Good Luck, Kid: Joseph Interview

Portland-bred sister trio Joseph are getting ready to release their latest album, ‘Good Luck, Kid’ which comes out on the 13th September. I had a chat Natalie from the group about it, touring in the UK and more. Their lead single for the album was ‘Fighter’ – I started off by asking why they chose that as their first taste from the album, and then their inspiration behind the track.
“Fighter takes us from hushed intimate moments to explosive sonic heights.”
“Meegan’s voice soars. It’s an exciting song to us in that regard and it also is really special because it came from a personal story. When I just want to check out from the world and its problems this song asks me to stay in the fight. We wanted to lead the album out with that invitation. “
“Fighter came from a moment between the three of us where we had to decide to keep going. “
“In any relationship you can slowly slip away – not bring your real feelings and self to the table – or you can say the hard thing and work through it to stay connected. That is what happened to us. “
I asked Natalie if the group had any favourite songs on the album, and if the album has a specific sound; if the singles they had released so far were similar to the rest of the project.
“My absolute favourite song on the album is Room For You because it encapsulates everything I wish for the audience and for everyone on this planet.”
“Right this second though, I’ll say Presence because I’ve been practising the guitar riff and it’s going to feel SO good to play it through a loud PA. Half Truths is a standout to me because I have watched Allie do amazing work overcoming anxiety and this song captures that so well. “
“And also Revolving Door is a heart-wrencher. A very brave song for Meegan to write. I love this album, wow. “
“Every song on this album is totally different and has different tones and textures but what this song does say about the rest of the album is that the dynamics are vast.”
“The album is about getting into the driver’s seat of your life and each song is part of that journey. We’re so excited for it to come out!”

The band are touring in the UK later this year, I asked Natalie what their experience has been like over here in the past.

 “We adore the UK. Adore it! Everyone there has been very good to us.”
“We’ve made so many good British friends over the years from touring with James Bay and Michael Kiwanuka, and from playing festivals like Barn on the Farm and British Summer time that the UK is very dear to us.”
“Maybe part of that is because the Pacific Northwest shares a very similar climate so it feels a lot like home, but more exciting because everyone has an accent! Also, every time we go to London someone recommends Dishoom and this upcoming tour is our chance to finally try it!”

 

Joseph’s album ‘Good Luck, Kid’ is out on the 13th September via ATO records. Check them out on Twitter here.

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Metronomy – Metronomy Forever Album Review

‘Metronomy Forever’ is the group’s 6th album. Most groups would have run out of ideas by then, but this album proves that Metronomy are still one of the most inventive, consistent bands in the world, with the project bearing several of their best songs to date.

The album kicks off with a short, dreamy instrumental piece called ‘Wedding’, with distorted church bells and synths being foreshadowing for the themes of this album, and one of it’s strongest tracks. ‘Whitsand Bay’ opens the album proper, and it’s a perfect blend of Metronomy old and new, with a low key, spoken chorus over an ever-shifting instrumental.

‘Insecurity’ is one of the highlights on the album, Joe gets straight to the point about said insecurity and the feeling that it could be one of the only constants in his life. A bursting guitar riff and catchy synth lines throughout the track make it really difficult to shift from your head. ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ is almost annoyingly good. It sounds like a mixture of Crazy Frog and Mika, but it’s one of the best tracks Metronomy have ever put out; it’s a perfect pop song.

‘Lately’ is another of Metronomy’s best ever songs in my opinion. The layers of instruments build up throughout the track to an amazing shower of synths, and the off-kilter melody in the chorus is nothing short of magical. Another great track comes in the form of ‘Sex Emoji’, a bittersweet tale of an online relationship told through a groovy synth-pop tune.

There are a handful of instrumental tracks on ‘Metronomy Forever’, and the standout for me is ‘Miracle Rooftop’, which is perfect to completely zone out to and look out the window, and I mean that as a great compliment. ‘Wedding Bells’ sounds almost like Metronomy doing a Bruce Springsteen song, and it works amazingly, and is another absolute earworm.

It’s so refreshing to see a band at this level in their career improve with every release. This is the best Metronomy album to date. Metronomy Forever indeed.

96%

Mermaidens Interview

New Zealand trio Mermaidens have just released their third album ‘Look Me In The Eye’. I had a chat to Lily from the band them about it! Kicking things off, I asked her why they picked that album title.

“The overarching themes of the album are confrontation and human relationships. The title comes from a song off the 7” we released earlier in the year – ‘You Maintain the Stain’. “

“The song was written at the same time as the album songs and lyrically has the same themes. The title has a double meaning, it speaks to both confrontation and intimacy between people.”

One of my fave tracks from ‘Look Me In The Eye’ is ‘Millenia’. I asked Lily what the inspiration behind the tune was.

“Millennia is a deadpan dig at the masks we wear.”

“As a band trying to connect with people, using social media is such a necessity. So, I wanted us to explore this mess of feelings around that twisted meeting of media and identity as a group. There’s an implication that we can’t be successful without this system, despite it not being that much good for anyone’s well-being.”

“The song is a big faker too – it’s all pep and pop hooks, but it’s a sad story. The title is a personal joke about feeling old at 25, it was always meant to be the temporary title as it’s not exactly subtle. But after recording, when the song turned out to be so melodramatic, it stuck.”

This is Mermaidens’ third album, and I asked Lily if the band had approached building the project any differently.

“We approached this album wanting to experiment and push ourselves. James Goldsmith had recorded our previous albums, we have a great friendship and during recording we were really comfortable to try wild ideas. “

“Another difference was that the songs were far less refined going into the studio and really came together with production rather than our usual months of jamming.”

Above is the striking album art for ‘Look Me In The Eye’, I asked Lily about the meaning behind it.

“I wanted to create a hazy person, like they are still forming and have been caught in-between wearing masks. “

“The image was made with the faces of a few friends layered over one another. The rest of the art around the album are stream of consciousness drawings inspired by the way our dreams and thoughts meander and connect. I wanted the record packaging to feel intimate; it’s red and pink and scrawled all over like a diary.”

‘Look Me In The Eye’ is out now on Flying Nun Records. You can buy it here, or listen to it on Spotify here.

Mxmtoon – The Masquerade Album Review

‘The Masquerade’ is the debut album from 19 year old Maia, known professionally as Mxmtoon. She released her debut EP ‘plum blossom’ last year, and has quickly gathered a large audience of fans, with her single ‘prom dress’ gaining over 17 million streams on Spotify, probably partly helped by the fact that the song was a big meme for a while on the viral video app TikTok. However, I always thought the song was genuinely good, and  album shows that Maia has more than one up the sleeve of her prom dress.

Opening Track ‘unspoken words’ highlights how impressive Maia’s songwriting is, and is a perfect opener for the album. Starting off really lo-fi with a drum beat that sounds right off a kid’s keyboard, the track bursts into a lushly produced, twinkly sad banger with a great melody that really shows off Maia’s charming vocals, which for me sit somewhere between Emma Stone and Corrine Bailey Rae.

‘prom dress’ follows, and it’s still as catchy and original as when I first heard it; it;s a simple concept for a song, and the lyrics are very straight to the point and direct, but it’s so difficult to execute songs like that well, and ‘prom dress’ is pretty much a perfect acoustic pop song.

‘high & dry’ is a cute, upbeat and breezy mid-album track that has some of Maia’s best lyrics; “There’s little reward in stinging me like a bee”, and on ‘my ted talk’ she manages to really opens up without seeming she is trying to sell her emotions too hard, and the track has some genuinely charming and funny spoken ad-libs that bring her personality even further to the front. ‘seasonal depression’ is an album highlight for me; another sad banger that shows that Maia isn’t afraid of shying away from any topic, and won’t hide her feelings behind endless metaphors.

‘The Masquerade’ is a great debut album, and it proves that Mxmtoon is one of the most promising young songwriters in the world right now.

90%

Levelled Out: The First 20 SNES Online Games Ranked.

Nintendo have finally released SNES games on the Nintendo Switch, as part of the benefits offered when you sign up for the Switch online membership. As with the NES library available on that service, the SNES games are available in their own separate app, as an on-demand library, and more games will be added each month. It’s kind of like a retro games Netflix but with no Stranger Things or Friends (thank god.)

Let’s go through the first 20 games launched from best to worst.

20 – Brawl Brothers

Brawl Brothers is a side-scrolling beat-em-up developed by Jaleco. It’s slow, clunky and to me, plays like a worse version of Final Fight.

19 – Super Tennis

Super Tennis is, as you’d expect, a Tennis game developed by Tose / Tonkin House. Unfortunately it is not very super, and feels slow, clunky and difficult to control.

18 – Super E.D.F. Earth Defense Force

Super E.D.F. is a side scrolling shooter developed by Jaleco. It’s really fun in short bursts, but can get really repetitive really quickly.

17 – Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics

Joe & Mac 2, developed by Data East, is actually the third game in the series of platformers. It’s a fun prehistoric platformer with a 2 player co-op mode.

16 – Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire is an RPG developed by Capcom, and is the first in a long-running series. It’s fairly long for a SNES game, and could take around 30 hours to fully complete it.

15 – Demon’s Crest

Demon’s Crest is a platformer in which you play as Firebrand, an enemy from Ghosts ‘n Goblins. It focuses on collecting crests, which Firebrand wants in order to gain access to incredible power. There is some Metroid-style backtracking involved to previous areas once you have these crests. It’s fun to play as a villain, and the gameplay is very solid.

14 –Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the third game in the Ghosts n’ Goblins series, and it is very, very difficult. It’s worth the stress though, as this is a great, iconic platformer.

13 – Super Puyo Puyo 2

Puyo Puyo is one of the best puzzle games ever made, and this is a great version of it, even despite this being an entirely Japanese game, it should be fairly easy to understand once you get through the menus.

12 – Super Soccer

Super Soccer is a football game developed by Human Entertainment, and it’s a lot of fun. Of course, it’s no FIFA, but once you get the hang of its now novelty retro look and control scheme, this is one of the best 2 player games on the lineup.

11 – Stunt Race FX

Using the then revolutionary Super FX Chip, Nintendo developed this cute, unique racer for the SNES with full 3D visuals. This is the first time it has ever been officially re-released since it’s original launch, and it’s real fun once you get used to the controls.

10 – Kirby’s Dream Land 3

Kirby games are usually really solid platformers, with great, happy visuals and extremely catchy music. Dream Land 3 continues this tradition. You can ride on the back of a hamster.

9 – Kirby’s Dream Course

Kirby’s Dream Course is a weird golf game, with Kirby as the ball. On each course you have a variety of enemies to hit before the hole appears. It’s really fun, and takes some real skill to get good scores on each course.

8 – Super Mario Kart

This is the first ever Mario Kart game! It still holds up really well, with most of the iconic trademarks of the series being present here, and despite the most recent games having a much wider roster of characters and features, this is still a great game.

7 – Star Fox

Another game that makes use of the Super FX Chip, Star Fox is the first game in it’s series and despite its now almost primitive looking graphics, it still plays really well, and it isn’t hard to see why this is considered a classic.

6 – Super Mario World

The Mario game that first introduced Yoshi, Super Mario World is an amazing, creative platformer that set a lot of standards for future games.

5 – Pilotwings

Pilotwings has you using a variety of airborne vehicles including a plane, a rocket belt and a hang glider to complete a variety of missions around a series of different areas. It’s really difficult, especially landing the plane, but it’s really rewarding when you finally get it right.

4 – F-Zero

Utilising the same method as Pilotwings to mimic a 3D environment, F-Zero is a really impressive, fast paced futuristic racer that can be really challenging. It also sees the debut of Smash Bros. Favourite Captain Falcon.

3 – Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Yoshi’s Island was a big risk at the time for Nintendo, as not many people thought that the extremely cartoony, child-like graphical style would go down well with the gaming audience. It did, and what Nintendo made was a charming, brilliant puzzling platformer.

2 – Super Metroid

Super Metroid is the third game in the Metroid series, and it’s till considered by many to be the best. A great mixture of platforming. shooting and puzzle action that still stands the test of time.

1 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Zelda games are rarely bad, but A Link To The Past is still considered one of the best after all this time, and it’s not hard to see why. Charming sprite graphics that don’t seem out of date, a gripping story, great gameplay and great music makes this a must play.

These are only a handful of the great games in the SNES’ library, and I really hope that some of my favourites like Donkey Kong Country, Chrono Trigger and Earthbound and are added soon.


I plan to update this list as more games are added, all screenshots were captured by me via Nintendo Switch.

Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding Album Review

Post Malone has become one of the biggest names in music in an extremely short length of time. He released his debut album in 2016, and as of September 2019, he is the 6th most streamed artist in the world on Spotify, with his latest single ‘Circles’ gaining over 50 million streams in around a week. He just headlined Reading & Leeds festivals in the UK to great reception. It’s an understatement to say there was a lot of anticipation and hype for his latest album, and unexpectedly, he exceeded those expectations.

The title track kicks off the album, and immediately sets the gloomy, sad tone of ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’. Sadness and loneliness have been consistent themes in Posty’s previous releases, but this project is his most cohesive, and consistent to date. Most of the tracks on ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ sound like they could easily be singles, and Post seems the most focused he has ever been.

‘Enemies’ is the first track of the album that sounds positive; a really upbeat, peppy and extremely catchy melody runs throughout the track but the lyrics maintain that solemn attitude. ‘Used to have friends now I got enemies, it’s so sad’ hits things right on the head.

‘Allergic’ is an album highlight for me, and shows off what Post Malone does best. Blending elements of several genres together to make a straight up catchy banger. An almost doo-wop beat and melody mixes in effortlessly with rock and trap, and the harmonised acapella vocals that close off the track are genuinely lovely.

Many of the tracks on the album deal with the theme of fame, and how it has affected his life. Some lines like “You see me on TV, you know I’m a star, You say you don’t know me, but I know that’s false” from ‘A Thousand Bad Times’ leave no room for speculation, but tracks like ‘Circles’ make you read between the lines, and show a deeper side to Post Malone. ‘Circles’ is one of my favourite tracks Post has ever done, with it’s jangly guitar and plodding bassline making it almost sound like a single that a Blossoms could come out with mixed with a bit of Tame Impala. It’s extremely catchy and hasn’t left my head since I first heard it.

There are a wide range of features on the album, from the likes of Halsey, Future and Sza, but perhaps the most surprising combination is Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott, both of whom feature on the track ‘Take What You Want’. Perhaps even more surprising is that it works, with Ozzy’s vocals providing a really dramatic atmosphere, and Travis puts in a decent verse before the song explodes into an over-the-top guitar solo.

‘Staring At The Sun’ with Sza is a really pleasant track, and whether this is due to the pair’s history or not, it really does sound like the song that would play at the end credits of a superhero movie. The fact that it is followed by ‘Sunflower’ taken from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, only furthers this in my mind. It’s good though, and Sza and Post work really well together.

‘Internet’ is a weird one. Written by Kanye West, it’s almost interlude length at just over 2 minutes, and is a string heavy, short and sweet ballad about how he doesn’t use the internet much anymore. It’s nice enough though, but the extremely lush instrumentation does seem a little out of place.

When I first listened to ‘Myself’ I thought that it sounded a bit like Father John Misty in the melody and lyrics; “Oh, I’m sick of believing, All of this American dreaming, Oh, let’s not give a fuck ’til Giving a fuck has no meaning”. The track was in fact co-written by Post and Josh Tillman (FJM’s Real Name), and is another of the album’s best points.

Closing off with ‘Wow.’, which is by far the most braggy of all the tracks on the album perfectly sums up Post Malone. He’s made it, and he’s going to keep pushing forward and surprising people with his success for as long as he can.

85%

 

 

 

Tessa Violet Interview

Tessa Violet is set to release her debut album later this year, and I spoke to her about the album, the visuals that go along with it, and starting out as an online creator.

 


I started off by asking how she felt about the reception to her latest EP, and why decide to release the project as separate EPs initially.


“I’m feeling good! it’s a repackaging of the first three singles plus three remixes.”


“We’ve actually decided to release the whole album this fall!! stoked on that. “


“I wrote the album as an album, you take something different and more complete when you listen to it all together. Initially we’d considered the idea of three EPs just because i am still a relatively new artist and there wasn’t much demand, but things have taken off a bit this year! I cried happy tears when we made the call.”


Tessa’s single ‘I Like (The Idea Of) You’ is my favourite track from her to date, and features on her latest EP. I asked her what the inspiration behind the track was.


“Just as the song says, there was a guy who i knew i wasn’t a fit for but loved the idea of him, and not just that but i enjoyed the whole experience of falling for the idea of someone.”


“I felt powerful.”


The visuals for the Bad Ideas campaign have all been really striking and memorable, especially the Crush video. I asked Tessa what was the process behind working on that video was like, & how important are visual aspects like videos and album/single art to her.



“It was my director Isaac White’s idea to film in a supermarket, mine to use the boomerang technique, and the execution of the brilliant editor Shawna Howson who brought it together.”


“That video was incredibly DIY, a group of passionate people coming together to make something because we all cared about it. I think with everything I do, visuals or otherwise. it’s important to me that it all be “right”.”


” I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist, but I do have a strong sense of what works or doesn’t for me and I do everything I can to follow my gut there.”


Tessa started out by uploading videos to Youtube, and building her audience organically that way. I asked her why she thinks so many people still don’t take musicians who started their careers online seriously.


“I think it’s a variety of factors. There’s definitely a stigma around people who built something online.”


“Maybe because when you go through a label, there’s so much money going in to it from so many different places you know it’s going to reach some level of par or good, but online anyone can upload anything.”


“for years i’d have people saying to me “yeah i don’t mean this in a bad way but it surprised me, your songs are actually really good!” whatever it is, i try not to put too much energy in to getting distracted by it.”


“I think if if the music is great then people who like it will like. that’s something to be grateful for.”