10 Songs on Repeat:

1. Valleys by Working Men’s Club (2020)- The opener to the British band’s impressive debut sets the tone for the record well, demonstrating their smooth brand of dance-punk through driving bass, swirling synths and a confident performance from frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant. 

2. Desire Lines by Deerhunter (2010)- My interest in this classic yet vastly underappreciated indie group has been renewed after listening to their 2010 experimental-leaning record Halcyon Digest, an album many consider their best. Whilst it personally wasn’t my favourite, I haven’t been able to get enough of the swirling dream-pop cut Desire Lines, a track which finds strength in its simplicity.

3. Bollywood Apologetics by Black Wing (2020)- Dan Barret, the mind behind Have a Nice Life and Giles Corey, has returned to his Black Wing project and is looking to release another album under said act’s name. The first single off it is the bouncy yet dark Bollywood Apologetics, a song which feels like a meditation on the frustrating year of 2020. 

4. Black Rice by Women (2008)- This tragically short-lived indie rock band released two excellent albums before the sudden death of guitarist Chris Riemer and the band’s subsequent break-up/reformation into other projects. Black Rice stands as an excellent tribute to the band’s lo-fi, noisy yet endearing brand of music, relying on a simple yet catchy riff and chorus to carry the track. 

5. Last Train’s Come and Gone by Cindy Lee (2018)- Speaking of Women and their subsequent projects, I would like to shine a light on this slightly older track from Patrick Flegel’s Cindy Lee project, a haunting hypnagogic pop number that deals with the musicians struggle with gender identity. 

6. Baby Blue by Fishmans (1996)- If it is a burst of positivity is what you’re looking for, I suggest checking out this fun, catchy and merely gorgeous track from Japanese art-pop cult-favourites Fishmans.

7. Flashing Lights by Kanye West (2007)- To distract from Kanye’s travesty that is his latest single, let me direct you towards this 2007 classic bling-rap infused banger from the artist’s 2007 LP Graduation. 

8. Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl by Xiu Xiu (2003)- As the unsettling and undeniably eye-catching cover-art would suggest, Xiu Xiu’s 2003 record A Promise is designed to challenge and unsettle listeners through uncomfortably honest lyrics and frightening soundscapes. This is evident on this track, an incredibly anxious acoustic number that sees its built-up tension released through explosions of noise and chaos.

9. Pain Everyday by clipping. (2020)- Another frighteningly spooky experimental hip-hop banger, another entry for clipping. in the roundup. This group are simply unstoppable.

10. Dogs by Pink Floyd (1977)- Standing at 17 minutes, musically touching on genres as broad as hard rock and ambient as well as being a politically explosive attack on capitalist greed, Dogs is just about everything one could ask from a Pink Floyd classic. I also recommend checking out the album it is from, 1977’s George Orwell inspired Animals. 

You can find this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2Mu2dQfiZgQD6cXgkw5x6J?si=MenHCVZ1Tg2_H7alTX2b6w.

Quick Reviews:

Working Men’s Club by Working Men’s Club- 7.6/10: 

Earlier this year, I heard the brilliant The Passion Of by Special Interest, and it left me craving more post-punk-techno crossovers. So, I was pretty excited to hear of Working Men’s Club releasing their critically acclaimed debut centred around punk rock attitude and dance beats. And whilst it does lack punch in some spots, Working Men’s Club is a smooth, wonderfully produced and sonically diverse album that is well worth a listen. The biggest negative that I can draw from this is that some tracks were decidedly lacking in energy, something you don’t want in a dance-oriented album. However, the sheer confidence this carries across its entire runtime makes for a great listen. The best tracks are dark, driving dance-punk bangers that draw on a diverse range of influences from The Fall to LCD Soundsystem, held together by swirling synths, funky bass and spiky guitar play. I think it’s also important to mention the charm that frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant exudes as well. Overall, I glad I checked out this up and coming British band, with their groovy self-titled debut getting me excited for what they can do in the future. 

Best track: Valleys

Who Made the Sunshine by Westside Gun- 5.7/10: 

On his 3rd LP this year, New York rapper Westside Gunn is sounding like he is running out of ideas. I really don’t have that much to say about this record, to be honest. It isn’t that bad, with the beats being mostly well-produced and crafted and some pretty great performances throughout. But it just feels like I’ve heard it all before. Gunn’s nasally voice began to wear on me by the end of this album and also felt like there was a decided lack of diverse flows throughout. This led to most of the guest features outperforming Gunn, which is never a good thing on a feature-heavy record. This album has its highlights, and at its best, it manages to pull through with some solid and even great East Cost rap, but the few tricks that Westside Gunn has up his sleeve are drying up. 

 Best track: 98 Sabers

Sorry for only two reviews this week. Uni schedule has been getting in the way of my usual listening routine.

This Week’s Feature Article- 3 Albums to Get You into Experimental Hip-hop: 

Like any genre of music, there are those within the world of hip-hop who wish to push the genre to its limits and see where it takes them. Often intimidating, the world of experimental hip-hop can seem hard to penetrate, however, within it is a bevy of excellent, challenging releases from some genuinely creative artists. Here is a quick list of some of the essential releases in the genre to get you started.

Yeezus by Kanye West-

Kanye’s music has always been wildly unpredictable, much like the man himself. And despite his less than likeable public persona, the man’s talent as a musician is undeniable. For me, his creative peak came with Yeezus. An album that combines the harsh world of industrial hip-hop with Kanye’s familiar style of alternative hip-hop for one hell of a ride. Chaotic, confident and ambitious for a mainstream release, Yeezus is Kanye’s experimental magnum opus and in my opinion his best album. I find it’s an excellent place to start for anyone wanting to get into experimental hip-hop. It displays some of the more intimidating aspects of the genre whilst not totally isolating the listeners who may not be as familiar with this style. An excellent album and essential listening in the experimental hip-hop canon.

Highlights: On Sight, Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Blood On the Leaves, Bound 2

CLPPNG by clipping.- 

I have spoken at length about my love for this trio, and though there most recent two albums are their best (more on that next week), I believe the correct place to start for those new to genre is the group’s self-titled second LP. What clipping. does so well is subversion and the extreme. By subversion, I mean taking familiar elements of traditional hardcore rap and blurring them and by the extreme, I mean the end result. Clipping’s music is incredible abstract yet incredibly precise, with each static explosion and piece synth being expertly placed to compliment the excellent rapping skills of Daveed Diggs and the tales of violence and horror be spins. CLPPNG is probably the group’s most accessible release, and their most popular. It assaults the listener with wave after wave of audio mayhem but also allows moments of calm to make sure you aren’t totally isolated. It’s a wild ride of an album but one that is worth taking.

Highlights: Body and Blood, Taking Off, Or Die, Inside Out, Story 2 

The Money Store by Death Grips: 

Death Grips are the modern face of experimental hip-hop. Throughout their nearly decade long career they have managed to remain one of the most unpredictable, fearlessly creative and wildly entertaining acts in not only hip-hop but music in general. The Money Store is the trio’s most iconic album, primarily because of the rare perfect 10 it received from internet critic Anthony Fantano. And whilst I don’t think its Death Grip’s best work, it’s the one that has defined them the most. Which is not at all bad, as the Money Store is still a great album. It flexes the group’s signature style of loud, noise-driven and punk-inspired hip-hop perfectly. It is unpredictable and engaging from back to front. Each member also shines throughout, from Any Morin’s thrashy production to Zach Hill’s technical drumming and of course MC Ride’s iconic shout-rapping. Even though this record has been praised to near death, it is still probably the most essential experimental hip-hop album of the 2010s.   

Highlights: Get Got, The Fever (Aye Aye), Double Helix, I’ve Seen Footage, Punk Weight, Hacker  

One thought on “The Music Roundup Week 34: 3 Albums to get You into Experimental Hip-Hop

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