Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Alicia Keys ft. Kendrick Lamar – It’s On Again

It’s not.


[Video][Website]
[4.17]

Alfred Soto: What the bloody hell? Lamar’s thirty-five seconds of growling qualify him for a “featuring” credit. To strand listeners with Alicia Keys on this raft is akin to being tossed in a sack with an ape, scorpion, and snake. She doesn’t disgrace herself with histrionic shows of soul, but the disco strings and harsh guitar don’t leave her much room to, well, do much of anything. Which is enough.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: Alicia Keys’ segment will sound great over the opening credit sequence, but geez, Kendrick Lamar shouting over some boring guitar riffage really tries its best to drive you away.
[4]

Scott Mildenhall: Calm down Kendrick! It’s only Alicia Keys. Or is it? Could Alicia Keys quell his rage so suddenly, averting another Jack White situation with a stultifying stream of MOR? She’s already shown superpowers in two of her videos, and then there’s “Superwoman” – after all this time, was she the “Girl On Fire”? Well maybe, but on this song she’s definitely Alicia Keys.
[5]

Brad Shoup: Kendrick hits the ground so fast — a boggling combination of DMX, Eminem, and Pigeon John — that Keys’ entrance comes on like a guest spot. It’s more impressive, how she squeezes the performer’s struggle into spandex. As decreed the shadowy cabal, this is a disco track. There’s a chordal backdrop of electric guitar that barely links to Kendrick’s intro and beat-trailing pings that link to… I don’t know, actually. Maybe there’s a hospital scene?
[6]

Andy Hutchins: HEY YOU GUYS I THINK KENDRICK HAD A RED BULL BEFORE RECORDING HIS VERSE DO YOU THINK SO IT DEFINITELY SOUNDS LIKE IT oh hey wait this is just the same midtempo ballad Alicia Keys has been making for about four years now crossed with “Now or Never,” the only good kid, m.A.A.d city song that would have sounded out of place on the NBA 2K14 soundtrack (and thus, obviously, the one on it). I hate “Now or Never,” but at least both it and “It’s On Again” are forgettably inoffensive.
[3]

Mallory O’Donnell: Slight disco number to which some sub-Eminem posturing over mangled metal chords has been attached. Bizarre, but not really in an interesting way.
[3]

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Janelle Monáe – What is Love

Well, I don’t know. Please tell us!


[Video][Website]
[6.33]
Alfred Soto: She’s gaining the compositional skills to match her confidence, as the first third of The Electric Lady records. This soundtrack throwaway boasts flamenco strumming and a hyperactive choir that listened to “Happy” earlier that morning. Don’t trust a rhetorical question without a question mark — it adduces confusion.
[5]

Will Adams: The percussion bumps politely, the choir interjects politely, and the chorus lands politely. This is the most accessible Janelle has been to me, but the net result sounds limp nonetheless. I hope those facts are not related in any way.
[5]

Brad Shoup: Soundtracks for kiddie films must be a relief for capital-A artists: you can play around with a preset musical theme, explore the tension between mass appeal and your idiosyncratic tendencies, all without inviting the scrutiny level of, say, a single leak. My favorite example is “Lose Myself,” Ms. Lauryn Hill’s contribution to the Surf’s Up soundtrack. Hill’s lays heartcracking, obsessive analysis over a squelchy, percolating surf-pop beat. It’s like watching someone completely clown a Six Flags music-video booth. I’d like to propose a trial separation for the words “crazy” and “love”, but everything else here is animated with a playful, yet all-encompassing, devotion. The Brazilified track doesn’t shake the earth — Lucio Battisti summoned stronger grooves than this — but it shimmies. And when she goes into a Mike Jackson voice for the final seconds, shouting from the sidewalk… dang.
[7]

Megan Harrington: This is delightfully close to being a Jackson 5 hit, especially when Monae shouts her closing salvo, “what is love if it’s not with you?” a reflective counterpart to Michael Jackson singing “sit down girl, I think I love you!” on “ABC.” It’s a perfect piece of soundtrack work, and no one deserves the runaway success associated with a multi-platform movie theme song more than Monáe.
[8]

Juana Giaimo: Her charisma is always abundant, but the lack of feeling in “What Is Love” makes all the tricks she uses to charm us fall flat.
[6]

Mallory O’Donnell: A rolling, exuberant beat injected with carnival percussion and Afropop touches, dense but not weighty. Monáe projects her rhetorical love questions with a keening enthusiasm that never really overwhelms, even when she hits the highs. Little apart from its’ formal simplicity clues you in to the fact that the track is for a children’s movie.
[7]

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Tujamo & Plastik Funk ft. Sneakbo – Dr. Who!

Your editor has never seen that show, so please leave your best references/puns in the comments below…


[Video][Website]
[5.50]

Iain Mew: Like “Dibby Dibby Sound” crossed with “Take That”! Well, kind of, since where “Take That” played on reclaiming a phrase from its pop culture associations and then throwing in those associations on top, “Dr. Who!” barely even gestures at the show (it’s called Doctor Who, for a start) but offers little other meaning for the phrase. Instead, it uses its recognisability as a catchphrase to hang quickfire nonsense around. It’s a fun idea, and it that more than works thanks to both Sneakbo and a production that provides the sonic energy to bludgeon through barriers of mere sense.
[8]

Kat Stevens: Better than pretty much all of the last Matt Smith series, but not as good as the 50th Anniversary Special.
[8]

Anthony Easton: An aggressive house track with little or no connection to the British TV show, put together by a pan-European collection of A-list DJs. This is delightfully unrelenting. 
[8]

Brad Shoup: Forget the title, please: it’s all about those hooted whos. This being a pop single, the programming steps back in the verses for Sneakbo’s general flex. But man, the corny menace of the refrain is intoxicating. There, the dialing back serves the feeling.
[7]

Scott Mildenhall: Not as fun as it’s probably meant to be, because nothing really happens. Sneakbo’s previous pop moves have tended to have more going for them — “Ring A Ling” in particular possessing all the joy this lacks. Often a two-and-a-half minute radio edit feels ungenerous, but it barely has the ideas for half that time. Imagine “Badman Riddim”, but boring.
[5]

Juana Giaimo: Less than three minutes long is not short enough.
[3]

Alfred Soto: i.e. let’s assemble the parts of every dance cliché of the last twenty years (acceleration, sampled party horn, house beat, nonsense catch phrase) but strip them of power, humor, and rhythm.
[2]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: After Faul & Wad Ad took on PNAU’s “Baby” earlier this week, I wondered if we were entering an unnecessary period of nostalgia for the first great blogging era, back when house and rap and pop and rock and indie and electro could all function under the same umbrella. It was an exciting time, one of the first signs that we would become more eclectic with our music tastes, and using large swathes of “Baby” recalls its success as it passed from Blogspot page to Blogspot page. Tujamo and Plastic Funk’s “Dr Who!” feels like a throwback to Mad Decent’s early dominance of the blog circuit, and the hundreds of artists that popped up, jockeying the label’s global party aesthetic. Despite the presence of grime MC/potential Pokemon species Sneakbo, this sounds more like that era’s knockoffs than that era’s freshest.
[3]

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Martin Garrix & Jay Hardway – Wizard

“Yer a animal wizard, Harry…”


[Video][Website]
[4.60]

Abby Waysdorf: Ohhh, that’s what this one is called. I think I’m officially old because I can’t keep these songs straight. I know I’ve heard this a bunch of times, and it’s King’s Day coming up, so I’m likely to hear it about a hundred times more, but damned if they don’t all sound identical to me. I like the little high-pitched notes at the beginning, though. Maybe I’ll remember those next time. Now get off my damn lawn, Martijn. 
[6]

Alfred Soto: Tired EDM for Eastern European hotels, poolside. I mean, this is the sort of track in which a distorted baritone shouts “Drop!” before the drop.
[1]

Iain Mew: The “Animals” sound has already become so prevalent in Europe that there are dudes having hits by applying it to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Time for Garrix to switch things up, if not much. The wavering note at the end of a synth line that sounds like it would fit a cave level in a video game from before he was born — good move. Announcing the drop with the word “drop” — is he even trying?
[5]

Brad Shoup: The pirate pings are back, but they’re chasing each other hard, like a Harmonix game on expert. It’s less of a show-off than “Animals” — which has been lighting up our pop station for a month — and more of a pure nu-rave thing. The endless fadeout is screaming for a segue.
[6]

Anthony Easton: The placid bits here, repeating the same notes as tight and contained as a minuet, ground the speeding up of the rest of the work. It goes faster, but it never quite leaves the same orderly structure, abstracting the tension of the work into a series of formal choices that appear more sophisticated than they are. 
[4]

Edward Okulicz: This really annoys me because it t sounds like a pretty cool track which has been forced, kicking and screaming and swearing, into the “Animals” template just as it gets going about a minute in. In other words, Garrix actually does have a second idea of his own, but he’s too in thrall to his first to get this to really work — as a build-then-drop, “Animals” was just better, and this is wasted potential.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: “Animals”‘ dystopic vision was a much sparser one, but this achieves a similar eeriness with a creeping unease. The radio edit has it best: foreboding introductory bloops suddenly giving way to menacing vwerps (technical terms, Google them) before the drop’s confirmation that you are indeed in a (very fun) nightmare. In keeping with that tone the video should have featured a young couple on the run from The Man (represented by a man, sporting wraparound shades), with a briefcase, inside a deserted factory. (It doesn’t.)
[7]

Megan Harrington: I’m imagining a future where our mobile devices come preloaded with the building blocks to “Wizard,” in much the same way the Casio VL-1 came preset with “Popcorn.” Then I imagine an even more distant future where we no longer need devices because our brains can connect directly to the stream and some old geezer pulls out his 20 year old cellphone to demonstrate the link between ancient forms of technology and ancient forms of dance music to a pack of confused youngsters.  
[5]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: My ear assumed that this was “Animals” turned inside out, but a quick test of the Nickelback Effect (where you play two songs at the same time to see if they match one another) taught me otherwise. It helped me learn that this is a step down from “Animals” and its subtle subversion. Here, Garrix and Hardway have a voice yelling “drop!” which isn’t as good a joke as ending your club banger with Scooby Doo noises.
[5]

Will Adams: The idea of EDM being extremely self-aware — from announcing your own drops to trolling your contemporaries — seems appealing in theory, but in practice, it comes off as little more than a horde of DJs collectively marching in place contentedly. “Wizard” is the same template as “Animals,” of course: a melodic breakdown devoured by a slamming beat with a woodblock synth pinging over it. Don’t be fooled by the title; there’s no magic here.
[4]

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

It’s summer (almost)! The perfect time for some ab unleashing…


[Video][Website]
[6.27]

Abby Waysdorf: Summer! Within the first few notes I’m already on my bike, cruising along leisurely in the sun instead of fighting the wind and rain. As a whole song, it keeps up that mood, with candy synths and a well-placed guitar creating an atmosphere of warmth and lighthearted fun. The “I will never let you down” refrain confirms the positivity. Sure, it’s a bit of one of those Coke commercials where attractive young people frolic around in the sun, but there’s a reason there keeps being those. Who doesn’t want to hang out in the afternoon sun?
[8]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Rita Ora is probably facing her biggest international buzz at this very moment for faux-sexually harassing a member of the High School Musical cast at an MTV awards show. It helps her case — as well as Roc Nation, who must be wanting some US-based results for Ora — because this gives the general public something to focus on other than her music. “I Will Never Let You Down” is perky, gleaming Eighties pop that lacks a spark of charisma to give it weight. Imagine “My Life Would Suck Without You” except, y’know, it sucks.
[3]

Alfred Soto: The treated guitar hook is the best thing Ora’s been involved with, compensating for her contribution to Iggy Azalea’s dreadful album. If it hadn’t insisted on including sawtooth synth hysteria in the chorus, it might’ve been a good recent song that transcended its women-are-muses content.
[5]

David Sheffieck: Some of the production touches are a little heavy-handed — I could do without hearing “Hey!” shouted in the background of a pop song ever again, thank you very much. The decision to center the verses around the bouncy, infectious bassline is a brilliant one, though, providing the sort of counterpoint that makes Ora’s voice sound considerably more interesting than she can manage on her own.
[7]

Will Adams: That Rita Ora’s persona has been wholly malleable up to this point does not detract from how lovely the chorus is. In just fifteen seconds, Calvin Harris bottles the same bright pop fizz that Betty Who nailed exactly one year ago, concocting a smooth mix of scalar guitars, bouncing breakbeat, and an ebullient “Hee!” hook. The verses may be indistinct (and Rita’s vocals may suffer from the same problem), but that chorus never lets me down.
[8]

Cédric Le Merrer: Starts off well enough by skirting the line between pleasant-slight spring tune and boring/bland unambitious filler. She probably won’t ever let you down because you’ll never expect too much of her, so when around the second verse you begin to tire of the little guitar loop that hooked you at first, it’s not like you’re really surprised or disappointed. 
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Rita Ora: the new Alexandra Burke. You and your new single in an advert? You must be A Major Public Concern. If only Alexandra still was, and was still being paid for her antiperspirant loyalty, this could have soundtracked it. It sounds just as good in its ad as “All Night Long” did because it has a vibrance that previous Ora singles have lacked. She has personality now too, and is completely convincing in her expression of the kind of straightforward sentiment Calvin Harris is brilliant at. With a title and melody as direct and affirmative as “I Will Never Let You Down” it’d be a crime to go wrong.
[7]

Megan Harrington: In terms of revolutionizing the Loudness Wars, Rita Ora has basically invented trenches; this is downright subtle by her standards.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Endless iterating melodic fragments are usually fine by me, but Rita’s mistaken distortion for weight. But she does sing “oh” just like it’s done on “Dilemma,” and it’s mirrored by those wonderful yelps in the chorus. This is a Natasha Bedingfield distillation: signals and marks, a rush I don’t love but will never brush away.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: The cruisy-meets-bosh of some of Calvin Harris’s most boring singles like “Summer” and “Feel So Close” is here revealed to have been just a female vocalist (and not even a distinctive one!) away from working. Truly, this is one for those who remain rooted to the bar except for that one minute when they abandon their drink and/or handbag and go off on the floor for just a minute before returning to their standing position. I’ve got plenty of use for something this comforting subject-wise, sound-wise, and use-wise.
[7]

Anthony Easton: The chorus break and the general speed of this might seem interesting at first, but it is almost arbitrary. For a song that sings about both being frozen and losing control, this slides in the middle without a lot of skill. I just don’t trust her in giving me any amount of fun. 
[4]

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Faul & Wad Ad vs. Pnau – Changes

Your search for “alexandra stan house remix” returned about 330,000 results…


[Video][Website]
[4.43]

Alfred Soto: A European hit, which proves deejays can sprinkle house keyboards, samples, and horns like catnip on any keyboard preset.
[3]

Anthony Easton: If this was any more cloying, glurgey, or sentimental, it could have been written by Marty Haugen. 
[2]

Will Adams: I hate how this type of dimestore deep house is becoming so popular — not because it means a more mainstream crowd is listening to it, but it does a great disservice to its predecessors, when basslines grooved instead of yawned, when vocal samples inspired instead of annoyed, and when horns were integrated into the mix instead of grafted on top.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: You make me dance. Bring me up. Bring me down. Play it sweet. Make me move, like a freak. Mr. House Saxobeat.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: Nothing wrong with the silver medal in the saxophone-guided-dance-track category. Going to be tough to top the one on top of the podium.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: An SEO disaster, but a musical wonder. The original’s phonemes wisely excised, but the rest C-ed and V-ed wholesale into a new, completely contemporary context. If to some the names are a Scrabble rack, the song is a completed board: disparate parts brought to order. Any potential disconnect — even between the nature of the choir and the words they sing — is too joyous and relaxing to notice.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Pnau once had the sense to remix “Grey Seal,” if not the ability to fully execute. There’s not much of a ingenuity bar to clear here: hush the percussion, toss in an itchy Balearic sax, tap the piano. But my goodness, let’s not bring in the kids unless we let them sing like kids, maybe? A cheap graft, even cheaper than the sax.
[5]

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Adrian Marcel ft. Sage the Gemini & Problem – 2 AM

One hour to Eminem, two to Melanie, three to Katy


[Video][Website]
[7.25]

Brad Shoup: Songs set around this slice of the morning tend to set our subjects in the club, or heading home, the club still buzzing in their heads. Marcel puts us by the bar, but the loopy, trebly programming and pluming vocals sound like they’re soundtracking a cocoon. Commands and bluntness have no purchase here; he sounds immobilized.
[6]

Alfred Soto: On first listen it defines “meh.” Adrian Marcel should be confined to hook duties, where his anonymous pipes can project the required empathy. But as each verse pours out Sage demonstrates a quiet wit; it caught me off guard. The twinkling arrangement helps.
[6]

Anthony Easton: Beautifully constructed with that cage of rickety production. This floats and is grounded, working through a set of half-believed commitments. Maybe the best flow I have heard this year. 
[9]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Quite the bop. My initial reaction was, “This bops, yes, but I think it goes on for slightly longer than it needs to.” Now here I sit, several replays later. Four minutes may be too long, but 16+ minutes is the sweet spot.
[8]

Will Adams: That organ bassline adds just enough sweetness to imbue their come-ons with the exact sincerity that comes about at 2 a.m., when it’s too early to call it quits for the night but too late not to feel the dread of going home alone.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: It’s 2 a.m. Get this tinny cheery loop out of my head. Stop telling me I look different than all those other girls you can’t trust, man — which is bullshit anyway, because it’s 2 a.m., so I just look tired and probably like shit. And stop saying I’m horny. If you have to tell her, you’ve already failed.
[5]

Megan Harrington: Does Adrian Marcel bring Crishan his “Well, the bar is closing, so, are we gonna do it?” lyrics and Crishan furnishes the extra dull synth-synth-snap beat or does Marcel write to the track’s boredom? The sloppy verses from Sage and Problem (who are both capable of much better) suggest it’s the latter. 
[6]

Crystal Leww: “2 AM.” sounds like every dude you’ve ever had some form of relationship with who called you late at night. Adrian Marcel, Sage the Gemini, and Problem play very different versions of that dude: the guy keeping it cool but making you feel like you could be the only one he thinks about when alone, the guy who was so reckless with your feelings but you kind of liked it, and the guy who was maybe not good enough for you but so endearing in his own way that you found yourself waking up next to him again and again anyway. Like those boys, “2 AM.” never promises too much, preferring to remain sparse and understated, but before you realize you’ve become attached to the curves of his ceiling, the smell of his car, the texture of his hands. The moments where this all comes together are special, locked away in your memory attached to those vivid specifics. When you’re in it, it feels fleeting; when it’s done, you hit repeat.
[10]

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Bando Jonez – Sex You

When you try your best but you don’t succeed…


[Video][Website]
[4.75]

Brad Shoup: Sex. Have you had it? Have you heard of it? Here’s my card. What a twerp.
[3]

David Sheffieck: I like the admission of vulnerability on display from the beginning of Jonez’s lyric; it’s the sort of thing that makes you want to pat him on the back and tell him it’ll be okay. Tell him that yes, she might’ve had good sex lately — but you don’t need to compare yourself to whoever she was with before. You don’t need to boast you were raised like a pimp just because you’re intimidated by the thought that women might be having sex with someone before they met you. I’d do it gently; he seems fragile.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: There’s this part late in the song where the vocals get pitch-shifted down, and this deep voice booms out: “SEX – HAVE YOU HAD IT.” Incredible moment on an otherwise cluttered song that, considering the subject matter, should know less is more.
[4]

Megan Harrington: The vocal on this is just incredible: warped, pitch-shifted shouts stamping the song with “SEX” and “GOOD SEX,” dagger sharp falsettos contouring “ha-aaa-aa-aaaaa-aa-ve” and Jonez’s natural, silky mid-range filling in the rest of the song’s lyrics. “Sex You” isn’t exactly seductive, but it is incredibly eager and excited, endearing on its own terms. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: Listeners nostalgic for prime The-Dream will swoon over the bubble effects and insistent lust.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I know The-Dream, and you are no The-Dream. The-Dream would have produced this to sound less Priscilla’s-ad tacky, or at least done something half-clever with “raindrops keep falling on my….”
[3]

Will Adams: That gurgling water noise sounds like a toilet overflowing. Maybe Bando Jonez should stop nagging his love interest whether she’s had good sex lately and attend to that.
[4]

Anthony Easton: The sound of the water on the roof, the synth burbles, the directness of the invitation: the whole thing is so silly, and yet it might be a tiny bit seductive. 
[7]

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Eagulls – Possessed

something something hype cycle…


[Video][Website]
[4.10]

Alfred Soto: To let the stress fall on the title’s unlikeliest place is this English band’s novelty. The rest is influences without anxiety.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Murky guitars churn like a poorly printed illustration of a wild storm in an old book. Then George Mitchell, who has the name of a schoolboy in an old book with poorly printed illustrations, yelps like the not-so-wild singer of an old band who opened for a poorly promoted post-punk show in 1982. I was going to say that tunes aren’t optional, but my score suggests they actually are.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: The guitar feedback doesn’t even sound that harsh, so the bad screamsinging probably isn’t even necessary.
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: YOU BECOME KNOWN TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY HEADS DUE TO THE FACT THAT YOU TAKE CHEAP PLAUSIBLY DENIABLE SHOTS AT WOMEN IN BANDS AND THEIR WHITE KNIGHTS TOO. WITHOUT YOUR PATINA OF CONSPICUOUS WORKING-CLASS BRO-DOWNING OVER YOUR CLICKBAITY CAREER BOOST AND OKAY ROCK YOU HAVE NOTHING. IF YOU HAVE READ THIS TAKE NOTE.
[4]

Will Adams: Come again?
[5]

Crystal Leww: Hm, this would sound better if the vocalist were female.
[1]

Kat Stevens: This is worse than the time an actual seagull stole my sausage sandwich OUT OF MY HAND at one of the ATPs in Minehead. And I’m not even hungover right now!
[1]

Anthony Easton: I have been listening to a lot of The Drums, because the snow has finally gone. This also goes on my “winter is finally gone” list. 
[7]

Brad Shoup: This has some neat melodic contours, and they really turned up the shoegaze for the album version. This being an English band, there’s no way this is really a piss-take: the earnest sense of anthem is far too strong. Is that a carillon in the bridge? I dunno, it sounds like some fuckaround ’90s indie act that tried to be funny and ended up with a pop song. 
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Passable post-punk affectations — the snottiness shows signs of life, but this is people singing into past reflections.
[5]

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Issues – Stingray Affliction

You got your aggressively pop jam on my aggressively angry metal blowout…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Alfred Soto: The title suggested a K-Pop extravaganza, and in a sense it is: the chewy pop center at its heart tastes like Savage Garden or something. Don’t skip those metaltastic power chords though.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Thick, rubbery guitar riffing and the Cookie Monsteriest growl this side of 2002; you wouldn’t even need the scratching to ID this as nu-metal, freshly risen from the grave. And what an unexpectedly welcome zombie! Tyler Carter layers sugary harmonies over lines like “I don’t want to be tough/I wanna make sure they can see me cry” while Michael Bohn hollers “SUCK SHIT. YOU MEAN NOTHING,” which is so platonically ideal as a Hot Topic-core sentiment that I hope someone’s used it before. Carter counters with a stuttering, delicate bridge that is rhythmically tricky enough to tempt some reviewers into calling it R&B. Sounds more like New Found Glory to me, which seems oddly suited to such a dudely critique of normative masculinity.
[8]

Anthony Easton: I love how buoyant that mid 90s riff is, like pop floating up against a screaming ocean of metal rage.  
[8]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: When reviewing Of Mice and Men’s back-to-basics metalcore a few weeks back, I found myself wondering about how the genre had changed after its mid-noughties commercial peak. To make sure that times have changed, we have bands like Issues — bands that merge standard-issue rage belches with mismatched genre explorations. In recent years, doses of Fisher Price EDM have been the way forward for the most eclectic of brocore acts; on “Stingray Affliction”, yelped temper tantrums give way to middle-eights containing pop-punk-via-Trey Songz impressions. Is it progress? I guess. Is it progressive? Did you not read “pop-punk-via-Trey Songz impressions”?
[4]

Crystal Leww: The moments of this that are pop punk than nu-metal are really good. I can’t believe this musical movement is coming back.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: High school wasn’t that long ago, and I remember the kids who loved Slipknot tended to also be tipped off to “A Favor House Atlantic” before anyone else. Which is to say, Issues’ growly scream-pit swiveling into pop-punk confessional back into guttural meat hook is not breaking any new ground. We already lived through Linkin Park once; we do not need more nu-metal with turntable scratches. Every generation needs to find music that balances anger with sweetness. I just wish the kids didn’t have to deal with that faux R&B bit near the end.
[3]

Megan Harrington: This is pretty awful, but not for the obvious nu-metal reasons that suggest themselves immediately. There’s no reason why a blend of metal, hip hop, and R&B couldn’t work, even though there’s no precedent for it working. CountrEDM fuses two genres that appear opposed on the surface but complement each other in strangely pleasant ways. What plagues “Stingray Affliction” is the lack of fusion. The song may as well organize each of its influences into its own suite, there is so little interaction between the metal, the hip hop, and the R&B. Ultimately, this is nothing we haven’t heard before. Issues come as close as Linkin Park ever did to fusing rock with more contemporary pop music, but the outcome remains heavily stratified. 
[4]

Brad Shoup: Oh sure, when BiS does it it’s awesome.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: The transition from the J-pop-ish section from 50 seconds in, back into the vocal fry-laden metal the track opens with is extremely dramatic and effective, a great Impotent Dude Primal Scream moment of the type beloved of nu-metal practitioners. Yep, it’s two great tastes that taste great together. It’s just a pity the trick’s only used once. On the second go around, the pop side of this cookie ditches the exhiliration in favour of a dodgy R&B jam and the ideas don’t seem like they mix that well and the execution just isn’t as fun — in that regard, it’s less like a delicious black-and-white cookie and rather more like Linkin Park’s similarly disjointed “Crawling.”
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I think Soulseek’s chatrooms are leaking.
[3]