36 Sal Dulu: Xompulse

It’s… really… hard.. to… write… this… I’m listening to the blissful ‘Xompulse’ while I dictate this entry to Shawn, my volunteer blog assistant. Well, I say ‘volunteer’, but a county court settlement recently confirmed that it was actually ‘indentured servitude’ by legal definition. Whatever, the fact remains that ‘the words’ remain Shawn’s job – until I am suitably satisfied that he has earned back the money he cost me when he saw fit to eat nearly half of the hors d’oeuvre that I had set out for my friends in expectation of the all night session on ‘Kira to Kaiketsu! 64 Tanteidan’ later that evening in 1997 (why were you even in the house, Shawn?? Who are you?!) – and my job is the general vibes and intermittent inspiration. But… my vibes… are being… so mollified… by this music…

Shawn, I swear to God, if I hear one more word out of your vulgarian lips I shall put your shrivelled testicles on the keyboard of that top of the line laptop and slam the screen down violently several times until you have naught but a pair of fleshy pancakes hanging between your knees. Let’s not make the same mistakes at Christmas that we made on Bonfire Night, OK?

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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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Legit Bosses pt.3: The 40 Best Songs of 2020

Hey! Top forty ! This is a nice, normal, manageable list isn’t it? Should I maybe have just limited 2020’s best songs to this workable and succinct top 40 list? What, and not mention Wock in Stock or I Don’t Know, Burn Stuff? I’m not sure I’d ever be able to forgive myself.

That’s all the introduction you’re getting, parts one and two were more than enough foreplay, there are some absolute modern classics in this final countdown, and if you’re as half as surprised as me at what comes out on top…

Maybe, I mean, I still might change it…

#40 Fiona Apple: Under the Table

A very ‘Fiona Apple’ Fiona Apple song, but that is obviously entirely a Good Thing. Lyrically, it’s untouchable, with Ms Apple taking issue with dinner party conversation and refusing to be silenced (“Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up…I would beg to disagree/But begging disagrees with me”). Amongst the barbed and often hilarious response to tension, she also manages to squeeze in some absolutely amazing lyrical asides:

I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots

To help you with your climb

Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over, along your route

So they won’t hurt like mine

I’m going to be really noncommittal and say that Under the Table is definitely one of the best lyrics of the year. Don’t make me choose. No, seriously, don’t make me choose, you know I’d just give it to a 1993 Manics’ lyric and ruin the legitimacy of the whole operation.#

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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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Necessary Evil 2020 pt.6 (50-46)

#50 Banoffee: Look At Us Now Dad

Banoffee’s debut album should act as an important reference point for Halsey. The subjects she covers here- from painful reconciliations to painful intergenerational trauma to, Jesus, why didn’t I just leave it as a one night stand with that prick??- are at least as weighty as those covered on Ms Frangipane’s latest. Banoffee simply covers them often more explicitly, with far more humour and raw openness. And, more importantly, does so with no shame about this being a pop album and with the mature knowledge that really shouldn’t take away from its artistic legitimacy. She’s not openly complaining about Band of Horses not being considered pop despite starting with the same three letters, she’s not arguing that her album being considered ‘pop’ and the Javier Muñoz Spanish language production The Occupant being considered a ‘movie’ is just more evidence of the suffocating patriarchy, she’s not pointing to the barbed wire around her wrist on the album cover as poof of how freaking metal she is. She has no qualms about being a pop artist and is confident in the utter magnificence she can still produce, how being a ‘pop’ artist doesn’t act as a barrier to producing such weird, challenging and effective music such as this.

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Rumble in the Bumble pt.4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I know I promised that I wasn’t going to do another one of these until next week, but over the period of about nine hours yesterday Bumble dragged me on a roller coaster of emotions, potential and of reaching ridiculously over my limits as a physically attractive entity*. I have to assume that you’ve all read Shawn Michaels’s esteemed memoir ‘Heartbreak and Triumph’? Well, that could well be the title of this episode of my delve into the grottiness of online dating. Except that there was very little triumph involved. ‘Heartbreak and Heartbreak’ might work a little better. Except that repeated word is a little functionally unnecessary, isn’t it? Yeah, the book of yesterday on Bumble would be called ‘Heartbreak’. Do you see where this is going?

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(* though… maybe… really below… my mental attractiveness…? I don’t want to be cruel… Well… maybe I do, just a little, but as will soon become brutally clear I really need to claw back some self-respect out of this hideous situation)

What’s that? You think I’m far too obsessed with wrestling? Really?? Let’s see if that comes into play.

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42 Daughters: You Won’t Get What You Want

One of the greatest/worst aspects of life in 2019 is how we all have the power to fine tune and curate exactly what world we live in, edit and personalise what news we hear and what bent ideology it pours from. When I was a bairn, the whole country basically had the same experience, all the time. We all heard Love Is All Around until we all wanted to ruthlessly and repeatedly embed a screwdriver deep into our own eardrums until the flowing blood hopefully drowned out Marti Pellow’s smirk (not me though, Love is All Around is a fuckin’ choon). We all watched Coronation Street last night, so could debate the meaning of Mavis Whooptuck performing a blood sacrifice in order to bring Harold Hupptickle back from the dead (my memories of Coronation Street are a bit cloudy, I’ll admit). Most importantly, we all got the same news. Sure, many people would still buy utter horseshit like the Sun or the Daily Mail- or The Guardian if they were a little more middle class and, let’s face it, a bit twatty- but we kind of all agreed that if it made it to BBC News, then it was likely correct. Likely due to laws restricting the bias of TV news in this country and the very charter of the BBC forbidding any bias or political inclinations in the news reporting. It’s, of course, not perfect*, it’s not always 100% observed, but it’s at least enshrined into law and aimed for, meaning that everyone always tuned into the TV news at the end of the day expecting them to brush the propaganda from the day’s events and tell us what really happened.

“Julie, for fuck’s sake, can you put the brandy down for five minutes??”

(*there were shocking scenes earlier this year when a BBC news reporter had the temerity to suggest that, growing up with an Indian mother and Mauritian father, racism was actually really gross and that Trump’s racist comments actually sounded very familiar. That’s how seriously we take impartiality- a woman of Asian descent isn’t allowed to call out the racist president for saying racist things and say that racism was bad. Apparently, a lot of viewers were still undecided on racism and didn’t want the crazy hippy idea that it was somehow a negative thing shoved down their throat. A white BBC news guy said similar things, but nobody complained about that, because… y’know…).

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Necessary Evil (47-43)

47 Blank Banshee: Metamorphosis

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzum, weeeeeeeeeeeear-kazummazum… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzum-wenkwenkwenk, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzdoo-baba-doo-baba-doo-baba-doo-baba. Sing along at the back.

‘Metamorphosis’ is a stunning 20 minutes of the most lushly created electronic music you’re likely to hear in 2019. I don’t want to be ‘that guy*’ again, but it’s really a piece of work that needs to be consumed through headphones (consumed… through headphones…?) to really appreciate the power and complexity of the music. Listening to the layered quasi-ambient beauty of ‘Metamorphosis’ you appreciate how far Blank Banshee has come since he was originally considered within the constraints of Vaporwave (or, indeed, ‘Vaportrap‘).

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You can no longer get the singular tracks, so just listen to the whole thing you lazy fucker

(*’that guy’ being someone who just points out facts. Don’t you fucking hate that guy??)

Yeah. How’s about that. Some proper fucking writing there, huh??

Metacritic: n/a

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Necessary Evil 2019 (72-65)

72 Kanye West: Yandhi

yandhi-and-the-legacy-of-kanye-west-leaks

You know what? I’ve got a funny feeling that this might not be my last chance to talk about him before this list is done, so I’m wary of squeezing out all my Kanye Juice before the real party starts. ‘Yandhi’ was the album that he was going to release as his follow up to last year’s ‘Ye‘ (I’m sorry, haterz/liberals, but ‘Ye’ was a pretty fine album, as were most of the eighty four records he released last year, let’s not let our reactions to his general behavior colour the history), but then it was delayed, then cancelled, then briefly revived with Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Kanye West, then delayed, then its name was changed to ‘Spunk Muffin and the Dudes With Attitude’, then it was cancelled again, then it was changed to ‘Jesus Is King’, then it was revealed that it wasn’t actually a name change but a completely separate record, then that record was delayed, then it was delayed again, until, finally, it was released, and Yandhi was cancelled, only briefly being released (seriously) as ringtones. Quite straightforward as Kanye West album launches go, really. I actually only sought out ‘Yandhi’ because I assumed it would contain intriguing scrappy demos of whatever tracks Kanye was working on for his next record (which at that point had been delayed so many times I assumed this would be the closest we’d get to a Kanye album this year), but it’s shocking to hear quite how complete a lot of songs on here are, and how realised many ideas are. New Body in particular sounds less than a tweak away from being a hit single, Nicki Minaj feature and all. Later, it was shocking how few of the songs and ideas on ‘Yandhi’ made it to ‘Jesus is King’. Like, pretty much none of it. Nicki Minaj? She’s gone. Hey, Kanye, maybe stay focused on one thing for more than three minutes? Might result in better albums? Perhaps I’ll get to debate this further later.

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