August 2014 album round-up

FKA Twigs – “LP1”

After quietly releasing extended plays “EP1” and “EP2” over the last two years, soulful trip-hop vocalist FKA twigs has unveiled a full-length album, appropriately titled “LP1”. The London-based siren originally entered the music scene as a dancer in videos for Kylie Minogue and Jessie J. Finding a new passion, twigs began making music by using self-taught production and collaborating with producers like Arca (Kanye West).

Songs on “LP1” have distinctive elements that make for a refreshing listen. “Lights On”, “Pendulum”, and “Two Weeks” are highlights from the 10-track debut, as each song features a strong chorus with underlying heavy bass, echoed ticking and cackling sounds, and twigs’ airy, whispered vocals delivering sensual lyrics about love and craving companionship. The incomparable experimental qualities on “LP1” ultimately allows twigs to craft her own artistic lane, separating herself from other alt-R&B up-and-comers SZA and Banks, as she is often compared to them. “LP1” will not be understood with one listen, making its replay value infinite.

– Kevin Quin


Ariana Grande – “My Everything”

It was almost impossible to escape hearing an Ariana Grande song this summer, as the pop starlet released three singles from her sophomore album “My Everything.” “Bang Bang”, “Break Free”, and “Problem” each debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as having massive radio success, making fans anxious to listen to “My Everything”.

A good majority of the album showcases Grande’s high-pitched vocals sprawled over EDM beats and post-dubstep breakdowns. Occasionally slowing down on tracks like “Best Mistake”, Grande eases back into familiar territory employing melodies similar to ones on her debut album “Your Truly.”

On “My Everything”, Grande shows versatility as an artist, which further solidifies her own rightful place in pop music. There is a general sense of confidence found in “My Everything”, which lets Grande gracefully embrace her maturity as a popstar to be taken more seriously.

– Kevin Quin


Biffy Clyro – “Similarities”

While this Scottish rock band has been making big waves overseas, they are just getting noticed in the states. Originally formed in 1995, the band made their debut in 2002 and have released five albums since then. Their latest is a collection of b-sides from their 2013 “Opposites” LP. While they have never been shy about going beyond their rock and folk infused sound, they go even further by incorporating elements of punk rock, synth, pop, Southern rock, and funk on these tracks.

Biffy Clyro prove to be fearless on “Wooden Souvenir” and “Euphoria” as the music bleeds aggression with its blazing guitars and heart palpitating drums, while singer Simon Neil makes you feel his anger with his vocal delivery. “A Tragic World Record” is light and so upbeat you start dancing before you know it and “City of Dreadful Night” is an impressive feat for the band as it finds them shifting tempos several times in four minutes. Whereas “Opposites” focuses on their hard rock-indie-folk infused sound, the b-sides are all over the spectrum. Here, they go beyond their established sound leaving more room for experimentation. This isn’t throwaway material; they clearly worked hard on these songs to be as memorable as their albums. It’s a must have for any Biffy fan. This collection of songs will you have chanting “Mon the Biff” with the rest of the world.

– Ashley Perez


Twin Peaks – “Wild Onion”

Growing up is hard to do, but being seen by others as mature is perhaps even more difficult. Likewise, Twin Peaks over the past year have often been described as a group of punkish boys, and for good reason. For one, they are young; at Pitchfork Music Festival, a caught one of them double fisting without a 21-and-up wristband. Further, their debut, “Sunken”, was a short-and-fast outburst of eight tracks drenched in a summery sweet lo-fi production, homage to the DIY spaces that fostered their rise to fame in the Chicago circuit.

“Wild Onion” isn’t necessarily Twin Peaks’ boys-to-men story, but proof that it is high time the music community at large take them seriously. This time, they’ve more than doubled their output and, armed with presumably a larger production budget, crafted a true, start to finish album. The sixteen tracks are broken up with interludes and the obvious singles – “Flavor” and “I Found a New Way” – are spaced across the album amid quieter gems like “Telephone” and “Sloop Jay D”. While “Wild Onion” won’t be Twin Peaks’ climax – that could be saved for a stronger, more cohesive follow up –  it is a fun upward rise that showcases their breadth.

– Kirsten Onsgard