Album Review – “Bleak Plaza”, A Noisy Burst of a Joy Ride

Bleak Plaza by Bleak Plaza

Hitting play on Bleak Plaza was a good idea. The Denver based group’s debut album kicks off with an immediate hit of energy on the title track “Fire in The Olfactory”, and it doesn’t soon let back on the acceleration. Track 3 “Say It and It Dies” brings a satisfying change of pace via catchy driving beats that transition from garage-y slacker rock to swirling kraut rock. These moods are complimented by clever motifs in the lyrics such as “when we’re dancing in the dark do you really care what the lyrics are…”.

Furthermore, this album will never bore you with stale grooves and patterns. Track 4 “Some Things Happen” starts off with a funky no-wave-esque groove that drops into a agony-tinted heart pounding finish to the song.

The second half of Bleak Plaza continues with the same pattern of passionate noisy pop songs with dynamic genres layered on top. The tight driving feeling of “Night of Vampires” is reminiscent of “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes. It brings a similar lovely feeling of driving in a car in a city filled with neon lights.

The final song “Until I Untie” quickly became my favorite track off the record (because I’m an absolute sucker for any simple powerful pop song such as this). In addition, the guitar tones are on point with perfect EQ, drive, and modulations. This song will make you feel as scared as you did the first time you felt that classic teenage reflex of pure romance squeeze your chest.

Bleak Plaza wastes no time in fulfilling its purpose of delivering an eclectic stream of toe tapping lo-fi power pop that will make you feel like you’re falling backwards into a swimming pool filled with nostalgic goop. I sincerely hope that this Denver based group will come play in SLC soon. This one will definitely be in heavy rotation in the rock/indie and Midday Mix shows right here on K-UTE Radio.

Like them on Facebook here: Bleak Plaza

 

Album Review – “Revenge” by XXXtentacion

Travis Scott, Lil Pump, Smokepurrp, Robb Banks, Ugly God. Among others, they are driving a new wave of hip-hop which is characterized by lo-fi bass with aggressive lyrics and vocals. One of the leading names in this sub-genre of lo-fi is rapper XXXTENTACION.

Hailing from Broward County, Florida, he shook the game with his hit single “Look at Me.” For that song, many tried to pigeonhole XXX into being nothing but a lo-fi bass artist. His new release, Revenge, demonstrates otherwise. Revenge features many tracks that were previously released through his SoundCloud, but are now compiled into a commercial release. Songs such as “King” and “Looking for a Star” show quite a contrast to the style we’ve come to expect. Yet, “YuNg BrAtZ” and “RIP Roach” still show that xxx isn’t afraid to go hard.

XXXTENTACION opens Revenge with “Look at Me”, which, to fans, is to be expected. It’s his leading single and works well as an attention-grabber, but also serves as a way to show contrast to the following tracks. The first of which, entitled “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore,” immediately shows this opposing sound. It’s still lo-fi, but the autotune shows XXX’s softer side presented in the form of a hybrid garage-style produced 808’s & Heartbreak and cloud rap.

Continuing to throw the listener through hoops, “Looking for a Star” features a distinctly dark yet tropical back beat produced by none other than EDM megastar, Diplo. Auto-tuned as well, but not over the top and cheesy, his vocals fit well with the song and its Jamaican-ish vibes. 

Moving on, we continue with this leaned out, almost lethargic feeling with “Valentine.” XXX almost seems to be taking notes from early Travis Scott or Yung Lean as he channels his inner sadboy and questions whether or not to continue down his current path, or stop everything and become a better person. The answer presents itself quite clearly on “King,” which starts out very similar to the previous track, dark and airy. This, however, does not last. In almost a hat tip towards his punk rock and heavy metal roots, distorted guitars and thundering drums accompany his screams of “HEY! YOU!” coming seemingly out of nowhere and marks a change in tone for the rest of the album.

However, the next track “Slipknot” continues the running theme of XXX wanting to show his audience that he isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to rapping. Undoubtedly the most lyrical track on the album, it’s definitely his best attempt towards creating an old school hip-hop sound with piano runs and hooks similar to that of UGK and Outkast. XXX is out to prove that he can not only sing and scream, but also spit bars. It’s also the first track on the album to feature other artists, Kin$oul (who’s featured on the track) and Killstation (who sings the end hook).

Revenge returns to the sound of “Look at Me” with “YuNg BrAtZ,” and marks the return of the XXX we’ve come to know and love; Loud, aggressive, and ignorant toward the feelings of others to ultimately bring the album full circle. Not much can be said other than it’s definitely a crowd pleaser meant to whip the audience into a blood-thirsty frenzy.

The last track, “R.I.P Roach,” features fellow Members Only founder $ki Mask, The Slump God who more or less raps over the beat, as opposed to XXXTENTACION‘s hype shouts. Like “Look at Me” and the previous track, it carries XXX’s signature sound of distorted bass and screamed vocals. It also holds our objectively favorite line on the album with XXX essentially calling his haters “rice krispies.”

From top to bottom, Revenge proves that XXXTENTACION is not a one trick pony. As his first major commercial project, the album sets out to demonstrate his versatility and diversity. Only time will tell which direction he will continue, but as far as our opinion goes, we see X continuing his reign of bending genres, generating insane amounts of hype, and blowing out subwoofers worldwide.

The Rostrum: “Reciprocity,” Filtering through the Noise, Part E

"Reciprocity," Filtering through the noise, Part E

Larger Beginnings 

Part E: Larger Beginnings

Where will Snapchat take the future of digital media culture? What are societal benefits of targeted engagement? How are digital networks changing life offline?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies have recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and media culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part C

Language & Communication (LNCO)Language & Communication (LNCO), lies at the center of the University of Utah campus

Part C

How will connectivity improve thoughtful engagement? What’s the main motivator for social media? Can it improve democratic society?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part B

Avery Holton, a man of communication on campus

Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah

Part B

What do you want people to think of you online? How do you identify with others? What is ambient transparency?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part A

 Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah.

Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah

Part A

Figuring out the positives in content, technology, networks and community. How do we truly connect people through all the noise?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part D

social-media-tree

Social Media Tree (Google Images)

Part D

Does social media make individual lives matter? Why are we outsourcing social media channels? Why aren’t we investing in multiple social media editors?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies have recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and media culture come together around the challenges of social media.