Yeah, I know, it’s just ‘Bandcamp’, isn’t it? Not ‘BandCamp’ like it’s some internet 2.0 app allowing preteen marching band players share news about events (that later turned out to be a massive secret international pedophile ring), but I started calling it ‘BandCamp’ on the first sodding entry so now I have to either go back and change every entry – which will take, ugh, effort – or just continue doing so and hope nobody notices. I’ll change it in 2023, I promise. Resolution and shit, yeah?
It might just be me. I am, as you might have noticed, a total bummer merchant. I’m sure most people would still find it depressing just knowing the general story behind it. Mitski had sacrificed everything in order to do music for a living (“I will neglect everything else, including me as a person, just to get to keep making music”), and with the wider acclaim and success of ‘Be the Cowboy‘ she seemed to have lived her dream to the extent that she no longer needed to do it. And, having realised the sacrifices such success entails, she decided to chuck it all in. She wrote one of her greatest ever songs Working for the Knife in late 2019 as a spectacular and self-explanatory goodbye to the business (“I always thought the choice was mine/And I was right, but I just chose wrong”). Whereupon her label said, erm, no, you’re still contracted for one more album. Get back out there and dance for us. ‘Laurel Hell’ is that album. I’m sure Mitski was overwhelmingly happy to make it
This post might actually be my last. It’s been fun. Occasionally.
OK, if you haven’t been following the news recently, I might have to give you a quick primer. I get it, don’t worry, it can be a nasty world out there and sometimes we have to attempt to protect our own mental health by not even engaging with the horror, I completely understand if you aren’t up on possibly the biggest story of late 2022. Trigger warning, this might be the most upsetting. Remember a few days ago when I posted my Pusha T post? Fifty second best album of the year? Not bad, right? Sure not as high as the near top five placing that Rolling Stone had (bafflingly) deemed it worthy of, but then I’ve certainly been questioning if it’s actually better than Alvvays, Lykke Li, The Smile or Big|Brave, so… it all works out? I dunno, whatever, that’s where the album fell. Was it a particularly good post? Hmmmmmmnot especially. I didn’t spend anyway near the time on it that I dedicated to Tanya Tagaq or Arcade Fire, for instance, but likely because there weren’t any sexual assaults or cultural genocides to discuss. I mentioned how Pusha’s lyrics often don’t convey what he thinks they do, which I would have liked to delve into more given the time. As a post in general though, particularly when compared to my best work, it was definitely m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m
2020 was a pretty incredible year for quality albums. We’ve sailed through ninety eight other examples of this fact in the past few weeks. Yeah, I know, did I do a top 100 this year? No, I did a top ninety nine because I’m freaking gangsta. Hmmm, imagine if I’d remembered to list Ariana Grande’s last album? It might have cleaned it up a bit. Ah well, no harm no foul. If you’re wondering, it would have finished arooooooouuuuuuuund… 74th. Despite the raised competition though, despite a high placing on 2020’s list being more difficult than in most recent years, there was still only ever really one record that I ever really imagined finishing top.
070 Shake is Danielle Balbuena, a 22 year old Brooklyn native of Dominican decent who has stealthily being climbing up the Necessary Evil chart in recent years. Her unmistakable, tranquil voice that seems to have been digitally uploaded from the uncanny valley and wears the scars of the distorted transition, had obviously been used recently to add certain sparkle to hip-hop tracks that nothing else was ever going to be likely to be able to do. She appeared on Pusha T’s Santeria,the 37th best album of 2018, offering a haunting and seemingly otherworldly Spanish language segment that the listener assumed would have taken all the talent of producer Kanye West to make sound quite so idiosyncratic and mystifying, not realising that was just what Shake’s voice sounded like. West was similarly enchanted by Shake as I was- as anyone would be, enough to have her guest on two tracks from his own (unfairly maligned, really freaking good) solo record that year, the twelfth best album of 2018, on album highlight Violent Crimes and of 2018 highlight Ghost Town(the 13th best song of the year).
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!!
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‘.
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
Fucking hell, Jay, that haircut though… One hundred and thirty three more after the jump!
Next September, it’ll be ten years since Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMA awards. Which award? Which Taylor Swift song/video/album won? Which work by Beyonce was Kanye so aggrieved didn’t win? Literally nobody knows. And yet I promise you that every person you mention the moment to will be able to do a pitch perfect Kanye West impression from the moment. It was a dumb moment at a dumb musical award that nobody (at least in this country) gives two shiny shits about, and yet that moment of Peak Megalolz was still honestly one of the biggest and most discussed cultural events of the 21st century. Such was (and still is) the cultural cache attached to Mr. West.
Damon Albarn and That Other One were obviously struggling for ideas for the band’s fourth (proper) album, evidenced by the seven years it took them to follow up 2010’s ‘Plastic Beach’ (an album I really loved for about four months then forgot all about), so were forced to instead crib inspiration from perhaps the most artistically provocative writers of their time.
(Do I need to say that it took seven years and then state further that ‘Plastic Beach’ was released in 2010? Seems like a waste of words. In fact, if you include this little parenthesised section here, the addition of the conformation of the year two thousand and ten has added an entirely unnecessary one hundred and nine words to this piece!! In retrospect, probably unnecessary. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way to remove or obliterate anything you’ve written- to ‘delete’ it, if you will- so it has to stay in. Let me know of any potential solutions in the comments. Should I write the whole entry again?)