Upcoming albums to get behind in the break

Struggling to put words to a page this vacation? Check out these new and upcoming albums that may ease your writer’s block.

album reviews brownstudy foster the people Happiness Is jess hoyle Life Well Lived MGMT Music Supermodel taking back sunday

So Lent term is finally finished, but your mind now drifts to the upcoming dissertation you have to produce this vacation. If you’re concerned that you’ll fail to put words on the page, fear not – as Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks”. So check out these new and upcoming albums that will ensure you bang out your dissertation while listening to these bangers.

:Brownstudy – Life Well Lived

Jess Hoyle’s thoughts:

There is not a lot to not like about Life Well Lived, the new album by Jason Hogans, aka :Brownstudy. Combining traditional hip-hip grooves with ambitious jazz and electronica,  the album stands out from the proverbial ‘crowd’ for its polyrhythmic beats and captivating  lyrics. “I’m spanking protocol” says Hogan. “I still act like an 18-year-old and pass it off as  eccentricity […] I’m proud of that. Life’s too short to posture like you’re dignified. Nobody’s  anything but carbon, water and a set of circumstances.”

Detroit originating Hogans first burst onto the scene in 1998 with EP Peter And the Rooster on  Carl Craig’s Planet E and later cementing his musical identity with album Tell Me More About  Bubbles in 2005. Hogans returns to Third Ear Recordings  with Life Well Lived; and it’s rather brilliant. The Guardian reviewed Tell Me More About  Bubbles as “something so singular as to merit special attention” and there is no exception to this  with Hogans’ latest release.



Opening the album with track In a better way, Hogans relates to his wonderful ability to cover all styles of music in order to convey his musical  intentions – “Violin,  trumpet, piano/keys, electronics, percussion, vocals, etc. Some formal training (classical theory,  jazz theory, jazz improv, sight singing/ear training, creative writing), but ultimately relying on  my ear & heart.” Tracks like the super upbeat Glorious Future, Towards Improvement and the rather amazingly named Bitchslappin’ Motherfuckas to Hell particularly stand out for their lyrical  dexterity which easily rival and surpass the works of Hogans’ contemporaries.

:Brownstudy is fast-paced, inventive and addictive. His track, In a Better Way, gives us the line  “Handclaps never get old, smiles never get old, dancing never gets old, good food never gets old, it becomes you.” Taking Hogans’ words as influence, the greatness of this album never gets old, and thus earns him a borderline First.

Life Well Lived was released on Third Ear Recordings on March 10th, 2014.

Foster the People – Supermodel

Patrick Brooks’ thoughts:

I really liked Torches. It was bold, it was catchy, it had some great tunes but it was also slightly off the wall.

Supermodel is, first of all, very different. Thankfully they haven’t fallen into the trap of so many second albums after the big hit and just done a Mumford and Sons, i.e. a second album that tries to be the first and so flops like an asthmatic jellyfish.

They’ve definitely gone much more in the vein of MGMT – following up an extremely successful and pop/electro-tastic first hit album with something that’s just completely weird and a reaction to the fame and massive success of their breakout. In fact, MGMT’s polarising Congratulations makes a good comparison to Supermodel. Supermodel is less a full-throttle ‘fuck you’ to the masses who enjoyed Kids, but it’s a similar kind of feel, and there’s definitely no second Pumped Up Kicks in the offing here. Both albums are also explicit about their genesis being a reaction against fame, Supermodel supposedly being a deconstruction of consumerism and celebrity culture and capitalism etc. blah blah blah – if you hate capitalism so much why are you even making another album for mass distribution?


“Coming of Age” from Supermodel

But that’s not really the point – is the music any good? Definitely, yes. The stand out thing is how much extreme variety there is. With this album Foster the People have massively expanded their range, with quiet, unsettling songs as well as bat-shit crazy thrumming pop numbers. The album isn’t immediately likeable, or as catchy as Torches, perhaps because of the disorientating variety, but on a second listen the sheer depth and complexity and interweaving styles and vibrancy starts to reel you in, and there’s still a strong overall feel that’s distinctive and to an extent original.

Overall, a low 2:1. Took a while to get into and isn’t an instant classic, but not a second-album disaster by any means, and it makes great listening whilst strolling along King’s Parade in the glorious sunshine.

Supermodel wil be released on iTunes on 24th March

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is

OJ Watson’s thoughts:

I was apprehensive to recommend Taking Back Sunday; their usual pop-punk and rough edged vocals is the sort of music that is easily dismissed. But, for those concerned, Happiness Is continues the transition that Taking Back Sunday are making towards more mainstream alternative rock. So if you are expecting the glory days of the turn of the century emo-pop of 2001’s Tell All Your Friends then re-calibrate your expectations, or else this won’t be for you.

The album’s opening tracks, Flicker, Fade and Stood A Chance are relatively tame openings, especially considering the impressive build up exhibited in Preface. Despite this the songwriting is still incredibly catchy. This continued upbeat songwriting gives an indication of the input that has been made by the return of John Nolan and Shaun Cooper after their several year run with Straylight Run. Their time at Straylight Run, however, did not cause a complete overturn of Taking Back Sunday’s style, with tracks like They don’t have any friends and Like you do giving a sense of nostalgia and flashback to the days of Louder Now. These tracks along with Better Homes and Gardens return to the strained vocals that exhibit an appreciation of their audience and arguably their as of yet completed metamorphosis.


Album went live for streaming on YouTube on the 10th – check it out.

To conclude Happiness Is gives a sense of a career turning point but one that needs a degree of polish still. It’s certainly not the dramatic shift that was seen when  Louder Now introduced alternative guitar rock for Taking Back Sunday nearly a decade ago. With this in mind the album received a low 2:1 and probably needs a viva…

Happiness Is wil be released on iTunes on 24th March


Let us know what albums you’d recommend for this vacation. Peace Out from Tab music.