10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Future Doesn’t Know by Guerilla Toss (2019)- This banger is a deft combination of art and psychedelic rock, creating a playful, catchy and addictive rock belter. Think Talking Heads if Kevin Parker was the lead producer.
2. Solitude of Enoch by KA (2020)- This New York rapper’s reflective new album Descendants of Cain is so far the best hip-hop release I’ve heard this year. This fact is wholly because the LP is packed back to front with songs like Solitude of Enoch, a dreamy, abstract number with a beautiful contrast between the lush, subtle production and uncompromisingly honest lyrics.
3. After Ur Gone by (Sandy) Alex G (2014)- This American singer-songwriter had a very gradual, cathartic rise to indie stardom, culminating in the popularity of last year’s House of Sugar. However, it is the dedicated following he built with his early emotionally driven, lo-fi sound evident on this track that helped him get to where he is now.
4. Six Pack by Black Flag (1981)- I spent a large amount of this week getting into the American hardcore-punk scene in the 1980s. A visceral, violent and unwelcoming scene at the time, I am grateful that all that’s left of it now is the genuinely great music it produced. Black Flag was one of the leading groups of the movement, their angsty, dirty sound perfectly captured on the blast of negativity that is Six Pack.
5. Nazi Punks F*** Off by Dead Kennedys (1981)- Continuing with the hardcore theme, the very bluntly named Nazi Punks F*** Off was the Dead Kennedys response to the presence of white nationalists in the scene, this song barely cracks one minute. However, thanks to some deft lyrics and the pure energy it emulates, this track is undoubtedly a classic of punk rock in general.
6. You’re a Germ by Wolf Alice (2015)- Completing a hattrick of punk rock songs, You’re a Germ by Irish band Wolf Alice is a murky, dark and exhilarating cut off their debut album My Love is Cool. Using the classic loud-quiet dynamic to great effect, the band document the story of a creepy, sexually despicable man with a wonderfully biting menace.
7. Mr. Motivator by IDLES (2020)- I promise, this is the last punk rock song in this week’s list! On their latest single, the typically politically volatile IDLES replace revolutionary fury with motivational positivity yet somehow managing to maintain their signature confrontational aesthetic. Never has the line “You can do it” sounded so angry and aggressive, but in its own funny way that only IDELS are capable of, it works in every single way.
8. Deadlines (Thoughtful) by Car Seat Headrest (2020)- Another highlight off the indie rocker’s ambitious new LP Making a Door Less Open, this thumping EDM infused number is an excellent demonstration of the electronic direction attempted by Toledo on the album, with Deadlines (Thoughtful) being one of the more successful experiments on the record.
9. Kool On by The Roots (2011)- Off what is arguably The Roots strongest LP Undun, Kool On is a smooth, guitar-driven alternative hip-hop number that allows both the MCs and instrumentalists of the group to show off their enormous talents.
10. On the Floor by Perfume Genius (2020)- You know how I said that A Hero’s Death by Fontaines D.C. was the song of the year so far? Well, I lied, its actually On the Floor by Perfume Genius. It’s hard to say what makes this funky song so perfect, so my simple recommendation is this; GO LISTEN TO IT.
You can check out these track’s here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Yc1VI3ro8K0ChmI2glLaE?si=ZW4llfkuTEOB2sjtxD5fZw.
Be ready for what is probably my most positive week so far this year. Also, I’m going to do one more than usual to make up for the only two reviews you guys got last time.
STARZ by Yung Lean- 6.5/10:
The dreamier side of trap-rap has never been massively appealing to me. This style for me often boils down well-produced if a little boring result. Yung Lean’s STARZ is no exception to this rule. I feel like this review is one a write a lot, but here it goes. STARZ is an incredibly well-produced LP, the dreamy, lush and atmospheric sounds of the Swedish rapper’s record being the definite highlight for me. But for me, what holds back this album (like all too many of its style) are the vocals. I just don’t seem to be able to connect to the hushed, auto-tuned style of STARZ and I didn’t find Yung Lean himself to be a particularly compelling story-teller. I am not one of those people who accuse ‘mumble rap’ (a label that I find derivative) of being a bland, shallow style of trap/cloud rap, but it is not a genre a particularly resonate with either. Needless to say, STARZ is a solid album, carried by great production but let down by average vocals and lyrics. All I can really say is that I am glad to see broader enjoyment of an album in a style that is so often (and very unfairly) written off.
Best track: Boylife in EU
how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX- 8.9/10:
Though it is far less expansive than last year’s Charli, how i’m feeling now stands out to me as my personal favourite Charli XCX so far. The British pop experimentalist’s run of music over the last five years has seen her turn into the apple in many indie-heads’ eyes worldwide, I included. This new LP, created purely in quarantine, is an attempt by Aitchison to capture the feelings she was experiencing while in isolation. Because of that, the album has a very homely sense about it, with her typically bass-oriented style of production almost giving off warmer undertones than usual and still managing to be completely excellent. Despite this, Charli’s larger than life personality and creativity still shine through. I believe that it is this that allows this record to be much more focused than last year’s Charli, as it is almost totally her own vision shining through (and that is also not to forget some help she received from guest producers such as 100 gee’s Dylan Brady along the way). Overall, how i’m feeling now is an album exploding with charm and personality, Charli XCX not letting social isolation and the current climates less than desirable mood prevent her from creating a banging, fun and addictive LP and one that is the highlight of her career so far.
Best track: forever
Descendants of Cain by KA- 9.4/10:
Sonically beautiful, lyrically uncompromising and artistically wholistic, KA has delivered a true hip-hop masterclass with Descendants of Cain. This LP takes off from the styles, both sonically and thematically, from KA’s 2018 release Orpheus vs the Sirens (which he created under the Hermit and the Recluse name), however for me, it launches the feel of that album to a whole new level. Descendants of Cain is grounded in a lot more realism, KA’s lyrical tales depicting scenes of harsh violence and struggle, making no attempt to glorify such experiences, creating lines that are comparable to the most celebrated poetry. This is effectively contrasted with the far more subtle, abstract and serene instrumentals and production, built upon dreamy strings and silky-smooth beats. KA’s ability to rap over such abstract and difficult beats is also commendable, the MC flexing his technique and showing his experience by never losing his laser-sharp flows throughout. While I haven’t been overly impressed with some more mainstream hip-hop releases this year, 2020 is definitely shaping up to be the year for underground and abstract rap to shine brighter than ever, with KA’s gorgeous Descendants of Cain being the brightest of the bunch so for.
Best track: Solitude of Enoch
Set My Heart on Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius- 9.6/10:
Striking a balance between vulnerability and confidence seems an artistically difficult at the best of times. But for those musicians who can find that balance, the results are often exhilarating, and such is definitely the case for Perfume Genius on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. Apart from being familiar with some singles, this LP is my first proper introduction to the music of Mike Hadreas, and I was totally enthralled throughout. As stated, Set Fire on My Heart Immediately is an album perfectly balanced between vulnerability and confidence, both lyrically and instrumentally. The main attraction, namely Hadreas himself, shines brightly throughout, the singer-songwriter’s vocal delivery subtle yet exploding with emotional honesty, lyrically penning songs about heartbreak and love with uncompromising clarity. The ambient undertones of this record are another element I also found deeply compelling. Extended cuts without drums or traditional song-structures lured me in with curiosity, making the moments where the album does flourish into life all the more gratifying. As you can probably tell, I really loved this album. It’s one that has taken me a while to really solidify my opinion on, but for me, this is some undeniably beautiful music and a modern masterpiece through and through.
Best track: On the Floor
Sorry guys, shorter one this week, unfortunately, I haven’t had time to come up with a substantial feature article.