Hello and welcome back to the Music Roundup! This is an incredibly special week, as I was able to go to my first live concert since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live music performances. In this week’s roundup, I also provide reviews on some recent album releases such as BROCKHAMPTON and Xiu Xiu. I hope you enjoy!
Series written by Guest Author Alex Driscoll!
10 Songs on Repeat:
1. Sisyphus by Quadeca (2021)- An artist I am not really familiar with, I would defiantly be curious to find out more about this rapper thanks to his really interesting emo-rap meets experimental hip-hop banger Sisyphus. Lyrically not the most interesting piece of music ever, but production-wise quite incredible.
2. Survive by Show Me the Body (2021)- Angry, modern hardcore punk with an electronic edge, and another reason why Show Me the Body are among the more exciting bands in punk rock.
3. John L by black midi (2021)- These British experimentalists have really outdone themselves with John L, a totally uncategorisable explosion of technical chord progressions, strange vocals and absurd lyrics about a cult leader and his followers.
4. BUZZCUT by BROCKHAMPTON and Danny Brown (2021)- Genuinely one of the best tracks in a while from the rap collective, BUZZCUT brings that classic BROCKHAMPTON energy for an urgent banger, topped by a brilliant Danny Brown feature.
5. Falling out of the Sky by Armand Hammer and The Alchemist with Earlsweatshirt (2021)- Hazy abstract hip-hop at its best. The three artists on this track all bring their a-game, making for some really dark but explosive chemistry.
6. Your Path to Divinity by Jesu (2004)- A rumbling, slow drone-metal meets shoegaze fusion, Your Path to Divinity is an indulgent track, but it’s why I love it.
7. Dark Centre of the Universe by Modest Mouse (2000)- The Moon and Antarctica was Modest Mouse’s transition to more expansive indie rock; however, the best track on it is the classically nervy, punk-infused Dark Centre of the Universe.
8. Streaky by Death Grips (2018)- This song is surprisingly catchy and accessible for a Death Grips track. Which isn’t really saying much, with the majority of the track being a wild ride through hedonistic industrial hip-hop.
9. Houseplants by Squid (2019)- With the excitement surrounding this band, I want to highlight the track that really put them on the map, being the socio-political critique disguised as an off the wall post-punk banger Houseplants.
10. For Everything by The Murder Capital (2019)- Though this band can be a little overbearing for some in their darkness, give surprisingly optimistic yet still pummelling and moody tracks like For Everything a go, and you might just get convinced as to why I think they are one of the best bands in Ireland.
ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT NEW MACHINE by BROCKHAMPTON- 6.7/10:
BUZZCUT really felt like a moment for BROCKHAMPTON. Genuinely one of their best songs, it was hard-hitting, energetic and endlessly fun. So here I was hoping the same for ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE. Alas, the self-proclaimed boyband fails to live up to lofty expectations they set themselves on their initial run of releases from 2017-2018. ROADRUNNER is an admirable but highly predictable effort that greatly loses steam in the second half. The first two tracks are superb. And the highlights here are close to their best songs. But like GINGER, the lowlights are some of their worst, and unlike GINGER, the highlights are not as numerous. I will definitely say that a lot of the production, though nothing new, is top-notch throughout, and the guest features are nearly all excellent (Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA in particular). I hope that whatever BROCKHAMPTON have planned in the future (if anything) can live up to their early days.
Best track: BUZZCUT
HARAM by Armand Hammer and The Alchemist- 8.5/10:
The latest effort from prolific underground hip-hop artists Billy Woods and Euclid, with production from The Alchemist, is an unsettling, dark, hazy trip through politics, violence and everything in-between. In other words, it is an excellent entry into the superb modern abstract hip-hop canon. I must confess, for someone who claims to love abstract hip-hop as much as I do, I am not too familiar with the works of either of these artists, especially egregious considering the reputation of Billy Woods. However, HARAM feels like a great introduction. The two rappers as Armand Hammer, bring a menacing presence, rapping about radical politics and religion with unflinching realism (something that could be predicted judging by the unsettling album cover). The guest appearances are also pretty good, with notable names such as Earl Sweatshirt and Quelle Chris lending their talents to the dark affair. For me, however, it’s The Alchemist’s hazy, hushed yet surprisingly moving production that stands out the most, with this abstract style suiting his sonic palate more than the traditionally gangsta style of Freddie Gibbs on Alfredo. The chemistry between the three artists is simply excellent, and even if HARAM is not an innovative abstract hip-hop record by any stretch of the imagination, it gets the job done incredibly well.
Best track: Falling Out the Sky
Oh No by Xiu Xiu- 7.5/10:
Challenging whilst also managing to have some more palatable moments, incredibly atmospheric and stubbornly strange, Oh No is a classic Xiu Xiu affair and probably their best body of work since Plays the Music Of Twin Peaks. The biggest selling point for the album is the concept: each song being a duet with a wide array of artists from no-wave band Liars to Sharon Von Etten. This also happens to be the record’s greatest failing, with too many voices distracting the listener throughout. However, I will say this album has an incredibly consistent atmosphere which saves it from being a total mess. I also appreciate that the songs are a little more conventional, with the sheer unsettling chaos that was 2019’s Girl With Basket of Fruit often being a little too much. I can see Oh No sitting very nicely alongside some of the better records in Xiu Xiu’s expansive discography, taking some of the elements we know and love (such as incomprehensible lyrics and explosive passages of noise) and teaming up with a diverse array of artists with mostly good effect. A solid and highly worthwhile piece of experimental rock.
Best track- Rumpus Room
Feature Article: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Tropical F*** Storm at The Enmore:
This week I was finally able to go to my first concert since lockdown. That being Aussie psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, supported by fellow Australians Tropical F*** Storm. Here are my thoughts on the night.
First and foremost, I had totally forgotten the singular experience that is a mosh pit. A heaving mass of humanity dancing, vying to get to the front (and in the case of this show) aimlessly running into each other. Being of the short stature I am, I tried my best to fight this sweaty parade; I opted for the wings towards the end of the show. It’s an acquired taste for sure, and I still haven’t been totally won over by the experience.
First off the block was noise-rockers Tropical F*** Storm, and boy did they live up to their bombastic name. The roughly 50-minute set was a deafening affair. The amps were definitely kicked up to eleven, and the four-piece delivered some real hard-rocking moments. The vast majority of the set was taken up by songs from their debut record, Laughing Death in Meatspace, which was a tad disappointing considering how much I love their sophomore LP Braindrops. The definite highlights were their renditions of You Let My Tyres Down and Paradise, as well as seeing a band where each member had excellent stage presence.
Once TFS’ set was over, the theatre started packing more, with the anticipation for the main act growing exponentially. When the moment finally came for the now six-piece band to take the stage, that tension exploded with the very first riff. For the next hour and forty minutes, the band took us through their microtonal material from their latest two albums, KG and LW. Despite these two records being the band’s weakest, they managed to entertain just enough to keep me engaged. This was in huge part thanks to the general charisma the band exudes, particularly from front-man Stu Mackenzie, guitarist Joey Walker and keyboardist/harmonica-player Ambrose Kenny-Smith. The show’s two biggest highlights were renditions of their 2017 classic Nuclear Fusion, and the Ambrose led Straws in the Wind. Some of the deeper cuts didn’t hit as hard as I would’ve liked, and the exclusion of fan-favourite Intrasport and all-time classic Rattlesnake did leave a palpable disappointment within the crowded mosh, but these weren’t show-ruining moments.
Overall, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Tropical F*** Storm put on two very memorable, enjoyable shows, proving why they are two of Australia’s premier rock bands right now. It definitely has me wanting to see more shows by these groups, particularly just to see them perform some different songs. A worthwhile and undeniably noisy good-time on nearly all fronts.