10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Gospel for a New Century by Yves Tumor (2020)- One of the break-out experimental acts late this decade was that of Yves Tumor, an American singer-songwriter/producer from Tennessee. His brand of off-kilter, abrasive pop continues on his latest single however glossed over with a more accessible tinge.
2. Lucifer Stand by Cindy Lee (2020)- The standout track from the gender-bending project Cindy Lee (the brainchild of former Women member Patrick Flegel), this synth-driven is lo-fi, deeply haunting, perfectly balancing noise and experimentalism with pop sensibilities.
3. Praise the Lord (Da Shine) by A$AP Rocky and Skepta (2018)- Now a bit of a modern classic (no part due to the meme it formed), this trans-Atlantic team up creating one of this decade’s most instantly recognisable trap-rap songs. It also helps that it is incredibly good.
4. 90210 by Travis Scott (2015)- Found on Scott’s critically underappreciated debut, 90210 is two songs in one. However, this fact is in no way a hindrance to the overall excellence of this trap meets alternative rap number.
5. Shame by Young Fathers (2015)- I have sung my praises for this Scottish trio before, with this song off their 2015 record White Men are Black Too solid proof of the group’s inventiveness and creativity.
6. I Think I’m In Love by Spiritualized (1997)- Repetition, when done right, is hypnotic and enthralling, this 8-minute epic by the British space rock group a testament to this notion.
7. Fit, but You Know It by The Streets (2004)- Cheeky, grimy and filled to be brim with humour, this song is quite possibly one of the most ‘British’ I have ever heard.
8. Without a Doubt by The Roots (1999)- There is a reason why this alternative hip-hop group were chosen to be the house band on Fallon’s Tonight Show, this cut off the groups seminal 1999 breakthrough combining the worlds of hardcore hip-hop and jazz.
9. Bone China Face by Teleman (2017)- Catchy, danceable yet coated in a sense of maturity (both musically and thematically), Bone China Face was an alternative rock standout of 2017.
10. Fool’s Gold by The Stone Roses (1989)- Psychedelic music has gone through many forms in the last 50 years. In the 60s it was wild, fantastical and experimental. In today’s contemporary atmosphere, it is often funky and coated in synth and fuzzy guitars. However, in the late 80s and early 90s, it was dominated by songs such as Fool’s Gold, songs that were lengthy, foggy and the real definition of a ‘trip’.
You can find this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2x9LMpnumaJght5gmfiqBC?si=KA5f9GYpSV2Mfpc9kUT6hA
Everything Sucks by Princess Nokia- 4.1/10:
One of two albums released by the New York rapper, Everything Sucks… kind of sucks. Hampered by generic production and uninventive lyrics, Princess Nokia’s skills as a rapper are defiantly evident; however, the overall bland tone of this short LP stops the few good aspects is possesses from properly shining through. Let’s hope her second record this week can do a little better.
Best track- Just a Kid
Everything is Beautiful by Princess Nokia- 6.5/10:
Though it is far from a great album, Princess Nokia’s second album this week, Everything is Beautiful, packs a far greater punch than its less than impressive sister album. Though some moments do still feel generic, the overall production of the record is far more substantial, drawing on influences such as Chance the Rapper to build a cosy, overall fun experience. My greatest reservations come with the lyrical content of this record. While some of Destiny’s wordplay does display a keen emotional maturity, a lot of the highly confessional lyrics feel awkward and simply don’t land on both feet a lot of the time. In conclusion, this is a far from a perfect album, but one that still expresses creativity and heart while also proving to be far superior to its counter-part LP.
Best track- Gemini
What’s Tonight to Eternity by Cindy Lee- 9.0/10:
Former Women member Patrick Flegel continues with their side project Cindy Lee, delivering what is easily the name’s best and most chilling album yet. It feels like one of those records that manages to stay both grounded in nostalgia, heard through the combination of 60s pop-textures and 80s synth, but also feel like it is looking into the future, evident in the careful use of harsh noise. Above all, What’s Tonight to Eternity is a frighteningly dark record. The hypnagogic nature of the songs is heavily distorted, every song feeling like its being played to you at the other end of a dark tunnel, ever threatening and suffocating. Lyrically we also see Flegel intelligently explore issues of gender dysphoria through often highly metaphoric and symbolic means. One this year’s best so far, and with its foreboding atmosphere, haunting vocals and attention to detail, this is certainly one you don’t want to sleep on.
Best track- Lucifer Stand
This Weeks Feature- Why the Arts Matter:
Starting university has led me to an interesting conundrum. You see, I am completing a double degree in Arts and Media and Communications. But whenever I mention my Arts degree, I seem to feel a need to justify why I chose it, even when the person I’m telling doesn’t press or ask why. It is out of a fear of judgement I do this, born out of an assumption that the Arts are simply not valued or appreciated.
Though I will admit, it is excessively presumptuous to think that all those around me do not value the Arts or lack an appreciation for it. However, in a contemporary atmosphere that is obsessed with progress, innovation and is so intertwined with technology and science, I think it is important to remind ourselves why the Arts matter so much.
I want to qualify that when I refer to the Arts, I am referring to the raw forms of emotional and cultural expressions such as music, painting, dance so on and so forth. I am talking about the ideas and the medium used to present them, and why they are so vital.
Now, back to the point. Since the Industrial Revolution, the rate of human innovation and progress has accelerated to a mind-boggling degree, and It only continues to grow. As many of you would likely be aware of, technologies such as phones and computers have engrained themselves into the day to day of human living. Phones have become more than just a device for long-distance communication, it has become an extension of ourselves. Every day, it seems this kind of technology creates new problems, solves big issues, makes our lives easier while also putting others out of work. Because of this, there has become a significant focus on areas such as STEM and innovation. And this makes total sense, we need to be able to adapt to this new environment.
But with deeper analysis, I find this focus on technology and society to be in many ways, superficial. A field like STEM is relevant, yes, but it’s impersonal. It focuses on numbers, patterns, logic and cares not for how we feel not only as an individual but as a community. This is where the Arts have their place.
Where technology is born out of a need to ease and progress, Art is born out of a need to express and connect. You see, humans are deeply complex creatures. Our emotions seem to extend far beyond our other animal cousins, and we seem to have a unique way of understanding it. We can present these emotions is seemingly abstract forms such as strokes on a canvas, or sound organised into rhythmic patterns. The ability to create art speaks to our humanity in a way STEM cannot.
Yes, our abilities to harness the environment around us to create greater ease of living and function is advanced, however not unique. The ability to present emotion in abstract, indirect forms and relate to them is. For me, Art seems to signify something unique about us. A strange form of communication that is practised across all known cultures, no matter how isolated. From tribal rituals to mass-produced pop music, from simple body painting to billboard advertisements, we use Art as a means of relation, a method to which we can communicate and create a sense of community. It documents our culture and helps preserve it through tradition.
So, in this day and age of technology, we must innovate new ways to ensure we can best utilise this new environment. However, I believe we mustn’t lose a grip on what makes us human. While survival in this ever-changing world in imperative, it should not come at the cost of culture and the ways we express. In an age where the rate of advancement is rapid and almost ruthless, we cannot forget the importance of empathy and the relationships we build with one another. This is why I think the Arts, whether it be a song, dance, visual or written, so profoundly matter.
Read more of this series here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/the-weekly-music-roundup/