by Evan Welsh
Preamble: I know there are usually 5 albums in this list. March and the early bits of April have been really busy but the three albums here are really good and honestly I devoted most of my time during March and early April listening to these three records. I promise the next one (the list for April) will be back on track with 5 albums and even a preview of an album that’s going to come out in May. Much Love.
1. Young Fathers- Cocoa Sugar
It’s been interesting watching Young Fathers transform from a small time group releasing their tapes for free on bandcamp, to Mercury Prize winners with their album Dead, to now, complete rockstars. Cocoa Sugar was one of my most anticipated albums of 2018 and the trio from Scotland has not disappointed. This new album is less immediately danceable and catchy than White Men Are Black Men Too, and far stranger as well; the tracks on Cocoa Sugar are more skeletal than on their previous two LPs and they cover a much larger range of sonics. This record takes a few more listens to grasp than the group’s previous works even if this is their most “pop” album to date. Fortunately, the oddity Young Fathers put in their pop makes Cocoa Sugar one of their most gratifying pieces to date.
On their last album, Young Fathers set out to move beyond the underground hip-hop scene, jump into the world of pop/rock, and further push their already difficult to pin down sound. With Cocoa Sugar, they continue their progression into the territory of uncategorizable. I’m glad to see how high Young Fathers have risen; they continue to be one of the most interesting bands in modern day pop. If now is their time atop the “indie pop” throne, it is well deserved.
Fav Tracks: In My View, Tremolo, Wow, Border Girl, Toy
2. Anna von Hausswolff- Dead Magic
This album is Halloween in spring. This album is Kate Bush with a Sunn O))) cast curse. Dead Magic, the Swedish organist’s fourth LP, feels like a 47 minute gothic journey. I am aware that 47 minutes does not seem like enough time to warrant the “epic” tag, but this LP really does feel larger than it’s length, similar to Godspeed’s Slow Riot EP.
The instrumentals throughout the LP are lush will organ, strings, doomy guitars, and pulsating drums. On top of that, Hausswolff screams and howls, leading listeners through what feels like a dark forest or a murky river. This album is certainly a case of the music suiting the artwork. Dead Magic is a beautiful, gloomy, gothic epic in a compact and digestible package. Anyone looking for an album to hold them over until the fall, I believe this one goes out to you.
Fav Tracks: There are only five tracks. I like them all.
3. TRANS FOREVER (Various Artists)- OUT OF FLUX WITH THE UNIVERSE
Coming in at 32 tracks, this compilation is a massive collection of incredible non-binary artists in the underground electronic music scene. OUT OF FLUX WITH THE UNIVERSE was put together by the artist Girls Rituals, who released their album I’m Desperate earlier in March. If you’re a fan of industrial dance music and experimental pop music (hell there’s even dubsteppy tracks on this thing) this album will work as an in-depth index of new artists for you to discover.
I found I knew few of the artists on the compilation when I gave it a first listen, but a few more well known names stuck out and made the entire project more inviting. Of course with over 30 songs I didn’t love or even like every single one, but, the tracks I loved I really did love. I figured, if Girls Rituals put the whole thing together and artists like Katie Dey and the scary jokes were willing to contribute new tracks, there’s no way the album is not worthwhile. As it turns out, I was very right for thinking that, as this album was a great collection of IDM and electro-pop as well as a great introduction to a whole new set of artists.
Fav Tracks: Grils Rituals- “Melty Future,” Katie Dey- “Darkness,” the scary jokes- “Untitled,” ISWYWD- “grinding up and inskufflating my own teeth hbu,” 99jakes- “sleep angel”