Creative Brew Music Radar
This week, the Creative Brew team has been hard at work updating the website, making contacts and knocking some interviews into shape for your viewing pleasure.
Thanks to the plethora of brilliant new albums out right now, our productivity levels have gone through the roof. As such, we thought we’d share the music that we’ve haven’t quite managed to keep off repeat these past few weeks.
Kaytranada – 99.9%
The debut album from the Montreal-based Kaytranada has been a go-to favourite of the Creative Brew team throughout the summer.
The recent Polaris Prize winner expertly blends a myriad of genres from funk and disco, to classic hip-hop and house, to create an album that is equally well-suited to the dancefloor or those quieter moments where you just want to chill out.
Elevated further by a canny choice of contributors including, Craig David, The Internet‘s Syd tha Kyd, Aanderson Paak, Little Dragon‘s Yukimi Nagano and a near-perfect pop collaboration with AlunaGeorge‘s Aluna Francis, we’re 100% sure that 99.9% deserves your attention.
Banks – The Altar
Banks returns with a razor-sharp pop album brimming with confidence and intent. Building on the synth-infused sounds established on debut album Goddess, and EPs London and Fall Over, The Altar sees Banks retaining her signature confessional writing style, with added menace and aggression.
Opening track ‘Gemini Feed’ is the perfect bridging point from Goddess, and, as The Altar progresses, it’s clear that Banks is entirely comfortable openly exploring the darker sides of loves and relationships of past and present.
With its more complex themes, brooding soundscapes and Banks’ ability to expertly switch between introspective self-confessionals and IDGAF modus operandi, it’s clear that The Altar is the product of an artist fully comfortable – and confident – in their own skin.
Crystal Castles – Amnesty (I)
It’s no secret that the team here at Creative Brew consider themselves superfans of the Toronto-based noisepunks. Looking back, the acrimonious departure of lead-singer Alice Glass in 2014 was probably inevitable given the chaotic nature of their live shows, and it was more than likely only a matter of time before this destructive streak turned inward, causing the band to fracture for good.
Or so we thought. In April 2015 Ethan Kath revealed that Crystal Castles were very much alive and well. Despite the continued spat between camps Kath and Glass, Crystal Castles 2.0 gained a new vocalist in Edith Frances. Following the release of singles ‘Frail’ and ‘Deicide’, we received Amnesty (I) – make of the title’s meaning what you wish.
Thankfully, Amnesty (I) sees Crystal Castles stick mostly to the sound established over their three previous albums. Ethan is adept at crafting melancholic, often unsettling synthscapes peppered with chopped vocals and abrasive textures. Although clocking in at just over 33 minutes, the album is an intense listen from start to finish.
Across their whole catalogue, Crystal Castles’ songs can very much be split into two camps: the aggressive and the ethereal. Songs like ‘Alice Practice’ and ‘Doe Deer’ contrast nicely with the more melodic ‘Celestica’ and ‘Suffocation’, and this same pattern can also be found on Amnesty (I).
Frances brings a slightly different dynamic to Crystal Castles’ sound. Her voice is softer and more resonant than Alice’s, and brings a cleaner quality to standout tracks ‘Char’ and ‘Their Kindness is Charade’. Although she may not possess the same raw punk mentality Glass evoked, Frances steps up to the mantle admirably on Amnesty (I)‘s heavier tracks, ‘Enth’ and ‘Concrete’.
For many intents and purposes, Amnesty (I) is a very conscious attempt by the band to show that they can continue without Glass. While it’s clear that they can, traces of Alice’s ghost continue to linger all over the album. Nonetheless, it’s a hugely enjoyable listen and in true Crystal Castles fashion, doesn’t really sound like anything or anyone else at the moment.
It will be interesting to see what direction this new iteration of Crystal Castles will take their sound, especially as Frances’ voice could lead the band to more synthwave-focussed territories. Only time will tell.
Now the wait is on for Glass’ much anticipated solo album.