10 Songs on repeat this week:
1. Soaked by BENEE (2018)- A staple of the modern Australian/New Zealand alternative pop scene, Soaked is a catchy and incredibly well-produced track.
2. Dance by ESG (1983)- If repetition is done well, then it is often brilliant, such as with this dance-punk track from the all-female New York band.
3. Jane Jane by Bonny Light Horseman (2020)- This cover by the newly formed folk super-group is sweet and wonderfully crafted, creating a minimalistic and eerie atmosphere.
4. Black Spasmodic by A Tribe Called Quest (2016)- A catchy, reggae driven deep-cut off the latest and last album from my favourite hip-hop group of all time.
5. I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls (1982)- Simply put, this is one of the most instantly recognisable new-wave one-hit-wonders of the 80s.
6. bad idea! by girl in red (2019)- A frantic and angsty indie rock tune from the rising Norwegian singer-songwriter.
7. Get Up by Young Fathers (2014)- This Scottish trio has slowly become one of the leading voices in boundary-pushing music through the combination and fusion of hip-hop and other alternative music styles.
8. Vaudeville Villain by Viktor Vaughn (2003)- It seems to be becoming a theme for me to include one of the many projects associated to legendary rapper MF DOOM, this song is found on the MC/producer’s 2003 concept album of the same name.
9. 911/Mr. Lonely by Tyler the Creator (2017)- This emotionally mature and thematically heavy number is one of Tyler’s best yet, complete with a strong Frank Ocean feature and excellent production.
10. Saturdays (Again) by Avery Tare (2019)- This strange and psychedelic folk number is the brainchild of Animal Collective songwriter David Portner aka Avery Tare.
You can find this week’s track here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2cVQmYdLYBwuvHHxgoZxTJ?si=oHTV8_l-R1yHQIsoM05MyA
Bonny Light Horsemen by Bonnie Light Horsemen- 7.4/10:
The Bonny Horsemen is a lovingly crafted set of covers of traditional American folk. Complete with minimalistic instrumentation that allows for the gorgeous vocals and storytelling to shine, this folk super-group’s strength is their ability to build and sustain a mystical, alluring atmosphere. My only real reservation with this LP is that some of the songs do fall into the background a little, making for a somewhat inconsistent listen.
Best track: Jane Jane
Big Conspiracy by J Hus- 6.6/10:
This album’s best moments come when J Hus experiments a little, employing tropical/afro-centric beats to accompany some socially conscious lyrics that deal in both the personal and the public (these positives thankfully happening most of the time). Hus’s weakest movements arrive when generic beats are employed and raps about sex in some pretty graphically detailed ways. An exciting addition to the UK rap canon, but one I think will be overshadowed as the years roll by.
Best track: Triumph
Have We Met by Destroyer- 8.0/10:
Whether it be with The New Pornographers or here with Destroyer, Dan Bejar is one of indie’s most consistent songwriters. Have We Met is ample proof of this, which, despite not being a masterpiece and being flawed in places, still sounds like a crisply produced and whimsically written record. Bejar’s carefree voice pared with his dreamy sophisti-pop production bring this record to life, making it a fine and strong entry early into the musical landscape of 2020.
Best track: Crimson Tide
Feature Article- How do we as listeners deal with creators who are bad people?
I imagine it would be comforting for many to assume that their musical idols are inherently good people. Sadly, this is rarely the case. From John Lennon to Miles Davis, some of music’s most celebrated names have not shared the moral character of similar size. Lennon was part of music’s most influential group and penned some of the most iconic songs with both The Beatles and throughout his solo career; however, his was also a man with a notoriously short temper, often taking it out on those close to him. Miles Davis is one of Jazz music’s titans, creating classics such as Kind of Blue. Despite this, he was also not above sexually exploiting his girlfriend.
These problems pose significant conundrums to music fans such as me. Does my enjoyment of music created by morally flawed individuals mean I condone their behaviour? Unfortunately, the answer is not easy.
I have encountered this problem many times in my consumption of music. One instance recently was with my discovery of veteran emo band Brand New. The group, led by emo demi-god Jesse Lacey, have some of the scene’s most significant records to their name, creating skilled and powerfully dark music. I really got into this band after the release of the 2017 comeback record Science Fiction. However, the release of this record coincided with the MeToo movement and allegations of sexual harassment against frontman Jesse Lacey. Though Lacey has owned up to his actions and indicated that he sought help for his sex addiction a decade ago, I still feel a pang of guilt and apprehension listening to Brand New.
However, one needs to remind themselves of the fact that they are their own individual when listening to this music. Despite my enjoyment of Brand New, I can see that Jesse Lacey is and/or was a morally flawed individual. It goes without saying I was disgusted at the revelations of Lacey’s past; however, I can recognise that this does not mean I share such flaws. Same applies to all forms of art. One of horror’s most celebrated writers, HP Lovecraft, was a rampant racist in his day; however, that does not mean those who enjoy his literature harbor the same views.
One thing I feel all consumers need to realise is that like all industries, the music industry will have its “rotten eggs”. For every five good individuals, there will be one who one could say “spoils it for everyone”. This logic can be applied to any trade. Just because a lawyer is good at what they do, does not mean they are of morally sound character. Which leads to the core of the issue, musicians and artists are human beings.
Yes, shocking. I know. However, the disappointment caused when one discovers their idol was or is not a good person is associated with the fact that we dehumanise those who make music for us. It, unfortunately, takes moments of shock to remind us of this fact. For me, my solution is to simply not idolise any of the artists I enjoy and remind myself that like me, they are flawed human beings.
However, that solution is not suitable for some. With the constant saturation of music and its fundamental foundation in modern popular-culture, some people cannot help but look up to those who create the songs they love. It’s a profoundly complex issue that I feel we may never find an answer to. If there is any message I want you to take away from this article is that musicians like plumbers, lawyers, teachers and public servants are human beings and while some might be expectational at their job, the fact that they are human means that they might not be exceptional in character.
Read more of this series here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/the-weekly-music-roundup/
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