Tonight, March 4, there's a KSPC-sponsored show at Scripps College’s Margaret Fowler Garden featuring the incredible French Vanilla and Allison Weiss. Both groups are explicitly feminist and queer, and you should absolutely go support their work if you’re around and like things with guitars, but other than that, there’s not too much happening around the 5Cs this week.
So, before we reach the post-Spring Break saturation point for campus music coverage with Nochella and Kohoutek, I thought I’d embrace the calm before the storm to round up some new releases. Whether you’re planning to party on the beach or hibernate in a dark cave made of thesis notes and tears, there’s something here for you. Plus, two of them are free.
Charli XCX—Vroom Vroom EP
Charli doesn’t really need my column’s help at this point, but I’ve been repping her since “Nuclear Seasons” ripped Tumblr in half almost five years ago, so I admittedly have a soft spot for her brand of cheeky pop. But now, with the launch of her own record label, she’s reached a new level of bratty perfection. Produced almost entirely by bubblegum maestro SOPHIE, Vroom Vroom is a masterclass in party music. Riffing on DJ Mustard one second and Gwen Stefani the next, it’s all filtered through Charli’s snotty snarl, and it’s immaculate. PC Music staple Hannah Diamond even guest stars on a track. *swoon*
Coming on the ever-fantastic left-field Brooklyn label RVNG Intl., this one’s a wild concoction of weird electronics, jazzy grooves, and hip-hop interludes. Seifu first made big waves last year with his track “The Lost Drum Beat,” but he’s been honing his craft for years, and it certainly shows. Originally from Ethiopia, he’s in constant dialogue with music from his home country, both traditional and contemporary. From that dialogue comes an entrancing, experimental style unlike anything else I’ve come across, perfect for long chillout sessions and slow mornings.
Unverified Account—uv ac
Without a doubt my personal favorite thing that I’ve heard this year. This one’s almost definitely an alias for Uli K, one of the founding members of weirdo London collective Bala Club and brother of rising producer Kamixlo. Released for free on an unassuming Mediafire link (like much of Bala’s output), uv ac could best be described as emo dancehall, sad and tropical all at once. Twinkly synths wrap themselves around wistful autotuned vocals (that sound a bit like Blink-182’s Tom Delonge) while massive 808 kicks hold down the low end. Plus, there’s a cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong.” If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.
Also sneakily released via filesharing, this one is foreplay (thus the title) for London duo 18+’s new album, which should be out in a few months. But don’t let that fool you—it’s easily as good as the rest of their discography, utilizing their typical toolbelt of sickly synths, hifi drums, and twisted vocals in new rhythmic contexts, specifically dancehall and dembow. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, they could be (poorly) described as R&B deconstructionists, stretching and contorting contemporary genre tropes like skittering hi-hats and gun samples into unrecognizable shapes. But honestly, they’re just good pop artists, and no conceptual wrapping is actually needed to enjoy their work.
Warlord is unlikely to earn Yung Lean any new fans, and that’s precisely its greatest strength. The 19-year-old Swedish rapper-turned-meme marked out his aesthetic territory years ago, and his new record sees him digging deep into its weirdest elements rather than shying away from them in favor of mass appeal. The beats are stranger, slower, and heavier; the only features come from nearly unknown members of his insular squad (plus a red herring of an appearance from Chicago drill artist Lil Flash). Gone are the cutesy lyrics (there’s not an anime reference in sight), and in their place are endless drug mantras and paeans to shoes. If you liked him before, you’ll love him now. But if you always felt like you were missing the punchline, there’s not much here to convince you otherwise.