Kevin’s Music Reviews: Holiday Hits, or Something Like It

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Top Artists of the Last Month (via

Happy New Year! * ~ –

This week I’ll be exploring my top 10 artist plays from the past month on, and ranting briefly about why they received any attention. What have you been listening to this month?

10 – Teebs

Though technically a more suitable companion piece for the summer, Teebs’ lush secondhand visual artistry (as well as his actual visual art) shovels enough whimsy to deliver any time of year. E S T A R A made a strong case for this by the name of “Holiday”, a Jonti-fronted flowery epic of near-Merriweather Post Pavilion proportions, while 2011’s Collections 01 flirts briefly with the low-key, noir-tinged hip-hop of “Just the Yellow Bits”, a sound previously explored on “Why Like This” that is satisfying to see more of.

“Holiday” ft Jonti

9 – Shinichi Atobe

The cover and the music alike evoke memories of Autechre’s Tri Repetae++, both for their sheepish minimalism and highly processed environments. His album, Butterfly Effect, is fresh from the assembly line and ready to sprinkle shavings of cold steel over your next low-key club going.

“Butterfly Effect”

8 – Converge

Perpetually a love-hate experience for me, Converge teeters wildly between white-knuckle insanity and frustratingly casual metalcore. Their magnum opus, Jane Doe, has never propelled itself above just being “pretty good”, though standouts such as “Concubine” and “Fault and Fracture” do exist. For WHATEVER reason, I always felt Pig Destroyer did a much better job at doing the things I love about Converge – breakneck technicality, high-brow hardcore musicianship, cathartic screams – all at a more gratifying pace and poignancy. If it weren’t for Jane Doe though, Converge’s presence on this list would be nil.

“Fault and Fracture”

7 – Have a Nice Life

Most of these plays are “Bloodhail”. My experience with Have a Nice Life is still in its infancy, so I have little to vouch for at the moment. However, “Bloodhail” is an excellent track. Their fusion of depressive post-punk guitars, emo-tinged vocals, and shoegaze distortion is, evidently, pretty addictive.


6 – Basic Channel

A cold skeleton of music built up out of a strong marrow of concentrated beats, techno microfibers and stabilizing repetition comprise this highly-potent concoction of minimal techno. It doesn’t hurt that it drifts like a mofo too. Focused, ambient clockwork at its finest.

“Radiance II”

5 – John Coltrane

How do you expect to enjoy the first snowfall without jazz? (black metal and IDM will work just fine, actually….) And some of the best free-jazz around, no less? I mean what the hell. How do you even manage throwing good old fashion firewood down for burning, the kitchen oven pregnant with a whole litter of Mrs. Fields’ finest cookies, the snow clumping all up around your house like mother nature giving your entire family a giant, frosty hug (that you have to scrape off with a shovel) without inviting the notes from Coltrane’s sax over to jitter around your home like a cartoon? Like literally how do you even live like that? I bet you don’t even own a Snuggie.

“Giant Steps”

4 – Captain Murphy

Even though he never did a whole lot to distinguish himself from likeminded rap persona Madvillain, Flying Lotus’ own Captain Murphy can hardly be called superfluous listening. Grinning sadistically over a theme of mass hypnotism and cult-building, the immensely talented Steven Ellison (who also happens to be related to the late John Contrane – I think the universe is trying to tell you something) solidifies himself as a fully capable rapper on top of his already well-established beat-crafting career. Though the buzz surrounding this album has vanished along with the veil of mystery that once surrounded the then-anonymous alter ego, Duality manages to stand above gimmick status.

“Between Friends” ft Earl Sweatshirt

3 – Sundrugs

His sequel to 2013’s sumptuous miasma that was Hidden Scenes has arrived by the name of Low. It shares a lot in common with its predecessor’s deep, thick ambient drone by way of shapeless, non-linear, sheer emotional ambiguity. Interestingly though, most of these plays this month are still from Hidden Scenes. I guess I didn’t get the memo.

Stream and download (name your price) Low

2 – Lee Gamble

Dark, cryptic and visually immersive – murky beats and ambient droning with a low-fi mystique, a beautifully gray nebula experience that needs to be enjoyed in solitude in the void of night.


1 – Kyoka

Ok. Seriously. If you have even a fleeting interest in glitch and revel in headphone capers, do yourself a favor and listen to Is (Is Superpowered). On your headphones. Right now. As soon as you’re done reading this. If 2014 had any potent headphone albums, Kyoka’s latest makes an obvious point that it belongs in the upper cache of that category. Where Sundrugs is dense and pervasive, Kyoka is patterned and meticulous. You can feel your third eye leaping around the stage to track the frisky and danceable beats. Of course it’s not enough that it’s just straight-up entertaining to listen to, but she had to go and display solid songwriting on top of it all.

“Mind the Gap”

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