This genre-less weekly episodical seems like the perfect opportunity to mix things up, and whilst there’s still ‘normal’ stuff in there, feel free to indulge yourself with the two curveballs I’ve thrown in this week.
Last week you may recall Kid Cudi featuring heavily, and this week’s theme is…April 2009. I’ll be honest, it was more coincidental than anything.
Head on below deck if you’re ready.
Big Sean-Tomorrow (April 2009)
-For a ‘popular’ rapper, Sean’s back catalogue is criminally overlooked. I say that, as you’ll actually find his best material to date was spread across his first two mixtapes, and this one from his excellent UKNOWBIGSEAN tape stands out as a track which still sounds fresh today. Held together by a punchy yet soulful production, Sean came through with some clever raps that expressed his then-status of ‘on the cusp’, which were packed with a healthy portion of confidence that belies his experience at the time. A simple and effective slice of hip-hop that had a real feelgood, summer vibe.
Snow Patrol-Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking (August 2003)
-Final Straw was the absolute highlight of their career, and to me, is one of the highlight indie albums of my lifetime. There wasn’t one track I’d consider filler, though the sheer quality meant that even great tracks such as this one got slightly buried by the excellence of others, and hence this track is one many should revisit. A progressive and relatively dark track, the instrumentation exuded a calm intensity that softly built toward an explosive middle segment, alternating thereafter with the menacing melancholy to fantastic effect. The vocal work was memorable and hypnotising throughout, and in another feat of excellent production, phased out appropriately during the instrumental explosion to allow the percussion work to shine. A real piece of class, and a gem in their now-bloated back catalogue.
XV-Final Fantasy XV (April 2009)
-One of the very first XV tracks I’d ever heard, and certainly the one that caused me to take a stronger interest in his work back in 2009. The soft, atmospheric production was instantly-relaxing, almost frighteningly so, whilst its lighter elements gave hints of a more positive, upbeat nature that played off the track’s mellowness superbly. For a Final Fantasy fan, there’s no doubt I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous FF references, though the lyricism and deliveries are easily appreciated by any listener, and it’s clear from this early effort that Vizzy was destined for greater things. Still a great listen to this day, and one to grab for those after some light, laidback hip-hop.
HIM-Wings of a Butterfly (September 2005)
-Love metal’s an interesting genre. Few, if any, have nailed it as well as HIM, and this was a prime example of both how unique their blend of genres was, and how to properly execute it. Opening with a riff that was nigh on impossible to get out of my head, the track wasted no time in getting itself going, and soon enough Valo’s inimitable and mesmerising vocals took over, delivering simple verses alongside a killer hook with a singalong quality to match any mainstream pop effort. The lyricism was always an odd one to grasp, with a combination of warming sentiments alongside a little aggression that seemingly put many off, but was always softened appropriately by Valo’s baritone pipes. It’s one you have to listen to a few times to fully appreciate its appeal in truth, but it’s certainly worth it.
Big Sean-Who Knows ft. Mike Posner (April 2009)
-Who remembers the days when OTU was a Blogspot (it no longer exists, apparently!)? This effort dropped around those days, and served as my first proclamation of both Sean and Mike’s respective abilities, going on to be a real staple of the summer listening for that year. Guitar strums held the track together with a relaxing core, whilst soft, whispery vocals from Mike Posner and mellowed-out bars from Big Sean combined and contrasted with each other and the production for the perfect nostalgia trip ingredients. This track boasted everything for that perfect sunny day, always made for an easy listen, and is one that will remain in my summer playlists for many years to come.