The MTV VMA Nominees Are Here: Absence of Nicki and Abundance of Taylor

Can you believe it has been five years since Kanye’s “Imma let you finish”-gate? Well, it has, and Taylor has moved up in the world since then.

Clocking in at a wopping 9 nominations, Swift looks as though she will be cleaning up and then some, come awards night, including the Big Three: the gender award, the genre award and Video of the Year. This also means that Kendrick Lamar, her Bad Blood co-star, has been recognised several times over as well: Bad Blood has been nominated for almost all of the technical awards and Lamar’s own Alright video has earned him nominations in the Male Video, Hip Hop Video and Video of the Year categories.

Other notable players in this year’s ceremony will be Ed Sheeran’s Thinkin’ Out Loud video and Beyoncé’s 7/11 video, both of which earned the stars nominations in the Big Three as well. Nicki Minaj’s lack of nominations started a Twitter war, which must be seen to be appreciated in all its hilarity. Anaconda showed up almost nowhere this year which, as we all know quite well, is not at all a bad thing.

In the Rock category, unfortunately, the VMAs have mistaken Hozier’s drippy, wishy-washy whines as rock music, but have redeemed themselves with nods for Florence + the Machine and Arctic Monkeys. Surprisingly, newcomer FKA Twigs has received recognition for both Two Weeks and Pendulum, which is interesting considering her status in the UK only as a former Mercury Prize nominee, being virtually unknown in the mainstream outside of the UK.

arctic monkeys

 

Full list of nominees:

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Beyoncé – 7/11
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Kendrick Lamar – Alright

BEST MALE VIDEO
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Kendrick Lamar – Alright
The Weeknd – Earned It
Nick Jonas – Chains

BEST FEMALE VIDEO
Beyoncé – 7/11
Taylor Swift – Blank Space
Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
Sia – Elastic Heart
Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO
Fetty Wap – Trap Queen
Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
Kendrick Lamar – Alright
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – See You Again
Big Sean ft. E-40 – IDFWU

BEST POP VIDEO
Beyoncé – 7/11
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Taylor Swift – Blank Space
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Maroon 5 – Sugar

BEST ROCK VIDEO
Hozier – Take Me To Church
Fall Out Boy – Uma Thurman
Florence + the Machine – Ship To Wreck
Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

ARTIST TO WATCH presented by Taco Bell
Fetty Wap – Trap Queen
Vance Joy – Riptide
George Ezra – Budapest
James Bay – Hold Back The River
FKA Twigs – Pendulum

BEST COLLABORATION
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – See You Again
Ariana Grande & The Weeknd – Love Me Harder
Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang

VIDEO WITH A SOCIAL MESSAGE
Jennifer Hudson – I Still Love You
Colbie Caillat – Try
Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend – One Man Can Change the World
Rihanna – American Oxygen
Wale – The White Shoes

BEST ART DIRECTION
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
Snoop Dogg – So Many Pros
Jack White – Would You Fight For My Love
The Chemical Brothers – Go
Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now with Justin Bieber

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Beyoncé – 7/11
OK Go – I Won’t Let You Down
Chet Faker – Gold
Ed Sheeran – Don’t
Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – Never Catch Me

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – Never Catch Me
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
Alt-J – Left Hand Free

BEST DIRECTION
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Kendrick Lamar – Alright
Hozier – Take Me To Church 
Childish Gambino – Sober

BEST EDITING
Beyoncé – 7/11
Ed Sheeran – Don’t 
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood 
A$AP Rocky – L$D
Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now with Justin Bieber

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood 
FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
Childish Gambino – Teleraph Ave.
Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now with Justin Bieber
Tyler, The Creator – F****** Young/Death Camp

The VMAs will be held August 30.

LISTEN – Foals reveal “Mountain at my Gates” from upcoming album “What Went Down”

11011215_10152920292068531_4646804326719161549_oWith anticipation mounting for the follow-up to their major breakthrough, Holy Fire, becoming more and more intense as the weeks tire on, Foals have decided to give us another taste of the rabid, free, heavy rock of What Went Down in Mountain at my Gates, premiered this evening on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show this evening as the Hottest Record.

What is interesting about the progression of the singles so far is that Holy Fire followed much the same suit, with a heavy, bombastic first single leading the way to a second, more pop-tinged single. The difference is that the variations in the tracks are much more subtle this time around. Whereas My Number followed Inhaler’s metallic stomp with an incredibly contrasting, frilled, danceable tune, in this case it is simply a matter of rhythm. What Went Down is fast, aggressive, unchained, whereas Mountain at my Gates is groovy and bopping, funkier and just a little more restrained, until the final few moments when everything explodes into a hardcore beat and the track ends.

What both tracks tell us about the album is that it sounds a lot less like indie rock infused with pop and instead almost like a new form of indie rock, progressive garage, garage music that keeps a fuzzy, free aesthetic but with musical, structural and technical complexity not found in, say, The Strokes. At this point the only thing that slightly worries me about this album is the more restrained production from seasoned Brit-indie veteran James Ford but, as with many things, we can’t really be certain at this point. Whether the evolution will pay off for the band is uncertain at this point but one thing’s for sure: the anticipation for What Went Down will just keep on building.

Listen here:

What Went Down is out on Transgressive and Warner Bros. Records on August 28.

LISTEN – Albert Hammond Jr. Premiers new track “Side Boob”

Momentary masters

Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. has premiered the third single, Side Boob, from his forthcoming album Momentary Masters. The fast-paced song is reminiscent of tracks from past Strokes albums (2003’s This Room Is On Fire and 2011’s Angles).

 

 

 

Stream the track here:

Momentary Masters will be released July 31 through Vagrant and Cult Records.

Tame Impala: Currents Album Review – A lush, serene listening experience

CurrentsTame Impala’s new album is singular, original and completely individual.

Kevin Parker’s evolution throughout his career as Tame Impala has been fascinating to follow: on the self-titled EP, he delivered stoned-out garage rock, which was turned into dizzying atmospheric psychedelia by being heaped and layered with pedals and effects on Innerspeaker. But the big guns would come out on the follow-up: Lonerism, with its vintage synthesisers and trippy riffs, Parker was able to create a bubble around the listener, putting them in the beautiful isolation that he had felt for so long and delivered a focussed, concentrated masterpiece for the ages. And so, after the numerous end-of-year lists, accolades and almost messianic praise, how do you follow up a masterpiece? The answer, as it turns out, is staring right at you.

Parker’s influence on modern rock, although he might not acknowledge it (or even know it exists), has been massive: a large amount of music released in the years following Innerspeaker has been based around, or had influence from, the psych sound that Parker brought back in 2010, like Temples, Childhood, The Wytches, King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, Pond, Mini Mansions, Mac DeMarco, Arctic Monkeys, you name it. However, it’s clear from this record that he hadn’t been working as the figurehead of a neo-psychedelia movement as we first thought: he had simply been working alongside it, the genre going one way and him going the other. It’s almost as though he hasn’t acknowledged the fact that there is an entire genre coming back into rock music that he was a part of, particularly since Currents sounds like nothing else around at the moment.

Parker’s blueprint for the album, on paper, is simple: mesh disco, synthpop and psychedelic pop together and see what happens, and what happens is compelling, sometimes bizarre, and utterly original, but, like his previous efforts, still showing respect for the artists he owes a debt to; The Less I Know The Better clearly takes a lot from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and I doubt you’ll find anyone who won’t readily admit that The Moment sounds like a stoner’s version of Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears. And yet, there are times, like on opening synth jam Let It Happen, when it’s not entirely clear where Parker is drawing influence from. The bombastic opening moments on Eventually gives just the same

impression: where did those synths come from? Is there anyone else who would be daring enough to use that kind of sound on a disco track? And what about that bizarre, deep-voiced robotic monologue on Past Life, or the radio effect on Disciples, or even just the opening synth of Nangs which, and I cannot stress this enough, is arguably my favourite moment on the album.

All this seems to point to Parker’s desire to be an artist on his own, an isolated genius who can weave lush, dense arrangements together and make something that, while clearly a different beast from its predecessor, shares the same intention of creating music that is an absolute dream to listen to while also being compelling and creatively rich. In fact, Currents actually does a job of elevating Lonerism to even higher heights than it had already reached because it suddenly makes us realise that Parker was not actually operating on the same level as the psychedelic rock happening around him, or even, in some sense, the psych rock that had come before, but instead as an individual creative mind, one who meditates on structure and obsesses over making each and every thing that he does as creative and densely packed as possible. Currents is merely a continuation of that, the first solid proof we have of Parker’s intention to be of a single mind, of his magnificent and unstoppable ambition. Many people have said that Parker’s intention is to push psychedelia in a new direction with Currents but I don’t think that is the intention at all: the self-absorption of the album and the lack of indication that he gave on previous releases of his desire to be among the other psych acts in the world both suggest to me that he instead has the intention of leaving everyone else behind and separate himself from everyone and everything.

The only major flaw I can attribute to this album is how it stands up to its predecessor: very few lyrical, Kevin Parkermusical or conceptual moments in Currents are nearly as hard hitting as those on Lonerism: there is no gut-wrenching emotional sucker punch as Parker resigns himself to being a loner forever like on Why Won’t They Talk To Me? or a roof-tearing drop like on Apocalypse Dreams or a jaw-dropping moment of meta-existentialism like on Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control and Keep On Lying. But then, maybe that’s the point. I suppose Parker’s resolution now is “why look back unless there’s something you can take forward with you?”

Currents, as stated by Parker himself, was made with the hope of making music to be played in clubs and for people to dance to, due to Parker’s supposed love for communal listening. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t feel as though he has made this music for anyone except himself. The album is endlessly creative, and exhibits Parker’s work as a singer, arranger, producer, and modern creative mind. While I can safely say that it is not nearly as earth-shattering as Lonerism, Currents may not be Tame Impala’s best album but it is arguably the most important to Parker’s merits in the past and his ambitions for the future; it is the moment when Parker is revealed to be not just the premiere psych act in the world but one of the most original and singular creative minds in music right now. Lord knows what he will do next.

Verdict: A lush, serene listening experience that deliberately distances itself from Parker’s previous works, and yet fits in perfectly as the next step in Tame Impala’s increasingly fruitful evolution.

9/10