10 songs on repeat:
1. Run by Joji (2020)- The former YouTube agitator is really starting to come into his own, his soulfully sad Run being the best entry into the singer-songwriters already expansive discography.
2. So.Incredible.pkg by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats (2020)- Chock full of sharp one-liners, Star Wars references, Curry proves himself as one of this generations most versatile MCs over Madlib inspired production from Kenny Beats.
3. Blank Slate by HMLTD (2020)- A revolutionary tone is what holds this punk meets glam rock number from the provocative Brits with this song being one of the best cuts off the band’s excellent debut.
4. The Passenger by Iggy Pop (1977)- A classic early example of post-punk born from the creative partnership between Iggy Pop and David Bowie during their stay in Berlin (an era that also birthed Bowie classics such as Heroes).
5. Kebab Spider by Sleaford Mods (2019)- Drenched in British working-class cheek, this rap-rock number is crass, cutting and built on an incredibly catchy bass riff.
6. Simmer by Hayley Williams (2020)- The former lead singer of emo-pop icons Paramore goes alternative/art-pop for her debut single, the results being a beautifully atmospheric number.
7. Cash Machine by Oliver Tree (2019)- One of the most unique voices in alternative music right now, Oliver Tree’s most recent single is an anthemic analysis of materialistic living.
8. Divinity by Porter Robinson (2013)- Who remembers EDM? It might be hard to think that there was a day before the Chainsmokers and other creatively bankrupt acts dominated the scene, this cut off Robinson’s supremely underrated Worlds proof of a golden age long past in the genre.
9. Shook Ones Pt. II by Mobb Deep (1995)- Simply put, this is an essential track for anyone claiming to be a fan of 90s New York hip-hop.
10. Sinnerman by Nina Simone (1965)- The Jazz singer’s extended take one this gospel classic is an invigorating a frantic piano-driven number that does not waste a second of its 10-minute run time.
You can find this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1AaPfvt8BFNBRHHwBTILyy?si=rSYzRBZ8Td-P58RE2MgF3A
Father of All… by Green Day- 3.9/10:
On Father of All… Green Day sound as generic and uninspired as they ever had. I have never been a massive fan of this group; however, I understand that they were once considered one of the brightest and refreshing voices in alternative music. Now, they sound like those generic feel-good rock songs you get at the end of a movie about a middle school summer camp, complete with sugar-sweet pop hooks, hand claps and millennial “whoas”. A real bland mess of a record.
Best track: Junkies on a High
High Road by Kesha- 5.4/10:
High Road is an endearingly messy album. There seems to be minimal artistic direction from Kesha and her production/song-writing team on this LP, a lot of the songs merely coming off brainless and ill-conceived; however, there are still some incredibly enjoyable moments as well. All in all, I don’t have much to say about Kesha here, with her latest outing simply being another fairly generic pop album.
Best track: Potato Song (Cuz I Want To).
West of Eden by HMLTD- 9.3/10:
Fast, angst-ridden, provocative, smart, cutting and sharp. Just some of the positive pronouns I could use to describe West of Eden. The first real amazing album of the decade. It may prove too much for some; however, the groups balance of electronic music, glam and punk rock into a vicious cocktail documenting the fall of Western civilisation. And this is only the group’s debut. Truly a splendid and ambitious effort from one of England’s most promising young bands.
Best track- To the Door
This Weeks Feature- Movies, TV Shows and Video Games with Excellent Soundtracks:
Often an excellent piece of visual art and media is enhanced when those in charge of creating music to accompany it get it right. A well-constructed soundtrack can build tension, heighten emotion and build atmosphere through a means that only music can achieve. Here are some examples of video games, TV shows and movies with great scores/soundtracks.
Sex Education (2019-2020): This Netflix emotionally potent coming-of-age dramatic comedy is underpinned by equally impactful indie and alternative tunes. Whether it be classic 80s New Wave numbers or delicate acoustic covers of classics, the soundtrack compliments the themes of the show wonderfully, especially with season one being dominated with the brilliant works of American singer-songwriter Ezra Furman.
Drive (2011): One simply has to look up “Drive opening credits” to see how this art-house film featuring Ryan Gosling is enhanced by its synth-pop soundtrack. Drive is an aesthetically driven film, borrowing its style from 80s crime thrillers with the mysterious and dirty streets of LA brought to life through both original tracks by Cliff Martinez and featured tracks such as Kavinsky’s Nightcall.
The Last of Us (2013): Many (with myself amongst them) would consider The Last of Us to be the greatest narrative videogame ever created. Its dark, thrilling, human and above all, emotional. So, it is only appropriate that the Gustavo Santaolalla created soundtrack should be too. Build around quasi-ambient instrumentals, this soundtrack gets its impact from minimalism and passages of relative silence.
Chernobyl (2019): One of two brilliant original scores created by Icelandic musician Hildur Guðnadóttir in 2019 (the second of which being Joker), the overriding sense of dread that dominates HBOs mini-series about the nuclear disaster is heightened to breaking point by the deeply unsettling work of Guðnadóttir.
Purple Rain (1984): Though the film itself stands to be largely forgettable, the soundtrack constructed by Prince and the Revolution stands to be one of the greatest albums ever created. The film’s best moments are when the now classics off the art-pop record such as Let’s Go Crazy and Purple Rain are performed on screen, standing as a fitting moment to an artist lost far too soon.
Minecraft (2011): There are two masterpieces to be found within this game. One is the product itself, a beautiful example of how atmosphere, freedom and simplicity are all one needs to create one of the greatest games of all time. The second masterpiece is the original score by producer C418. Constructed entirely on the German composer’s computer, the Minecraft soundtrack adds a sense of wonder and comforting isolation to the game’s overall experience via minimalistic ambient compositions.
Taxi Driver (1976): Scorsese’s 1976 classic about an emotionally isolated Vietnam-veteran turned New York cabbie’s slow descent into madness is my favourite of all time, with my enjoyment of the Bernard Hermann score being a natural extension of this fact. The jazz-inspired soundtrack is dramatic and menacing, adding to the unsettling mood of the film.
Russian Doll (2019): Netflix undeniably has a wealth of excellent dark comedies under its belt, with the Ground-Hog Day inspired Russian Doll being one. The mysterious and sordid atmosphere of the series is greatly heightened by the selection of songs used to compliment it. From dark, synth-driven New-wave and goth rock to French pop music, Russian Doll is full of surprises.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018): Rockstar studio’s Magnum Opus (I also considered GTA 5 for this spot) is truly a one of a kind experiences of a game. Hence, it seems only appropriate that the accompanying soundtrack is just as enthralling. A fine balance between ambient-meets-Americana original works to folk and country numbers by guest artists, Red Dead Redemption 2 soundtrack, is a treat to behold.