California Literary Review


Life, Death and Hip-Hop


December 12th, 2019

Within Hip-Hop we discover the struggle of the artist to make sense of their unjust world and to find the balance between their desires (and everyday survival) and the morality of their actions to fulfill these desires.

Album Review: Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob


February 21st, 2013

Heartthrob is deeply wounded and most of it is sad. Its emotional palette is reds and pinks, raw and tender, skin scrubbed too fiercely. But for all its sadness, all its discussion of never-going-to-work relationships, it’s an incredibly hopeful album. Not optimistic, per se but determined, teeth-gritted and snarling. Hope’s necessary for that, even if it is in small and ragged quantity. And hope’s never really stronger than when it’s down to its last shreds.

Album Review: Foxygen’s We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic


February 7th, 2013

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are songs that celebrate life instead of mourning love, and do so with aplomb.

Album Review: Wooden Wand’s Blood Oaths of the New Blues


January 22nd, 2013

The listener is held in suspended emotional animation, waiting for a push in one direction or another, but destined to be disappointed in that regard.

Album Review: Andre Williams and The Sadies’ Night & Day


January 2nd, 2013

Andre Williams spits out his philosophy against a background of organs and supporting vocals that evoke a blend of both haunted house and gospel house, spirits and the spiritual.

Album Review: Crystal Castles’ III


December 13th, 2012

After a high-pitched intro reminiscent of the entry into a horror film, the bass explodes into pulsing heavy distortion as gratifying as a welcome plot twist. Vocals blur into a winsome crackle of low and high notes that can only be experienced as emotional entreaties rather than explicit ones. As sense of the song is jettisoned, there is ascension into a state of pure rhythm.

Album review: Delilah’s From The Roots Up


October 3rd, 2012

Probably the most pleasant piece of difficult listening ever, it slightly reminds me of early Tori Amos records for combining relatively hard topics with pop sensibilities to an eerie effect.

Album review: Purity Ring’s Shrines


August 6th, 2012

James plays on her small-sounding voice a lot, which I found increasingly grating the more I listened to the album. It’s partly a personal intolerance for grown women playing twee but also there’s something frustrating about ambitious, wide instrumentals, whose breathy intimacy didn’t need any greater emphasis, being somewhat reduced by a vocal not always interesting enough to accompany them.

Interview: Cory Jreamz


August 3rd, 2012

Recently turned 18, he’s already released a dense, interesting EP of smooth, electronic hip hop where sparkling synths and sax clash with clattering beats and sampling.

Album Review: Passion Pit’s Gossamer


July 30th, 2012

But like hunting for proof of Nessie or Bigfoot, these moments of inspiration that you took a smudgy photo of in your excitement vanish all too quickly, and you are left wondering if anything exciting actually happened at all.

Album Review: Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan


July 20th, 2012

We can never rediscover the true weirdness of the 1960s psychedelic movements without abandoning our own prohibitive – and inhibitive – self-awareness.

EP Review: Angel Haze’s Reservation


July 20th, 2012

There are not an enormous number of 20-year-old, Native American, childhood-in-a-cult surviving, queer, female rapper/singers around currently. Given the cult stuff, you’d hope not. Angel Haze is, though and she’s about to be one of the biggest things in the world.

Singin’ In The Rain: A 60th Anniversary Celebration


July 13th, 2012

It is more than just one of the all-time greats, grouped with the likes of Casablanca and The Wizard Of Oz. Singin’ In The Rain is also an off-the-wall lesson in Hollywood history.

Mixtape review: Childish Gambino’s Royalty


July 13th, 2012

Childish Gambino is the not-really-a-side-project rap persona of multiple-threat megatalent Donald Glover. What he’s most famous for depends on your perspective but before the Gambino project took off he won an Emmy for writing on the third season of 30 Rock, launched a stand up career and starred as Troy Barnes in the very deeply brilliant Community. He’s 28.

Album Review: Hot Chip’s In Our Heads


July 9th, 2012

dancing in the summer seems masochistic. Yet In Our Heads by Hot Chip may very well inspire the unsuspecting listener to engage in precisely that dangerous, sweat-inducing activity.

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