Bearing my heart as much as my musical tastes, I attempted the impossible, and made a list of 30 essential emo songs from the ’90s and early 2000s. I’m not naive enough to think that I could please everyone with a genre/era as personal and divisive as this, but I had an absolute blast compiling, researching, and writing this for Stereogum. (Side note: I am more than willing to discuss the merits of my selections with anyone interested. Get @ me.)
As the intro to this feature states, “None of these releases received a Best New Music designation and not all were rated above an 8.0, but all are records worth revisiting.” Among those listed are Millie & Andrea’s brutally dark Drop the Vowels LP and the near-perfect Music for the Uninvited “mini-album” by Leon Vynehall—both of which I wrote about here. I’m also happy to see that the awesome records from Container, The Hotelier, and Madlib & Freddie Gibbs made the list.
London-based singer FKA twigs is perhaps the most exciting new vocalist I’ve encountered in recent memory. Between the adventurous producers she works with, her remarkable voice, and the artfully alien image she projects, FKA twigs is a throughly intriguing artist who offers an alternate version of the R&B/pop singer. Just as much is evident on her latest single, too, as “Two Weeks” sets the scene for a debut album that seems primed to take over 2014.
After seminal hardcore/punk/emo/indie label Jade Tree tossed its entire discography onto Bandcamp earlier this month, I had the pleasure of working on a list with Ian Cohen of that expansive discography’s hidden gems. Our picks were posted on Pitchfork’s The Pitch blog, and then people who failed to read the headline or intro asked why we didn’t include any songs from Nothing Feels Good or Orange Rhyming Dictionary.
This was easily the quickest turnaround from when I received an album to when I published a review of the music (less than 24 hours), but I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with the release of a “lost” Aphex Twin record 20 years after it was recorded. Richard D. James’ 16-song Caustic Window LP is an important relic of electronic music history, but even more than that, it’s a record littered with undeniably classic tunes that we’re all lucky to have access to, decades later or not. Read my review for Stereogum here.
One of the two masterminds behind electronic experimentalists Matmos, Drew Daniel has written an entire album of classic black metal cover songs under his alias The Soft Pink Truth. This feature for XLR8R looks into the concepts and ideologies of traditional black metal, which Daniel confronts and perverts with both a sense of devotion and decisive feelings of repulsion, and explores what the producer set out to accomplish on his strange Why Do the Heathen Rage? LP for Thrill Jockey.
It has been over four years since the release of Caribou’s excellent Swim LP, and he’s finally announced that he’ll follow up that 2010 record later this fall. The first single from Our Love is an EDM-referencing love song called “Can’t Do Without You”, and it’s largely unlike anything Caribou has released before. Fingers crossed that those big, ravey synths are an indication of what to expect on the rest of Caribou’s next album.
One of my favorite new albums this year is a mind-boggling record called Membrane Pop by London’s self-proclaimed “opto-musical agglomerate” Sculpture. I had the pleasure of chatting with Dan Hayhurst and Reuben Sutherland about the audio and visual work they do together, and what goes into bringing their psychedelic digital art into a physical space. My Q&A feature can be read over on The Creators Project.
I was given the privilege of writing about the 20th anniversary of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary, an album that made an enormous impact on the direction of my musical experience and my life in general. Of course, I wound up writing a whole lot about it all, but hopefully it’s not too overwhelming to read through. This is also the first piece I’ve written for Stereogum, who I plan to continue to work with as a contributing writer.
Was happy to write up this alternate version of Martyn’s and Four Tet’s collaborative track “Glassbeadgames”, the original of which is going to appear on the former’s upcoming The Air Between Words LP for Ninja Tune. Though they each have very different and distinct sounds, I think these guys work well together. Hopefully there will be more Martyn & Four Tet tunes in the future.