Friday, 30 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 30/03/2018: Tyler the Creator, Royce da 5'9, Wax Idols and more...



It’s a nice mix of rock and rap this week.

THE BEST:

‘OKRA’ – Tyler, the Creator



After the relatively smooth and introspective tracks that appeared on last year’s Flower Boy, Tyler is back with a mean banger made up of arrogant verses soaked in distorted bass. It’s obnoxious, but not old-skool-Tyler-level obnoxious (in other words, it’s just the right level of obnoxious).

‘Boblo Boat’ – Royce da 5’9 ft. J Cole



Detroit rap veteran Royce da 5’9 has dropped his ode to nostalgia, in which he recounts youthful days spent on a Boblo boat drinking liquor and even losing his virginity (I’m not sure the ‘no condom’ line was a necessary visual, but oh well). This is then followed by an incredibly agile verse from J Cole. It’s a great collaboration between old and new that feel retro and fresh. Let’s hope Royce’s long-time buddy Eminem is taking note.

‘Mausoleum’ – Wax Idols



This Oakland band’s new tune is also themed around nostalgia. It’s retro post-punk with just enough original flair to make it distinct from the masses of other Cure-influenced bands. The video is worth watching simply to see a group of goths rocking out in a graveyard.

‘Younger’ – The Hails



This sun-kissed soft rock tune comes courtesy of Florida band The Hails. Jangly guitars bounce along to the accompaniment of breezy vocals, culminating into an epic crescendo of spiky synths and heavenly sounds.

‘Orange Sky’ – Clay Priskorn



Carrying similar breezy vibes, this new track from Clay Priskorn is an indie rock gem perfect for a long winding road trip. Clay wrote, produced, mixed and mastered the entire song himself. Don’t get too sucked into the hot lesbionic action – the video takes quite a dramatic turn at the end.

THE WORST:

Pray – Sam Smith ft. Logic



Sam Smith’s new sentimental gospel ballad is made all the worse with this remix featuring Logic harking on about his struggles (at least he doesn't mention being biracial).

Saturday, 24 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 24/03/2018: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Let's Eat Grandma, Scarlxrd and more...



Whilst Facebook have been mining everyone’s personal data, I’ve been busy digging these new tunes.

THE BEST:

‘Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays’ – Unknown Mortal Orchestra


New Zealand psych rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra are getting their disco flares and platforms on for this new funky tune. Their latest flurry of singles seem to all be themed around the struggles of modern life and how our basic instincts always prevail, epitomised by the wonderful title of their upcoming EP Sex & Food.

Listen over at Stereogum here.

‘Falling Into Me’ – Let’s Eat Grandma



This isn’t quite as in-your-face as the duo’s last SOPHIE-produced banger ‘Hot Pink’, but it still signals signs of a more dancey direction for the creepily-named British pairing. It’s electronic instrumental constantly shifts featuring swirling synths and organ spikes before culminating with an epic sax outro. It feels like the last four decades of dance-pop have been shoved in a blender.

 ‘FADED.’ – Scarlxrd


Hip hop is fully entering its metal phase. With it’s hyperdistorted bass and vocal-cord-tearing screeches, it’s enough to rival XXXTentacion. Yes, it’s obnoxious, but it’s got my blood pumping. I could wrestle a bear right now. COME AT ME.

‘Repeating’ – Talk Less Say More



London-based artist Talk Less Say More reduces human existence down to a list of repetitive actions in this new Krautrock-flavoured single. You’ll either find it inane of profound. Personally I’m swaying towards the latter – it’s comforting to know that life isn’t really as complex as we make it out to be, but similarly unsettling to think that there might not be any point to all the things we do. The artist certainly lives up to his name Talk Less, Say More.

‘All That I Need’ – The Assist



Set to appear on their upcoming EP LOST, UK indie rockers deliver this feelgood and epic new single ‘All That I Need’. The groovy verse segues into a soaring chorus that feels like it’s being performed from a clifftop.

THE WORST:

‘Everybody Hates Me’ – The Chainsmokers



If The Chainsmokers weren’t intolerable enough already, they’ve now gone all emo. I've never heard a song so unconvincingly depressing. 

Friday, 23 March 2018

Review of 'Veteran' by JPEGMAFIA



Experimental hip hop finds its sense of humour thanks to Baltimore rapper/producer JPEGMAFIA.

The beats on this album are truly off-the-wall. Moody opener ‘1539 N. Calvert’ and following noisy banger ‘Real Nega’ show signs of experimentalism from the off, but these tracks are tame compared to the wild and mutated beats that follow. Some were a challenge even to my hardened eardrums, including the abstract glitched-out percussion of ‘Rock n Roll Is Dead’ and the slowed-down moaning on ‘Rainbow Six’ which sounds like Tina from Bob’s Burgers on backing vocals. In fact, I haven’t heard beats this excitingly challenging since I first discovered Death Grips and Clipping.

That isn’t to say JPEGMAFIA sounds anything like Death Grips or Clipping. His beats for one are more rugged and loose. Not only that, but his lyrics have an incredible sense of humour. Whilst MC Ride’s lyrics can border on comically outrageous, the focus is more on creating a sensation of madness and paranoia. Meanwhile Daveed Diggs of Clipping specialises in gritty suspenseful storytelling.

Both artists take themselves seriously, whilst JPEGMAFIA doesn’t. Veteran is a South-Park-style attack on everyone including himself. ‘I need all my bitches the same colour as Drake’ is the opening line of this album which is an insult to himself, women, dark-skinned people and Drake. There’s a track with the fantastic title ‘I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies’, which turns out to be a attack on right-wingers, but JPEGMAFIA equally takes a chance to bash liberals with ‘Libtard Anthem’. Its anarchistic and punkish – except not punkish in the traditional sense given that even Johnny Rotten gets dissed.

There’s a lack of focus to the album that’s frustrating at points. Certain songs feel undeveloped, although you have to wonder how the album would feel were these songs fleshed out. Would it lose it’s exciting rawness? At other points it’s simply too abstract for my tastes. Nonetheless it’s a captivating listen that’s taking hip hop in a new direction.

TRACK TASTER:

Saturday, 10 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 10/03/2018: Sal Dulu, serpentwithfeet, Oliver Tree and more...




NME may have ended its printed edition this week, but Music Related Junk is just getting started! Get your 500-page papyrus-paper hand-written-in-human-blood monthly magazine at your nearest newsagents.

THE BEST:

‘Tyko’ – Sal Dulu


Dublin producer Sal Dulu delivers this dreamy synthscape laced with oriental vocal samples and other hallucinatory sounds. It’s the kind of futuristic ambient music that I could imagine hearing in an aquarium on Mars in two centuries time.  

 ‘bless ur heart’ – serpentwithfeet


Eccentric soul artist serpentwithfeet is back with an epic beard and a new beautiful single titled ‘bless ur heart’. It starts intimately with pianos and a lone kick drum, but ends with a triumphant finish as big as the musician’s beard. However, the most captivating feature has to be serpentwithfeet’s vibrato vocals – I’m not usually a fan of this style of singing, but serpentwithfeet makes it sound so controlled.  

 ‘All That’ x ‘Alien Boy’ – Oliver Tree


California weirdo Oliver Tree is in a lane of his own - and not just because of his wacky appearance and wacky music video (yes, he’s holding a bazooka on a horse). ‘Alien Boy’, the second track in this video, is like nothing I’ve heard before. It’s like hearing a male Katy Perry over synthfunk.

‘It Runs Through Me’ – Tom Misch ft. De La Soul


Hip hop veterans De La Soul have long rapped over jazzy beats, so they’re the perfect choice of guest for Tom Misch’s latest groovy jazztronica song. As always, Tom’s voice and silky guitar playing are delicious. The artist has a new album coming out titled Geography scheduled to be released on April 6th.

THE WORST:

 ‘Morning is Coming’ – Sting & Shaggy


Whilst the idea of a Sting and Shaggy collaboration is entertaining, the result is disappointingly bland. Apparently, they’ve got a whole reggae album planned together. Coming to a bargain bin near you.

‘Been Ballin’ – Lil Uzi Vert & Steve Aoki



Generic trap rapper and generic EDM producer collide to create a generic party anthem.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 03/03/2018: Young Fathers, Jack White, Voids and more…



Lots of bubbly and bizarre tunes this week as we say bye bye to winter.

THE BEST:

‘Toy’ – Young Fathers



Young Fathers aren’t really a rap group anymore. They’ve morphed into their very own species of musician. With its skittering bouncy beat and cartoonish vocals, ‘Toy’ is a playful new song with all the energy of a kid on a sugar rush. Their new album Cocoa Sugar is going to be exhilarating stuff.

‘Over and Over and Over’ – Jack White



Whilst the kooky operatic vocals do start to get a little grating towards the end, I’m happy that this is a yet another excitingly weird track from the Tim-Burton-esque rocker. It’s got a driving riff propelling it along, which is certain to appeal more to Jack White’s old skool fanbase than, say, his recent electronica meanderings (which I personally liked, but others weren’t so keen on).

 ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’ – Voidz


Julian Casablancas of ex-Strokes fame is also continuing to deliver a steady stream of weird shit with the help of his new band the Voidz. Whilst not as demented as previous single ‘QYURRYUS’, the digitally warped vocals and proggy synth meandering still make this a thrillingly original and eccentric track. It’s hard to believe this is the same dude who brought us ‘Last Nite’.

‘Love Is Good, It’s #1’ – Grey Watson



The lyrical sentiment of this song may be soppy and straightforward, but I can’t help but feel the love. The Seoul-based artist seems to be drawing heavily from Revolver-era Beatles, with some sunny glimmers of surf pop and soul thrown in too. It’s so ridiculously happy it makes me want to dress up in harem pants and a bandana and offer free hugs to strangers.

‘Gummi’ – Gibberish



The LA duo take us on a new psychedelic adventure that sounds like Washed-Up-meets-Animal-Collective. Angelic vocal harmonies glide through a cloud of gloopy synths. It lives up to its name by being as sugary as a mouthful of gummi bears.

THE WORST:

‘Cookie Dough’ – BRAIN$



Because kids with guns are sooo trendy right now…

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Review of ‘Masseduction’ by St. Vincent and ‘I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life’ by Tune-yards



Indie weirdo-esses St Vincent and Tune-yards both release their poppiest albums to date.

Both St Vincent and Tune-yards first made a splash in the late noughties, capturing the attention of Pitchfork-loving hipsters like myself for their eccentric sound. Since then they’ve been slowly trading out guitars for more electronica. Are their new albums too poppy? Is there still enough weirdness to give them their edge? What's wrong with showing one's face on an album cover? Should St. Vincent's album have been called Asseduction? It's time for a deep analysis.

Let’s start with St Vincent’s new album Masseduction, which is hardly ‘new’ any more given it was released in October (that’s ancient history in blogging terms, but I’ve always been fashionably late when it comes to reviews).  St Vincent’s 2014 self-titled album was my favourite record of the year – it was catchy and equally experimental, modulating guitars to sound like synths whilst containing bizarre lyrics about snorting a piece of the Berlin wall and taking out the garbage and masturbating. I hoped Masseduction would be just as captivating, but sadly it’s not.

St Vincent has decided to play it safe with more poppy song structures and lyrics that are more personal but not nearly as kookily memorable. There are too many wishy-washy ballads for my liking such as ‘New York’ and ‘Slow Disco’. Annie’s voice is still powerful, but it’s her weirdness that I fell in love with and this is lacking. Instead, we only get glimpses of this weirdness such as the incredibly fun track ‘Pills’ with a nursery rhyme style chorus and epic Paranoid-Android-style outro. Title track 'Masseduction' is also one of the better cuts if only for it's raunchy earworm of a chorus 'I can't turn off what turns me on'. Whilst I don't usually celebrate artists for their edginess, I feel that's the missing ingredient on many of the other songs.


I was worried the new Tune-yards album I Can Feel You Creep Into My Life would fall trap to the same flaws. She too released her last album back in 2014 – a frenetic mix of African tribal rhythms and catchy pop hooks. The lyrics were equally weird, including interludes about breaking a rocking chair and cannibalistic grandparents. As with St Vincent's latest album, it feels like this new Tune-yards album takes a departure from wacky lyrics, instead settling for more serious and personal themes. White guilt seems to be a particularly major lyrical theme, as on ‘Colonizer’ in which she sings 'I use my white woman's voice to tell stories of travels with African men'. Having borrowed elements of African music and culture throughout her career, I can see why she wanted to confront the troublesome topic, although she treats the subject matter as if she's been parading around in blackface (which she hasn't - that's Iggy Azalea's job). Personally I prefer the lyrics about broken rocking chairs and cannibal grandparents that graced her last album.


As for the instrumentation, Merrill hasn't lost her weirdness. In fact, musically it’s even more eccentric and fun than its predecessor. Whilst there may be more dancey elements, evident from the likes of demented disco tune ‘Look At Your Hands’, there are still creative ideas being thrown around. The most interesting songs are in the second half such as ‘Private Life’ with its creepy dissonant melodies and ‘Home’ with its Gregorian choir vocals. Other than the incessantly groovy basslines, there are no guitars in sight. But even if the rock elements of Tune-yards first works are gone, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Life could never be accused of being play-it-safe, making up for it’s loss of guitars with electronic experimentalism.

Masseduction by St Vincent 
I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune-yards