Enjoy the sunny days of Spring Break with fuzzy guitars, relentless bass, and banging beats:
- Nirvana – Come As You Are: From the best album of the best grunge-rock band of a grungy decade, “Come As You Are” typifies the genre, from its dirty production to its alternative angst. Kurt Cobain’s gruff voice contrasts with his misunderstood and honest lyrics, and exceptional performances are delivered by all members of the band.
- Parquet Courts – Captive of the Sun feat. Bun B: Parquet Courts bring southern rap legend Bun B onto their hit single for a surprisingly dynamic pairing. Bun B’s voice pairs well with Sean Yeaton’s relentless bass, and is accented with subtle xylophone work. Andrew Savage’s vivid lyrics and distinct voice tell about an altogether surreal scene, for an enjoyable and unexpected track.
- Alabama Shakes – Gimme All Your Love: An energetic and pained plea to a lover, “Gimme All Your Love” is a high point in an album ripe with standout tracks. Alabama Shakes’ blues influences are evident, but leave ample room for hard-driving solos complemented by Britanny Howard’s inimitable and soulful vocals. Fantastic live performances back up the Shakes’ ambitious sound.
- Only In Dreams – Weezer: The last track on Weezer’s breakout record, The Blue Album, “Only In Dreams” leads with a steady bass riff, gradually layering vocals and guitars to build intensity. The way the track develops and changes intensity is masterful, securing The Blue Album’s place in rock history. A desperate ode to a lover the singer can only be with in his dreams, this eight-minute song has some of the most honest vocals and one of the most heartrending solos of its decade.
- Kanye West – So Appalled feat. Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Ci Hi, Swizz Beatz, RZA: An underrated song off of West’s most lauded album, “So Appalled” is more than six minutes of old-school rap-god revulsion. A seemingly unending list of features each bring their own twist to the song, but are unified in how “this shit is fuckin’ ridiculous.” This message is more relevant now than ever, and the fuzzy electric piano and bassy beat match the song’s attitude perfectly.
- Wiley – Bring them All / Holy Grime feat. Devlin: A grimy music playlist would be incomplete without an entry for the London-born rap style, Grime. Wiley is an old-school Grime legend, and his latest album Godfather was released to widespread acclaim, providing a history lesson on the genre, displaying paragon Grime, and securing Wiley’s place as one of Grime’s premier artists. “Bring them All / Holy Grime” features the hardcore beat, lithe and unforgiving flow, and aggressive, uncaring attitude that typifies all a Grime song should be.
- Joy Division – Shadowplay: From an album most commonly known from t-shirts comes a track most commonly known from its cover by The Killers. Ian Curtis’ vocals are easily outdone by the peerless guitar solos and Stephen Morris’ drumming, but tell a unique story through their morose monotonality. Joy Division shows a singular talent at balancing its instruments, not allowing any to rise above the other, as lead singers are especially wont to do. At the end of the day, this song rocks, and gives a legitimate reason to wear that Unknown Pleasures shirt.
- Earl Sweatshirt – Hive feat. Vince Staples and Casey Veggies: One of Earl Sweatshirt’s earliest hits, “Hive” is Sweatshirt in his purest form. An intermittent, grungy beat plays perfectly off of Sweatshirt’s disinterested but unforgiving voice, and Vince Staples’ feature is a full minute and a half of angry, Compton-bred gangster rap.
- P.O.S – Wearing a Bear: P.O.S wore his punk influences on his sleeve on his latest album, chill, dummy. “Wearing a Bear” is the clearest example of this, packed with chorusless, angry, eccentric verses that touch on everything from politics to drug abuse. P.O.S backs up his punk chops as a member of punk rock band Building Better Bombs, and as a founder of the Minneapolis-based indie rap collective Doomtree.
- Melt Yourself Down – Bharat Mata: Standing in stark contrast with Grime, Melt Yourself Down is living proof of London’s rich cultural offerings and diversity. “Bharat Mata” is an unclassifiable blend of Afro-funk, jazz, alternative, and punk, like how Bharat Mata herself is an amalgam of the goddesses of Indian culture. The song’s fusion of saxophone, rock-inspired bass, and Hindi singing is instantly memorable, and creates an altogether unique and compelling track.
Image Credits: Photo: Daniel Varghese