Shopping – The Official Body
Positive: The instrumentation on The Official Body is nothing new, every riff and beat on this record sounds familiar. Yet Shopping have a way of making these familiar elements sounds unique and combine them in a way that feels new. Shopping’s work is subtly political and often expresses an angsty outlook on life yet is sprinkled with black humour, making The Official Body more fun than depressing.
Negative: The songs on The Official Body tend to morph into one. “The Hype” stand out but other tracks are relatively interchangeable. Chorusses are often the same phrase or riff on repeat, which works once or twice but starts to get real boring halfway through the album.
Why? Because The Official Body will make the cold winter feel a bit more like spring.
How? Let this music float around in the air. On headphones it might drive you mad in no time like it did me.
When? Not too often, or maybe not as a whole.
For fans of: Parquet Courts, Priests, Sunflower Bean
Tune-Yards – I can feel you creep into my private life
Positive: An album that sounds like it needs to be experienced live. Danceable, worldly beats aplenty, along with recognisable Tune-Yards instrumentals and voice loops make this album a catchy pop-indie project musically. It is more accessible and feels slightly less self-indulgently artsy than previous Tune-Yards records.
Negative: Lyrically, Merrill might be running out of things to say/say eloquently. Perhaps instead of focussing on her “white woman’s voice” she could have explored some other themes, and left discussions about racism to voices that need to be heard a lot more urgently than hers. “Colonizer” is awkward. Its self-awareness sounds fabricated and reeks of faux wokeness. Lena Dunham probably enjoys it.
Why? Because as long as you ignore the lyrics and set your PCness aside, you can do a nice little jig to this album and no one needs to know.
How? While moving your limbs in a rhythmic fashion (and act some would call “dancing”).
When? A few times, then never again.
For fans of: St. Vincent, Of Montreal, Yeasayer
cupcakKe – Ephorize
Positive: cupcaKke is aggressive and confident as ever, but with Ephorize the world might finally see her for the immense talent she is. The songs/videos she is famous for are hilarious, but there is so much more to cupcakKe than tracks like “Duck Duck Goose”. Ephorize is diverse and well produced, with many intelligent lines and complex flows.
Negative: People will misunderstand cupcaKke’s vulgarity and with that she runs the risk of digging her own grave. People still have a hard time taking female MCs seriously, especially when their lyrics are proper dirty. That cupcakKe is more the new Missy than a failed Nicki few will realise, I’m afraid.
Why? Because more people should to have an opinion on cupcaKke.
How? If you’re easily embarrassed: headphones. If you don’t give a hoot: blasting through your open car windows.
When? Whenever you need to feel like a boss-ass bitch.
For fans of: Mykki Blanco, Azealia Banks, Junglepussy
Sly & The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Goin’ On (1971)
Positive: This album is where Sly started to get lost in drugs and “The Family” had become more of a brand than an actual presence, but it is also a turning point music wise, that was anticipated by Stand’s “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” (1969). Sly’s music became a dark kind of funk that was less commercial and more political, as he became an active supporter of the Black Panthers. There’s A Riot Goin’ On is arguably Sly’s first solo record –though some members of the Family Stone do feature– and looking at it like that makes it easier to separate it from earlier work. This album finds a renewed relevance in the current political landscape. Certainly Childish Gambino must have listened to this record for inspiration.
Negative: It can be hard to separate the artist from the art, which makes a song like “Family Affair” hard to listen to in the context of what was going on at the time of recording this album. Sly made no secret of his love of drugs and you cannot help but worry about the man (who is, against all odds, still with us) while listening to this record.
Why? This is a strong, dark funk record that had been overlooked in the recent rediscovery of the genre, most likely because the band is known for earlier hits like “Dance To The Music”.
How? By Candlelight, surrounded by red velvet, reading a good political autobiography.
When? This is a good night-time record, but as soon as you grow to love it you can take it anywhere.
For fans of: Parliament, Isaac Hayes, Cymande