37 JPEGMAFIA: LP!

2020 #16, 2019 #34, 2018 #44

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars!! Pe-ggy! Pe-ggy! Pe-ggy! The latest astonishing collection by hip-hop’s premier avant garde electronica pushing Communist! You know what that means? That’s right: some of the most progressive and experimental music currently being made by any artist, in any genre, in the entire world. Oh, but most importantly, loads of wrestling references.

It also means that, unfortunately, there’s little space between the much appreciated wrestling call outs to actually talk about Peggy’s music. But do you need any more explanation on how he’s such a generational talent? A thousand articles by writers far more talented than me* have already written lengthy pieces and conduced many interviews that shed light on why you should be deeply ashamed if you’re not already on the Peggy Train. ‘LP!’ (always a fan of exclamation marks) retains a lot of the more melodic and slightly less abrasive styles that he presented on his recent (amazing) EPs, but uses it to only squeeze his music into more unique places. It’s a fucking banger.

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38 Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams

Caroline

I swear to God, I tried

I swear to God, I tried

Caroline

Hey hey hey! I manged to link #40, Kanye West, with #39, Caroline Shaw, now I’ve managed to link Shaw with Arlo Parks at #38! Will I continue to do this right down to the year’s best album? Absolutely! Until I forget to do it, which I will definitely do with the next one, because it’s going to be a struggle to think of a link between JPEGMAFIA and Arlo Parks. Oops. Spoiler, I guess…

Now let’s never talk of WWE’s Eugene again…

‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ was released at the end on January 2021, when the UK was coming up to a solid 12 months under on and off lockdown measures. It was a different time. Or, at least, different at time of writing. Much of the country had been cut off from the percentage of humanity that didn’t work for Deliveroo* and had just been forced to spend a Christmas away from their friends and family. Well, unless they were lucky enough to have specific ‘business meetings’ and they actually passed these laws so in a strange loophole they didn’t actually didn’t apply to them. God speed, moral superiors. The whole country was on edge, wondering exactly how many banana breads made and opinions on the USA George Floyd protests posted online per afternoon is diagnosed as mentally dangerous, and the disgustingly young Arlo Parks’s debut album was soon instilled as the nation’s official comfort blanket, winning Brit Awards and the Mercury Prize. Parks combined emotionally raw and painfully honest lyrics with soft and silky pop music, which all seemed to carry the message that, hey, everything gonna be a’right. Personally, I didn’t really need that much comforting regarding the lockdown – I was lucky enough to be in a job that was never in danger of being swept from under me, plus I’ve never been one for overly championing the company of other people. Other people are dumb and annoying. However, for me, it certainly offered timely comfort around the chaotic breakdown of my second marriage. Ah, bollocks, I’ve become one of those guys, haven’t I?

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Necessary Evil 2021 (60 – 51)

60 Justin Blackburn: Unlearning White America

Jesus Christ, people, Justin Blackburn, Justin fucking Blackburn.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is ‘Blackburn’ even a surname in America?? It’s such a dour, cold & windy, shovelling-cow-shit-into-a-tractor-just-outside-Durham, depressingly prosaic English name that it really doesn’t fit the glitzy imperialism and Hollywood gunplay of the US. It’s like finding out Shawn Michaels’s real second name is Hickenbottom. Has he ever even been to Blackburn? What are his opinions on Alan Shearer?

Secondly, was there a more arresting, more intentionally obnoxious, more on the nose outraged in 2021 than ‘Unlearning White America’? In the last decade?? You should certainly be able to gauge the general thesis of the record by its splenetic title, but I’m telling you now, you have no fucking idea. It’s important to note that Justin Blackburn is a white American himself, so rather than angrily tearing down the racist power structure that prevents perceived outsiders like himself from even a fair chance, he is on the inside (even more angrily) rejecting the inbuilt privileges that the people who grew up around him receive, refuse to acknowledge and even turn to resentment against the USA’s non white inhabitants. Many of the rage is directed toward Justin’s (diegetic? genuine?) father. All the rage is directed towards white America’s assumptions, inattentiveness and, yes, racism. Justin is so centred on the ridiculous state of race relations in his country that he even goes as far as to manage to make ‘Jesus’ rhyme with ‘racist’.

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Necessary Evil 2020 pt.13 (15-11)

#15 Burial: Tunes 2011-2019

Yeah, you know how JPEGMAFIA’s album was just a collection of singles from the previous year? Well, Burial sees that effort and raises it by releasing a collection of singles and EPs from the better part of the last decade. Might have made sense to split the two albums up on the list. This list isn’t about aesthetics and sensible ordering though. It’s pure science. And if the science states that they should be placed next to each other, perhaps both fitted with a secret microchip so Bill Gates can track their movements, then who are we to argue?

Sigh… I’m going to have to start with an embarrassing confession. I know, many of you reading this already think all the things I write are shamefully embarrassing, but this is a distressing mark against my musical knowledge which, come on, up until now was unimpeached. In November of 2019, roughly a month before this collection came out, I wrote this:

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Necessary Evil 2020 pt.12 (20-16)

Oh my God! The top twenty! If you’re interested in a bit of insider knowledge, this has been the most difficult list to write yet, it’s caused way more stress in my personal life than any before it, and it’s getting harder and harder to defend as a humungous drain on my time. This may well be the final countdown I do. Unless you all start giving me money of course. Just leave the bank notes in a burlap sack near the aqueducts, as per usual.

Six more entries to go!!

#20 Hinds: The Prettiest Curse

I don’t want your compassion
‘Cause I was built for action

Hinds released their 2016 debut as an amazing idea for a band but frustratingly without the tunes to back up their sizeable identities. Their second album, 2018’s ‘I Don’t Run‘, was a welcome and marked leap up in quality, with the band obviously coming on leaps and bounds as songwriters and performers. This improvement has continued at such a pace that, with the release of their third album this year, they can legitimately noe be considered one of the greatest indie rock bands in the world.

Yeah, this post is going to be a little shorter, just so you know.

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“Gender is Garbage”- Aqua Girl Gets Woods

Listen, I’ve tried to explain to you gormless mouth breathers before that Aqua Girl is pretty freaking special. Her 2018 debut was one of the best albums of the year, a knock out introduction to a talent able to write songs that candidly narrated a perhaps under represented  perspective of the transgender and nonbinary experience.
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But- and I’ve long been concerned that maybe my review of her debut didn’t properly credit this- she’s not ‘just’ a singing trans woman, her gender identity doesn’t define her- she’s special because she frequently writes fucking bangers! As Elora Driver, she’s already released Sunburn, one of the best songs of 2020 so far, and she’s smart enough to realise that, logically, perfect pop songs rarely need to last longer than two minutes.
When she announced in March that her second album proper was on its way in April, I was, obviously, so excited that I wet myself for three minutes straight. Like, I just drained myself of moisture, you really should have been there.  It was clear that I needed to mark this momentous occasion with a blog post, but did this mean a freaking album review?? I hate ‘reviewing albums’! I sit down and have time to listen to the album a dozen times on repeat, then I’m supposed to dribble out 2’500 words on how it made me feel?? I don’t know how it makes me feel! I haven’t lived with it for any decent time, it hasn’t soundtracked any glories or any tragedies in my life yet, I don’t know which track I jump to if I need to be taken up or taken down, I couldn’t yet tell you which track gave me a tiny bit of an erection while I was on the bus last Wednesday morning. If I reviewed it after merely hours after first being introduced to it, I would rate it as ‘pretty good’, as that’s almost all you can say about a piece of art that early on.
So I thought… what if I interview her…? Let her explain her positions in her own words rather than me making widely inaccurate and borderline offensive statements based on me force feeding the work for a handful of listens. I put the idea to her on Twitter and she was kind enough to agree. The following interview took the form of an email exchange over the course of a couple of weeks, but if you’d prefer, picture us both in the bar at Ritz-Carlton, me furiously scribbling Elora’s words of wisdom with a stubby pencil that I store in my cap, while she sprawls back on a chaise lounge with a smirk on her mouth and one eyebrow archly raised as she charmingly answers questions between sips of cognac. All while we keep four feet apart, of course. To be honest, I thought the interview would be more of a frivolous and lighthearted series pf responses to dumb questions, but Aqua Girl actually managed to pull it into engaging and almost profound places through sheer force of charisma, until the interview ends up almost interesting. That might be Aqua Girl’s greatest achievement to date

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Rumble in the Bumble pt.1

Have you noticed how things are a bit weird at the moment? Like, there seems to be something in the air, doesn’t there? People seem to be a little less socially active these days; nobody came to your barbecue last Thursday; WWE crowds are drastically down; you’re pretty sure Paul should have been at school these past few weeks not that you’re going to ask the little shit and risk getting pulled into an endless conversational loop about the largest dinosaurs; and Italian mayors seem to be furious these days. Something’s… different

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“Aye! Why-a you play-a da pinga-pong?!” #CasualRacism

I don’t watch the news- if I wanted a posh voice feeding me a liberal agenda I’d just ring my parole officer- but it’s clear to me what’s happened. There’s an unmistakable stench of disappointment overlaying an aggressive smog of sadness that’s infected the whole country. They know. You know. Everyone knows.

I am now officially single.

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Legit Bosses: The 112 Best Songs of 2019

OK OK OK! There were 112 amazing songs released in 2019 (or, erm, released earlier but I just listened to them a lot this year), and here is the definitive, objective and scientifically proven ranking. You can disagree all you want, just remember your disagreement is merely an opinion and this list is fact.

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Or maybe not. I made a big change of tablet and therefore music player this year, and I might not have remembered all of the songs I deemed to be Legit Bosses earlier in the year. But whatever, here are 112 amazing songs, here’s the YouTube list and here’s the Spotify playlist, now please leave me alone, yeah?

Starting at number 112 wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiith…

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The Legit Bosses:136 Best Tracks of 2018

This is officially the end of 2018! And it’s only the 5th January [EDIT: Still only the 6th!]! Although there’s freaking one hundred and thirty six  tracks to get through, so this may well take until mid May! Happy Cinco de Mayo! No time to talk! A shit load of songs to get through!!

136 Candace: Rewind

Gorgeous, innit?

135 Epic Reflexes: Cha Cha

While Z-Tape’s ‘Spring’ collection was veritably busting at the seems with Legit Bosses, as you’ll soon see, this is the only similarly legitimate position of authority from their ‘Summer’ collection. They’re all still great though, as is the Epic Reflexes’s album ‘ChaChaChinatown‘.

134 The Carters: Apeshit

I had a lot of problems with ‘Everything is Love’, the surprising debut release from Beyonce and Jay-Z. Part of the reason I struggled with it was that I wasn’t sure how canonical it is. Like, is this it, Bee? Is this underwhelming collection of occasionally very entertaining rap boasts officially your actual follow-up to one of the most acclaimed albums of the 21st century? It’s an album about how two very rich people love each other but probably love their money more, that includes the line “My grandchildren’s grandchildren already rich” which, despite Kanye’s crisis of publicity, is by far the line from 2018 that Donald Trump is most likely to high five in a men’s locker room. Also, there’s a moment on the opening track where Mr Carter drawls out “Let it breaaaathe, let it breaaaathe” like JB Rockefeller basking in the glory of a fart he’d just released under the bedsheets, which marks the first time in more than two decades that I’ve thought to myself that I don’t think I really like Jay-Z. However, he often wins me back with the later claim that he’s “Good on any MLK boulevard”. This song’s pretty great though

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Fucking hell, Jay, that haircut though… One hundred and thirty three more after the jump!

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44 JPEGMAFIA: Veteran

Hmmm, this album presents a bit of a problem for me in respect to me writing any sort of a coherent piece on it. I mean, sure, I haven’t really written a coherent piece yet in 386* blog posts, but this one is, like, far less likely to be coherent than most, yeah?

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(…)

(*actual number, fact fans! Maybe the thousandth post is the one where I live stream my suicide? Considering it’s taken me three years to reach 384, it should take me, what, about six more to reach 1000? I’ll be in my forties by that point, and as a result almost definitely praying for death. Only if I get enough readers though. Make sure you all hit subscribe)

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