10 Tracks on Repeat:
1. Photo ID by Remi Wolf (2020)- This quirky, cheeky and adventurous alternative RnB song is a true hidden gem of 2020, with the up-and-coming Remi Wolf putting out one of the most effective earworms of the year.
2. Everlasting Light by The Black Keys (2010)- The opener to the garage/blues-rock revivalist’s mainstream breakthrough Brothers, Everlasting Light is a slowly driving track filled with yearning and emotion and not to mention one of the best rock grooves of the 2010s.
3. Mr. Prism by Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (2020)- Joining the likes of Tropical F**** Storm and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in the ‘absurdly named Australian rock bands’ club, this group have been making waves in the Australian indie scene thanks to their hard-hitting take on Psychedelic rock. I also find the lyrics of Mr. Prism to be quite entertaining as well, permeating a sense of sarcastic nihilism and indifference to modern life.
4. 06 Burst by Jean Dawson (2020)- The best track off the breakthrough indie artists latest record Pixel Bath, 06 Burst highlights the Mexican-American’s diversity excellently, giving us an experimental hip-hop track akin to the likes of JPEGMAFIA and BROCKHAMPTON.
5. Tie Me Down by George Clanton (2018)- Diving into this hypnagogic pop artist’s album Slide was one of the best decisions I have made in a while. An album full of lush, 90s-nostalgic pop tracks, Tie Me Down is one of the more low-key moments on the record, but it still packs the punch the more extravagant songs do.
6. my angel by Adrianne Leneker (2020)- Acoustic guitar and a delicate singing voice is all the Big Thief singer needs to make my angel an emotionally haunting and stunningly constructed song, with her latest solo effort being packed full of impressive tracks such as this.
7. Smith and Jones Forever by Silver Jews (1998)- This country-infused indie rock act of the 90s led by the now sadly passed David Berman almost wrote the rule book for snarky, observant and surprisingly profound indie for the next two decades. Smith and Jones Forever demonstrates what made this act work so well and is a definite highlight of 90s indie music in general.
8. Fu-Gee-La by Fugees (1994)- Known best for their super-hit Killing Me Softly With His Song (a notable track in its own right), many people tend to overlook the fact that the trio’s 1994 LP the classic is found on, The Score, has some of the best hip-hop of the 90s. My personal favourite is the alternative rap jam Fu-Gee-La. This song showcases the talents of each member as well as the group’s profoundly political outlook.
9. Kingslayer by Bring Me the Horizon with BABYMETAL (2020)- A larger than life alternative metal banger featuring contributions from viral Japanese pop/metal crossover group BABYMETAL. Need I say more?
10. For Your Entertainment by Unwound (1994)- A post-hardcore/noise rock belter for fans of groups such as Sonic Youth and Fugazi, the hypnotic and passionate For Your Entertainment is found on Unwound’s 1994 hidden-gem Repetition.
songs by Adrianne Lenker- 8.9/10:
It seems that by unshackling herself from Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting has reached its near peak. Though nothing I have heard from her now much-loved indie-folk band is bad (in fact most of it is quite excellent), I find that none of it has left the lasting impression songs has. A traditional acoustic guitar and vocal affair, songs excels in its intimacy. Melancholy yet uplifting, Lenker sings of love, family, nostalgia and just about anything that seems to come to mind with ease, her lyrics certainly the main drawcard to this record. Yet you can’t underestimate the gorgeous guitar work found throughout this record, with the perfect balance being struck between the skeletal instrumentals and Lenker’s pristine voice. I really haven’t been blown away by what folk music has been offering me this year, and I was hoping that I could get at least one sensational album to savour. And even if it hasn’t blown me away at quite the level a record like Julia Jacklin’s Crushing did last year, it seems that Lenker has given me one to savour, with songs being one of the most intimate listening experiences this year, all held together by one of the best singer-songwriters out there right now.
Best track: my angel
PIXEL BATH by Jean Dawson- 7.0/10:
Bursting with energy and ideas but at times a little misguided, PIXEL BATH is definitely worth consideration. Dawson certainly wears his influences on his sleeve throughout this record, with elements of 90s indie rock and contemporary alternative hip-hop shining through the most. And for the most part, Jean never feels like he loses his voice; however, a few tracks do sound like they were ripped straight from the last BROCKHAMPTON record. I definitely also enjoyed the second half of this record more as more significant risks in songwriting was taken, and Dawson lets some of his alternative hip-hop influences shine through. PIXEL BATH is definitely one of the most exciting records this year, and I think it is a good indication of the genre-hopping direction this wave of internet-bread Gen Z artists are doing with pop music. PIXEL BATH also makes me incredibly optimistic for Dawson’s musical future in general, and with a bit of refinement, I feel like he really could become an artist to be reckoned with.
Best track: 06 Burst
Song Machine, Season 1: Strange Dayz by Gorillaz-
Original Score- 6.8/10
Updated Score- 6.0/10
A tragedy really. I had every intention of revising the latest Gorillaz record in hopes of finding more to enjoy about it. Alas, the flaws were made only more glaring on a second listen, with Song Machine being one of my least favourite Gorillaz records. Nevertheless, it is their best-received record by fans and critics since 2010’s Plastic Beach, so hopefully, you guys can find more to enjoy about it than I did. By no means a bad album, it just doesn’t have the impact I hoped for.
Feature Article: More Quarantine Albums-
This week I would love to take the opportunity to shine a light on four more excellent records I have listened to in the last couple of weeks.
Repetition by Unwound (1994)-
Considered a staple band of the underground noise rock scene of the mid-90s, this band’s 1994 record is a hidden gem in 90s alternative canon. A noisy, emotional, incredibly well-crafted and surprisingly melodic record, Repetition is an excellent piece of music for anyone into the likes of Sonic Youth and Fugazi. It has since been gaining a larger cult following every day and is now rightly regarded as a 90s indie rock classic. One of this album’s most endearing features is the instrumental variation it packs as well, with the noisy guitar assaults often undercut by smooth synth lines and hypnotic tape effects.
Highlights: Message Received, Corpse Pose, Sensible, For Your Entertainment.
The Score by Fugees (1994)-
Another 1994 classic, but one far more well known to the masses, Fugees second and last album is one of the best 90s hip-hop records I have ever listened to. Its diversity is the main drawn card, with influences as far-reaching as reggae, afro-beat and RnB being evident throughout. This is in large part thanks to the sheer talent of Lauryn Hill, whose mind-blowing skills as a rapper and her decent vocal chops allowing for the trio to genre-hop with ease. Conceptually this record shines as well, with its combination of gangsta imagery with strong political undertones creating a record with far more depth than it may be given credit for.
Highlights: Zealots, Fu-Gee-La, Killing Me Softly With His Song, The Mask, No Woman No Cry
Floating Into the Night by Julee Cruise (1989)-
With lyrics by legendary film director David Lynch and production from Twin Peaks score-writer Angelo Badalamenti, Floating Into the Night acts almost as a companion piece to the said TV show, with many songs even featuring in episodes. But as a standalone piece, this album is just as excellent. Cruise’s voice is piercingly clear and pristine, wonderfully telling tales of love over the dreamy, ambient like dream-pop instrumentals. It is a serene album, but also surprisingly unsettling, with sudden eruptions of noise throughout keeping the listener on their toes. It is a sultry, dreamy and mysterious record I would recommend to both fans of Twin Peaks and otherwise.
Highlights: Floating, Falling, Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart, Into the Night
The Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse (1997)-
One of the scrappiest yet most charming collection of thrown together indie rock tracks I have heard in a while, Modest Mouse’s 1997 masterpiece might stand at 15 tracks and run for over seventy minutes, but I would be damned if it isn’t amazing. A distinctly American album, The Lonesome Crowded West has songs that range from slightly novel and silly to heartbreaking and tragic. It thrives on a delicate balance between simplicity and complexity. Simplicity in the plain and often blunt lyrics of Isaac Brock, but sophistication in their ability to capture a moment in American history when mass consumerism was devouring the soul of many small towns. The simplicity of the loose instrumentals, yet the undeniable talent each member has on their respective instrument (especially drummer Jeremiah Green). I also love how the band let their songs play out, with many pushing six-minute plus runtimes, allowing them plenty of room to breathe. Also, the really thrown-together nature of this record is irresistible, with each song feeling like it is being held together through the sheer will for them to exist. It’s a near-perfect record in my opinion, and one I think I will be listening to for a long time to come.
Highlights: Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine, Heart Cooks Brain, Lounge (Closing Time), Doin’ the Cockroach, Trailer Trash, Truckers Atlas