It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring EVABOY’s vivacious dance collection BEEF and Current Affairs’ cheeky Glasgow new wave record OFF THE TONGUE!
Current Affairs – OFF THE TONGUE
Genre: Post-Punk, New Wave
Favorite Tracks: “Cahoots, “Regardless,” “Big Limit”
Some years ago, I was cornered by a friend of my parents at a dinner party. The man got to talking about his hometown of Glasgow, and he painted it as this true weirdo’s mecca—a place where art could be as wild and untethered as possible and still change the world, where the creative spirit was king above any of life’s other ephemera. I never did make it out to Glasgow, but who needs to travel anywhere in Scotland when we have Current Affairs?
The band’s very connection to Glasgow plays out both emotionally and thematically across their latest album, OFF THE TONGUE. In the literal sense, the city colors and shapes their medley of post-punk and New Wave. “No Fuss” would be a pretty direct slice of hyper-chipper synth-punk, but there’s this undertone of sardonic intent that feels wholly Scottish (to this American, at least). Same with “Right Time,” where those outsider art vibes tinge this sleek, ’80s-leaning jam. Or, “Cahoots,” where that sheen of manic intensity feels born out of some wondrous, slightly dreary place. And if nothing else, their very English sensibilities feel looser and more playful than in some past releases. And, sure, I get it: you don’t have to be from City X to sound like something. (Even if I can’t help but feel the overt grit and singularly hearty vibes that you’d associate theoretically with Glasgow and the larger culture.) And yet even if this is only in the perceptions of some (i.e., me!), it still speaks to the larger role of Glasgow in Current Affairs’ ongoing artistic development.
The way the band’s lineup coalesced, and things clicked creatively, speaks to Glasgow as a stand-in for community. A place for them to find focus and stability as a collective. You can find it “Riled,” which could be about the power of collective action and inspiring progressiveness (“That narrow view, it irritates / It aggravates”). Or “Regardless,” which seems to emanate from the POV of someone mocking those who “rally” to foster meaningful change. Even “Big Limit” recognizes the sheer potential of collective action (“Even if we were wrong, it couldn’t be right”).
And it doesn’t necessarily have to translate into concrete actions/ideas; “Reactor” is just one pristine instance where their collaborative songwriting and layered harmonies really shine. The point is, teamwork does make the dream work, and the band uses this sense of unity and cohesion to both excel sonically and build around themselves (and their cohorts) this cultural infrastructure. And with that infrastructure, they can use art as the fuel for political action, social mending, and an all-around force for good. My hope is that this kind of thing could take root anywhere. But for Current Affairs, the magic’s clearly in the DIY spaces and old streets of Glasgow. And based on this record alone, it’s a magic that’ll change the world as much as it’ll get you moving. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp. [Chris Coplan]
EVABOY – BEEF
Genre: Electronic Dance Music, Experimental Hip Hop, Hardcore Breaks
Favorite Tracks: “WAR”, “CANDY PAINT”, “I WANT THE SMOKE”, “JIKKUHLANG”
Miya Lowe’s latest album as EVABOY, BEEF plays out like a mega mix of everything encompassing the internet’s hardcore breaks scene. Its hour and a half runtime is astounding, given that similar fast-paced, sample and drum-heavy releases usually clock in at a much swifter length; BEEF remains exciting because it speedily switches styles from all kinds of electronic rave music, whilst tinged with an appropriately ethereal cloud rap sheen.
The fervency in the pseudo dubstep opener “RAW” progresses to its second footwork portion, and in doing so sets the tone for the rest of the album. Throughout we’re treated to energetic rave tunes, intermixed with moments of bubbly, floaty percussive sampling resembling video game music from the Y2K era, and subsequently adopting said aesthetics. The tip-toeing ascending keyboards and punchy bass on “WAR” encapsulates this very jumpiness. There are a few standout moments where Lowe veers away from run-of-the-mill amen breaks. Reggaetón and dancehall influences appear on “GMAIL AUTO SHOP STEVE JOBS” and “MABUHAY,” which are uncommon for this kind of online hardcore release—usually an oversaturated genre. Footwork and juke influences are also present, namely on the uncharacteristically slowed down “11 PM IN YODIELAND.” It makes for a real trip given its placement between outrageously happy beats surrounding it. Funny that it arrives near the album’s conclusion too, showing that Lowe can continually surprise across a lengthy duration. For instance, a 2-step groove makes a brief yet welcome appearance on “JIKKUHLANG.” Meanwhile, my favorite is the longest cut, “I WANT THE SMOKE,” seamlessly transitioning from bass-heavy breakbeat to acid techno, and then to chopped and screwed turntablism, without sounding distracting.
Of course, there are samples that’ll have some listeners goofily point in recognition. Savage’s voice opens BEEF with his signature “let me see your hips swing” lyric, KILL BILL sirens appear on one track, repetitive Toon Link grunts ends another, and HAMILTON is humorously name-dropped from a podcast clip. They, among many others, add to this already intoxicating sugar rush drenched in internet culture, yet for a mix that’s this fun, surprisingly introspective lyrics are buried within. The trip hoppy barber beats of “CANDY PAINT” features words about working on oneself before a relationship by “doing a million things to help yourself out.” Maybe that advice sounds tried and true to some, but to others still finding their footing from those complicated emotions, it’s a unique avenue to derive that assurance from. Lowe has crafted a bountiful, delectable platter of internet-inspired breakbeats that don’t feel tiring whatsoever. BEEF becomes even more memorable for its poignancy hidden under the silly samples that make it so lively. It’s a real maturation of their formula and as enthralling as their wide musical diversity is, where they’ll go next is another curiosity. Listen to the full album over on Bandcamp. [Domenico Lepore]