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Bryce Vine - Carnival Music Album Reviews

The debut full-length from the “Drew Barrymore” singer isn’t designed for conscious, focused listening. This is music for poolsides and basements.
Bryce Vine describes himself as “OutKast and Blink-182 got drunk with the Gorillaz.” Perhaps a more apt comparison is KYLE taking bong hits with Dave Matthews Band, or Jason Mraz sniffing poppers with Doja Cat. At 31, Vine is at an unconventional age for frat-rap prominence. He established a fanbase nearly a decade ago, as a contestant on “The Glee Project,” a reality television show based off the Ryan Murphy high school drama. His real rise came with 2017’s “Drew Barrymore,” a swirl of neon synths that went platinum, possibly by being added to every “Chill Vibes” playlist in existence.

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Blarf - Cease & Desist Music Album Reviews

The frenetic, sample-heavy album from Eric André’s clown alter-ego is hard to take seriously, which is probably the point.

Beneath the clown makeup and knockoff Ronald McDonald costume, Blarf is comedian Eric André, creator and star of Adult Swim’s “The Eric André Show.” The madcap TV program parodies late night talk shows with its trademark brand of high-octane anarchic nihilism. He revels in discomfiting celebrity guests through exhibitions of gore and destruction. On a typical show, André will destroy his set with a chainsaw, tackle the house band, or do something that's just plain gross—while interviewing Lauren Conrad of The Hills, Andre vomited on his desk then slowly slurped it back up. Conrad left, dry heaving.


Though André tweeted, “People are confusing this guy BLARF...for me,” it’s pretty clear he made the music. Blarf was the name of André’s band while he was a student at the Berklee School of Music, and, in 2014, he released an album, Blarf, with Toronto based industrial band the First Seed. Aside from these “clues,” Cease & Desist is an absurdist cultural survey, which is kinda André’s whole thing.

Cease & Desist comes with a dare to “make it through six minutes of this album,” a foreboding invitation from André, a master of testing the endurance of his show’s guests with gruesome and strange displays. The tracks on Cease & Desist are bound together like files collected in a downloads folder: a collection of random mp3s that someone found interesting. There are short Girl Talk-style mashups that weave bongos through what sounds like The Fast and the Furious soundtrack, Death Grips’ aggression folding into dream pop, Jorge Ben mixed into intentionally annoying “Soundclown” auditory memes, Scandinavian noise that becomes cheesy violin. Just as the celebrity segments on The Eric André Show are satires of interviews, the tracks on Blarf are musical jokes.

So, is the album a critique of music? Did André succeed in making something that sounds bad? Well, sometimes the music sounds quite good. “I Dunno,” a 36-second distorted witch house-y instrumental sounds like the start of a decent Crystal Castles song. I kind of enjoyed “The Me in Me,” which sounds like an Oasis song that’s been beaten to death and thrown into a quarry. Meanwhile, “Hella Rhymes,” which pairs West Coast rap with glitchy guitar and arrhythmic drumming, just sounds atonal and aggressive—and not in a renegade punk way.

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Cease & Desist sounds like the work of a talented person who is too busy or distracted to fully realize their ideas. While juggling a cult television show, an international stand-up tour, and voice-acting as a hyena in the remake of The Lion King, it’s understandable why André may not have devoted himself to polishing Blarf’s debut. The shorter tracks, which are the album’s best, seem like sketches for “real” music, perhaps abandoned because making something actually good requires more time or effort than he’s willing to expend. Meanwhile longer cuts, like “I Worship Satan,”—which sounds like 12 minutes of a pocket-recording while driving a convertible with the top down—didn’t seem to require much effort to produce at all.

The best joke (if it is one?) appears on the second track, “Save it Babe.” It opens with a recording of a woman asking a man, presumably André, if he’s a good role model. Her earnest, hopeful tone mimics the precious interludes commonplace in popular music (see: “Futura Free,” the emotional interview with a skateboarder that closes Frank Ocean’s Blonde, or “I Got It” in which a woman tells T-Pain she has HIV directly following club banger “Tipsy.”) “If you need an example for how to live,” André says, drawing us in, “then you just shouldn’t have been born.” Blam. The dunk on the interviewer is punctuated by a blast of electric guitar, as if to punish us for believing, even just for a moment, that this could be genuine.


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