Look, it’s hard to keep up with everything going on in the realm of music. Even the most dedicated among us can’t listen to everything that comes out in a given year… right? Right. That’s why we figured we’d retroactively kick ourselves for missing out on some awesome albums by starting Missed Connections.
This is a feature where we look back on albums that eluded coverage from Everything Is Noise throughout the year and give you a little review on them! We’ll cover eight different albums across three parts, so if you don’t find something that hits your go button today, just tune in for the next one. Without further ado:
Man, where do you even begin with this gem? Avantdale Bowling Club is easily my favorite hip-hop release of the year, and also one of my favorite releases of the year in general. I love jazz and I love good hip-hop. Avantdale Bowling Club takes both of those things and elevates them together to a place neither style individually reached for me. Tom Scott started this project years ago and says it slowly developed into a jazz thing. I couldn’t be happier myself.
Now this is clearly a list detailing albums we didn’t cover this year at Everything Is Noise. Despite being released in August, we failed to cover this album at all. I will say it here: the fact that this album wasn’t covered by our site until now is near criminal. I am here to fix that.
Avantdale Bowling Club is one of those albums that just fires on all cylinders the whole way through. There isn’t a single track on it I would consider a filler track, nor are there many moments that feel unnecessary. It delivers front to back and is an enjoyable experience the whole way through. Every song on the album gives me that initial jolt of joy your favorite song on any respective album gives you. That rush of ‘Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one!’
The jazz grooves are amazing, ranging from freeform drum tangents to melancholy horn movements. I would actually be very interested in an instrumental version of this album, which is pretty much unheard of for a hip-hop release for me. The track “Tea Time” is actually a really beautiful instrumental song. I feel like that alone would hold up as a great listen front to back. The music is so good that it can almost distract you from the true gem of this album – the lyrics.
Avantdale Bowling Club has some of the best lyrics released this year across any genre. They range from intrapersonal reflections on the past to the urge to get back to his hometown to see his family and friends again. All of the lyrics are personal and a lot of his lines are even heavily relatable. “Pocket Lint” details financial struggles and the stress of wondering if you can make rent sometimes. I feel like we’ve all been there at least once. Some of them hit incredibly hard. “F(r)iends” is an ode to all of Tom Scott’s friends suffering with drug addiction. It is a very honest and open song, and if you’ve ever loved an addict, it hits you hard.
I could go on and gush about every song on this album for the entire word count of this contribution if I wanted to. There’s so much love and work that went into this album, and that shines through on every minute of it. It’s more than a hip-hop album. It’s more than a jazz album. The tracks are long, but meticulously thought out and crafted in an innovative manner that keeps them fresh through their entire length. It is absolutely beautiful and it’s one of the albums that I hope every music lover gives a chance this year. Even if you don’t usually listen to hip-hop, this is something so different and unique. Go and listen to this masterpiece.
For those of you who have never reviewed an album in a formal setting, here’s a bit of inside baseball: we critics love to talk about bands like Death Grips. It’s not just because Death Grips’ sound is progressive and new, but they’re almost as progressive as a cultural phenomenon in their memetic BDSM presence on the Internet. So when I saw that fateful tweet, and when the album title/tracklist were released for Year of the Snitch, needless to say I was biting my nails for weeks. Someone snitched, and I wanted to be there to point the finger.
But unfortunately when the album dropped in late June 2018, I was thousands of miles away from home, spending my nights in a yurt on an island in Siberia. It was only by a combination of magnanimity from my cell provider and sheer luck that I managed to download the album. Needless to say, the whole experience felt otherworldly.
And that’s one way to describe Year of the Snitch. Death Grips have always made it a point to drag the listener into their depraved corner of the Internet. On this album, the band incorporates sounds and motifs that date back to as far as the 70s, moving their sound as far back as they do forward.
“Dilemma” is Death Grips blending sounds from bands like The Nazz with the song structure of Deep Purple. But of course, MC Ride’s half-nonsense lyrics and Andy Morin’s typical production remind me that this is indeed a Death Grips track. The madhouse that is “The Fear” even invokes Mike Oldfield in its cryptic descending melodies.
Not to mention the fact that a lot of this album kinda sounds like a trip through a demented theme park or arcade. I’m thinking mostly of the 80s synths and monotone electroid vocals of “Little Richard”. There are also these weird instrumental breaks on “Linda’s In Custody” that make me feel like I’m trapped with Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
My favorite song on YOTS is easily “Black Paint”. The guitars and bass are muddy, the drums and Ride’s vocals reverberate all while being ensnared in a miasma of sirens and god knows what else. It’s like GG Allen and Sunn O))) had a one-night stand and the love child grew up with Michael Gira as an absentee parent.
It’s futile to analyze much of Ride’s lyricism on this album, suffice to say that it’s more jumbled and drowned in the mix than it was on No Love Deep Web. I suppose that’s my one major critique of Year Of The Snitch, but that isn’t even a huge problem for me. Like a lot of ‘heavy’ music, I don’t listen to Death Grips for the message, so much as I listen for the disorienting cacophony that the band has perfected on this album.
I say all that to say this (hot take incoming): this is my favorite Death Grips album. The band has been around for going on ten years at this point, and they’ve gone through many phases. I’m not going to try and argue that this is some stupendous amalgamation of everything they’ve done up until this point, but Year Of The Snitch does give me exactly what I wanted from Death Grips I never thought I would get. It’s just as overstimulating as it is focused, like a warrior in a meditative state, but on ‘shrooms. But at the rate Death Grips is going, I bet they can knock Year Of The Snitch out of the park in time.
Boy, did I mess this one up. A little peek behind the curtain of Everything Is Noise: this album was actually on our list of potential things to review. I looked at it around the beginning of the year when it first dropped, eyeing its undoubtedly doomy name. ‘King Witch. Huh, that sounds cool‘, I must’ve exclaimed to myself. Then I reviewed something else instead. I’m sure whatever I reviewed at that time was great, but returning back to the Scottish band’s album months later and hearing just how good it was filled me with a lot of regret that I overlooked it at release. Today, we’re here to right that wrong.
I was right, King Witch is indeed doomy, but with a classical rock/heavy metal edge. The sonics are weighty and just a little fuzzy, mixed with more than enough melody to keep your head bobbing like a lizard in heat. Seriously, you wanna know what’s Under the Mountain? Riffs. Move your family up north in hopes of striking riches, start your own Riff Rush™. You could blast mine out great guitar melodies, chords, and tones for years to come.
No matter the tone each song takes on, you can count on one thing: they were all custom built to be a foot-stomping, headbanging good time. The melody of “Carnal Sacrifice” rages hot and hard throughout the entirety of its three-and-a-half-minute runtime. “Solitary” gurgles forth like a slow-burning ballad, then erupts into a tidy groove that’s among the best I’ve heard all year. “Approaching the End” is a true-blue doom song where the band takes things slower with lurching guitar passages and plodding, purposeful drumming. It’s a lot more fun and spirited than aggressive or deadly. This is a key tenant of classically-styled doom and I can’t understate how much King Witch nailed this.
Singer Laura Donnelly more than holds her own with a brolic voice that never stops, calling back to the late great Ronnie James Dio with her projection and range. Her vocals could crack the earth and inspire the lowest of morale. They’re so infectious, all you want to do is scream along to them. Yell all you want, mortal; you won’t come close to the power Donnelly stores in her being.
Did I mention this is the band’s debut record? What a fantastic first impression this is. They everything you need out of a band like this: catchiness, stellar writing, solid and complementary production, and, most of all, guts. I’m at a loss for how King Witch can top this, but if they have nowhere to go but up, we all better hold onto our hats. Bravo.
I’m so sorry I doubted you, King Witch. I’m sorry my eyes wandered from you in search of something fulfilling and exciting, something I thought I wouldn’t get from you. Now I see the error of my ways. You were the one for me all along! I beckon on bended knee, can you ever forgive me, King Witch?