Review: Lemonade by Beyoncé Knowles

Lemonade by Beyoncé KnowlesAnother surprise album drop from Beyoncé, although not as much of a surprise as the last time she did it. Of course, by now we all know what Lemonade is purportedly about – and the context of it being about Jay-Z supposed infidelities has turned the album into some sort of female empowerment symbol. Like Beyoncé often becomes now. Say what you want about it having something more to say than most pop records (and I’m not thinking of “Formation” being tacked on to the end) but Lemonade is an interesting record, if only for the creative decisions she made. Her last album, Beyoncé, played with the minimal R&B that was making a dent on the charts at the time. This album takes on a wider gamut of styles, but without sounding like everything’s thrown in at random. The story it tells is served well by the swerves, suggesting not a confusion over what is really happening, but the haze that happens when one tries to piece together a response. Fury? Forgiveness? It captures everything well. [NB]3/5

Review: Cell-O-Phane by the Buildings

Cell-O-Phane by the BuildingsA confession: I was a little apprehensive when I decided to listen to Cell-O-Phane, the debut album from the Buildings. I’m coming in blind, so I had no idea what to expect. But boy, wasn’t it fun? The four-piece’s debut is very much a jammy take on what kids these days think, but it’s packaged in a way that isn’t annoying to people like me, the sort who tries to like new music but finds himself a bit jaded because it’s for little kids. Okay. That’s definitely my initial apprehensions talking. I don’t really know how to put into smart-sounding words the fact that the opening track, “A Modest Proposal”, brought me back to my frosh year in college, reminded me of a time when I had a thing for noise pop without knowing the term “noise pop”. The laid back observations somehow becomes universal again, and the traipsing through variations keeps you in. I just… listened. And liked it. And never really had more to say other than, well, I quite liked it. That, and “am I rushing to prove I’m grown up?” [NB]4/5

Review: The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ HarveyAfter the critical success of Let England Shake – unsurprising yet surprising – all eyes were on what PJ Harvey would do next. That turned out to be a tour of war zones, both battlegrounds and political planning centers (aka the United States). The result is The Hope Six Demolition Project, essentially a series of vignettes about the things she’s seen. Thing is, however, you come in expecting PJ to say something about what she’s seen; instead, she just describes what she’s seen. Maybe I’m missing the message here (is it McLuhan-esque?) or maybe it really is just supposed to be a diary. It’s a minor quibble, though: the album is a charging romp, constantly pushing to the edge with hammering guitars and PJ exploring her voice again. Somehow you leave still feeling satisfied despite the oblique nature of the lyrics. Or, again, maybe that is the whole point. Are you content with just knowing? Maybe that is the point. [NB]4/5

The Local Outsider #4: an election special featuring Yano, Dicta License and Ninno

The Local OutsiderInevitably… let’s talk about the elections. Crazy, right? No? Oh, yeah, crazy is an understatement. If you’re in the Philippines, you really are better off avoiding your social media feeds. (It sucks that I chose not to curate my feeds because, you know, #feedgoals.) Anyway, a country that can get this fiery when it comes to politics naturally would have an outlet in its music, so on this month’s edition of the Local Outsider, we look at songs with a political bent, artists with a more social approach – and no, I don’t mean Facebook marketing. That’s a different kind of social.

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