King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
Murder of the Universe
All signs would suggest that Murder of the Universe, the 11th release from Australian psych outfit King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, should be a disappointment. It’s 21 tracks long. It’s a concept album centered around the creation of outlandish altered beasts. And it’s the second release in a year where the band has promised to release five albums, resulting in possible oversaturation and carelessness (update: they released their third album of the year today). Yet somehow, all of these negative precursors somehow propel this album to new heights, making for one wild listen.
[Dead Oceans; 2017]
For over a decade, journalists have been writing think-pieces on the death of rock and roll, but not until the past couple years have their omens seemed possible. Two weeks ago Nielsen announced that for the first time in the rating system’s existence, rock music was not the most popular genre in their mid-year report. There’s no need for concern (yet). Rock music is closely trailing R&B/hip hop overall and in the category of albums, rock reigns supreme making up 40% of sales. Regardless, it does seem like rock and roll is on the down swing in popularity. For those in need of comfort during rock’s decline, Kevin Morby’s City Music plays as a perfect album of appreciation and reflection on the genre’s adventurous past.
Father John Misty
[Sub Pop; 2017]
Whenever I listen to Father John Misty’s 2017 release, Pure Comedy, I can’t help but think about the works of one of my all-time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. To place Josh Tillman, the man behind FJM, on the same level as Vonnegut would be a bit hyperbolic, but Tillman’s satirical portrayal of a misguided human race is reminiscent of Vonnegut’s hopeless take of humanity.
Stillness in Wonderland
[Age 101; 2017]
Over the past three years, Little Simz, the up-and-coming London hip-hop star, has shown her range. Her 2015 underground hit, “Dead Body”, hinted toward a dark and brooding artist while 2016’s AGE 101 DROPX EP aimed toward a more electronic approach. 2016’s conceptual effort Stillness in Wonderland continues in her path of unexpected turns with an album that is mellow and soulful, reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.
[Young Turks; 2017]
A lot has happened since Sampha’s promising 2010 debut, Dual EP. Instead of capitalizing off of his first effort, Sampha instead spent the next seven years supporting his mother as she suffered with cancer. She passed away in 2015, and he would soon after discover his own health scare in the form of a lump in his throat. The result of this seven year hiatus from releasing music is Process, an album with a depth and maturity far exceeding that of most debut, full-length efforts.
Swet Shop Boys
It is officially time to start wetting our pants – Donald Trump will be the President of the United States in mere months. The thought of that orange faced, mentally ill galoot running the most powerful country in the world is reason enough to be nervous, but his hateful rhetoric of bigotry and oppression has been even more appalling. Expressing this panic and anxiety as a white man feels a bit like empty venting in comparison to those who actually have something to fear in the Trump dictatorship.
Enemy #1 seems to be anyone of Muslim descent. Threats of a Muslim registry and even internment camps have already been floated by the Trump camp, and one can’t help but feel helpless to a Republican majority that might just appease the mad man’s wishes. Swet Shop Boys, a hip-hop duo comprised of Heems and Riz MC (both of Muslim descent), might just be the soundtrack of angst and hope that we have all been looking for in these trying times.
A Tribe Called Red
We Are the Halluci Nation
You are more likely to hear about the Cleveland Indian’s battle with the Chicago Cubs in the World Series than you are to hear about The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest of the North Dakota pipeline. Really, it isn’t that surprising. For over 400 years, Native Americans have been treated as second class citizens, their cause often ignored or quickly dismissed. With their third album We Are the Halluci Nation, the Canadian DJ trio called A Tribe Called Red are unwilling to sit idly by while the injustices of colonization continue to wreak havoc on indigenous people of North America.