Similar to Andrew's previous post, I will be discussing a few albums, extended plays, or singles that I found interesting or noteworthy, but did not make it into the biweekly podcast episodes. Although we only get to talk about three albums biweekly (or six monthly), there are many albums we all wish we could dive deeply into as well. The following are some releases (with a very short snippet of my thoughts) that I found to be incredible releases in the month of October.
Makeup and Vanity Set - Mother
We start off the recommendations from one of my favourite synthwave artists, Makeup and Vanity Set (MAVS). A pseudonym by artist Matthew Pusti, he returns with another extended play release in 2018, Mother. The record throws you in with an intro track that is reminiscent of Vangelis' iconic, landmark soundtrack for Blade Runner. The record continues with a wide array of sounds in which Makeup and Vanity Set experiments with, from more abstract, rough drum beats on tracks like With my Bare Hands, while giving more classic synthwave or even retrowave sounds on tracks like Man to Man.
Front to back, Mother continues to show Makeup and Vanity Set's ability to bring life and unique sounds to the long-running synthwave genre.
Recommended Track(s): Man to Man, Lifetimes
Zion.T - ZZZ
In my first (of three) Korean releases, we start with renowned Korean R&B artist, Zion.T. A pseudonym by arist Kim Hae-sol, Zion.T returns to the market with his extended play record, ZZZ. Clocking in at a standard extended play playtime of 20 minutes, ZZZ is able to offer a balanced variety of R&B sounds from more energetic tracks like the opener, Ideal, beautifully smooth duets like Hello Tutorial, to ballads like the closer Untold Story. Throughout the seven tracks, Zion.T features three artists, including Seulgi (Red Velvet), E SENS (Supreme Team), OHHYUK (HYUKOH). While featuring multiple artists of huge fame, ZZZ is very much able to remain a Zion.T album, not losing itself to its features which is becoming increasingly common.
Zion.T offers a relaxing, enjoyable record that is perfect for any occasion from a relaxed coffee shop work session to an upbeat hangout with friends.
Recommended Track(s): Hello Tutorial, Uh Huh, My Luv
Kero Kero Bonito - Time 'n' Place
Kero Kero Bonito returns this month with a (welcomed) surprise release, Time 'n' Place. While retaining their iconic indie/synth pop sound from previous releases such as Bonito Generation, Time 'n' Place shies away from a predominantly synth-based sound, offering a more energetic, drum and guitar heavy release that I wish I had on active rotation over the summer. While being an average album size of twelve tracks, the entire album clocks in at a shorter run-time of 33 minutes, with no single track overstays its welcome, with the longest track, Only Acting, only being 3 minutes and 50 seconds. While welcoming the changes to their sound, I do wish that they retained their use of some Japanese lyrics, which this album sadly lacks throughout.
Time 'n' Place offers up a perfect summer, energetic album that is perfect for any outdoor occasion.
Recommended Track(s): Make Believe, Flyway, Swimming
John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter & Daniel Davies - Halloween (2018)
John Carpenter should require no introduction, as he remains one of the most iconic horror film directors with releases such as The Thing, The Fog, and Halloween. After many (many) failed attempts to make a worthy sequel to the benchmark slasher film, Halloween, John Carpenter with his son Cody and composer Daniel Davies return to create the soundtrack for the latest attempt, Halloween (2018). Thoughts on the movie aside, the soundtrack brings some new life to the severe lack of synth and piano-based horror themes, offering a soundtrack that is filled with energy and tension simply from the music alone.
While not attempting to re-imagine the original theme and soundtrack, and not exactly innovative, Halloween (2018) Original Soundtrack was able to offer up that perfect October, spooky sound that we all love.
WARNING: Some track titles can giveaway plot elements of the movie.
Recommended Track(s): Halloween Theme, Michael Kills Again, Halloween Triumphant
Yuri - The First Scene
Yuri, a shorthand for Kwon Yu-ri, needs no introduction to fans of Korean pop, as she is an original and one of few remaining member of the prominent girl group, Girls' Generation. While debuting with the group over a decade ago in 2007, Yuri spent much time working in television and movies, which makes The First Scene her first ever full solo release. A release by an artist who has been in the industry for this long is a welcomed change, as the pop industry in South Korea is led by the concept of youth, with the vast majority of pop stars ranging in age from 16 to 24. Yuri is able to crack this horrible tradition by making her debut at the age of 28, with her matured age and experience in the industry being shown in both the choreography and musical style throughout the album.
The First Scene brings a refreshing, yet very mature sound to the table, shown right at the get-go with both the music and the music video's dance choreography f0r the lead track, Into You. Arguably the best track on the album is the follow-up, Illusion, which brings a very fun and bouncy beat while offering a chorus that begs you to sing along.
Recommended Track(s): Into You, Illusion
John Legend & Wendy - Written in the Stars
The final honourable mention is a unique collaboration with American artist, John Legend, with Canadian-born Wendy of South Korean girl group Red Velvet fame. Written in the Stars was released under the South Korean-based label SM Entertainment for their SM Station X 0 project, but the entire song is written and sang in English which is very rare for Korean-American collaborations (BLACKPINK's collaboration with Dua Lipa for Kiss and Make Up is a recent example of the Korean artists continuing to sing in Korean).
The duo offers an admittedly generic duet ballad with Written in the Stars, but is definitely raised by the vocal performances of both John Legend and Wendy. Overall not a huge highlight of the month, but I have an irrational love for Wendy (and Red Velvet in general), so I will always recommend pieces they make.