Our last Album of the Month (AOTM) was the beautiful 'Life on Earth' by Hurray for the Riff Raff. This month the This Is Not Happening crew tackle Kendrick Lamar's 'Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers' head on! We get stuck right into this challenging album in Part 1 of the pod. In Part 2, we play 'Spin It or Bin It?' where we judge the tracks that we've chosen for this month's theme.Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis month it's Nolan's choice, Kendrick Lamar's 'Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers' . We discuss the album in length, favourite tracks and their impact on us and other music fans and if there is a missing track from this album. We want you to have access to great conversations about great music – here are some links to some of the best content on this album that we've consumed;A great 'explainer' article from Ambrosia for Heads – read hereNYT's Popcast Podcast Episode (this one is great for a Kendrick Sceptic view) – listen hereGreat Tempo Tribe Podcast conversation – listen hereA shorter listen at 22 mins – the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast – listen hereThis was one of our toughest albums to think and to talk about … but we hope you enjoy it.Part 2 – Spin it or Bin ItIn the second part of this episode we get stuck into 4 tracks representing this months theme – 'LA Tracks' – or favourite tracks from LA based artists. We all pick a track, introduce our track and ask the others the painfully binary critical question; 'spin it' or 'bin it?' We try not to go super-obvious on our track selections each month … this is what we chose to represent LA;Joey's track selection is – 'Chum' by Earl SweatshirtDavid's track selection is – 'Twelve Thirty' by The Mamas and the PapasNolan's track selection is – 'Runners' by Evidence ft. DefariGuy's track selection is – '86' by TruncateNext MonthEpisode #25 will be with you soon – Guy will be guiding us through 'We' by Arcade Fire one of is favourite artists ever … what could go wrong? Have a listen to the album and share some thoughts with us on the blog or on our Insta. Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.
This Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes’ debut release ‘Skin’. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There’s lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey’s favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.
Part 2 – ‘Spin it or Bin it’
In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy’s stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love. Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to ‘spin it’ or ‘bin it’;
If you’ve been reading the blog or listening to the pod then you’ll know that I love a debut. I’ve always been fascinated by the raw honesty of a debut and the breadth of ideas that they often bring. They’re often the culmination of everything that has happened to an artist up until that point. I think it was a Galagher who said something like ‘it takes you whole life to write your debut album … then the record company want another one 12 months later’. For Joy Crookes that ‘whole life’ was 22 years when she wrote and recorded this special debut album. However, ‘Skin’ is far from her first rodeo with 3 EPs and 13 singles recorded and released since 2016.
Joy Crookes was born in Lambeth and raised in Elephant and Castle, and moved to Ladbrooke Grove in South London when she was 14. During these teen years she taught herself the guitar and piano and started writing music, ‘I didn’t know then that this could be a proper job’. Joy went the You Tube route to self publish covers and then her own original music in what is now quite a common rites of musical passage.
In Oct. 2021 she released ‘Skin’. It’s 13 tracks, 42 minutes and is (all puns fully intended) … an absolute joy to listen to. Sorry. Whilst the album would mostly likely be described as nu-soul or something similar, the styles on show are vast, pop, soul, jazz, trip-hop shades of punk and even a track that feels like it could be a Bond soundtrack contender (To Lose Someone). The album feels really personal in a way that many records don’t, even when an artist in sharing their innermost turmoil. This feels like proper soul music, channeling her young (but old) soul.
In some ways it feels very much like a debut album; there’s loads of ideas thrown into the mix, she’s obviously exploring a rich soundscape that she didn’t have access to on previous recordings and there’s a brash confidence in the way that she struts and spins through the album. However, Skin totally lacks the naivety that many debuts (including ones that I love) suffer from. As we found with Arlo Parks this time last year, the signposts for her future output are numerous. She really could go anywhere on the next album … if of course Sony let her.
So, hold on tight … cause … we need to talk about Amy. My skin is crawling from even raising the topic of Amy Winehouse as it’s the worst lazy criticism possible. But, I am sorry, there are valid comparisons. But when I make these comparisons, I mean them as the biggest compliment to both artists. I loved Frank. It’s right up there on my list of faulted but adored debut albums. I properly fell in love with Amy Winehouse when I heard Frank. I felt like I knew her. ‘Skin’ has exactly the same kind of raw personality as Frank. They are both at times heart breaking and at the next moment amusing and jubilant. The broad, lush, widescreen soundscape that is employed on Skin is at times reminiscent of Back to Black. Both artists sound nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. When I say this album reminds me of Amy Winehouse I mean it reminds me of all of the things that I love about Amy Winehouse.
Lyrically, this album is a monster. Joy Crookes is a STRONG songwriter. This album really demonstrates her talent across what are quite different tracks in terms of style and subject matter. Relationships, gender politics, family shit, politics, and London are all in the mix. She writes about all of them in a personal manner that never looks the other way, is heartfelt and often well humoured. There are 1 or 2 tracks where the standard slips a little (Wild Jasmine being the track that comes to mind) but the album is strong enough as a body of work to keep momentum.
If this album was released earlier … even a month or two … I think it would have featured pretty high in my 2021top 10. It’s so easy to recommend to people. Thank you Joy, I’m genuinely excited to see what you do next.