Year End Non-metal Roundup, Day One: Matthew Dear and Frank Ocean

 

Throughout the course of the year we’re always highly dedicated to metal releases, even If I’m not too happy with what’s being released, I try and listen to every album featured on the blog, and as well as whatever bands my co-writers happen to be discussing in Heavy Blog headquarters. When you add all of that up, it’s quite a bit of metal that’s assaulting these ear-holes. So I usually don’t get to listen to the widest spectrum of music as I used to, but I still try t0 expand my horizons and find new bands in other genres that pique my interests. Over the past year I’ve found quite a few really amazing non-metal albums that I think even the most die-hard fan of metal could find some appreciation for, even if they are heavily associated with *gasp* hipsters, and *double gasp* mainstream music! This is dangerous territory, folks.

So first up is my most recent discovery, and really I don’t think it can be called a discovery as this album has been plastered all over Pitchfork, TheNeedleDrop, and various other sites of that kind. Be that as it may, don’t let your personal prejudices interfere with giving this a shot. Beams is the sixth solo outing from Detroit based electro-pop artist Matthew Dear, and boy oh boy is it something. I won’t lie, this type of music is not my forte, I won’t even pretend to know about the “essential” bands that people are supposed to like in this particular sect of music, but hey does that really matter? I personally don’t think so, as long as I continue to delve into the genre, and find my own niche in it. And if I’m able to find more releases as phenomenal as Beams, I don’t think that will be too hard

Beams is a huge album filled with throbbing bass, and weird synth leads, and the fantastic vocal approach of Matthew Dear, and so many other sounds, that all coalesces to make this dark, morbid, self-gratifying, weird mix-match of sonic qualities ‘that all at once confuses the listener, and fucking…. makes them want to dance! Gah! And really that’s why I like this album so much, it’s the perfect dichotomy of darkness, and fun! While I’m not too versed in writing about this type of music, I gotta say, this is a hell of a listen for anyone who likes complicated pop and electronic music that just never stops being entertaining. The highlight of the music is Dear’s vocals, and they fucking own. They’re constantly at the forefront of the production, and they’re produced in a way that makes them sound super synthetic, but also allows the listener to say, “Hey, this dude really does have a nice voice!” Plus the lyrics are really catchy, and well written to boot. Just… Just listen. Okay?


– EC

The go to genre for the majority of us is metal and for most of us, that’s all we listen to. Eventually though, other genre’s will seep into your lives. It happens to every metal fan I’ve ever known. We just can’t stick with the home team. This year, five releases in particular stuck out to me that you won’t find on my year end list simply because they are classifiably un-metal. However, it would be criminal to not talk about them. So here is a series of posts dedicated to those albums.

It’s easy to get lost in the introspective lyricism and soft beats of 2012’s most prolific R&B artist. Enter Frank Ocean, the most melodic member of the Odd Future Collective. Now R&B is far from my forte, so take this with a large salt shaker, but Channel Orange is decidedly one of the best releases of the year. The soundscapes that Frank manages to create on Channel Orange are relaxed and engaging. A distant drum beat, smooth keys and the far-off sound of an acoustic guitar creates a beautiful atmosphere and sets the stage for Mr. Ocean. Then his swooning voice comes in and just takes you for a ride.

I’ve spent a lot of time in-between bludgeon and brutality on beaches with virgin daiquiris and bright sun. Ok, that’s definitely an exaggeration, but I challenge you to listen to this record and not picture something tropical and relaxing. Envisioning tales of romance and wealth. It’s an album of bliss and love. If nothing else, it’s a great album to bring home and introduce to your parents.


– CD

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