Phlask come back with an EP that makes you yearn for a time when all you cared about was Sensible Soccer and staying out late on the weekends
Last year California’s Phlask released a series of singles that made everyone at thisyearinmusic sit up and take notice. They were brilliant, but in an outsider art kind of way. Each song had the feeling of a found object, that had been subverted to a purpose that wasn’t originally thought of when it was designed and built. The music was a hybrid of rock, but with elements of noise, comedy and jazz through in for good measure. Now they’ve returned and their new EP, 40%, shows that the best is yet to come!
Timid is anything but its title. Instead of unassuming muzak, what we get is a barrage of feedback and drum beats. Paul Bunyan sounds like the Beach Boys having a bash at garage rock. The pop hooks are there, but everything has been doused in a lo-fi charm that belies its overall punch. Monday Patchouli is the sound of a band experimenting, and improvising, with guitar pedals. There is a regimented beat holding everything together, but the effects give everything a watery, filmy, vibe and ends with a Withnail & I sample. What’s not to love?
Earthworm is the standout track on the EP. Kicking off with a Bill Hicks samples, it quickly progresses into a rhythmic guitar riff, before some absurdist lyrics remind us that the world is fun and full of wonder. The beat it pounding and keeps everything moving forward while the music gets filled with more and more animosity and venom. The final track, Hair, is a future shoegazing classic. Spiraling guitars engulf you while effects and synths give you a feeling of moving before a malevolent guitar kicks in and reminds you that easy listening this is not!
What 40% proves is that Phlask are not one trick pony’s. They are very capable of delivering an EP that is as diverse as it is terrifying. They are the new Butthole Surfers, but mixed a retro pop sheen and that gif you saw today and loved.
Through their creative scope and arrangement prowess Baishe Kings shaped 2017 to their collective will
2016 was a mixed bag. It felt like for every good thing that happened, something bad did. Daniel Clowes released his exquisite book Patience, but Leonard Cohen died. Cannibal Hymns released a slew of records that put them on the musical map, but Lunar Quiet lost their front man. England got knocked out of the European Championship but Iceland proved that a small nation, that had 10% of its country watching in the stadium, could defeat Europe’s footballing elite.
One stand out moment was witnessing London’s Hip-Hop group Baishe Kings for fill a ridiculous claim they made, to release an album a month for the whole year. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. An. Album. A. Month. And what’s more not only did they do it, but each subsequent album eclipsed the one before it.
These albums ran the gambit from Boom-Bap, Drum and Bass, Conscious Hip-Hop, a Party Album and pretty much everything in between. Highlights included an album devoted to cheese and the first ever 3/4 Hip-Hop album. But what made these albums special wasn’t that the music felt it was knitted together from forgotten samples and new loops, but the lyrics. Baishe Kings lyrics are filled with these subtle lines that mix England’s past with its present.
If this is your first time listening to the Baishe Kings, don’t try and force it and follow everything from start to finish, as you’ll miss some amazing name drops and beats. Instead just let it wash over you, but keep an ear open for some reference that seems tailor made just for you. While the lyrics are the heavy weight title main event, to use a Baishe wrestling reference, the music is definitely worthy of a ladder or intercontinental title match. The beats are laid back with inventive samples that pop and fizz in the background, rather than banging and slamming in your face. If you think Tricky and Prince Paul you’re on the right track. In fact the SuperKush album sounds like the Baishe Kings only had the Tricky vs. the Gravediggaz EP as kids and decided to make music that sounds like it.
So that’s another year over. As the dust is still settling it’s hard to know how history will judge it. Will it be considered a good vintage or will it be remembered as the year then the tides changed and everything started to get slightly worse. Either way the judging won’t be down to us anytime soon. One thing that everyone can agree on is that in 2016 a lot of cultural icons passed away, but I’m not going to comment on this now, but needless to say we lost some exceptional talent.
Despite all the bad things that happened, 2016 was a good year for music. On previous years I’ve listed all my favourite albums in great detail, but this year here is thisyearinmusic’s Top albums for the year
#10 MXLX-Documents Shredded // Communications Ceased
#9 Speedy Wunderground Year 2
#8 2016: The Year All Bad Things Went Away and Everything Turned Out to Be Fine
#7 Scattered Purgatory-God of Silver Grass
#6 Soundwalk Collective-Killer Road
#5 Fairhorns-Committee XIV
#4 La Femme-Mystere
#3 Las Aves-Die in Shanghai
#2 Yann Tiersen-EUSA
#1 Kate Tempest-Let Them Eat Chaos