10 Songs on Repeat:
1. My Delirium by Ladyhawke (2009)- To start the year, let’s pay tribute to this 2009 alternative rock classic. Great vocals, a damn catchy hook and an overall memorable song have earned its status as a classic.
2. High Low by Dorsal Fins (2016)- Chaotic, noisy and endlessly fun, High Low is an Aussie psych-pop hidden gem that is instantly repayable.
3. Ain’t Nice by Viagra Boys (2020)- The Swedish punk-rockers continue their highly satirical and intricately conceptual public persona on the driving Ain’t Nice, a track about a genuinely awful man somehow finding himself in a relationship and listing his many demands to his unfortunate partner.
4. Luv(sic), Pt. 3 by Nujabes with Shing02 (2005)- This collaboration between two Japanese hip-hop icons is blissful, jazzy chill-hop at its best. Dreamy, romantic and wonderfully enchanting, this is rap music for those who want someone a little more wholesome.
5. Born in Luton by shame (2021)- The first real classic of 2021, the British post-punk five-piece really have delivered with their latest LP. One of the highlights is the frantic, Modest Mouse inspired Born in Luton, displaying the band’s capability to both fast-paced punk and more atmospheric indie rock as well.
6. Paper Hats by This Heat (1981)- This band is often credited for being well ahead of their time, laying down some of the early blueprints for modern experimental genres such as post and math rock. Paper Hats displays this wonderfully, being a complex, eerie experimental gem that manages to sound utterly timeless.
7. Satan, Luella and I by HMLTD (2017)- Looking back at old 2020 lists, I was shocked to see I hadn’t included more HMLTD, considering they released one of my favourite records last year. So, I decided to feature Satan, Luella and I, a rousing glam-rock banger that is equal parts menacing and inspiring, much like the band themselves.
8. S***sville by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib (2014)- Simple, hard-hitting gangsta rap from the lyrical master Freddie Gibbs and virtuoso producer Madlib. What’s not to love?
9. Deja, Comme Des Trous de Vent, Comme Reproduit by Set Fire To Flames (2003)- The opener to the Canadian post/experimental rock group’s magnum opus Telegraphs in Negative/ Mouths Trapped in Static, this track is tense, anxious and menacing yet oddly blissful, combing swirling guitars, chaotic percussion and imposing ambience to gorgeous effect.
10. Sunglasses by Black Country, New Road (2019)- I haven’t been quite so excited for an upcoming band as I have been lately for Black Country, New Road. Their breakthrough single Sunglasses is one of only four songs that they have released, yet they have already been dubbed as the best band in the world by many major publications. Sunglasses was their breakthrough moment, with the young 7-piece band managing to combine incredibly relevant and cutting lyrics with ambitious instrumentals, resulting in this most 9-minute epic.
Listen to this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5sVgHXyuWnTpToETp2hJs8?si=GEA8Y8dXR6q0z4Z8p0iaQA.
I want to start 2021 off on a positive note, so only positive reviews this week.
Vice Versa In Such Things by Avenade- 8.1/10:
Listening to this album was a bittersweet experience. I didn’t love it as much as I loved A Whimsical Afterlife. I felt like the ‘experimental’, hardcore edge of the previous LP was missing. However, Avenade’s extreme talent and skill for creating larger-than-life, emotional rock tracks still make Vice Versa in Such Things an incredibly worthwhile, underground release. Travelling in a far poppier direction and leaning heavily on his shoegaze influences opposed to the more noise-oriented work of previous releases, yet the revealing, personal lyrical work and those wonderfully rapturous climaxes are still present. I would also say the production is a little less muddy on Vice Versa as well. Though, as I stated, I think this record doesn’t quite hold up to its older sibling, it’s still a pretty solid release. I really hope Avenade’s works catches the eye of some outside the online music nerd community, as his music is truly something special. And if that isn’t possible, I simply hope he keeps impressing me with his music’s quality for years to come.
Best track: The Vigilante
Welfare Jazz by Viagra Boys- 8.3/10:
Yes, it might lack the immediacy of their debut record; however, I feel many have underestimated just how well Viagra Boys have done on the strange, messy yet surprisingly intelligent Welfare Jazz. One thing of incredible importance to note about the Swedish post-punkers is the element of parody in their music. From the incredibly confrontational lyrics depicting toxic masculinity to the occasional fake American accent of singer Sebastian Murphy, that biting satire that makes Viagra Boys such a good band in my eyes is present throughout Welfare Jazz. I also was impressed by the level of sonic experimentation throughout this record, reminding me of the likes of HMLTD. However, some of this experimental spirit leads this album on a few wrong-turns and makes quite the messy affair. However, more often than not the Swedes manage to hit the nail on the head, delivering a blistering, darkly humorous and deceivingly intelligent post-punk record and the first real album of note in 2021. An excellent way to start the year.
Best track: Ain’t Nice
Drunk Tank Pink by shame- 8.6/10:
I waited right until midnight here in Australia for this to come out. Not something I often do, but it’s been three years since Songs For Praise, one of my favourite post-punk albums ever, came out in early 2018. I wasn’t too sure what direction shame would take on Drunk Tank Pink, but I was excited, nevertheless. And about four listens later already, I think I know what my opinion is. Drunk Tank Pink suffers very mildly from the sophomore slump yet is a wholly worthy album in its own right. Sadly, it didn’t quite punch me in the gut the same way their debut did, but I hold that album in extremely high regard. Instead, Drunk Tank Pink is a more considered and slower-paced record. I will preface by saying that I think the band’s musical ability has improved, with some more complex and challenging compositions splattered throughout. The production is pretty solid, taking on a murkier tone instead of the more straight-forward punk rock blast of their debut. Steen’s lyrics and vocal performances really sell this album for me, however, channelling his many influences from The Fall to Gang of Four and adding his vividly poetic yet realistic lyrical touch. Despite its inferiority to its older sibling, this LP is an incredibly considered and well-executed piece of modern post-punk that doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, instead opting to simply do those smalls things right.
Best track: Snow Day
This Week’s Feature- My Most Anticipated Releases of 2021:
New year, new music. With the multitude of releases already slated for 2021, here is a quick summary of the music I am looking forward to hearing in 2021.
For the First Time by Black Country, New Road-
Everything this British experimental rock meets post-punk group has given us so far has been golden. Young, talented, ambitious and remarkably cohesive, Black Country could really pull off something exceptional with For the First Time as they are easily the most exciting new rock and not only in the UK but the world.
TYRON by slowthai-
Two years on from his hugely successful and excellent debut, slowthai’s international profile has only continued to grow. A slew of solid singles and good features across the last year has kept him relevant, and with his upcoming second LP, I really want to know if the UK rapper can live up to the lofty expectations.
Rumours of the Compton rapper’s fabled 5th LP have been swirling for some time, more or less since he released DAMN back in 2017. His gold trio of albums in the 2010s (Good Kid MAAD City, To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN) are not only some of my favourite rap releases but are now generally considered possibly the best series of albums put out by any hip hop artist ever. The world is desperate for another Kendrick release, so here’s hoping that 2021 is when he can deliver.
Chemtrails Over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey-
An artist forever shrouded in controversy; I am just curious to know if she can prove that 2019’s Norman F****** Rockwell wasn’t a fluke in her otherwise (in my opinion) underwhelming career.
Nurture by Porter Robinson-
In my opinion, Porter Robinson’s Worlds is the best example of the wasted potential of EDM. Not because the album is bad. Quite the opposite actually. It is because this LP was so much better than many of its peers that I find the genre so disappointing. I am excited to see if his second LP in seven years can reach the heights that he did on Worlds.
My only hope here is that the experimental hip-hop trio have the material to release the third instalment in their Halloween themed series of records after. There Existed An Addiction to Blood and Visions of Bodies Being Burned are both near-perfect masterpieces, and I think it would cement clipping’s status as one of the most unique and consistent voices in hip-hop if they capped off this series of spooky LPs with an equally superb third and final release.