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Album Review: I Had A Dream That You Were Mine – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

imgresLet’s do an exercise: imagine that you’re at your favorite local joint and in a dusty corner stands a somewhat saturnine singer, crying into a standing mic while a man in the shadows accompanies him with an old piano and soft backup vocals. Now, imagine that the singer is former Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser and the genius on the piano is ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij.

If you’re excited by this scenario, then you’ll be happy to know that these two indie rock masterminds have teamed up for a full album, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine. Batmanglij (known simply as Rostam professionally ) and Leithauser met and collaborated in 2014 for Leithauser’s first solo project, the Sinatra-inspired Black Hours. They soon formed a friendship over shared origins – both originally hail from Washington D.C – and a mutual sense of respect and admiration.

The album masterfully combines Leithauser’s rough-and-ready bad boy howl with Rostam’s smooth production and international influence; a hint of Afro-pop influences, similar to those that carried VW’s first album, are noticeable in the background of certain tracks. The instrumentals follow a vintage sound throughout, where the doo-wops and the continual plink of a piano are accompanied by sparse drums and subtle horns.

The album begins with “A 1000 Times,” which sneaks the album title into the chorus. The track is a good litmus test for what is yet to come, but is admittedly one of the less imaginative tracks in the collection. “Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up),” otherwise known as “that track with the doo-wops,” is a melange of sounds and musical genres. A bass beat reminiscent of a barnyard boogie underlays Rostam’s polite background vocals, with Leithauser’s ragged howl at the forefront of the track.

On “You Ain’t That Young Kid” Leithauser speak-sings, painting an intimate picture of a man nursing a broken heart; the lyrics here are deliciously heavy and human. Clever tempo changes keep the track from feeling cut off. The first part features harmonica and plucked electric guitar, which then crescendos to feature an organ-like instrument and a slowed tempo; Rostam’s signature arpeggios litter the bridge as a powerful beat almost overpowers Leithauser’s vocals. The last tempo change returns the track to a more even-tempered, reflective place, featuring Leithauser’s vocals once again.

“The Bride’s Dad” is the penultimate track, beginning with a wistful piano accompaniment and harmonies between the two artists; Leithauser’s timbre falls to his comfortable gravelly yell, while Rostam remains in the stratosphere. The track climaxes with a sudden crescendo, introducing thumping drums, hand clapping, and more forceful piano. The addition of the well-known synthetic choir accompaniment provides a moving finish. While the track is short, barely cutting off at two minutes, it is a powerful one.

I Had A Dream That You Were Mine centers around the general theme of loss, but the music disguises the darker lyrics well. The tracks remain musically diverse: at times there is a raw and uncut feel to tracks, loose drums and lyrics slung with a casual “je ne sais quoi” attitude that flirts with the sadboy mentality – a trademark of the Walkmen. At other times, Rostam’s prowess as a producer and his influence as a member of Vampire Weekend shine through, creating musical gems that sparkle through underneath Leithauser’s dusty vocals and soulful lyrics. 

Album released: September 23, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 



Album Review: MNDSGN – Body Wash

a3786040268_10In his newest release Body Wash, Mndsgn (née Ringgo Ancheta) brings us on an inter-dimensional electro-funk adventure through space and time, combining psychedelia and R&B in masterful and innovative ways. In his words, Body Wash is “a soul record that plays with nostalgic elements in a very dynamic & positive way. Think about it as a box of crayons for you to draw emotions with.”

In conjunction with this description, the album is loosely based on an illusory story that goes something like this: a homeless man meets an enigmatic woman who offers to take him in, and then has him bathe with a strange body wash that surrounds him as he soaks. Eventually, he is transported to an alternate dimension. The narrative is a subtle one; though looser themes of self-realization and human connection are easily identifiable from the tracks, it is only through the track titles (“Enter Her Abode,” “Prelude 2 Purification,” and “Lather” to name a few) along with album title that hint at the underlying story. 

So, we’ve established that Mndsgn is not your typical R&B producer. It may have something to do with his childhood history and his past collaborations: he was raised on a commune in rural New Jersey by Filipino immigrants, and in the early 2000’s befriended and then collaborated with Kendrick Lamar producer Knxwledge to form the Klipm0de crew. He moved to L.A to pursue his beat passion and was featured in various albums (notably, Blasphemous Jazz’s Bitches Brew) before releasing his debut album, Yawn Zen.

Body Wash provides a glimpse at Mndsgn’s growth and exploration as an artist since Yawn Zen, which was more of a sprawling, wandering experiment of an album. His sophomore release is tighter, more produced, and more focused; the frequent inclusion of his own vocals is a welcome addition as well. Ancheta’s voice serves as a quiet, unobtrusive addition to fluorescent and layered instrumentals, floating in and out of music as if from a dream. At times, it adds air of introspection; at others, it serves as an echo for the music, reflecting and deepening the message without driving it. 

There is a clear directional quality to Body Wave, marked physically with a beginning (“Overture”) and an ending (“Guess It’s All Over”). The album is awash in vintage 80’s and 90’s R&B themes, with fluctuating tones overlaid to set the mood of the track.  Some tracks have more of a jazz influence (“Release Ya Mind (Twentyfourseven)”), while others are straight funk (“Vague//Recalibrate”). All throughout Body Wash is the riff of psychedelic influences and modern synth; Mndsgn samples from retro sounds, but does not entirely channel the past, choosing instead to use it as a platform onto which he can build his soundscape.

Nota bene: It has been recommended (and I would echo this sentiment) to listen to the album all the way through. The tracks build on one another to establish a common thread, and while the listener may have to hone in on a few songs to realize their potential, it is best to let Body Wash soak in slowly over time.

Album released: September 16, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam



Album Review: Best Fern EP – Best Fern


The first thought that springs to mind when listening to the latest EP by Best Fern is how elegant the whole project makes you feel. Montréal based duo Alexia Avina and Nick Schofield string together spacious ambient production to create an inviting atmosphere that only exists within the realm of their EP. There are only five tracks on the entire project which creates a short but delightfully pleasant listen and suits the time of year where summer is slowly dwindling away into fall.

Soft synths start off the EP with the track “A Way” and establish’s the tone for the remainder of the dreamy project. Alexia’s approach to singing over the light production feels otherworldly and complement the style of dream pop that the two are crafting together. “Lay It On Me” continues to carry the narrative of the first song and brings a far more relaxing element than the previous track. It’s comforting and sedates the listener for the rest of the atmospheric environment that Alexia and Nick dive into.

The longest track on the EP standing at five minutes long, “Do U Love U” is incredibly tender and has synths working in parallel with Alexia’s beautiful voice. There are echoes in the background that form a concrete idea that you’re thrown into a different world completely while listening to the new EP. “R U Well” has synths that are layered on top one another but doesn’t clutter the sound, the effect makes the song more spacious with flutes that float their way throughout the duration of the track.

“I Will Try” finishes off the EP with a booming bass that isn’t over the top by any means, but instead feels like a grand finish for the project. Best Fern pull off a stellar debut with their self-titled EP. It’ll be interesting to see what directions the duo head in with future projects and  the sort of direction that they decide to head in.

You can pick up their latest EP from their bandcamp and follow them on facebook and soundcloud. They’ll be opening for Angel Olsen on Friday September 23rd at the Rialto Theatre and will have another show on Thursday October 6th at La Plante.

– Review by Michael Eidelson 


Album Review: Deerhoof – The Magic


The Magic, Deerhoof’s latest release, greets us with a mix of noisy pop and chaotic rock & roll. The album as a whole takes a more aggressive tone in comparison to previous releases; however, the experimental rock band stays true to their overall sound even while playing around with styles and technical approaches. Drummer Greg Saunier remarked that the album has roots in “what we liked when we were kids – when music was magic – before you knew about the industry and before there were rules. Sometimes hair metal is the right choice.” He gives some insight into the album’s chaotic mixture of styles and consistent rawness of sounds. After reading about the album, I stumbled across many sources stating that the entirety of the album was recorded in an abandoned office rental space in the desert of New Mexico. It makes a lot of sense that an album recorded in such a space would feel so free and uncalculated, as the nature of the location permitted the musicians to play loudly and without restraint, which is definitely reflected in the final product.  

“Kafe Mania!” pops off with fun synth, crunchy guitar, and driving percussion reminiscent of “The Tears and Music of Love” off their 2008 album Offend Maggie. The synth becomes increasingly melodic, and Satomi Matzusaki’s vocals take a staccato, yet dreamy pop sound. “Life is Suffering” entertains the same juxtaposition between rough instrumentals and sweet vocals sung by both Matzusaki and Saunier this time. The catchy chorus “life is suffering, man” (too real) is accompanied by steady drums and classic electric guitar.

“That Ain’t No Life to Me”, sung entirely by Ed Rodriguez, Deerhoof’s veteran guitarist, takes a cliché rock vibe and combines it with feedback-laden garage noise. While it stands out as a bit of an anomaly from the usual dreamy noise Deerhoof is known and loved for, the song isn’t the only heavy tune on the album. The full-on rock vibe returns later in “Dispossessor” with Rodriguez taking the frontlines once again with vocals and strong guitar riffs. I am not too keen on macho rock & roll tunes, though these are a refreshing change from Deerhoof’s typical experimental sound and ultimately showcase the band’s stylistic versatility.

“Criminals of the Dream” starts off with a humming synth and dreamy (go figure) vocals, followed by sweet poppy electronic keyboard. The clipped rhythms line up perfectly with Matzusaki’s trademark vocals repeating, “you can dream, you can dream, you know you can dream”, sending you afloat down a pink lazy river. The offbeat jazzy tunes of “Model Behavior” follow, with dystopian synth ringing in the background. Greg Saunier takes the frontline with powerful drums that accompany Rodriguez and John Dieterich’s (Deerhoof’s other resident guitarist) funky guitar rhythms.

The rest of the album follows the same pattern of technical aptitude and stylistic ambiguity. Deerhoof’s characteristic musical risk-taking mixed with more traditional rock algorithms with makes for a fascinating overall sound. Though not my favorite Deerhoof album, The Magic is still a strong addition to their oeuvre.

– Review by Erika Kindsfather



Album Review: Mitski – Puberty 2


“Happy” initiates the discordant theme of Mitski Miyawaki’s recent release Puberty 2, telling a story where happiness takes the form of a man, comes to the singer with cookies and tea, uses her, and leaves while she is in the bathroom, leaving her with empty cups and wrappers to clean up. This abrasive introduction shows the artist’s certainty of the fleeting nature of happiness that she explored in previous albums with more reservation. Rather than taking a conflicting perspective, she emphasizes the inevitability of sadness that follows waves of happiness, hitting harder than the initial positive feeling. Her pithy lyrics and juxtaposition of choppy and ethereal rhythms make for a frictional tone as the artist comes to terms with her decided reality. In a nutshell, this album nuances Mitski’s comment that “happiness fucks you”.

Mitski and Patrick Hyland, who also produced the album, recorded every instrument from the resounding melodic saxophone to the industrial beats of electric drums. There is decisiveness in the rhythms of Puberty 2; the instrumentals lining up perfectly in accord with the message Mitski sends lyrically. From the tense, incessant electric drumbeat in Happy to the steady, pressing drums and bass in Fireworks, Mitski’s voice is dynamic, haunting one moment and wistful the next. An almost uncanny emotional potency ties the album together as Mitski unpacks her longing for happiness in personal stories woven throughout her lyrics, coinciding and highlighted by instrumental complexities.

“Once More to See You,” “ I Bet on the Losing Dogs” and “Thursday’s Girl” are delicate, melancholy ballads built up from ethereal vocals, steady synth, and distant reverberant guitar. Mitski’s voice is soft yet resonating, evoking dreamy 70s folk tunes of love and longing. “Once More to See You” addresses her longing for the happiness of a past romantic relationship. She seems to address the person she sees “in the rearview mirror,” pleading with them to be alone with her secretly. I’d argue that “A Loving Feeling,” a catchy, upbeat track appearing later on the album, responds to “Once More to See You” by harshly deconstructing the reality of the situation she longs for. Here she sings “what do you do with a loving feeling if they only love you when you’re all alone?” and details instances of concealed affection. With the lyrics of each song in dialogue with each other and the clarity of emotional evocations in Mitski’s instrumental choices, Puberty 2 communicates Mitski’s insight coherently and conclusively.

My favorite tracks “Crack Baby” and “A Burning Hill” conclude the album. The instrumentals in “Crack Baby” are a testament to Mitski’s dynamic handling of discordant percussion, rhythmic melodies and an ultimately fascinating mixture of electronic and traditional sound. The longest track on the album, “Crack Baby” is initiated with a low-tempo percussion rhythm pattern and bellowing bass, with Mitski’s haunting vocals coming in on an up beat and following the steadiness of the bass echoes. This pattern obeys the evocative theme of the track where Mitski likens a longing for happiness to addiction, as both highs lead to inevitable lows. In “A Burning Hill”, Mitski asserts, “I think I’m finally worn,” evidently of the pattern of up and down. The artist seems to come to terms with this undulating emotional existence that comes with polar periods of happiness and sadness, ending on a self-reliant tone by describing herself as a fire, the forest it burns, and the witness of the spectacle. She withdraws, identifies herself as multiple forces, and ultimately abandons the person she was addressing in her pleas and confrontations in saying “you’re not there at all.” By dwelling and detailing moments of everyday life, she concludes, “ I’ll love some littler things,” perhaps suggesting the possibility of balance in a neutral presence.

Though Puberty 2 essentially chewed me up and spit me out emotionally as I listened to it carefully and incessantly since its release June 17th, Mitski executed this album with stunning vocals and instrumentals that make it absolutely captivating. You will find no empty optimism in her lyrics, but rather will be forced to confront a reality with the rose-colored glasses removed.

– Review by Erika Kindsfather

**WICKED LOCAL** Album Review: Revolutionaries – You Won’t

Revolutionaries starts off with a 30-second scratch of a track before leading into You Won’t’s signature twitchy, uncut sound; an underscoring, one could say, of the theme of the duo’s sophomore LP. The “false start” couldn’t be anything but a knowing nudge-and-wink from Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri, who took their sweet time creating and shaping this album over a two-and-a-half year period. Their debut release, Skeptic Goodbye, came out in 2012, and was a galloping romp through rough-cut and absurdist themes that proved the duo to be a homegrown delight. While Arnoudse and Sastri have been playing together for over a decade, it has only been in recent years that they decided to focus their respective talents and channel it into You Won’t. 

Arnoudse provides the vocals for You Won’t, and his voice alone contributes to the helter-skelter, homespun vibe of the band; it’s at times a mix between Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel and Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers. Sastri is, on his own, a high-functioning one-man band, covering a great number of diverse instruments (the electric bagpipe?!) with dexterity. He also contributes the background harmonies on certain tracks.

As sophomore albums go, this one doesn’t experience any kind of slump. The duo has managed to maintain their raw sound while also exploring darker, more interesting themes in Revolutionaries. The 15-track opus addresses the winding and bumpy road that leads into adulthood, rife with detours and hiccups and shifting ideas about the world; these heady matters are reflected in the maturation and exploration of the instrumentals. The featuring of electric bagpipe on certain tracks harkens back to the original “revolutionaries”, who fought during the Revolutionary War in the duo’s hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts. 

Revolutionaries opens with “Untitled 2,” despite there being an “Untitled 1″ later in the album. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and calling this a cheeky move on You Won’t’s part to reinforce the theme of organized chaos and awkward growing pains. “The Fuzz” dips into a 60’s rock vibe, spiked with Arnoudse’s unique lyrics. The track explodes halfway through into a miniature rock show, with galloping guitar riffs and crashing drums, before collapsing in on itself. “Invocation” begins with ethereal pipes, portraying a mechanical birdsong; this is then overlaid with tempestuous guitar strumming and Arnoudse’s floating vocals.

“Jesus Sings” is one of the more produced songs on the album, a full-bodied track replete with acoustic guitar harmonies and a strong drum line background. The lyrics are, as usual, quite interesting to listen to, and the electric bagpipe is again featured along with Sastri’s background accompanying vocals. The instrumentals cut out at the climax to highlight the acoustic guitar and vocals before being gradually added back in until the track swells with an organized cacophony of bagpipes, drums, and guitar. “Untitled 1″ follows seamlessly, carrying the lingering bagpipe and expanding the solo with crackling feedback and swirling chimes; the music creates a whirlpool effect, with random instruments being hit or clanged in the background.

“Douchey” is a rollicking song with plenty of drums and acoustic guitar, with electric guitar and what sounds like a cowbell added in after a short introduction. This track features interesting and somewhat autobiographical lyrics following the theme of personal growth and the winding road of maturation. Revolutionaries ends with the title track, starting with that mechanical birdsong before an accordion-esque instrument fades in with the lyrics. Arnoudse hammers home the overarching theme of the album by addressing suicide, recovering from hardships, and taking little pleasures from life despite the bumps along the way. The reduced background instrumentals lend a more somber, pensive tone to this final track.

Throughout Revolutionaries, You Won’t has captured all the insecurities that accompany a rise to moderate-level fame and the fallout after finishing a debut album, channeling them into a messy, driven, barely-held-together sound that expertly reflects the atmosphere of uncertainty and unabashed determination. They still play like they have nothing to lose, which is both an admirable and endearing quality, portraying the duo as a scrappy band of brigands just looking to spread the cheer of some rocking music and have a good time while doing it. 

Album released: April 29, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 


99.9% – Kaytranada A Digested Album Review


It’s been a month since Kaytranada’s first LP 99.9% came out and we’ve been listening to it non-stop. The hype for the album snowballed, especially in the DJ and producer’s hometown of Montreal, in anticipation for his homecoming concert that rocked the Metropolis on May 19th. And the attention around the album and Kaytranada doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon. After a month of listening to the album, whether dancing to its infectious rhythms while washing the dishes, or sinking back into the sweaty bus seat with its textured synths in our headphones, we’re sure it’s going to be playing around the city all summer long, even long after Kay comes back for his set at the Osheaga mainstage in July. Continue reading


**DOUBLE FEATURE** Album and Concert Review: Are You Serious – Andrew Bird

unnamedThe master has returned home. Andrew Bird, expert violinist and whistler-extraordinaire, released his latest LP Are You Serious into the music cosmos last week, his first full-length album since he took a break three years prior to focus on his family and thematic side projects. A simultaneous celebration of his newly-formed family and a refocusing of the spotlight from the sidelines, many tracks seek to explore the newfound longevity of relationships. Bird takes time to analyze the sacrifices and compromises that have to be made as two people get to know each other through the lens of love and commitment. The album serves both as an inward analysis of his personal life and as a clear-eyed celebration of musical creation in a way only Andrew Bird can accomplish.  Continue reading


Album Review: Painting of a Panic Attack – Frightened Rabbit

frightened_rabbit_painting_trailer_1024_576It is always fascinating to watch a band undergo metamorphosis, to see how they progress as musicians and as people. In the case of Frightened Rabbit, there is no exception. Painting of A Panic Attack demonstrates the peculiar growth that comes with important life changes and artistic decisions. This album, the latest release from Frightened Rabbit since they announced a short hiatus after Pedestrian Verse (2013) dropped, was produced by the puppet-master himself, Aaron Dessner. With Dessner’s Midas touch and signature sounds that are best-heard through The National, Painting of A Panic Attack has shown a new angle of Frightened Rabbit, one that previously had not been explored.

The draw for many FR listeners has been frontman Scott Hutchinson’s raw/emotionally unstable/poetically blunt lyrics, but this album swivels the spotlight onto production and instrumental technique. With a powerhouse such as Dessner behind the scenes, it was an inevitable endpoint, and mostly a very successful one. While the reeling, reckless effect is dampened, the quintet’s sound has never been more unified. What started out in 2003 as a one-man show is now a relatively well-oiled band, where members get a say in the making of the songs; Hutchinson has pulled back for the time being to integrate with his bandmates, resulting in the subtle change in sound.

While at times the album starts to blend together in a small storm of moody meditation, there are definitely some tracks that deserve a special mention. “Death Dream,” the opener that includes the titular lyric “A still life is the last I will see of you/A painting of a panic attack,” demonstrates the band’s shift from the get-go. A quietly shimmering track, slow layering and crescendoes create an ethereal, dream-like scape on which Hutchinson bawls some of his darkest lyrics yet. It is quite a sobering opener, establishing both Frightened Rabbit’s status quo and signaling a definite maturity. “Get Out” follows next, a lighter and more upbeat track that flirts with synth and features some very nice drum work from Grant Hutchinson, brother of Scott.  Dessner’s influence is heavily felt in this track, which is one that utilizes electronica to a good extent.

“Woke Up Hurting” is a staccato, sleek backdrop for Hutchinson’s unique voice, reinforced with full harmonies from the rest of the band members. The familiar tambourine is featured among fuzzed guitars and a strong drumbeat, but that is just about all that remains from previous albums; the sound is very polished and well-rounded. “400 Bones” turns the spotlight onto the piano and Hutchinson’s heart-wrenching lyrics, but then morphs into a track fit for a National album; you almost expect Matt Berninger to lope onto the scene with his bass croon for a duet. “Lump Street” simmers with synth and reverb vocals, a vaguely sinister sound that is Pedestrian Verse-era FR with an indie pop twist. “Die Like a Rich Boy” begins with an acoustic guitar and Hutchinson’s sweet voice, and then continues with a melancholy piano melody; a slow, sad build that cuts right to the core.

Painting of A Panic Attack is bathed in a quiet intensity, with both the lyrics and accompaniment featuring a slightly more restrained aspect. Previous albums provided listeners with a hearty dose of Scottish miserabilia, highlighting rough instrumentals and equally raw vocals; now sleeker instrumentals lessen the blow of Hutchinson’s fatalistic lyrics. The album is patient, and brooding, a window into an introvert’s neuroses; it is Hutchinson’s inner monologue that comes through, rather than blustery poetry shouted to the sky. There is less raw, animalistic emotion in his lyrics; instead, listeners can hear its echo in the music.

The new shift in sound is also indicative of a détente for the band; Hutchinson (and by extension, the band) is in a more stable place in his personal life, and it is reflected through the album. The sound is no longer on the verge of collapsing in on itself; it is standing solidly on both legs, looking very much towards the future.  

Album released: April 8, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 


Album Review: Gesamtkunstwerk – Dead Obies

a0431750848_10“Gesamtkunstwerk” is a German compound noun that translates to “total work of art.” It is also the title of the latest release from local rap group Dead Obies, a wonderful Frankenstein of live tracks edited and enhanced in the studio. Gesamtkunstwerk is still a blend of hip hop, rap, and electronica, but the Dead Obies have shifted their focus from lyrics to production for this album, taking an almost exhibitionist approach to their craft. The process of creation is baldly displayed without compromising the integrity of the lyrics or production; what continues to set the Dead Obies apart from other Quebecois rap groups is their language choice, or rather a lack of one. Self-dubbed “Frenglish,” the members slip effortlessly between English and French with such speed and expertise that the two distinct languages blend into one poetic slurry.

Following the success of their 2013 release Montréal $ud, Dead Obies decided to make their next opus a gift to their loyal fanbase. Teaming up with music improv group Kalmunity, they played at the Phi Centre for three nights and sampled the live recordings, taking performances, the crowd’s applause, and individual audience interviews and mixing them in with recorded takes. This seamless patchwork of live and recorded takes was stitched together with surgical precision by the group-appointed producer, VNCE.

The album is intended to be heard as a whole work, and I would agree with this sentiment. Of course, there are a number of tracks that stand out among the fairly large list. Gesamtkunstwerk leads in with “GO 2 Get,” an explosive opener that serves as an immediate draw. Lamenting the everyday troubles in life to an undercurrent of cheering fans from one of the Phi Centre performances, the track provides an excellent introduction to the overall tone of the album. The six rappers who comprise Dead Obies take turns spitting out lyrics, effortlessly subbing in and out. “Waiting” is a celebration of concert life, lively trap music combining with a sensual bass beat. “Jelly” is more funky, with cooler synth laid over deep bass and remixed rhythmic vocals.

“Explosif” begins with a sample of distant fireworks, then continues with slow, smoldering instrumentals mixed in with varied odes to party and drug culture for an extensive eight minutes. The blend of French/English vocals is particularly noticeable in this track, adding to the mixed messages provided by individual members of the group. “Aweille!” is one of the singles released before the album, and is an aggressive dance track that includes a perfectly catchy chorus of “aweille” (a local phrase roughly equivalent to “come on!”), repeated and remixed. “Untitled” is a jazzy, smooth track that shows off the group’s more sensual side, and approaches something played on a late-night show for slow-wave funk. Towards the latter half of the track, the lyrics dissolve into a live recording, with the members taking turns talking in French to an instrumental vamp and a cheering crowd. “Outro,” the final track on Gesamtkunstwerk, is an instrumental electronic track that smoothly and quietly ties together Dead Obies’ “work of art,” ensuring the transformation from just another local rap album to something deserving of admiration and high praise; rap is just one form of artistic expression they utilize.

Gesamtkunstwerk ultimately serves as a big “thank you” to the Dead Obies’ fans; Phi Centre saw a big turnout for the fairly underground rap group, and allowed them to produce the album well. They gained, then lost, a Musicaction grant funding the production of the album; due to strict Quebec laws governing language, the group did not meet the 70% French lyric quota. However, even as they are continually rejected by mainstream media and their own province, Dead Obies still maintain a loyal (and growing!) fanbase and the quiet integrity of talented artists with a vision. They are dedicated to their craft and to creating the “total work of art” that they feel listeners deserve.

Album released: March 4, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam