New at Southwest Sound: June 30

by Cooper Stapleton

June 30Stormzy, “Gang Signs and Prayer”Do many Americans know what grime is now? I am never sure how in touch with the people I am. If not, grime is a UK-based genre similar to hip-hop on the surface, but with a much higher focus on speed and flow. It came out of the UK garage and jungle scene back in the ’90s and has evolved since. Stormzy is a fairly recent up-and-coming MC, grabbing a massive amount of attention when his single “Shut Up” dropped in 2015. Now his debut album is finally emerging and it is a beast. Stormzy wears his influences on his sleeve, and the record is immediately reminiscent of old Dizzee Rascal and Wiley. If modern hip-hop is feeling a little stale to you, dip your toes into the grime scene. I got into it a few years back and now I cannot look back.

TLC, “TLC”When you hear about reunion albums like this, everyone hopes for the absolute best while expecting the worst. After a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, the remaining members of the band return with their first album since the death of founding member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes back in 2002. It shouldn’t be compared to their older material; as times have changed, the aesthetics of R&B have changed, and the new self-titled album tried to follow along. The production is much more digital sounding, along the lines of the edm-focused hip hop that has come out lately. Overall, the performances are strong, and while some of the writing is bad (no one ever needs to say the phrase “haters gonna hate” ever again), TLC does a good job of justifying its existence as more than just a cash grab.

The Acacia Strain, “Gravebloom”When I was in high school I listened to a lot of stuff that went out of its way to be good music to hit people to. The Acacia Strain is one of the biggest aspects of that sound, the combination of metal and hardcore culminating in slow-as-decay riffs with vocalist Vincent Bennett howling about death. The two-step riffs show up occasionally and activate that caveman part of my brain that really wants to run around in a circle hitting all of my best friends. Add in some guest vocals from underground hardcore favorites Kublai Khan and lyrics like “I am the butcher/Everything I see I kill/You have no immediate future/Swallow sorrow’s bitter pill/The future isn’t open, it’s bleak and fucking empty/Keep crying to your god he’s the one who fucking sent me” is a quick way to get me excited to do some spin kicks.

Carpenter Brut, “Carpenterbrutlive”I’ve talked a couple times in this column about “synthwave,” and as far as I know this is the first modern live take on the genre. Carpenter Brut is an astounding example of the power behind the genre and just how well it translates to the live setting. With a dark and occult bent, Carpenter Brut adds the crunch of distorted guitar and no small amount of the ’80s worship that is necessary for this style. Alongside what have become genre standbys in songs like “Turbo Killer,” “Le Perv,” and “Escape From Midwich Valley,” the live record brings an actual version of their long-rumored cover of “Maniac” that is one part nostalgia and 10 parts manic energy.

Cooper Stapleton


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