This is a one-off article where I’ll be going over some of the stand-out releases from earlier this year. Of course, these albums haven’t been out long at all and these ratings could go up or down with time but, for now, I dig them.
Bedwetter – Volume 1: Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth and Describe the Present.
Year: 2017 – Producer: Bedwetter – Label: N/A – Genre: Experimental Hip Hop
Bedwetter is the alias for the underground hip hop artist Lil Ugly Mane and his first release under the moniker is essentially a dark horror-core rap album. The lyrics are pretty intense and raw at times which perhaps justifies the inclusion of some quite enjoyable instrumental tracks throughout the record, just to give the listener some breathing space. I feel the album probably needs a few more listens, it’s something I can imagine liking more and more as time goes by because it’s quite a fascinating listen. It’s an interesting and ambitious album that’s definitely worth a listen for hip hop enthusiasts.
Top Tracks: Man Wearing A Helmet, Stoop Light, Haze of Interference
My Rating: 6.9/10
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Roman Lips
Year: 2017 – Producer: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Label: Ipecac Recordings – Genre: Experimental Rock
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a multi-instrumentalist most known for his prominent role in the bands At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta. After releasing an incredible 13 albums last year, ‘Roman Lips’ is ORL’s first of 2017 with many, many more planned as he continues this Zappa-esque flurry of releases. The record itself is a solid experimental/alt rock piece that really typifies ORL’s trademark style of songwriting, along with all the little guitar licks and vocal melodies that make up his distinct style of play. He’s even a convincing lead vocalist on this album, which is surprising given that he never had major singing duties on his past projects. It’s certainly not a game changer but it’s a solid listen, no doubt.
Top Tracks: Roman Lips, Sequester Chagall, He Gave Me A Key To Nothing, Deadlight
My Rating: 7/10
Paul White feat. Danny Brown – Accelerator (EP)
Year: 2017 – Producer: Paul White – Label: R&S Records – Genre: Experimental Hip Hop
After producing 2 thirds of the revered ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, Paul White teams up with Danny Brown once more for this superlative bite-sized EP. The only real negative of ‘Accelerator’ is that it’s basically only two songs (plus the instrumental version of both tracks) but, boy, are they good. White’s experimental and manic beats meshing with Brown’s unparalleled flow and lyricism is a rare case of two musical philosophies fitting together perfectly. This pairing needs to last for a long, long time because they’re dangerously good together.
Top Tracks: Accelerator, Lion’s Den
My Rating: 7.4/10
Ty Segall – Ty Segall
Year: 2017 – Producer: Steve Albini – Label: Drag City – Genre: Garage Rock
Moving onto yet another artist known for rapid-fire releases (with 27 LP + EPs released in the last 10 years), Ty Segall is known for his fuzzy, noisy brand of garage rock which is mostly riff based and *extremely* catchy. His song structures can sometimes seem a bit basic but he pulls them off so well that’s it not really a problem. If you take the second track, ‘Freedom’, which, despite having only two sections, is still great because of the sheer energy that Segall and his band bring to it. But the record isn’t all heavy ‘n’ loud garage rock, the track ‘Orange Colour Queen’ is a melodic love song – with arrangements and vocal/instrumental similarities to The Beatles. A big shout, I know, but I think it’s a valid one if you really listen to the vocal harmonies and the guitar riffs in the chorus + bridge. This is yet another impressive release from Segall – a man who rarely disappoints.
Top Tracks: Break A Guitar, Freedom, The Only One, Orange Color Queen
My Rating: 7.4/10
Wiley – Godafther
Year: 2017 – Producer: Wiley- Label: CTA Records – Genre: Grime
‘Godfather’ is the eleventh and final album from grime heavyweight Wiley who shows that he can still kick it with the best. I didn’t expect to enjoy the record this much, and I prefer it to his 2007 release ‘Playtime is Over’. Granted, there’s maybe a bit of fat that could’ve been trimmed, maybe 2 or 3 tracks could’ve been omitted, but nothing to lose sleep over. A fitting swansong for one of the biggest names in grime.
Top Tracks: Birds n Bars, Bring Them All, Can’t Go Wrong, Bait Face (feat. Scratchy), Laptop (feat. Manga)
My Rating: 7/10
William Basinski – A Shadow in Time
Year: 2017 – Producer: William Basinski – Label: 2062 – Genre: Ambient
Basinski’s lastest record is composed of 2 tracks that are each roughly 20 minutes long. The ride that Basinski takes you on whilst listening to the album is so uniquely powerful. There are dark moments of despair when the soundscape becomes bleak and sparse and then it transforms into something much lighter and mystical at times. It has a tremendous arc that takes you from relaxed to traumatised and back again. Although ambient music can sometimes be made to sound so easy to produce I can sense the level of time and production that’s gone into this thing. A great, minimalist ambient release from Basinski.
Top Tracks: For David Robert Jones, A Shadow in Time