Hello and welcome to the first edition of the Monthly Music Roundup! The Weekly Music Roundup has been running for over a year on this blog, and with the increasing workload, our music writer, Alex, will be bringing you a roundup each month containing his favourite songs, albums and so much more! Stay tuned and enjoy article 1!
10 Songs on Repeat
Introvert by Little Simz (2021)- This orchestral return to the spotlight from the UK’s most talented rapper out is a triumph of lyrical mastery and instrumental focus, giving me hope for her future LP.
Deceptacon by Le Tigre (1999)- The side project of riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna, Deceptacon is a great example of the driving dance-punk this band is capable of.
All Futures by Ultrapop (2021)- This song has been on my playlists for months now, going to show how slack I have been with this segment. I am glad I finally get to share this explosive noise rock banger with you guys, as it is one of my favourite tracks this year.
Fixer Upper by Yard Act (2020)- This jolty indie rock bop is a great anti-racist anthem, poking fun as a made-up character named Graham and his self-obsessed, empty middle-class lifestyle.
First of the Last Glaciers by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2021)- What makes this song for me is those strained, soaring chords around the middle of the song, screaming out a sense of desperation and emotion with needing a single lyric.
Something Comforting by Porter Robinson (2020)- An EDM infused synth-pop banger from the brilliant producer, it really is one of the most uplifting songs of the last two years.
Pamphlets by Squid (2021)- The last single off the UK band’s debut album (though the LP has been out a while now), Pamphlets encapsulates that anxious energy Squid has been putting out in this album cycle.
Gyongyhaju Iany by Omega (1969)- Some might recognise the main riff of the latest St George Bank ad in Australia, but this hidden gem of 60s psychedelic rock is a triumph in its own right.
Well Rested by Kero Kero Bonito (2021)- This surprisingly lengthy deep-house trip by the British trio is a mix between the light-hearted fun they have been known for and far more ambitious ideas, making me excited for their future.
I SUCK THE DEVIL’S C**K by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (2021)- This song is brilliant. Darting between several musical passages, all are hazy, disquieting and enthralling, proving why SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE really are getting overlooked.
Nurture by Porter Robinson- 7.7/10:
Worlds was one of the most unique albums of the 2010s. An EDM album with a shelf-life of more than two weeks was rare, yet alone seven years. But here we are, almost a decade late, and Robinson’s 2014 revelation is still vastly considered the best album in the genre of all time. It has taken the North Carolina producer a long time to follow up with Nurture, and I don’t think I have ever seen so much anticipation for an LP in a long-time. So, the obvious question, does Nurture meet those lofty standards? Well, whilst I definitely prefer Worlds, Nurture is an incomparable album. Some of the EDM sensibilities are still present, with drops galore and stadium-filling choruses; however, Nurture very effectively leans into many more pop sensibilities than its predecessors. Robinson’s talents as a musician are significantly on display, with the compositions having strong variation and instrumental diversity. Lyrically it isn’t anything spectacular, but neither was Worlds. What lets Nurture down, however, is a bloat problem. A little too often, some tracks felt like very long interludes, not going anywhere too interesting and going on a bit too long. Which for an hour-long album is a problem, especially for someone like me who naturally gravitates towards shorter records. Nevertheless, I don’t feel disappointed by Nurture in the slightest. It’s a very different album to Worlds and one that shows an artist who has changed a lot in the last seven years, and for that, I can defiantly give it a strong recommendation.
Best track- Something Comforting
if i could go quiet by girl in red- 6.3/10:
If I could make it go quiet is by no means a boundary-pushing record in the world of indie music. Most of the songs are predictable, and girl in red doesn’t really touch on anything that unique lyrically. However, this does not make this a bad album. There is plenty to admire here. Firstly, the melancholic atmosphere is maintained superbly by Ulven, who blends her commendable vocals with hazy indie-pop instrumentals very well. Each song also never totally overstays its welcome, and whilst some teeter on the duller side, they are kept and short and efficient lengths that ultimately serve the flow of the album well. I draw my biggest issues simply with the fact if I could make it go quiet isn’t a thoroughly memorable affair, with Ulven sticking to tried and tested methods of song-writing and themes to tell her story. It’s a predictable album, but to call it bad is definitely an overstatement, in my opinion.
Best track- rue
The Battle at Gardens Gate by Greta Van Fleet- 1.3/10:
Sounding like Led Zepp was the go-to punchline when dissing Greta Van Fleet’s poor first album. And however overdone saying this was, it was an inescapable talking point and a major detractor. So, what did the young Michigan band do in response? They took the critics advice on board and opted to move their sound away from the hard rock legends. The results make the Led Zeppelin comparisons seem like the best thing about the band’s music. The Battle at Garden’s Gate is an insufferably long and torturous hard rock affair, totally void of any originality and almost void of redeeming factors. Nearly every song continues to go two minutes longer than it needs to, with bland instrumental flourishes adding nothing, with the band seemingly trying to prove some point about “how far they have come as a group”. At some points, I didn’t realise a new song had even started. Most annoying for me was the vocals though. What Josh Kiszka is singing, I have no idea. His wails and yodels are so painfully annoying I couldn’t even begin to decipher the lyrics. I didn’t want to either because that meant listening closer to Kiszka sing. Even if I wanted to, the fact that his voice is often pushed behind the band in the mix would mean I would struggle to hear what he had to say if he chose a different style. At least Anthems for the Peaceful Army had the fact that it could camouflage itself into a better artist’s discography going for it. The Battle at Garden’s Gate sticks out like a sore thumb. If rock was dead, Greta Van Fleet decided to jumpstart its heart only to beat it to death again.
Best track- They all sucked equally.
Van Weezer by Weezer- 4.4/10:
What can I say? Another forgettable offering of power pop from Weezer. Only Weezer would record an album, delay it, record another album and release the newer album. But here we are after what almost seems like an eternity listening to Van Weezer. And it really wasn’t worth the wait. Cuomo and co. have perfected the art of releasing albums that aren’t exactly terrible but are so far from interesting it’s almost mind-boggling. On Van Weezer, the boys try and take on classic 80s glam metal, and not that it ever really had an edge, but the results are, well… edgeless. The whole experience feels sanitised like the band are following a script so closely any room for creative freedom is forbidden. Weezer are a strange band, a strange band that consistently releases mediocre music.
Best track: Beginning of the End
Bright Green Field by Squid- 9.7/10:
Let us get one thing out of the way. I refuse to compare Squid with Black Country, New Road or black midi. I often see these three bands grouped together, but comparing their sounds is unfair. Because each has their very distinct direction, and Squid are leaders in theirs’. On Bright Green Field, the extremely talented five-piece are chaotic, precise and engaging to an enormous degree. From drone noise to funky jams, the fast-paced and diverse portrait Squid paint of modern life is vivid and lifelike, bought to be by a band who know how to play to their strengths. The instrumentals are complex but not overly flashy. They dart and swerve, taking their time and letting songs play out but never letting them become overbearing. They also proved to be more restrained than I thought, which ended up being a good thing, allowing for levels of diversity rarely afforded in albums such as these. The talent of the band members is also on show, switching between percussion, brass and guitars frequently, and often on the same song. Vocally and lyrically, I love this album as well. The three vocalists of the album, dominated by the ear-catching yelps of drummer Ollie Judge, effectively weave stories about modern existentialism over these wild instrumentals. But unlike many other albums of a similar genre, Bright Green Field isn’t dark and gloomy. It is quite… well… bright. It’s a wild celebration of the craziness of modern life, complete with a great instrumental pallet and superb production from Dan Carney. An absolute masterpiece of a debut from Squid.
Best track: Narrator