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[Q1 2017 Mixtape] | [Q2 2017 Mixtape]

Hi there.

I truly had a nicer intro written up, but the servers died, so let’s take you live to check in on how they’re sounding today:

Despite the internal strife heard above, we’re happy to bring you 22 selections of tunes that might have tickled our collective fancies this quarter, with some tracks being wonderfully complemented by some rather entertaining blurbs along the way. As you will see, not everybody could make it this time out (thanks, servers), so if we missed something, you’re certainly welcome to let us know in the comments.

Cheers, and Happy Independence Day/Treason Day to all you Americans. See you in September for Q3 if our site doesn’t eat itself!

What So Not – “Divide & Conquer” (Noisia Remix)
Divide & Conquer (Remixes)
Listen if you like: Spor, SHADES, Ivy Lab, Mefjus

This song is bananas. You know those brain-dead YouTube comments on every mediocre dubstep or neurofunk drum & bass song, things like, “oi this song’s so bonkers I fucked me girlfriend without a rubber”? This is so nuts I’m almost tempted to make one of those comments. The half-time drop is an underappreciated resource in drum & bass – though it’s thankfully seen more use with the rise of SHADES’ and Ivy Lab’s hip-hop-leaning uptempo stuff – and a properly tuned one can ignite a room. This Noisia remix does just that: corrosive distortion, offbeat drum fills, and a snare the size of Mars fuse together in an unholy amalgam of machinery gone doomsday. Absolutely mad. –Brostep

Smidley – “Milkshake”
Listen if you like: Foxing, Owen

Conor Murphy ain’t happy. This is basically a given, him being the lead singer of an emo revival band in 2017, but inside Foxing’s excellent dour tones there’s a predictability, almost a safeness to his narrative of relationship angst and frustration. Initially Smidley presents itself as a kind of pressure relief valve for Murphy, where all the melodies too poppy, upbeat, downright fucking sing-alongable for Foxing are thrown against the wall for roughly thirty minutes, complete with acoustic guitars and catchy horns. But then penultimate cut “Milkshake” is something else entirely. Maybe the closest Smidley gets to whatever the hell emo is considered to be in 2017, “Milkshake” is an emotional nadir, the filthy black hole at the bottom of the sink where the blood and puke have been running for the whole album, masked by all those catchy choruses and jaunty horn sections. “I love every moment when I’m fucked up, I listen so closely when I’m fucked up”. Conor can’t bear to see the alcohol directly, so he refers to it as a milkshake, and the implication is even more horrifying with that childish image scraping against the song’s utter despondency. “I’m boring but I can’t even be bothered to listen, like speaking to the dead” he moans in a gorgeous tenor, providing a brutal bookend to the relative optimism of “No One Likes You”‘s promise: “I’m boring, but I’m trying, does that count just a little bit?”. It doesn’t count, and Conor knows it. –Rowan

London Grammar – “Oh Woman, Oh Man”
Truth is a Beautiful Thing
Listen if you like: The xx, MS MR, Bat for Lashes

Even though Truth is a Beautiful Thing falls under the category of dream pop, there is something very tangible in how it feels. Maybe it’s the inconvenient truth in the lyrics, Hannah Reid’s haunting, yet so down-to-earth delivery, or the minimal instrumentation which builds trippy soundscapes that transport the listener to a place of inner truth. Suggesting just one track might be misleading because the album works better as a unified experience, but “Oh Woman, Oh Man” is partly representative of the whole and partly different. It is dreamy, melancholic, and atmospheric, but at the same time grand and uplifting as its multitracked chorus elevates it even higher. Overall, “Oh Woman, Oh Man” is one of the most imposing songs London Grammar have released. –manosg

Coldplay – “All I Can Think About Is You”
Kaleidoscope EP
Listen if you like(d): when Coldplay was still good

It took me a long time to give up on Coldplay. Mylo Xyloto was most reasonable fans’ tuning-out point, a somehow Eno-produced technicolour monstrosity that seemed to have Coldplay recreating the sensory overload of U2’s Zoo Tour, but lacking any of the cultural critique and, worse, more than, like, one good song (“Paradise”, for those wondering). There’s something disarming about Ghost Stories’ sincerity in spite of how boring large stretches of it are: “Midnight” and genuinely excellent offcut “All Your Friends” showed a Coldplay once again interested only in the simplicity of pretty sounds, lacking the bells and whistles that the previous three albums had increasingly slathered on. Speaking of bells and whistles, A Head Full of Dreams sounds like it was recorded in a combined alarm clock/bicycle shop with every product playing at the loudest volume. That was the definite point where, like most of us with two ears connected to a heart, I tuned out for good.

For good is apparently a short time nowadays, and after having already made my grand exit I’m a little more miffed than pleased that “All I Can Think About Is You” is good enough to justify at least a short social call with Martin and co. The song is led, for the first time in literally years, more by honest feeling than the particulars of whatever melody Chris Martin has decided to hammer into our skulls this time. In fact, Martin is pushed back to the depths, a watery effect allowing him to dissipate effortlessly into the song’s weirdly addictive groove. Jonny Buckland takes the lead, his shoegazey strum recalling the Viva la Vida days when they remembered how to let songs breathe within the cavernous spaces a band like Coldplay can comfortably pay a producer to make. But it’s not until the last minute that “All I Can Think About” becomes something really special, a “42”-style wailing guitar and piano freak out that leads to a more rousing crescendo than I would believe a Coldplay song in 2017 could actually accomplish. If this is what shameless nostalgia sounds like then sign me up – anything to avoid the horror of a future of “Something Like This”. –Rowan

Kirin J. Callinan – “S.A.D.”
Listen if you like
: Trent Reznor, Martin Gore, Songs About Drugs

It starts with a vaguely sexual huff; “I can’t breathe again, I can’t trust my friends,” sings Kirin J. Callinan, because it’s just another Song About Drugs. Somewhere between an industrial throb and Richard Cheese on Ketamine, “S.A.D.” mines that tired trope of ironically euphoric songs about paranoid behaviors whilst offering a song that is at once uncomfortable and hopelessly infectious. Callinan’s nose full of blow is audible; deadpan ’80s pastiche, somewhere between “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way,” the sort of music that might play well in a McInerney novel or the less fun crevices of Ibiza. In all, it’s pop music for perverts, blow monkeys, and the post-whatever irony scene, inflated words and music with all of the bravado promised by the album title. “S.A.D.,” as sad as it is ignorant, is garish and daring just the same. –Jordan

Fazerdaze – “Lucky Girl”
Listen if you like: Frankie Rose, Blonde Tongues, Japanese Breakfast

One of the most important aspects of music is that it can transport the listener to specific periods of his/her life; no other form of art can do this for me. This happens mostly with albums that I have connected to certain experiences or eras, but there are rare cases of LPs which can have the same effect — even if it’s the first time I experience them. While listening to Fazerdaze’s debut, I can feel the heat of the summer sun on my skin and smell the ocean. “Lucky Girl” and “Jennifer” are two of Morningside‘s highlights, but if I was to rec you just one, I’d go with the former as it’s the most immediate and melodic track of the album. Amelia Murray’s brand of bedroom pop is more than just music; it’s memories. –manosg

Radiohead – “Man of War”
OK Computer: OKNOTOK 1997 2017
Listen if you like: “You and Whose Army?”, the ’90s

Some may find Radiohead’s extensive remastering and song gravedigging a slight distraction, especially from a band who otherwise seem to value constantly moving forward over anything else. A quick listen to “Man of War” should hopefully put those voices to rest; this lost Radiohead gem is indeed a gem, a song that for once truly meets the insane standards of fans who had been obsessing over the bootlegs of “Big Boots” (hah, get it?) for twenty years. A colossal guitar riff from Jonny Greenwood is our first indication that “Man of War” is well and truly from the ’90s – remember the days when Radiohead riffed, man? – but there’s something deeply moving about hearing a young Thom Yorke stretching easily into falsetto range, without the cracks and creaks that give his later-era vocals their flavour. Of course, this applies to all three of the “new” tracks on OKNOTOK, but “Lift” and “I Promise” stay too entrenched in The Bends-ballad territory to be real lost classics. “Man Of War” is truly a song that should have been considered worthy of inclusion on its parent album, and like a lot of OK Computer, it makes no bones about being a fan of goddamn huge crescendos. The massive bridge, replete with thudding keys, nervous guitar and that Thom Yorke wail leads to a climax worthy of “Climbing Up the Walls” and “Exit Music (For a Film)” – but where OK Computer accomplishes its walls of sound with [fridge] buzz and white noise, “Man of War” gets there with clear, precise instrumentation and a wide-eyed, naive enthusiasm we haven’t heard from Radiohead since. The overwhelming feeling of the album is paranoia, the kind that makes you all the more paranoid because you know you’re actually being watched, and this song keeps that very much alive as Thom very creepily promises to “bake you a cake/made of all their eyes”. But as “Man of War” lumbers to a glorious close, all marching band triumph and a guitar lead that you’d swear could conquer an entire civilisation, you’d be hard-pressed to ignore the notes of genuine exultation in there as well. –Rowan

Quayde LaHue – “Nightmare”
Day of the Oppressor
Listen if you like: Pentagram, Thin Lizzy, Diamond Head

One of the greatest pleasures in music lies in finding that one act that everyone else doesn’t seem to be aware of yet, a diamond in the rough. The one that is “underrated”, “needs more love”, and “no one seems to understand how great it is”. Truth is that, more often than not, we tend to exaggerate in such cases, but Quayde LaHue is exactly that (or I am just tripping?). Drawing influences from Pentagram, KISS, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Diamond Head, and fronted by a female vocalist who oozes rock, the Washington-based band has to be one of the best kept secrets in heavy rock today. “Nightmare” might just be a cover version of the obscure ’80s Norwegian act The Storm, but is enough to give you an idea about those guys’ energetic, infectious and superbly performed brand of music. When Quayde LaHue become the next best thing in the underground rock scene, remember where you first read about them. –manosg

Captain, We’re Sinking – “Trying Year”
The King of No Man
Listen if you like: The Menzingers, The Lawrence Arms, Banner Pilot

Sure, it’s a little more simplistic than some of the good Captain’s previous efforts on The Future is Cancelled, but sometimes simple sells. That bluesy guitar hook opening the track and the muted mathy hook later on rock my socks in a way that made me immediately pick up my guitar and play it myself. The downtrodden cry of “It’s been a really trying year / It’s been a really, really, really hard year” and the combined contradiction of its pessimistic lyrics and confident musical swagger speak to me on a visceral level. Simply enough, every time I listen to “Trying Year,” I find both my intellectual and emotional palates are sated, and that’s more than enough for me to name it one of my favorite tracks of the quarter. –Thompson D. Gerhart

(Sandy) Alex G – “Sportstar”
Listen if you like:
 Blonde, Death Grips’ “Birds,” bandcamp.com

Either Alex G has adopted much of Blonde as his own, or he deserves more credit for the direction and minute detail that took Frank from “Pyramids” to “Nights.” Not just because of the idolization of the abstract notions surrounding Nikes; “Sportstar” is so wrapped up in its same-sex yearning that it turns the male subject into something tender, to be, and deserving of being, loved. He sees the titular character lay in his bed, sat on his toilet, and touching him in the back of his car, submerging his confessions of teenage love in layers of distortion and Nashville rollick. Nevertheless, Alex Giannascoli garners comparisons to Death Grips, Car Seat Headrest, or, yes, Frank Ocean; attention to “Sportstar” proves the influence runs the other way. –Jordan

Below – “1000 Broken Bones”
Upon a Pale Horse
Listen if you like: Candlemass, Sorcerer, Tad Morose

As much as epic doom metal rules when it clicks, the options were traditionally limited until recently. The influx of acts like Crypt Sermon and Doomocracy or the recent resurfacing of Sorcerer has provided valuable alternatives to the all-time classic options of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. Swedish (of course) act Below is one of the best modern doom metal bands and Upon a Pale Horse is a diverse mix of heavy, gloomy, monolithic and traditional metal. “1000 Broken Bones” is atypical of the whole due to its uptempo nature (compared with the rest of the LP) but shows the band’s versatility and ability to write catchy tunes besides slow burners. The dual guitar attack creates the platform on which vocalist Zeb shines with a performance that brings to mind Bruce Dickinson or Urban Breed (Tad Morose) and makes “1000 Broken Bones” a fairly accessible song and one of the album’s highlights. –manosg

Archityrants – “Promiscuous Hymns”
The Code of the Illumination Theory
Listen if you like: Solitude Aeturnus, Veni Domine, Candlemass, Omen

During the early and mid ’90s, Candlemass were practically dismantled due to a lack of commercial interest for their craft, with their core constituents giving birth to new projects. Leif Endling formed Abstrakt Algebra, whereas Messiah Marcolin fleshed Memento Mori, and – along with compatriots Veni Domine – introduced the term “power” to power/doom metal. Along with a handful of other outfits from Sweden and the US, an atypical syndicate of bands was formed, whose musical yield was unfortunately perceived by few (in absolute numbers, that is). As a result, most of them perished, whereas those who had endured re-emerged past intermissions of increasing magnitude.

And yet, during the ’10s, a handful of new bands did/are doing their best in terms of preventing energetic/adventurous doom metal from becoming an archaic art: bands like Crypt Sermon, King Goat, Legion of Nexus and Archityrants. Of Brazilian origin, along with Legion of Nexus, Archityrants released their debut album in 2011, and sounded like what Sanctuary/early Nevermore would record if they chose to drive their power metal affairs down doom metal lane. This year’s The Code of the Illumination Theory is a blend of awesome throwbacks, namely the epic power/doom metal of Veni Domine in the first two albums, the revelation that was Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in the ’80s, Omen’s genuine epic metal galore, and a cavernous sound production that dates back to the nascent days of doom/death metal. –Voivod

Anathema – “Leaving It Behind”
The Optimist
Listen if you like: Katatonia, Riverside, Gazpacho

It’s easy to single out “Leaving It Behind” as both the most accessible track on an album of drawling and slow-burning down-tempo tracks and possibly its best. The refrain of “I’m leaving it behind” paired with a drawn out vocal delivery over quick hitting guitars with a sound not unlike electronic signals and a synthesized break towards its end serve to build a dark atmosphere over an infectious energy. However, the track’s best has to be the electronic drum and bass that opens the track as spillover from “32.63N 117.14W.” This groove, which carries through to the end of the track, is an unexpected change of pace for Anathema that isn’t really repeated on the album, making the track and its atmosphere of an emotional disappearance into the dark unknown all the more special. –Thompson D. Gerhart

Big Thief – “Mythological Beauty”
Listen if you like:
 Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, singer-songwriter folk

Big Thief’s sudden follow-up to last year’s Masterpiece explores some of the darker corners of Adrienne Lenker’s life. Her lyricism — while good before — feels more personal this time around. On “Mythological Beauty” the singer spills her guts without holding anything back: “You cut the flesh of your left thumb/Using your boyfriend’s knife/Seventeen, you took his cum/And gave birth to your first life.” Ok, so maybe it isn’t too poetic, but much like life itself, the imagery in Lenker’s music is as messy as it is beautiful. As if that’s not enough, the song explores a broken family and a near-death experience – all without straying from its minimalistic yet hypnotizing guitar strumming. –Atari

Big Big Train – “On the Racing Line”
Listen if you like: Wolverine, Beardfish, ’70s prog

Where some prog outfits decide to experiment with electronics and move towards a metal-leaning sound, Big Big Train have continued to eschew what might be seen as en vogue at the time, instead deciding to keep the ’70s prog ethos (a la Yes, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Genesis, et al) alive decades later. I’d argue that their rise in popularity over the past decade is because of this calculated decision – it seems the David Longdon-led octet prefer to stick to their strengths while challenging themselves to re-invent how they approach and arrange their compositions. A perfect example here is the instrumental, fusion-influenced “On the Racing Line”, where drummer Nick D’Virgilio (ex-Spock’s Beard) particularly shines. The track is also paced by expertly-crafted keys and violin, which are a common thread throughout Grimspound. Big Big Train also maintain their knack for storytelling: songs like “The Ivy Gate” (Thomas Fisher’s ghost haunts the land where his wife and child died during his war service), “Brave Captain” (a four-parter about war hero Albert Ball), and especially “A Mead Hall in Winter” (the record’s longest, with several nods to the Scientific Revolution) all showcase fantastic narratives. –Jom

IU – “Palette” (f/ G-DRAGON)
Listen if you like: Lim Kim, Yuna, SZA, Sylvan Esso

“I got this, I’m truly fine,” proclaims Lee Ji-eun, with the certainty of someone who’s just turned twenty-five – which is to say not very much. It’s an almost uncomfortably intimate self-portrait, the singer portraying an unfocused picture in which she almost assumes that, of course, we know her personally (we’re supposed to understand “Corinne’s music” refers to Corinne Bailey Rae, because of course we know her well enough that we should just kind of know that). But, in a way, we kind of do; K-pop superstardom comes with an impossible amount of intrusiveness and prodding, to the point where, if we wanted to construct a complete biography of IU using just interviews, profiles, and the like, we absolutely could. “Palette” knows this, its deceptively simple lyrics revealing no small amount of discomfort resonating within the system that brought IU to prominence. Lee’s fumbling her way through adulthood like any other twenty-something, but she’s got the added pressure of tens of millions of casual listeners and superfans and executives scrutinizing her every move. She can’t make mistakes like her peers, or else she faces punishment far worse than she dares to dream of. “Palette” is IU putting on a brave face, making it through because she’s got no other option. It’s tender, heartwrenching, and beautiful; the fact that the instrumental behind it is delectably smooth and subdued is gravy. –Brostep


Denzel Curry – “Zeltron 6 Billion”
Listen if you like
: Nothing.

Far from being the One who doesn’t weigh a ton or need a gun to get respect up on the streets, Denzel Curry’s proclivity for apathetic zingers and shout rapping has subtly influenced Floridian rap for years, most prominently in the gay-bashing, woman-hating semi-rap of XXXTENTACION. Removed of the RVDER KLAN and the burden of mentor Spaceghostpurppp, Curry has fully embraced the momentum of his own flow, stammering over his bars with a preciseness unbecoming of the South. 13, a primer to Taboo, is a rawer take on the style, composed of skeletal demos and first-takes and brimming with misanthropy (“Hate Government,” “Bloodshed, “Equalizer,” “Heartless,” all of the songs.) On “Zeltron 6 Billion,” the EP’s most well prepared cut, he teams with Lil Ugly Mane and does away with subtlety, shouting of how, “I’m finna run through to the city and kill shit / ‘cos you cannot fuck with Zeltron 6 Billion.” The production is more boom bap, Denzel more shouty, whilst Lil Ugly Mane does his best Ghostface Killah flow, snapping necks and getting lugubrious. Who else but Ugly Mane and Denzel could rock it so funky as hell? –Jordan

LIV – “Mortal”
Listen if you like: Flotsam and Jetsam, Heathen, Agent Steel

The Balkan Peninsula has always been eager to do the rock/metal thing, albeit mostly in the underground. However, the merit of some bands has neared a critical point that could grant them a more mainstream trajectory. Take Croatia’s LIV, for instance. Active since 2009, these Zagreb natives amassed enough material to release their eponymous debut, which brims with a genuine affinity for ’80s speed/thrash metal. Although their material isn’t completely free of songwriting fat, and petty performance hiccups (hopefully they will fix everything on the next album), their above-average sound and instrumental skills can propel them to the next level. –Voivod

Fox Territory – “Desert Eagle”
Degressive Fusion
Listen if you like: Scale the Summit, Animals as Leaders

This album came to us through the SputnikMusic Facebook inbox (yes – we do check it from time to time!) and I was immediately struck by the kind of instrumental lushness Fox Territory put on display with Degressive Fusion. We’re talking the kind of thing you’d expect out of a Scale the Summit – or perhaps the more clean stylings of Animals as Leaders – all from a relatively unknown Czech quartet.

“Desert Eagle” is perhaps their most bite-sized offering: bright and instantly appealing, a little bubbly in its attitude, but not lacking for tempo or punch where necessary. The cleans ring true with lots of pillowy sustain, and the distortion is just chompy enough to get your attention. Bass is subtle and a little quirky where it needs to be to enhance the track, while the drumming shows both flair and restraint, holding and redirecting the groove as needed to embrace the prog, jazz, funk, and touch of metal the band employ. –Thompson D. Gerhart

Now, Now – “SGL”
SGL (Single)
Listen if you like: Silversun Pickups, After Laughter, Tayler Buono

I guess Now, Now are back, but it kinda doesn’t sound like it. The spectral beauty of their earlier work is completely gone, replaced by a strangely sunny pop-rock tune. I hate to compare them to Paramore, because everyone and their dog has been compared to Paramore, but I think it’s an apt comparison: a pop/something-else band embraces the former and mostly eschews the latter, making completely different stuff than anyone might have expected. But, like Paramore’s newer music, “SGL” does two things right. First, it’s got undercurrents of turbulence swirling just below its starry-eyed demeanor. Lyrically, this song is all young love, but with that young love comes urgent desperation. “I could have died with you in the sun […] Give in to me,” sings Cacie Dalager, more complex and insidious emotions than just pure joy shading her words. Second, it’s a really fucking good pop song, a perfect bassline and ruthlessly effective guitar layering hitting hard. It’s a change towards the hooky for sure – but, if After Laughter is any indication, that might lead to their best album yet. –Brostep

Do Make Say Think – “Return, Return Again”
Stubborn Persistent Illusions
Listen if you like: Moonlit Sailor, Explosions in the Sky, The Album Leaf

Stubborn Persistent Illusions makes the Q2 mixtape purely due to its blissful, uplifting spirit (not to mention that we haven’t seen DMST since 2009, and with Broken Social Scene’s revival, the shared members must be keeping plenty busy this year). This album’s inclusion is in no way a knock on Sólstafir’s Berdreyminn (also an incredible record) being excluded, but Illusions is supremely immersive, sounding congruent to the seasons in which it was released. Look no further than roaring opener “War on Torpor”, which disregards the genre staple of a slow-burning crescendo in favor of accelerating to – and then preserving – the sonic apex with fervent gusto. Companions “Bound” and “And Boundless” are similarly giddy, with raucous drumming, glistening guitars, and a pulsating electronic undercurrent, while the soothing “As Far as the Eye Can See” and celebratory “Return, Return Again” paint broad brushstrokes on nostalgia for those hoping to trip back through time during the late 1990s/early 2000s school of post-rock thought. Essential summertime listening. –Jom

Hellripper – “From Hell”
Coagulating Darkness
Listen if you like: Sodom, Midnight, early Slayer, Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica

Throw Sodom, early Slayer, and old-school Metallica into a blender, sprinkle them with some Venom and Bathory, serve them with a little Fast Eddie Clarke soloing and what you have is Hellripper. Scottish multi-instrumentalist James McBain’s blend of speed, thrash and black metal is close to modern acts like Midnight, Aura Noir and Speedwolf, which means that Coagulating Darkness is nothing new under the sun. However, McBain’s ability to write infectious riffs and catchy melodies is what makes his debut such a fun listen. “From Hell”, a cross between Show No Mercy-era Slayer and Kill ‘Em All-age Metallica, is one of the most groovy and thrashy tracks of the LP, which clocks at 27 minutes — perfect duration for a six pack of beer. –manosg

[Q1 2017 Mixtape] | [Q2 2017 Mixtape]

There were several strong (and hilarious) blurbs this time out, which was a lot of fun for me personally.

The next Share Some Singles will launch in the next few days if everything cooperates. Be sure to contact wtferrothorn ASAP if you were keen on participating in that featurette.

thanks for putting this together Jom, looking great as always. I really gotta get on Do Make Say Think I been slackin

Always happy to help, even though I wish the site infrastructure would improve so we could do more fun thangz here.

Excellent job everyone, mixtapes are among my favorite site features.

totally missed this apologies, but turned out great as usual

yeah this is a great read, thanks jom and staff

holy shit, Hellripper is fun as shit.

Gorgeous. Excellent work all around folks.

awesome stuff as always Jom and all who participated

Great job everyone and thank you Jom for all the work. Jamming right now.

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