25 Mar 2015

Weekly Listening: Earl Sweatshirt, Diana Tribute, Jam City and more

10:41 am on 25 March 2015

A revolving cast of contributors from the Music 101 and Wireless teams showcase some of the best new music releases from the past week.

Earl Sweatshirt.

Earl Sweatshirt. Photo: Unknown

Earl Sweatshirt - 'Grief'

'Grief', the first single from Earl Sweatshirt’s just-released new album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, shows the rapper in a dark and isolated frame of mind. Earl spits twisted and tight bars over a low-fi turtle speed drum beat and crying distant synths as he reinforces his work ethic, calls out talentless artists and reflects on the deterioration of friendships.

Since his return, Earl hasn't been shy about how telling you how he feels, and this new album may be the catharsis he’s been seeking for his disillusionment. The track winds up with an uncomfortable and slow tension that eventually breaks into a coda from a Gary Wilson sample, not too dissimilar from the outro to ‘Chum’. It gives the song an eerie yet tongue and cheek self-awareness to its own ending in a way that only Earl can. – Joshua Thomas

Diana Tribute - 'Imbibing'

The first time I heard Dianna Tribute was at my friend’s flat. We were in the kitchen making breakfast-for-lunch when pulsing square-wave bass and metallic drum hits came tumbling down from the floor above. I ran upstairs, just in time to catch the end of a sprawling jam that oscillated somewhere between ambient industrial and grinding minimalism.

The group brings together members of Sharpie Crows, Street Chant and Civil Union, and although there are elements of all those bands involved, Diana Tribute take things in a new direction. The EP pairs kraut-inspired circular rhythms with ominous guitars to create 5 songs that although jarring, would have even your mum bobbing her head. 

Imbibing has some pretty cool moments, including the surprisingly hooky chorus of ‘I’ve Got My Eye on You, Boy’ and some amazing guitar on ‘Neighbour Walk Softly’, which sounds like strings being slowly stretched to breaking point. This is definitely one of the coolest things to come out of Auckland in the last little while and I can’t wait to hear more. - Ben Leonard

Death Cab For Cutie - 'Little Wanderer'

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard explored the ideas of long distance love over 12 years ago with the momentous Transatlanticism, and on the band’s new single ‘Little Wanderer’ he returns now older and defeated, but also strangely optimistic. The track comes from Kintsugi, the band’s forthcoming eighth album and first since Gibbard’s divorce with actress and musician Zooey Deschanel.

It’s also the first without founding member and producer, Chris Walla, but the lineup change hasn’t affected their sound too much. Accompanying Gibbard’s pining voice and vocal hooks is a fantastic stripped back track with their trademark jangly guitar tones and straightforward pop-rock formula. Kintsugi means to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise, and while it’s not the strongest single released from the upcoming album, the feel and sound of 'Little Wanderer' definitely encapsulates the philosophy of the album title very well. – Joshua Thomas

Jam City - 'Dream A Garden'

In a pessimistic nutshell, this might be described as the protest album of an arty electronic music producer turned singer-songwriter.  The thinking man’s James Blake, if you will. But ironically this is the kind of thinking that Jack Latham aka Jam City is railing against with his new socio-politically charged album.

Like many of his colleagues on the UK label Night Slugs, Latham’s known for constructing objectivist instrumental masterpieces from club music tropes that many are quick to label as “futuristic”.

Meaningless lists of genres and images of the Jetsons flying around in bubble cars aside; when you strip the adjectives away, we’re left with an innate drive to feel something new. And despite completely changing tack towards the inoffensive pop song format, use of his singing voice and guitars, it’s all handled delicately, with humility.

After a few listens I think it seems Jam City is still doing what he does best: evoking the desire for a new world. Dream A Garden adds a bold thread of complexity to the Night Slugs catalogue and it will be interesting to see if this stands the test of time. – Sophie Wilson

Gucci Mane - 'Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner'


Although in federal prison, sentenced to 39 months for illegal possession of a firearm and assaulting an Army staff sergeant at a night club in Atlanta, Gucci Mane still has material to serve trap fans. His latest albums titled Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were released last Wednesday in the unannounced style of Beyonce's self-titled release and Drake's If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Mane’s made sure that although he’s locked up, the music world won’t need to ask what about his music? Featuring guest spots from Atlanta pals Waka Flocka Flame, Quavo (of Migos), Trinidad James and iLoveMakonnen, all three albums stand alone and do what good Gucci Mane music is supposed to do - make you bounce. - Aleyna Martinez

Wurld Series - 'Oh Well'

It’s been around a year and half since Christchurch’s Wurld Series released anything, and to be honest I thought the band had dropped off the face off the earth, leaving me listening to 'Landslide' on repeat. So it was to my surprise that news of a forthcoming split-release between Wurld Series and Jim Nothing (out soon via Melted Ice Cream) is on the way.

Drums are a new addition to the group and the guitars have switched up too, this time adding more distortion and a beefy solo to their sound. But the initial charm of Wurld Series stays in tack, especially with the chorus’ lyrics, “..waiting to freeze, waiting to fry, thinking about all the ways you could die, oh well…”. The appeal is heightened by the video that sees the band mucking around in their backyard. This is New Zealand DIY done at its best. – Zac Arnold

Honourable mentions

Damaged Bug - 'The Mirror'
EZTV - 'Dust In The Sky'
FKA Twigs - 'Glass & Patron'
P.H.F. - 'Hella'

Did we miss something? Tell us about it in the comments section.