Vampire Weekend Ends Six-Year Drought, MorMor Returns With EP, Maxo Kream Brings the Heat

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Father of the Bride // Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s frontman Ezra Koenig recently moved from New York (whose aura the band has come to strongly embody) to Los Angeles. This geographic shift is evident in Vampire Weekend’s latest album, Father of the Bride, which largely discards the metropolitan tongue-in-cheek moodiness of their past work in favor of a summery, leisurely, Grateful-Dead-tinged affect that seems to take every conceivable influence and says “Yeah, sure, dude, why not?”

The sheer scope of musical territory Koenig covers is stunning. Jazzy electric keys, vocoder interludes, distorted heavy metal drums, orchestral strings, children’s choirs, and scores of other styles get spliced and folded into songs so diverse, it’s incredible they bear any internal cohesion at all.

“This Life” interpolates an iLoveMakonnen chorus while sounding like a Van Morrison song, “Sympathy” starts out as aggressive flamenco and warps into raging heavy metal drums, with a club-jazz-esque upright bass breakdown in between. If that all sounds hilariously absurd, well, that’s because it is.

The collage of juxtaposed styles, eras, instruments and emotions is overwhelming, and initially seems to bite off more than Koenig — or reasonably anybody — could chew. Yet, for all its schizophrenic, zig-zagging styles, Bride is at its worst when it doesn’t do enough. I actually like “Married in a Gold Rush,” but it plays into the heartland-Americana feeling so plainly that it neglects to do much of anything else past emulation.

Bride also suffers from its runtime: at almost an hour, considering the enormous variety packed into the music, it feels longer than it needs to be. After a few listens, some songs are hard to even remember by reading the title — not because they’re all the same, but rather, they’re all so different. Nonetheless, its highlights are truly high. “Hold You Now,” “Harmony Hall,” “This Life,” and “Sympathy” are accomplishments in songwriting and composition, and that they all came from the same artist — not to mention the same album — only double their impressiveness.

Vampire Weekend has always found harmony in contradictory concepts. It’s the pivot to directness that brings these contradictions into sharp focus.  It simultaneously features themes of world peace and inner peace; its arrangements are ambitious and expansive, but Koenig’s lyrics are simpler and less obtuse; it’s more upfront and grounded, but also weirder and tougher to wrap your head around.

Bride plays into almost zero modern musical trends (and instead, seemingly, every other musical trend ever), so it’s a tough listen to process. However, it’s also utterly fascinating for precisely the same reasons. Half of the songs I initially didn’t like have come to grow on me with subsequent listens, and the more I hear, the more the album’s message becomes cohesive: It’s not supposed to be cohesive. Some things can’t be made sense of. You can still, however, enjoy them anyway.

Maxo Kream // Still

The stereotypical understanding of a rapper that sounds like Maxo does – an aggressive, bar-for-bar growler – doesn’t often include the great quality of storytelling that Maxo has displayed throughout his career. The Houston rapper has an awesome ability to display and illustrate the violence of his life, and he manages to be supremely direct on every single one of his songs.

Such is the case of “Still.” It’s a ChaseTheMoney-produced track, stepping into the ranks of JID’s “Off Deez” and DRAM’s “About U.” Both are bass-heavy bangers, and that’s exactly what we’re getting on “Still.” The song is bare in it’s composition- an intro and outro voice by Kream’s father, and a single verse that occupies about a minute and a half of the song’s runtime.

This could be the format that best shows Maxo’s skill as a rapper- even after what feels like 72 bars, he doesn’t lose any steam, continuing to boast his street cred and trappin’ ability.

Still got a chopper too big to conceal

Still makin’ deals, just signed me a deal

Signed to RCA, 1.5 mil

Still sellin’ dope, label like I need to chill

“Still” // Maxo Kream

Stay tuned- this isn’t the first single Maxo has released in 2019 and it’s likely that more is coming.

MorMor // Some Place Else

Some Place Else continues the breathtaking momentum MorMor created on Heaven’s Only Wishful, a piece that established himself on the radar of indie-dreampop fans worldwide. Born Seth Nyquist, MorMor set the table in 2018 for Some Place Else with the sensitivity of Heaven’s Only Wishful, and with the opening title track on his new EP, MorMor picks up right where he left off.

While it carries supremely beautiful high points, Heaven’s Only Wishful feels somewhat immature in comparison to Some Place Else. MorMor’s career trajectory has skyrocketed in recent months, earning spots on many year-end lists, and he’s currently on the road on an international tour.

“Pass the Hours,” features a subtly groovy bassline, one that doesn’t impede upon MorMor’s angelic voice, but gives it depth, adding layers to Nyquist’s production. “Days Like This” is one of the more exciting tracks on the project and features a recurring drum beat, showcasing MorMor’s breadth of sound. This intimate song highlights Nyquist’s vocal talents alongside an active background of synth riffs and hard-hitting hi-hats.

Despite marked similarities to Heaven’s Only Wishful– each EP stands at about 25 minutes, Some Place Else finds MorMor in a more mature and bounded state of mind. If you liked Heaven’s Only Wishful, you’ll like this project, and this is just further confirmation that MorMor is primed for several more great projects in the next few years.

Other New Releases This Week:

Madonna // I Rise

YG ft. Tyga, Jon Z // Go Loko

Kota the Friend // Backyard

Leven Kali // Mad At U

-The Sideline Sounds Staff

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