One of the best feelings in life?
Finding a new album that you know you’ll be listening to and enjoying for years. That first spark, ignited from the mysterious and nervously excited first listen, is not lost over time; if anything you become more and more attached, as the album becomes apart of your life and you debate naming your future children after the band’s lead singer…
Honestly, if you could, you’d probably marry it.
…or maybe that’s just me?
This week saw some of the best releases in 2016 (I say that every week, but this time I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two make the Top 10 of 2016), one of which has already become a personal all-time favourite (hint: it’s PUP – the wedding date is TBA).
Browse through my top picks from the week, and check out the full list of new releases to discover more great music.
And if you enjoy what you hear, don’t forget to share!
PUP – The Dream Is Over
Having a doctor tell you “the dream is over” is probably one of the worst things to hear as a professional musician. Just ask PUP‘s lead singer Stefan Babcock, who after singing, screaming, and shouting day after day was told he would have to quit music or lose his voice forever after a serious cyst had grown in his throat.
But there are two types of people in the world: those that would take the medical profession’s advice and head home, and those that would eventually decide to say “fuck it” and keep doing what they’re doing.
Thankfully Babcock is the latter.
After the whirlwind success of their 2014 self-titled debut, PUP have spent the last two years touring extensively (that is an understatement – 450 shows in less than two years is more than extensive) and the nomadic lifestyle has become the creative inspiration for their sophomore album The Dream Is Over. That, and Babcock’s surprise throat issues…well…basically, everything that went wrong over the past two years has been transformed into blood-pumping, chord-smashing, drum bashing, punk music. In a genre that would normally crank out depressing, angry songs in frustration, PUP instead said “let’s have some fun while the past burns behind us”.
But what separates them apart from your usual punk band is their abnormal attention to melodic detail. I’ve often described PUP as Hollerado’s louder twin brother: Full-band harmonies, catchy riffs, but with Babcock’s gritty, shout-singing vocals overtop fuzzy guitars and rampant percussion. Just look to tracks like “DVP”, as Babcock references a relationship falling out of place, and “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” talks about their love-hate relationship as a band that has spent so many hours together. Even with the dark subject matter, their music still stands tall and shows they’re having a blast among the rubble.
But those are just the first two tracks from The Dream is Over. There’s more self-doubt, frustration, and sadness that has been transposed into phenomenal tunes. “Doubt”, “My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier”, and “Familiar Patterns” are not light in subject matter, but at ground level, their aura and energy is upbeat and powerful.
But all that thrashing comes to a slow, heart-wrenching close in the punk-lament “Pine Point” as Babcock remembers his brother who was killed in a drunk driving accident, showing the band in a new light, and reminding us that they are human after all.
Must-haves: “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” // “DVP” // “My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier”
Holy Fuck – Congrats
Toronto’s Holy Fuck are a little off the map; the electronic rock outfit aren’t your traditional idea of electronic. Sure, keyboards and synthesizers are used, but for a band described as electronic, they stay clear of laptops, loops, and programming. But it works. Really, really well. Since their 2005 debut, Holy Fuck have only gotten better with each release, and now onto their fourth album Congrats, the band is at their best yet.
Six years after their 2010 album Latin, Holy Fuck have remoulded into a much more melodic, and hook-based group, much to everyone’s listening pleasure. You can tune your focus to the groovy baselines of “Acidic”, or the hypnotic warped vocals of “Tom Tom” or “Xed Eyes”, or the crunchy production of “House of Glass” and then revisit those same tracks and discover a new, captivating aspect from a new angle.
After all these years, Holy Fuck remain consistent with their technicality and dynamic musicality. You can hear the complexity and density found within the soil of Congrats, but it’s the same soil that grew the dynamic, dance-floor crushing work of their previous albums. Working in more psychedelic, undistinguishable vocals into the mix, Holy Fuck put a twist on the idea of being a “rock” band, as the standard guitars, bass, drums, and vocals are taken for a ride. Cyclic rhythms, impressively precise percussion, and shoegaze-esque dynamics make Congrats trance-inducing from the beginning until the very end.
It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it’s different. What more could you want?
Must-haves: “Tom Tom” // “Xed Eyes” // “House of Glass”
Flume – Skin
You want a little bit of trap? How about hip-hop? Pop? EDM?
Australian producer Flume appears to have gone on a shopping spree with music genres on his latest full-length Skin, incorporating some of the latest and greatest hit-making genres into his contemporary electronic stylings. Flume is rounding out his skills as a leading name in EDM – but not without help from a few friends. His sophomore album features the likes of Tove Lo, Little Dragon, Vince Staples, Raekwon, and even singer-songwriter Beck to name a few on the new 16-track effort; a fairly lengthy release for electronic world.
But more surprisingly so, the next hour goes by quick but is worth every second. Album opener “Helix” plays with textures in the signature Flume style, before cruising into the electro-pop hit “Never Be Like You”. But it doesn’t stop there – the track list is filled with bass-hungry hits like “Say It” featuring Tove Lo, or the off-cantered, Knife-channeling “Wall Fuck”. Flume flaunts his ability to switch between electronica and pop effortlessly, and to add character, he blends the two styles interchangeably along the track list.
His collaboration with rappers Vince Staples (“Smoke & Retribution”), Vic Mensa (“Lose It”), and Raekwon (“You Know”) show off his trap/hip-hop production skills, giving another dimension to his work – but not without attaching it his signature stamp of playful textures and sounds.
Must-haves: “Never Be Like You” // “Lose It” // “Wall Fuck”
Fonkynson – #followme
After growing up in France as a child, Montreal-based DJ Fonkynson has held onto his roots on his debut full-length #followme. The French house/nu-disco producer may be creating out of Canada, but his creativity is firmly planted in France.
The 10-track effort is nothing short of slick, with dance-floor ready hits combining the steady, hypnotic beats of house with the melody-forward groove of disco, wrapped neatly in clean, hi-fi production.
Leaving behind the overpriced drinks, sweaty strangers, and bathroom lines at the club, #followme ignites the feeling of a Saturday night, re-creating the atmosphere of a nightclub through vibrant, celebratory hits like “Never”, “Interlude A”, and “Keep It Cool”.
From the colourful French-disco beat of opener “Aquarelle”, to the bouncing synthesizers of closer “Out There”, #followme is best served with a summer night, pool party, or late night drive. Oh, and your dancing shoes of course.
Must-haves: “Aquarelle” // “Keep It Cool” // “Out There”