Here is a collection of songs that have impressed me one way or another over the past five years or so. There is no rhyme or reason to them, and I have tried to arrange them into something resembling a true mix, but they don’t really flow one into another smoothly. Well, fuck it. Instead I decided to write a line or two about each song.
If there is one defining feature to this mix is its defiance in the face of the increasingly shitty pop music landscape we are in. The most pernicious aspect of this is poptimism – a term I wish I coined – which denotes the rush to praise mediocrity even in serious media. When the New Yorker sings praises of Cardi B. you know it’s time to flush the toilet. So, without further ado;
American Nightmare – The World is Blue
I grew up with hardcore after I immigrated to the States. My first concert in America was Biohazard at Lamour’s, a metal club in blue-collar Brooklyn you haven’t heard of, and if you have, then you have my respect. I have not listened to hardcore in a long time and it took the new American Nightmare album to suck me back in. Knives out in the fucking shadows.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl in Amber
Just another gorgeous, earth-spinning song by Nick Cave, who seems to be incapable of not producing darkly beautiful ballads that softly envelop your soul before plunging their sting in it.
Massive Attack, Azekel – Ritual Spirit
You should watch the mesmerizing video for it with Kate Moss twirling a lightbulb. It’s transporting.
The Bug – Fall
The Bug has managed to combine elements of trip-hop, dub, and reggae into genre-defying music that I can’t put my finger on, but I love it. There is something so DIRTY in it, and that’s a compliment.
Adult. – Perversions of Human Kind
Nitzer Ebb for the 21st Century. Though this track is more nuanced and not as aggressive as some others.
Nine Inch Nails – Less Than
NIN was the defining band of my teens and 20s, so every time they put new music out, my heart goes aflutter with anticipation. This one has become a favorite.
Death Grips – Death Grips is Online
Genre-defying, expectations-defying, gravity-defying – defiance is at the center of the sonic cannonball that is Death Grips.
Goldfrapp – Systemagic
Because you need good synth-pop in those moments when your brain is about to crack under the weight of its thoughts.
Cold Cave – Glory
Uplift is not something you normally expect from Cold Cave and Wes Eisold. But this lush anthem of renewal has just that.
Leonard Cohen – Steer Your Way
To say that the music of Leonard Cohen holds a special place in my heart is to say nothing. It’s more like it swallows it entirely. He was the only man I did not know personally over whose loss I truly grieved. His swan song of an album, You Want It Darker, contains hard truths that only a man who knows that death is near will dare utter. This is one of these songs.