Music Reviews

Music Roundup 3/3/20


We’re here to tell you what’s hot and what’s not on this week’s music roundup

music roundup Best Coast


Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Pop

Favorite tracks: “Everything Has Changed,” “Rollercoaster,” “Seeing Red”

Bethany Cosentino is a master of manifestation. After years of struggling with depression (along with the substance abuse problems that so often accompany it), the Best Coast frontwoman is finally sober and seemingly quite happy these days. Those familiar with the band’s catalog know Cosentino’s journey hasn’t been easy—their early works were wrought with sadness despite the illusion created by the beach-rock guitars that accompanied Cosentino’s emotional and forthcoming lyrics. On their first album in five years, ALWAYS TOMORROW, Cosentino lets us know that “everything has changed,” as she sings on the album’s lead single. Before putting in the work towards sobriety, Cosentino sat down to think about what life might be like once she reached that milestone. Those thoughts turned into “Everything Has Changed”—her mood board for the path to sobriety. The results speak for themselves. Cosentino has found happiness in her sobriety, and, along with bandmate Bobb Bruno, crafted one Best Coast’s best works to date. ALWAYS TOMORROW is the band’s most joyous work, Cosentino’s frank lyrics finally matching the optimism found in the catchy melodies she creates. Her vocals are strong and she expands her range as the band expands on its sound, introducing poppy synths to the ‘60s surf sounds that remain at the album’s core. Though Best Coast may not reach their full potential on this latest effort, the album’s themes suggest this is just the first step in the process of their next phase. As we move further along into this decade, ALWAYS TOMORROW is an album deserving of a place on your own mood board, for 2020 and beyond. [Becca Lengel]

music roundup Mura Masa

Mura Masa – R.Y.C.

Genre: Indietronica

Favorite Tracks: “Deal Wiv It,” “In My Mind”

There’s something on R.Y.C. for the electronica nerd, as well as anyone who likes Slow Thai, but a majority of Mura Masa’s latest is carved out for the “I just listen to the radio” crowd––especially a song like “Teenage Headache Dreams.” While you could say that the Guernsey-born musician’s latest would fit well in a teen movie like PAPER TOWNS, or that the hackneyed drumbeats and pop singer vocals crescendoing into redundancy and contrived good times transported you back to a bar mitzvah in freshman year of high school at a JW Marriott, to use the parlance of the album’s intended audience, it’s not a “vibe.”

R.Y.C.’s inconsistency is astounding, not just fluctuating between good and bad, but shimmering then shit. There’s a punk-pop anthem like “Deal Wiv It” and then the trite “vicarious living anthem”–– an homage to “Dancing With Myself.” But then on “In My Mind,” a minute-and-a-half of rhymeless whines precede four minutes of solid keyboard melodies and guitar riffs. And for the last listenable track, “Today,” Mura Marsa treats the listener to a modern day Smiths sound with its own frustrated 21st century flare: synths and space-age lasers piercing through two-thirds an album’s worth of recycled alt-pop. It’s clear Mura Masa is skilled in production, and yet on tracks like “Live Like We’re Dancing,” it feels like an album designed by Tiësto––catchy, but created for air time on a Nickelodeon cruise. The bottom line is a series of confused, disordered, and typical complaints from a saturated 21st century. According to Masa, the only cure to this boredom is club music and designer drugs, medicine for the time’s numbing suffering, but used to the point of sublime, narcissistic apathy. The album possesses a special kind of inconsistency that frustrates mainly because R.Y.C. could have been so much more. The “collage” part of opener “raw youth collage” is an apt descriptor, but calling the project a “collage” doesn’t excuse its absence of any intelligible thematic elements. [Liam Glennie]

Ozzy Osbourne – ORDINARY MAN

Genre: Hard Rock

Favorite Tracks: “All My Life,” “Under the Graveyard”

I initially gave Ozzy’s first album in a decade the genre tag of elder abuse, but reading through interviews and actually listening to it gives me the impression the Grandfather of Heavy Metal is trying way harder than anyone else on ORDINARY MAN. Much like Santana’s SUPERNATURAL, it’s an elder statesman of music recruiting a bunch of notable collaborators to regain some mainstream cred, but it is closer to the Foo Fighter’s CONCRETE AND GOLD in how bloated the record is and how ineffectual the guests end up. Tom Morello, Chad Smith (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Charlie Puth are absolutely wasted, Elton John is trying his hardest to save a rote title track whose core sentiment isn’t even believable, and Post Malone deserved a lot better than the choppy “It’s a Raid,” which tries to be a fiery, lo-fi punk song despite being sung by two men who required copious vocal production to sound tolerable on it. That’s not a slight against either artist, especially when their previous collaboration, “Take What You Want” from Post Malone’s own HOLLYWOOD’s BLEEDING turned out incredibly well, Ozzy’s voice just as eerie and atonal as ever, but on “It’s A Raid,” neither singer’s style meshes with the instrumentation

The only guests whose impact are felt at all are Slash and Duff McKagan, who give the record more of a glam rock feel that manifests in some decent solos on “Straight to Hell” and “Eat Me,” even if a lot of the core riffs are overladden with feedback and don’t balance against the more watery atmosphere of “Goodbye” and “Today is the End.” Ozzy’s later solo records have never captured the neoclassical flair and iconic riffs of his first two, and ORDINARY MAN keeps up the tradition of over-production and listless finger-picking that is trying to sound gothic but is left out to dry by blocky tones that lack real impact. But here’s the thing: he’s clearly trying. Even though the attempts at creepy laughter are incredibly forced, there are some quintessentially Ozzy melodies floating around here, especially “Under the Graveyard,” and seeing him of all people get a Top 10 hit in 2019 brings joy to my heart. If this wasn’t made by one of the biggest names in metal, it would be forgotten in a matter of days, and while that’s not to say there isn’t anything worth listening to here, there’s just little worth remembering. [Blake Michelle]

Interview: Sam Cannon

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