Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! Like a fat bearded man screaming as he plummets down your chimney, breaking both legs instantly on landing, like your Uncle Tommy who had a little too much egg nog at Christmas dinner, .WAV’s holiday roundup is here whether you like it or not! The music jocks here at .WAV have been laboring tirelessly, unpaid, with no sleep or food– furtive like the elves in Santa’s workshop or the employees at an Amazon fulfillment center to deliver this roundup to you. Think of this roundup as planted firmly and safely under the Christmas tree, under the stern gaze of your father. Don’t try to sneak down and open it up too early, else you’ll provoke him. The past two weeks have been a veritable Christmas cornucopia, a truly decadent feast worthy of being offered up to Santa himself. And if he likes the music, uhhhh, he’ll come back from the dead and usher in the end days? In all honesty, Jewish hands typed up this opening blurb. No idea what I’m talking about. My grandma venmoed me 50 bucks for Hanukkah. Beats socks. Take it easy, Happy Holidays.
We Will Always Love You – The Avalanches
Few acts reach a level of influence in which they are synonymous with their genre. For plunderphonics, the sample-driven hybrid of house and instrumental hip-hop, that act is the Avalanches. Riding an incredible high off their last album Wildflower, the Avalanches smash through into the scene again to top off both the year and the decade in superb fashion. We Will Always Love You feels like a culmination of 2010s musical stylings in the best possible way, pulling influence from the myriad artists featured on the tracklist like MGMT, Blood Orange, Johnny Marr, Perry Farrell, Denzel Curry, and Kurt Vile among others. Thematically, the album feels like it takes place during the last moments of a life well lived, priming the listener to embrace the transition into the great beyond with open arms. Personal highlight tracks are “The Divine Chord”, “Interstellar Love”, French house love letter “Music Makes Me High”, and “Always Black”. This record, like both of the Avalanches’ previous releases, is an undeniable triumph.
“Lovin’ Me” – Kid Cudi ft. Phoebe Bridgers
Humming master Kid Cudi and everyone’s dream goth girlfriend Phoebe Bridgers, a pairing that no one knew they needed and yet here it is, feeling oh so right. Cudi recently dropped a new full length album, the third of the Man On The Moon series, and with an extensive 18 tracks he was rather picky with his features. Only three songs have featured artists on them, one of which being Bridgers on “Lovin’ Me”. This is the first time Phoebe has stepped into the rap realm, and she enters the song with a deeper than usual tone to harmonize with Cudi’s baritone singing. The lyrics touch on self growth and healing your own inner demons. This isn’t the kind of Cudi song you would play at a party to harness Project X vibes, instead it would better suit a drive home in the dark when zoning out to the passing lights. Is this the best I’ve heard from either Cudi or Bridgers? No, but the meshing of two starkly different artists was done well and I hope to see Bridgers sprinkled into more RnB tracks in the future.
Panther Rotate – Thee Oh Sees
Miraculously, Thee Oh Sees managed to sneak in one last album before the end of 2020. Moving from their louder sounds on Metamorphosed, Panther Rotate is a mishmash of experimental psych and muffled lo-fi. Across the entire record, the band is constantly experimenting, and the album is largely comprised of formless songs bent on warped synths and dials. If there’s anything to respect about Panther Rotate, it’s the notion that the band truly made no attempt to make any track “catchy”. It’s as if Protean Threat was stripped and slowed, leaving listeners somewhat underwhelmed and bored at most points on the album. “If I Had An Experiment” and ‘Terminal Experiment” are re-worked portions of tracks on Protean Threat, robbing them of any energy or momentum they previously had and replacing it with muffled vocals and a trudging, lazy keyboard. If you’re into spacier, experimental psych, you’ll likely enjoy Panther Rotate; however, I found myself looking for something with more
“Hits!” – Henry Solomon and Logan Kane (featuring Louis Cole and Dennis Hamm)
“Hits!” could best be described as ‘a lot of fun’, or something analogous. The song features Henry Solomon on saxophone, Logan Kane on bass, Dennis Hamm on keys, and Louis Cole on drums, all of whom are important figures in LA’s forward-thinking jazz scene. There’s a lot to appreciate about the track, with each musician putting their own unique sound on the table. The song starts with an interplay between Solomon’s saxophone melody and Hamm’s sharp, syncopated synth comping, all resting on top of a blown-out drum and bass dance groove. Throughout the song, all the musicians solo, flexing impressive musical skill, while also experimenting with interesting sonic textures. “Hits!” combines the stimulating, adventurous sensibilities of jazz, the fast, syncopated nature of funk, and the dancefloor appeal of house and drum n’ bass music into a 5 minute and 30 second banger that’s worth checking out.
EP! – JPEGMAFIA
Last Thursday, JPEGMAFIA compiled his singles from 2020 and released them as the creatively titled EP!. “SUPER TUESDAY!”, the lone new release within the EP, is an interesting one. It’s made up of a nostalgic yet impossible to place string-led sample underneath some trade-markedly witty bars, the best line easily being “R. Kelly, gigolo, I’m dough pilin’ / But I don’t fuck with little kids, bitch, I ain’t Woody Allen”. While EP! feels a bit scatterbrained and subdued for Peggy’s standards, it’s unfair to judge an artist’s EP against their magnum opus, especially a JPEG magnum opus. Instead, we must give him the benefit of the doubt and hope to expect a more story-boarded full-length album come 2021. In the meantime, tracks “BALD!”, “CUTIE PIE!”, and “SUPER TUESDAY” will keep you whole.
“I Wanna Be Like You (triple j Like A Version)” – Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
Having watched previous Like A Version video performances before, it was to my delight that Psychedelic Porn Crumpets released one. As a huge fan of all the music coming out of Australia these days, I believe the band did “I Wanna Be Like You” justice. You might recognize this tune from the popular Disney movie The Jungle Book during the encounter at King Louie’s palace in which Louie bargains with Mowgli to learn the secrets to fire. What was originally a swingin’ jazz performance by the monkey kingdom has been transformed by the Crumpet boys into a psychedelic rock masterpiece. Encompassing perfectly what Like A Version is all about, the band creates a fresh new take on a cult classic. Do yourself a favor and walk like me, talk like me, return to monke – or at the very least check out this song.
FMTI – Dirty Art Club
For North Carolina-based producer Dirty Art Club, 2020 has managed to be an incredibly productive year. His latest release, FMTI, is his second full length beat tape of 2020, following up this Spring’s Gardens. If you’re at all familiar with his rapidly growing catalog, you’ll find that the level of quality you’ve come to expect is delivered in droves on this project. FMTI delivers hard on that smoky, noir-tinged vibe that every good plunderphonics record aspires to meet. Tracks like “Floor Drug Vampire” or “FMTI” embody that mysterious aura perfectly, while others like the penultimate “Slime” angle towards the genre’s potential for that blooming sense of spiritual warmth. Obscure samples, endlessly cool beats, and just the right level of lo-fi production all come together to make this album a delectable listen.
“Sea Urchin” – Mystic Braves
Sneaking in one last single before 2020 comes to an end, Mystic Braves takes a successful stab at a more disco-influenced sound. “Sea Urchin” still has the band’s signature, older psychedelic feel, but it says “Bee-Gees” more than “The Doors”. Lifted synth leads, quick guitar riffs, and a funky bassline coalesce in a remarkably catchy fashion. It’s not entirely different from music they’ve put out previously, but it’s a clear attempt to make something boogie-ish. As the group typically takes from the more Jefferson-Airplane-side of the ’80s, it seems they’ve meandered to the other side to play with the sounds of the Bee-Gees and CHIC.
This article was compiled by .WAV staff members Colin Brunson, Kat Vess, Robbie Baker, Henry Mckay, Delaney Faherty, Brian Mendez, and Jake Davis. Delaney Faherty created the graphic.