It’s by all possible definitions Christmastime, and to get myself into the holiday spirit I’ve been listening to the best/worst Christmas song of the last decade. R.I.P. DMX.
It’s also the first week in a while no albums have dropped that I’ve been looking forward to, so it’s a light week for new releases, which will be the case for the last few weeks of 2021. Moses Sumney & Rick Ross have new records dropping next week, and after that I might dare to do an albums of the year list. Or I’ll get swamped with Uni deadlines & Christmas. We’ll see. This week though, I’ve still got a couple honorable mentions for my favorite new track:
The new Bloc Party track “Traps” is exactly what you’d expect from the veteran rock group. Bouncy riffs, a charismatic vocal performance, cheeky lyrics. Predictable doesn’t necessitate bad though. “Traps” is a fun dance rock track with a catchy bridge that immediately got stuck in my head.
We got two new singles from Wet Leg along with the announcement of their self-titled debut LP out in April. “Oh No” is closer to what we’ve heard so far from earlier singles with a playful vibe & lyrics. The guitars are much heavier though, with more fuzz on the distortion. The second half of the split single though is a bit different:
Favorite New Track of the Week: “Too Late Now” by Wet Leg
Wet Leg already seemed to have blown up way beyond expectations when they released their debut single “Chaise Longue” back in June. I -like a lot of people apparently- stumbled on the song on Twitter, and was really into it. It was my favorite track of the week, back before I was even posting these publicly.
Viral tracks happen all the time. So I was rooting for the two-piece from Isle of Wight, but wasn’t holding my breath waiting for another hit. “Chaise Longue” kept building traction though, and the follow-up single “Wet Dream” was just as good and almost as viral. Wet Leg even ended up on a bit of a festival circuit, playing to big crowds and getting articles written about them in Pitchfork & The Guardian hailing them as the next big thing. All off of 2 songs.
The full-length album was bound to be on the way. Sure enough, the self-titled debut will be with us next year, and a full track-list was released too.
So when this split single dropped I was hoping for the same level of quality, but also some variety. Wet Leg have been pretty vocal about wanting to keep their music fun and not take themselves too seriously – not all that common in rock music anymore. Recording a full LP, however, some toned down tracks are inevitably going to make it onto the album.
“Too Late Now” is just that. The track opens with the usual perky kick drum from past singles, but not long after that a very post-punk, lowkey bass line comes along with some dreamy guitar noodling.
The song is about young-adult anxieties, feeling like you’re getting everything wrong, being unsure about what you want to do with your life. Pretty typical territory for the genre. Wet Leg don’t abandon their personality and wit just because they’re taking things a bit more seriously, with the lines “I don’t need no dating app to tell me if I look like crap. To tell me if I’m thin or fat, to tell me should I shave my rat. I don’t need no radio, no MTV, no BBC. I just need a bubble bath to set me on a higher path ” standing out in particular.
Things kick up a bit in the last minute. The tempo picks up, the guitars are a bit thrashier and a sing-song chorus closes the song. I’m not amazed by the track, but it’s really good and it’s exciting to hear Wet Leg able to pull off a different sound. I’m sure we’ll get more singles before April, but their debut is on my early list for albums I’m looking forward to in the new year.
Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by DMX
It’s pretty easy to be cynical about this time of year, especially if you’re not making it home in our 2nd year with the pandemic. It’s cold and dark all the time as I discussed last week. Everyone & everything is super busy. And once again I have not started early with my Christmas shopping like I said I would this time last year. Shocking.
Sometimes you need something a bit ridiculous & camp to keep you in the Christmas spirit.
DMX’s famous (infamous?) Rudolph cover, first crafted in a random YouTube video in 2012 is objectively ridiculous. And while DMX was 1000% as hard as he claimed to be, there’s some element of ‘camp’ to his biggest hits. Really the whole mid-late 2000’s bling rap era is campy as hell.
Hip-Hop has grown up, and a lot of the posturing of the era looks as threatening as the corny raps about hats from the 70’s in retrospect. And that’s ok. I’m a little bit too young to have worn gerbode jeans and XXXXXXL t-shirts, but I’m not too young to have seen them and thought they were cool. We learn from these things.
My point is: I want a Tony Yayo cover of “Jingle Bells”. Jadakiss doing “Santa Baby”. Ja Rule telling us he saw mommy kissing Santa Clause. DMX was a massive figure in hip-hop, and I think his peers from his era should keep carrying this bizarre torch he lit.