10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Sweet Porridge Radio (2020)- The second week in a row for this sensational young indie band, Sweet plays upon the loud, quiet dynamic often associated with grunge, creating a tight, angsty affair.
2. Makes it Funny by Avenade (2018)- An artist one day I hope will get the break he deserves, Avenade is music for anyone who loves anything from emo to noise rock, this track from his brilliant 2018 EP Here’s To Prejudice being a concise, snarly rock banger.
3. Grim by Wiki, Lil Ugly Mane and Denzel Curry (2019)- This team-up between some of cloud rap’s leading voices is about as exhilarating as it gets, the grimy production serving as an excellent base for the three MCs to shine.
4. Break da Law “95” by Three 6 Mafia (1995)- An iconic track from the horrorcore legends, this hedonistic track was way ahead of its time, serving as an early example of the now dominant trap rap style of hip hop.
5. My Name is Dark (Art Mix) by Grimes (2020)- The Canadian singer-songwriter’s third entry into this series, it might be becoming clear to some that I obviously favour Boucher’s music. And why wouldn’t I, this track is one of the strongest cuts of her latest LP, built upon walls of bass-driven noise and harsh synth lines.
6. They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y) by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth (1992)- If one song could sum up the sound of Golden Era New York hip-hop, it would be this near-perfect belter of a song by producer Pete Rock and rapper C.L. Smooth.
7. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd (2019)- I think it only appropriate to include this mega-hit so to commemorate the release of The Weeknd’s (excellent) new LP, After Hours, with this irresistibly 80s sounding track being one of the standouts.
8. Portrait of Time by Peter Cat Recording Co. (2018)- This Indian band released what was quickly my favourite record last year in Bismillah. This track off an early compilation record proves many things I love about the jazz-infused group, such as the gorgeous vocals and the sheer originality of their sound.
9. Alien by Beach House (2018)- This track from the iconic dream-pop duo is simply one of many great moments throughout their now extensive collection of music. Alien is a little more unique for the band, focusing on dense guitar layers to carry the song rather than much lighter riffs and synths, giving off a strong shoegaze vibe.
10. As You Move Through the World by MGMT (2020)- Though this psychedelic pop duo is best known for more accessible tracks such as Kids and Electric Feel, they have never been afraid to experiment, with this seven-plus minute ambient track possibly being their most ambitious outing yet.
You can find this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3RfaLaaJYXtjNaFseHvs2D?si=wVkxeIjHR_2kN-zHgO_gUw
I Am Not a Dog on a Chain by Morrisey- 2.5/10:
While Morrissey has always been an insufferable whine-bag, this feature of his personality has often stayed mostly out of his songwriting. However, this frustratingly ends with I Am Not a Dog on a Chain. Lyrically, this album is drenched in the egotistical delusions of this once great artist. With each release, the indie rock icon seems to push what little fans he has left further and further away with condescending and downright idiotic songwriting, the singer seemingly on a quest to destroy the small amount of relevance he has left. Production-wise, this record is also plain dull and at times unbearable (The Secret of Music is one of the worst sounding songs I have heard in a while). This is a sorry excuse for an album and hopefully the last we will hear from The Smiths’ former frontman.
Best track- Once I Saw the River Clean
After Hours by The Weeknd- 8.8/10:
Though it might not quite meet some of the lofty expectations surrounding it, After Hours is by far and wide The Weeknd’s best record yet. A big worry of mine going into this album was that it wouldn’t meet the standards set by the singles, especially Blinding Lights and After Hours. However, Abel manages to offer some of the most satisfying, rewarding and potentially ambitious tracks he has written to date, with a few exceptions (Heartless, I’m looking at you). The album seems to flow between genres wonderfully, going from hazy, sultry contemporary sounds such as trap and drum and bass to nostalgic, synth-driven 80s dance-pop. In conclusion, I have never enjoyed a Weeknd album as much as I have After Hours. It’s mysterious, hedonistic, brilliantly produced and ambitiously conceptual (side note: this LP contains some of Abel’s best lyrics to date), making it a record that I dare say will be held in very high regard for years to come.
Best track- After Hours
Walls by Louis Tomlinson- 3.3/10:
Continuing my theme of visiting all the new releases from the former boy-band One Direction, I now come to the debut record of Louis Tomlinson. Like Nial Horan’s Heartbreak Weather last week, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting going into this LP. And to be honest, I didn’t really need to expect anything. Walls is another vapid pop-rock release from another former One Direction veteran. Filled with flat production and vocal performances that try and invoke classic Brit-pop in the weakest possible way as well as some really putrid lyrics, this LP really has nothing to offer other than some catchy hooks sprinkled here and there. With every member of the disbanded One Direction having at least one record to their name, it’s clear to see the biggest mistake made by Simon Cowell when forming the group all those years ago was including Harry Styles because, in hindsight, the other four are total musical deadweight compared to him.
Best track- Kill My Mind
This Week’s Feature Article: Best Australian Albums of the 2010s
Having just had the Hottest 100 of the decade not too long ago (and given the strong showing of artists from my home country), I think it only appropriate to countdown what I believe are the best Aussie albums to come out of last decade.
10. Speakerzoid by The Jungle Giants (8.8/10):
Before the release of their mainstream breakthrough in Australia Quiet Ferocity, this indie-rock four-piece released the wildly psychedelic and surprisingly ambitious Speakerzoid. The album contains the group’s best songs to date, including Every Kind of Way and Kooky Eyes, as well as including a distinctly Latin flavour throughout. Though the album has been forgotten for the far more accessible work that was to come, it is still one of the decades most unique indie releases.
9. Down to Earth by Flight Facilities (8.9/10):
The first and only record to be released by the dance/electronica duo, Down to Earth proved the pair were more than just a singles band. Made up of a slew of brilliant singles released by the group as well as some solid new tracks, this record is surrounded by a mysterious malaise that is both romantic and in some ways melancholy, it is an incredibly alluring record that sticks in the mind long after the first listen.
8. Wildflower by The Avalanches (8.9/10):
Since I Left You, in my opinion, is the best Australian album ever made. Being built entirely of samples, it is a truly unique listen. It took The Avalanches sixteen years to follow up that record. And did it live up to expectations? If you’re asking me, yes. Wildflower is in many ways similar to its older sibling; a highly conceptual record built upon found sounds and samples of old movies, songs and much more. However, this record also contains far more vocals, with guest features from the likes of MF Doom and Danny Brown. It’s a mind-blowingly great experience of album that is more than the sum of its parts.
7. Go Farther in Lightness by Gang of Youths (9.1/10):
A common theme/trope in a lot of alternative and indie rock last decade was that of doom and gloom. Though I can’t say I hate it, there are countless dark and depressing indie rock records floating around your average streaming service these days. It is this exact fact that makes Gang of Youths second record so damn refreshing. Go Farther in Lightness is excessive and gloriously anthemic, with songs often pushing beyond five minutes and complete with massive guitar riffs, passionate vocals and strings. It’s an album about getting through tough times, portraying this through some of the most uplifting rock music of the decade.
6. Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (9.3/10):
King Gizz operate on being completely and utterly over the top. From the name of the band itself to their brain-melting, genre-hopping takes on psychedelic music (as well as releasing five albums in 2017), the group have earned themselves an incredibly dedicated following because of their excess. The band’s most beautiful moment of the decade came with 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, a frantic, interconnected mix of hard and psychedelic rock that is banging from the first track to last. Oh, and the final track also leads back into the first, placing the album on an infinite loop (hence the name).
5. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett (9.3/10):
Courtney Barnett’s debut record was a trailblazing moment in Australian music. Though the slew of guitar-driven indie rock that followed it is full of some pretty obnoxious music, Barnett’s warm debut stands head and shoulders above most of them. Written from the singer-songwriter’s diary entries, the LP sees Barnett deliver lines that are hilarious, confessional, meaningful and playful with a wonderfully lazy vocal style, building a portrait of an everyday individual attempting to make ends meet in life. Instrumentally, the record also delivers some tight and well-produced indie soundscapes complete with some excellent guitar work from Barnett herself.
4. Crushing by Julia Jacklin (9.3/10):
Crushing is an appropriate title for this record, as that is how it feels in a lot of the time. One of Courtney Barnett’s disciples, Julia Jacklin in many ways built upon the formula set by Barnett with this LP. A breakup album through and through, the songs are mostly bleak and often containing incredibly minimal, folk instrumentation. It is a sad album, but one that still radiates beauty in every corner, even leaving room for hope here and there. Jacklin’s voice is probably the main attraction, her crystal-clear delivery cutting through the album’s immaculate production, portraying heartbreak into a truly vivid fashion and creating a sense of empathy and relatability with the listener.
3. Currents by Tame Impala (9.6/10):
Some of the songs off Kevin Parker’s third record as Tame Impala are about as essential to all things 2010s indie as it gets. The record that really saw the singer, songwriter and producer break into the mainstream, Currents stepped away from the typically garage-oriented psychedelia of his earlier works, building lush, ethereal tracks from groovy basslines and alluring synth. Lyrically, Kevin is as existential as ever, writing about themes such as ego, failing love and laziness. This is further complemented by the cosmic feel many of the songs on this album have, especially the monumentally brilliant opener, the nearly eight-minute-long Let it Happen. It is an album that will warmly wrap you in its welcoming beauty and the record that is helping keep traditional psychedelic music in the mainstream consciousness.
2. Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (9.7/10):
So rare is it to have bands emerge fully formed on a debut album; however, this was the case with the first record released by Melbourne band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Their brand of guitar-driven jangle-pop feels like a natural continuation of iconic Australian groups like the Go-Betweens, with their sound not really being anything that new. However, innovation isn’t the only thing that makes an album enjoyable. If something already well established is done right, then it can turn out brilliant. And that is the case of Hope Downs. Each song is tightly wound and performed excellently, with the three guitarists/vocalists playing off each other wonderfully and supported by a driving rhythm section. It is the result of a band who know one another so well and have been honing their craft over several years, creating a delightful and mind-blowingly well-executed record.
1. Lonerism by Tame Impala (9.8/10):
Though Currents is Kevin Parker’s most successful record, his 2012 sophomore album Lonerism still stands as his magnum opus. Made entirely by Parker himself in his bedroom, Lonserism is a behemoth of a record and one that will stand the test of time. It is Kevin’s most ambitious and experimental to date, many of his songs filled with unconventional structures and progressions as well as extended instrumentals and total switch-ups mid-way through songs. It is the very definition of psychedelic music, with each song feeling like a glorious wall of sound enveloping the listener, every new listen revealing details you may have missed before. It is an amalgamation of so many different forms of psychedelia throughout the ages, but rather than sounding like mimicry, it feels unique and original. Through all this complexity lay some incredibly catchy and well-written tunes, songs like Feels Like We Only Go Backwards serving as infectious earworms as well as gorgeous sonic explorations. An underrated aspect of this record for me is the lyrics. It’s an often sombre affair, with Parker taking us through a detailed study of loneliness and isolation (hence the name), whether it be caused by manipulative relationships (Mind Mischief), ego (Elephant) or the pure feeling of being unable to relate to those around you (Why Won’t They Talk to Me?). Lonerism stands as a triumph of Australian music for me, hence why I believe it to be the best Australian record of the 2010s.
Listen to the highlights of this list here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0meqFzS49rwM8rUhuwPBIh?si=FuF04vdHRROoG801mYBd7g.
Read more of this series here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/the-weekly-music-roundup/