Every Death Grips Album, Ranked From Worst To Best

Avoiding exaggeration, it has to be said that Death Grips are the most important band of the 2010’s: in a decade dominated by technology and the paranoia is instils, there’s no act who have managed to match this worry in both production and lyrical content quite like MC Ride, Zach Hill and Andy Morin have. Influencing the influencers (David Bowie, Kanye and Biffy Clyro are just a few acts to name the Sacramento hip hop outfit as having an impact on their recent work), a ranking of the band’s discography won’t be an easy task but by enlisting the help of Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome), Karsten Walter (@boc_maxima ), Josh Adams (@jxshadams ) , Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh) and myself (@blnkclyr), it should be far easier and fairer. So without further ado, let’s fuck the music and come up with a conclusion…

Quick disclaimer: This is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling.

6. Government Plates (2013)

Liam [6th]: For me, this is is the weakest both lyrically and instrumentally though I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a bad album: it’s still fucking good. Unlike Radiohead where their weakest imo is a bad album, Government Plates is simply underwhelming, especially after what had came before.
Instead of hitting accelerate, the act seemed to tap the brakes a bit too hard.
Josh [6th]: Ironically enough, what is oft-considered the worst death grips album is actually still, at its core, a pretty damn good album in my opinion. agreed, in the grand scheme of their discography, there’s no new uncharted territory being mapped out here that we as listeners are so used to getting from the band, and agreed that after multiple listens it is a tad vapid and empty. but just like your mum, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and can be fun in small doses.
Also shoutout to the bob dylan reference.

Jake [6th]:
I genuinely can’t remember listening to this at all.
Sean [6th]: “Pillbox Hat” may be the most misleading opening track on an album. The characteristically pugnacious Ride is only sporadically present on Government Plates, and in his latest act of subverting audience expectations, sounds markedly more subdued than on previous albums.
As a whole I like the record, particularly “Birds,” which signals the sound Death Grips would adopt for the first half of The Powers That B, but when comparing it to other efforts by the band, it’ll always come up short.
Karsten [5th]: This album is just not my kind of thing – while I usually appreciate the use of heavy and weird instrumentation, this release seemed to lack the actual emotion from Ride and co in my eyes. It didn’t seem to go into uncharted waters and just seems…empty to me. There’s the odd track I can bop to but other than that, I just get bored.

5. The Powers That B (2015)

Karsten [6th]: To me, Jenny Death is by far the better CD here, but still overall this double release just screams…eh. There’s the odd song on here that I really really enjoy, even on NOTM, but for sadly the vast majority of the album, I’m left thinking “this is kinda alright”, rather than what I usually expect from Death Grips – a massive fucking “wow”.

Jake [4th]: While I don’t dislike this album by any means (it has some of my favourite DG tracks ever in Billy Not Really, Why A Bitch Gotta Lie and Death Grips 2.0) it just feels a bit… bloated? That being said, the first half’s “gimmick” (for lack of a better word) of using Björk samples works unbelievably well.

The second half of the record flirts with a rap metal sound that isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad per se. On the weaker side of DG’s discography for me, but to be fair a good Death Grips album is better than most of your favourite band’s best albums.

Sean [5th]: The Powers That B is perhaps Death Grips’ most challenging record (for fans, anyway). Its first half is a glitching song cycle based around a collection of Bjork samples, while the second record flirts with rap-metal in a way that marries the two genres with more tact than Fred Durst ever could. I personally have trouble with Jenny Death because part of me can’t shake the Limp Bizkit vibe, but I’m consistently impressed with NotM.

Even if it’s one of the most divisive entries in the Death Grips oeuvre, I will eternally testify to the brilliance of “Black Quarterback” and “Billy Not Really.”

Liam [3rd]: I think this album gets unfairly shat on by a lot of die hard death grips fans. In terms of style and sound, this is in my top three: that Bjork sampling mixed with some of the fucking weirdest sounds and lyrics MC Ride has ever spat made NOTM far different to how aggressive and tumultuous JD is.

Josh [5th]: This one just sort of “exists” for me. jenny death to me is undoubtedly the better half, but i have no strong feelings on “moon” – it doesn’t stand out for better (bottomless pit) or for worse (government plates) amongst their other albums in this level of ranking. everything’s solid, but by numbers. good, not great. imaginative, but uninspired.

4. Bottomless Pit (2016)

Liam [5th]: Being the newest record out of the lot, it’s no surprise that it ranks lower than the rest due to it not having as much time to resonate and while I think it has the second weakest tracklist out of any DG LP, it’s still remarkably solid and lives up to the title of being “Money Store 2.0” when you magnify everything.

Karsten [4th]: When this album dropped it really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such a fufilled and remarkably adamant statement from the band. This is their most polished and consistent record since The Money Store, and in my eyes, although isn’t a massive step forward in their musical progression, is still a significant one – the more constant use of live instrumentation gave the band more ability to show pure aggression. Hot Head is pure evidence of that.

Sean [4th]: When I interviewed Cherry Glazerr recently, I asked Clem Creevy about working with Death Grips on “Giving Bad People Good Ideas.” She may have been lying to me when she said she recorded the song in a pink room teeming with candy and stuffed animals, but the dichotomy of comfort and alienation in her story embodies much of Bottomless Pit. Here we have Death Grips navigating between the polarizing, metal-influenced sound of Jenny Death and the more familiar synth-driven style present on the group’s previous records.

But because Death Grips thrive on tension, the result is an album that’s steeped in the band’s past while also looking forward in terms of musical direction.

Josh [3rd]: Put simply: a return to form. the increasing use of live instrumentations gels nicely with the group’s signature use of abrasive electronics and mc ride’s rhymes have never been more memorable. i feel like what with the naturally bloated nature of the powers that be double album, bottomless pit is the shot in the arm the band’s career needed to stop them fully sinking into a source for patrician memes, and put them back on top as one of popular music’s most daring rascals.

Of course, it’s not perfect, but it has giving bad people good ideas, and that’s good enough.

Jake [3rd]: This is the album that Death Grips needed to make after The Powers That B. A sonic bullet to the brain to the naysayers who claimed the group were losing their touch, this album couldn’t have proved them more wrong. This has, in my opinion, some of Zach’s best drumming ever on it (his performance on Hot Head fucking blows my mind).

I honestly thing a few years down the line Bottomless Pit will creep up on people and be hailed as one of the finest pieces of work in Death Grips discography.

3. Ex Military (2011)

Liam [4th]: Ex Military, while a great record, is probably the most conventional out of their entire discography. This isn’t an insult to the album (it still sounds great and has a few of the band’s best songs) but MC Ride is probably at his weakest on here, sticking pretty much exclusively to shout rather than the eerie delivery he dips his toes into on future releases.

Some of the sampling on here needs commending for adding to the DIY, quirky vibe.

Josh [4th]: IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES surprisingly well rounded debut with memorable tunes. obviously, it suffers from some of the standard first album tropes, what with some of the songs feeling skeletal and the lyrics being general and unfocused, but like an aggressive dog, it does have its charm.

An excellent foreshadow of what was to come.

Karsten [1st]: Ex-Military is by far my favourite record by the three, simply down to the fact there isn’t a track I can even begin to dislike on it. The sampling on this record is magnificent and ecplises all other efforts from them, and is our first real glimpse into the raucous and enraged world of Death Grips.

The perfect example of a band finding their feet in a wonderful way with their debut, before going onto achieve far greater things.

Sean [2nd]: When Exmilitary dropped seemingly out of nowhere, the only recognizable name attached was Zach Hill’s, primarily known at the time for his work with Hella. Much of the album’s allure at the time came from the mystery surrounding the evasive Death Grips. Few bands would have the temerity to open their debut mixtape with a soundbite from Charles Manson.

Even fewer have the talent to do so without coming off as gauche, but as the aggression ensues on Exmilitary’s subsequent tracks, we quickly understand that Death Grips are anything but.

Jake [5th]: A solid groundwork for all of Death Grips future releases to build upon, however it’s definitely the most basic of all of their projects. That being said it’s still a fucking ballsy record. Not many band’s would elect to have a Charles Manson sample as their opening statement to the musical world, so it has to be commended for bravery and sheer brassballedness alone.

Again, not by any means a bad record, it just pales in comparison to almost all of their subsequent releases.

2. No Love Deep Web (2012)

Jake [2nd]: Another BANGER from the boys. Includes some of my favourite MC Ride lines (“I’M IN JIMMY PAGE’S CASTLE” fucking WHIT?). The album artwork is, for better or for worse, downright iconic and SURELY the uncensored version is the most attention grabbing album cover in music history.

The production on some tracks (Stockton and Artificial Death in the West in particular) is quite spacious and less suffocating than Death Grips were known for up to this point (for the most part), and it really works well. Allowing Ride’s scatterbrained flow space to breathe and really come into it’s own. a cracker.

Sean [3rd]: The album whose surprise leak got Death Grips dismissed from Epic Records, NLDW proved that the group were still more than capable of subversion after the shock and awe of The Money Store. With its priapic album cover, whose alternative art is similarly salacious, NLDW further established Death Grips as a combative new band more than willing to push the limits of good taste.

Liam [1st]: Following up The Money Store was never gonna be an easy task but much like Radiohead decided to go more abstract after OK Computer, Death Grips descended further into their own self created madness. NLDW has MC Ride at his best delivery wise, sounding utterly delirious to a point that it’s almost unnerving. The production can be shoddy at points but I feel like that further adds to this charm: a NSFW archive of darkness, crudeness and insanity.

Karsten [3rd]: No Love Deep Web is maybe the most interesting record from Death Grips for me – they created a soundscape that was somehow more indecent and unpleasant than their previous efforts, with an album cover is the height of obnoxiousness. The intense production and lyrics throughout the LP only match this.

Josh [2nd]: no love deep web is actually my personal favourite death grips – although i think the money store is better. this one just grips me from start to finish, being more of everything i loved about the money store and ex military. the context of its release also adds to the band’s mythos and further cements their place as one of this century’s most important groups.

1. The Money Store (2012)

Liam [2nd]: It’s no real surprise that this ranks in at number one: it perfectly encapsulates what makes Death Grips, well, Death Grips with that paranoia, sleek and experimental production and wall to wall industrial bangers.

The only reason I wouldn’t put it on my personal list at the top is that I feel another record matches it thematically but has a much better suited style but there’s no denying TMS does it perfectly from a newcomer standpoint.

Josh [1st]: The money store, whilst their most accessible, is ultimately their best – because it shows each band member at the peak of their powers. MC ride’s lyrics are at their most deranged (before they descended into parody), whilst the production matches the visceral nature of the words. A game changer, simply.

Jake [1st]: This album is the benchmark through which all subsequent Death Grips releases is judged. A perfect storm of the digitised fury that DG are known for. MC Ride at his most earthfuckingly angry, Zach Hill pounding on his drums like a primal man possessed and Andy Moran behind the decks making their angriest record somehow their most accessible. A modern classic.

Karsten [2nd]: This is the most accessible and clean Death Grips record to me. They condensed nearly every aspect of their previous (and future) work and created what is their most consistent and assured record, where every track bleeds outrageous production and raw emotion. Although not my personal favourite record by the trio, it’s certainly their best overall.

Sean [1st]: The Money Store’s album art is a fitting representation of what’s to come here: A transsexual engaging in BDSM with a dominatrix. One’s smoking nonchalantly as the other holds a grocery bag. On TMS the extreme meets the everyday as Ride and co. explore the desires of the id with an almost unfazed disposition.

Even as Ride screams, “Grab you by the chain and drag you through the bike lane,” to him, it’s more quotidian than horrifying.

CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

SUPPORT THE SITE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

 

 

Killer Finales: Albums That Finish With Their Strongest Tracks

Whether your album goes on for an hour or ten minutes, the general rule of thumb is to finish things with a bang rather than a fizzle. Sure, there are a handful of albums that could be considered one of the greatest whose best track is somewhere in the middle (hell, maybe all the tracks are so great it’s hard to pick a definitive one) but that’s not what we’re talking about today. So strap yourselves in folks because today, the good folk of blinkclyro are going to go through a host of favourites that made sure to bow out in the best way possible.

The Velvet Underground – Sister Ray
White Light/White Heat

17 and a half minute long epitome of the legendary band’s sophomore avant garde quest to create something new from the thunderous noise rock they hammer out via tribal drums, buzzing organs and melting guitars – so brutal the producer walked out half way through the recording, but so very good.

Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

The National – Mr November
Alligator

The ultimate send-off for the album which represented a turning point in their careers, the twilight zone of a band on the verge of critical and commercial success. An explosive 4-minute distillation of everything they’ve done up to that point, Matt’s voice nears breaking point as he yells “I won’t fuck us over / I’m Mr November” with steely conviction.

Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

Carly Rae Jepsen – Roses
EMOTION SIDE B

WILDCARD BITCHES! Nothing omitting a cheeky wee b-side album, not as long as I’m running this site, which means the once meme turned queen of Partrician can make an appearance with this stunning track. If you’re gonna title two of your albums with EMOTION then you gotta show it and Roses just oozes heartbreak, whether it be the flower imagery or Jepsen’s vocals that at times sound like she has a legitimate lump in her throat. 

-Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

The Clash – Train In Vain
London Calling

Initially elided from the track listing and kept as a secret cut on the record, The Clash opted to close out their sprawling, genre-swinging double album London Calling with a modest breakup song. Detailing the dissolved relationship between vocalist Mick Jones and Viv Albertine of The Slits, the band turn their politically keen focus inward. Easily the most personal song on the album, Jones reaches an invaluable epiphany in the throes of his heartbreak: “You don’t understand my point of view/ I suppose there’s nothing I can do.”

-Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome)

Fatherson – Foreign Waters
I Am An Island

Just sums up Fatherson and their debut in every way possible. Slow, sad moments mixing with huge chorus and drum – throw in the addition of the wee 2 minute hidden track at the end and you’ve got a superb finale.

– Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

Radiohead – Motion Picture Soundtrack
Kid A

So much has been said and written about the icy atmosphere of that record and MPS continues this to the n-th degree with the chilling organ backdrop, however the twinkling harp that comes in combines with some of Thom’s best ever vocals to bring a beautiful sense of humanity to the record, and “I will see you in the next life” has to be the best album-closing lyric ever.

-Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

Gaslight Anthem – National Anthem
Handwritten

An album that shows so much ‘in your face’ guitar angst is closed perfectly with a delicate, emotional ballad. It shows the versatility of their sound & that they have much more to offer than riffs, hooks & drum fills – for me, this is the peak of the most rounded album The Gaslight Anthem have ever put out.

-Callum Thornhill (@cal_thornhill )

Biffy Clyro – Now The Action Is On Fire
Vertigo Of Bliss

It (somehow) manages to condense everything that made very early Biffy so special into one song. It has a bit of everything, a frantic string section, some of the best vocals the trio had ever and will ever put down, some gloriously heavy instrumentation and weird as fuck lyrics that were fast becoming a signature part of the Biff’s repertoire. It’s bombastic, loud and by all accounts it shouldn’t work but THAT’S why it’s so good. In a word, masterful.

-Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Arctic Monkeys – 505
Favourite Worst Nightmare

At this point in their career 505 was the most emotionally bare Turner’s lyrics had been and still today remains arguably their best song and suitably ends most of their sets with that unforgettable riff sounding better each time you hear it. On an album where the band improved in every way, 505 embodies that change during its climax.

-Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Muse – Knights Of Cydonia
Black Holes & Revelations

The epitome of bombastic rock and roll grandeur, from the giant opening stabs to the infamous “No one’s gonna take me alive” bridge/ending, it could be used as a blueprint to end an album. It’s overblown, in your face and pompous, making it the perfect song for the credits to roll.

– Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Death Grips – Hacker
The Money Store

Described by cuindependent.com as “the moment when all shit breaks loose and all that’s left to do is riot”, Hacker is the point in Death Grips’ career where they realised that they were the shit and wanted everyone to know about it. They’re in your area, whether you fucking like it or not. 

-Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS
SUPPORT THE SITE
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

 

Field Day 2017 Highlights

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

If the title wasn’t enough to hammer the point home, Field Day’s new task of taking place over the space of 24 hours works far more in its favour than you may believe. Though it hasn’t always been this way, organisers for the East-London festival have made an ideal move to condense the previously two-day event into one, giving it an advantage over other musical offerings who have to spread the big acts over the course of three or four days. With a plethora of juggernauts and game changers at this year’s round, all been stuck just the weekend before a General Election, Field Day wasn’t short of highlights by any stretch of the imagination.

Death Grips Bring The Noise

With some of the most brutal yet simultaneously intelligent music of this century, it was no real surprise that Death Grips would put on a triumphant performance. Teasing the crowd with a sound check of Ex Military‘s Guillotine, the Sacramento act squeezed a 17 track setlist over their hour-long performance. There was no sign of any new music but considering the length of latest track Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber), which clocks in at around 22 minutes, that’s probably for the best.

Starting off with Whatever I want (Fuck Who’s Watching), Death Grips never slowed down for a second, bringing out some old school favourites like The Money Store opener Get Got as well as Giving Bad People Good Ideas, a track off last year’s Bottomless Pit that features some of the most unsettling vocals the band have ever incorporated into a song. After the dust settled from the audio bombardment that is Guillotine, the band disappeared much like they always do, though having made sure not to blue ball the audience.

Aphex Twin Returns With Style

Aphex Twin Field Day 2017

While Death Grips were hotly anticipated by a lot of attendees this weekend, they weren’t the act that the majority were eager for. No, that accolade goes to Aphex Twin, a pioneer of ambient, intelligent EDM and acid techno who provided some of the best music of the 90’s. With his comeback in 2014, everyone was eagerly waiting for his return to the live circuit having not played in five years. The Field Day organisers were aware of how big a moment this was, giving the Irish-born musician a temporarily constructed superclub known as The Barn with a ginormous sound system and lighting rigs for him to add to his disposal.

With 10,000 people fitted into this ravey construction, Richard D. James made sure not to fuck up this comeback. As you can imagine, the aforementioned rigs allowed for swirling lights to mesmerise and consume the entire audience though, of course, it was what was playing that truly captured the attention of those in attendance. The textured landscapes that Aphex Twin‘s trademark sound explores are played, backed up by some wonderful effects that make the music just as encapsulating as it was the first time you heard it. Featuring just as many covers as untitled’s, the visuals on display help to cement Aphex Twin as a master in what he does: creating music so warped but painstakingly measured and tweaked that, when mixed with some tantalising graphics, is the closest thing to living art that you can get.

Run The Jewels Give London A Political Injection

Run The Jewels Field Day 2017

Field Day may have got most of its buzz this year with pioneers of certain genres playing, the festival made sure to show just how much they have the finger on the pulse. Case in point: American rap juggernauts Run The Jewels, a slick, wisecracking pair that has time and time again solidified their quality and importance in our current political climate. With their recently released RTJ3 being a success in almost every regard, there was no doubt that the duo would put on a great set.

It may have started to rain a tad before their performance but Run The Jewels made sure to brighten up the day, well night, of soaked festival goers. El-P, the answer to everyone who asks “where are the good white rappers”, showcases some of his world class flow and wordplay, throwing out sexual innuendos and dick jokes that balance out the hard-hitting social commentary that the act champion. Of course, there’s no talking about RTJ without mentioning Killer Mike, a rap heavyweight in his own right and one that often seems like the voice of reasons both in music and the real world: “If you touch a girl and she doesn’t want you to, we’re gonna beat your fucking ass” he says to a rowdy and unstable audience, resulting in an applause. RTJ3 makes up a great chunk of the setlist but honestly, that’s not a negative. With topics such as police brutality, self image and inner-city turmoil being explored over some lavish and well-produced beats, Run The Jewels not only show that it pays to be aware but that your music doesn’t have to sound lame to educate.


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

SUPPORT THE SITE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC97caHUgKk

38. Weezer – Jacked Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOsRoY-na0

37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8wQcKrrhA

36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

https://soundcloud.com/sweet-white/genine-1

25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

Unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style on record The Dream Is Over. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

~

CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

DEATH GRIPS @ GLASGOW SWG3 – 14/10/16

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Well, I can openly admit that I never expected to be writing this review in my lifetime. Not that I’m not a fan of Death Grips (you’ll find it’s quite the opposite due to the repeated presence on my AOTY lists), more so that the experimental hip hop rock band seem to have a dangerous habit of lying: whether it be saying they’re done with music only to release a new album or to announce gigs before cancelling them, there was a dreaded sense of anxiety that filled the SWG3 last night. Would this act be able to meet the expectations that were fuelled by years and years of waiting for them to play in Scotland? Would they delve into their back catalogue to treat long time fans? Would they even show up?

Thankfully, all of these worries were laid to rest as MC Ride and co. appeared on stage to an almighty applause, accompanied by seizure inducing pink neon lights that flooded the stage. Death Grips are well known for their bodacious, audio tearing sound that fuses elements from various genres that manages to keep them constantly unpredictable and fresh. Kicking things off with Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching), a whirlwind of heavy guitars and drums, the band had the crowd in the palm of their sweaty, leather draped hands.

The gig featured tracks that spanned the entirety of Death Grips career. From the paranoia drenched stylings of No Love, Deep Web to the hostile and aggressive Exmilitary and a large helping of their latest record Bottomless Pit, a frankenstine’s monster of sorts, no stone was left unturned and every track felt naturally adapted to a live setting. Ride’s vocal delivery was as flexible as fans have become accustomed to with his hollering and screeching being perfectly accompanied by band mates Zach Hill and Andy Morrin on drums/synthesiser and guitar/keyboards respectively. Dark, psychotic, sinister and intense, the band’s presence was one that was hard not to be in total admiration of.

There were no moments of silence and very little crowd interaction, no doubt due to Ride’s well known apprehensiveness though this didn’t detract from the unrelenting pace of the gig which was essentially hit after hit, no chance to stop to catch your breath or care that you were drenched in questionable liquids. The chances of Death Grips returning to Scotland are slim to none so it’s fitting that the band made the gig one that everyone in attendance will remember for the rest of their lives.

FAV ALBUMS OF 2016 (SO FAR)

As we bid farewell to the first half of the year and set out for a new batch of high quality albums and singles, now is a better time than any to have a little retrospective on what we experienced or, better yet, enjoyed between January and July of 2016. Of course there are plenty that I’ve missed out and it goes without saying that these are personal choices so if there’s any albums that I’ve missed out that you’ve loved, chances are I’ve either not listened to it or just didn’t enjoy it as much as you. With that being said, in no particular order, let’s get on with it…

David Bowie – ★(Blackstar)

Blackstar is a special album for an array of reasons: it was Bowie’s first no.1 album in America as well as being his 25th album. Seen by many, including producer Tony Visconti, as a parting gift to fans before his untimely death, Bowie managed to make art even when fighting for his life. Inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 record To Pimp A Butterfly, Blackstar infuses jazz as well as elements of hip hop and rock to make an album that’s not only worth a listen but one that does the late king of, well, music justice.

 

Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost

Modern Baseball have always had a healthy heaping of heart with their witty pop punk sound and Holy Ghost doesn’t stray away from this. Jake Ewald has suffered the loss of a family member and Brendan Lukens has undergone rehabilitation with both artists getting their own halves to experiment and create their own unique music that fuses effortlessly with one another. Holy Ghost further solidifies Modern Baseball as a band to be recognised as well as one to be feared, despite how much they may be scared themselves.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

A Moon Shaped Pool manages to leave a positive imprint on the listener’s mind after every playthrough. Swapping out paramount guitars with ambient keyboard sounds and creating this irresistible, distinct sound makes it clear that you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but Radiohead will certainly lead the class.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Starting its life off as a mess, The Life Of Pablo has slowly evolved since to become a worthy addition to the ever egotistic Kanye West’s discography. Featuring some of the man’s most adrenaline pumping tunes as well as some introspective gems, TLOP managed to take itself just serious enough without forgetting to have a bit of fun in the meantime.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

Best of 2016 so far

With Bottomless Pit, Death Grips have managed to cross past successes with their own creative wit to deliver what is without the long awaited evolution of one of the most exciting acts of the 21st century. Displaying the accessibility of The Money Store, the punk influences of Ex Military and the utter craziness of The Powers That B, Death Grips can’t seem to falter on their golden run.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Kendrick Lamar – untitled. unmastered

untitled unmastered

2015 belonged to Kendrick Lamar. In a year full of police brutality and heated politics, To Pimp A Butterfly stood out as the jazz drenched perspective of a man from Compton who has witnessed both, an album that even now I’m struggling to put into words. Untitled Unmastered is very much an extension of what made Lamar’s last record so great, acting like a sweet piece of musical DLC and managing to stand out on its own merits.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Weezer – White Album

12469508_10153200271817273_3330131475669335283_o

While there may be a criticism from those who feel like some songs rely heavily on framework that the band have established and used for decades, The White Album undeniably feels like the record that Weezer have been leading up to for years. It won’t go down in history for redefining a genre but such an ambitious feat is one that is stumbled upon rather than sought after. The nerdiness is even more introverted, the romance even more anxious and fleshed out than before, and the grunge pop sound even more satisfying. You can shout it from the rooftops: Weezer are back and better than ever.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall's Emotional Mugger.jpg

It’s an achievement in itself for an artist to still be evolving eight albums into their discography but what’s even more commendable about Ty Segall is how he still manages to sound just as refreshing as ever on his latest LP. Emotional Mugger may have fell under the radars of many but with its garage and noise rock aesthetic worn on its sleeve, it’s definitely an LP worth a listen to.

Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

chance-the-rapper-chance-3-new-album-download-free-stream

“Blessings keep falling on my lap” Chance The Rapper wistfully chimes and he couldn’t put it any better on his first proper foyer into mainstream territory. Acid Rap blew up and got him a shit-load of attention which he hasn’t let go to waste with Coloring Book, a bombastic release that reinforces Chance’s status as one of, if not the most important rapper in hip hop alongside Kendrick Lamar. In a year that has had albums dropped by some of the biggest names in the industry, it’s nothing short of a surprise to have Chance deliver the best hip hop album of the year as well as providing one of the best releases of the decade so far. Chance has a sniper level of accuracy to execute exactly what he sets out to achieve. Alert everyone: we’re living in the golden age of Hip Hop.

PUP – The Dream Is Over

Pup

Although the band have stated that their name stands for “Pathetic Use Of Potential”,PUP have managed to build upon the strong foundations of their debut LP and hone all of their anger and punk influence into one of the most solid records of the year. In the band’s own words, The Dream Is Over is a “rowdy, noisy clusterfuck” and while it may hark to a low point in their personal lives, this visceral record highlights an act who, health warnings or not, are unstoppable.

FULL REVIEW HERE

Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

ALBUM REVIEW: Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

Dwelling into what made your glory days so, well, glorious can be a dangerous task: pull it off and fans will see you as a perfectionist, fail and others will assume you’ve ran out of ideas. Thankfully it’s the former for Sacramento hip hop, rock act Death Grips, a band whose delivery of music has been almost as unrelentless as their sound. Since 2015 alone they’ve released The Powers That B, a double LP, as well as a purely instrumental EP titled Interview 2016. Seems like they’ve made good on that tease that they “might release some new music”.

What we’ve got on our soon to be destroyed plates here is a meal worth drooling over. A sonic assault on the senses, Bottomless Pit manages to both repulse with its intentionally gross and manipulative lyrics while treating the listeners to some of the most aggressive performances Death Grips have ever crafted. Giving Bad People Good Ideas is as brash as they come with some borderline black metal drums being the driving force behind this balls to the wall anthem alongside some soft and tender female vocals.

The standout track though, without a doubt, is Three Bedrooms In A Good House, a song that cannot be tamed. Full to the brim with some classic MC Ride brutal imagery, “Cyborg swelling pregnant can’t abort, the reversed instrumentals are further enhanced by the always brilliant production that is present on every Death Grips release. Crisp and luscious, it seems like every time the band seem to have reached their peak, they come out with something that blows it out the water.

With Bottomless Pit, Death Grips have managed to cross past successes with their own creative wit to deliver what is without the long awaited evolution of one of the most exciting acts of the 21st century. Displaying the accessibility of The Money Store, the punk influences of Ex Military and the utter craziness of The Powers That B, Death Grips can’t seem to falter on their golden run.

9/10

~

CONTACT ME 4 REVIEWS

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER

LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK