Ten songs on repeat:
1. Cars in Space by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (2020)- The latest track from Australia’s most exciting emerging band continues from where they left off, that being an incredibly and tightly wound indie rock number complete with excellent guitar work and great vocal melodies.
2. Breath Deeper by Tame Impala (2020)- This lengthy, multifaceted cut off Tame Impala’s latest LP The Slow Rush is synth-driven, dance-oriented psychedelic pop at its hazy finest.
3. War Baby by Roddy Ricch (2019)- The closing number of the LA rapper’s widely acclaimed debut, this track really comes into its own towards the end with the inclusion of gospel-inspired vocals, lending the number a great emotional payoff.
4. Colombian Necktie by Big Black (1987)- Like a buzz-saw to concrete, this noise-rock song by the influential underground provocateurs Big Black is nasty and loud (in the best possible way).
5. Doorman by Slowthai (2018)- This post-punk infused rap song from the ever-growing Slowthai is quickly becoming a modern classic of the UK rap scene due to the MC’s manic flows and driving beat.
6. Porno by Arcade Fire (2013)- One of the Canadian art-rock collective’s most ambitious sonic departures, this synth-funk track is a harrowing and detailed account of the impacts extreme pornography has on young male minds.
7. Liquid Swords by GZA (1995)- The opening track to GZA’s hugely monumental debut of the same name, this kung-fu inspired banger feels like a natural continuation of the sonic and aesthetic core of Wu-Tang Clan.
8. Inside Out by clipping. (2014)- This experimental hip-hop trio was probably one of the eternally underappreciated music projects of the 2010s, this head-spinning track solid proof of this statement.
9. Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones (1968)- Almost instantly recognisable by the opening lyrics, this is a rock ‘n’ roll classic through and through.
10. So What by Miles Davis (1959)- An ambitious inclusion on my part, this 9-minute jazz staple might be challenging to conquer at first but stick around with it, and I guarantee you will be rewarded.
This week’s list can be found here – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7jqqnUKL1GFuKDL84xQYAr?si=JUgybmJMTyeo5bZVolXF5w
Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial by Roddy Ricch- 6.8/10:
Roddy Ricch’s debut is an inserting album of contradictions. There is nothing inherently wrong about the rising star’s work, each track listenable with strong qualities to them. However, just a few issues hold this record back. For starters, the production on this album is crisp, refined, high quality and well-executed, but at the same time plays it incredibly safe and permeating an overall generic tone. Secondly, Roddy’s vocal work is pretty tight, his Young Thug inspired auto-tuning pleasant and his flows refined and exciting. However, lyrically I found little to be excited about. A solid album, but one that could do with being a little more adventurous.
Best track: War Baby.
Hurry Up and Wait by Dune Rats- 4.9/10:
Dune Rats sound like Violent Soho without the edge. Or do they sound like The Chats without the larrikin charm? Either way, Hurry Up, and Wait is an uninspiring, unimaginative and forgettable Australian stoner-punk album. Though the trio nail the aesthetic and attitude needed for such a scene, the sheer lack of originality or ingenuity on this record prevents the band from developing any sort of unique identity and fails to leave any lasting impression. Let’s hope that this record doesn’t set a precedent for Australian punk this year.
Best track: No Plans.
The Slow Rush by Tame Impala- 8.5/10:
Kevin Parker is a true perfectionist when it comes to his music. It’s been five years since he subverted all our expectations with the electro-oriented Currents, so I was imagining his next release to be something altogether different and exciting. Which is why I find The Slow Rush an almost bitter-sweet moment. On the one hand, I can’t help but feel Kevin isn’t entirely happy with what was produced with it being only a minimal evolution on what was done on Currents. On the other hand, it is still a pretty unique record. Both Tame Impala’s most accessible and ethereal release yet, The Slow Rush doesn’t quite flow like Lonerism or Currents, but each individual song is well crafted, incredibly groovy and lyrically meaningful, exploring the passing of time and both the angst and comfort this natural part of life brings. Yes, it isn’t Kevin’s finest hour, but it is permanent proof that (if this is one of his weaker moments) Tame Impala is one of this generation’s great artists.
Best track: Breathe Deeper.
Feature Article: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs and Its Significance to Me
Nostalgia is an interesting feeling. Defined by Google as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past”, our feeling of it is seemingly essential to our human experience. It can be a positive sensation, such as meeting old friends after many years or dropping a child off at a party. It could also be one of negativity, drawing you back to a time you wish to forget.
These last four months in my life have been ones of quite significant change. While I won’t bore you with details, I too have been longing for a sense of nostalgia to help cope. Whether it be re-igniting my childhood love of Star Wars or re-discovering my extensive collection of all things Coldplay, the hunt for reminders of my personal history has been extensive. But it wasn’t until I listened to Arcade Fire’s 2010 masterpiece did, I feel like I experienced true nostalgia.
The third LP released by the legendary Canadian art-rock collective and one of the last independent to be awarded Album of the Year by the Grammy’s, the concept behind The Suburbs is simple. The clue is in the title, its frontman Win Butler’s commemoration to the environment he grew up in. Accompanied by relatively simple, Springsteen-inspired rock instrumentals, the songs deal in themes such as friendship, childhood, the loss of innocence and even boredom. The album neither glorifies nor laments Win’s youth, it merely documents it, presenting it for what it was. It is an emotionally rare and profoundly powerful record.
So, what does any of this have to do with me? Well, in my relatively short time taking my music listening seriously, I have genuinely never found a record that has connected to me on such a personal level. You see, I am a product of the environment documented in this record. I have spent both my childhood and teen years living in the outer regions of the vast suburban sprawl of Sydney. The Suburbs, though quite obviously not written for me in mind, feels like a tribute to my experiences. I relate to the sentiments of lost time in the opening track from which this album gains its namesake. When the band sing about the apprehension of moving forward in life on Ready to Start, I relate to that. I feel a personal connection of the documentations of wasted time and boredom on Wasted Hours and Rococo, or the feeling of smallness one might feel growing up in a vast suburban ocean on Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).
When I listen through this fantastic LP, not only do I see the environments Arcade Fire set themselves in, but I feel like I have personally lived in there with them. When I listen to The Suburbs, I see the rows of houses, the worn-down carparks, the vast shopping centres, the empty railway stations, the due covered football fields. It draws these things with a sense of fondness, content, longing… nostalgia.
Re-visiting The Suburbs in this period of significant change in my life has been incredibly profound. The sense of nostalgia I get from this record, while it may not be all totally positive, is nevertheless reassuring. It has helped me reflect on the moments that have led me to where I am now by presenting me with songs that are crafted with the idea of relatability in mind. Songs that, while they are not for any specific person and written from the experiences of one man, manage to capture the quietly universal and strangely specific feeling of growing up in a Suburban environment. It captures the night spent sneaking around with friends as well as the days spent frustrated in all-encompassing boredom.
To end this piece, I want to draw your attention the final epilogue of the album that contains what is probably the most profound lyric in the album, with Win Butler singing “If I could have it back, all of the time that we wasted, I would only waste it again”, reminding the listener that, even if they didn’t grow up in the setting of The Suburbs, that one should never regret their past. And that is why Arcade Fire’s 2010 masterpiece is a profoundly significant record to me.
Read more of this series here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/the-weekly-music-roundup/
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