In Part 1 we explore the new Everything But The Girl album Fuse, and ask is it worth the 24 year wait? In Part 2 we play Spin It or Bin It? The theme this month is new music … tracks that have been released since Feb 1st 2023.Part 1 | Album of the Month | EBTG | FuseIt's Nolan's choice this month and we go with the long awaited / not even expected 12th studio album from Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. It's rare that we get to talk about an artist that we all have a significant relationship, but this is a great example. In January we got treated to the track Nothing Left to Loose but the album offers much more. It's got just about every type of EBTG track you can think of and some of their best tracks ever.Go listen to the album – HereGo watch some videos – HereGo buy some of their stuff – HereSome links that we reference and recommend; Pitchfork interview – Click HereBBC Radio 5 Live interview – Click HereEBTG in conversation at Rough Trade – Click HerePart 2 | Spin It or Bin It | New MusicIt's been a few months since we did new music so here we go. There's a definite whiff of summer in the air!Nolan chose – Amplify by Rodriguez Jr.David chose – Mo Se B'ola Tan by The Estuary 21 Joey chose – Sandrail Silhouette by Avalon Emerson Guy chose – Everybody's Saying That by Girl RayIn order to chose our tracks we create a long list, then a short list of 4 tracks each. Each of our 4x track short lists are collated here … have a listen. *** Enjoy the episode ***We've been writing the blog for years come and have a look – https://thisisnothappening.net/
Last month we shared our thoughts on ‘Dragon New Mountain I Believe In You’ by Big Thief. This month This Is Not Happening stays in the broad genre of ‘Indie’ with Hurray for The Riff Raff’s ‘Life on Earth’ which we get into a deep discussion about in Part 1. 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 Month
This month it’s Joseph’s choice, ‘Life on Earth’ by Hurray for the Riff Raff. We discuss the album in length, favourite tracks, what other artists’s energy we can hear in this music … and what has become the killer question for us; ‘is the production engaging or disengaging ?’ Big scenes on this pod guys!
There’s some great bits to link you to this month too;
The Metacritic review page is always a good start and can be found here
Check out this live performance of some of the album’s tracks here
The following are podcasts that are really interesting to listen to if you like the album and want to hear more and/or other people’s opinions on it;
In the second part of this episode we get stuck into 4 tracks representing this months theme – ‘Minimalist Grooves’. We all pick a track, introduce our track and ask the others the painfully binary critical question; ‘spin it’ or ‘bin it?’
After last month’s Spin it or Bin It ‘fiasco’, this month is a little calmer and another great chat. It’s a bit more of a love-in than last months with lots of ‘Spin Its’ but a couple of ‘Bin Its’ in there too.
Episode #24 will be with you soon – Nolan will be guiding us through Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar and WOW, there’s a lot to talk about there! Have a listen and share some thoughts with us on the blog or on our Insta. Its hard not to have an opinion on this one.
For May I was dead set on Pusha T’s “it’s Almost Dry’. It’s pretty impressive and has met all of my expectations. It’s perhaps my favourite album of 2022 thus far. All the stars were aligned, until Kendrick Lamar announced he was releasing new material in mid May after a 5 year hiatus. Sorry Pusha, sometime you need to make a sacrifice and this was an easy decision.
Before we get into the new album, I think we need to remind ourselves how impactful he is. You would be hard pressed to have missed the evolution of Kendrick Lamar over the last 12 years. Through ’Section.80’, ‘good kid, M.A.D.D. city’, ’To Pimp a Butterfly’, ‘Untitled’ and ‘DAMN’ not to mention a plethora of guest appearances and film soundtrack anthems he’s created a vast catalogue with something for everyone it seems.
From early 2010 he has been surrounded by hype. Back then, backed by Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q (with their Black Hippy supergroup), they started making serious waves with their unique West Coast sound. When Kendrick released Section.80 he had my attention straight away. ‘HiiiPower’ is still one of my favourite songs. Funny enough he reminds me a bit of Pusha T on that track and a few others on the album with his flow. It was only a matter of time until he found himself on a major, and Dr Dre’s Aftermath (through TDE Artists) was a natural home. Differing from other Aftermath artists, Lamar blazed his own trail without the ever present cross pollination of Aftermath artists that we’ve come accustomed to throughout their catalogue. ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ pushed Kendrick into the forefront of not just hip hop but the music industry. ‘Swimming Pools’ became a summer anthem, ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was a radio hit and ‘m.A.A.d city’ set foundations in hip hop that Kendrick was a serious contender as an MC.
Kendrick teased us with his fierce flow in 2014 with a verse on ‘It’s On Again’ with Alecia Keys from the Spiderman soundtrack. Little did we know that that taster was nothing like what he was working on. He was about to move the nets. When Kendrick released ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ in 2015, it felt like he flipped music on its head. Was it hip hop, or was it a jazz album? It was the most creative album that broke the main stream in recent times and showed the world the layers that Kendrick was able to achieve. Not only musically, but also as a performance artist as he took the presentation of his live show to what felt like uncharted territory for a hip hop artist. The album wasn’t without faults. I still find it his least approachable album. Though it gained acclaim and opened him up to a new audience, it was a far step from his first album. The surprise release of Untitled brought many Kendrick fans back into the fold. We all got it, he still wanted to make the music that we loved, but the tracks on Untitled didn’t fit into what he was trying to do on Pimp a Butterfly. An album of rejected songs that were miles ahead of most albums… sort of insane, and very cool.
By the time DAMN was released in 2017 Kendrick was an established artist that seemed to have found this nonchalant confidence that made the album arguably his best to date. By that point he had won Grammy’s, the Pulitzer Prize, and almost every other music related award.
So his new album, where do you start? Well he’s taken a page from Big Thief and released an 18 song, 73 minute album. He starts with the album with the line ‘I’ve been going through something’… has he ever. There’s lots to go at!
I’m still digesting the album. Like many, I’ve spent the last week digesting (what I thought was) the lead single ’The Heart Part 5’. The lyrics and the video are amazing and so important…. but the track isn’t on the album. This guy sits in a different space!
It’s hard to name an artist that has evolved and pushed boundaries as much as Kendrick, especially within hip hop. On this album we find a rounded Kendrick that musically blends the feels of both DAMM and TPAB. Lyrically his confidence is apparent throughout. His thoughts are honest, complex and at times uncomfortable. He has a voice and he uses it. He faces into some tough subjects; religion, addiction, infidelity, relationship struggles, queerness and so much more. Hip hop gives an artist a platform to delve into subjects perhaps different than other genres and he does this masterfully.
N95 is the lead single. What a single! I’m trying to figure out what track I would share with someone as a good catchy track on this album to start? It’s tough. They’re all really deep. They all have layers. Sampha laces ‘Father Time’ with a lovely hook, but the song is beautifully honest. Perhaps too honest for some. On the flip side ‘We Cry Together’ is really hard to listen to at first, but also has a beauty to the bleak honesty. Unapologetically honest. Is anyone else like this in music? This is an album of two halves, and it being a digital only release it the moment lets you forget this is a double album. The first half cuts deeper the the second, but needs to be there for the second half to fully work.
I wrote some bullet points the other day about Kendrick when I was listing to his back catalogue:
Kendrick is honest
Kendrick lets you into his mind, not just his world
I don’t think anyone really knows Kendrick Lamar through his music
Kendrick is an anomaly
… my view still is the same after listening to the album for the first 5 times.
Lamar has stated that ‘he is not the messiah’, but he does have a voice and a message. He has extreme influence on numerous generations, and all levels within those generations. People listen to Kendrick. Kids, mums, dads, grandparents. There is A LOT to digest with this album. And many will take the time to do so. Isn’t it wonderful that someone is making music that is so complex that everyone wants / needs to listen to?
I look forward to all of us digging into this and everyones thoughts. There’s a lot to go at. Ive not even touched on who is Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers? Nor have I talked about the well thought out and controversial guest appearances?
There’s something really exciting about new music from artists you love, and with the pandemic (supposedly) ‘over’ there’s a ton of albums coming, from Kendrick to Hot Chip, and of course my favourite Arcade Fire.
This really feels like a nod back to the old school of Funeral after Everything Now. Bring it on.