10 Songs on repeat:
1. 4 American Dollars by U.S. Girls (2020)- Meg Remy continues the hype leading into the next U.S. Girls album with a soulful number that takes an honest look into American consumer culture.
2. Violence by Grimes (2020)- Though the album it comes off mightn’t be the Canadian pop-shapeshifter’s best effort, however, it is an individual, dark standout in Boucher’s overall discography.
3. Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver) by King Krule (2017)- Though it might make sense to include the strongest cut off Archy Marshall’s latest LP, I continuously find myself coming back to this moody, jazzy number of the singer-songwriter’s now seminal 2017 breakthrough The Ooz.
4. Bald! by JPEGMAFIA (2020)- Peggy is quickly establishing himself as one of the leading voices in experimental hip-hop, his latest single an excellent display of his off-kilter, sample-based production and his hilariously strange flows and lyrics.
5. After Hours by The Weeknd (2020)- The title track off the Canadian’s upcoming record is easily one of the most moving songs this year. Held together by atmospheric electric piano samples and chord progressions, this track bursts into life at the halfway point, making it a truly sensational experience.
6. Leyla by Altın Gün (2019)- Turkish psychedelic folk music was one of my more niche discoveries last year, however with the soaring guitars, mind-blowing vocals and downright rocking attitude present on this song, it is a discovery I am glad I made.
7. Fix Up, Look Sharp by Dizzee Rascal (2003)- Often being credited as the founding father of modern British grime, this rock-infused track proves that Dizzee Rascal was and is far more diverse than some may take him to be at face value, delivering exciting lines over a sample of the Billy Squier song The Big Beat.
8. On Sight by Kanye West (2013)- Love him or hate him, Kanye West has time and time again proved his diversity as not only a rapper but an overall artist. Such a point is established by the opening track to Kanye’s under-appreciated Yeezus, with the track seeing West deliver fast and furious lines over a highly industrial, noise-oriented beat.
9. Love Like Blood by Killing Joke (1985)- Though they are not a household name, the influence this British post-punk/goth-rock have had on alternative music cannot be understated. This lengthy, moody and brooding Goth number is easily the band’s most beautiful moment.
10. R U Still in 2 It? by Mogwai (1997)- The only track to feature lead vocals on the Scottish post-rock band’s debut Young Team, this song is a bleak yet strangely beautiful depiction of what I believe to be a failing relationship and the attempts made to salvage it.
This week’s tracks can be found here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/13VbnxnUDXVgZP2bLfgtgq?si=DlTE5yqqQ6mZ6vvFyIrJVg.
Changes by Justin Bieber- 1.5/10:
It is a cliché to hate Bieber’s music, but he really isn’t making a very good case for people to do otherwise. On Changes, Bieber offers the listener half-baked, bland and offensively uninspired RnB infused pop. There is so much wrong here. For starters, not only is the production generic, it sounds lifted. Bieber’s voice is as shrill and annoying as ever. The lyrics pack about as much punch as a wet piece of paper. There is simply too much wrong with this LP, and it deserves to be forgotten in time.
Man Alive! by King Krule- 7.8/10:
While still dripping with the scoundrel charm of The Ooz, Man Alive! sadly doesn’t meet the heights of King Krule’s beloved 2017 release. Needless to say; however, Archy Marshall’s talents as an innovative and powerful songwriter ensure that his latest LP is an equally moody, dark affair, overflowing with dark symbolism and packed with the Brit’s now signature blend of punk rock attitude and jazz finesse. Definitely a strong record, but not quite to the levels that we know King Krule can achieve. I really hope this album does grow on me.
Best track- Cellular
Miss Anthropocene by Grimes- 6.8/10:
After releasing two of the best art-pop records of the decade (Visions and Art Angels), Canadian singer-songwriter Grimes delivers what is still a typically strange, catchy and ambitious album, but one that does not see every track land solidly on its feet. At its high points, Miss Anthropocene contains some of Boucher’s best tracks. Still, sadly this exciting potential is quickly dashed by some far less interesting moments hampered by poor production choices and far too much vocal processing, which despite fitting nicely into the concept of the LP, often detracts from Boucher’s unique voice. Overall, Miss Anthropocene is a well-crafted, aesthetically grounded and incredibly dark art-pop record. Still, it is also one that at times, fails to live up to the expectations it sets of itself.
Best Track- Violence
This Week’s Feature- How do I rate albums?
Unfortunately, I will have to make this week’s a tad shorter than usual. Having started Uni this week, it has sadly proven too challenging to find time to plan and gather thoughts for a more in-depth, meaningful article. Nevertheless, I shall persist in delivering weekly content!
So, this week, I want to take you through the process I follow to generate what might seem like oddly specific scores for the albums I listen to throughout the year. The act of scoring and rating the pieces art presented to us through popular-culture is a strange obsession us humans have seemingly become obsessed with, myself included. Now, there are many ways in which one can choose to rate an album numerically. Some may opt to do it out of five; however, I find this system to be far too narrow, with little to distinguish the quality between each score given. Other methods include a grading system (A, B, C, etc.) or rating an album on a broad scale of 1-10; however, these methods make for nightmares when attempting to create ranked lists.
All these reasons are why I choose to use a decimal system, rating albums by giving them highly specific scores (e.g. 6.3/10, 7.1/10). Why do I do this? Two reasons. One, I am a pedantic individual. Two, it is much easier to rank albums for my end of year/decade lists. An album with a score of 8.3/10 is obviously better than one scored 8.1/10, so on and so forth. The only challenge that arises with this system comes when two albums are given the same score, often meaning I have to re-listen at the end of the year and decide which I like better.
So how do I generate this number? Do I utilise a unique formula that determines the quality of a record based on objective measures? No. Is it all just randomly allocated meaning I’m wasting your time? It may seem like that, but again, no. My method is one that might seem strange and complicated to some but makes perfect sense to me. Let me explain.
Upon my first scoring of an album, I award a raw result of 1,2,3 all the way up to 10 with no decimal places. I then ask the question; how strongly does this album feel like it fits into this score? For example, I hear a record I really love and rate it a 9/10. This makes said album eligible for a specific scoring of anywhere between 8.6/10 to 9.4/10. If I then rate the album between 8.6-9/10, it indicates that the LP is on the lower spectrum of albums of a 9/10 quality. Contrastingly, if I decide to reward it a 9.1-9.4/10, it is on the higher end of the 9/10 spectrum. Any album with a value of .5 indicates it is on the cusp between two particular scores. How I come to these specific decimal scores is simply done by comparing albums in the same score range and deciding which ones I liked more or less. This is an entirely subjective process, and anyone applying the same method may generate completely different scores to myself.
Complicated and likely very hard to understand, I know. But I hope that this convoluted explanation at least sheds some light into the method of my madness when it comes to reviewing and scoring albums.
Read more of this series here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/the-weekly-music-roundup/
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