Happy Friday! It's been a long month, and December is almost here. That means Christmas parties, embarrassing relatives, full stomachs and empty wallets. Let us ease you into it with this week's best new music. We have the new records from Earl Sweatshirt, Foxwarren, and Jeff Tweedy, as well as the punchy new single from Grimes and a whole lot more.
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Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs
More than eight years have now passed since Thebe Kgositsile (Earl Sweatshirt to you and me) released his debut mixtape Earl as a not-so-innocent teenager. Up there with the finest offerings from the Odd Future collective, the fearsome 10-track tape displayed a level of lyricism, dark humour and technical ability that betrayed its creators youth, having been written and recorded when he was just 15 years old. Eight years and two studio albums later the boy has become a man, and new record Some Rap Songs has been a hugely eagerly anticipated release in hip-hop circles since news first broke of its existence.
Suitably unconventional, disjointed, and experimental, the record is an exercise in hip hop deconstruction with most tracks lasting less than two minutes and the whole album clocking in well under half an hour. He’s not the first to do this, all of the Kanye-produced albums this summer were a similar length to Some Rap Songs, while Tierra Whack explored the one-minute song idea to great effect on Whack World.
But Earl Sweatshirt has nonetheless set himself apart from the overly long, incredibly bloated albums that have become the norm in modern hip-hop. And I for one fully support that. JK
Grimes – 'We Appreciate Power' (ft. HANA)
An unconventional, at times absurd, yet highly infectious pop-metal return for Grimes aka Claire Boucher. There’s a decidedly early-noughties aura about the track; a flickering of discordant nu-metal riffs accentuate Grimes’ celestial and cherubic vocal atop the industrially solid beat. Oddly, both Trent Reznor’s and Enya’s influence is apparent.
Touring buddy HANA shares vocal duties throughout, placing more emphasis on Boucher’s production prowess - throughout the recording of Art Angels, Boucher readily disassociated herself from on the ‘pop-star’ facade of Grimes acknowledging her strength lies in the studio rather than centre-stage. Yet it’s Grimes’ personality that gives the composition its unashamed uniqueness.
‘We Appreciate Power’ works as both an anthem for female empowerment (“Elevate the human race, putting makeup on my face”), whilst exhibiting Boucher’s adoration for crafting fictitious environments that enable her personas to flourish; think an amalgamation of cyber-punk/vampirical/’Tank Girl’/Manga-style rebels overthrowing a dystopian patriarchal reign. Trademark Grimes, then. TC
Foxwarren – Foxwarren
In 2016 Saskatchewan singer-songwriter came out from the cold Canadian shadows to enjoy the warmth of wide indie appeal with the release of The Magician, with its helplessly lovable mix of crisp and gloomy psychedelic-tinged folk and of course Shauf’s idiosyncratic and wistful vocals.
The Party made its way on to many an album-of-the-year list and sent Shauf touring across the world, selling out his European headline shows more often that not. But before his solo shows the young musician had cut his teeth with three other friends, who played music together under the name Foxwarren.
Ten years in the making, their debut is finally here. The warm production of The Party thankfully remains, aiding the differing moods and styles of each song delightfully, from the enigmatic gloom of lead single ‘Everything Apart’ to the nostalgic and slow-paced “Sunset Canyon” and the jovial “Fell Into A Dream”. It's a late contender but this may be an album of the year, perfect for fireplace evenings spent with the ones you love. JB
Arctic Monkeys – 'Anyways'
Welcome back to Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys. Somehow this b-side finds Turner even more off the rails in full-on crooner mode. Name checking Bing Crosby near the start of the track, there’s no need to hide influences here.
The bowties have been taken off, the top buttons undone while the scent of cigarette smoke and whiskey have coalesced into a hallucinatory concoction. There’s no doubt about it, this is the sound of nights that have gone on far too long. AW
Brian Jonestown Massacre – 'Forgotten Graves'
Reverb? Delay? Tambourine? Tick. Tick. Tick. The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s new single fits the shoegazing, 60’s psychedelic-leaning mould made by their irrepressible and tumultuous career thus far, proving that the ever-prolific and evergreen creativity of band leader Anton Newcombe continues to flourish without the restraints of label pressure overshadowing his output. Reviving recognisable chord structures, Newcombe has an uncanny ability to craft songs that are simultaneously classic, current, and timeless.
Released in conjunction with b-side ‘Tombes Oubliées’ (ostensibly the same track, exchanging Newcombe’s vocal part for a sultry French woman’s), ‘Forgotten Graves’ is nothing new per se, but BJM’s retro pastiche continues to feel fresh, emotive, and irresistable. TC
Chance The Rapper – 'The Man Who Has Everything'
Following the release of singles 'Work Out' and 'I Might Need Security' earlier this year, today Chicago whiz-kid and philanthropist has dropped two more: 'My Own Thing' feat. Joey Purp and 'The Man Who Has Everything'. Though the first is typically bouncy and jubilant, the latter flows with a steadier pace, warm with vinyl static and slowed-down drum breaks as Chance questions the worth of material riches in the tradition of all great Christmas stories. JB