Believe the Hype - No Ripcord Recommendations

  • illuminati hotties Let Me Do One More

    Cheekily titled Let Me Do One More, the album stays true to Tudzin's self-proclaimed promise of delivering “all riprs and no more skiprs”—brimming with a joyful energy that feels equally confident and empowered. The album is a powerful declaration coming from a pop savant who is upping her songwriting chops behind deceptively simple songwriting.
  • Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

    The immeasurable talent that hides behind Simbiatu Ajikawo's fourth LP's nineteen tracks confirms that she's one of the greatest artists of her generation. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is an open window into the deep and private thoughts the London-based wants to share with us, aware that there's strength in being vulnerable.
  • Darkside Spiral

    Enter Spiral, Darkside’s triumphant return after an eight-year hiatus. Announced at the tail-end of 2020 with the release of lead single Liberty Bell, the album comes as both a pleasant surprise and a much-needed shot in the arm for 2021, pun completely intended. After two years of global turmoil (or, if we’re being more brutally honest, universal misery), hearing what these two virtuosic artists had been concocting whilst holed up in the studio with nowhere much else to go is, put bluntly, life-affirming. And that’s exactly what Spiral is: an alchemical concoction of beats, textures, sonic flourishes, and melodies that sound like they were recorded in a world that had no precedent.
  • Charlotte Day Wilson Alpha

    The long period leading up to this record – not to mention the time afforded for additional audio work due to the coronavirus pandemic – means Wilson has had the space to hone her sound and deliver upon the potential her earlier releases promised.
  • Dry Cleaning New Long Leg

    New Long Leg was constructed in pieces on a wiped-down, passed-around tape deck—the new pandemic normal. It could easily have suffered for it, but the production is masterful. On Unsmart Lady, the tracks are layered so purposefully that when the guitar trickles away every few measures leaving a moment of bare bass, it’s like a curtain of water parting. It yields the floor for Shaw’s punchiest lyric (“If you like a girl, be nice/it’s not rocket science,”) before dissolving into a fiercely rugged but painfully short guitar riff that takes us breathlessly up and over the climax and into the denouement. This push and pull between instruments and vocals, cleverly punctuated with just the right amount of silence, is what gives New Long Leg its seductive tension.
  • The Weather Station Ignorance

    Probably the most self-evident thing about Ignorance is how full the arrangements of these songs are. There’s always a beat pushing these songs forward, clearly aided by the combination of Kieran Adams’ straightforward drum patterns and additional textures added by the auxiliary percussionists Philippe Melanson and Marcus Paquin. Grand pianos, Wurlitzer keyboards, and spiraling synthesizers swirl around together to create the song’s melodic foundations, while Christine Bougie’s guitar work often acts as a palm-muted counterpoint. On Seperated, a mid-album highlight, the electric guitar noodles all over the mix, adding quietly to the atmosphere. At the center of any song sits Lindeman’s silky voice, which contrasts nicely with her band’s danceable instrumentation.
  • The Avalanches We Will Always Love You

    Four years on from the divisive Wildflower, and now almost two decades on from Since I Left You, it feels like—by setting themselves the impossible task of a return—The Avalanches have now freed themselves from any pressure at all. Just as with a night spent looking at the stars, nothing is guiding you to these conclusions. There’s nothing that directly references the struggles with loss or addiction that helped produce it, but yet it still somehow feels implicit. It might not sound like an invitation to the party, but it does the sound of walking the long way home—from the ringing ears to the heartbreak. We Will Always Love You is an impressive mediation on everything that matters, and of letting go of what doesn’t. Nevermind a normal band being able to create this; a normal band wouldn’t even attempt it.
  • Adrianne Lenker songs / instrumentals

    Like Dylan and Townes Van Zandt before her, Lenker is emerging as a songwriter who takes an idea and toys with it. She takes ancient paths to new destinations or revisiting her own previously blazed trails. Here, she proffers the glimmering anything as the next step from Masterpiece’s Paul and Capacity’s Mary. A verbose portamento tumble of vocals and chords implants the image of deep woods clearing: “circle of pine and red oak, circle of moss and fire smoke.” The childlike pat-a-cake cadence of half return is a furthering of abysskiss’ blue and red horses. The wind chimes and bird song backing of zombie girl make for a lovely reconstruction of Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man that Lenker sings gently into her subject’s ear.
  • Owen Pallett Island

    Considering the avant-garde associations suggested by Island's sonics, it makes sense to weigh the lyrics according to the same, progressive metrics, allowing that the words exist not as prose narrative but as poetic abstractions standing in for more universal meanings, in which case the lyrics scan not as fanciful art-rock but something more akin to a Benjamin Britten libretto, equally storm-trodden and queer, extrapolating present moments through a flux of memory penduluming between adolescence and obsolescence, while asserting that those two points on a human's timeline somehow coexist, overlap, mirror each other, and, as a result, provide a reflection for the listener; a deep, cosmic insight into their own life, into my own life, like staring into a bottomless pit, seeing oneself in the charcoaled chasm, then retreating to the teat, evoking a feeling akin to Becket's assertion about life that humans are “[birthed] astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.”
  • Bob Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways

    Despite returning to likeminded songwriting sensibilities, it's surprising to hear how Dylan's rumbling croak has turned into a deeper whiskey baritone. There's a dusky sternness to his voice which accentuates the stark minimalism of songs like Black Rider, personifying the equivalent of Max von Sydow playing chess with the Grim Reaper as he sings over a tempo that sounds like a slowed-down Spanish bolero: "If there ever was a time, then let it be now/let me go through, open the door." And on My Own Version of You, he does that thing where he repeats an intoxicating, slightly off-kilter groove as while cranking out a plethora of stream-of-consciousness references—singing in a noir-ish tone as he examines what it is to be Bob Dylan. For someone who's voice earned him much ridicule for sounding gruff, yet sincere, as if he's never sung in an affected tone (actually, he has!), his chainsmoking has finally caught up with him and is doing him quite the favor.