10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Floating by Julee Cruise (1989)- Found on the singer’s 1989 masterpiece, floating (like most songs on the album) is closely linked to the Twin Peaks TV show. And much like the show, Floating is an enchanting, mysterious and strangely unsettling piece of music.
2. Hurt by Arlo Parks (2020)- A song that puts depression front and centre, Hurt is about as funky a song this melancholy can be, making the British artist one to keep an eye on over the coming year.
3. Dora by Tierra Whack (2020)- Quirky production and some excellent performances, Whack continues to occupy the abstract corners of trap rap with Dora, a sugar-sweet bop that is too tasty to resist.
4. Hey Jane by Spiritualized (2012)- Accompanied by a graphic and highly controversial music video, Hey Jane sees the legendary British space rockers take on a more rock ‘n’ roll style, building an incredible level of tension and never quite releasing it.
5. Snail by BENEE (2020)- The Kiwi pop-stars debut record is a fun, playful collection of alt-pop numbers such as the charmingly quirky Snail, solidifying BENEE as a genuine artist rather than just a TikTok.
6. Straws In the Wind by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (2020)- The boys return with their latest album, the mildly disappointing K.G., a flawed album, but one with plenty of highlights as well, such as Straws In the Wind, sung by multi-instrumentalist Ambrose.
7. Secret Superstitions by Decades/Failures (2015)- Dreary, reverb-drenched, synth-driven post-punk. Basically, it’s right up my alley.
8. Water in the Well by shame (2020)- It filled me with excitement to see these British post-punk rockers announce their first record in three years, and I was equally excited to hear the latest single, the talking-heads inspired Water in the Well.
9. Helicopter by Bloc Party (2005)- One of my all-time favourite songs, Helicopter might not be as popular as the band’s smash hit Banquet (a sensational song in its own right), but its urgency is too hard to ignore. From front-man Kele Okereke’s yelping vocals to the sheer talent of the band’s instrumentalists, Helicopter is one of the best indie songs ever.
10. Truckers Atlas by Modest Mouse (1997)- Rolling drums, spiky guitars and punk-influenced vocals carry this Modest Mouse epic, with its nearly eleven-minute runtime flying by thanks to the constant, head-banging pace this song sets from the beginning.
In this week’s edition, I will do one big final review dump and get into year-end lists after this. Enjoy!
K.G. by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- 6.3/10:
After spending the last decade jumping between styles at whiplash speed, Aussie psychedelic legends King Gizz seemingly stick to some familiar ground on K.G., offering some excellent songs but not exciting me enough for me to consider it one of their better releases. Though some new sounds are present, such as the underlying Turkish influence of many instrumentals, K.G. sticks to sounds that King Gizz have delved into before. And don’t get me wrong, despite their tireless work ethic and the sheer amount of music they put out, these guys are seemingly incapable of putting out bad music. But every now and then, they create something that just isn’t entirely on the same level as their best releases. And that is the case with K.G. I really don’t have much to say about this record, other than it offers a handful of excellent psychedelic rock tracks but doesn’t make a good enough case for itself to be considered alongside the likes of classics such as Nonagon Infinity.
Best track: Straws In the Wind
Hey u x by BENEE- 7.8/10:
Questionable album cover out of the way, I am really thrilled to say that Kiwi pop-star BENEE’s debut LP is packed with all the indie-pop goodness I have come to expect from the now global superstar. It is easy to write BENEE off as nothing but a Tik Tok famous pop-star who is only enjoying success through the sheer luck of her two viral hits. But if that’s what it took to get who I think is one of the most promising pop-stars in the world-famous, then I don’t care. Hey u x builds upon the quirky, energetic and emotionally mature music she established on her solid last two EPs. I was also glad to hear that despite all the mainstream success, BENEE was still not afraid to keep things a little weird here and there. The long list of guest features is also mostly effective, though some don’t really feel like they add anything to the overall record. My only other minor complaint is that the mixing came across a little muddy; however, this wasn’t a massively distracting point. Overall, Hey u x is a great little debut that sets BENEE up for room to grow and hopefully more success in the future.
Best track: Snail
Monument by Molchat Doma- 6.4/10:
On their third album, Belorussian cold-wave trio Molchat Doma re-hash the same ideas that made their previous cult hit work, with Monument sadly not living up to all the hype that has come to surround this band. I’ll start by saying that I think it is genuinely amazing the kind of exposure Molchat Doma have been receiving. It is so rare these days that a non-English speaking band playing a niche genre get so much attention, and it is refreshing to see them not attempt to change their style too much for international audiences. However, Monument’s refusal to switch things up leaves it a little underwhelming to me. Each track is well-produced and pushes a steady, danceable groove, and I am a huge fan of singer Egor Shkutko’s deep baritone. I also don’t think not understanding the Russian lyrics is a big issue either (however, looking up translated versions does reveal some interesting lines). But too much of this record just felt predictable, with no attempts from the band to try anything new. Some of the longer track lengths don’t bide too well for me either as I found myself missing the short and efficient songs that made their last LP work. It is a real shame this album isn’t better than it is as I believe Molchat Doma are one of the most unique voices in modern underground music, so here’s hoping that next time the Belorussian trio can deliver a record that lives up to expectations a little better.
Best track: Утонуть / Utonut’
Spirit World Field Guide by Aesop Rock- 7.6/10:
Though it is a little overly long, Aesop Rock’s Spirit World Field Guide is an adventurous, well-produced and lyrically compelling record. In other words, it is mostly what people have come to expect from the Portland rapper. A highly conceptual record, Aesop effectively uses video-game imagery and a healthy dosage of nerd culture, in general, to cleverly deliver some surprisingly introspective tracks. His rapping is on point as ever as well, proving him to be still one of the most technically proficient rappers and storytellers in abstract hip-hop. The production, whilst nothing new for Aesop, is solid throughout, with a consistent tone making the album flow nicely. My biggest problem comes with the large track-list and runtime. Though this album might flow from track to track adequately, there are one too many moments that pale compared to the highlights, with the filler on this record dragging it down a bit. But other than that, A Spirit World Field Guide sees Aesop Rock deliver on all the fronts that have made him an underground icon, with his endearingly conceptual take on some introspective issues being a refreshing change in comparison to a lot the politically charged hip-hop we have gotten this year (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Best track: Pizza Alley
Plastic Hearts by Miley Cyrus- 6.2/10:
Despite a decent list of drawbacks, Plastic Hearts’ charismatic energy makes it Miley’s best collection of songs by a long shot. An artist I have never been too taken by, I think Miley’s career has been cursed by a plethora of good ideas and intentions but held back by poor execution. Whether it be her questionable lyrics or her inconsistent singing voice, something has always held her back. But on Plastic Hearts, we get glimpses that the former Disney star is on her way to finally realising some of those excellent ideas. Messy yet highly energetic and produced incredibly well, Plastic Hearts pays tribute to Miley’s influences and idols, rooting itself in all things 80s. Lyrically, she improves a lot on this record; however, I am still not won over by what I think are her overly strained vocals. Songs, where she doesn’t shout, are the best, but annoyingly there are a few too many shouty moments on Plastic Hearts. Nevertheless, Plastic Hearts is a pretty solid record and hopefully a sign that the American pop-stars music’s quality is on the up.
Best track- Plastic Hearts
weird!- by YUNGBLUD- 2.7/10:
This is the best body of work YUNGBLUD has released so far. In other words, weird! is a nauseating, messy and painfully un-self-aware cocktail of half-baked rip-offs and genre crossovers. I genuinely fail to see what the appeal of the Brit’s music is. You’ll spend half your time listening to weird! either cringing at the awfully cliche lyrics or wishing you were listening to the many artists YUNGBLUD attempts to imitate. The same problems that have plagued the artist’s music are present on weird!. Firstly, YUNGBLUD is totally incapable of writing decent lyrics, either spitting painful cliches or attempting to establish himself as some edgy, outsider icon. Then there are his awful vocals, sounding as bratty and generic as ever. Moving on, we have the instrumentals, which are entirely over-produced. Granted, some of them could’ve been good songs, but any hope of this is immediately dashed when Dom starts singing. Each song is also deeply unoriginal to the point of disrespect. From The 1975 to The Streets, plenty of artists’ sounds can be heard throughout weird!, but none of them are YUNGBLUD’s. And finally, the biggest problem of this record: the sheer lack of self-awareness. YUNGBLUD is obviously convinced in his own head that he is some sort of revolutionary musical act, constantly name-dropping better artists and trying his hardest to associate himself with the elders of British rock. But it’s simply never been convincing, and the same goes for weird!. A totally edgeless mess of alt-pop, it, unfortunately, seems that YUNGBLUD is here to stay.
Best track: Its Not Living If Its Not With You by The 1975