Last 7 Days is a series here on The Metronome that uses last.fm to chronicle the artists and albums that have made up the last week’s worth of listening for one of our staff members. This week, FM Stringer shares the listening habits that made up his week.
Boards of Canada
Once I queued Geogaddi up with the last hour and six minutes of The Shining, just to see what would happen. It didn’t really work out. God, what the hell do I write about Boards of Canada? There are plenty tangential comparisons, obtuse analogies, and stories, which would be over-the-top-indulgent on my part, that I could use to try to approximate what Boards of Canada is, but nothing seems right. This isn’t to attach a ham-fisted mythology to the group, or to dismiss my responsibility to this paragraph by saying they are ineffable. I guess I feel that BoC isn’t really anything if they aren’t a lens through which you see yourself, in a reflective and temporal sense both. It’s been said over and over that these records, Music Has The Right To Children especially, are rooted in nostalgia, but that too feels lazy. The songs are about place and the inescapable internal coupled, just as memory and the ever-kinetic system of one’s personal present are coupled. And it’s just dope.
If you told me at the beginning of 2012 that I’d be on board with A$AP’s laid back brand of swag-rap, I’d have called you a know-nothing herb and knocked your lunch on the floor. But here I am, floatin’ on that purple potion, eating my hat. In truth, I took some snobby issue with the parallels Chase drew between that pretty motherfucker, Raekwon, and Biggie last November, but he was and is on point. The draw of 2012’s displaced Crowned King of Trill (I’m having too much fun here) and the legends of Big Apple rap lies in just how effortless their projects come across. And no, A$AP isn’t Biggie-smooth and he doesn’t have Rae’s command of narrative, but for a rapper so young (he’s about a month younger than me, and I don’t know shit about shit!) and with such a provocative canon informing his work, that Brand New Guy is unforgettably in the pilot seat of everything he shows up on. Oh, and Clams Casino owns.
Ugh. Probably the only thing The Avalanches are better at than making me dance is slowly (seriously, very, very slowly) cranking the anticipation knob for a follow-up to 2000’s Since I Left You. If you haven’t listened to that album yet, do. If you have, do it again right now. The degree to which each of the album’s many, many samples meshes with, informs, and transforms the other sounds in sonic proximity is stunning. It doesn’t seem real that a project requiring so much care can possibly have come out so fun.
Man, Death Grips is just awesome. With the radical, abrasive Exmilitary still accumulating attention, and every taste of the rapidly upcoming The Money Store indicating artistic growth in every department, there’s a lot to be excited about in this corner of hip-hop. And what corner is that? Stefan Burnett’s voice has more hair on it than Tyler, The Creator’s, and the Hill/Morin production is more unrelenting in its futurism than Shabazz Palaces’. It’s a shame what a loaded term “hardcore” has become, because Death Grips is, and they bridge the aesthetic gap between punk sensibility and hip-hop tradition without apology. Why would you want one? Burnett on top of the guitars of Exmilitary’s “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” is unfuckwithable in its balls, which more than makes up for that it’s a bit of a lyrical headscratcher. Whereas so many rap acts are chilling us out, Death Grips lets us remember that we are insane.
So I’m listening to Mr. Impossible, the latest from these famously difficult Brooklyn acid freaks, at work, where I’m expected to think critically and with a certain linearality (not a word), and it is NOT going well! I accidentally did one thing in the wrong spot and now everything is fucked up forever. If I get fired it will be the fault of Black Dice. Real talk though, I love these dudes. After the delightfully violent Load Blown and Repo, and a brilliantly antagonistic set opening for a post-”My Girls” Animal Collective, it’s easy to forget what a different kind of accomplishment Beaches and Canyons was and what a range these guys have displayed over ten years of sticking to their guns. Mr. Impossible is not a return to any form, but a push forward onto a dance floor of addled bodies.
Oakland’s Main Attrakionz may not be the trillest rappers making records, or the most purple, but it’s that sensitivity of touch on the throttle of muscularity that makes them so mesmerizing. Especially on the criminally under-spun Blackberry Ku$h, MondreMAN and Squadda Bambino’s pocket exists in a youthful oblivion of minutiae, a haze characteristic of what I guess we’ll call weed-rap specked with moments of unforgiving clarity. There’s an occasion on the fantastically unpolished “Young As Fuck Pt. II” where the stuttering piano drops out shortly after Mondre reflects, and briefly, on his uncle’s overdose that completely transforms what we take away from a track about being young and remembering being younger; not nostalgia– something else. 808s & Dark Grapes II is more crisp and its production is sometimes amazing, like on “Perfect Skies.” It also happily features the A$AP Rocky/Clams Casino standout “Take 1,” which is so good it apparently had to be on two albums. Part of me still hasn’t adjusted to the slurred vocal delivery currently prevalent in much of hip-hop, but I’m finding that Main Attrakionz are more than deserving of trust. Sign on door: “BRB, Gone Cloud Skatin’.”
The Psychic Paramount
There are days when you need this kind of thing, and The Psychic Paramount is really good at doing this kind of thing. Violent and hypnotizing, this is the kind of druggy noise-rock your parents are afraid you’re listening to. And yet, even as the whole thing expands and threatens to split open, towers with layer upon layer of guitar that sounds like it’s having tone tortured out of it (probably by drummer Tatsuya Nakatani…) the songs stay impossibly under control.
The Beach Boys
It’s the fucking Beach Boys, leave me alone.