Hello and welcome to Week 46 of the Music Roundup! This week’s article will take you through some review of the latest albums, including Lana Del Ray and Justin Bieber! We will also take a deep dive into shoegaze and the highlights of the genre!

10 Songs on Repeat:

1. Farewell Transmission by Songs: Ohia (2003)- One of the best alt-country songs I have ever listened to. Dreamy, poetic and profound in its own mysterious way, Farewell Transmission is one of those songs I can’t recommend enough. If you only pick one song from this batch, make it this one. 

2. Leave the Door Open by Silk Sonic (2021)- This new industry breaking team-up between Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars is certainly a project to keep an eye on, a large part in thanks to the smooth soul jam that is the mischievous Leave the Door Open. 

3. Anemone by The Brian Jonestown Massacre (1996)- A deep, alluring organ line is what opens this classic 90s psychedelic jam, morphing into a rumbling, strangely rousing canvas of well-organised noise. 

4. Paddling by Squid (2021)- Another sharp, darting banger from the British post-punkers. I could not be more excited for Bright Green Field. 

5. Drown by Genesis Owusu with Kirin J Callihan (2021)- Just to prove that he is one of the most diverse musicians out right now, Genesis Owusu teams up with fellow Aussie Kirin J Callihan for this upbeat yet bittersweet new-wave banger.

6. More Than the Fairy by Death Grips with Les Claypool (2021)- What’s more Death Grips than teaming up with bassist/singer Les Claypool of funk metal band Primus? Maybe having Robert Pattinson playing guitar on a track (something they have done). Nevertheless, More Than the Fairy is classic Death Grips mayhem. 

7. Time by Pink Floyd (1973)- After 46 articles, I thought it time to feature what I consider to be the best song ever written. Enjoy. 

8. Eye / I and I / Nation by Mavi (2019)- One of the best examples of the hazy, complex (both thematically and compositionally) hip-hop that is brewing in the underground at the moment. I would also highly recommend Mavi’s debut album Let The Sun Talk for anyone who might be won over by this track. 

9. Dream House by Deafheaven (2013)- Despite its crashing wall of sound and the tendency for such music to be oppressively dark, this blackgaze (black metal/shoegaze) song is one of the most uplifting in the genre. I would also take time to dissect the lyrics for some even more inspirational moments. 

10. 격변의 시대 (Age of Fluctuation) by Paranoul (2021)- This week’s second shoegaze fusion track is from South Korea’s Paranoul, an online music creator who has recently gained the attention of the likes of Pitchfork with his brand of loud, emo infused shoegaze. A real gem of a project. 

Quick Reviews: 

Chemtrails Over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey- 6.5/10: 

Norman F*****g Rockwell was really a moment back in 2019. Lana fans and detractors alike united in praising the emotionally cinematic record, with it being the first universally acknowledged good album from the singer-songwriter. So, the biggest question in my mind was could she follow it up on Chemtrails Over the Country Club? And whilst the record isn’t bad by any means, it fails to really capture me in the same way Norman F*****g Rockwell did. You see, my biggest problem with Lana’s music in the past was that it was always incredibly one-noted, and sadly Chemtrails has this in spades. It is not all bad, however. Once again, Lana’s vocals are stronger than usual, and her lyrics have a little more substance than her older work. But annoyingly, I didn’t find much of the magic that made her previous LP so impressive, with Chemtrails Over the Country Club really failing to make a lasting impression on me. 

Best track: Dance Till We Die

Justice by Justin Bieber- 4.6/10:

I’m no longer going to hate on Justin Bieber for being Justin Bieber, it’s a decade old pop-culture tradition, and it has grown tiresome. But alas, so has Bieber’s music. I really don’t have much to say about Justice. Is it good? No. However, it is far from the worst thing the Canadian sensation has released. I would go as far as to say there are even one or two tracks on here that are genuinely good. But the majority of Justice is bland old pop music. Cut and paste production, vastly uninteresting lyrics and a 45-minute runtime that feels far longer than it really is, I have no real reason to recommend Justice to anyone. Nowhere near good enough to note and not bad enough to become a pop-culture punching bag for ridicule, Justice is just plain and forgettable. 

Best track- Lonely

To See the Next Part of the Dream by Paranoul- 8.4/10: 

Shoegaze and emo are a truly winning combination. The rawness and potency of emo mixed with the soaring, cathartic noise of shoegaze have led to some excellent records lately, especially by up-and-coming artists on platforms such as Bandcamp. The latest to join this fray is South Korean artist Parannoul, thanks to this excellent little album, To See the Next Part of the Dream. The atmosphere over everything else is what makes this record work, combining the hard-hitting drums and vocal performances associated with emo and the dreamy noise of shoegaze with somewhat predictable yet still impactful effect. Though the lyrics are not in English, the strain and weight in Parannoul’s vocals suggest their heaviness (and a read of the translated lyrics reveals some pretty dreary stuff, at times even a little overwhelming). To See the Next Part of the Dream is also surprisingly well-produced for one of these kinds of albums, not getting overly lost in the wall of noise that it builds. Emotional, soaring, yet strangely intimate, Parannoul has delivered another grand entry into the ever-growing underground, online-based shoegaze/emo community, and it fills me with joy to see online forums champion this kind of music so much. 

Best track- 격변의 시대 (Age of Fluctuation)

This Week’s Feature: What is Shoegaze?

Shoegaze. What is it? Why do I use the word so much? What does it mean? 

A significant trap many music fans fall into is the use of genre labels without realising that beyond their little niche circles, no one really uses them. One genre that I have done this with is shoegaze, a small but significant style that emerged from the UK in the 90s. 

The most basic description I can give for shoegaze is that it is music distinguished by a level of dreamy noisiness and catchy melodies. At its core, shoegaze is polyamorous marriage between psychedelia, noise rock, dream pop and indie; however, it is easily fused with others. Common combinations are shoegaze with post-rock, post-punk, black metal and emo. And that is the glorious thing about the genre. It has grown to be one of my favourites, hence its many inclusions in the roundup. 

So how might one get into shoegaze? Well, I would start with the legendary “big three” of the first wave of 90s shoegaze. A diverse set of records, they effectively capture the versatility of the genre and just some of the fusions that are possible.  

Loveless by My Bloody Valentine- 

The classic, go-to shoegaze, it is wildly regarded as the best piece of music that ever come out of the genre. And it is easy to understand why. Dense, noisy, dreamy, hypnotic and revolutionary for its time, Loveless is a superb, near-flawless LP, in my opinion. It established front-man Kevin Shields as the leading mind in shoegaze and still sounds timeless today. It is likely the best place to start if you want the most ‘shoegazey’ shoegaze experience and is a piece of music history in itself. 

Highlights: Only Shallow, When You Sleep, Blown a Wish, Soon. 

Nowhere by Ride- 

The hardest of the big three, Nowhere is far closer to classic rock than most shoegaze records. The songs are fast-paced, and, unlike many of its contemporaries, the vocals are not blended in with the rest of the instruments. Despite this, Ride still effectively capture the dreamy noise of shoegaze in one of the most unique albums in the genre. 

Highlights: Seagull, Kaleidoscope, Dreams Burn Down 

Souvlaki by Slowdive- 

What I consider to be the best of the three, and one of my all-time favourite records, Souvlaki is a diverse and accessible entry point for the genre. The songwriting is sharp, the vocal performances emotional and alluring. Influences as far-reaching as dub and folk are present on the LP, and it has not a dull moment in the tracklisting. It might be a bit more of its time than Loveless, but I prefer it anyway. Unlike many of their contemporaries as well, Slowdive also went on the have pretty successful careers beyond their shoegaze days, using their given talent for versatility and branching into experimental and indie rock on later releases.   

Highlights: Alison, 40 Days, Sing, Souvlaki Space Station, When the Sun Hits, Mellow Yellow, Dagger 

These are just some of the excellent releases to come out of shoegaze. This brief list doesn’t even begin to touch on some of the contemporary releases in the genre, so to count for that, I will include an extended list of shoegaze records I would definitely check out if you enjoy the genre. 

Extended List: 

  1. Deathconciousness by Have a Nice Life
  2. Velocity : Design : Comfort by Sweet Trip 
  3. Ceres and Calypso in the Deep Time by Candy Claws
  4. The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads by Lift to Experience 
  5. Cryptograms by Deerhunter 
  6. Jesu by Jesu 
  7. It’s a Whimsical Afterlife by Avenade 
  8. Giles Corey by Giles Corey 
  9. A Storm in Heaven by The Verve 
  10. Misanthrope by We Are Only Human Once

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