Hello and welcome to Week 48 of the Music Roundup!
10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Job’s Lament by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2021)- The first instrumental cut from the latest Godspeed You record is a typical and lengthy post-rock jam, but the band’s talents ensure that it is not a boring affair.
2. Faceshopping by SOPHIE (2017)- It is a bit late, but I include this track to honour the legacy of ground-breaking Scottish experimental electronic producer SOPHIE, whose passing at the age of 34 is one of the biggest losses the industry has faced in decades.
3. THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (2021)- One of the most genuinely strange songs I have listened to in a while, this psychedelic pop trip is one of many excellent cuts off the bands’ new break-through album
4. Red Sea by Asobi Sesku (2006)- A spacy shoegaze affair that satisfies my eternal itch for the genre.
5. CHAIN ON by BROCKHAMPTON with JPEGMAFIA (2021)- These two legends of alternative/experimental hip-hop of the last decade team up for one of the better cuts on BROCKHAMPTON’s recent LP.
6. Between the Bars by Elliot Smith (1997)- One of the biggest names in indie singer-songwriter circles, Smith was always a bit of a tortured soul, but his soul-baring and minimalistic folk songs could melt even the steeliest of hearts.
7. The Tragic Tale of Bisen Francisco by Signor Benedick the Moor (2014)- An experimental hip-hop project I just stumbled upon, Signor Benedick the Moor proves himself to be a menacing rapper on this track, blending satire and social commentary with ease.
8. Love Story (Taylor’s Version) (2021)- This new and improved version of the Taylor Swift classic is pretty much better in every way possible.
9. Tundra/Desert by Modest Mouse (1996)- My weekly ritual of including Modest Mouse songs in the line-up continues with an entry from their debut record, with Tundra/Desert being a biting indie rock ranger typical of the band’s early days.
10. Yandus by !!! (2007)- One of the most inspiring dance-punk tracks I have ever heard, !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) are driving, confident and most importantly groovy on Yandus.
New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning- 5.7/10:
I have said in multiple reviews that the British post-punk scene is thriving at the moment, with the genre going through its best phase yet. However, like any scene, the more saturation, the more likely a dud will be produced. Unfortunately for Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg is that album. A confused cocktail of spiky instrumentals and spoken-word singing, Dry Cleaning has too many flaws for it to stand out in such a good scene. The biggest, unfortunately, is front-woman Florence Shaw, whose lyrically delivery is just dull. Spoken word music can work just fine, but Shaw’s droll voice makes for grating listening at times. Elements that do make this work are the instrumentals, especially the guitar at certain stages, which can bring the whole album to life. But sadly, whilst many critics would disagree with me, this album will likely be forgotten and marked as a footnote in such an excellent year for post-punk.
Best track: Scratchcard Lanyard
G_d’s Pee AT STATES END by Godspeed You! Black Emperor- 8.1/10:
That was better than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Godspeed You are a bad band by any stretch of the imagination, but they have never totally won me over. But G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END hit me like few Godspeed You albums have. It’s full of all the typical post-rock cliches (quiet-loud dynamics, slow-burning songs, field recordings etc.), but may that’s what I just needed at the moment. Each track has an emotional weight to it, and in true post-rock fashion, manages to be deeply human without the use of vocals. I won’t pretend to understand the far-left political messages hidden in the album, but there does feel like something is trying to be said. I will say that this LP can get a little predictable at times, and too much predictability is never good for a record that runs for 53-minutes, but thankfully there were just enough surprises throughout to prevent that from happening. Overall, it may not be an entirely ground-breaking take on the post-rock genre, but it’s an impactful and exciting one nevertheless, and maybe the project I need to finally get into the dense world of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Best track- For once, I may not feel like picking out the best track due to the continuous nature of the album. Individual moments such as First of the Last Glaciers Really do stand out but trying to decipher the best track on this album feels a little too hard.
ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE- 8.9/10:
ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH is one of the strangest, most original indie records I have heard in a while. It is messy in every which way possible, but I have a soft spot for these kinds of records. In many ways, this kind of feels like what the last Tame Impala albums should’ve sounded like (which was still pretty good, mind you). If the superb album cover is any indication, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH is a nightmarish album. I think the term dream-logic perfectly describes the mood of this album. The songs dart between compositions, ranging from blissful psychedelia to feverish noise. I understand why some might be turned off by this, it is very in your face in terms of presentation, but that’s what I love about it. It is totally unafraid to be weird and frightening. Almost wish this LP came out around Halloween. Needless to say, I really loved the wild trip this record took me on, and I defiantly think it’s one of 2021’s most underrated so far.
Best track: THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO
This Week’s Feature: Religion in Mainstream Music
Recently, Justin Bieber followed up his Justice LP with a new EP, Freedom. In short, the collection of songs is Bieber’s ultimate declaration of faith, and it has not been received well by many. It appears to mark the start of a slight trend in mainstream music, that being a strong level of disgust toward big-name acts making religious pieces of music. One only has to see the levels of hate Kanye West and Chance the Rapper have dealt with in the face of their religious music. So, what kind of place does religion have in mainstream music?
In my opinion, you may as well ask what place does any ideological framework have in music? Since lyrics became a staple of music, ideology has played a significant part in many artists’ work. From the anti-capitalist musings of groups such as Pink Floyd to celebrations of hedonism from a group like Guns’ n’ Roses, ideology is present in lyrics and music all across the mainstream spectrum. And don’t get me started on the ideological madness you find in the underground. So why is it that religion so often criticised for being in music?
And I am not just talking about Christianity. One only needs to look into the world of 90s hip-hop to see the strong influences of Islam on acts such as Tribe Called Quest. However, religion is likely the most devise force in modern humanity. You see, we humans have this funny obsession with categorising ourselves. Class, race, gender, sexuality and ideology are just some ways we divide ourselves; however, religion seems to resonate the most. No way is more effective in making us say, “well, they aren’t like me”, than observing another’s religious beliefs. I will keep my own religious perspectives to myself; however, by thinking like this, I could see how religion in music might be a turn off for some. You see, one of the greatest things about music is that it serves as a great vessel for identity, with the artists at the music we listen to becoming an extension of ourselves. So, when something as divisive as religion is introduced into the music, you are potentially isolating a large portion of listeners who don’t have that connection.
Do I think religious music is inherently bad? No. Yes, I may not find the seven-and-a-half minute long Coldplay rip-offs played by Hillsong to be very appealing, but some of my favourite music has very religious undertones. A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar, and in-famous Texas shoegazers Lift to Experience are all acts that are intrinsically linked to the artists’ personal faith, but they still make music that moves me.
Religion in modern music is a bit complicated topic to try and address in my ramblings. I haven’t even touched on the fact that a lot of music throughout history is inherently religious, as well as many other essential questions. But to me, this is an important issue to think about, especially in these polarising times. But for now, I will not offer you an answer, but leave you with something that will maybe trigger some questions you can ask yourself.