Tag Archives: punk

Monthly Playlist: Jan. 2019

31 Jan

As we finish up the first month of the new year, Top Five Records is proud to start what we hope will become a long-standing tradition: a quick, five-song list of the month’s best songs. We’re just thirty-one days into 2019, but we’ve already enjoyed some great music. So, without further ado, here is the inaugural Monthly Playlist – enjoy!

5. “Sex Rich” – CRYSTAL

CRYSTAL is a Scottish punk / grunge act that has been gaining a solid fanbase over the past few years – and for good reason. The band elicits the best parts of 90s alternative mainstays like Nirvana and Pearl Jam – from vocalist Anna Shields’ gauzy vocals to guitarist Blair Crichton’s jagged, heavy riffs – without sounding like a rip-off tribute act. “Sex Rich” is perhaps the best introduction to CRYSTAL. The slight menace in Shields’ opening lines builds to a grungy wall-of-sound that occasionally breaks for some muddy, hard-hitting riffs. Have a listen, and keep an eye on this band.

File next to: Nirvana; Genres: Grunge, punk

4. “Landslide” – Beirut

If you love cinematic pop, you’ve likely been a fan of Beirut for years. “Postcards from Italy”, the band’s break-out track from their debut album in 2006, showcased the best parts of their sound: a folksy take on world music that somehow elicited images of cobbled European villages or cafés in old-town Ankara. “Landslide”, from the band’s upcoming fifth album Gallipoli, continuous this vibe. Zach Condon’s signature sweeping vocals tether the combination of percussion and staccato organ notes to create a lush, uplifting sound. Gallipoli is out on February 1, 2019.

File next to: Grizzly Bear; Genres: Indie, folk

3. “Pure Water” – Mustard feat. Migos

There’s plenty to love about this new track from Mustard and Migos. A hypnotically uneven beat provides the foundation for taut verses that perfectly exemplify why Migos currently rule the rap scene. All three Migos have a flow so unique that it goes beyond the lyrics as an instrument in itself – a feat so inimitable that it is now known ubiquitously as the Migos flow. On “Pure Water”, Offset, Quavo and Takeoff excel in shooting words with precision between the ebbs and flows of a beat, and Mustard provides them the perfect fodder.

File next to: Future; Genres: Trap rap

2. “Juice” – Lizzo

Since her debut in 2013, Lizzo’s music has been known for her gratuitous mix of soul and funk with the beat elements of mainstream of hip-hop. “Juice” is no different – a fun and exuberant take on the phrase “Why should boys have all the fun?” with some great lines that hinge on Lizzo’s self-confidence (“No, I’m not a snack at all / Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal”). As a mark of her rising star, Lizzo performed this very song this week on Ellen. If that isn’t a testament to the song’s perfect dance sensibilities, we don’t know what is. Lizzo’s third album Cuz I Love You will be out on April 19, 2019.

File next to: Janelle Monae; Genres: Funk, hip-hop

1. “CHARLIE” – MALFNKTION feat. Shayan Roy

Mumbai-based electro-hip-hop act MALFNKTION is one of the most reliable beatmakers in Indian hip-hop. Older tracks like “Rani” (from 2015’s Hindustani Rascal EP) showcased his ability to merge desi elements such as old-world filmi samples onto an ever-changing landscape of beats. Recently, though, he’s really stepped it up a notch – and Shayan Roy, who you may know as the youthful Bengali lad in many Buzzfeed India videos, deserves much of the credit for it.

On “CHARLIE”, Roy’s fluid, swaggering flow meshes perfectly with the maddening beats – complete with an electronic horn section – that MALFNKTION puts together. With his lyrical dexterity and pop culture references, Roy evokes Childish Gambino, and we hear bits of Iggy Azalea’s melodic braggadocio here too. Simply put, we can’t recommend this track enough.

Bonus: If you liked this one, be sure to check out this duo’s other collaboration, “Vincent Chase Slippin”.

File next to: Childish Gambino, Iggy Azalea; Genres: Hip-hop, electronic

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Joyce Manor: Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired

2 Jul

Last year, a young British band called Yuck channeled the apathy of 1990s’ teenagers into a near-perfect indie rock record. This year, a young band called Joyce Manor from Torrance, California does something similar, translating the manic restlessness of the 2000s’ into one of the best punk records in recent times. The nine songs on Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired will fill you with an agitated, sustained urge to dance and/or start a band: all within the album’s thirteen (!) minutes of running time.

Similar to Japandroids’ Post-Nothing, the chaotic jumble on Of All Things works well without ever veering into dissonant hipster nonsense (for example, Micachu). The headiness of youth takes you over for thirteen minutes and nine seconds, in bite-sized songs of pure energy.

“These Kinds of Ice Skates” sets the tone for the album, with tight drums, apathetic vocals and an exceptional skill at writing clever lyrics (‘And I don’t think you’re confusing refusal to heal/ With all your selfishness singing, “I know how you feel,”’), all within a minute and a half. “Comfortable Clothes, is a terse tribute to the energetic, fuck-all freedom of youth, reminiscent of Bows + Arrows-era Walkmen. Tracks like “Violent Inside”, “Bride of Usher” and “I’m Always Tired” are heart-felt paeans to youth’s insecurities and melodrama. Despite the mild anguish, however, the band faces as always towards Sunset Boulevard, reminding us of their heritage: that, whatever may come, it’s always sunny in California. (Sorry.)

A classic bass-line drives along the laid-back “See How Tame I Can Be”, but the groovy song bubbles with an undercurrent of adolescent angst (‘And it’s too much to take and so I say to myself, “I never told you that I loved you because I don’t.”’). However, one soon gets the impression that the angst may actually be a joke: that the song’s title – and tameness – is actually a back-handed, precocious compliment to Joyce Manor’s hyperactivity. And the result, hipster aspirants, is irony done right.

Another great song on the album is the mellow “Drainage”, an unexpected, seventy-one-second simple love song, complete with gently-plucked acoustic guitar and faint cello. “If I Needed You There” is Panic! At the Disco with an irreverent buzz cut; against all odds, the minute-long sonic blast not only comes across as a legitimate song, but its chorus even manages to embed itself in your brain.

All through the album, Joyce Manor subtly showcase their many talents underneath the mess and clutter. The band takes pop music, and gives it back to us – trodden, deconstructed and reassembled – and yet somehow pays tribute to it. They are highly skilled editors and arrangers: there isn’t an out-of-place or unnecessary second on the album. And finally, the band is entirely audio-oriented in today’s world of VEVO and pop superstars: they demand – and get – your undivided, aural attention. All of this, and more, comes together on the best song on the album, a cover of 80s one-hit wonder band the Buggles’ signature track, “Video Killed the Radio Star”. We honestly think it’s one of the best covers of the often-covered song, ever.

There are a few criteria that all great songs possess: they grab your attention, pack in as much passion as possible, showcase musical skill, provide intelligent lyrics and have melodic sensibilities. Joyce Manor’s songs rarely cross the two-minute mark, but every single one of them hits all these criteria. The album really is a study in brevity and (there’s no other word for it) genius.

The genius extends to the album cover and title too. The neat capital letters on the cover, defiantly but aesthetically jumbled, give you a good taste of the music that’s inside. The album title, too, strikes us as particularly ingenious. Joyce Manor is a band with enormous talent and very little patience for bullshit. They are confident enough to cut down their album to less than 90 degrees on the clock. Naturally, mundane things in life tire them, and this album is a divine distillation of all that.

Verdict: Of all things Joyce Manor may soon grow tired, but of Joyce Manor you will not very soon grow tired. If you have thirteen minutes and nine seconds of time, listen!

– Neeharika

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