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Listen Up, Nerds: The Week Of March 22, 2024

Listen Up, Nerds: The Week Of March 22, 2024

It’s been hard to write these past few weeks. I’m not sure why, to be completely honest. I could say something like “Oh the Kim Gordon record ripped my brain to shreds,” which is true, but it’s not the heart of the problem. It’s been a great couple of weeks for music releases, so why am I left without much to say? Couldn’t tell ya! I suppose that’s part of the gig.

Anyway let’s get to the recs!

Kim Gordon - The Collective (Matador)

Sometimes there are records that are obviously good and they’re so obviously good that they become wallpaper for twitter’s music writer sphere. Maybe The Collective will be more of a bumper sticker situation, where the inclusion of it on a writer’s Top 10 List is meant to say something more about their personality than the quality of the album. Sure, the Kim Gordon record is good and it’ll be one of the most divisive records of the year, but the discourse around it was done in a matter of days. Part of this is the problem with the Friday release schedule for music. The new release hype cycle is done by the end of the workday and we clock out. The next week, there’s a response to the newest controversial (quality-wise, not “problematic”) album and that’s over pretty fast as well. That gets two hours of juice on the timeline and we’re all back to something else to yell about on twitter. 

On the Kim Gordon record, I was floored the first time I heard it in full. I knew the first single, “BYE BYE,” was great even if it needed a Young Nudy or Veeze verse to set it off, but I didn’t expect the rest of the record to be a nü-industrial pop record for the ages. I don’t even know what to say, really. I’ve heard nothing like it outside of 56 Nights by Future. That record is, to rap, what Yank Crime by Drive Like Jehu was to post-hardcore. It’s loud to the point where you can feel your downstairs neighbors hitting their ceiling with the end of the broomstick to get you to turn it down. So is The Collective. All three albums leave listeners saying, “Are you allowed to do that?” when they finish. When I say Gordon’s record is like Future’s, it’s not a matter of Gordon’s “rapping” or delivery, it’s that both are just brash and singularly representative of the artist. The production is a little similar (is Justin Raisen secretly in 808 Mafia?) but both of these records are the artist let loose and freer than ever before.

I don’t find myself questioning Gordon’s motives on The Collective. There’s an easy bad-faith interpretation to be made that she’s doing this as a lark or a stunt. I haven’t spoken to Gordon but I don’t get that vibe at all from this album. She didn’t say she was putting these wack rappers on notice. She didn’t say she’s running New York now. She’s barely “rapping” at all. I found more on this record in common with Nine Inch Nails’ instrumental works and Gordon’s work on Sonic Youth’s early records like “Brave Men Run (In My Family)” from Bad Moon Rising. At the end of the day, I did ask myself, “Can she do that? Is that allowed?” And I think that’s the point of The Collective. I think we’re meant to consider what an artist can and cannot do. Kim Gordon is so cool to the point where we all know she’s cool, but can she be hip? Is she allowed to take inspiration from Southside and 808 Mafia? Can she do the Carti voice? I don’t think she even made THAT cool of a record in terms of being “hip” or “current.” I can feel myself reading the quick Rolling Stone blurb on this record in 2003. Lower right corner, 3.5 stars situation. Is doing the Carti voice even that current? Do I need to have thoughts on another record to be a relevant voice in the conversation this week? Do I care that much about being relevant in the first place?

Gouge Away - Deep Sage (Deathwish)

Surprise, surprise! I’ve been slobbering all over this record on every social media platform available like a dog with a new ball. Also like a dog with a new ball, I think I love it so much because it’s similar to an old ball I loved. Or record. Whatever. I wore Burnt Sugar like a pin on every jacket I owned. Have you heard the Good News about Gouge Away? The new record slaps. Tonally, they tap further into ‘90s worship by going somewhere I’d never expect: Fugazi. I’m not saying they sound all that similar or are doing politically similar music, but they’re not far off. Listen to “Maybe Blue” and think about a Fugazi song like “Full Disclosure” or “Bulldog Front.” Gouge Away’s other big selling point, to me, is that Christina Michelle has the courage to *feel* things on this record. So much hardcore has lacked emotion aside from anger lately, especially coming to grips with the last five years. Guitar music like shoegaze mimics the numbness that depression brings to the equation, and while there’s a lot to be angry about, righteously so, there’s more to life than yearning and being mad. Deep Sage is a record about a world outside of those boxes, and I love it for that.

Tosser - Sheer Humanity (Self-released)

HOT DAMN!!!!! They sound like SEAWEED and SWERVEDRIVER and SOUNDGARDEN and OVLOV and really every band I love. Tosser’s album is over in 20 minutes and I went back to listen as soon as it was over. I ran it back like Funkmaster Flex did during the “Otis” premiere. This record, frankly, kicks so much ass it’s illegal. It’s a riffy, heavy, fuzzed-out hell of a record. It’s like a living, breathing Mudhoney Big Muff shirt that recorded a full album. Easy Top 10 material for me this early in the year. It’ll sit up there for months, if not the whole year, I’m sure.

Old Record Of The Week: Snapcase - Designs For Automotion

It’s hard to follow up a classic like Progression Through Unlearning but if you want to continue being a band, I guess you have to put out another record. Snapcase’s follow-up is overlooked and not without reason. It’s a bit of a grower. Nothing on this record is as immediate and aggressive as the first record, but it’s still very good. I dunno, maybe I just have a huge soft spot for “Ambition Now,” a literal triumph of the straight edge. So much edgeman music is stuck in one gear but Snapcase downshifts and makes the discipline into something that feels beautiful, like a true saving grace. I’m not a religious guy but I’ve always been fascinated by people who find meaning and power in it. Not in a condescending way, just always been almost envious of people who find so much in any set of rules or any guidance on how to live your life. Anyway, it’s also got “Energy Dome” and “Box Seat” on this record, both of which are killer. Sure, nothing here is “Caboose,” but there are billions of songs that aren’t “Caboose.” There’s only one “Caboose.”

Thanks for reading! See you next week!