1st Listen Reviews (18/12) – Taylor Swift, Yerin Baek, Bree Runway, Che Noir & Boldy James

Welcome to 2nd edition of our new segment! These articles will be a compilation of mini 1st-listen album reviews (regardless if they’re old or new) that I do on Twitter, just so my readers here won’t miss out on the content that do over there.

This time around I only went through projects that dropped this year and only those that dropped recently, cause for some reason artists really dropping close to the year’s end these days.

Bree Runway – 2000AND4EVA

Genre: Rap, Dance

I’ve never really gotten into Bree Runway, with my biggest exposure to her being her contribution to Rina Sawayama’s “XS” remix.

Her performance on it was eccentric and heavy on the Missy Elliot-like bounciness. The expectations set there were pretty much met by 2000AND4EVA, fully equipped with its own Missy Elliot track.

Many tracks here are packed with fun dance/house elements that complement Bree’s explosive cadence. These are easily the highlight of the album.

Unfortunately, the slower cuts and standard rap offerings really drag the album down. They rob Bree of her charisma as she tones herself down in her verses while delivering weak hooks/choruses.

It’s a solid debut album and marks Bree as an artist I’ll be sure to keep tabs on in the future.

Also this album is way too short.

Yerin Baek – tellusboutyourself

Genre: Indie Pop, R&B

I’ve never been that into Yerin Baek but the songs that I’ve heard have been pretty great indie pop.

tellusboutyourself works with similar sounds from her last record – live drums and bristling guitars, or cool synths and heavy bass reverbs. There are nice little R&B and dance music detours throughout the tracklist as well. Making for nice respite amidst the occasional monotony in the record’s sound.

The real star of the album is Yerin Baek’s voice. There’s a comforting warmth in it. Deep yet breathy, her performances have a jazz club quality like to them – captivating and effortless.

I enjoy this album a lot and would encourage anyone who’s a fan of both indie pop and indie rock to check it out.

Boldy James & Real Bad Man – Real Bad Boldy

Genre: Rap

I’m just gonna keep this one short.

The beats bang, like literally all of them…but Boldy James’ voice puts me to sleep. His other albums didn’t win me over and looks like this one didn’t either.

I’ll be sure to revisit for the lyrical content (which no doubt is what fans come for), but right now I’m just bored with it.

Che Noir – After 12

Genre: Rap

My first exposure to Che Noir was on The Thrill of The Hunt 2. It was a decent (though short) project that proved she could hold her own with many of underground hip-hop’s more notable artists.

After 12, her 3rd release this year and also her 1st solo release, is easily her best project yet. Her rapping is packed with vitriol and grit. The hunger in her delivery injects a delicious the momentum throughout the album’s first 6 tracks.

The production is where the project shines as well. The grimy sample loops are still there but there’s a sense of urgency in them, weaving in more contemporary elements from current hip-hop. Like Benny the Butcher going from The Plugs I Met to Burden Of Proof, there’s more variety present that encourages revisiting compared to Che Noir’s more one-note sounding albums.

It’s an overlooked project that I’m sure to revisit a lot more of in the future.

Taylor Swift – evermore

Genre: Folk, Singer-songwriter

I haven’t put in a lot of time to process the many narratives Taylor weaves in evermore (except for that track about male murder on the Haim collab lol).

So my 2 cents on this album will only be on how it sounds. For context, I love folklore. It’s one of my favourite albums of the year, rewarding repeated listens with minor narrative details that I missed out on.

If folklore was an intimate one-to-one bedroom performance, evermore is a dimly-lit dive bar show attended by her closest fans.

It’s not as inviting as folklore initially was, but I understand it’s not meant to be the same album. Taylor feels ‘distant’ here cause of the brighter instrumentation and warmer processing on her vocals.

There’s this slight indie rock-tinge to it as well that I know I’ll love on future listens. Just like it’s sister album, evermore is a project that I’ll have to look past the production, while slowly digesting with the many themes and narratives on offer.

But as of now, I’m very very happy with the album we got.


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