Missy Scheinberg and Dom O’Connor – from the Laneway offices in New York and Sydney, respectively – team up for the best tracks of the month.
Brooklyn’s Cautious Clay has proven himself as one of the year’s most promising acts with his recently released EP, Blood Type. And the title track is its crowned jewel. ‘Blood Type’ manages to combine soulful vocals and hip-hop production with an indie rock aura that feels part Moses Sumney, part Man On The Moon-era Kid Cudi – and what’s more is that he produced the entire EP himself. – Missy
The title track from Athens-via-Melbourne expat Benny Montero’s first full-length is an ivory-tinkling, soft-rockin’ kiss-off that’s as sickly sweet as the finest Michael McDonald falsetto. The track’s languid keys and fizzing cymbals mask Montero’s anguish, until his voice cuts through in the expansive chorus – a strangled, reverb-coated howl to an ex lover/friend. The vocoder in the song’s long, searching coda feels like a robotic counterpoint to the expression of raw emotion that makes ‘Performer’ such an enrapturing listen; an injection of digital feeling in an analogue world. – Dom
Few entertainers have a more interesting career path than George Miller – best known on the Internet as ukulele YouTuber Filthy Frank, comedy musician Pink Guy, the originator of the ‘Harlem Shake’ meme, and perhaps most importantly, his trip-hop-meets-soul persona, Joji. After releasing one of last year’s most stellar debut projects, In Tongues EP, the multi-talented Japanese-Australian is back with a gorgeous two-minute number that somehow manages to channel both James Black and Yung Lean while remaining completely his own. – Missy
The first taste of new music in four years from the erstwhile elder statesmen of slacker indie is a characteristically warm, shambling jaunt full of tossed-off hooks and uninhibited rhymes (“Men are scum I won’t deny/May you be shit-faced the day you die” is an early front-runner for lyric of the year). The Pavement co-frontman has never sounded in a hurry, but the lackadaisical charm of ‘Middle America’ feels particularly comforting in the current climate; a brief respite of easy-going contentment in the shape of a three-minute pop song. – Dom
From the skipping, insistent drum beats to the clarion-call synths that begin the song, ‘About You’ is about as confident a first single I’ve heard in a very long time. Melbournian newcomer G Flip also uses her own voice masterfully, coalescing disparate layers of her own harmonies and synthesising them all to create an ear-worm of a chorus. The song’s assured poise is also matched by the lovely, swooning sentiment- a perfect mix of songwriting nous and wounded heart. – Dom
South London-via-North London four-piece Sorry may be one of the most underrated guitar bands of the past couple of years. On ‘2 Down 2 Dance’, the recent Domino Records-signees continue doing what they do best: creating mathy, textured psychedelic-tinged DIY indie-rock. Just another reason why South London – home to Shame and Goat Girl – is becoming the UK’s most exciting hub. – Missy
Jittery Canadian post-punks Ought have never struggled to stay in perpetual motion in the past. The rim shots and loungey feel of ‘Desire’ sound like a distinct outlier in their discography at first, but frontman Tim Darcy’s impassioned delivery gives ‘Desire’ the dramatic energy it needs, his baritone sounding parts Verlaine and parts Psychedelic Furs. Tim and his band are masters of the slow-burn. The band builds to a palpable climax before Tim is joined by a Greek chorus of choral voices, repeating the song’s refrain into infinity without softening the brutal, harsh truth at the centre of it. – Dom
While it’s barely been a month since his debut single ‘High Like This’ took the internet by a storm, Atlanta’s Kevin George has returned in full force with second single ‘My Crew’. The track creates the perfect blend of futuristic soul and hip-hop, surely putting the rapper/singer on his way to becoming one of the most exciting new R&B acts since 6lack. – Missy
I SAW Marvel’s latest huge superhero blockbuster Black Panther a few weeks ago. And while I loved the incredible cast, the futuristic action and the twists and turns of the plot, the highlight of the entire movie for me happened less than five minutes after it started.
The movie is bookended by scenes in Oakland, California. The first one announces itself proudly by displaying “1992 Oakland California” across the screen as teenagers play basketball in the projects. Usually when we see a scene like this in a blockbuster, we’ll get some generic, royalty-free instrumental hip-hop as the soundtrack, or its 2017 replacement: anything by Run The Jewels.
If we’re lucky we’ll get one of three DMX songs movie producers know. If we’re unlucky they’ll take a page out of Suicide Squad’s book and blast Eminem’s ‘Without Me’ for the entire scene. Instead Black Panther gives us a song by an Oakland artist that was released in 1992: ‘In The Trunk’ by Bay Area legend Too Short.
Too Short’s been making music since I was born, but I’ve never heard one of his songs playing out of cinema speakers. I wanted to punch the air but I was at a 10am media screening as a guest of a serious movie reviewing friend who’d never let me sit next to him again if I sat in anything other than complete silence. But I was stoked. It seems like such an obvious choice (Too Short is the first thing that comes up when you google “Oakland rapper”), but it’s so rare to see a soundtrack decision made right in a huge mainstream movie, especially when it comes to rap.
So just like Kendrick Lamar was inspired by Black Panther to make its official soundtrack (none of which sounds as good as ‘In The Trunk’, imo), I was inspired to make a podcast about rap in Oakland in 1992. From legendary Oakland figures like Too Short and Mac Dre to extremely underground, one-cassette release-only acts like 9 Lives Click and Ski & The Mafia. Even honorary Oakland resident 2pac shows up.
Here’s to setting more superhero movie opening scenes during the 1990s in some of America’s best rap cities. Let’s hope Captain Marvel opens in New Orleans for some reason. – DJ Levins
1. Too Short – In The Trunk
2. Mac Dre – Punk Police
3. The Coup – I Ain’t the Nigga
4. All City Productions – Bust Your Rhymes
5. 9 Lives Klick – Dope Game
6. Ski & The Mafia – Oakland Hustla
7. Pooh Man – Don’t Cost A Dime (featuring MC Breed)
8. FM Blue – Oakland Styles
9. The Govenor featuring 2pac & Richie Rich – Gaffled Like That
Words by Dom O’Connor and Darren Levin
So far in 2018, we’ve already been given new records from Ty Segall, First Aid Kit, Car Seat Headrest, Marlon Williams, and Tune-Yards. In this playlist, we look further into some of the most anticipated releases still to come in 2018, from long-standing returns (David Byrne) to much-awaited follow ups to debut smashes (Camp Cope, Courtney Barnett).
It’s also worth mentioning the many records still to come this year without a firm release date – from the caustic, insular hip-hop of Earl Sweatshirt to the genre experimentations of Jon Hopkins to the long-rumoured new record of Sky Ferreira’s unique avant-pop.
Camp Cope’s ‘The Opener’ will be tough to beat for the ultimate diss track of 2018. And don’t expect the Melbourne trio to pull any punches on their second LP, How To Socialise & Make Friends, which was smashed out in just a couple days. “The themes on the album revolve around empowerment, not caring about what any man thinks, dealing with death, loss and trauma,” Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq told LNWY.co contributor Holly Pereira late last year. – Darren
Release date: March 2
Lucy Dacus’ 2016 powerfully frank debut No Burden immediately cemented her as an artist to watch. And it speaks volumes of her confidence as a songwriter that she considers its follow-up, Historian, her definitive statement yet. “Everything after this is a bonus,” she says. Described by Lucy herself as a concept album about “cautious optimism in the face of adversity”, it features the slow-burning first single ‘Night Shift’. – Darren
Release date: March 2
Expect the unexpected from this wonky worldly collective, who make music by bouncing tracks around a London sharehouse, room-to-room. Fronted by Japanese-born teen sensation Orono, Superorganism have already given us 2017’s biggest earworm in ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’, a colourful cut-and-paste pastiche that recalls the warped kaleidoscopic vision of The Avalanches or Odelay-era Beck. – Darren
Release date: March 2
Efficient Melbourne four-piece Press Club managed to crank out their self-produced debut album in a year of relentless shows. The album’s third single ‘Suburbia’ covers vast emotional and dynamic terrain in just four minutes, with singer Natalie Foster bleeding every line. – Darren
Release date: March 16
Mount Eerie honcho/noted autograph hater Phil Elverum is following up last year’s heart-breaking A Crow Looked At Me with Now Only, a further look at the singer’s continued grief over his wife’s passing. Written again in A Crow Looked At Me’s dense, conversational turn of phrase, Now Only features an even more introspective artist grappling with his evolving grief, as well as the raising of the couple’s only child. – Dom
Release date: March 16
It’s been three years since her underrated 2015 album Golden Echo and New Zealand-born singer Kimbra is back with a new posse of collaborators including Childish Gambino, David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, and even Skrillex. And while Kimbra is certainly not averse to bringing other voices into her world, third album Primal Heart is her vision through and through. “I’ve been intentional about this record – being quite a focus less on features and more about my message,” she told triple j. – Darren
Release date: April 20
Jangly single ‘Dawning’ and the dreamy ‘In The Air’ put to bed any fears that Sydney’s DMA’s were “going electro” after teaming up with The Presets’ Kim Moyes. The follow-up to 2016’s Hills End, For Now was recorded between two distinct spaces: a beautiful studio called The Grove in rural NSW and the band’s ramshackle space above The Lady Hampshire, a pub in Sydney’s inner-west. Says it all, really. – Darren
Release date: April 27
Ruban Nielson got a bit sick of recording in his basement, so Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s auteur decided to look outward for album number four. Recorded in Seoul, South Korea, Hanoi, Vietnam, Reykjavik, Iceland, Mexico City, his former home of Auckland, and his adopted home of Portland, the album is reflective of his experiences in each city, imbuing the album with an eclectic worldly sound. – Darren
Release date: April 6
“Has life has ever been more exciting or more artificial? Why are we so connected yet feel so alone?” City Calm Down will probe some pretty deep questions on Echoes Blue, the follow-up to fully formed 2015 debut In A Restless House. Then again, would you expect anything less from this austere Melbourne outfit with their penchant for deep baritones, existential musings and dark synths? – Darren
Release date: April 6
The NYC-via-Denton garage punks return with Wide Awake!, their Danger-Mouse produced fifth album. In comparison to the relative quiet of 2016’s Human Performance, Wide Awake is frontman A Savage’s “outlet for the side of me that feels emotions like joy, rage, silliness and anger”, so expect some of the classic Parquet jitter and twang. – Dom
Release date: May 18
The two Toms – Iansek and Snowdon – first collaborated on 2014’s stunning #1 Dads album, and they’re back with No Mono, an ambient project with a focus on Snowdon’s heavenly falsetto. The duo’s first shows had people raving, and early cuts like ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Tidal Fight’ both feature the same naked, emotionally resonant edge that gave their previous collaborations such heart. – Dom
Release date: May 4
The erstwhile Talking Heads leader’s first LP in 14 years is produced by a veritable laundry list of A-listers: Brian Eno, Oneohtrix Point Never and XL Records in-house producer Rodaigh McDonald. First single ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ is a paranoid, warped funk jam and Byrne has spoken of following the album’s release with “the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense“. – Dom
Release date: March 9
The long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think… is almost due, and first single ‘Nameless, Faceless’ gave us another example of her acerbic wit (not to mention a Margaret Atwood quote in the chorus). Elsewhere, song titles like ‘I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch’ and ‘Crippling Self Doubt And A General Lack Of Self Confidence’ promise a further exploration of Barnett’s unique psyche and skill for crafting memorable pop moments. – Dom
Release date: March 18
Patrick Stickles doesn’t do albums by halves. Previous Titus Andronicus records have included civil-war themed concept albums (2010’s The Monitor) and triple-album length dissertations on manic depression (2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy). A Productive Cough is a relatively slim eight tracks, toning down the pummelling tempos in favour of cathartic ballads and a perspective-swapping Bob Dylan cover. – Dom
Release date: March 2
We don’t know much about Chvrches follow-up to 2015’s Every Open Eye, but what we do know certainly points to something, well, a little dark. Reportedly titled Love Is Dead, the album’s tracks include first single ‘Get Out’ (with its foreboding synths), ‘Graves’, and ‘Heaven/Hell’. To top it off there’s a rumoured collab with The National’s Matt Berninger called ‘My Enemy’. – Darren
Release date: TBA
How do artists pick a setlist? Is it preconceived, or just about how they’re feeling on the day? Are there some songs that are unmovable, or is everything up for grabs? To find out we spoke to Amy Shark ahead of her main stage performance at Melbourne Laneway about the planning that’s gone into her song selections for the day. Spoiler alert: She covered Eminem.
Does a lot of planning go into the setlist?
That’s usually a big meltdown in my house. There’s a lot of arguments. But a lot of thought goes in. Like any band there’s a lot of thought goes into the setlist, because you have to factor in things like changing instruments – it’s very complex putting together a good show. And that’s my goal in life: putting on a good show. A lot of thought goes into.
How are you feeling about today?
Festivals are awesome. I’ve got some really fun songs to play off my EP and some old songs people are learning now and I’m hearing them singing it back to me. It’s really fun. Festivals are easy and they’re fun.
Any surprises today?
I don’t know if it’s a surprise … but I do a cover that I really like doing and that might be a surprise to some people and not to others. I do an Eminem song [‘Superman’] mixed in with D12.
What song gets the most reaction? We’re guessing it’s still ‘Adore’?
‘Adore’ gets some excitement happening but then again ‘Blood Brothers’ as well is really fun.
Do you always open with ‘Drive You Mad’?
I mean why wouldn’t you? That siren is like, “Get to the stage, like now.” [Laughs]
Is there a big difference in planning before headline shows as opposed to festival shows?
I’m so invested in my headline shows. I really want people to leave knowing a little bit about the songs and how my mind works. So I talk a lot more. There’s big energy, big lights, and my band is amazing. It’s similar, but I chat a bit more. I give a little bit more of myself because I have more time.
ONCE a month, somewhere in the world, a rapper releases a song called ‘No Limit’ that states they have “no limits”, maybe drops a reference to Master P, mentions the fact they’re a soldier, and if you’re lucky, they’ll throw in an “UHHHH” too.
One of the biggest (and shittiest) songs of 2017 is ‘No Limit’ by Oakland’s G-Eazy, a rapper who looks like a Fast and The Furious movie come to life, who only ticks the “I’m a soldier” box in his ‘No Limit’ song.
But at the peak of its late-’90s fame, Master P’s No Limit Records was an inescapable hip-hop brand, bleeding its way onto the radio all over America, into fashion and even into the sports world. 1998 saw the label release 23 albums through Universal, most of which sold millions.
Operating from a mansion in New Orleans, No Limit Records was the main rival to Cash Money Records (which featured in episode one of this podcast), and the two labels even had similar DIY beginnings. Except while Birdman and Slim were selling Cash Money tapes out of their cars in New Orleans, Master P and his brothers C-Murder and Silkk the Shocker were running a record store in Richmond, California.
Although born in New Orleans, Master P was raised by his grandparents in Richmond. After receiving a $10,000 payment due to medical negligence related to his grandfather’s death, P opened the No Limit Records Shop in the early-’90s and released his first tape as Master P shortly after.
While No Limit Records would be one of the defining sounds of late-’90s New Orleans rap, the label’s initial output had an unmistakably West Coast sound, unlike Cash Money who embraced New Orleans bounce in their first years as a label.
This month’s episode of Old Raps takes a look at the Richmond, California-era of No Limit Records from 1991 to 1995, focusing on the solo releases of Master P, plus his work with his brothers as TRU (The Real Untouchables). There’s also tracks from P’s wife Sonya C, TRU member E-A-Ski, and more Bay Area rappers.
It features incredible production from CMT, Ski and various other producers that P worked with before finding Beats by The Pound, the New Orleans-based production team who were responsible for eventually giving No Limit Records its signature sound.
So listen to an hour of music from a time that most have forgotten (complete with a Christmas song!) instead of the latest rap song called ‘No Limit’, featuring very little references to this incredibly important record label. – DJ Levins
Master P – Psycho Rhymes (excerpt)
Tom Waits – Underground
Master P – I Got The Dank
Master P – What’s Up With That (featuring Silkk The Shocker) (Street Mix)
TRu – Hangin’ In The Hood
Sonya C – Street Message
Sonya C – Married To The Mob (Part One)
E-A-Ski – 1 Step Ahead Y’all
Master P – Bloody Murder
TRU – Sweated By Da Po Po’s
Lil Ric – Playaz and Hustlaz
Cellski & U.N.L.V. – Stressed Out
Master P – The Ghetto’s Tryin To Kill Me
C-Murder & Master P – Christmas In Da Ghetto