Armada Named Sound – Social Media Sadness – EP Review
It’s actually been a couple minutes since we last heard from Armada Named Sound – but that’s usually an indication of Spiros Maus hard at work cookin’ up something new for us all to listen to. And here we are, back with a brand-new EP after nearly a year away from our pages, when we checked out the video for the single “Life In Lofi” at the end of 2017 and reviewed the single “My Girl” earlier that summer. Album or EP-wise, it goes back even further to 2016’s release of the Electronica record – and given that we’ve attempted to stick with this band’s continual collaborative energy, spirit, vibes, & sound throughout the years, it’s nice to get a set of tunes from Armada Named Sound. Tough to only get a track or two at a time from this project…I mean, I ain’t complaining, I’ll take what I can get from them – but a single from ANS generally just leads me to want more – I’m happy to get that here with a new EP. You will be too – Social Media Sadness comes out just around the corner in December this year and is fully loaded with that stunning Armada Named Sound essence you know & love – but this time around, also stocked with four tunes that take a deep dive into a main theme that ties itself between each song.
And while fundamentally on some level, I have to resist that theme – because we’re on opposite sides of that fence when it comes to how I personally feel about the impact of technology & social-media; as a society, many valid points are being made throughout this record that I certainly agree with. They start quickly too – I wasn’t quite sure at first if “Love Me, Hold Me, Dance With Me” was going to be a part of the main concept like you can see the other three titles will visibly complement – but it becomes clear instantly. Regardless of whether or not I agree with every word is well-beside the point anyhow – facts are facts, Armada Named Sound has made a record with an authentic point of view and doesn’t shy away from it – and I love that; so should you. Far too often you’ll hear claims of a concept album of some kind where you’ll spend hours listening and never make that connection or understand what that concept even IS – but that’s not the case on the four songs on this EP. You’ll definitely get what’s being laid down here lyrically and you’ll certainly understand which side of the argument that Armada Named Sound ends up on. The focus is sharp right off the bat and just as tight as the mix on the music – listen to the words and how they likely echo many, many people you know right now. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely understand how social-media can be abused and how it can affect us; if I haven’t felt it myself, then I’ve likely witnessed it thousands-upon-thousands of times from being online every single day. Love the vocals on “Love Me, Hold Me, Dance With Me” – I think they’ve come out perfect and really add an angelic & mystifying sound to the upbeat & dreamy atmosphere of the music, which I’d imagine is purposefully on the shiny-side to echo the theme of the lyrics here on this first tune as well. There’s an extra gloss on this whole song like it’s got its own Instagram filter on it – which I’d imagine, based on what I’m hearing in the words, is probably quite close to what ANS was going for here. The result is quite beautiful & full of clever contrast at the same time; surface-level, you’re going to hear that sweetness in the vocals and the words of love in the chorus – but if you dig deeper and really take a listen here, you’ll discover a cautionary tale at work. “Love Me, Hold Me, Dance With Me” begins to make the observations & points about the effects of social-media on our mindset that will run throughout the EP…taking on selfies, likes, re-posts, clicks, and all that we assume boosts our confidence but so often ends up causing the opposite effect when compared to others, or when those confirmations we crave are absent all together. Ha! For a track called “Love Me, Hold Me, Dance With Me” – I’ll fully admit, I wasn’t expecting to be thinking this much, yet here we are. Well done ANS.
I mean that’s the purpose ain’t it? We’re supposed to be thinking when it comes to a concept record and figuring out how it all fits together. So when you hear clever concepts like “Social Media Sadness” being shortened to “SMS” in the hook – that kind of symbolism is of course, no coincidence – that’s smart writing is what that is. Embracing that technological theme on the title-track, I gotta say, this track had a unique effect in listening to it that I don’t normally experience…I wasn’t quite sure about the vocals at first or whether or not they completely fit here – and I’m not usually that far off the mark. By a couple spins into this record, I often became convinced it was my favorite performance of the bunch…there’s a raw honesty in this performance that I felt really complemented the melancholy view of the effects of “SMS.” What a killer beat & vibe this cut has too! Listen to the way the drumbeats & percussion of this track create the vibe, how it breaks into sweeter synth sounds that are alluring, and vocals that have a severe emotional edge, as if experiencing exactly what’s being sung about at this very moment. “Social Media Sadness” speaks to that savage trap people fall into where they’ve lost the whole plot entirely and have worn themselves out trying to keep up with all that being online entails. Armada Named Sound paints a pretty grim picture throughout this record, but you will find moments of hopefulness as well along the way – you’ll hear some of that break through on the chorus of this cut. Love the melody in the vocals there and the music that comes along with it…I think it really stands out in a subtly beautiful way, raising the stakes from a verse that already had it all going on with its intensity, rhythm, and attitude. Valid points again being made here regarding mental-state to physical wellness – there’s no doubt that “Social Media Sadness” is a very real and valid thing for a great many people. Songs like this are as much of a powerful anthem to rage against the machine as they are a form of awareness & call to action as well; and as I said earlier, whether or not it’s the point of view you agree with or not, or something you have/haven’t experienced yourself – you fully get where ANS stands.
If there’s one cut I can certainly identify with, it’s “TLDR” – which pretty much sums up half of my own existence. For those of you out there about to head over to Google to learn this term, I’ll save ya the trouble – it’s ‘too long, didn’t read’ – which describes just about every article I’ve ever written. Much like the counter-argument I’ve been making ever so-slightly along the way here – this hasn’t affected me or my style whatsoever…I’ve always been proud of the fact that YOUR music has me ranting and raving. I look at ‘reviews’ with two paragraphs and literally laugh out loud – because how could you NOT? Music deserves so much more than that…it deserves to be recognized for its efforts, intentions, and ambitions – you couldn’t possibly sum up an EP like this in just a couple paragraphs and not go to bed as a writer feeling like you didn’t skip out on the majority of the details. “TLDR” – to quote from the song directly is to describe my exact response to anyone that would tell me to shorten up what I do or be more like someone else out there – “I really don’t care anymore” – it’s a different context for me – but if the tendency is for people to read less, I plan to write LONGER – you feel me? Maus has found a killer electro vibe to run through the curious atmosphere of this tune…and from what I can find online in the early details of this record, I believe that it’s Eli Karali making all those incredible moves on the bass. The dramatic piano increases the intensity in the verse and the chorus lightens the load, just like the weight of turning your brain off and typing out “TLDR” rather than making the effort to understand. Great beat and vibe combo that combines an expressive electro sound with a jazzy undertone running throughout it…kind of got that dreamy mix of hazy Zero 7 flavor to it, which is A-OK with me. Of all the tunes on this record, I felt like I got willingly lost inside of this one for days…each sound we hear is such a complement to the entire song it’s truly remarkable and a fantastic example of the top-notch attention to detail, sound, & structures that Armada Named Sound is capable of. Excellent backing & lead vocals.
Taking it into an even more ethereal atmosphere for the setting of the final tune, it’s yet another fantastic performance from the vocals, which carry you into the song with improvisations and stunningly powerful & graceful tones. “Too Many Words” makes its point by not saying a thing at all – and that’s the true genius at work here…the ultimate conclusion of the point that Armada Named Sound has been making all along – music…art…LIFE…it’s an experience – it’s something you FEEL. So don’t go mistaking this final track for an instrumental – Armada Named Sound is saying more here in this final cut without an actual word to be found – and it’s freakin’ BRILLIANT. I mean it really, really IS. If you’ve been following along with the themes of this concept record, you simply have to get to this final conclusion and truly marvel at just what an incredibly smart idea this is. It’s that disconnection from tech, which you can probably also pick up on in the glitch additions of the electro in the music as well; in combination with the beautiful free-flowing expression found in the vocals, you have to assume that through the pursuit of art and dedication to their craft, the crew in Armada Named Sound have found that escape they were seeking. A way out of Social Media Sadness and back into the beauty of life – that’s what they’ve created here – the audible dismantling of the very core concepts that drive the first three songs…perhaps a final reminder at the end of the record of what should truly win the war of our affections and attention. Our passion, our art, our music – whatever it is that floats your boat; a track like “Too Many Words” is a breathtaking reminder that there is so much to be created, explored, discovered, and revealed to the world through what we can accomplish – and all without a phone in our hands or the help of Wi-Fi, I assure you. “Too Many Words” is purely brilliant, everything about it, full-stop, no arguments to be made – I’m honestly stunned and lost for words when it comes to this ending.
Shout-outs to all involved…the great singers you’ll find with Maus on this EP include: Ieva Delininkaityte, Toni Nzilani Francq, Sofia Woolfe, and Bellabeth – everyone truly deserves major credit for holding their own and each personality bringing such remarkable character, skill, tone, and technique on display.
The LAST point I’ll make here (I promise I’ll stop rambling, ranting, and raving soon…) is that…well…you’ve seen me allude to my differences of opinion on the social-media and online-realm thing…so let me just explain briefly, real quick. First of all – I get that I’m not necessarily the exact measurement of the online effect – for me personally, as awkward as I’ve always been socially, being online actually ended up opening doors for me that I’d never have ever thought could have possibly existed and helped me form friendships in places I never would have thought possible. The main irony in this particular scenario, is that had that never happened, I wouldn’t know Armada Named Sound or even three measly percent of the amazing music, artists or bands I’ve found along the way. It’s through those bizarre online connections of one thing leading to another that I ever heard Armada Named Sound back in like…what was it…lemme look this up…summer of 2015 with the StarChildren EP I believe. I’m now three-plus years into what’s been a noteworthy catalog of fantastic music that seems to keep getting better, culminating here with what is purely the best of ANS so far on Social Media Sadness. So I’m not saying I don’t get where they’re coming from or disagree with the points they’re making along the way here…and I agree that much of what they’ve pointed out affects the people in our world on many levels, socially, physically, mentally, emotionally. All I’m saying is put yourself in my position as a music lover and dude that’s been able to somehow exist on some strange level through the internet…and ask yourself – would you honestly trade that in for anything else?
Social Media Sadness is a real thing – I’d never dispute that. Freedom through art & passion, is also a real thing – and ultimately a much more powerful force, which I’d once again point out that ANS is proving through the final wordless song “Too Many Words.” I think it’s a potential danger to some and a potential savior for others – and I think above all things, to quote the great Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Choose how you use your time here on earth wisely my friends.
Make sure to find out more about Armada Named Sound from the official website here: http://www.armadanamedsound.com
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