Week 10 is coming to a close and with it, this academic year. 6 writers share the sounds that marked their 2016/2017 university experience and they’re all worth checking out.
Little Dragon – ‘High’ and Homeshake – ‘TV Volume’
This academic year has seen a great deal many releases that have kept my will to live burning on despite Warwick’s best efforts, however the two tracks that I’ve rinsed the replay button so much they’ve become part of my second year DNA are ‘High’ by Little Dragon and ‘TV Volume’ by Homeshake. Although their following album ‘Season High’ left me feeling a little disappointed, the strength of Little Dragon’s lead single alone was worth the wait. It’s dreamy, lulled production and Yuki’s stilted, lulling delivery are the perfect match of what the band’s offers when its at its peak, and served as a soundtrack for many a late night walk home from #deathbylibes. ‘TV Volume’, a subdued little track tucked away in the 3rd album of ex-mac Demarco guitarist Peter Sagar’s solo project has quickly become an audience favourite, for its generation Y, 4am bleary-eyed take on romantic dysfunction, complete falsetto backing coo’s and a killer guitar line.
Sam Gellaitry – Escapism III
I discovered Sam Gellaitry’s 3rd album, Escapism III, one morning while making breakfast. Frying eggs has never felt so epic. The young Scotsman’s analogue synths will catapult you along their luscious, thick, gliding frequencies, only to have you uncontrollably wobbling and bouncing along heavy detuned cut-offs. Throw in some mesmerising, oriental strings driven by the horsepower of smooth vibrating 808s and you can understand why the album name is fitting: this album guarantees an epic sonic journey, adding a fantastic, cosmic flavour to the currently popular future bass style, making it particularly versatile to taste, one that could either transport you to an acoustic outer-space, drifting within an orchestral galaxy of electro flutes and arpeggios, or one that could bring serious ‘Boiler Room’ vibes to your night, having you skanking and sweating clutching at a water bottle in the midst of a glorious, synthetic frenzy. A word of warning while listening to this album though: avoid hot appliances… it’s likely you will forget about them.
Loscil – Monument Builders
Two constants characterise the way I write essays. One, I always listen to drone-heavy ambient music; two, I habitually end up finishing things the night that they’re due in. In his 2016 release Monument Builders, Vancouver-based producer Loscil develops upon his frequent preoccupation with water to map man’s destructive treatment of nature (“Drained Lake”) and nature’s resistance to humanity (“Weeds”). With post-Christmas deadlines looming, the mounting sense of dread created on the album began to mirror my own, and some kind of fire was lit beneath me as I eked out just enough caffeine-fuelled nonsense to hit the word limit.
Andy Shauf – ‘The Magician’
This had been a somewhat rough year for me, due to many various personal reasons. As such, I’m incredibly grateful that this last year was also the time in which I discovered Andy Shauf’s 2016 album, The Party. The album was a bedrock of comfort to cushion some of my harder falls of the year, with a dreamlike, late-60s approach to pop with some of the most luscious production I have heard in pop in a long time. No song from the album captured this essence quite as well as ‘The Magician’. When the warm repetition of piano and guitar chords which open the song give way to a slow downwards trickle of high piano notes, I always feel my problems similarly trickling away. The song feels wholly nostalgic, yet the magnificent production brings it straight to the 21st century. The lyrics also hit in that abstract-yet-connectable way. Personally, I do find that “it gets a little easier every time (I) make it disappear”, and I am definitely “a shaking hand without a concrete plan”, but each listen of this song calms that hand nonetheless, and for that I am thankful.
Kero Kero Bonito – ‘Bonito Generation’
Kero Kero Bonito (KKB) are a hyper pop act from London, blending Japanese and English lyrics in an almost unsettling way with relative ease, thanks to lead vocalist Sarah Perry’s bilingualism and a willingness to exude almost complete positivity in their music. Despite not discovering the album till somewhere in the throes of term 3, KKB have been my goto on the lonely bus ride to exams – they gave (and unfortunately still are as of writing!) me an excuse to drown out my eager coursemates who were more than happy to quote theorems I’d barely even heard of as the bus trundled through Kenilworth, at a time I didn’t even know existed until May.
Young Thug – ‘Guwop’
The track of my year was without a doubt ‘Guwop’ from Young Thug’s most recent tape. My final deadline of term two having whooshed by unmet a couple of hours beforehand, I spent my flight to Warsaw pulsing with anxiety, head buzzing from lack of sleep. The sound of take-off will forever be accompanied by those gleaming synths, summoning up Vangelis’ ambient future sound, quavering under the weight of Thug’s hooks. Quavo, Offset, and Scooter’s contributions emphasise the track’s capacious soundscape, their voices holding the melody where the beat melts away. Where some tracks are heavy, molten, ‘Guwop’ is light – it just flows. For me, the track will always be a refuge, just as Boar tour was; it soothes me, leaves me grinning, when I most feel like the world’s ending.