Though we may be guilty for having said this a few times before, this week's new music drop is one of the best in a long while. From the wistful emo of Soccer Mommy and Chastity Belt (pictured) to the scratchy post-punk delights of DIIV and Corridor, or from the return of Wilco and The Cinematic Orchestra to well, Danny Brown just living his 'Best Life'.
Find our playlist below, along with our thoughts on the particular standouts.
Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt
An eponymous album title typically indicates either one of two scenarios: a lack of ingenuity, or a fierce declaration of a band’s arrival on the scene of success. Chastity Belt’s third album title, however, feels like an intentional mirror image, an in-depth, studied reflection on their place in the world. In no way as acerbic or crass as their previous two full-lengths (despite song titles like ‘Pissed Pants’), the Washington band have outgrown their riot grrrl/noise-pop trappings, maturing both sonically and thematically.
The overarching narrative of Chastity Belt is malaise; ‘Half-hearted’ and ‘Effort’ in particular brazenly depict that notion, whether or not they’re referring to the body of work’s creative input, the band’s trajectory, or just living out life in general. It’s a sombre mediation on reaching that mid-twenties/quarter-life-crisis purgatory where you’re not really young enough to goof around and go with the flow, but not old enough to be entirely strict, serious, and sterile. Complete with sumptuous string sections and textured fret-work that enhances the album’s cinematic quality, it’s their soundtrack to not knowing what’s next and not striving to get there either.
It’s heart-breaking, but undeniably heart-warming to hear the four-piece flourish. TC
Gang Starr – 'Family and Loyalty'
I’m often a little hesitant when it comes to posthumous releases. In the wrong hands, it can seem like a cheap cash-in that degrades the legacy of an artist no longer around to offer any creative control. That said, you could never accuse DJ Premier of being ‘the wrong hands’. He is, as far as I’m concerned, among a handful of hip hop producers in the conversation for being the greatest of all time.
Equally, as one half of Gang Starr and the only living member following Guru’s untimely passing in 2010, he has a vested interest in protecting the legendary duo’s legacy, and more right than anyone to release new music should he see fit.
All of this is a round-about way of saying that, thankfully, the first new song from Gang Starr in over 16 years is just about as good as you could hope it would be (unnecessary J Cole feature aside). Hearing the unmistakable tones of Guru once more is a treat, particularly when paired with the characteristically simple and soulful production of his long-time friend and collaborator.
Here’s hoping the forthcoming new album follows suit. If it even gets anywhere close to 1998’s Moment of Truth – one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time – we’re in for a treat. JK
Danny Brown – 'Best Life'
When you think of Danny Brown there are a lot of sounds that jump to mind, but to me at least, smooth would not be one of them. After his 2016 album Atrocity Exhibition took him out of his party-rapper persona and brought him a fair amount of critical acclaim, it looks like the Detroit rapper is switching gears again.
To help him do this Brown’s teamed up with one of the most influential artists of the last 30 years, the incomparable Q-Tip. The creative force behind A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip is probably the preeminent soul sampler of today and this is exactly what he brings to 'Best Life'.
The latest single from Brown’s upcoming album uknowhatimsayin¿ features a smooth as silk Tommy McGee sample running throughout and is as intriguing as a new Danny Brown sonic direction could be. The track runs all of 2 minutes 34 seconds, but sees MC finding his groove by using that old school flow like he’s never done before.
Add to this to the album’s unnerving banger of a first single 'Dirty Laundry', which was also produced by Q-Tip, and I don’t think I could be more excited for this project to drop October 4th. AW
Corridor – 'Domino'
If I had a pound for each time I've played this new track from Montreal post-punks Corridor since it dropped yesterday, I would probably have about £67 to my name. Singing in their native Québécois French, I couldn't tell you what it's about, but from the way those scratchy staccato guitar lines tightly lock together before tangling and building in that dreamy Halcyon Digest-era Deerhunter fashion, I couldn't care less. The single follows 'Topographe', both from forthcoming third record, which in spite of its dramatic crescendo lacked the driving 'motorik' energy of this recent cut. JB