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Last Active 05-23-20 10:35 pm
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06.05.20 NeekaFilms 2 (4th Anniversary too ig)06.01.20 Protest Playlists
05.20.20 20NEEK19: SOTYs 05.17.20 Neek ranks Bond
05.15.20 Sputnikmusic Site Study05.07.20 Best Album Covers: Q1 2020
04.22.20 The Strokes: Neek'd04.06.20 20NEEK19: AOTYs
04.02.20 20NEEK20: Q1 Albums 03.25.20 Neek's HORROR Binge
03.17.20 Machina I/II: REVAMPED03.14.20 TWENEEK19: FilmOTYs
02.08.20 Johnny v. Neek - ROUND 1: Sample Platte01.26.20 TWENEEK10s: AOTDs
01.19.20 Neek's January 2020 Mixtape01.13.20 TWENEEK10s: SOTDs
12.20.19 Neek's December 2019 Mixtape11.23.19 Neek's 1st Listen: Coldplay's "Everyday
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Johnny v. Neek - ROUND 1: Sample Platter

In which our two heroes offer each other 25 songs--and will have to jam the entire album of their 10 favo(u)rites!!!

Johnny's Recs--

Johnny's TOP 10:
1. Alanis Morissette // Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - “Front Row”: 4.2
2. Anna von Hausswolff // Dead Magic - “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra”: 4.1
3. Miya Folick // Premonitions - "Premonitions": 4.1
4. Chicago // CTA - “Introduction: 4.1
5. Peter Gabriel // Security - "The Rhythm of the Heat": 4.1
6. Foxing // Nearer My God - “Grand Paradise”: 4.0
7. Damien Rice // My Favourite Faded Fantasy - “The Greatest Bastard”: 3.9
8. Harrod and Funck // Live - “Lion Song: 3.9
9. Madeline Kenney // Perfect Shapes - “Overhead”: 3.9
10. Regina Spektor // Remember Us to Life - "Small Bill$": 3.8
2Shiina Ringo
Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana

Back in the day, I didn’t jam any Japanese artists except Envy and Mono - and then I heard the first half of this song on a stream while sharing 500MB of data a day with 14 people in a 3-room house in Tokyo. Oops. A couple of impulse-bought Shiina Ringo albums and a year and bit later, this album is still one of art pop’s boldest and best.

This song makes me feel like I’ve stepped through some musical portal that I was never supposed to go through, except in the best way possible. This is a no-holds-barred approach to pop, skipping seamlessly from sound to sound with reckless abandon. I’m just throwing useless words at this, the fact is that it’s monumental and it only astounds more the more I listen.
3Jun Togawa

Jun Togawa is kind of like Japan’s evil Kate Bush; her work in the 80s had a huge impact on subversion in pop, performance and image that’s still v pertinent today (look at good ol’ Tentenko). It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but well worth touching base with. The title track is probably my favourite, so there you go :O

Neek's Judgment: 3.9
While her voice just plain doesn’t gel with me, it’s hard to ignore how captivating the music is here. Somewhere between an Atari soundtrack and an orchestra, there’s something truly special here in these bizarre beats. Second listen didn’t do it many favors, but it also didn’t tank it so I’m feeling generous ;)
4Haru Nemuri
Haru to Shura

"Yume wo Miyou"
dedex’s soundoff for this album is the perfect take - this is a perfect gateway drug for Jpop in general and goes hard as hell live. Haru Nemuri is about as straight-up and sincere as things get, so this spares you the cutesy sparkle and endless sugar that tend to turn people off.

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
While I was taken aback a bit by the rapping, I was quickly won over by the bright piano and aggressive melodies as the song went on. Things were a bit repetitive here which didn’t make it glow as much as it could’ve but either way this song was just great.
5Shiina Ringo
Shouso Strip

Shiina Ringo’s other classic is the loudest shit in the world and the hardest of 5s. It’s a straight overdriven rush from the start, but then *this* drops near the end as its catchiest, most sensationalising number. Fun. Shiina’s voice is particularly raspy, but other than that it’s worth warming up to the way she does a hell of a lot with a relatively thin tone - this carries over to a lot of other artists!

Neek's Judgment: 4.3
Okay this is a lot more rocking than the last Ringo pick, and I’m definitely digging the jazzy vibe, the verses are almost taking on a James Bond-throwback sound. Goddamn these melodies are just catchy as fuck, it’s not even fair. Why does the drumming go so goddamn hard? This isn’t as mind-boggling as her other track, but it’s certainly a total jam.
6Judy and Mary

Judy and Mary were a super popular ‘90s band who blended a load of funk/pop/punk sounds and coined a series of upbeat, horrifyingly wistful highlight tracks, of which this is one of the absolute best. Their albums are a little hit-or-miss, but this one has a great hit ratio. Also, reapply everything I wrote for Shouso Strip - their vocalist Yuki is a classic example of an inarguably talented singer with an unashamedly Occident-proof tone.

Neek's Judgment: 2.9
This, however, is just too much. While the noisy-af opening is a nice head-turner, it follows it up with some of the blandest pop rock I’ve heard in a long while. While the dynamics between the instruments are a lot of fun and the singer seems like she’s enjoying herself, there’s not too much to return to here (outside of the occasional violent guitar punches and other momentary oddities). Bonus points because the girl I’m kinda seeing enjoys these guys apparently.
7Number Girl
School Girl Bye Bye

"Omoide in My Head"
Number Girl are like Japan’s version of the Pixies/Fugazi combined; pick literally any indie band today who likes to play it relatively hard and the chances are they owe a lot to these guys and gal. A lot of their later stuff is more abrasive and stranger, but this is their most popular song and a bona fide banger.

Neek's Judgment: 3.0
This unfortunately I did not gel with. Punk is not usually my cup of tea, and this leans into a repetitive rock riff without much personality to distract from it, and even though there’s a fun charm to this one, it’s not enough to make me look forward to more of something like this. And seriously did it have to be 6 minutes??? Also you know my feelings on the Pixies so you should know better! ;)
Darker Than Darkness (Style 93)

BUCK-TICK are a ridiculously enduring post-punk group, but they’re also a solid example of visual kei - basically a movement built around extravagant performance similar to glam rock, and a big enough deal that there can’t not be a classic visual kei act here! This song is sexy as hell and the album is a wild ride.

Neek's Judgment: 3.7
While the 80s vibe is seriously heavy here, I love that it leans into the mood and subtlety of the song instead of going for just huge and cheesy, though there is plenty of cheese to spare! This is a seriously pleasant offering that I had a lot of fun with, even if it does suffer from its runtime a bit and doesn’t make a huge impression for a band with such a big name.
9bloodthirsty butchers

This album is like an anthology of emotionally driven guitar rock; I keep getting blown away by how it confidently and *rawly* it spans alt, indie, post-hardcore, emo and whatever else. July is the biggest and best track here and a jam for the ages, so tuck in.

Neek's Judgment: 4.0
Johnny’s going for the long-hauls right now… luckily this one has a few more tricks up its sleeve and changes things up more than enough to keep things interesting. I’m loving the huge guitar sound (very Pumpkins imo), but the vocals sound seriously disjointed from the rest of the recording in a weird and distracting way. Luckily the vocals are really that important in this song, as the guitar completely takes over by the end in the best way possible.

"Yoiyoi Kokon"
You sign up for a J-music 101, there’s no escaping the fact you’re gonna get an obnoxious as hell supercharged electro pop knockout at one point or another. REOL is as overblown and infectious as these things come, so strap in...

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
This put me way off at first but it’s fucking bonkers and I think I love it. It’s all over the place in the best possible way and I should probably hate it but it’s rad as fuckkk
11Seiko Oomori

"Nostalgic J-Pop"
Last pop album, I promise! This is the best pop album of the last ten years in any language, and my AOTD. It takes forever to get fully into and has a lot of bits that scan as novelty-hawking Jpop crassness until you clock how enduring their songwriting is; this track is probably the most immediate and most sentimental it’s got to offer.

Neek's Judgment: 4.1
Man I was not a big fan of this on first listen, but this second time around the chorus is hitting me just right. This is so overblown and pretty, I can see why you fell in love with it so much, even if its so violently cutesy that it still has me taken aback a bit.

"Aoharu Youth"
There’s a *really* good review for these guys’ album Futurama setting out that while it’s lazy to compare Japanese bands with analogous Western acts (oops!), Supercar were so similar to Radiohead that it’s hard not to. Futurama was their OK Computer but way too inconsistent (though great) to match up to that platform; Highvision is their Kid A and it blows that album out of the water. Enjoy.

Neek's Judgment: 4.3
Though the opening wonkiness drags on a bit longer than it might, I can’t argue with the sublime looping flourishes that color this world. I’m a sucker for slow-build songs that bloom into a climax, and this is satisfying as all hell.
13Advantage Lucy

^the oldest review on this page remains the single best thing I’ve ever read on RYM and tells you all you need to know.

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
Goddammit it’s more of that cute loopy shit. Her voice really works in this songs factor, gliding along the dreamy music so so comfortably. Still, while this is pretty damn great, it could easily have been a bit shorter. But oh well, I’m not complaining. Or am I? ;)
14Spangle Call Lilli Line

These guys are a really great indie/post-rock band with a range of great albums. It was pretty tough to pick just one, so I gave up and picked their best song.

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
This is some lovely twinkly gorgeous shit, but ultimately it didn’t unveil anything on future listens unlike some of these other tracks. And among some similar sounding stuff, its length and repetition is a bit more noticeable. Still, like I said, this is some lovely shit right here and I love how the beat picks up again near the end.
15Soutaisei Riron
Hi-Fi Anatomia

"Tv Tokyo"
I’ve tried to steer away from anime-esque music, but if there’s one band to go all-in on in that regard, it’s these guys. This is shy science nerd indie at its most charming and evasive, and there’s no-one who makes *that* style of delivery work quite as well as band leader Etsuko Yakushimaru. And the guitars are t a s t y. The songwriting on this album is supertight; went from an accidental YouTube discovery to a solid 5.

Neek's Judgment: 4.0
Some super warm guitar work here that appropriately cradles the vocals in a very comfy and inviting song through and through. It’s definitely a bit “anime” as you say, but the music here grounds it all in a captivating way.
Uchuu Nippon Setagaya

"Weather Report"
Fishmans are another Obligatory Mention band for all the right reasons. I think Long Season is at the very top of the RYM chart for dream pop in general, but while that one’s lovely, I think this has more going for it as far as dreamy dub vibes are concerned

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
While I can’t say I’m a fan of everything that leads up to it, particularly the vocals, this song really does have an astounding guitar-laden finale. It’s all over the place in a really interesting way, and it grows the further and further I get into the song.
Homephone TE

The more glitch pop I listen to, the more I’m convinced it’s a mood-only deal. Not this album. In my mind this is the Mezzanine of glitch pop: it has all the nuance and craft of other genre classics, but also this feeling of substance and OOMPH that hits me every time. It’s also a sloooooow grower, so I’ve picked by far the most immediate and undelicate track, a total knockout about dystopia and the death of dreams and trains falling from the sky XD

Neek's Judgment: 3.7
Normally I’m drawn to songs built around a captivating guitar loop, but I guess the way that the vocals are presented here makes them more distracting from the dream-like vibe than an essential part of it… the choruses are so so nice but other vocal melodies drawn so much attention to the repetition for me to fall totally in love with it. Overall nice ass track tho! It is super pretty :)

"Shield For Your Eyes, A Beast In The Well On Your Hand"
You’ve probably heard enough about Melt-Banana already; nothing to add except this is 100% the best song to start with and ignore everyone who says Fetch is their best album.

Neek's Judgment: 3.1
OH HELLO. Okay wow so I was very intrigued at first by all the guitar fuckery but I think I absolutely hate these vocals? Idk, I’ll have to sit on this one some more because normally I love in-your-face shit but. Yeah I love the instrumentation here but the vocals are a huge turn off, not as bad the second time though. I also feel like this song could’ve been like a minute shorter at least :/
19Shinsei Kamattechan

"Shiroi Tamago"
This is a horrible album that mangles noise pop with shoegaze and veers headlong into suicidal depression. It’s a love/hate deal, and the opener is a perfect litmus test. Bonus points for being a rare case where you don’t need to speak a word of Japanese to understand exactly what they’re howling about.

Neek's Judgment: 3.5
Okay so what I will say is that I appreciate the balls on this thing, and it definitely doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Its ambitions to take pop-rock up to an 11 sonically work way better than you would expect and the outro is killerrrrrr, but it’s still frankly pretty annoying at times. Fun fact, I think my dad used to have the same exact couch as on that cover.
20Coaltar of the Deepers
Yukari Telepath

"Automation Structures"
Coaltar of the Deepers are a weird band and Yukari Telepath is a fucking *weird* album. Sometimes it’s shoegaze, sometimes it’s not. Ditto for metal and electronic. I dunno. I had a hunch you’d dig this, and it’s very hard to boil it down to one track.

Neek's Judgment: 4.0
This song is definitely my kind of all over the place, and I absolutely love the driving percussion that runs through the entire track. This one could’ve used a bit of a trim as well, but the understated vocals work to the songs benefit, and while I’ve gotta say I didn’t love the 80s-cheese guitar solo, it fit the zaniness of the song pretty damn well.
21Dir En Grey
Dum Spiro Spero

Obligatory Dir en Grey pick. Epic scale, bold songwriting, otherworldly vox. Beautiful song, intense album. Yay!

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
Well this thing is just gorgeous, I can see why it’s so hyped up! Soaring vocals and a huge soundscape, it had an admirable sonic and emotional scope that definitely earned some of the cheese it would lean into from time to time. This is definitely my kind of metal, so I look forward to possibly checking this later ;)
All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead

"A Cradle Of Arguments And Anxiousness"
Half the reason I’m rec’ing this is so you can go ahead and check Envy’s awesome new album without feeling green. Like Melt-Banana, they’ve always been more successful internationally- they’re pretty important for the brand of skramz that used to be this site’s bread and butter. This is their best album and one of their overall best tracks, so do your worst...

Neek's Judgment: 3.4
I tend to judge this kind of music based on how much the vocals click with me, and in this case… not much at all. The music is super impressive and aggressive, but it’s partly the vocal effects, partly how highly its mixed over everything else, but they seriously limit my enjoyment of this thing.

This is one of my favourite hardcore tracks/EPs and mmm that’s about it. Heaviest girl group ever. Actually, probs worth pointing out that Japanese rock bands tend to have a way lower gender disparity rate than Western groups (and not just with vocalists), so that’s nice.

Neek's Judgment: 3.7
This however I can excuse quite a bit more. While the vocals are equally abrasive, the way that they fit like a piece into the music makes the rambunctious ambition all the more exciting. Plus, I appreciate that they can switch things up here without losing too much momentum!
24Ling Tosite Sigure
Just a Moment

"a 7days wonder"
Ling Tosite Sigure are a power trio who play flashy post-hardcore with a shitton of effects, notes and reverb. Yeet. They go all in for musicianship and cheap thrills, but their songwriting and atmosphere are stellar as hell and their drummer gets big brownie points for being married to Oomori Seiko. This song is far from my favourite, but it maps out their scope without going for their usual superintensity (hear the first 10 secs of any of their openers and you’ll get me).

Neek's Judgment: 4.3
Okay, now THIS is awesome. Huge fan of the frantic play between the guitar and drums, plus I am just a total sucker for these vox. The whole thing feels very fun and playful, but it’s pretty grounded emotionally from what I can tell that I think would keep you sucked in on future listens.
25Mass of the Fermenting Dregs
Mass of the Fermenting Dregs

"I F A Surfer"
These last two are freebies: dope indie groups who do fun things with shoegaze. Mass of the Fermenting Dregs are exhilarated and upbeat; Kinoko Teikoku are much more moody (although tbf I gave you their hardest banger, so take my word for it ;]).

Neek's Judgment: 4.2
Basically the same as the last one, was a super huge fan of the guitar sound of this track and the energy throughout. Vox rules, music rules, not much else to say except this shit bangs!!!
26Kinoko Teikoku

"Kokudou Slope"

Neek's Judgment: 3.8
Okay, this one bangs real hard and is very fun! But, it’s also a bit samey compared to the smorgasbord of J-rock you’ve given me and at the end of the day I probably wouldn’t be able to pick this one out from a crowd, even with that bouncy chorus.
27Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

Neek's Recs--

Neek's TOP 10:
1. Shiina Ringo // Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana - "Shūkyō": 4.8
2. Shiina Ringo // Shouso Strip - "Honnou": 4.3
3. Supercar // Highvision - "Aoharu Youth: 4.3
4. Ling Tosite Sigure // just A moment "a 7days wonder": 4.3
5. Fishmans // Uchuu Nippon Setagaya - "Weather Report": 4.2
6. Spangle Call Lilli Line // or - "nano": 4.2
7. Dir en Grey // Dum Spiro Spero "VANITAS": 4.2
8. Advantage Lucy // Fanfare - "Mahiru": 4.2
9. REOL // Sigma - "Yoiyoi Kokon": 4.2
10. Mass of the Fermenting Dregs - s/t (I F A Surfer): 4.2
28The Afghan Whigs
In Spades

“Demon in Profile”
This aging alt-rock band gets better with every album, and their latest is no exception. “Demon in Profile” is a bit more upbeat than the average track here, but it plays to the album adventurous and lively strengths through and through.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.4
That brass hook is tasty, but I’m not feeling the vocals here. All style no soul, or something like that - something here is a bit too clean. I imagine easily this hitting the mark incorporated into a film sequence. The crescendo at the end is great, I’m very much here for that - but this feels like a flash in the pan deal, and then the song is gone…
29Alanis Morissette
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

“Front Row”
While pretty much nothing on here sounds like the rest of the album, this opener seems to make a conscious effort to prepare the listener for what’s to come with an eclectic slice of schizophrenic alt-pop. It does the trick pretty well ;)

Johnny's Judgment: 4.2
Was looking forward to this one; Jagged Little Pill is a stellar cooking album. Definitely vibing this, the first chorus is a mess but her voice really suits this. This sounds so dated in such a good way. Rock my world, Alanis. I dig that every chorus is better than the last (and the layered vocals are great). I already want to hear this one again...
The Underside of Power

“Walk Like a Panther”
This might be the most furious cut from the album (a bold opener), but it manages to the strange and anxious album in a captivating way. This sound might not be for everyone, but godDAMN is it for me. Hopefully it’s for you too!

Johnny's Judgment: 3.0
So if a song’s overtly political and I pick on the slightest reason not to take it seriously, I instinctively don’t (watching the lyric video was probably a bad move); part of it’s being a cynical bastard, but also I feel hearing this kind of music by yourself loses a lot of the community spirit that it’s meant to go hand in hand with. So, it’s a hmm on this one - strong chorus, but the percussion in general fell flat for me and the Definitely Revolutionary vocal stylings lose a lot of that scope in they were layered imo.
31Anna von Hausswolff
Dead Magic

“The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra”
Sending Scandanavian chills down my spine, this bone-chilling song is probably the most accessible track on the record. Other tracks get weirder and scarier, but the tightness of this one along with the closing howls make it the ultimate winner for me.

Johnny's Judgment: 4.1
I wasn’t as into the beat on this one as I’d like to have been, but her voice is a knockout and those final two minutes bring it all home. Shit yes. Started out with a lot of misgivings, ended up feeling a r_u_s_h. This feels like it’d benefit a lot from repeat listens. Would absolutely love to see this live.
32Avenged Sevenfold
The Stage

“Sunny Disposition”
Proving that they can still get weird without messing up the momentum of the record, “Sunny Disposition” is modern A7X nearly at the top of their game. It’s a great mix of old and new, and it’s clear they’re done trying to be anything other than themselves.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.5
As a Long Term Fan who jumped ship with Hail To The King never got on board again, it’s kinda weird to hear this now. This production is pretty damn crisp for Avenged Sevenfold and took a bit of getting used to. If I’d heard this within a couple of years of Nightmare dropping, it’d be a steal. As it is…hmm. I respect these guys a lot for how tight they this sounds and how much cleaner their musicianship is, but it’s speaking to my nostalgia-brain as a B-tier City of Evil fix, probably very unfairly. I feel I’d need an overload of this sound to get into it more

Definitely more “anthemic” than the majority of the album, it’s still a hyper satisfying and exciting rallying cry. It’s also got more balls than most hip-hop I listen to which is just another reason why Beyonce rules. Oh and Kendrick’s here too.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.6
So I’ve heard and enjoyed a few tracks from this album before, but not this one. This is Definitely Inspirational and has enough guts behind it not to seem like hot air, but it doesn’t carry the same emotional ambivalence that I remember getting from tracks like Sorry; less of the down-on-your-chips vibe here, and much more punching up. Probs to Kendrick for a great feature. Overall I enjoyed this, but it didn’t exactly blow my socks off…
Chicago Transit Authority

This is another one I had a hard time picking, but ultimately this is a perfect summation of what made Chicago great, huge horns, Kath’s amazing guitar work, and cheesiness, wrapped in a nice jazz-rock bow.

Johnny's Judgment: 4.1
Fun! This got me waving my arms the second time I jammed it. Lots of great themes, solid performances across the board and nice pacing; am sold. Was also surprised when I checked up on the release date - that prod value is on point for the time!
35Damien Rice
My Favourite Faded Fantasy

“The Greatest Bastard”
Definitely in line with its slow-burn brethren on this album, this blooms into a climax so devastating and gorgeous that it more than makes up for the stakes-setting that comes before.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.9
Coming at this with decent familiarity with his debut, I had a fairly accurate set of expectations for this. This was helpful in touching base with his general sound, but also sussing it out as top-tier Damien Rice. His best tracks for me tend to be earnest soppiness or coffee shop staples; this is definitely the latter and I can see it being a perfect time and place jam on a good playlist. A couple of the vocal melodies almost annoyed me, but he never got stuck on them so all good. I found I enjoyed this more when I imagined my life as a shitty romcom. Interesting. Gonna give it a benefit of the doubt high-ish rating.
36Dixie Chicks

“Travelin’ Soldier”
Just so y’all know, Johnny chose to go for the “emotional sappy” side of country rather than a barn-stompin’ good time, but then again I don’t think anyone manages to nail the emotional side of the genre like the Chicks do.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.7
Lol my video opened with a Bernie ad, nice. This sound is so un-me that I automatically enjoyed it out of novelty from the start. Quite grateful for the lyric video. This is sentimental bullshit and I’m here for it - not sure it’s has convinced me to love country and I have no idea how much it’d hold up with repeat listens (plus it’s a little overlong maybe), but it won me over enough that I’d be down for a whole album.
37Everything Everything
Get to Heaven

“Future 500”
While I’m not as emotionally invested in these guys as I am in some of these others bands, I’ve gotta admit that they write some kick-ass alt-pop songs. Pretty sure this is about a suicide bomber or something? Idk, it’s a bop.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.7
Made the drastic error of realising this has similar vocal melodies to Sexy Bitch. Oops. I didn’t think very much of this at all on first listen, but it hooked me a lot more when I came back to it. This carries a decent set of stakes and solid pacing; felt like it didn’t resolve most of its own suspense, which isn’t a bad thing but makes me curious to hear how the album would follow on.
38Florence and the Machine

"Seven Devils"
I basically went ahead and recommended the “biggest” song here in terms of scope, but the rest of this album contains a similar adventurousness and palate. The cinematic sound here is irresistible imo, and there’s plenty of it to be found throughout Ceremonials.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.4
That central arpeggio sounded so familiar that I transcribed it and re-learnt the name (Fmj7#5 I believe; you hear this in a ton of space sci-fi and Discovery Moments so defs cinematic). This distracted me for so long that I had to restart the song. Not sure that this is *that* adventurous; once the tone is set, it’s a pretty predictable case of her milking that arp with maximalist vocals. Competent stuff, but I feel I should be more impressed here.
Nearer My God

“Grand Paradise”
Foxing are definitely an acquired taste thanks to the wonky instrumentation and high-pitched vocals, but I think this song, if not the most immediate one here, proves just why their layered and ambitious approach to emo is basically just the best!

Johnny's Judgment: 4.0
This really hit the spot. I am very tipsy and think this had a lot to do with it (mood-wise, not quality-wise!). The vocals carry it nicely, but I really like those dry guitar tones. Nice stuff, I’ve heard some of these guys’ stuff before (maybe not this one) but this is a lot better than I remember. Good chorus hooks too. Song gets better and better.
40Ghost (SWE)

If Ghost hadn’t figured out their pop-metal sound before, this album is what nailed it down. It’s got huge riffs, huge choruses, and this song is one of the crown jewels of their career!

Johnny's Judgment: 2.9
This is some silly shit right here. I appreciate how palatable it is and am a little glad it didn’t go down the novelty pop-metal route, but at the same time it’s just about camp enough that I feel they should have toned it up somewhat. Feels a little tame, no major objections but it’s not scratching any itches.

Bouncing constantly between conflicting sounds and moods, from aggressive and bizarre to what sounds like wonky kids’ show themes, these have got to be the most underrated guys in post-rock right now. And trust me, I’m an expert in post-rock. I said trust me, dammit!

Johnny's Judgment: 3.1
The opening had more energy than I expected. This is in 7/4 and gets automatic bonus points. Ok, let’s see where it goes… The overture led to another overture. Bonus points lost. I think this is what Program Music I would sound like if it was made in the mid-19th century. I’m glad this was not the case. 13 mins in and we’re getting somewhere, even if it’s the most conseravative postrock build so far. Melodies are giving it an edge. This section was decent. Think the intro and outro were the best parts - some fun ideas here, but not sure the stakes or payoff were anywhere near enough to warrant the length.
42Harrod and Funck

"Lion Song"
Hey, so speaking of underrated, here’s the most underrated band in existence! Ever! This duo crafted some of the best folk songs of their generation, and you’re about to hear their best one. Lucky you :)

Johnny's Judgment: 3.9
This is lovely! So calming, really needed to hear something like this rn. Not in love with his voice, but those chords are just the right kind of simple but well-placed that I vibe in this kind of sound. I like them enough to wish they did more with them instrumentally, but it’s not like it needs it.
43Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid

"Cold War"
Okay, okay, I wanted to rec “Come Alive,” but this one is probably more in line with your tastes. Regardless, this is a gorgeously sung and produced pop number that gets to the very heart of Monae’s message and sound. Oh and watch the video too.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.2
Between her voice and the percussiveness, this has quite a bit going for it...but didn’t really do anything for me (solid as the video was). I think I expected something with a bit more grit from her, and this wasn’t quite it - none of the hooks or melodies spoke to me that strongly :[ :[
44Madeline Kenney
Perfect Shapes

Though this may fall into the “petri dish” classification you accused some art-pop of falling into, it’s impossible to deny to power of Kenney’s minimalism and emotion. I said it’s impossible dammit!

Johnny's Judgment: 3.9
Weird. My first listen of this was super positive, my second was so-so and my third pretty good. Not sure what this means, but it does mean I’m down to hear it again and curious to hear what the rest of the album does. I like the starched out arrangement, not sure how I feel about her vocals. Gonna bump my rating up out of curiosity.
45Miya Folick

Another vibrant slice of art-pop for ya, this one is both bold and incredibly tight, featuring a plain gorgeous climax that pushes Folick’s vocals to their edge and (hopefully) proves to you why you need to listen to this album right now.

Johnny's Judgment: 4.1
Um yes this bops I like this I want this. Everything about this is simple but so so right and her voice is on point. Yum.
Burial Songs

So I guess this is the rumored doomgaze(??) subgenre? Idk, it’s loud and heavy but rife with huge melodies and creepy vibes and I love it. Also it’s post-y so I’m catering to you!

Johnny's Judgment: 3.8
So this is pretty neat. I find it easy to get sceptical about this kind of Epic Atmospheric Big Sound, but the doom carried this one nicely - very well paced, didn’t hurry to an awkward climax or layer on heaviness where it wasn’t needed. Dunno if I’d vibe as hard with a whole album of this, but this gets my seal of approval.
Brand New Eyes

I know you have some experience with Paramore already Johnny, which is why, after you’ve heard this, you should have no problem admitting that this is the hardest that Paramore has ever gone. This is probably my favorite straight up rock track from them.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.6
This is not the hardest Paramore has ever gone, sorry (I think we have an emergency EHEM). Although I vibe with it, it doesn’t give me the same rush as my faves from their first two, which I guess qualifies this as a (not very disappointing) d i s a p p o i n t m e n t ooooh. Still a good track, but not a standout from them :[
48Peter Gabriel

"Rhythm of the Heat"
Signaling PG’s deep dive into "world" (don’t crucify me) music (following his hints at it with his previous album), this opener was inspired by Carl Jung’s hallucinatory experience while observing a group of African drummers. And it fucking delivers the heat.

Johnny's Judgment: 4.1
Ooh, this one most definitely walks the walk. Impressive stuff, utilises his vocals extremely well and builds and quietens just right. Very intrigued by this, I like the percussiveness and am most definitely down to see how a whole album pans out from it.
49Peter Gabriel

“Sky Blue”
This was another hard one to nail down, as it's by far the calmest thing on this record, but its peace is hard-won and fuck man it’s just beautiful. The album took ten years to make and each song feels like he locked himself in them for a year, and this one is no different.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.8
This does not sound like it came out in 2002. It has the upscale, breezy quality of ‘80s music that sounded in awe of its own clean tones and production value. I think this is a good thing? Your comment about this one’s tone being hard-won is interesting; I’m not sure how I feel about this as a standalone. It’s definitely good, but I kinda feel like I’m hearing “Lazarus” without the context of the rest of Blackstar or something. Maybe it’d feel more momentous with the rest of the album and those 10 yrs behind it...
50Pinkly Smooth
Unfortunate Snort

Hahaha I don’t remember much about this one but I remember having an awesome time with it, and now you’re cursed with it too hahahahah >:) Bonus points if you can guess who’s side project it is without looking it up.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.4
Oh hi there, Rev (guessed this but looked to confirm lol). I get how A Little Piece of Heaven came into existence now. This is a fun mess and the production is sloppy as anything, but it’s got character and I guess it’s the kind of thing side-projects are perfectly suited to. Good times.
51Regina Spektor
Remember Us To Life

“Small Bill$”
Fuck it if this sounds nothing like the rest of the record, it’s her best record and you should listen to it anyway. And regardless, this song is required Neek listening. It’s like an apocalyptic-capitalist fever dream.

Johnny's Judgment: 3.8
I’ve been on the fence about practically everything I’ve heard from Regina so far. Let’s see...I like this arrangement a lot, her vocals and lyrics are doing very little for me as per, but the vocalise she does in between verses is great. Feeling overall positive here, but still a bit mixed - I like the way this track carries itself, but it doesn’t really go anywhere beyond the first minute. As a standalone, I guess it’s okay. I can imagine this working better in sequence, but not sure how hyped I am to hear a whole album. That said, I prefer this to Dixie Chicks (currently my #10 slot) so gonna bump a few points accordingly - this shit RIGGED.
52The Voidz

"Where No Eagles Fly"
This album is a bit of a bastard child, and didn’t get the praise it deserved even when its successor blew up out of nowhere. Filled to the brim with violent riffs and Julian Casablancas’ unhinged vocals, this song might not the craziest or best the album has to offer, but it is one of the most fun!

Johnny's Judgment: 3.7
That bass tone mmm ok. This album reminds me of a lot of other sounds I like (lots of Tomahawk - Mit Gas vibes here in particular). Not sure about these chorus vocals or production choices, feels a bit more polished than I’d like (also the yt quality here is atrocious, RIP). 16 y/o me would have been all over this for sure. As it is, I’m down with it but my mind is only partially blown :O
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