, regret. The only clear path it does follow is that of human emotion, especially during young adulthood. So, what more does it need? The focus of this album is not one overarching theme; Brockhampton is not here to give you any answers about the meaning of life. They’re just a group of outcasts who found their peace with each other, and they’re here to tell you their story. The track “QUEER” allows the members to explore what makes them weird; Champion opens it up with “Skinny boy, skinny boy, where your muscles at?” Wood mentions being Ghanian; “CHICK” gives them the opportunity to declare their mission to stay true to themselves and remember their origins, unlike other, popular rappers who let money make them selfish. The list goes on.

It would take pages and pages to go through each verse in this 16-track manifesto of an album, and spelling it all out would take half the fun out of listening. Despite the sometimes harsh, rough-around-the-edges feeling of this work, what really sits at the root of this album is fun. What did you expect? Brockhampton is a bunch of guys who are currently having the time of their lives, and they want to let the world (and especially all of their doubters) know that. Saturation II has allowed them to solidify their reputation as hip-hop bad boys with a knack for invention and has made their fans (and foes) even more eager for their next release.

Read more Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com

Brockhampton’s Album ‘Saturation II’ is Their Declaration: Featured image courtesy of Question Everything, Inc

‘Double Dutchess’ Album Review: Fergie Never Left

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With first hints back in 2016, Fergie decided to continue her comeback into solo work and announced she’d be working on another album. Amidst the rumors (not true!) that she was leaving the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie released work for soundtracks, the mothers of the world, and everyone in the California/Bay Area. However, as pop music is concerned, it’s a lie to say no one wasn’t eager for music just as appealing as her solo debut back in 2006. Released on September 22, 2017, Double Dutchess is a work executive-produced by Fergie, eleven years since The Dutchess’ critical acclaim, after her news of separation from actor Josh Duhamel and new imprint Dutchess Music with BMG. With plans of more visuals for each song, here are some memorable tracks on the album.

Double Dutchess: The Tracks

Hungry (feat. Rick Ross) – The beat is quite interesting! I honestly thought my sound was glitching for a few minutes. However, the grand opening of the vocal sampling reduces to impatience as the two artists geared up to ride the beat. Fergie’s rapping wasn’t needed; however, Ross’ feature (although perhaps phoning it in? “I moonwalking on marble floors, Rick Ross, I’m just dripping sauce”) was enough to compliment Fergie’s hook and assertion that both have the means and passion to obtain all that makes us vs. them. To my disappointment, the song was over quicker than it started, but it was a very interesting opening track.

Like it Aint Nuttin’ – I appreciate the old-school vibes in Fergie’s flow and the modern instrumental. Fergie has an ability to make the simplest things sound quite animated and fun. This is a track that, although a bit repetitive, is entertaining (“Whatcha you gon do when I step in the place / betcha everybody gone rock to the bass / I get money all day baby like it aint nuttin’”) to include in any moment to laugh at the lyrics (“ladies rub on your boobies”??) or just blast through your speakers.

You Already Know (feat. Nicki Minaj) – We’ve got the old school vibes again, from Fergie’s vocals (her singing gives ’90s techno), the synth, and the “It Takes Two” and “You Already Know” samples. Unsurprisingly, will.i.am also had a hand in this track, who, with the Black Eyed Peas (and his own solo work), still rock elements of artists of their day but their own twist on it. After Nicki takes her turn on this multidimensional track, it turns from ’80s rap to techno to pure drums and soft jazz for the interlude. I’d consider the latter part of the song the third part, and wish it were longer. In this section, we had elements of Roger, as well as Fergie’s distinct sensual vocals.

Just Like You – This song feature trap and vocals right from the start. The production evokes an early 2010s vibe, but nonetheless is still appealing. Collaborators Youngblood (Chris Brown’s “Fine China” and “Autumn Leaves”) and Taylor Parks (former child actress, Mariah Carey’s “Infinity” and Fifth Harmony’s “Boss”), combine their writing skills here. Fergie speaks of a relationship and dinner setting gone to waste. The lyrics are memorable in phrases like “Who is this right here / she don’t look like me. / I’ve been sleeping with a demon, every night in my bedroom.” I appreciate the vocals and production in this song, but nothing stands out too much, except when Fergie sings: “Oops, look what you made me prove / I’m crazy just like you.”

A Little Work – The beginning starts to build (almost sounding like Coldplay’s “Fix You”) and Fergie pushes into the chorus by breaking into an age-old truth: “We’ve all got wounds half-open / We all can use a little work.” She creates a story of various people who have to work and “rise up into the Call,” and try to do the best despite our circumstances. This track is simple, but the hums and harmonies allow for a song grander than it seemed. With heavy hitters like Dr. Luke, Thomas Gad (co-writer for Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and George Pajon (a key figure pop and in BEP’s discography), it’s no surprise.

Life Goes On – Acoustic and Fergie go well together. The melody structure in each verse is highly addicting.  Then, the chorus breaks into moombahton to my slight dismay, but I still very much enjoy this song. This is a carefree song in both structure and lyrics. We have Fergie showing that she can do a little something during the rap bridge (for some reason I’m getting Left Eye vibes for just one second), and instrumentation of all the guitars and the drums gives us ska. Then, the switch-up slowly returns to the techno-based chorus, bringing it all full circle. All with a small acoustic fade out. It’s a decent track.

M.I.L.F $ – This is controversial in both song title and with a video that had sensible folks clutching their pearls. This isn’t my favorite track simply because of various elements that are entertaining to listen to (the verses, the underlying bass) and just too confusing to listen to. I try to pretend this song isn’t real.

Sleep Well Beast: The National’s “Goodbye to All That”

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It becomes clear from the first few minutes of Sleep Well Beast that this is not just another record by old-timers The National. Of course, there is no replacing Matt Berninger’s signature croon or Aaron Dessner’s hypnotic songwriting. But this album captures a side of The National that we only see glimpses of during live sets—one that is wide awake, sweating through the setlist with a passion that can only come from experience. It is no surprise that they were inspired by love (and the tests it must endure with age) yet again in their music. However, this record was truly their wake-up call to a changing world: a world in which they are expected to be older and wiser instead of young and carefree. Their first album in 4 years, Sleep Well Beast is The National’s “Goodbye to All That” and hello to a new, repurposed energy.


At the risk of sounding pretentious, I will defend the Joan Didion reference in the previous sentence. Not only because The National love to reference literature in their songwriting (anyone else notice “John Cheever” in the refrain of “Carin At The Liquor Store”?) but because the subject of middle age comes up often in writing and is often executed very, very poorly (cue the sad violin music and melodrama). Joan Didion—and, as of now, The National—are of the few to do it right. There’s a quote in her famous essay about moving to New York, entitled “Goodbye to All That,” that reads: 

“One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.

The essay is essentially her goodbye to her old life in New York, the one where anything was possible, and her understanding that it is “a city only for the very young.” The National explore very similar themes in this album, right down to the disillusionment with New York; in opening track “Nobody Else Will Be There,” Berninger croons “It’s getting cold again, but New York’s gorgeous.” Only a few songs later, in “Born to Beg,” “New York is older / And changing its skin again / It dies every ten years / And then it begins again.”

It is possible that New York isn’t the only cyclical force in this life. This album makes it clear that love operates in much the same way, with its predictably catching anyone who thought they were different off guard. The overall tone of the album is a deep-rooted melancholy, created by heavy realizations—most of which involve finding out how incompatible two people in love can really be. In “Day I Die,” the narrator reveals “I used to put my head inside the speakers / In the hallway when you get too high and talk forever,” but the chorus of “Born to Beg” tells a different story: “I was born, born to beg for you.” This back-and-forth is inevitable. It only becomes an issue when you feel you’ve reached your wit’s end. This happens in one of The National’s most forceful songs to date, “Turtleneck,” where Berninger tunes into some of his raucous live show energy to deliver a full-on alternative rock track—a far step away from the moody indie tracks of The National’s previous release, Trouble Will Find Me.

It is not enough to say that what goes up must come down, though. When it comes to the mature, adult love, there’s always some force that brings everything back up, even if just for a moment. This is exactly what happens in the penultimate track “Dark Side of the Gym,” a love song in its purest form. The chorus reads like an extremely romantic (albeit a bit excessively so) version of what love feels like when you feel you have finally found the ‘right’ person: “I have dreams of anonymous castrati / Singing to us from the trees / I have dreams of a first man and a first lady / Singing to us from the sea.”

The last, and titular, track is perhaps the most Didion-esque part of the album. For lack of better words, it describes what happens after everything hits the fan (“I’m at a loss / I’m losing grip / The fabric’s ripped”). But Berninger himself admits that the “beast” he talks about isn’t necessarily something negative; It’s just scary. It’s the future (perhaps the very near future) that you don’t want to deal with. It’s the long day of work that ends with a fight before bed. It’s the love of your life, who really isn’t who you thought they were. It’s the goodbye to the easy, carefree life you let yourself get used to. But, most importantly, it’s the process of picking the pieces back up and moving on.

Read more Music Reviews on ClicheMag.com

Sleep Well Beast: The National’s “Goodbye to All That”: Photographs courtesy of The National/Facebook

Fly By Midnight Release New Single “Vibe”

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Retro-pop duo Fly By Midnight is back with yet another original track that will make you fall in love with their music (if you haven’t already yet, that is). The aptly titled single “Vibe” is just what it sounds like: a sexy, fun, feel-good anthem you can jam to. It even inspired a mini-documentary called “The Vibe of Staten Island,” in partnership with Urban Outfitters, out soon.

 

In the new single, the duo sings: “I throw it your way / You’re catching my vibe / I throw it your way / You’re catching my vibe / Call me Christopher Columbus / Cuz I know you’re across the room / So Imma’ drink till I float / Find a way to discover your body.”

Following their 2017 release Cover Charge, which consisted of popular cover songs ranging from Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere” to Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” the duo is determined to share their own original music with their pending debut EP, Party Favors. And so far, we’re loving what we’re hearing.

Here, we chat with Justin Bryte and Slavo about their new single “Vibe” (out now on Spotify), their set for the Tucson Pride Festival later this month, and more.

Cliché: What inspired “Vibe”?
Justin Bryte: “Vibe” was a really effortless session. Slavo and I have always been really strong at communicating concepts for our music and vibing off of one another (no pun intended).
Slavo: I think Justin had come into the studio with the idea of catching vibes. We talked a bit about times we’ve been out at bars and saw someone that we instantly felt drawn to. From there, I think I had proposed the whole lyrical personification of the vibe (throwing your way and catching this physical feeling).
Justin: Yeah, I had totally had flipped over that. It took the concept to a whole different level in my opinion. From there, we began writing this really feel good anthem that everyone could relate to. That magnetic moment of mutual vibes.

What was your writing process? Did the track come together naturally or did it take some time?
Slavo: “Vibe” was probably one of our quickest sessions we’ve worked on recently.
Justin: For sure; writing it was a breeze because it all felt very real. The sessions that typically drag in our experience are the ones that we can’t connect to properly. Although, Slavo and I had a handful of phone calls right up until the release date debating about the rhythm going into the first chorus.
Slavo: There were different variations right up until the moment we had to give the track over for release. Pretty stressful. [Laughs]

Tell us a little about your collab with Urban Outfitters for the track.
Justin: The UO collaboration is a really cool mini documentary we created called “The Vibe of Staten Island.”
Slavo: UO was awesome enough to send over a ton of cool looks that really fit our brand and aesthetic. From there, we went to four different locations we were surprised existed on Staten Island. They were really unique and cultural spots.
Justin: One of our favorite things about our Fly By fans is that they’re attracted not only to our music, but also our personalities. We’ve vlogged in the past, but this seemed like a great opportunity to show viewers even more of what a day with us looks like.

You will be performing at the Tucson Pride Festival supporting Daya later this month. What can fans expect?
Slavo: We’re bringing the party to Tucson! It’s going to be a really energetic set with moments we’re especially excited about.
Justin: Daya is not only such a huge talent, but also super down to earth. We’ve had the pleasure of opening for her before and are stoked that we’re on the same bill again.
Slavo: Especially for such a great cause.
Justin: Yeah!

For more information, visit www.flybymidnight.com/tour-dates.

Read more Music News on ClicheMag.com

BY MEGAN PORTORREAL
Fly By Midnight Release New Single “Vibe”: Photograph courtesy of Fly By Midnight

‘Lust For Life’ by Lana Del Rey Album Review

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Upon the release of her album, Honeymoon, for some (can you believe it?), it didn’t pack that punch they felt when they first landed up on tracks like “Video Games” or “This is What Makes Us Girls” in Born to Die. With Lust for Life, the entire album is one big road trip, exploring various facets of who Lana Del Rey is or may be. Lana Del Rey smiles outside of the Born to Die car, no longer looking dead inside, but primed and prepped for something. It appears she’s grown into what suits her. Released on July 21, 2017, Lana’s fifth album is a mixture of old, new, and upcoming. Here are some standout tracks on this 16-track album.

 

The Itinerary

We start off with “Love.” The soft hum of the vibraphone, and plucking of the mellotron, Lana sings of a world so dramatic and simplistic, with people happy and in love. The build suddenly drops after the chorus begins, leaving the listener wanting more even after the song is over. “Don’t worry baby,” this album has plenty more satisfactory auditory experiences.

Like any new trip, we have a “Lust for Life(featuring The Weeknd). Here, both show a “Prisoner” part two, but after the darkness. This song sounds hopeful and tense at the same time. In their previous joint effort, both spoke pitfalls of an environment thriving on sin. But here, they speak of that iconic illusion (Hollywood), dance it up with Shangri-Las harmonies, Iggy Pop and poetry by William Ernest Henley. The Weeknd’s vocals are smooth, complimentary, and the production revisits Born to Die standards.

We reach “13 Beaches,” along with an orchestral opening, and a sample from Carnival of Souls. This particular beach could be just that, or referring to Lana’s music. No, it’s not Normandy, but Lana sings as though she had to go through a lot, just to find one place she can find some bit of happiness. As a listener, I interpret exasperation and a small tone of victory escaping intrusion or disconnect. Maybe even the attention overall. Even in the background, a modem runs, a device used for transmitting or establishing a connection. Lana is reaching out, but internally, there’s a bit of a disconnect in what she intends and what others perceive.

Lana sings of a world so dramatic and simplistic, with people happy and in love.

For lunch, we’ll have a “Cherry.” This fruit symbolizes a lot, only in this case, Lana sings about her fruit completely spoiling, due to an external force: “them.” This person is destructive, no sweet ingredients for ‘summer wine’ but maybe a Patsy Cline record spinning, because they don’t add anything except regret. The vocal effects, and Lana’s singing style combined with the quick cries of profanity at the realization makes quite the experience.

We find a “White Mustang.” It’s lush, smooth, and layered with trap elements from the first minute in. Lana sings of a person who can’t contain his energy. Not a coincidence this song is one of the shortest on the album. Meeting “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” (featuring Stevie Nicks) is always a treat. Stevie Nicks adds her own flair to a well-crafted track continuing in vibes until the very end. It’s self-loathing but not distractedly so. Everyone’s got problems and it’s up to you if you want to fix it.

Unfortunately “Tomorrow Never Came” (featuring Sean Ono Lennon). The harmonies, the vocals, the instruments materialize a dream, that only was just that: “I just wanted things to be the same/You said to meet me up there tomorrow/But tomorrow never came.” A person who didn’t keep their promise, but the idea of it is nice to think of. This is a standout track.

Near the end of the trip, the route does a “Change.” Lana has had her share of fumbles, when it comes to expressing herself. However, in this song, she teases that there’s a chance for something different. She’s trying to speak on her desire for consistency: “There’s a change gonna come, I don’t know where or when/But whenever it does, we’ll be here for it” With a piano, few effects and Lana’s vocals, the song speaks about being simply present in any way shape or form. Finally, we’ve arrived at the beach with Get Free,” exuding peace and optimism. In “Ride,” Lana spoke of a war in her mind, yet here she sings while emerging from the trenches: “And now I do, I wanna move/Out of the black/Into the blue.”

Lana has had her share of fumbles, when it comes to expressing herself. However, in this song, she teases that there’s a chance for something different.

Concluding Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey delivers another solid piece of work, with careful production and track list structure.

Survey Says? On Repeat.

Runner Ups:

Pretty much everything else, but check out “Heroin” for the hazy and daunting (“It’s hot, it’s hot!“) and “In My Feelings” (“You wanna make the switch, Be my guest, baby.

There’s something here for those who want the ‘old,’ and those who want more of the ‘new.’ You can even catch a few 180s such as wanting the “Money Power Glory,” to giving it all away, post-Stairway to Heaven in  “Coachella – Woodstock in my Mind.” The album is distinguishable from her other work, and a platform to spring start any form of soul-searching, and an additional library for lush pop music. 

Check out the album trailer below and the full album on Spotify and on Apple Music. For full album access and current show listings, visit Lana Del Rey’s website.

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‘Lust For Life’ by Lana Del Rey Album Review: Photograph courtesy of Interscope Records

How Jay-Z’s Failures Became His Comeback

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Within an hour of Jay-Z’s 4:44 dropping on TIDAL, people were already calling the album “Jay’s Lemonade.” This was inevitable, as some tracks appear to be his most confessional songs to date. For example, “4:44” — arguably the strongest track on the album and one of the best he’s ever written — details in brutally honest lyrics any shortcomings in his relationships with his wife, children, and himself. Ultimately, this album tells the story of how Jay-Z’s failures became his comeback.

 

But to say this album is solely about infidelity or responding to Lemonade would be a gross oversimplification; it’s about a lifelong rumination on personal failure in regards to love, parenthood, friendship, monetary success, artistry, and racial progression. With the help of producer No I.D., Jay-Z was able to perfectly capture this mixture of vulnerability and power.

It took almost four years exactly for Jay-Z to follow up Magna Carta… Holy Grail — a drought that led many to accuse the rapper of falling out of the game. In addition to taking a hiatus from music, Jay’s career suffered an inevitable dragging when Beyoncé’s Lemonade dropped last year. Since then, it’s fair to say that the public has been more concerned with the Carters’ relationship than their music. One might have forgotten Jay-Z’s name in music the past four years, thus giving listeners plenty of time to learn a few new ones.

Throughout the album, Jay addresses this new generation of rappers who have seemingly ‘replaced’ him. This occurs most notably in “Family Feud” where he pleads with the two groups to stop tearing each other down by saying, “We all lose when the family feuds.” He confronts the differences between his lifestyle and that of the new generation in “Bam,” where you hear him say, “Y’all be talkin’ crazy under them IG pictures / So when you get to hell you tell ‘em Blanco sent you / I can’t take no threats, I got a set of twins.”

Another important shift in Jay’s life since his 2013 studio album is the dissolution of his relationship with Kanye West. He partially blames himself for this, which you can find in 4:44’s intro “Kill Jay-Z” when he says, “You got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye / You gave him 20 million without blinking / he gave you 20 minutes on stage.” Jay also blames the end of this friendship on his own ego and lifestyle in this track, and explains that he is too old for Kanye’s petty games. The 4:44 singer takes jabs at West throughout other songs on the album as well, such as in “Caught Their Eyes,” where he references Kanye’s hit “Ni**as in Paris.”

The flow of this album allows Jay-Z moments of self-critique and opportunities to indulge his egotistical persona. If “Kill Jay Z” is his self-destruction, then the rest of the album is his rebirth. He rewrites his own history through a lens of self-awareness by referencing many old lines and tackling them in a new way — almost as if he’s writing footnotes for his previous self. This new Jay-Z is vulnerable when it comes to his loved ones, but assertive when it comes to racial injustice. He is not ignorant, self-important, arrogant, or in denial, and that is the beauty of this album. It’s the story we’ve been waiting to hear from him all along, but he only just found the courage to tell. 

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How Jay-Z’s Failures Became His Comeback: Image courtesy of REX/Shutterstock

Calvin Harris Drops the Album of the Summer

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On his fifth studio album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1, Calvin Harris produced an incredible collection of songs for the summer. With a phenomenal group of features, this album will be an instant summer classic.

Before he released the entire album, Harris put out three tracks from the album as teasers: “Rollin,” “Slide,” and “Feels”—simple titles for simple songs. Each of the songs has a great beat that is perfect for driving around with the windows down. They have a funky/groovy element to them, which is an apparent theme throughout the whole album, especially with “Cash Out” featuring ScHoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and D.R.A.M. This one has a very funky yet chill feel to it. You can bop to it or you can relax to it, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

 

However, if you’re in the mood to chill, then “Hard to Love” is the song for you. It’s the only slower song on the album but it delivers. Jessie Reyez kills it on the vocals and the song has a very vibey feel to it.

“Faking it” is another somewhat slow song but it picks up during the chorus. Kehlani hits her vocals very well and Lil Yachty comes in for a fun verse which makes for a fun song with a unique beat.

The album all together is great, but there were a couple weak points. “Skrt on Me” with Nicki Minaj is a weird song that doesn’t really fit into the album. The beat isn’t bad but the vocals are very auto-tuned and bland. There isn’t much excitement in the song.

“Heatstroke” is another semi-weak point. It’s a decent song and the features are good but the other songs are easily better. It would definitely be the song that always gets skipped, but actually isn’t so bad.

Calvin Harris definitely delivered on this album and we will be listening to it all summer long!

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Calvin Harris Drops The Album Of The Summer: Photo courtesy of Calvin Harris/Facebook