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All posts for the month December, 2015

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: K808

Album: Runaways

Release Date: 12/12/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Youth. Reckless abandon. Free spirit. The best days of your life…

This is exactly the summation of Runaways,’ the second release from art-pop singer/songwriter/producer K808. A soundtrack to the days of young adulthood; on the cusp of life but not having everything figured out, and not necessarily being concerned with it either. Runaways is a perfect example of a coming-of-age tale of young millennial love; a fun and upbeat banger with a deep complexity and sharp wit beneath the bubbly surface.

K808, formerly know as the indie-pop songstress Katianne Timko, has undergone quite the transformation over the last two years. After making quite a name for herself on the regional Indie scene, Timko took a huge risk. Rather than continuing on her already successful musical course, she completely reinvented her image and her art, fully becoming and embracing K808, a forward-thinking “pop” artist, with emphasis on the artist.

For her new EP, Runaways, K808 took on the role as songwriter, composer and producer, to impressive results. The production quality is top notch, with beats and hooks for days. Each of the six tracks all loaded with superb club-ready bangers, commanding dance floor dominance. The EP is bright and fun, with a sense of both self-awareness and artistic wit of veteran songwriter, which is exactly who K808 is. Her new sound does not feel like a gimmick or a cash-in, but a very interesting artistic risk, one of which contains a heavy dose of heart and soul.

Runaways kicks off with the slamming “Young + Hungry.” The track’s lines “Play me like vinyl babe, I want you like an autograph, I want to run away and you’re the one who makes me laugh,” and “My heart is beating still, we’re millennials and we’re never satisfied. We’re young and we’re hungry and we’re having the time of our lives,” perfectly sum up what the EP and K808 are representing.

“The Dark Side,” featuring rapper GRIZZLY, was the first single released some months back. The Track boasts yet another banger, with strong songwriting from both K808 and GRIZZLY for an interesting crossover appeal. “Pool House” is a fun track and perhaps the poppiest number, not far from modern Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. From there, the complexity begins to rise with one of the EP’s sharpest tracks, “Sleeping With the Enemy.” K808 sings ” I like my love delusional,” is the post-hook of the song, indicating the true naivety and complications of young love in an ever-evolving society.

Closing tracks, “Valentine (Ready, Set, Go)” and “H20” offer more huge hooks and powerful words from a young woman who is quickly coming into her own, but still has the youthful abandon on her side.

All in all, Runaways marks a very pivotal point for K808, both as a musician and songwriter. She has stepped out from behind the shadow of her acoustic guitar and ventured into an entire new world of musical discovery. Her knack for a song melody, huge hook, and superb production techniques are impossible to ignore. Key tracks include “Young + Hungry” and “Sleeping With the Enemy.”

And Runaways is a rare and beautiful occasion where an artist goes pop without selling out, but marking an even bigger and bolder statement. As a songwriter, K808 is continually expanding her horizons. Whether its love songs, or heartbreak, or a fun-in-the-sun track like “Pool House,” her approach is one of maturity and experience, with a strong artistic sense behind all of it. Runaways is artistic evolution, and it’s exciting to see what direction K808 will take next.

Runaways will be available on iTunes on Dec. 18.

Rick’s Picks

  1. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
  2. Failure – The Heart Is A Monster
  3. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
  4. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
  5. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
  6. Bjork – Vulnicura
  7. The Zou – Kills, Part 2
  8. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery
  9. Kylesa – Exhausting Fire
  10. Maranatha – Filth
  11. Kitchen Knife Conspiracy – Seven Deadly Sins
  12. Black Wing – …is Doomed!
  13. HEALTH – Death Magic
  14. Sunn O))) – KANNON
  15. Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down
  16. Queen Kwong – Get A Witness
  17. Bosse-de-Nage – All Fours
  18. Ty Seagull – Ty Rex
  19. Tame Impala – Currents
  20. ALBUM – Majestic SilverEye
  21. New Order – Music Complete
  22. Sannhet – Revisionist
  23. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
  24. The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
  25. Puscifer – Money Shot

Sevi’s Picks

  1. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
  2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
  3. Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was
  4. Sunn O))) – KANNON
  5. Hanz – Reducer
  6. Mantana Roberts – Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee
  7. Björk – Vulnicura
  8. Vince Staples – Summetime 06’
  9. Joanna Newsom – Divers
  10. Da$h – 17 More Minutes
  11. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
  12. Death Grips – The Powers That B
  13. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
  14. FLOOR BABA – Gamewave
  15. Tame Impala – Currents
  16. milo – So the Flies Don’t Come
  17. Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
  18. HEALTH – Death Magic
  19. New Order – Music Complete
  20. Wilco – Star Wars
  21. Oneothrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
  22. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
  23. Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD – Sour Soul
  24. The Internet – Ego Death
  25. Future – DS2

Fred Whitacre (Kitchen Knife Conspiracy/Raw Alternative Co-Conspirator)

2015.  This year felt very refreshing.  I almost felt overwhelmed at times because there seemed like there was a new release I was stoked about every single week.  In fact, at first, I had a list of 20 albums I really loved.  I narrowed it down to 10.  So, sincere apologies to Ben Folds , The Underachievers and Failure–you get left on the lengthy honorable mentions this year.

Honorable Mentions:

Low, Ones and Sixes

Ben Folds, So There

Lamb of God, VII: Sturm und Drang

Failure, The Heart is a Monster

Muse, Drones

The Underachievers, Evermore: The Art of Duality

Freddie Gibbs, Shadow of a Doubt

Iron Maiden, The Book of Souls

Chelsea Wolfe, Abyss

Here’s my 10 favorite albums of 2015:

 

#10 – Chris Cornell, Higher Truth

 

I think Mr. Cornell has been wanting to make the album for a long time.  His first solo effort Euphoria Morning (or Euphoria Mourning as he’s labeling it for the re-release–which seems quite daft) was pretty solid.  But his solo effort since have been less effective.  Especially his foray into hip-hop (if that’s what you want to call it)–Scream.  Yikes.  That album was pretty terrible.  However, he’s hitting all the right marks with Higher Truth.  Lyrically, he seems devoted to searching for a larger meaning in life on many of the tracks.  Or he displays overt confidence and vulnerability at the same time on “Let Your Eyes Wander.”  I believe he’s always wanted to create an album with a cutting honesty, while staying in a mostly acoustic vein.  That’s what he’s achieved here.  I didn’t mind the latest Soundgarden release.  But I think the songwriting on Higher Truth is much more precise.  It’s a worthwhile listen, and I’ve revisited it countless times over.

#9 – Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor

No, this list isn’t only going to be filled with ’90s rockers returning to past glories.  However, this album DOES it for MM.  His last several efforts have always blended together to me.  I enjoyed Mechanical Animals quite a bit.  But after that, only Eat Me, Drink Me has grabbed my attention in the slightest.  But this album is a powerhouse.  He’s like a sexy, satanic lounge singer, spewing nonsense to the underworld.  There’s a subtlety here, but the darkness in the undercurrent never fully engulfs the listener.  I know he likes to change lineups and songwriting partners here and there, but he shouldn’t mess with this formula.  This is a great album from start to finish.  If you need a key track, “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” is it.  But the album has no filler.

The core of the album cover features the Virgin Mary  on a stain-glass window, with the album name embroidered on tapesty in medieval writing, covering a globe of the Earth. The corners of the cover show red chain symbols.

#8 – My Dying Bride, Feel The Misery

My Dying Bride is one of the most respected acts in doom metal.  There’s a prolific sadness carried by this entire album.  In fact, between this and Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss, I could see how a person could be driven into a depression coma in 2015.  Guitarist Calvin Robertshaw has returned for this, their twelfth album.  It’s another epic.  Eight songs clocking in at just over 62 minutes.  Aaron Stainthorpe bellows and howls in his melancholy ways–and it works every time.  Tracks “And My Father Left Forever” and “A Cold New Curse” stick with me the most.  But if you want dark, downtrodden metal done by the best in the world, this is your fix.

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#7 – Ghost, Meliora

Ghost gets a lot of hatred in metal circles.  I’ve seen them twice, and even I was floored by the amount of meat heads in the crowd.  I think they opened for Metallica or something.  I dunno.  But people see the costumes and the gimmick, and they automatically want to tune them out.  But I can’t dislike this band.  I loved their first full length–in fact, it was my favorite album that year.  But I hadn’t even SEEN what they looked like yet.  So, by the time the gimmick was presented to me, I was already in love with the music.  So, they’re one of my favorites, Nameless Ghoul gimmick be damned.  Once again, a solid album from start to finish.   The best song on the album is “Deus In Absentia”–and the chorus hook will stay in your head for days.

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#6 – Baroness, Purple

I came into this thinking that there’s no way they could top their last effort, 2012’s Yellow & Green.  I was right.  This isn’t as good as that album.  But it’s damned close.  In fact, I’ve only had about two weeks to listen to this album.  It might continue to grow on me.  Baroness hipsters are already complaining that this is the band’s BLACK album.  Selling out like Metallica.  Whatever.  Piss off.  This is a great disc.  Wonderful songwriting.  Epic performance.  Every single chorus is catchier than the last.  “Shock Me” and “Chlorine and Wine” are the first singles–and for good reason.  But this album feels best as a whole.  Every once in a while, methinks the Mastodon effect is reaching these boys a bit too much.  But that’s my only concern.  Otherwise, I know this band will continue to make top notch records every couple of years.  I just started listening to this, and I am already foaming at the mouth, waiting to see what they do next.  Oh, also, they’re great live.  Don’t miss a chance to see them.

#5 – Hayden, Hey Love

Canadian and great, Hayden is now on to his eighth album, Hey Love.  This is very simplistic in its design.  Most of these songs are constructed with warm bass guitar, drums, acoustic guitar and a few keys or strings thrown in.  As always, the star is Hayden’s voice.  As he gets older, his voice sounds more worn, yet more earnest.  Better, I’d say.  His albums are all quite different, but I love this return to pure, straight-forward songwriting.  “No Happy Birthday”–a song written after his child told him that he’d have trouble writing a song as catchy as Happy Birthday–is my favorite song of 2015.  Other standout tracks include “Hey Love” and “Shelter.”  Do yourself a favor and listen to all of his albums.  You won’t regret it.

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#4 – Grimes, Art Angels

Most pop music is pretty awful.  But this is excellent pop music.  My ears need bubble gum from time to time, and Art Angels is the chewiest, most delectable gum I’ve had in years.  Grimes is now on her fourth album, and she’s learning how to do this song writing thing very proficiently.  Also, like Hayden above, she’s Canadian.  Go Canada, eh?  These songs feel more mature and much easier to consume than her past efforts.  As with Baroness above, the Grimes fans are complaining that this album is too catchy and that it will bring out all of the “non-fans”.  If so, count me in as one of those.  Her other albums just never held my attention, but this one keeps it all the way through.  The redone version of “RealiTi” (which was released earlier this year as a single) and “Flesh Without Blood” are great–but don’t skip out on “Kill V. Maim” or “California”–in fact, just listen to the entire album a bunch of times.  I dare you to avoid getting hooked.

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#3 – Bjork, Vulnicura

Bjork doesn’t always do it for me.  I know she’s weird and unique.  I love that.  But sometimes, she seems like she’s trying too hard to be odd.  Like, once the eyes of society/music culture are upon her, she wears a swan dress or beats up a reporter.  The reason this is my favorite Bjork album ever is because it finds her at her most vulnerable.  Like Beck’s Sea Change, a break-up has forced her to confront her own loneliness with song.  In fact, this album’s liner notes have listed how long after or before her break-up she wrote the song.  It feels like she is fully exposed and often lost.  The orchestration is some of the best I’ve heard from a modern artist.  “Stonemilker” is gut-wrenching, but you also must visit “History of Touches” (wow–lyrics–wow) and “Black Lake” are also excellent from top to bottom.  This is her finest hour.  In her sorrow, she’s created the soundtrack to heartache.  It’s breathtaking.

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#2 – Steven Wilson, Hand.Cannot.Erase.

Before I get into this album, I want to tell you what inspired it.  Wilson said it was inspired by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a young woman who died in her loft, and no one noticed she was gone for over THREE YEARS.  Her body was alone for that long, and no friend or family member cared to find her.  That’s loneliness.  This album treats solitude and isolation with artistic strokes abound.  Steven Wilson is the mastermind behind Porcupine Tree, a band who has obliterated the universe with countless releases over the past almost thirty years.  This is Wilson’s fourth solo record, and it’s his best.  I also got to see him pull this off live in a small theatre in Pennsylvania this year.  It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.  Melodic themes revisit throughout the album, sometimes in different forms.  It feels more like a book than a record.  “Routine” is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.  Watch the music video on YouTube if you want to weep a bit.  Steven Wilson is one of the greatest songwriters alive today, and this is his finest hour.

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#1 Faith No More, Sol Invictus

This is fairly predictable, if you know me.  Faith No More is my favorite band, and this is their first original release since 1997.  It would almost have been number one before I heard it.  But once I heard it, I knew my life had instantly gotten better.  They seem like they haven’t missed a step.  Many of these songs will jump right into their set list, and will feel right at home with the rest of their discography.  Is it as good as 1992’s Angel Dust?  Nope.  Is it as amazing as The Real Thing?  Nah.  But both of those album were redefining GENRES of music.  This album is the band just trying to redefine itself.  They’re all older.  Several side projects and life lessons under their belts.  It hits on all the FNM watermarks. From the chaos of “Separation Anxiety” into the epic thunder of “Matador” to the rage of “Superhero”–this album has it all.  I feel like I’ve waited a lifetime.  Please, Faith No More.  Please.  Please be here to stay.

Artist of the Year: Chelsea Wolfe

Album of the Year: Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

Song of the Year: Faith No More – Superhero

Music Video of the Year: David Bowie – Blackstar

Rock Act of the Year: Tame Impala

Alternative Act of the Year: Bjork

Rap/Hip-Hop Act of the Year: Kendrick Lamar

Punk Act of the Year: Teenage Bottlerocket

Metal Act of the Year: Deafheaven

Best Collaboration: New Order/Iggy Pop – Stray Dog

Best Live Act: Queen Kwong

Best Local/Regional Live Act: ALBUM

Best Album (Local/Regional Act): TIE: Kitchen Knife ConspiracySeven Deadly Sins and The ZouKills, Part 2

Comeback of the Year: New Order

Best New Artist: Black Wing

Lifetime Achievement: Bjork

A place for all ears and minds; The Raw Alternative showcases the counterculture in literature, arts and music at their very best. In this publication, we will present you the best underground art from local to international scenes.

-Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

IN THIS ISSUE:

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Aspiring Actress Slashes Her Way To the Big Time

Features

Reviews

Art

Scene

Poetry

Ms. Rose