Welcome to Week 44 of the Music Roundup and the 3rd edition for 2021! This week, although there is no feature article, I have something special for you! The first ever 10/10 album! I hope you enjoy this week’s roundup and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Narrator by Squid (2021)- If 2021 wasn’t already looking like a brilliant year for the thriving British underground rock/post-punk scene, wild experimentalists Squid are looking to release their debut album as well, leading the charge with the chaotic, driving Narrator (complete with a sensational music video).
2. MAZZA by slowthai with A$AP Rocky (2021)- A hard-hitting and subtly potent banger from the ever-reliable British MC, MAZZA is one of slowthai’s most immediate and best songs yet.
3. Opus by Black Country, New Road (2021)- When expectations are not only met, but totally blown away, it is a great thing. That has defiantly been the case with For the First Time by Black Country, New Road. Today, I want to shine a light on the epic closing track Opus, a darting and heavy post-rock masterpiece that captures the immense talent this British band possess.
4. The Rat by The Walkmen (2004)- A forgotten indie rock classic, The Rat is a fast-paced and emotionally explosive ride. A perfect song for fans of bands such as Interpol and The Strokes.
5. The Holding Hand by Iceage (2021)- Norway is a place known for its heavy music, which is definitely the case with post-punk outfit Iceage, returning from the excellent Beyondless with the rumbling The Holding Hand.
6. Bruuuh (Remix) by JID with Denzel Curry (2021)- An explosive, hard-hitting trap banger from two of the most proficient MCs out right now. Nothing more to say.
7. Know Your Product by The Saints (1978)- Australian punk rockers The Saints were known for being one of the early pushers of the genre’s boundaries, exemplified in the fantastic Know Your Product, an anti-capitalist anthem brought to life through the combination of loud horns and good old fashioned punk grit.
8. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells (2010)- A more accessible yet still proudly-noisy banger from the noise-pop duo, I can’t seem to get enough of this group’s unique and innovative debut Treats.
9. Float On by Modest Mouse (2004)- Probably the indie rocker’s best-known song, Float On is an iconic punch-drunk anthem to pushing through all the less desirable elements of life.
10. Do Ya Thing by Gorilliaz (2010)- With a huge 13-minute runtime, guest appearances from Andre 3000 and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, who would’ve thought one of Damon Albarn’s greatest achievements as a songwriter would be a promotional song for converse?
You can find this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5VApxYa6lTTjRRitXbYPaM?si=ffmr_RmaTBGwQwbCDqJLLw.
Listen to Do Ya Thing here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36DCuT1KxM4.
Medicine at Midnight by Foo Fighters- 3.8/10:
For the course of 37-minutes, Dave Grohl and co. manage to cover a wide-ranging canvas of rock tropes and do absolutely nothing for me. Sadly, bands that were mainstream (and good, depending on who you ask) in the 80s and 90s seem to have the familiar trope of totally sucking in the new millennium. Medicine at Midnight proves that Foo Fighters lost its legs years ago. Everything sounds tired on this record, from the bland instrumentals to Dave’s half-hearted vocal performances. Some repulsive attempts at pop-rock also populate this album, most of which are some of the worst songs I have heard this year. I don’t really know what Grohl was attempting with this record; however, it is undoubtedly not the Medicine the world needs just at the moment.
Best track- Shame Shame
TYRON by slowthai- 7.8/10:
The pressure was on for slowthai to deliver another excellent record after Nothing Great About Britain. In just two years, the Northampton rapper has become the biggest name in UK Hip Hop, as well as taking his sound to the international stage. So, does TYRON deliver? In most ways, yes. In others, not so much. TYRON is a dark, deeply personal record for slowthai, divided into two distinct halves, the confident and bashful first leg and the introspective second. It is hard for me to say which I prefer, as they each have their own qualities to admire. I will say, this division of the album is a little jarring for me and does make the record not flow as nicely as it could. What both legs of the record share, however, are some of the best hip-hop production you’ll hear in the mainstream and some show-stopping performances from the man himself. Whilst the dreaded sophomore slump might be present, slowthai still manages to pull together a really solid and highly personal affair with TYRON, making it, in my opinion, the first real good hip-hop release of 2021.
Best track- feel away
For the First Time by Black Country. New Road- 10/10:
Well, here it is—my first 10/10 since beginning this blog and my excuse to not include a feature article this week. Instead, let me try and convince you why you should listen to this wonderful record.
It is really hard to begin describing For the First Time. For the past five years, British and Irish underground music (particularly post-punk) has been thriving. IDLES, shame, Fontaine’s D.C., Porridge Radio, The Murder Capital and Black Midi are just some of the names I could drop to support this. But none have felt quite as monumental (at least to me) as Black Country, New Road. The perfect cocktail of ambition, talent, fresh ideas and talent come together on For the First Time, making it probably my favourite rock albums in the past 15 years. Musically the seven-piece get things flying with the klezmer influenced Instrumental, demonstrating the group’s considerable musical talent. Hearing Isaac Wood’s weary vocals and sly lyrics come in on Athens, France comes to me as a strange catharsis, and we are introduced to another aspect of what makes Black Country, New Road so amazing. Their storytelling. Whilst Wood’s spoken word singing and wildly relevant lyrics that reference everything from Scott Walker to Nutribullets and Kanye West (all in the one song, mind you) are the best indicators for this band’s ability as storytellers, those detailed and complicated instrumentals help as well. The crushing realisation that Athens, France is a song about sexual assault is assisted by the ever-darkening instrumental. The growing manic confidence present on Sunglasses is heightened by the ever-chaotic playing of the band. The delicately awkward romance of Track X (with Wood confessing to telling a crush he loves them in front of fellow experimental rock band Black Midi) is made so emotional via the simple and quiet composition that calmly carries on in the background.
For the First Time, I believe will become a benchmark album. A piece of music so well-considered yet totally unshackled from expectations. It is all I have listened to for the last few days since it came out. I was very excited about this album. And it is amazing when something not only delivers on one’s expectations but goes well beyond them. Already we are looking at what is likely the best album of 2021. Thank you, Black Country, New Road. Thank you so very much.
Best track: Sunglasses- After much consideration and wrestling with my expectations, I have decided that Sunglasses’ re-recording is defiantly the best track on an album full of flawless songs. Yes, those funny f-bombs and Isaac Wood screaming “AND F*CK ME LIKE YOU MEAN IT!” may be gone, and the vocal performance is entirely different, but it has grown on me so much. This version of Sunglasses sounds more defeated, that youthful confidence of the original replaced with something even more cynical. Not to mention the instrumental is sounding better than ever, taking up so much more space and really doing a fantastic job at emulating a live setting. The real centrepiece of the album and BCNR’s most significant triumph yet.
Written by Guest Music Author: Alex Driscoll! (You can find out more about Alex on the ‘about’ page of the blog)