2024 is already shaping up to be an interesting year for music. Lil Nas X has been angering the hardcore Christians with his portrayal of gay Jesus, while Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion seem to be engaged in a vicious beef - none of which I'm going to cover in this post. In fact, I've got far better (and worse) tracks to discuss. Artists featured in my January roundup include Hiatus Kaiyote, Idles, Lola Young, Les Ailes, Polevaulter, All The Bees, Craig Wedrens, Tom Macdonald/Ben Shapiro and Playboi Carti.
‘Everything’s Beautiful’ – Hiatus Kaiyote
January is always a pretty bleak month, so an uplifting
track about the beauty of existence is always welcome. And who better to bring
some Southern hemisphere sunshine than Aussie neo-soul outfit Hiatus Kaiyote. The
track sees frontwoman Nai Palm showing off her dynamic voice and playing some
jazzy guitar over a groovy bassline and shuffling drums (plus some other
instruments are peppered in there too). It’s feelgood lyrically and sonically,
and has me excited for whatever they’ll put out next. Their 2021 album Mood Valiant came after a 6 year ‘hiatus’, but it looks like we won’t have to
wait that long this time as they’ve already confirmed a new album will be
dropping some time soon.
‘Gift Horse’ – Idles
Idles continue to deliver their signature brand of minimal
scuzzy post-punk. This single is much more up my street than ‘Dancer’. Its
growling bass combined with lyrics like ‘somebody call up the undertaker’
give it a much more satisfyingly ominous vibe. The guitar riff in the second
half is particularly sinister. Here’s hoping for more songs like this on their
upcoming album Tangk.
‘Wish You Were Dead’ – Lola Young
‘Wish You Were Dead’ sounds like if Adele fronted the Arctic
Monkeys and wasn’t afraid to swear in her music (as opposed to her live performances
in which Adele still remains the queen of swearing). The chorus is very catchy
(although the c-bomb in it means I can’t play it in the car with my kids) and I’m
loving the chiming guitar harmonics in the verse. I’m almost tempted to say I
love it more than ‘Conceited’, which made my favourite tracks of 2023.
‘comedown’ – Les Ailes
How to greet a praying mantis is the bizarre title of
this Portland indie folk singer’s new EP. This track ‘comedown’ is my favourite
song off the record, featuring some beautifully intimate dejected vocals and
dreamy plodding instrumentation. It’s as comforting as listening to rain on a
window while curled up in bed.
‘Violently Ill’ – Polevaulter
This track is bonkers. It consists of manic yelling over a
blown-out ascending bassline, which is layered with disorienting trippy
sampling. The result sounds like if Idles went electronic, or if The Prodigy were
forced to make music after being locked in a dungeon for a year. It’s ‘violently
ill’ in the most cathartic way possible. The self-labelled ‘dance punk’ duo have
a new debut album out titled Hang Wave, which I will definitely be checking out.
‘May Tide’ – All The Bees
This beautiful alt-folk lullaby from Kirsty McGee and Gitika
Partington (All the Bees) is quite the contrast from the track above. Those
long extended vocal notes combined with the soothing percussionless
instrumentation really capture the peacefulness of drifting on a calm sea. The feeling
of letting all of one’s worries float away. The boat footage certainly helps.
But even without it, it’s an impressively tranquil track. The track comes off their new self titled album All The Bees.
‘Pronouns’ – Craig Wedrens
Former frontman of 90s post-hardcore band Shudder To Think has been dropped this new genre-bending and gender-bending single, ‘Pronouns’. It sees him delivering lyrics like ‘bleed like a woman, go pee like a woman’ over a multi-textured instrumental made up of wobbling synths, punchy rock guitar and quirky percussion. Apparently, there’s no deep meaning to it, so no need to read to deeply into the title – it’s just a man singing about doing things like a woman.
‘Facts’ – Tom MacDonald ft. Ben Shapiro
Political commentator Ben Shapiro is now a rapper – which is
pretty odd considering he claimed ‘rap isn’t real music’ a few years ago.
He’s teamed up with conservative edgelord rapper Tom MacDonald for his hip hop
debut, in which the duo spit lines like ‘where the American flags at?’ (which
is also pretty odd because Tom MacDonald is Canadian). I don’t really agree
with any of the ‘facts’ being presented here and musically it sounds like bad
Eminem. The ‘dawg, it’s a yarmulke, homie, no cap’ line is quite clever,
I’ll give them that. But otherwise I never want to hear Ben Shapiro (or Tom
MacDonald for that matter) rap again.
All the recent Playboi Carti singles...
After releasing nothing
for almost two years, Carti has decided to ambush us with a barrage of new
singles each accompanied with a moody lo-fi video. I’ve listened to all the
singles and I personally think they all suck. I mean, I’ve never really understood
Carti’s music, but at least the beats on Die Lit were fun. Since then, the
beats have just been getting progressively worse, and Carti’s rapping has been
getting increasingly garbled. The fans seem to enjoying this new material, but
I’ve never felt more lost.