Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation

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It starts off innocently enough: a reference here, a metaphor there, maybe even an allusion or a  simile if things get really extreme. But what happens when an artist becomes so infatuated with consumerism that an individual purchase becomes a recurring theme in their work? We’re about to find out. 

Formed in 2008, most readers will probably be surprised to learn that Atlanta-based trap superstars Migos have been around for over a decade. Comprised of rappers Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, the group has been releasing a steady stream of mixtapes and albums ever since 2011. While the trio quickly made a name for themselves among hardcore hip-hop heads, they only recently achieved mainstream success thanks to the astronomical popularity of songs like “Bad and Boujee” and “Walk It Talk It.”

Chart-topping songs aside, the group has also proven their strength as a force in pop culture, often credited with popularizing the now-ubiquitous “triplet flow” as well as the (quickly-ruined) dab. While the group’s songs often revolve around the award-winning formula of money, women, jewelry, and drugs, they occasionally do venture into deeper waters... but that’s not what this post is about. 

Following 2017’s immensely-popular Culture, the group dropped a long-awaited sequel earlier this year and after multiple listens an interesting through-line emerged: Offset can’t stop rapping about his Patek Philippe. 

While rap as a whole drops name brands more than any other genre, this level of specificity is unheard of, especially at this frequency. As a bit of a spiritual sequel to 21 Savage’s obsession with food, I’m proud to present: Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation.

We Are The 17%

According to lyrics.com (which is far from comprehensive) there are precisely 180 songs that contain the word “Patek” as of October 2018. At a grand total of 30 references, this means that Offset has cornered roughly 17% of the total Patek-referencing market.

Due to the sheer abundance of Patek name-drops, I’m choosing to focus solely on those contained within the group’s most recent release. For the sake of completeness, I’m going to cite all of Offset’s other Patek references at the end of this article, but for now, let’s jump straight into the madness that is Culture II’s Patek-based hellscape.


“Narcos”

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Culture II’s first Patek Philipe name-drop comes in at track number three. Featuring some of the album’s more visceral Patek language, Offset embraces the slang “water” (an abstraction of ice) to describe his bejeweled timepiece. Through this potent bout of descriptors, Offset explains that his watch is so expensive it’s practically overflowing with excessive adornments. 

 

“Auto Pilot”

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It seems that if Offset happens to own a Patek, it may bear a two-tone design. To fully flesh out this pied timekeeping flex, he draws a direct comparison between the multiple colors of his watch to the multiple colors of women who are throwing themselves at his feet. 

 

“Emoji A Chain”

Much like Ororo Munroe, Offset possesses the ability to change the weather by merely strapping his trusty Patek to his wrist. While (presumably) not literal, this line once again draws back to the water-based well for an elemental flex of wealth and opulence.

 

“Stir Fry”

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In one of Culture II’s more illusory lines, Offset utilizes mucus-adjacent slang to illustrate how fancy and tricked-out his Patek is. Either that, or he has run out of Kleenex and we’re meant to read these words at face value. 

 

“White Sand”

In this star-studded mid-album cut, Offset comes in hot with a straightforward boast in which he explicitly states the amount he paid for his Patek Philippe. It seems we have confirmation, folks. 

 

“Beast”

In a moment of gender equality, Offset throws the listener for a loop as he explains how someone else’s Patek made him feel. Perhaps the inciting incident for his own purchase, this lyric offers a glimpse into the rapper’s consumer-friendly mindset while simultaneously acting as a subliminal criticism of capitalism and the dangers of following the crowd.

 

“Motorsport”

Venturing back once more to the “water” slang, Offset elaborates that not only is his Patek adorned with jewels, but his Audemars Piguet as well. Hopefully they’re waterproof, because at this point he’s practically submerged!

 

“Top Down On Da Nawf”

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In Offset’s final Patek namedrop on Culture II, he takes a slightly more pensive approach to the jewelry flex, using it to contrast his current level of wealth with his previous life of crime. This confessional exposition illustrates Offset’s desire, nay, need for luxury. A stark contrast indeed.


In Summary

There you have it. All of Offset’s Patek references contained on Culture II. In addition to these eight references from Migos’ latest album, there are an additional twenty-two references below that come from Offset’s features, collaborations, and other Migos releases. Given the scope, size, and sheer number of Patek references, I think it’s safe to say that Offset owns at least one Patek Philippe.

You can thank me for my service in the comments.

In all seriousness, much like Lil Pump and his grandma, I think this is just a case of a rapper revisiting the same topic because they don’t have a lot to say… and that’s perfectly fine. The Migos have produced music for an entire decade, so it’s not surprising any one of them has said the same thing more than a few times. Additionally, nobody goes to Migos for deep cerebral bars. As long as their songs have a dope beat and clean flow, the lyrics are essentially the least important aspects of their music. 

If anything, this exploration proves that the closer you listen to the words, the more you start to realize how unimportant they really are. What’s impressive is how little this lack of lyrical depth actually detracts from my enjoyment of the music. God knows that discovering this specific quirk has only made me like Offset more if only because I’m now listening for Patek name-drops in every song and feature. Here’s to another decade of explosive success and many more Patek purchases. 


Comprehensive Philippe

1. “Balenciaga Challenge” - 6LACK

  • Got a bust down Patek, a plain bitch (Patek)

2. “Bosses Don't Speak” - Migos

  • Hop in the frog and leap (leap) / Patek Philippe (Patek Philippe)

3. “Call Casting” - Migos

  • Spent you a hundred, Philippe on your wrist (Patek)

4. “Drip” - Cardi B

  • Patek on my wrist, and it's glistenin' (drip, drip)

5. “Do Not Disturb” - Smokepurpp & Murda Beatz

  • For the Patek, I Rollie the watch (for the Patek)

6. “Fucking Up Profits” - Migos

  • Rollie, the AP, the plain Philipe (plain)

7. “Ghostface Killers” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Thot and addy (thot), love the Patek on my arm (Patek)

8. “Hook Up” - Lil Baby, Offset

  • Pateks on fleek, got baguettes in my neck (hey)

9. “Iced Out My Arms” - Dj Khaled

  • This is a hundred Patek, 20 more for Piguet

10. “Interlude” - Lil Yachty & Offset

  • I show my Patek so much, say I'm petty (petty)

11. “Lost it” - Rich The Kid

  • 44 millimeter iced out Philippe (ice)

12. “Major Bag Alert” - DJ Khaled

  • Patek Philippe with the snow in the wind (Patek) (Oh)

13. “No Drama” - Tinashe

  • Got Patek on her wrist, in her panties (Patek, hey)

14. “Peek a Boo” - Lil Yachty

  • Look at my Patek, I'm flexin', I'm petty (I'm petty)

15. “Rap Saved Me”

  • His and her Pateks (his and hers)

16. “Ric Flair Drip” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Bought my first Patek, it got some rain on it (Patek)

17. “Slippery” - Migos

  • I gave her her first Philippe (Philippe)

18. “Still Serving” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Rich bitch, and yeah my bitch got a Patek

19. “Taste” Tyga

  • And she got the Patek on water moccasin (water moccasin)

20. “Violation Freestyle” - Offset

  • Bust down my wrist, bitch I'm Patek'd up (bust up)

21. “Wrist Thunderstorm” - Offset

  • Patek, the diamonds do backflips (woo)

22. “ZEZE” - Kodak Black

  • She an addict (Addict), addict for the lifestyle and the Patek (Patek)

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September 2018: Album Review Roundup

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I’mma keep it real with y’all. In the month of September I landed a new job, moved across the country, and basically started a new life. As a result, Swim Into The Sound has (expectedly) fallen by the wayside more than I’d like to admit. On top of these major life changes, the month of September was super back-loaded in terms of new releases, so it took me a bit longer than usual to listen to everything and compose my thoughts. This is all a long-winded explanation up front to excuse the fact that this post is late, but I won’t waste any more time with personal updates, let’s just get straight into the real reason why you’re here: good music.


Noname - Room 25

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Depending on who you ask, Noname may be the first poet of a new generation, or the last one we ever need. Not quite hip-hop, not quite R&B, not quite spoken word, Noname has been a tangential member of Vic Mensa’s SaveMoney collective for about as long as they’ve existed. Initially making herself known on tracks with Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and Saba, it took until 2016’s Telefone for Noname to fully-unveil herself to the world. Now returning with Room 25, she’s delivering 11 fresh tracks of explosive colors, heartfelt rhymes, and spellbinding deliveries. In one of the album’s more illuminating songs, she raps alongside Saba and Amino: “Labels got these niggas just doing it for the clout / I'm just writing my darkest secrets like wait and just hear me out” before going on to extol the virtues of vegan food. Lines like these stand in direct contrast to the wave of substance-abusing, attention-grabbing rappers we’ve seen rise to prominence as of late. Noname stands alone as a single woman with a strong voice and defined sense of self. Room 25 is just one piece of a much larger movement.

 

Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love

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There’s a single, ill-defined line between weirdness and accessibility. Between art and commerce. Between living and dying. While most music finds itself firmly on one side of this divide or the other, a select few artists able to tread this ever-shifting boundary carefully enough without tipping too far in either direction. With Safe in the Hands of Love, Yves Tumor has proven he’s strong enough to join their ranks. Coming to us clad in green-skinned alien garb, Yves Tumor is one of many alter-egos used by Sean Lee Bowie. Embracing spacy soundscapes, intermittent guitar, and ethereal R&B-style vocals, Safe is an exploration of the inevitable apocalypse. Lead single “Noid” is a jammy bit of guitar funk, “Hope In Suffering” is a particle-shifting ambient piece, and “Licking an Orchid” is a borderline-trip-hop love song that erupts into searing distortion. Everything sounds different but adds on to the larger narrative. It’s beautiful and disgusting. Unexpected and ever-flowing. Pitch dark and blindingly bright. Safe in the Hands of Love embodies the exact sort of contradictions we’ve come to adopt in this lead-up to the end of the world.


Shortly - Richmond

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I’ve been waiting a full calendar year for this EP. After witnessing the marvel that is Shortly’s live show back in November, I called her (then-untitled) upcoming album my second most anticipated release of 2018. Now that it’s here, I was able to catch Shortly live a second time (in her hometown no less), and I’m more sure than ever that she’s going to change the world. Bearing heartfelt tales of self-harm, depression, and loss, Richmond is far from a light listen, but those that go in with their eyes, ears, and minds open will emerge from the other side changed. 


Young Thug - On The Rvn

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As a Young Thug superfan it’s weird to admit, but the rapper born Jeffery Lamar Williams is most effective in small doses. It’s not that his full-length projects are bad, it’s that his shorter albums always leave you wanting more. They allow him to be his most free and experimental without the requirement of forcing the songs fit into an “official” album. This short but sweet dichotomy is perfectly exemplified with On The Rvn. Whether he’s twisting a sample of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” into an intoxicating ode to drugs or getting an assist from Jaden Smith for one of the most infectious flows I’ve heard all year literally everything works when fit under the umbrella of Thugger. There’s never been a bad time to get into Young Thug, and On The Rvn offers a wonderful sample platter of his brilliant absurdity.


BROCKHAMPTON - IRIDESCENCE

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After producing an entire trilogy of albums in one year, BROCKHAMPTON’s worryingly-prolific output hit a wall after sexual misconduct allegations led to a key member’s departure. Now having taken some time to recover, America’s Greatest Boy Band is back with their fourth official album, and it’s just as vibrant, wacky, aggressive, surprising, and flamboyant as you’d expect. I’ve started to realize one of the biggest appeals of BROCKHAMPTON (aside from the DIY origins) is that you never know what you’re gonna get. One song can be a straight-up gym-ready banger, and the next could be a soulful tear-shedding ballad. In fact, sometimes there’s a tearful ballad in the middle of one of those bangers. The point is, the breadth of different genres and flavors on display in any one BROCKHAMPTON release is more than enough to gorge out on, even if it can feel like the equivalent of musical whiplash at times. The fact that the same group of people can create such a wide variety of music is the real marvel, and it’s no wonder why they’ve managed to cultivate one of the most rabid and devoted fan bases on the internet. 


This Will Destroy You - New Others Part One

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There is always room in my heart and schedule for well-conceived instrumental music. Often brought up alongside the genre’s greats like Explosions in The Sky and Mogwai, This Will Destroy You have cemented their place as one of the scene’s most essential acts. They made a name for themselves early on with picture perfect post-rock and awe-inspiring cinematic works. Eventually they went on to tackle the ambient darkness of death, put out one of the greatest live albums of all time, and even had an innovative electronic phase. Having just wrapped up a tenth-anniversary tour for two of their best records, the band now looks optimistically toward a distant point on the horizon with New Others Part One. From warm, airy key-laden landscapes to demonic horror, and pulsating space music, the album draws a little bit from every phase of their now-decade-long career. It’s sublime, magical, and quite possibly a new high bar for the band. 


Microwave - keeping up 

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While I normally wouldn’t write a full-on mini-review for a two-song release, Microwave’s keeping up absolutely floored me, so I now feel the need to extol its virtues. I queued this album (single?) up knowing absolutely nothing about the band, and was smitten within seconds of “Georgia On My Mind.” The soft-spoken track builds into an incendiary finish that smolders with equal amounts of passion and regret. Meanwhile, counterpart “keeping up” provides a beaten-down work-a-day perspective that writhes in an equal amount of sadness and sorrow. Keeping up is an absolutely jaw-dropping and astounding release that managed to connect with me at the exact right time.


Pinegrove - Skylight

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Shelved for over one year thanks to multi-layered accusations and background drama that I don’t care to comment on, Pinegrove’s long-awaited Cardinal follow-up was surprise released at the tail end of the month. While those admittedly-negative headlines may have deterred many from listening to Skylight, the album itself is just as carefully crafted as we’ve come to expect from the group. Early-album single “Intrepid” perfectly embodies the record’s more pensive loud/quiet dynamic and careful lyricism. Similarly, “Rings” is a low-lying song that opens up into a vast expanse of amber colors and melancholy intricacies. There are also a handful of frisson-inducing bitesize tracks like “Thanksgiving” and “Amulets” that offer only brief glimpses into a world-weary yet wonderous existence. Drama and unanswerable questions aside, this album is being sold for a good cause and is undeniably still worth a listen, especially if you are a longtime fan. 


Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V

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Literally half a decade in the making, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V has become the stuff of legend. Up there with Guns n Roses’ Chinese Democracy and Dr. Dre’s Detox, Wayne’s long-awaited fifth entry in The Carter Series has been promoted, delayed, and fought over more than any one person can even explain. Having recently emerged victorious from a long legal battle with perennial father figure (and more recently musical captor) Birdman, Lil Wayne is now a free agent and wasted no time in announcing the album’s release just in time for his 36th birthday celebration. Unlike most albums that spend this long in release-limbo, The Carter V lands gracefully and should satiate both long-time fans and curious newcomers. With a near-perfect mix of vivacious dance tracks, narrative epics, violent gangster rap, and revealing personal tales, Lil Wayne’s magnum opus feels like it has a little bit of everything. I never thought I’d say it, but Tha Carter V was worth the wait.

Quick Hits

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  • Graduating Life - Grad Life: Mom Jeans’ resident shredder Bart enjoys an affirming, cathartic, and anthemic solo outing.

  • I Hate Heroes - Save Yourself: Clean and punchy metalcore that’s ready for emotional flight or fight.

  • Hozier - Nina Cried Power: A four-song EP of soulful, sinister, and sexy songs from the reclusive Irish pop star.

  • Joey Purp - QUARTERTHING: Wide-eyed and defiant life-tackling hip-hop songs shouted from a rooftop over Chicago-flavored jazz.

  • Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt: After a five-plus year break, the space rock-torchbearers return for an operatic, lush, and surprisingly-warm release.

  • Mothers - Render Another Ugly Method: With sharply-recorded instruments, slow-moving vocals, and pensive imagery, Mothers’ sophomore album jumps out at you and demands you to sacrifice your sanity on its behalf. 

  • Waxahachie - Great Thunder: Indie-flavored ever-searching acoustic- and piano-based balladry.

  • Colleen Green - Casey's Tape / Harmontown Loops: A collection of early cassette-based recordings from the sunglasses-clad Colleen Green.

  • Aphex Twin - Collapse EP: Inward-facing electronic music that also manages to retain a level of humanity and natural beauty. 

  • Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal: “Music is easy” the Boston natives proclaim on their opening track, before pushing the listener down a twisted plastic slide of jagged colors and cylindrical rhythms. 

  • Low - Double Negative: In what I’d call “appointment listening” Low’s newest work is a project that’s best digested in isolation, with minimal distractions, and enough time to fully-sink into it. 

  • The Chills - Snowbound: Bouncy and inoffensive alternative music that slides across the stage of your mind.

  • 6lack - East Atlanta Love Letter: Drowsy PBR&B.

  • Bhad Bhabie - 15: Meme, rapper, and trashy guilty pleasure Danielle Bregoli dropped her first official release which is already packed with platinum singles.

  • Fire Is Motion - Audiotree Live Sessions: Still without a full-length, the solo project of Adrian Amador runs through a greatest hits of his emo-tinged indie.

  • Joyce Manor - Million Dollars To Kill Me: Pop-punk icons and known lovers of short songs, have returned for another bite-sized full-length of lovesick pop songs. 

  • Story So Far - Proper Dose: A half-hour expedition of shimmering pop-punk that’s trying its damnedest to hold onto the last remaining moments of summer.

  • Metric - Art of Doubt: Well-polished alternative music that manages to thrive in the seemingly-contradictory position between accessible modernity and throwback-grunge.

  • Mutual Benefit - Thunder Follows The Light: Hopeful, dreamy, ornamental folk music that satiates the ear and soothes the soul.

  • Mudhoney - Digital Garbage: One of the few remaining bastions of the grunge movement continue down their acid-washed, jean-ripped path of muscular distorted rock

  • Ratboys - GL (8-Bit Version): A charming 8-bit rework of GL from earlier this year featuring four songs that sounds like they’ve been taken straight from a long-forgotten NES game.

  • French Montana - No Stylist: A three-pack of excitable trappy bangers from everyone’s favorite Moroccan rapper. 

  • Advance Base - Animal Companionship: Folksy indie tunes with a minimalistic electronic tinge and a delivery that borders on Bill Callahan at times. 

  • Lupe Fiasco - DROGAS WAVE: A feature-length album worth of hyper-lyrical bars spit over brightly-colored beats. 

  • The Devil Wears Prada - Audiotree Live Sessions: Five live songs of emotional and physical restlessness.

  • SOB X RBE - GANGIN II: The last hurrah of the bay area hypebeasts and hyper-lyrical paramedics.

  • Logic - YSIV: While most of Young Sinatra IV is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Logic (for better or worse) a full-on Wu-Tang cut and unexpectedly-lively jazz track elevate the tape into the upper-echelon of the rapper’s discography.  

  • Tilian - The Skeptic: Even though it can feel like boneless Dance Gavin Dance at times, Tilian’s voice is so strong that it doesn’t even matter.

  • Beartooth - Disease: Having started music at the age of 14, we’ve now watched Caleb Shomo develop musically for nearly half of his life. Disease is another hardcore, yet melodic development in his aggressive Beartooth project. 

  • Well Wisher - This Is Fine: Personal statements, fears, and concerns recorded directly to shreddy fuzzed-out pop-punk.

  • Marissa Nadler - For My Crimes: Dark and haunted sparsely-instrumental gothic folk Americana.

  • Tim Hecker - Konoyo: Death-ridden soundscapes and long-stretching instrumentals that reflect a trip to Japan, a personal loss, and a meditation on normalcy. 

  • The Living End - Wunderbar: Dressed in leather jackets and accompanying bedhead, the punkabilly standby gives the world 11 hard-charging and anthemic rock tracks.

  • Polyvinyl - Polyvinyl 4-Track Singles Series, Vol. 3: Featuring the likes of Owen, Japanese Breakfast, and Modern Baseball, Polyvinyl’s communal cassette project is now available on all streaming platforms for the entire world to enjoy. 

  • Pixies - Live from the Fallout Shelter: Just one piece of the Surfer Rosa 30th anniversary celebration, Live from the Fallout Shelter features a 40-minute performance of the band in their hungriest form right before fame and success would strike like lightning. 

  • Justus Proffit & Jay Som - Nothing's Changed: A laid-back 11-minute collaboration between indie up-and-comers Justus Proffit and Jay Som. The sound of a crisp fall morning spent mostly in a hammock.

  • Silverstein - The Afterglow / Aquamarine: In a showcase of musical dexterity, Silverstein offers up two renditions of two singles done in both acoustic and electric styles.

  • Hippo Campus - Bambi: Diverse and dancy indie tunes with wonderfully-absurdist electronic elements.

  • Roosevelt - Young Romance: Pivoting from DJ-centered electronica, Marius Lauber contributes more vocals for an album that ands up sounding like a long-lost 80’s classic.

  • Colin Stetson - The First Original Soundtrack Vol. 1: After disturbing me with the soundtrack to Hereditary earlier this year, Colin Stetson has returned for another deeply-reverberating soundtrack for a new Hulu Original about the first group of humans to visit Mars.

  • All Them Witches - ATW: Heavy riffs, bluesy guitar, and confident delivery. Sometimes that’s all you need, and All Them Witches has ‘em in spades on ATW.

  • Doe - Grow Into It:  Cheery and magnetic indie rock that demands to be shouted from rooftops in between PBRs.


In the month of September we also heard brand new singles from Kanye West, Death Cab For Cutie, Clairo, Petal, Indigo De Souza, Ty Segall, Lana Del Rey, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Cloud Nothings, Action Bronson, Minus The Bear, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene, Lil Baby, Saves The Day, Half Waif, Fleet Foxes, Jaden Smith, Thom Yorke, Kero Kero Bonito, Juicy J, Kurt Vile, Yaeji, Weezer, Open Mike Eagle, The 1975, BADBADNOTGOOD, Cloud Nothings, and Vulfpeck.

InCrest: The Ladder The Climb The Fall - Review

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Sensory overload has become a fact of life in a post-smartphone world. We live in a time where binging and excess have become the norm while pause and reflection have fallen by the wayside. It’s not that history isn’t valued, it’s that we literally don’t have time to revel in it. When the entirety of recorded music is a single click away, there’s a weird pressure to stay “up to date,” and it often feels like we don’t have enough time to look back and reflect on what has brought us here. In the midst of this hyper-consumer culture, there are a select handful of artists who possess a unique ability to shake us by the shoulders and remind us of what we’re missing, and that’s precisely what InCrest is offering up on The Ladder The Climb The Fall.

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, InCrest is here to ensure no one forgets the majesty of the 90’s rock greats. Inspired by some of the genre’s best like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam, InCrest’s newest album acts as a 39-minute time machine, a full-bodied reminder of how and why this era of music worked so well. 

The record starts off like a powderkeg on “No Second Chance” where an explosive drumline and lively riff throw the listener headlong into the band’s fast-paced style. They up the ante even further on “Nightcrawler,” the album’s lead single which boasts a hard-charging instrumental that builds up to an anthemic chorus.

Lead singer Malte Slywest’s vocals are immediately reminiscent of Scott Weiland’s grungy rasp; meanwhile the guitar, bass, and drums fuse together into an impactful force. The entire instrumental feels tightly-honed but also has enough of an edge that it retains that “throwback” style while simultaneously feeling uniquely-modern. 

Throughout the album, every band member gets a chance to show their respective chops on various tracks whether it’s the rapid bassline on “Aces” or the crashing cymbals on “100 and Ten.” More than that, the band as a unit show their range on songs like “Highway” and “Neversleep” which provide the audience a temporary breather as the album’s two slower-paced tracks. 

It’s nice to know that in today's fast-paced, ever-moving, always-online world there’s a band like InCrest carrying the torch of a seemingly-forgotten genre. The Ladder The Climb The Fall serves as a reminder of a simpler time in music, and a simpler time in the world. They say those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and InCrest are here to make sure we never do.

Symmetrix: Being There - Review

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Everyone’s truth sounds different. For some, it’s poetic confessions placed over a single acoustic guitar. For others, it’s expansive instrumental music that encapsulates what words cannot. For Marita Ryan, it’s hypnotic electronic music, soulful instrumentals, and inspiring words of personal belief.

Hailing from Melbourne Australia, Ryan began recording under the name Symmetrix back in 2013 with a vision of creating something that could combine both her love of electronica and indie pop, with a bit of rock music thrown in for good measure. Influenced by everything from 80’s synth-pop to alternative and shoegaze, Symmetrix has evolved into a unique fusion of indie and electronica in the vein of Half Waif or Hatchie.

Musical influences aside, Symmetrix’s upcoming album Being There is a wholly-unique and ever-shifting release that’s sure to surprise listeners of every musical background. Whether it’s the betrayal of a close friend, an ongoing battle with inner demons, or the impact of technology on our culture, Ryan’s lyrics run the gamut but offer a comprehensive sketch of everything that’s on her mind. 

All recorded over precise instrumentation, each song is a self-contained journey that sounds nothing like what’s come before it. From a radiant synth beat on “From Here On End” to a downright Frusciante-esque guitar solo on “Where Have You Gone,” the range of influences on display is vast and comprehensive. 

Everyone's journey is different, as is how we present it to the world. We’re lucky to live in a world where artists like Symmetrix can crystallize their truth for the rest of us to live through.

August 2018: Album Review Roundup

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August was an utterly absurd month for new music. As the sun crests over the horizon and we enjoy our final moments of warm weather, it seemed as if every major artist was pushing themselves to get their records out before the season’s end. From long-awaited debuts to big-name collabs, there’s a lot to write home about now that the summer has entered its death throes, so let’s reflect on the greatness we’ve been lucky enough to receive over the past month.


Travis Scott - Astroworld

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While it’s clear that Travis Scott will never again attain the bombastic attention-seeking highs of his early days or the conceptual glitz of his creative peak, Astroworld at least restores hope that he can get close. After the half-effort Birds In The Trap Sing Mcknight, and the aggressively-middling Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho it seemed as if Travis Scott was on an irreversible downward trend. While these are harsh words, they’re only because I know Travis has it in him to make another classic. In fact, I’m such a fan of Travis Scott, last year I wrote nearly 7,000 words lamenting the fact that both he and Drake were so successful they didn’t have to try anymore. Now one year after airing those concerns we have our hands on Trav’s newest project, and it’s… better.

Astroworld is far from perfect, but it at least signals that Travis Scott is taking a bit of a more holistic approach to his music again. Opening track “STARGAZING” is an excellent mood-setter featuring tight bars, a cascading instrumental, and multiple beat switches. It’s a fantastic introduction that leads to the crowd-pleasingCAROUSEL” where a surprise Frank Ocean feature leads to an unexpected Drake introduction. Similarly, “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” packs Kid Cudi, James Blake, and Stevie Wonder into one of this year’s most heavenly and star-studded five and a half minutes. While this is all impressive, by the end of the record it becomes clear how much Astroworld has been propped up by features. From “NC-17” onward it’s essentially a plummet straight down into dregs of meandering trap. The album’s back half of barely-conceived hip-hop is punctuated by the album’s final three songs which all feature Travis Scott solo. While “COFFEE BEAN” is a compelling album closer, this ending stretch of songs only highlights the fact that Travis Scott probably couldn’t hold an entire album on his own. Even though Astroworld is a bit of a mixed bag, the loaded front half is so undeniable it ends up elevating the entire thing above some of his more recent offerings. A solid, but lopsided album with scattered glimpses of greatness.

 

Tides of Man - Every Nothing

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Tides of Man went through a bit of an identity crisis in the early 2010’s. After releasing two landmark post-hardcore records on Rise Records, lead singer Tilian Pearson left the group to join Dance Gavin Dance. Rather than embark on a search for a new vocalist, the band decided to move forward without one entirely and threw themselves headlong into the world of post-rock. Having proven their chops on 2014’s Young and Courageous, the group is back with their second instrumental release and defacto sophomore album in their current incarnation. From its first seconds, Every Nothing sparkles and shines with the polish equal to the post-rock greats. Evoking Explosions In the Sky, God Is An Astronaut, and Caspian, this album proves that there’s life after loss. A recovery after an identity crisis. This is the sound of a band sticking the landing after a seismic change that would have dissolved any lesser group. 

 

Foxing - Nearer My God

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Having raved about Smidley’s album last year, I might have entered this album with higher expectations than usual. I’ve never been an enormous Foxing fan, but the singles leading up to Nearer My God all hit home for me. “Slapstick” was fun, “Nearer My God” was a multicultural revelation, and “Gameshark” was a proggy Mars Volta-esque jaunt that felt out-of-the-box. This string of singles combined with the well-thought-out visuals seemed to imply a Foxing album that would finally land with me. While Nearer My God kicks off with the jaw-dropping “Grand Paradise,” the record then quickly devolves into Foxing’s usual brand of “acceptable” emo. Singles and opener aside, there’s nothing else in the album that truly resonated with me. I don’t know if I could tell you one other moment that stuck with me outside of these four songs. Nearer My God would have been a great EP, but maybe this band simply isn’t for me. 

 

Jesus Piece - Only Self

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Sometimes you don’t need beauty. Sometimes you don’t need happiness. Sometimes all you need is destruction, and that’s exactly what Jesus Piece offers on Only Self. The album is a debut long in the making that finds the Philadelphia band blending metalcore and doom for a particularly potent and exponentially-heavy effect. Bearing propulsive drumming, low-swinging riffs, and vitriolic lyrics, Jesus Piece has created something entirely their own and more intense than anything I’ve heard from the genre in years. It’s fighting music. Music that makes you angry. Music you want to lift heavy things and punch back. It’s not an everyday emotion, but when the mood does strike, I can’t think of a single band doing it better than Jesus Piece. Phenomenal.

 

Young Thug - Slime Language

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Young Thug is the rap game’s Joker. Unpredictable, animated, and reveling in his audience’s utter confusion. And this isn’t a role that comes easily; Thug has spent the last few years cultivating his absurdist image while simultaneously upending all of hip-hop’s traditions in the process. From taunting the greats, and rocking dresses to performing the bare minimum required to qualify as enunciation, Young Thug seems to have cemented himself as something that’s sorely needed in hip-hop today: an unknown. 

On Slime Language Young Thug offers up nearly one hour of outsider hip-hop from someone who’s spent years rising through the ranks yet still remembers who he is. Even when the words themselves are covering well-trodden hip-hop topics, the way he says them is never the same. You will find yourself listening closely just to see what Thug will do next, and I think that’s exactly what he wants. From a scratchy velcro octet of tire onomatopoeia on “Ardemaur” to a dexterous chorus on “STS,” everything on Slime Language feels fresh in a way that only Young Thug can do. Within any one song his inflection, voice, and flow can change from one word to the next, and it’s absolutely enchanting. Infectious and enigmatic. A hip-hop cult of personality. 

 

IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance

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Having produced one of last year’s best punk albums (and one of the decade’s best debuts), IDLES have returned with a follow-up that’s equal parts gnashing and emotional. After losing his daughter last year, lead singer Joe Talbot publicly grappled with what that meant on both a cosmic and personal level. Joy as an Act of Resistance is the outcome of this meditation. Slow-building tracks that mount with dread until they erupt into thrashy punk explosions. Tonally different than last year’s Brutalism, but just as hard-hitting. A sonic reckoning in the aftermath of a sudden car crash of an event. The ebbs and flows of grief and loss. Sound and fury that lead to eventual recovery. 

 

Justin Vernon & Aaron Dessner - Big Red Machine

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Helmed by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner, Big Red Machine represents a meeting of the indie minds the likes of which we rarely see anymore. With both artists coming off award-worthy, career-defining albums, the two find themselves collaborating at the perfect intersection as they find mutual ground in downbeat electronic soundscapes. From unexpected vocal deliveries that border on rapping (“Lyla”) to haunting, gospel soul-searches (“Forest Green”) every song on Big Red Machine hits just as hard as you would imagine. Turns out combining the wine-drunk sadness of The National with the snow-covered sadness of Bon Iver is a recipe for something even more emotional than the sum of its parts.

 

Mitski - Be the Cowboy

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Existence is tiring. Other people are frustrating, relationships are messy, and even your own thoughts can be confusing. This sort of millennial malaise and caustic confusion is exactly what Mitski is capturing with Be The Cowboy. Like a diary transposed to music, the album traps Mitski at its center, shines a blinding spotlight on her, and then lets her writhe in agony for 32-minutes until both she and the listener collapse from exhaustion. It’s humanizing, flawed, messy, and isolating, just like all of us. Be The Cowboy is the exact kind of consolation you need after a breakup, hookup, or whatever falls between. An entire existence recorded to music.  

 

Quick Hits

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  • Mac Miller - Swimming: The the continuing story of the Pennsylvanian teen who has moved out, broken out, broken up, and grown up before our eyes. 
  • YG - Stay Dangerous: Flashy gangster bangers and not much else. 
  • Trophy Eyes - The American Dream: Effortlessly-catchy pop-punk that’s forward-moving, deeply-comforting, and soul-affirming.
  • The Ocean Party - I.B.O.: Six musicians. Two songs apiece. One minute per song. A musical sketchpad of flexible artistry.
  • Choker - Honeybloom: Emotionally-devastating post-Blonde RnB. 
  • Shy Boys - Bell House: Hard-cutting instrumentals that fall away for moments of stark honesty that shimmer like a lost Beach Boys song.
  • Iggy Azalea - Survive The Summer: Remember “Fancy,” guys?
  • Bad Bad Hats - Lightning Round: Songs about being a deeply-flawed and inherently-fucked up human. A therapeutic soundtrack to life. 
  • Moses Sumney - Black In Deep Red, 2014: A three-pack of groovy left-field RnB tracks with masterful multi-layered instrumentation and rich vocalization. 
  • Erra - Neon: Progressive and mathematical metalcore that rapidly alternates from airing saccharine sentiments to violently lashing out.
  • Nicki Minaj - Queen: An album who’s messy rollout, subsequent controversy, and surrounding beef is more entertaining than the music itself. 
  • Trippie Redd - Life’s A Trip: At least it’s got a cool cover.
  • Beach Bunny - Prom Queen: Charming and compulsive indie rock that’s not afraid to be emotionally-bare.
  • El Ten Eleven - Banker's Hill: Engaging post-rock that occasionally explodes into math, metal, and electronic diversions. 
  • Aminé - ONEPOINTFIVE: Jokingly labeled as an “EP/LP/Mixtape/Album,” the newest release from Aminé finds him mixing humor, trap, and personal experiences to a great effect.
  • Death Cab for Cutie - Thank You for Today: Ethereal, moody, and mature indie rock from the group that seems to have become masters of those feelings. 
  • Animal Collective - Tangerine Reef: A psychedelic audiovisual album about the havoc we have wreaked on the environment and the damage still to come.
  • The Oh Sees - Smote Reverser: One of the last bastions of jammy, proggy, nerdy rock music. As dexterous and eclectic as it is complete and exhaustive. 
  • Ariana Grande - Sweetener: It’s pop music.
  • Fredo Disco - Very Cool Music for Very Cool People: Say Anything-esque tales of charging headlong into personal relationships, getting too high, and inheriting jeans. 
  • mewithoutYou - [untitled] e.p.: Slow-building orchestral emo that imparts the feeling of floating through a dream world that barely resembles our own.
  • Field Medic - boy from my dream: Four hazy, sleepy, and slightly-out-of-focus folk songs from an artist that I love dearly
  • Rubblebucket - Sun Machine: A surprisingly-dancy indie record that’s packed with confessional slice-of-life dioramas all backed by lavish beds of woodwinds and brass contributions. 
  • Lemon Twigs - Go To School: The Lemon Twigs’ sophomore record is a concept album about a monkey that is raised by humans, goes to school, and discovers himself along the way. A whimsical reverse-Tarzan of a musical that commandeers your attention and charms your pants off.
  • White Denim - Performance: Fuzzy T.Rex-inspired throwback tunes send in from a parallel funk dimension.
  • Whitney Ballen - You’re A Shooting Star, I’m A Sinking Ship: Heartfelt songs of precious relationships, emotional turmoil, and the inescapable feeling that you’re less than everyone else around you.
  • Blood Orange - Negro Swan: Pensive RnB that revels in sexuality, race, self-doubt, and anguish. 
  • WSTR - Identity Crisis: Defiant fist-clenching pop-punk.
  • The Kooks - Let’s Go Sunshine: No longer Naive, The Kooks navigate the lovesick waters of adulthood in an hour-long Britpop expedition.
  • Wild Nothing - Indigo: Dream pop with a retro 80’s twist. 
  • Troye Sivan - Bloom: Immaculately-produced pop that seems chemically-engineered to burrow its way into your brain.
  • Iron & Wine - Weed Garden: Sleepytime music for sad hipsters.
  • Mogwai - Kin: It’s not technically a new Mogwai album, but I’ll take their brilliance wherever I can get it. 
  • SahBabii - Squidtastic: Low-gravity RnB beamed in from another planet.
  • Eminem - Kamikaze: After stumbling a bit with Revival, Eminem seems to have broken his downward trend of pop-hop and snapped back into full-on rapping for this surprise release. 

 

In August we also heard new singles from This Will Destroy You, J Cole, Father John Misty, Saves The Day, Joyce Manor, Mick Jenkins, Courtney Barnett, DRAM, Mac Demarco, Logic, Soccer Mommy, Boygenius, Lil Yachty, Mr. Sister, 6Lack, Toto, FIDLAR, Kurt Vile, Bryson Tiller, Gucci Mane, Empress Of, and Kanye West.

 

Rewind

Finally, here are a handful of albums from earlier this year that it took me until this month to discover.

    • The Growlers - Casual Acquaintances: Laid-back yet precise indie rock produced by Julian Casablancas. Created for late-night leather-clad bar hopping followed by ungracefully stumbling home.
    • Stella Donnelly - Thrush Metal: Hard-hitting and intimate songs of Donnelly’s innermost thoughts and conflicts. Confessional and confrontational, “Boys Will Be Boys” may be one of the most important songs of the year. 
    • Knuckle Puck - Shifted: The melders of pop-punk/hardcore rework five songs from 2017’s Shapeshifter into pensive electronic-infused ballads with the same level of heart.
    • Indigo De Souza - I Love My Mom: From forecasting your eventual demise to the social bartering surrounding ghosting, I Love My Mom is a journey of exploring your own emotions like a pioneer. 
    • Retirement Party - Somewhat Literate: Punchy and meaningful pop-punk that’s hit me harder on first listen than anything else this year.