Weekly Capsule Reviews – 02/10/2016


This week: Danny Brown, Preoccupations, Vince Staples, New Model Army, Young Thug, Travis Scott

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (27/09/2016 – Warp Records)

Brown feels at ease in the dark visual of his own deranged self-reflection. Sticking closely to Joy Division’s Closer, he fires in the jagged synths and grooves of their post-punk Gothicism and keeps to a lyrical theme of that of Ian Curtis—”This is the way…”. Yet he never forgets who he is unlike these New Order cover bands who lose themselves in their own “original” self-pity—”Dance in the Water” imbues an African theme; “White Lines” vindicates his innate weirdness and slippery-slope narcotics abuse; and “Ain’t It Funny” is where our man faces the devil for his hedonistic living (more than most of these guys do), looks him/her up and down (more than most of these guys do), and does nothing about it (more than most of these guys do). Mellow isn’t a word we’d associate with Brown but when this album decides to do just this his sardonicism is easier to grasp, almost philosophical—”Trade in your life for a new pair of Js”. Like most of the First World does, Danny. (9/10) [Dorney’s Top Records of 2016: #1]

Preoccupations – Preoccupations (16/09/2016 – Jagjaguwar/Flemish Eye)

Previously known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations delivers a no-let-up industrial rock album that’s as clunky and hectoring as their predecessors. Politics may have given them a name change, but that didn’t give the green light for their predecessors to follow suit. Maybe not as danceable as other post-punk munchkins I’ve heard this year, but, dare I say it, more emotional? So much so I didn’t notice the near eleven-and-a-half minutes go by in “Memory”. “Monotony”‘s free-flow and natural sync into “Zodiac” shows as much dynamism as any band of this particular sound and resonance. Maybe there’s a new side to the Gang of Four wannabes these days. Hopefully the rest will take heed. (8/10) [Dorney’s Top Records of 2016: #13]

Vince Staples – Prima Donna (26/08/2016 – ARTium Recordings/Def Jam Recordings) – (EP)

“I know that money come and go, so money not my motive no mo’/I made enough to know, I’ll never make enough for my soul”—This guy seems to live his life in the opposite way most of the hip-hop hedonists have or ever will attempt to in this cut-and-dry, honest EP. His moans are plagued with the afflictions of his craft and the associated clientele around it, he loves telling us. He’s fed up with the gun violence and gang-bangin’; sometimes he feels like giving up, but he still wants to live forever. (8/10)

New Model Army – Winter (26/08/2016 – Attack Attack Records/earMUSIC)

Justin Sullivan’s leftist fantasies match what most of us in politics like to grab on to, only in his head it’s a medieval trad fest and not real-life fantasy (“Burn the Castle”). Winter is extremely competent and, don’t be fooled, deliberate. I’ll cast my mind back to the end of last year and Tom Robinson’s Only the Now—Robinson’s similar stylistic voice is a match for Sullivan (maybe not in the high sections), yet Robinson’s similar themes seem to be more content with life and with modern Britain, while our man here is still battling the powers that be. Whether that’s in his own head or not, I don’t know. (7/10)

Young Thug – JEFFERY (26/08/2016 – 300 Entertainment/Atlantic Records) – (Mixtape)

After his myriad mixtapes which I disliked (the ones I got around to), young Jeffery comes at us with yet another mixtape of childish hilarity spitting bars about money, sex, and materialism. Like everyone, really. But this one I can take. His high-pitched yelps add to those bars and “Future Swag” is what I was looking for from him all along. It’s saturated with flow even if the content is more than typical. “RiRi” is promiscuously raunchy where she’s gotta “do the work” and “earn it”. All for him at the end of the day, obviously. (7/10)

Travis Scott – Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (02/09/2016 – Grand Hustle Records/Epic Records)

Scott spends his money fast in a crisis, a crisis being out of liquor for the late nights. The vocals are horrendously overworked and that “Yeah!” recycled background vocal is a testament to that. André 3000 giving up on the Bible was as interesting as this project got. (6/10)

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