Smut – Video Cell
Touching on themes of isolation, predominantly via technology, noise pop outfit Smut manages to take a topic that could border on being a parody and deliver it in a subtle and, most importantly, interesting enough way. The stench of shoegazy guitars can be overbearing but it’s part of the charm, its pungency being totally captivating, leaving Video Cell to be a track that you won’t be able to wean yourself off of.
Julien Baker – Televangelist
One of the deep cuts off Julien Baker‘s latest release, Televangelist sees the Tennessee singer-songwriter delving into highly personal matters of faith, relationships and drug abuse in trademark candid fashion. Haunting vocals float over swirling piano lines, growing in intensity as the song reaches its conclusion. “Am I a masochist / Screaming televangelist / Clutching my crucifix / Of white noise and static” she contemplates, audibly cathartic as she grapples with her internal demons.
Open Mike Eagle – No Selling (Uncle Butch Pretending It Don’t Hurt)
A track echoing the prevalent expectations in society of unemotional masculinity, the lyrics focus on how “manly” Eagle can be. With lines such as “I tear my ACL, and wouldn’t even limp” and “I hit my thumb with a hammer and wouldn’t shed a tear“, Eagle is playing up to the facade of a man. Though the song does hark back to his previous discography and his more comedic tone, there are still themes that are consistent with the rest of the album. His latest album focuses on his upbringing in the Chicago projects, and here he references the effort he made to keep his cool in a tough neighborhood: “Had a weird childhood, my shit was wild hood, but crying ain’t my style cause I can smile good“.
Also like the rest of the album, the instrumental is lo-fi and understated. Containing a chopped, fuzzy vocal sample and a shuffling, but minimal beat with a deep 808 bass, the instrumental provides a small, yet confrontational backdrop for the subject matter. A standout track for what has been a very underrated release this year, Open Mike Eagle proves once again that he is one of underground rap’s best.
New Luna – Opinionated
A clusterfuck of different alt-rock influences has resulted in New Luna, a band that at the moment are making their way up in the world but one you won’t soon want to forget. Putting you into a false sense of security early on, only to trap you in its vicious gnarly claws, Opinionated is a song strong in both its production as well as its lyrics: lines like “to fill this mouth with a gun” stick with you soon after this tight little beauty is finished, leaving an eerie aftertaste in your mouth that, much like your personal hygiene, you’ll have to check out regularly.
Palmbomen II – Ultimate Lovestory Fantasy
Presenting a sound far grittier and filthy than anything he has ever done before, Kai Hugo’s project under the name Palmbomen II continues to reach new heights, specifically on the latest tease from Memories of Cindy. Titled Ultimate Lovestory Fantasy, the seven-minute journey we’re taken on totally encapsulates the feel Hugo is going for, something he describes as being “supernatural house music crafted with haunted hardware”. A chilling, near purely instrumental wonder, this track is simple by design but utterly alluring nonetheless.
Fever Ray – Wanna Sip
Starting off with multiple warped but equally entrancing deliveries of “I wanna love you but you’re not making it easy“, the return of Fever Ray is every bit as devilish and delightful as you may have expected. Wanna Sip has the hard task of being the intro track for an album that many have been anticipating for nearly a decade though, thankfully, it manages to place the breadcrumbs without chucking the loaf in your face: Karin Dreijer’s vocals are utterly menacing, managing to stand their ground over some overbearing sharp synths that’ll rock you to your core – if you had any doubts about the new album then they’ve been power washed off you.