Discover more from The Unskippables
capturing the boring beauty of friendship
Tove Lo! SG Lewis! SG BATMAN! Lil Yachty! Nick Hakim! Rome Streetz!
The last few weeks were dotted with loss for me. Some losses were huge - the passing of one of VICE’s true geniuses, Matt Schoen - and some were smaller, but still sharp - a friend’s dog first lost, then found dead.
In both cases, I was surprised by how much losing someone reorganizes your memories in a flurry, surfacing newly important moments that had felt silly, or unimportant. Whether it’s recalling Matt’s relentless kindness while leading industry-defining work, or remembering what felt like an out-of-the-way drive to hang with a dog and meeting someone’s grandma - you never know what will turn out to be what you hold onto.
This made Hua Hsu’s excellent memoir Stay True hit extra hard - a portrait of college friendship and an unexpected loss, he writes incredibly well about slow moments when you’re not even aware of the memories you’re making:
At that age, time moves slow. You’re eager for something to happen, passing time in parking lots, hands deep in your pockets, trying to figure out where to go next. Life happened elsewhere, it was simply a matter of finding a map that led there. Or maybe, at that age, time moves fast; you’re so desperate for action that you forget to remember things as they happen.
Stay True is a beautiful read - Hsu’s prose sparkles with his clear-eyed recollection of growing up in the Bay and going to Berkeley. I’m a little biased as a Bay native, but I can’t recommend the book enough to anyone who was ever young.
And now, the week’s Good Links!
Exhibition #1 Not A Fuck You Exhibition - The University of Maryland posted a very cool collection of DC punk artifacts online, including zines, flyers, photos, and videos. Right now there are collections from 1976-79, 1980-89, and 1990-92, with a 93-present coming soon. It’s a delight to dig into, including the prefaces written by the curators incl. ex-Q And Not U drummer John Davis
Jesus Christ, POSE! - Eli Enis took a swing at the lack of big performances and posturing in post-grunge grunge, which rang true for me across other new independent groups/genres outside of grunge-influenced rock lacking frontpeople who dare to go big or go home.
RIP Angela Lansbury - here she is on CBC hearing “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus & Pliers for the first time
Tove Lo with SG Lewis - Pineapple Slice
Tove Lo’s Dirt Femme slid into my top 10 records of the year over the weekend, riding on a wave of retro-futuristic tracks that are self-conscious and fun but also assured and powerful. Tove’s two collaborations with SG Lewis add an extra layer of sensual fun - I slightly prefer the playful bass bump of “Pineapple Slice” to the Patrick Cowley-esque menergy of “Call On Me,” but they’re both great examples of the album’s strengths - living just on the edge of camp, to deliver a dramatic dancefloor sweet spot.
Lil Yachty - Poland
To be honest, I still don’t get how this song went viral. In fact, I’m including it here BECAUSE I don’t really get it. Sam Hockley-Smith’s take on it is a delight, and obviously the memes have been excellent. It’s wild how much a nonsensical warble and barely-there beat captured the internet’s imagination, and even if can’t say I love it, I can’t stop singing the first line.
SG BATMAN - Ain’t Gotta Ask Fa Dat
Found via David Drake, Chicago rapper SG BATMAN goes unreasonably hard on this track which somehow slides southern bounce into gunmetal grey drill, with a dash of Bay grease on the production’s sliding synths. SG’s extremely strong presence on the hook and playful verses seal the deal for one of my favorite new rap discoveries of 2022.
Nick Hakim - Feeling Myself
Taken from his imminent COMETA LP (out Friday), Nick Hakim’s “Feeling Myself” is a compound metered lo fi bounce, skipping along to arpeggiated triplets. Hakim claims influence from Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, but the song’s jazzy strut strongly recalls D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, with pitched-up vocals and dense chords ripped from the back third of Sign O’ The Times. It’s messy, noisy, and deeply human music.
Rome Streetz - Ugly Balenciaga
Sharing this a bit late (it came out Sept 30) but I was blown away by this jazzy, loping track I found in Jayson Buford’s monthly rap column for Stereogum. “Ugly Balenciaga” is killer single from the Griselda Records, executive produced by Westside Gunn featuring a woozy beat from Conductor Williams. “Shame what these lames do for dollars / play the game but the shit ugly like chunky Balenciagas." I mean, you can’t beat that.
Barbara & Ernie - Listen To Your Heart
A gorgeous slow-blooming psych-soul gem from 1971. Barbara Massey had been a background singer for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Herbie Hancock, and Ernie Calabria was a jazz guitarist who had backed up A-listers like Nina Simone. The two made one album together, Prelude To…, and it’s a perfect document of the era, with darkly psychedelic guitars and Massey’s Summer of Love-inflected delivery across nine funky gems. “Listen To Your Heart” is always the showstopper for me, building slowly with multitracked vocals, a faux-sitar guitar performance from Ernie, and endless amounts of effortless cool.
And that’s all for this week, folks! Please subscribe if you’d like these opinions straight in your inbox. See you next week!