MJC's Records of the Week: 3/29

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Sun Mar 29 2020

Every week at WSUM, our Music Director, Izzi, chooses herfavorite new releases to add to our music library. In turn, WSUM's Music Journalism Club shares what records they've had on repeat. From new releases to classic albums, here's what the members of MJC have been listening to.

Women, Public Strain

(2010, Jagjaguwar)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Can't You See,” “Heat Distraction,” “China Steps,” “Drag Open,” “Eyesore”

GENRE: Post-punk, noise pop, neo-psychedelia 

RIYL: The Sound, The Chameleons, Palm, Ought 

Women's second and final album, Public Strain, is a lush yet gritty venture into Brian Wilson-esque psychedelia combined with jittery and agitated genres such as noise pop, post-punk and no wave. The album opens on the tranquil and surreal “Can't You See,” which contrasts heavily with its immediate followup, “Heat Distraction.” This track is technical, spirited and odd, featuring unconventional time signatures and impeccably tight instrumentation. “China Steps” is one of the album's most tense tracks, its main riff heaving and clamouring amongst the rest of the track's fidgety instrumentation. Whereas “China Steps” is one of the album's most skittish tracks, “Drag Open” is the album's most skittish track.Iits dissonant no wave-tinged sound pulls no punches. Closing out the album is the track “Eyesore,” which, to me at least, is one of the best songs of the decade. I would say it's dream-like, but there's much more going on than just that in this song.“Eyesore” is climatic, a perfect song to play over the credits of a bittersweet movie. Its outro provides the perfect level of catharsis to cap off Public Strain. Overall, Public Strain is a powerful and sublime endeavour and it wastes absolutely none of its 42 minute runtime in delivering many of the most brilliant post-punk songs of the 2010's. —  M. Jarosinski

A$AP Rocky, Testing

(2018, A$AP Worldwide)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Purity,” “Praise the Lord (Da Shine),” “Kids Turned Out Fine,” “CALLDROPS”

GENRE: Rap, hip hop 

RIYL: Frank Ocean, A$AP Mob, Playboi Carti, Kodak Black

After spending too many hours on YouTube, I stumbled upon the music video for “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” and instantly loved it. First of all, the music video is amazing. It splits between New York City and London and makes it an interesting watch. Second, anything that has Frank Ocean featured on it is worth a listen. I also LOVE the gem that is “CALLDROPS.” It features Kodak Black in prison and ends with the call being dropped and the words “Free Kodak” ending the song. Throughout the album the artistry of A$AP Rocky comes out. His lyrics made me just stop and listen intently. During this time of uncertainty, A$AP Rocky has your back. Take a listen to fill the void. — Izzi Bavis

Vundabar, Either Light

(2020, Gawk Records)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Out of It,” “Codeine,”“Petty Crime,” “Other Flowers”

GENRE: Indie rock

RIYL: Twin Peaks, Post Animal, Together Pangea

Either Light is the kind of album that washes over you with such ease that you have to wonder at how the creators combined Vundabar's punchy rock elements to craft such an easy listen.  This album has been the background to my schoolwork, my actual work and just about everything else I've done on my computer this week. The first time I listened to Either Light, it played through two and a half times before I realized it had ended. The driving rhythm that underlies the album creates the feeling of constantly moving forward, allowing one song to lead directly into the next. This is a nod to the album's cohesiveness and to the way that the most special parts of the album sneak up on you. The small percussive swells and most clever lines only reveal themselves when you're paying attention, maybe after you've already heard the song twice before. There is something about the way Brandon Hagen mumbles “Caroline, I told you a lie / This is no life but I'm afraid to die” that gets right to the heart of things. It hits me every time. —  Zoey Knox

Belle & Sebastian, If You're Feeling Sinister

(1996, Jeepster Recordings)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Like Dylan in the Movies,” “Fox in the Snow,” “Judy and the Dream of Horses”

GENRE: Twee pop, singer-songwriter

RIYL: Rufus Wainwright, Beat Happening, Mercury Rev

Belle and Sebastian's sophomore release shows the band honing in on and perfecting their incredibly distinct chamber-pop sound. Although only marginally more refined in terms of production than their debut album Tigermilk, on Sinister it feels like the band has struck the perfect balance between restrained, delicate songs like “Fox in the Snow” and songs such as the boisterous and lively “Me and the Major.”What's more, in spite of the range they're able to deploy, every song seems to mesh perfectly together in a sweet and light melange of acoustic guitar, tinkling piano and Stuart Murdoch's lush vocals. This refinement of sound is no weakness. It shows rather how they've matured since Tigermilk, which includes total left-fielder tracks such as the ode to synth that is “Electric Renaissance,” which sticks out like a sore thumb from the larger scope of the album. For me, Sinister delivers the perfect mix of bittersweetness, nostalgia and introspectiveness; it reminds me of wistful memories of high school (O, to live in that simpler time!), singing along to the album in my van with the windows down or as I go to bed. More recently, I find it the perfect complement to spending time alone in my room or a peaceful nature walk outside. —  Shelby Len

David Bowie, Low

(1977, RCA Victor)

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Sound and Vision,” “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” “Be My Wife”

GENRE: Art rock

RIYL: Iggy Pop, Talking Heads

The first album in Bowie's “Berlin Trilogy,” Low is a divergence from Bowie's earlier mod and glam rock output. The structure of Low is somewhat strange. The first half consists of tracks that feature Bowie singing of heavy themes of loneliness and isolation surrounded by glistening synthesizers and crunchy guitar riffs. The sound of the first half of Low is almost new wave in nature, with tracks like “Sound and Vision” that could fit comfortably into a Talking Heads record. The second half of the record takes a strange turn, going almost entirely instrumental. The ambient sound of this section of the record contrasts greatly with the grooves and tempos featured in the first half. I became especially intrigued by this album recently after learning about its connection to one of my favorite albums of all time, Iggy Pop'sThe Idiot.

The music of The Idiot was almost entirely written by David Bowie for Iggy Pop. Low was released before The Idiot, but The Idiot was actually written and recorded first. The Idiot, according to Bowie, was an opportunity for him to experiment with the new sound he would present on Low. While the two records are thematically and sonically different, there are some apparent and interesting connections between them beyond their chronological connection. While The Idiot is much darker, both albums share a certain dreariness and sense of isolation, largely caused by their use of cold and distant synths. Where The Idiot might represent a night out in Berlin, Low seems to represent a rainy day trapped inside. —  Ayden Schultz

Check out of playlist of this week's records of the week on Spotify below.