In No Particular Order: November 25, 2016

(From / NBC)
(From / NBC)

Is it just me, or were there very few Black Friday brawls surfacing around the internet this past weekend?

Is this a sign that people are starting to ditch the materialistic insanity that is store-crashing fights? Maybe people are realizing that if they didn’t get the last 60″ TV or over-priced coffee machine, their Christmas shopping was not ruined?

Or were most of the phones recording the action broken in a dramatic crossfire of left hooks and hair pulling? Maybe new iPhone just really, really slow at uploading videos to Facebook…

Either way, Black Friday has come and gone once again, and although there are a handful of music releases featured as door-crashing specials, this week’s In No Particular Order doesn’t rely on extremely low-prices and capitalistic manipulation. Instead, just exciting new albums that are worth your time.

You can click here for the full list of new releases, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Adam Betts – Colossal Squid

Adam Betts - Colossal Squid

Disclaimer: Colossal Squid is not for the faint of heart.

It is however for those mesmerized by virtuosic instrumentation and crafty effects and layering. Adam Betts, best known for his work with instrumental noise-rock band Three Trapped Tigers, has released his debut solo album Colossal Squid.

Oh, did I mention he’s a drummer?

Three Trapped Tigers are a band lead by the chaotic, frantic, and rhythmic side of music, turning speed, technique, and articulation into mesmerizing songs that refuse to rely on the melodic crutch of a vocalist. With Betts behind the kit, the songs are transported to another realm, with his expertise providing the punch.

Often times, music fans are fairly skeptical and weary of drum solo albums, often finding it overwhelming and difficult to follow (or the other end of the spectrum, basic and boring). But Betts pushes past what the drum kit can do by discovering what it can create with other musical elements and most of all, its melodic abilities.

On Colossal Squid, Betts’ percussion finds a similar aesthetic and familiarity for TTT fans, and masterfully captures the melodic components as well. Along with a handful of synths and loops providing some additional layers, most of the songs on the album get its bulk from behind the kit. It’s almost like an aggressive trance-meets-drum n’ bass album that is as hypnotic to listen to as it is to watch (you can find live studio cuts of all the tracks on his YouTube channel).

With only 7 tracks, Colossal Squid is a short, but conscience record that accomplishes so much, blurring the lines between electronic music and live performance.

Who needs a full band anyway?

Stream the full album and grab your own copy through his bandcamp page.

Must-haves: “FUB” // “Hero Shit” // “Aneek”

The Weeknd – Starboy

Weeknd - Starboy

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably over the hit single and title track “Starboy”. The Weeknd‘s exciting collaboration with Daft Punk eventually seemed to hit a threshold of appeal after months of radio time. But along came “False Alarm” and its stellar POV music video to rebuild the anticipation for the record. “Party Monster” and “I Feel It Coming” came just before the release date, leading the way towards the big day, and now here we are.

Starboy was one of the most anticipated hip-hop/R&B album releases of 2016 – right next to Drake’s Views and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. While it’s not a bad album, it wasn’t quite worth all the hype (just like Views) – unless you’re a huge Weeknd fan, in which case you must be very, very excited.

With 18 tracks, and only one of which is an interlude, Starboy is a lengthly listen reaching just over an hour. And with the majority of the tracks having a similar aesthetic, it either flies by or drags on, depending on if you’re a loyal fan or not. The Weeknd (a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye) has a slight change in sound from his Kiss Land and Beauty Behind the Madness days, but the novelty wears off eventually.

But don’t let my negativity fool you – Starboy does have its perks and its moments. Aside from the lead singles, there are a few stand out tracks and features on the record. Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd pair up on “Sidewalks”, Lana Del Rey makes an appearance on “Stargirl Interlude”, and Future does his usual autotune-rap shtick on “All I Know”. Tesfaye – along with the rest of his songwriting team – come out shining with melodic hooks and his signature, slow-burning low-meets-high production. “Reminder”, “Rockin'”, “Attention”, and “Die For You” certainly catch hold of the listener in their own way, either with hints of funk, ’80s pop, or synth-pop adding to the aesthetic.

Starboy is a good album; not a great album, it isn’t raising the bar or yearning to be praised. It’s enjoyable and as digestible as nu-R&B gets – fortunately with someone who knows what he’s doing leading the way.

Listen to the album for yourself via Spotify, and get your own copy through his website. As a bonus, you can check out the 12-minute short film/long music video “M A N I A” which compliments the new album.

Must-haves: “False Alarm” // “Reminder” // “I Feel It Coming”


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