Hot Chip have gone from underground weirdo-pop darlings to legitimate indie-synthpop superstars in the span of a decade. For some bands this rise in popularity may coincide with a change in identity or loss of originality, but for Hot Chip each consecutive album has meant only one thing; improvement. In our opinion, every Hot Chip album released has been better than the last, and while in some cases, the improvement is marginal (The Warning to Made in the Dark), in others it’s huge (Made in the Dark to One Life Stand). In Our Heads is not a huge leap forward from One Life Stand, but given the immense success the excellent One Life Stand was, that’s saying a lot. In Our Heads is a nearly perfect record, it has no lulls in the action; every song is either infectious dance music or an expertly crafted synthpop melody. This is also the record in which Hot Chip have truly proven they’ve mastered the art of the infectious bassline (Night and Day, Flutes, Don’t Deny Your Heart). But that’s not all they can do, the songs range from epic (Flutes, Let Me Be Him, Ends Of The Earth) to heartfelt and intimate (Look At Where We Are, How Do You Do) and the simply excellent (Motion Sickness). At this point, there is no disputing that this is a band in their prime, and they do not seem to be slowing down any point soon.
Verdict – 9/10
-Amos and Elias
Gemini, one of our favorite dubstep artists, released his new EP on April 2 and it did not disappoint. Comprised of four tracks, The Fire Inside EP brings a large amount of bass and intense beats to the table. Gemini remains a great producer, his synths and drum sounds are impeccably clean, and he has a great ear for melody. He slows things down a bit for the last track, Nothingness, and the results are great, Nothingness is a fantastic brooding piano ballad that serves as a fitting coda for the EP. Thats not to say the EP is perfect, Gemini seriously stumbles with the third track To The World, perhaps Gemini’s attempt at Skrillex style bass. To The World is incongruous with the remainder of the album and has no business being next to tracks like Nothingness and No Way Out. It can’t damage the impact of the album on the whole however, Fire Inside remains a mostly spectacular tour de force of Bass, Synths, and Snares.
Verdict – 7/10
-Amos and Elias
On his second LP, one of dubstep’s forefathers, the British producer Rusko, provides a fourteen track compendium, aptly titled Songs. In interviews Rusko has mentioned wanting to move away from the monster of brostep that helped spawn. On Songs he manages, mostly successfully, to avoid the screeching mid-high range basses that populate many dubstep songs while still delivering a relatively solid collection of songs. The album starts off strong, tracks like “Somebody To Love” and “Pressure” are highlights of the album and they exert a DnB feel more than a dubstep one, which works well to signify Rusko’s change in direction. The funky synth in ‘Pressure’ is an especially nice production touch. Unfortunately the album takes a turn for the mundane, the songs from ‘Skanker’ through ‘Be Free’ are all simply average or worse, with the low point being Opium. Opium is a pretty shitty song to be perfectly honest, the bass is not up to the high standards Rusko should be held to. The verses in ‘Opium’ are all fine, but the dubstep sections sound as if someone took his excellent ‘Bionic Commando’ and hollowed it out and removed any traces of melody. Thankfully the album is much stronger following ‘Be Free’ with ‘Thunder’ ‘Roll Da Beatz’ ‘Asda Car Park’ and especially ‘M357’. Rusko utilizes dancehall vocals best on Roll Da Beatz and brings some heavy bass on Asda Car Park, while Thunder is a very solid if unspectacular pop song. The album undoubtedly saves its best song for last, in M357. This song is surprising, in that Rusko does not implement his signature wobbles. Instead, the song drops with a deep, low bass. Its pulsating synth line, soft vocals, and melancholy piano complement the bass well. That being said, if the entire album was in the same style as “M357,” it would make for a tiresome experience.
Verdict – 6.5
-Amos and Elias
Modestep’s new single “Show Me a Sign,” is neither amazing nor awful, instead it falls somewhere in the middle and is fairly average. Modestep’s début track, “Feel Good”, is one of my favorite dubstep tracks of all time and since hearing it I have had high hopes for each ensuing song. “Sunlight” was originally a good song but they re-released it as an edited version and frankly, it sucked. They had an opportunity with “Show Me a Sign” to buck the trend and make a song as melodic and bombastic as “Feel Good”. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the song sounds alot like a Skrillex track in many ways. It has frantic high frequency bass wobbles that are, more often than not, painful to listen to. That being said, these wobbles do not dominate the track. It has a powerful feel to it and an epic synth line. The vocals are well done and it is nice to know that the they are recorded live instead of with samples yet still fit well with the rest of the song. The tempo change towards the end of the track doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t add to the track and, just like in the original “Sunlight,” it detracts from the overall experience, leaving a bad taste in the listeners mouth, sort of like when a good rock band whips out a terrible shredding solo to end the song just for the sake of skill demonstration.