10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Street Pulse Beat by Special Interest (2020)- A thrilling combination of post-punk and techno comes to life on Street Pulse Beat, the anthemic and inspiring standout cut on the New Orleans band Special Interest’s latest album, The Passion Of.
2. Paper Planes by M.I.A. (2007)- An absolute classic of British hip-hop and future garage, everything about Paper Planes is iconic, from the instantly recognisable sample of a Clash song, the chaotic sound effects of the chorus and M.I.A.’s half-sung-half-rapped vocals.
3. Your Guts Are Like Mine by Set Fire To Flames (2003)- Though this Canadian post-rock collective had a short life-span, few groups can claim to have pushed the genre to the limit as much as they did. Your Guts Are Like Mine is one of the band’s more straightforward songs, consisting of just a scratchy, de-tuned guitar, but still manages to pack an emotionally atmospheric punch. A great example of how music does not need lyrics to convey meaning.
4. Auriel’s Ascension by Jeremy Soule (2006)- Jeremy Soule is responsible for one of videogaming’s most iconic soundtracks in the various The Elder Scrolls titles he has worked on, creating scores that rival even the grandest of fantasy movies. This piano and ambient driven piece found on 2006’s Oblivion holds a special place in my heart, giving me a unique and comforting nostalgia with every listen.
5. Glory Box by Portishead (1994)- Slow-burning, sultry and over-flowing with a sense of noir, Glory Box is easily one of the most iconic tracks of British trip-hop from what is likely the genre’s most beloved band.
6. Im Winterwald by Paysage d’Hiver (2020)- Black metal is not a genre that focuses on refinement and clarity. Instead, many artists choose to invest their sound into atmosphere and noise, with this being demonstrated perfectly by this Swiss artist on the opener to his latest body of work.
7. Pangea Girls (Magic Feeling) by Candy Claws (2013)- The second track to feature from the dream-pop group on a weekly roundup, I have found myself revisiting the work of Candy Claws a lot since I introduced myself to them, with Pangea Girls (Magic Feeling) being one of many explosive, sweet and catchy numbers the band have up their sleeve.
8. Kirby by Aesop Rock (2016)- A deep cut of the underground rap heavy weight’s 2016 album The Impossible Kid, Kirby is a mischievous, almost menacing track that is endlessly fun and impossibly catchy to boot.
9. Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar (2012)- Probably my favourite Kendrick song of all time, Money Trees is about as effortless, and the Compton MC has ever been, spinning socio-politically loaded tales with the finesse only he is capable over an effectively deployed Beach House sample.
10. Wet Blanket by METZ (2012)- This band’s love for classic 80s and 90s noise rock and punk has led to some of the loudest, angriest and downright brilliant rock bangers of the last ten years. My favourite of the band’s has to be Wet Blanket, a buzzing, unapologetically chaotic explosion of punk energy.
Listen to this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0ILwSGcxY6wfG1tW5Mh3Nt?si=dwDxuW2oTtyv_5EoceKUww.
Quick Album Reviews:
A loaded week of reviews this time around, so let’s get stuck in!
None of Us are Getting Out Of This Life Alive by The Streets- 3.5/10:
From awful production to bad rapping and a messy tracklist, None of Us Are Getting Out of this Life Alive is The Streets at his worst. I do understand that amateurish production and beats has been a cornerstone of Mark Skinner’s sound and was one of the most appealing elements of his earliest and most popular records; however, this LP often sounds like the beats I used to make on GarageBand when I was 11. The good ideas that are present here and there are not given room to breathe, drowning in a sea of messy, tedious and even laughable instrumentals. Skinner himself also fails to really shine on this record, trading his laddish charm for weak, repetitive delivery and even worse lyrics. The only real positive I can take from this record is the occasionally good guest features, but even then, so many just feel out of place (hearing Joe Talbot of IDLES rapping was particularly jarring). Overall, this is a pretty lousy record from Skinner, and one of this year’s skippable moments.
Best track: Call My Phone Thinking I’m Doing Nothing Better
Legends Never Die by Juice WRLD- 5.3/10:
For all the praise shoehorned onto this record from various artists and commentators in the pop-rap world, I honestly struggled to see what made the tragically late Juice WRLD so incredible. Is it because Juice WRLD himself was never that good of a rapper? Not entirely, he demonstrates himself to be extremely competent throughout Legends Never Die, though I don’t see any actual evidence of him being some god-sent gift to mortals as is claimed on the tedious The Man, The Myth, The Legend- Interlude. For me, what prevents this posthumous release from really standing out is that it simply doesn’t have an identity of its own. Mainstream hip-hop is currently drowning in a sea of emo-rap. While Juice WRLD was one of the earliest artists in that genre to break into the mainstream, the team of producers sent to construct this album seemingly were content with generic beats and bland instrumentation (not to mention the amount of DJ tags throughout this record, which is an absolute crime not just in this case, but whenever and wherever it happens), sacrificing some decent rapping and emotionally confessional lyrics for the sake of record sales. It may just be me and my personal bias against emo rap, but to me, Legends Never Die is a slightly above average posthumous release that simply fails to justify claims of Juice WRLD’s greatness.
Best track: Can’t decide, they all blend into one another, and nothing truly stands out.
The Glow by DMA’s- 6.8/10:
Both ‘experimental’ yet well within their well-established sound, DMA’s really seemed like they wanted to try something new with The Glow but were just that little bit afraid of totally subverting expectations. It is no secret to those familiar with the Aussie trio’s sound that they are great admirers of 90s Britpop, with that love still shining through on this LP. What I can commend them for however is the often-effective detours they take into more diverse sounds such as neo-psychedelia and EDM, with these moments easily being the albums most memorable. However, as I said, the times where the trio sticks to their roots are the album’s weakest, especially a number of the more ballad-type tracks. Needless to say, The Glow is an interesting step in a new direction for DMA’s, but one that still manages to maintain their shimmery identity, with this LP being their best effort since their debut.
Best track: Never Before
Im Wald by Paysage d’Hiver- 8.1/10:
Despite my short attention span and general belief that an album does not need to be more than 45 minutes to be effective, I must say, the first official album from Swiss underground black metal project Paysage d’Hiver is one imposing wall of sound to behold. From almost the word go, Im Wald engulfs you in a wave of lo-fi yet oppressively heavy ocean of chaos and noise, with manic drumming, swirling guitars and vocals sunk so far back in the mix they might as well not be there. It’s a great portrait of atmospheric black metal, with the cold, foreboding presence of this LP easily being the biggest drawcard. However, as I stated, the length of this album does have its toll, with the two hours leaving a strong sense of fatigue on me, especially someone who is just getting into the world of metal. I honestly think a few tracks could’ve been left out of the final cut and it still would’ve held its own. Overall, Im Wald is a punishingly dark yet undeniably beautiful black metal record that I can see becoming a cult classic for years to come.
Best track: Im Winderwald
The Passion of by Special Interest- 8.5/10:
In a cocktail of anger, joy, politics and pure energy does New Orleans punk group Special Interest find their sound settling on LP number 2, The Passion Of. And what can I say other than this is one of the most unique, original and well-executed combinations of sounds I have heard so far this year. The group’s blend of dance-floor filling, hard-hitting techno and socio-politically charged post-punk is effective, dark and totally addictive. Moving at a break-neck speed and held together by the manic and brilliant vocal performances from front-woman Logout, The Passion Of doesn’t give you room to breathe, yet for me, it never felt like it was too overwhelming, with enough optimism and celebration in the lyrics to allow the LP to never totally surrender to the darkness. All in all, Special Interest have created an incredibly unique record in The Passion Of, hopefully pushing this band’s exciting sound to a broader audience to increase the recognition they so incredibly deserve.
Best track: Street Pulse Beat
This Week’s Feature- Top 25 Songs of 2020 So Far:
I have always found ranking songs infinitely more complicated than albums. I would’ve made this my top 50 if I had the time, but I am limiting myself to just 25, so here are the fruits of my labour… (plus I am not going to go into detail as to why I like these songs as they speak for themselves)
25. Ghost of Soulja Slim by Jay Electronica
24. ooh la la by Run The Jewels
23. Robert by Jockstrap and Injury Reserve
22. Chapter 319 by clipping.
21. My High by Disclosure with Amine and slowthai
20. Physical by Dua Lipa
19. Cellular by King Krule
18. Blank Slate by HMLTD
17. Fk by Pink Siifu
16. forever by Charli XCX
15. Cars in Space by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
14. CUTIE PIE! by JPEGMAFIA
13. Run by Joji
12. So.Incredible.pkg by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats
11. My Name is Dark (Art Mix) by Grimes
10. Diamond by Empty Country
9. Sweet by Porridge Radio
8. Shameika by Fiona Apple
7. Kerosene! by Yves Tumor
6. After Hours by The Weeknd
5. Street Pulse Beat by Special Interest
4. Good News by Mac Miller
3. Right Round the Clock by Sorry
2. A Hero’s Death by Fontaines D.C.
1. On the Floor by Perfume Genius
If you want to listen to these songs, check this playlist- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1fnlnnUuuxvoBH0Qds8MUY?si=OOJHe-4xQoa95La0P24Jdw.