The early part of any new year is often just me going through all the stuff I missed late in the previous one with a dash of new Montreal music thrown in there, and 2018 is no exception.
The cold winter months are also an ideal time to get a little nostalgic while staring out the window. I’m also working on stories and thinking about my Polaris Prize ballot, so the spring thaw always makes for an interesting listening hodge podge, with new and old picks.
Here’s what I’m listening to right now:
- “Bamthathile” by Sun-EL Musician (feat. Mlindo The Vocalist)
If you’re not up on the Gqom scene of Durban and the Afrobeats scene in Nigeria and elsewhere, you’re missing out on some of the most exciting electronic and pop music going these days. South Africa’s Sun-EL Musician is more in the pop realm, but his mix of wistful vocal pairings with soft, warm electronic beats perfectly fits the 2018 sound (think Majid Jordan-style R&B), albeit with an old school touch. Check this one and Akanamali, another beautiful tune of his.
2. “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves
Some voices just cut me to the bone, and Musgraves possesses one of them. I thought this one might be a little sci-fi based on the title, but nope, it’s about letting go with a very country metaphor. In the hands of the less talented, a song about horses and Silverados would come across as corny, but Musgraves got me invested in this doomed relationship. She’s never played Montreal and it’s a travesty, I say! Saw her in Ottawa a few years back, at least.
3. “Watch You, Watch Me” by Suuns
I dig dissonant and repetitive music. Mel? Not so much. If I’m listening to this with her nearby, I’m definitely putting on my headphones and cranking it up. I’ve appreciated all their albums, but Felt, both in visuals and sonics, is a bit brigher. Reminds me a bit of Battles’ transition to artsy pranksters post-Braxton. One of those Montreal bands I’m growing old with.
4. “Loco” by Creek Boyz
This damn hook has been stuck in my head for two months. Bone Thugs did the rap choir thing to perfection on “Crossroads” back in the 90s, so it’s no surprise few have been courageous enough to bite it since then. I like trap harmonies because it feels like the ideal way to listen to these tunes: in a room singing the words with a bunch of other people. The extra vocalists here took a rather ordinary song and made it all the more infectious.
5. “Echoes” by Klaxons
I told you I was feeling a little nostalgic. Late 2000’s UK rock, really the last gasp of rock in the country before it got whittled down to thin revivalists, was the apex of the KLF provoke-’em-with-weirdness handbook generation. Klaxons broke up a few years ago, and it was probably time, but the first two records hurtle at breakneck speeds with goofy samples, transcendental lyricism and de-tuned guitars. After the wave they were on died, music got a quieter, but sometimes I just want to blast my eardrums with compressed goop.