Downtown Boys-Cost of Living: ALBUM REVIEW

There’s a lot of ingredients that make Downtown Boys the premiere punk band of the moment. “A Wall is just a wall” they preach on the opening track before fighting against the portrayal of Latinx people in current political rhetoric with lyrics in Spanish. However, on songs like “Promissory Note” — a reference to Dr. King — the band promises to never stop fighting for freedom no matter which imperialist is in charge. Coupled with a virtuosity of performance and occasional infectious hook, you’ve got an album that will require constant listening and inspire direct political action for years to come.

-Donovan Burtan

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Waxahatchee-Out in the Storm ALBUM REVIEW

On her fourth effort under the Waxahatchee moniker, Katie Crutchfield howls out the truth of a relationship doomed from the start over a sharp 10 tracks. Despite a similar runtime to that of her previous works, the slightly more streamlined rock sound and hardened song structures make for a quick, digestible sound. Self-deprecation remains central as Crutchfield finds fault in herself at every corner — even though her ex seems to supply most of the toxicity. The album strikes a sense of resilience and restoration sonically, but Crutchfield’s true battle of coping with having to leave without being heard adds complexity to the triumphant tone.

-Donovan Burtan

Lorde-Melodrama QUICK 100

another quick cult mtl review, big candidate for pop AOTY

“Pure Heroine” was certainly an inspiring moment for the music world. A 16-year-old New Zealander took over the world singing about wealth and consumption with freaky backing vocals and a general alternative aura.  Singing over chugging guitars, pounding drums, and fun synth-horn lines, “Melodrama” is Lorde’s unabashed pop anthem record in all the right ways.  Her choruses are powerful as ever, perfectly capturing relatable emotional strife, with those backing vocals appearing here and there over a much more lush, orchestral landscape.  Lorde took a while to come back, but the last four years have been all growth and her empire is just beginning.

-Donovan Burtan

9/10

SZA-Ctrl: QUICK 100

hey wrote this for cult mtl

 

On “Ctrl,” SZA provides a much more focused sound than her past releases with a slew of commanding vocal performances falling over live-leaning alternative R&B instrumentation. The work feels a bit like one continuous melody, which can have its drawbacks—the choruses aren’t necessarily for the ages—but, her acrobatic melodies provide endless expression as she tackles the confusion of the “20 somethings.”  From songs about being the other woman, to having a partner lose interest, to anxiety over wasted youth, SZA pinpoints relatability while avoiding tired cliché.

-Donovan Burtan

8/10

Jessica Mos-Pools of Light: Quick 100

Hey I wrote this for the CULT MTL print edition shhhhhh don’t tell my editor it’s here lol

Montreal vet Jessica Moss makes melody and looping sound effortless on her debut solo LP.  “Glaciers 2” thrives on high, floating violin melodies and “Entire Populations Prt. 4” takes a direct structure with each repetition of the short melodic phrase seeing the addition of another layer.  Besides these somewhat straightforward moments, incredible sonic designs push the album to new heights.  “Glaciers I” opens with layers of manipulated vocals, painting a haunting landscape for swells of bass sound, whereas “Populations Prt. 2” opens with falling stars of electric violin sounds.  Moss doesn’t need much to craft beauty, but her many different songwriting approaches make her debut surprising at every turn.

-Donovan Burtan

9/10

Trial Track: “Glaciers 1 Part 1”

Feist-Pleasure: Quick 100

Hey I wrote 100 words on the new Feist album for Cult Mtl’s print edition

(don’t tell anyone it’s online like this lol)

Leslie Feist’s fifth solo album finds a sparse, raw sonic place, leaving her voice out in open territory.  This general texture isn’t unheard of throughout her career, but here the contrast is more distinct and her voice commands with more versatility than her past efforts. “Baby Be Simple” finds breathtaking delicacy at the hook and “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” rides a cathartic lilt, but the title track finds a bit of punky bounciness and “Century” throws in a collage of punching vocals.  Tackling life’s general ups and downs, her lyrics don’t cut too deep on their own, but the intimate instrumentals make for an impactful emotional experience.

-Donovan Burtan

8/10