Reviews: A Sunny Day In Glasgow, RiFF RaFF

Our reviews of A Sunny Day In Glasgow's Neon Icon.
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Our reviews of A Sunny Day In Glasgow's Neon Icon.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow

A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Sea When Absent
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK

There wasn’t a single point during the recording of Sea When Absent when A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s six members (guitarist/frontman Ben Daniels, bassist Ryan Newmyer, drummer Adam Herndon, and factotum Josh Meakim, and vocalists Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson) were all in the same room together. On their latest and possibly best record to date, their ideas are united by jubilance if nothing else, striking in their eccentricity.

Sea When Absent is a little less weird than ASDIG’s other efforts, but also riskier. The arrangements are cleaner and brighter, oozing with odd, counterintuitive hooks. It’s diverse enough to evade categorization, but think the galactic expanse of an M83 submerged under the froth of shoegaze acts like Lush or My Bloody Valentine.

What really sets ASDIG apart from almost any other band you care to name is the way that they structure their songs. It’s hard to tell where a chorus or verse ends and the next begins, perhaps best evidenced by the gloriously smeared lead single “Byebye Big Ocean (The End)” and the sheet-metal-clamour of concluding track “Golden Waves”. In between, Goma and Fredrickson are given a canvas. “In Love With Useless” and “MTLOV” in particular are delivered with just enough clarity to lend necessary weight to the words within.

ASDIG’s don’t seem like they’re striving for accessibility as much as they’re trying to accentuate what was there all along. Make no mistake, this is still reasonably uncooperative pop music. As it turns out, the Philly collective clean up quite nicely, and Sea When Absent is an involving, wonderfully creative mess. B

Riff Raff, Neon Icon
opinion byAUSTIN REED

So, I think it’s best if I approach Neon Icon by expounding upon some real-life notes I took while listening to it:

Riff Raff just called himself, “The White Wesley Snipes.” This is fantastic. I’ve been waiting for years to identify the Nino Brown of the rap game—someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, a disregard for the status quo and the insatiable power-hunger needed to dethrone whatever clearly inferior and probably idiotic representation of hip hop is atop the food chain at the moment. I mean, I’ve gotta be honest: Judging by the cover art to Neon Icon, I wasn’t sure how authoritative this guy could possibly be. But now that he’s told us just exactly how serious he is, I’m excited to understand more about his general take on the future of—

Riff Raff just also called himself, “The White Eddie Murphy” a few tracks later. Okay, damn it. Really? The donkey from Shrek? That’s who you’re going with? This description totally validates the baby Siberian husky and the small infant child, but do you think it legitimizes the butterflies in my stomach from a second ago? No. It doesn’t. And now that I put these two characterizations side by side, it’s becoming increasingly clear that…

I don’t know what any of these lyrics mean. “Might be in a movie / With Barry Sanders / Might be Adam Sandler / And my cup is pink panther,” Riff Raff waxes vague on “How To Be The Man.” Just before this, I listened to a track called, “Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz,” which, as it turns out, is a phonetically revolting way to spell, “tip-toeing in my Jordans.” This is awful. I feel like I’m having a stroke in a room full of feral cats. It could, however, be way worse, because…

These beats are actually kind of dope. This was far-and-away the most important note I took, because there’s really no two ways around the sheer groove of this album from top to bottom. Every vocal sample is on point, and each bass line flows like syrup over richly and meticulously crafted tracks that draw equal inspiration from Jive’s former years and Def Jam’s latter ones. It’s a tremendously confusing observation to make about any album—let alone this one—until you notice that Riff Raff is yet another signee of the oft-prolific Mad Decent Records. Which answers pretty much every question I had about Neon Icon up to this point.

Overall, I don’t know. I’m confused. I spent an embarrassing amount of time laugh-dancing throughout the runs I made through Neon Icon. Like I was possessed by the Dustin Diamond of demonic entities. This album gets a C+ because I really enjoyed the time I spent hating it. C+