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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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Prince Daddy & the Hyena - Cosmic Thrill Seekers Music Album Reviews

The Albany emo band offer us a fuck-up’s masterpiece, a hero’s journey following a guy who might conquer the world if he could leave his couch.

In the Prince Daddy & the Hyena universe, Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor is the greatest album ever made. Not the greatest punk album, or the best of the decade—the greatest ever, better than Pet Sounds, OK Computer, and Illmatic put together. They’ve also namedropped American Idiot and The Black Parade in almost every interview for their boisterously extra second album Cosmic Thrill Seekers, a “Disney soundtrack written by a punk band” tailored to a very specific set of aspirations—they’ve made a fuck-up’s masterpiece, a hero’s journey following a guy who might conquer the world if he could leave his couch.


It’s worth noting that Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and Titus weren’t taken seriously before they bumrushed the rockist canon—they were, respectively, a pop-punk institution in a steady commercial decline, avatars for a widely discredited form of emo, and a band most known for playing suburban New Jersey pool parties. Prince Daddy & the Hyena start from an even greater disadvantage—for one thing, they are called Prince Daddy & the Hyena, and they are leading figures in a punk-rock subset often known as sparklepunk, weed emo, party emo or even “meme-o.” A counterbalance to artsy, cerebral acts like The Hotelier or The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, these bands played riotous basement shows with songs about self-medication, anxiety and self-medicating anxiety as pleasurable and fleeting as a plate of Bagel Bites or the Bagel Bites theme song.

Cosmic Thrill Seekers is a concept album in three parts, albeit one with a plot engine about getting high and watching TV—the final act, where one would expect some kind of moral revelation, hinges on consecutive tracks titled “C’mon & Smoke Me Up” and “Klonopin.” “You tried to put a documentary on the galaxy on,” Kory Gregory shrieks, defacing the lovely acoustic guitar progression opening “I Lost My Life.” The song recounts his experience taking LSD-laced Sour Patch Kids and spending years wondering if he’d permanently fucked up his brain chemistry. Before coming down, he watched The Wizard Of Oz and saw it as a metaphor for his own life; he was impressionable and innocent enough to see this revelation as uncharted territory for punk-rock songwriting.

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Throughout the album, the band flaunts a previously inconceivable range—careening from proggy musical theater (“Dialogue”), to brassy Broadway punk (“Ursula Merger”), Irish drinking interludes (“Dream Nails”) and grim sludge (“Trying Times”), cramming an entire weekend of Fest into 40 or so minutes. The hooks are shameless and Sum-41 snotty, each one like mashing a nuclear-option big red button. Gregory’s bloodied vocals are an acquired taste even for the band’s fans—he sings like he’s rejecting a tracheal transplant—but they are a perfect vehicle for his hyperbolic self-loathing (“I’m pretty fucking confident that I’ll die the next time I’m alone in my bedroom,” or “pretending to sleep, don’t bother talking to me”).

Despite the inherent divisiveness of Gregory’s vocals and his misanthropic tendencies, Cosmic Thrill Seekers aspires to personal revolution and communal uplift—members of Strange Ranger and Remo Drive contribute vocals, while Diva Sweetly, Oso Oso, and Kississippi all appear in the video for “Lauren (Track 2).” Gregory and Kississipi’s Zoe Reynolds actually got engaged on stage at Fest. Gregory calls it a “selfish” album, though the music suggests otherwise: Cosmic Thrill Seekers may be intended as Prince Daddy & the Hyena’s masterpiece, but it’s clear that it depicts a guy Gregory is no longer interested in being.


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