DaVinci : Nothin Finna Stop Me

Bay Area rapper DaVinci is set to release his latest album The MOEna Lisa November 6 via SWTBRDS; we’ve already heard “In My City” and the Freddie Gibbs-assisted “MYOB“, and now comes the Block Beattaz-produced “Nothin’ Finna Stop Me”, which finds the no-nonsense (“If I had a bag full of fucks I couldn’t give one”) MC offering up wry observations on life on his block (“Young niggas, eighteen, walking round with grey hairs”) from the more comfortable vantage point of a local boss (“My money come quick like virgin sex”). With a beat augmented by minor-key jazz horns, the track echoes the gritty ’70s funk feel of Jay-Z’s American Gangster soundtrack, a reminder that whilst hip hop is still the music of the streets, only a select few find those streets to be paved with gold.


Peaking Lights : My Heart Dubs 4 U

On December 10, Weird World Records will release a companion piece to this year’s blissed-out full-length offering from Peaking Lights, Lucifer. Entitled – reasonably – Lucifer In Dub, it collects heavily dubbed versions of six of the original LP’s eight tracks, remixed by the duo’s Aaron Coyes and mastered by legendary Spacemen 3 member Sonic Boom. Fusing Krautrock, minimal analogue dance music and skewed pop, Lucifer was a heady brew indeed but In Dub looks set to push the group’s sound into even more psychedelic territory; compare “My Heart Dubs 4 U” (below) to the original, “Dreambeat” (bottom).

Neurosis : Honor Found In Decay

If the Mayans were right and the end of the world really is just around the corner, at least we can take some small consolation in the fact that 2012 has produced an unusually large amount of music that would make a fitting soundtrack for the imminent apocalypse. This has been a particularly bright year for particularly dark noise, from Liars‘ twitchy, witchy electro and Pallbearer’s sludgy doom anthems to Mutilation Rites‘ scorched earth black metal and Death Grips‘ nihilistic riot-rap, not to mention a career-defining monsterpiece from Michael Gira’s Swans and the surprise return of eternal pessimists Godspeed You! Black Emperor; now we can add to that list the first release in five years from Californian post-hardcore pioneers Neurosis, a band for whom torture and triumph have always seemed inseparable. Honor Found In Decay – album number ten from a group just three years shy of its 30th anniversary – doesn’t break much new ground, but then Neurosis haven’t exactly needed to move forward since arriving at their now-trademark sound with 1992’s Souls At Zero; no matter how many imposters turn up trying to claim that unique blend of downtempo, folk- and metal-inflected atmospheric rock as their own, Neurosis always come back doing it harder and louder, like a grouchy landlord with their own key and a point to prove crashing a tenants’ house party and serving them with an eviction notice. Traces of both guitar/ vocalists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till’s recent solo work – predominantly sparse outlaw country and lonesome Americana – appear, putting forward a good case for the band’s music as a contemporary update on the blues, but it’s the sheer, brutal anger packed into every bludgeoning riff and the cathartic energy that erupts out of near-silence with each howling crescendo (all exhibited on epic opener “We All Rage In Gold”, below)  that defines it as something else, something almost elemental. That these six middle-aged men, some of whom have worked side by side for almost three decades, still have so much fury in their souls is impressive enough; that they still know instinctively how to channel that ire so effectively even more so. Honor Found In Decay is a gauntlet thrown down to anyone brave – or stupid – enough to challenge their authority, and fair warning that Neurosis will be back to burn those pretenders’ best efforts to the ground.

Honor Found In Decay is out now via Neurot Recordings.

Mac DeMarco : 2

Track artwork

2012 has been a bumper year for many fans with a number of high-profile artists releasing two new records within the space of a few months. Swiftly following up his April debut Rock And Roll Night Club, 22 year old Mac DeMarco is back with what is confusingly being touted as his first full-length album (the 12-track RARNC has apparently been relegated to EP status) 2 and whilst both the sleeve photo – flannel shirt, baseball cap, goofy smile – and some of the lyrics (mom cooking in the kitchen, little bro out on his skateboard, Mac apologising to his parents for past bad behaviour) present him as a more grown-up, down-home fella than the lipstick-smeared, sleazy Elvis impersonator we met previously, you get the feeling the singer is still the kind of guy who’ll misread his own reviews and chuckle at the word “maturation”. With less emphasis on overtly sexual glam-rock, 2 (out now via Captured Tracks) does feel like a step in a different, more “slacker-pop” direction but thankfully the unique sound – slurred, wobbly “jizz jazz” – that enveloped RARNC is still very much in effect and, if the likes of “Freaking Out The Neighborhood” (below) are anything to go by, it would seem as though DeMarco is rapidly developing into an understated but instantly recognisable guitar hero.

100s : Ice Cold Perm

Ice Cold Perm cover art

There’s a new pimp on the block, and his name is 100s; at the tender age of 19, the rapper – son of a Jewish mother and African father – has just released the best hip hop debut in recent memory, Ice Cold Perm, available now via the Dream Collabo Bandcamp page. Whilst his back-story – sent as a teenager to live with relatives in the Ivory Coast to prevent him falling in with a bad crowd, inspired to rhyme by watching MTV there via satellite – sounds suspiciously like the basic plot-line of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, the youngster is hardly Will Smith, but he is similarly charismatic. Equal parts Iceberg Slim, Superfly, Omar from The Wire and Doggystyle-era Snoop Dogg (note the Doggfather artwork homage), the 100s persona comes fully-formed and absolutely magnetic, and with smooth but hard-edged G-funk beats courtesy of Joe Wax complementing the sleazy, stoned lyrics perfectly, Ice Cold Perm already sounds like a future classic. Watch the video for “Brick $ell Phone” below, and download the whole album (legally and for free!) here.

Parquet Courts : Light Up Gold

Light Up Gold cover art

Texan punks Parquet Courts may share a member – Andrew Savage – with Fergus & Geronimo and Teenage Cool Kids, but whilst most of their peers are fixated on Nuggets-style basement beat-pop, the quartet (Savage and co-writer Austin Brown on guitars, Sean Yeaton on bass and drummer Max Savage) swipe instead from later decades’ finest underground rock: the Modern Lovers, the Fall, Neu!, the Feelies, the Minutemen, Pavement and Guided By Voices all spring to mind whilst listening to debut LP proper Light Up Gold, out now via Dull Tools (and their Bandcamp page). “Borrowed Time“, with its multiple false endings, highlights the band’s bratty, mischievous side whereas “Stoned & Starving” (below) sees them locking into a motorik groove that could happily go on forever.

Talk Normal : Sunshine

Some clever dick once said that jazz was just a bunch of guys standing around in a room playing different songs at the same time, but whilst that description is often unfortunately accurate it can also result in some of the most exhilarating music you’ll ever hear. With deep-rooted links to jazz’s more out-there exponents, the same thinking could be applied to Brooklyn’s experimental rock scene and on their second album Sunshine, Talk Normal – the duo of Sarah Register and Andrya Ambro – walk a similarly fine line between good and bad noise: for the first few minutes of opener “Lone General” martial drums, percussive guitars, lurching bass and dual vocals bump violently against each other, veering dangerously close to complete chaos before suddenly coalescing into a surprisingly sturdy wall of post-punk noise. It’s a recurring theme throughout a record that constantly seems at war with itself. Rhythm and noise try to pull away from one another but always end up snapping back together; melody and dissonance get into sisterly catfights then hug and harmonise once more. Almost every song includes at least one unexpected left-turn – “XO”‘s sing-song hook, squalling saxophones on the droning “Bad Date“, the ghost of glam-rock on “Shot This Time” – making Sunshine a thrilling and genuinely unpredictable listen, and whilst there are obvious echoes of female art-rock icons past and present (Karen O, Kim Gordon and – particularly on the hypnotic “Hot Water Burns” – Laurie Anderson), Register and Ambro have hit on a sound that is edgy, exciting and – most importantly – original.

Sunshine is out now via Joyful Noise Recordings and is streaming over at Spin; listen to “Cover” below.

Andy Stott : Luxury Problems

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Manchester-based DJ and producer Andy Stott found himself the recipient of much critical acclaim last year thanks to a pair of album-length EPs – We Stay Together and Passed Me By – that slowed down the BPM to near-ambient tempo and painted the already dark dub-influenced industrial techno favoured by the Modern Love label a whole new shade of black. New album Luxury Problems, out October 29, is yet another game-changer; recording for the first time with a featured singer – family friend Alison Skidmore, who taught him piano as a teenager – Stott here uses his mastery of digital processing and a few well-chosen beats to warp elegant vocals into alternately dreamy and dystopian soundscapes, scattering sparks of light through the gloom. Listen to the album’s breathy, luminescent opener “Numb” below.

Titus Andronicus : Local Business

New Titus Andronicus:

Next week, New Jersey upstarts Titus Andronicus will follow up one of the albums of 2010, The Monitor (itself the follow-up to one of the albums of 2008, The Airing Of Grievances), with one of the albums of 2012, Local Business. As with its predecessors, the LP hinges on frontman Patrick Stickles’ wordy (the record’s opening couplet crams 23 words and 40 syllables into about 10 seconds’ playing time), hollered rants but whilst a lyric sheet might come in handy to catch the finer details of every last wry in-joke and TMI confessional, you don’t need anything other than working ears and a beating heart to appreciate his band’s red-blooded, blue-collar rock & roll: channeling the New York Dolls (“Food Fight”), the Clash (“Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter”), the Replacements (“Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)”), Tom Petty (“(I Am) The Electric Man”) and – of course – Springsteen (everything else), their hardcore punk-inspired take on classic singalong bar-room rock is one of the most exciting, vital things you’ll hear all year.

Local Business is out October 22 via XL Recordings; listen to the album’s third track, “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus”, below and stream the whole glorious mess over at NPR.

Kendrick Lamar : Good Kid M.A.A.D. City

Although he’s been rapping for the best part of a decade, Compton’s Kendrick Lamar has been one of hip hop’s most hyped up-and-comers since the release of his 2010 mixtape Overly Dedicated; now, following the independently released Section. 80 LP and a scene-stealing guest spot on last year’s Drake album, he’s set to break through properly with his major label debut Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, out next week on Interscope/ Aftermath. Rhyming over largely laid-back West Coast beats, Lamar’s flow is crazy good, an attention-demanding, multi-personality mix of hyper-intelligent nerd, gentleman playa and all-round general weirdo that makes background listening all but impossible. Listen to the fantastic, Hit-Boy produced “Backseat Freestyle” below.