10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Cold by Father (2015)- Translated from Korean, this artist belongs to a genre known as deathdream, a sound utilised by a small collection of artists on Bandcamp. Combining the worlds of vaporwave and drone, Cold is the opening track to Father’s 2015 record White Death (again, translated from Korean), a gorgeous yet hauntingly devastating deathdream album I was introduced to through YouTube channel Pad Cheddington.
2. Drugs (Dry Eyes) by We Are Only Human Once (2020)- A little gem of a record I stumbled across on AOTY, Misanthrope really is one of this year’s best independent releases. And its noisy indie rock gems such as Drugs (Dry Eyes) that give the album the emotional impact it has.
3. I Luv the Valley OH! by Xiu Xiu (2004)- My second week in a row featuring experimental elders Xiu Xiu, I Luv the Valley OH! is one of the band’s more accessible releases; however, it still exudes the unsettling menace that has defined Xiu Xiu’s sound for the last two decades.
4. to Perth, before the border closes by Julia Jacklin (2020)- The Australian queen of heart-ache returns with her latest folk-rock single. A contemplation on the Australian Quarantine, it is a beautifully written track with mournful guitars and a stellar vocal performance from Jacklin.
5. Pretty Girl by Clairo (2017)- Bedroom pop and its upbeat aesthetic is neatly summed by Clairo’s lo-fi debut single Pretty Girl. A simple yet considered bop, this is the track that helped launch Clairo into being one of the genre’s biggest names.
6. Enlacing by clipping. (2020)- It is becoming a weekly ritual to include clipping. songs in the roundup. However, the trio’s second to last song on their recent release is a step in a new direction, infusing elements of trance and EDM to creating yet another menacing experimental hip-hop banger.
7. Kettering by The Antlers (2009)- Hospice by The Antler’s is one of the strangest and emotionally haunting albums I have listened to in a while. A concept album, it tells the story of a nurse falling in love with a bone cancer in hospice. The oddly specific narrative of the album has led many to believe that it has to be somewhat autobiographical. Regardless of the strangeness that surrounds the record, emotional and towering songs such as Kettering ensure it is one of the most important late 2000s indie rock releases.
8. Block Rockin’ Beats by The Chemical Brothers (1997)- A big-beat classic, this explosive dance number from the British trio is as invigorating as it is fiery, making it one of my favourite electronic tracks ever.
9. Go Get It by Slowdive (2017)- Alongside My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive are one of the most crucial shoegaze acts of all time. And their self-titled comeback album proved they still had plenty to contribute to the genre. The track that I think sums up shoegaze as a genre perfectly on this album is Go Get It, with the murky lyrical gibberish of the verse serving as a significant buildup to the anthemic, soaring chorus.
10. Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem (2010)- An anthem to frustration and existential dread, Dance Yrself Clean is dance-punk icons LCD Soundsystem’s best song as well as one of the best songs of the 2010s.
Listen to this week’s tracks here- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4u7QbBf4u3IoScCbambHuB?si=x7RVDIUURTSrMITQDrcsUg.
To listen to Cold by Father (track 1), follow this link- https://blcr.bandcamp.com/album/–11.
Song Machine, Season 1: Strange Timez by Gorillaz- 6.8/10:
Only marginally better than Humanz and considerably stronger than The Now Now, I can’t help but feel a tangible disappointment with Song Machine. I wasn’t too sure what I should expect going into this as I found the singles to be a heavily hit or miss affair. But for me, Damon Albarn’s virtual band still haven’t come close to the heights reached on Demon Days and Plastic Beach. Granted, this is the project’s best release since Plastic Beach, but it just didn’t click as nicely. As per usual, the best songs on this project are brilliant, and if Song Machine proves anything, it’s that Albarn is genuinely one of the best alternative songwriters of all time. Most of the collaborations work as well with a relatively good balance being struck between guest appearances and the cartoon band’s unique voice. But I just didn’t find myself being overly impressed beyond that point. Some of the features don’t really work amazingly, and I found the bouncy synth-pop production to become rather grating at times, sounding like they were ripped directly from a kid’s show. Maybe it’s because my expectations are too high, but Song Machine just didn’t stick the landing as well as I hoped. A solid album no doubt with mostly strong guest features and consistently reliable songwriting from Albarn throughout. But a slew of minor problems and complaints I have about this record simply hold it back too much.
Best track: Aries
Visions of Bodies Being Burned by clipping.- 9.7/10:
For the second year in a row, one of the most creative, critically under-appreciated and forward-thinking rap groups ever in clipping. have released another masterpiece. In all seriousness, few musical groups in any genre can claim to be functioning on the same level these three masters have been working on for the past few years. Acting as a direct sequel to last year’s masterful There Existed an Addiction to Blood, Visions of Bodies Being Burned once again comes in time for this year’s spooky season, continuing the horrorcore inspired theme. Songs about murder, ghouls and demons cleverly mask politically sharp themes, with MC Daveed Diggs marking his stamp as one of the greatest story-telling rappers of all time as well as flexing his formidable technical skills. The guest features are also strong, though I didn’t feel like they were as consistent as they were on the trio’s previous LP, but this was only a minor complaint. Last and most defiantly not least, I cannot forget to mention the harsh, cutting, precise and ambitious production of Snipes and Hudson as well as a slew of guest experimental artists, creating the genuinely frightening soundscapes that help convey the extreme stories Diggs tells, challenging both the listener and the various rappers on this record to engage with unsettling instrumentals that might otherwise seem too difficult to enjoy. Clipping. really are at the cutting edge of hip-hop, with their experimental sound never failing to blow my mind. And even though I would say I enjoy There Existed an Addiction to Blood a tiny bit more, Visions of Bodies Being Burned is a worthy sequel, with the freaky horror-inspired sound of this LP simply being exhilarating.
Best track: Say the Name
Misanthrope by We Are Only Human Once- 9.0/10:
This album has come at a really interesting point in my life. My first year of University and the beginning of adulthood, a lot has really changed for me recently. 2020 has also been a uniquely frustrating year (as it has for everyone), filled with rejection and missed opportunities. And with my 20th birthday in just three months, my final year as a teenager has not been what I envisioned it. It’s for these reasons that I felt a strange connection with what We Are Only Human Once has to say on Misanthrope. For me, it is the record that captures 2020 the best. It’s not the best record of the year, but merely the one that speaks to the year the best for me. Sure, it’s really messy, and the Car Seat Headrest influence is inescapable, but I can’t help but love it. The instrumentals are lo-fi and noisy, each track being a gem of noise-pop chaos that is too charming to resist. Lyrically, Misanthrope is an album about growing up. It’s filled with angst, humour and niche pop culture references that speak to me in a way few LPs have this year. I’m thrilled AOTY as a community takes time to champion records such as this and I’m certainly glad to check it out. As I said before, this isn’t the best LP of 2020, but if I had to point to a piece of music that I think summed up my experience of this nightmarish year, it would certainly be this.
Best track- Do You Know Her?
This Week’s feature- Toxicity and Obsession: My Thoughts on ‘Stan’ Culture-
Today, I would like to briefly give my thoughts on a phenomenon called ‘stanning’. “What does that mean?” I hear some of you say. To ‘stan’ someone means to be a superfan who will practically eat up anything any particular individual will do. It’s derived from the Eminem song of the same name (a tragic but great track about a horrifically mentally ill superfan who takes him and his pregnant wife’s lives in a fit of anger) and tends to be used loosely. However, for many, being a ‘stan’ of a particular musical artist is incredibly important, with immense online communities forming around shared obsession.
Personally, I like to think I don’t ‘stan’ any particular artist. Of course, I have my favourites, but I defiantly haven’t ever been excessively obsessed with any given musician. And that neither makes me a better or worse person than I person who does ‘stan’ an artist. Whilst it is never something I would do; I can see the benefits. As someone who gravitates onto many online music communities, I understand the desire to connect with people who have similar interests as you, and social media is the perfect place to do so.
However, recently the darker side of ‘stan’ culture has started to rear its head, and it certainly isn’t pretty. As hinted in the classic Eminem track, there is a fine line between harmless idolisation and toxic obsession, and many ‘stan’ communities have crossed that line.
One place this can be seen playing out is in Twitter threads. Go to any given Kanye West or Taylor Swift ‘stan’ account and you will see a sea of toxic hate comments from both parties. Name-calling, homophobic and racial slurs… you name it. And while you could chalk this down to simple keyboard warriors being over-zealous in their choice of words, it depresses me that this is what some music fandoms have become. Lost on a lot of these people seems to be the concept that people are entitled to their own taste in music. In its place exists this god-like idolisation of human-beings and a strange need for their chosen artist of affection to be the best, obsessing over chart numbers and critic scores. A particularly horrific example of this came after Pitchfork writer Jillian Mapes had her recent review of Taylor Swift’s folklore was published. Giving the album an 8.0/10, she wrote an overwhelmingly positive account of the record, highlighting some of the very minor misgivings she had with it. But for many Taylor Swift ‘stans’, this was not good enough, sending her death-threats and threatening to burn her house down if she didn’t give the record a 10/10.
As I said, there is nothing inherently nothing wrong with being a superfan. And whilst the extreme levels of dedication many ‘stans’ have baffled me, it can offer opportunities for people to connect with others, especially through social media. But sadly, ‘stan’ culture is getting out of hand. The climate of bullying hate and negativity it has come to represent is plain ugly and can even possibly take away the enjoyment of the music from others who are not a member of these ‘stan’ communities. What needs to happen is some ‘stans’ (and not all, many if not most don’t engage with this behaviour) need to wake-up to the fact that their idol is not the most outstanding musician of all time in the eyes of everybody, and that people are simply entitled to enjoy what they want, without the threat of online harassment looming over their heads.