About a month ago, in late March, I was getting very, very, bored of the music I’ve been listening to. A year stuck inside has made me listen to a lot of music while working, gaming, and all that, and even my old favorites – standby albums and playlists that have kept me sane through everything else – started to fail. I needed something, anything, new. So I gave myself a seemingly simple challenge: listen to 9 new albums a week.
Despite listening to music a LOT, I actually have a pretty big backlog of albums and artists I haven’t listened to. Besides hip-hop, 60’s rock, and old punk, I haven’t listened to a lot of the “canonical” albums that people hold up, your Pink Floyds, Weezers, et cetera. My music taste is pretty varied, but it’s also very shallow in the sense that I naturally stick with what I like, and don’t explore much outside of that. So I figured, what the hell, I’ll listen to stuff that’s been on my list for a while, play some catchup.
I ran out of the big stuff on my backlog – albums that friends recommended to me and all that – in a week.
The nice thing about listening to music in our day and age is that there is so much of it. You can throw on whatever you want on Youtube, with a few exceptions such as In Court Of The Crimson King. It is the easiest it’s ever been to find and play new music. But that’s also a curse, because there is so damn much of it that all of the good and interesting is drowning in a sea of boring and stale. It’s easier than ever to find music, but hard as hell to find something you’re interested in.
So I spent the rest of the month scouring the web for recommendations, essentially listening lists, asking friends for more recommendations, to make my quota of 1.78 albums a day. Sure, that sounds like work, and a sure way to turn an activity I like into abject misery, right? Yes, but I am not one to quit after a week when I do these stupid challenges.
And so, as you can expect, I hate music now. Despise it, in fact. Hearing any kind of rhythm drives me into a confused rage. And melody? You don’t want to see that.
But forget that! I listened to a lot of really cool music, and so I will now inaugurate the first in the DK Recommends series, where I will recommend, as the name implies, random music, every month. But I’ll probably listen to less to preserve my sanity.
Now, out of this month, what stood out?
Outkast: ATLiens & Stankonia:
So, there are some big gaps in the hip hop I do listen to, with the biggest one being anything coming from the South in the late 90’s / 2000’s. Yeah, I know. The dirty south getting on the map is probably one of the biggest things to happen to rap since the genre’s creation in the Bronx. But I’m not a critic, I’m just a guy. Anyway, Outkast. It seems that Outkast (especially Big Boi) has slowly disappeared from the annals of popular rap history. Except for Hey Ya, of course, but I never see them discussed for how good their music is, just that Outkast put ATL on the map. No idea why, given that these two albums are honestly some of the best rap records of all time. The sheer creativity that Big Boi and 3000 put into each song is incredible, and both records should by all rights be classics in the genre the same way that Kanye West’s College Dropout and MBDTF, Kendrick Lamar’s TPAB, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and many other albums are.
Yuji Ohno: The Inugami Family:
So this is a bit different, because it’s not an album, it’s a soundtrack to a Japanese murder mystery movie. But Yuji Ohno, one of the guys who has done a ton of music for the Lupin The 3rd franchise, did the music to this movie, and it rules. Japanese Jazz, especially Jazz Fusion from the country, has seemed to explode online over the past few years, as lax international copyright enforcement and Youtube make it easier than ever to digitize and upload rare records like this. I ain’t complaining. The guitar on the second track, “怨念”, is so good especially. The world needs more slick jazz guitar.
Parliament: Mothership Connection:
Ok, this was cheating a bit. This isn’t technically a new album for me, because my dad throws on old 70s funk a lot, with P-Funk being the core of it all. So I have listened to Mothership Connection a lot, but just when I was doing something with my dad, like repairing a fence or cooking. I never actually sat down to throw on this record until this challenge. And man, I regret not putting it on sooner. It is probably the best funk album of all time, honestly. Yes, I am including Maggot Brain (O.K, I might be exaggerating). Listen to “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” and tell me that isn’t one of the best renditions of the spiritual “Swing Home, Sweet Chariot” ever. Eric Clapton can choke.
The Chats: High Risk Behavior:
Over the last decade, Australia has become a bastion of rock in the anglosphere, with so many rock bands coming from the former penal colony, such as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Tropical Fuck Storm as two examples. But if you’re like me and you could really care less about psychedelic rock, thankfully The Chats have, for the last few years, put out plenty of good punk stuff, with High Risk Behavior, their debut album, coming out last year. It took me a while to get to listening to it though, and I gotta say, it’s great. Every track off the record is a certified banger, though my favorite has to be “Identity Theft” about, well, guess. Fucking guess what the song called Identity Theft is about.
Sleep: Holy Mountain:
The thing with listening to metal is that there are a billion subgenres, each with it’s own canonical list of albums you MUST listen to before anything else. I swear, they make a new one every minute. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all worthless, and the only classification that matters is the vibe. If it gives off metal vibes, it’s metal. Easy. Sleep’s album “Holy Mountain” aces that classification, though it specifically is of the genre known as “Stoner Metal”. I cannot place what that means musically, but it has a huge weed leaf on the cover so it’s accurate. More than having the metal vibe, it has a good vibe. I can throw this on whenever and have a good time. Just a great metal record. By the way, I listened to one other stoner metal record last month, that being Jex Thoth, which is also great. 2 for 1.
ATEEZ: The first 3 EP’s, which are all named “Treasure”:
K-Pop has seen a meteoric rise over the past 5 years. You don’t need me to tell you that. But, while I was asking everyone and everything for album recommendations as the end of each week rolled around, I did get recommended a lot of K-Pop by Story Arc’s resident K-pop expert, Lynx, (who has some great articles about K-pop here and here!), including the group ATEEZ. They explained it to me as pirate themed K-pop, and I immediately had to check it out. Well, not actually, I listened to some other K-pop albums first, like Wings by BTS and Never Gonna Dance Again by Taemin. But pirate themed shit is absolutely my jam, and these 3 EPs all rule. What else is there to say? Pirate themed pop.
DJ Mehdi: Lucky Boy:
Ok, so this one is cheating a bit. I actually did listen to this record years ago, but it had been so long that I figured it would be worth a re-listen. And I’m glad I did, because this is a damn great album. Here in the west we mostly associate the genre of French House with Daft Punk, and occasionally Justice. But there is a rich amount of kick-ass French House besides those groups, with honestly one of the best of them being the late Mehdi Favéris-Essadi, also known as DJ Mehdi, who before his untimely death in 2011 arranged some absolutely iconic tracks, all of which are collected on Lucky Boy. I vaguely remember really liking this record when I last listened to it almost a decade ago, and I am thankful to have rediscovered it thanks to this challenge.
Flying Lotus: the soundtrack for Yasuke:
Flying Lotus has been one of those people who I’ve been a fan of since forever. His third, and in my opinion, best album, Cosmogramma, is something I regularly play, and it’s just as good the 100th or 1000th time as the 1st time listening. So it’s been awesome to see that he’s been moving into other creative works, including producing the Netflix original animated series Yasuke, as well as doing the score. And what a great score it is. If you like instrumental and experimental hip hop, anything like old adult swim bumpers, well, you probably already know Flying Lotus and gave it a listen already. But it’s good!
DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo: Ki-Oku:
I don’t like listening to music that I get recommended on Youtube. Sure, I do it. Everyone does. But I don’t like the idea of listening to some machine thousands of miles away telling me that I might like this video. It doesn’t sit right with me. But I’m glad that I do listen to the machine, cause it did give me this album, which is just under an hour of absolutely sick instrumental hip-hop. It has this great lo-fi sound, but unlike a lot of lo-fi that you see, it feels much more creative and frenetic. It’s good stuff. Throw it on when you are doing homework / studying / chilling 24/7 lofi radio.
There we go! 9 recommendations for 9 weeks. I will return next month, when I have recovered from mainlining 81 albums straight to the frontal cortex. And probably fully stanning ATEEZ.
If you want to read more by me, I put out this great piece about Shonen Jump a few months ago, and I also helped Skeith out with this article about that Kaguya VN that we put out just a few days ago! She also wrote this great piece on the Illya franchise, please check that out too. On the topic of music, Sailor did a great review of every pre-RTJ4 song. Also be sure to listen to the podcast, it’s some great stuff.
that should be enough article shills, right?