Music Reviews November

Ryan Gronich, Music Critic and Puzzle Master

INDIE/ALTERNATIVE: Razzmatazz – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (October 23)

I expected IDKHow’s first release to be strong, but I don’t know if I expected it to be THIS strong. It’s rare that an opening track draws me in so delightfully and so heavily as The-1975-esque “Leave Me Alone” does, and the rest of the record keeps my full attention. Dallon Weekes’ vocal range surprises me every time I listen to him. Singer/lead instrumentalist Weekes and drummer Ryan Seaman both come most recently from emo outfits (Panic! at the Disco and Falling in Reverse respectively), and their debut LP as IDKHow gives me the impression that they’ve been itching to get away from a darker atmosphere for quite awhile. The band uses just enough disco sound to be danceable but not enough to get irritating. Every track is interestingly different, which pleases me to no end, and I have to go with “Clusterhug” as my single for this record; its crashing piano and cymbals couple gorgeously with Weekes’ higher register to create something I have to turn the volume up 250% on every time. This album was an instant ten out of ten and I recommend it highly, especially if you want something to jive to. 


RADIO POP: Positions – Ariana Grande (October 30)

I’ve always felt that Ariana has gotten worse with time; Yours Truly is a weirdly good album for something I was into when I was eleven, but thank u, next was relatively underwhelming. I don’t think her voice should be used the way she’s been using it. However! I can forgive her here, because the instrumentals on this album are MUCH better than I thought they’d be going in. I’m a sucker for strings, which she opens the record with, but surprisingly (to me, at least) it doesn’t get any worse. That sounds meaner than I really feel. While I don’t think this album is gem after gem, I do think the groove Grande found is a really solid one. Not to get blue but this is, indisputably, an album of sex jams. If I were to read this description from someone else, I’d shy away. Grande honestly dunks it. I feel like her voice shouldn’t really work for sultry and that’s usually what I don’t like about her music; here, she manages to fit the high range I love so much into tracks that are clearly bassy and she still hits the mark. If you’re looking to get in the mood, this is a terrifically solid record. 


RAP: EP! – JPEGMAFIA (November 6)

JPEGMAFIA has always been one of the most creative rappers putting stuff out, and he holds up his reputation on this EP. In the Bandcamp description, he notes that this is a compilation of all the singles he’s put out this year, and if that means what it sounds like, I’m very impressed that he put together a cohesive enough album just of singles. The samples are great here as always. “COVERED IN MONEY!” is somehow catchy without having a hook I can pin down. This release is a little shorter than Peggy’s other records (it’s an EP, after all) and clearly not meant to be a bigger project, but I don’t think he has to write a full concept album to make something quality. His forte is mixing a pretty aggressive rapping style with smooth, almost lofi-hiphop-esque instrumentals, and this EP follows through there on every track; I think he wanted to make some songs that were more focused on the melodies and sampling work than the vocals, but you still won’t be lacking in his sharp political voice. If the combination of calming piano and a man yelling about the establishment intrigues you, I’d definitely give JPEGMAFIA a listen. 


I don’t just have to write blurbs about stuff I really liked lately– if you’ve got a request for me to talk about a new album you thought deserved it, shoot me an email and it’ll be a blast for both of us! Stay fresh, kids!