Sorry for the radio silence; school’s almost out for-ev-er. Here are some recently released musical offerings that have propped me up and pushed me through this last bit o’ academia. Links to listen, buy and/or download are provided for you. Now then:
Russell St. Bombings, s/t LP - Tops of the year so far for me, at least in the “rock” realm. DX’s description of “urban psychedelicism” only hints at the layers at play here.
Bell Witch, Four Phantoms LP - Nothin’ like some funeral doom to liven up this list. This is a tough sell when the sun’s out for 15 hours a day but it’s worth the effort. Bass and drums is all you get here, though Bell Witch make it sound like there’s at least three other people at work on any given track. Masterful pacing paired with two guys who know each other and their instruments inside out; you do the math.
Future, 56 Nights mixtape - In which Future curls so far down inside of his own murky depths that he comes out with his darkest, most gut-wrenching work yet. Top-shelf shit; in terms of sheer technicality Future has never sounded better. 56 Nights sports no obvious hits, just ominous and startlingly poignant rap that taps out in 30 minutes. My favorite mixtape of the year so far.
Clean Girls, Despite You LP - Full-on assault employing white noise and flashes of sludge metal and ‘90s screamo. It’d be a mess if the three members of the band were at all unsure of their motives, but this thing is nothing short of merciless: a blinding acrid smoke capable of swallowing up and dissolving entire city blocks.
Aye Aye, s/t LP - When I first heard this in full, I swear I couldn’t recommend a better early morning album. But it’s opened up slowly over repeated listens, great expanses of guitars washing together with harmonica, drums patiently pushing the whole thing into the afternoon, evening, night. Rock disguised as aural cleansing of the palate.
Obnox, Know America LP - I have nothing against Boogalou Reed from earlier in the year - that’s the one with the hit songs if ya ask me - but Know America is the front-to-back album, two complete sides pushing Bim’s sound forward with greater clarity and purpose.
Starlito, Introversion mixtape - Starlito’s recent mixtapes have all been smart, endlessly listenable works heavily documenting his struggles with morality/mortality. He’s often lucidly lamenting the lifestyle forced upon him before taking a deep breath and diving in himself. Lito is one of the most important MCs operating today and this newest mixtape is as good of a place as any to get started. Of the 20 tracks, I’d only trim one or two myself, but much like the recent (and uniformly excellent, and deserving of more attention here but I’ve only listened twice so far) Vince Staples record, 60 minutes flies by when this is on.
Denzel Curry, 32 Zel / Planet Shroom - Some young up-and-comer from the Raider Klan, heretofore unknown to me. This one bounces from Three 6 Mafia-indebted bangers (”Ultimate”) to the downright disgusting (”Ice Age” in particular) to heady trips previously paved by Outkast (”Planet Shrooms” sounds just like “Snappin’ & Trappin’”). The kid can rap, no doubt - one listen to “32 Ave Intro” and you’re steamrolled - and it don’t hurt that this boasts some of the best production I’ve heard this year, either.
Pierre & Bastien, Que du Bonheur LP (buy) - The boys’ self-titled LP was pretty good but got a little tired by the end; this one corrects those mistakes, throwing in subtle flair and even some English that change things up just enough. The two tracks at the end are my picks, but the whole thing’s been whittled away so carefully that it’s pare-balles.
Quttinirpaaq, Dead September LP - In which Matthew Turner very carefully places traditional rock instrumentation into a very large blender and presses “Purée.” Groaning and churning and sloshing noise sits side-by-side with forays into dark techno and loud crashing chords, all quite deliberately paced. It’s a discomfort you can’t afford to avoid.
C.C.T.V., s/t 7″ - SICK, way better than anticipated. Sorta like playing the 100 Flowers LP at 45 rpm and laying alternately lackadaisical and uptight (and urgent) female vocals atop. Probably the best record of its size to be released this year so far.
Constant Mongrel, DCM 7″ - Smartass rock with brains is here to stay, thanks Australia. Razor-sharp little record here, handle with care.
Blaxxx, For No Apparent Reason 12″ - Criminally short and completely blown-out session featuring some snarling, raucous blooze jammmers. This shoulda been twice as long but you’ll learn to savor and love these 20 minutes anyway; I sure have.
Barcelona, Extremo Nihilismo En Barcelona 12″ (buy) - Hardcore panic from (you guessed it [sorry]) Spain, songs burning themselves out before they reach two minutes. But man, what a seconds-long assault of bruising guitars, whirlwind drumming and please-don’t-forget the maniacal vocals. Eleven minutes spread out on twelve inches, with some of my favorite artwork of the year to boot.
As hinted at earlier, the new Vince Staples record is a brutally efficient and heartrending work, but I need a little more time with it. Also really like the latest Flesh World LP, in my opinion their best work yet. Anxiously awaiting the debut Olimpia Splendid LP (up for preorder now from Forced Exposure) and still need to grab the Sean David McMillen LP and Brando’s Island 7″, too. Surely missing a lot of reissues; I’ve only grabbed the Stones’ Three Blind Mice compilation and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments’ Straight to Video (both highly recommended).