• Zim Ahmadi

Weekly Assembly (5/7) - Ramengvrl, Rich Brian, Yuna, Crinkle Cut, King Gizzard and more!

Welcome to another edition of Weekly Assembly, well we bring together fresh tracks from around the world! Caroline Palochek, formerly of the indie pop duo Chairlift has released a wonderful single, Rich Brian is growing up, Yuna has a collaboration with Little Simz in anticipation of her upcoming album and Malaysian & Indonesian hip hop come together in the new single by Ramengvrl & Hullera. Also featured this week are Mark Ronson & Angel Olsen, Tropical Fuck Storm, The Regrettes, Ali Gatie, Brendan de Cruz, Sleater-Kinney, Sum 41, Ayam Hitam, Trophy Knives, Shadow Puppet Theatre, Nicki Minaj, Rich Brian, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, YBN Cordae, Chance the Rappe, Declan McKenna, Papastathopoulos & Rosemallows.

Follow our playlist for updates on fresh tracks every week:



True Blue - Mark Ronson ft. Angel Olsen




GENRE: POP / SOUL The bassline runs the show in True Blue, a simple disco groove that feels like it’s coated in warm memories of falling in love. All three singles so far portray that theme for Mark Ronson’s upcoming album, but the broken heart-shaped disco lights and the often desperately romantic lyrics belie a more sophisticated undertone. With Angel Olson as the star of this track, you can’t get anymore heart-rendingly appropriate. Known for her dreamy, vintage vocals, the disco production on this tracks is fresh ground for an artist whose more known in singing to rawer sounds. Yet the melancholy is strengthened by this contrast - there stood Angel Olsen, pining for her loved one who knows how to “read her eyes”, to a fading backdrop of days gone by. Mark Ronsn’s album, “Late Night Feelings” is out now. RATING: 4 / 5




Paradise - Tropical Fuck Storm




GENRE: POST-PUNK / ART PUNK / PSYCH PUNK


Paradise may be one of Tropical Fuck Storm's more reserved cut, but that doesn't mean it doesn't pack any great, gritty turns. The way the vocal mix sounds too loud in the beginning, but then later a cascade of dirty riffs and drums come in to welcome you to the chaos is the kind of artistry that Tropical Fuck Storm has proven mighty good at pulling off. Paradise also has a very loungy, bluesy feel to it - like a singular person voicing out his sorrows even as the shouty voices of the other band members chime (used loosely) in. Rightly so, considering the bleak, forlorn nature of the words. The anger is contained but the discontent is ever immanent as they sing "When the Sun Goes Down Nothing Is Spared". Another Flightless classic in the making, TFS's upcoming album "Braindrops" will be coming out on 23 August 2019. Based on a quote from Paste Magazine, lead singer Gareth Liddiard has stated that "he's invented fake news as a genre of music". Whatever that means.


RATING:

4 / 5




I Dare You - The Regrettes






GENRE: TWEE POP / POP ROCK / INDIE POP


It's cool to see The Regrettes change their sound from the punkier era of their debut to a something more melodious and bright. At its heart, I Dare You, has a pretty sweet tune, but in comparison to some of their previous singles leading up to their new album, I Dare You falls a bit on the forgettable side in spite of the really positive twee aura to its lyricism. Still cool to see how much further are the band going to go with this twee pop rock sound in their upcoming album "How Do You Love?", coming out 9 August.


RATING:

3 / 5



Murung - Brendan de Cruz





GENRE: FOLK



"Murung" is a single off of Brendan's latest album, "III" and relates a harrowing introspection of depression and all the crippling solitude that comes with it. He rarely writes in Malay, so his transition into the language might not contain the same sophistication as his English songs, but his trademark gruffy delivery gives the song an uncontainable darkness that still makes it a noteworthy listen.


RATING:

3 / 5




The Future Is Here - Sleater Kinney


RATING: POST-PUNK / NEW WAVE POP / INDIE ROCK


There's nothing inherently wrong with being pristine, but it's a whole other when the pristine comes off underwhelming, unobtrusive and ineffectual. Unlike the previous single Hurry on Home, where there is a more rugged, wilder tone to the production and songwriting, The Future Is Here sways into generic pop lamentations that doesn't really stand strong on its own. Hurry On Home does show that there's a lot of potential in Sleater-Kinney's new sound, especially with St Vincent at the helm, but The Future Is Here is not a testament to that at all. Fingers crossed that this is just a mellower deep cut in an overall exciting album. The Center Won't Hold comes out 16 August.


RATING: 2 / 5



It's You - Ali Gatie


GENRE: POP / R&B Ali Gatie is a perfect example of the type of inoffensive acoustic pop artist that belongs in a playlist made by a Spotify algorithm. There is nothing about Ali Gatie that makes him Ali Gatie. Take a Khalid or an autotuned Ed Sheeran and give him Gatie lyrics and they would be indistinguishable. And he doesn’t even really add anything to the genre. Following templates does have its merit when the performance is cool, the lyricism is unique, and there’s a standout signifier like a strong voice or a good melody. Not everyone has to be a powerhouse of innovation. But Ali Gatie is just Ali Gatie. I’m sorry if I sound irrationally annoyed, this was trending on Malaysian YouTube and I accidentally expected more from it. It’s my fault really. RATING: 1 / 5




Door - Caroline Palochek





GENRE: INDIE POP / ART POP / ELECTRO POP Just when you think Door is only doing one thing it keeps on adding and adding until it becomes this magical nimble piece of pop music that’s so ethereal you don’t even realize that the production has changed, and that the milieu has weaved you in and out of reality. The repeated refrain of “To another door” is both melodious and surreal - which is what Caroline Palochek is essentially brilliant at creating through her music. Formerly of the indie pop duo Chairlift (if you don’t know Chairlift check out their once viral hit Bruises, when Apple ads used indie artists to promote their products), Caroline Palochek shines even more as a solo artist because the generously dark but sincere romanticism is uninhibited. Door is heartbreaking as it is catchy, and that’s why this track is a special listen. RATING: 5 / 5



Never There - Sum 41


GENRE: POP PUNK / ROCK / ACOUSTIC While we’re all reliving our childhood dreams in Malaysia with the pop punk renaissance, it’s really interesting to see our childhood heroes come back with new material. It’s surreal to see them age, but a welcomed change of pace. Never There is Deryck Whibley probably at his most intimate and honest, extracting the essence from some of the more emotional cuts off of their 2007 album, Underclass Hero (war flashbacks to your teenage emo soundtracks like Pieces). There’s not much rock theatric, his style is singing loses all the raspiness, but the lyrics and performance feels extremely sincere as he sings about being raised by a single mother. This song is accompanied by a triumphant music video that shares some parallels with Deryck’s childhood as he’s stated in several quotes. As much as sounds like it could be a mediocre, the sliver of hope Never There provides is beautiful. Sure, maybe it does sound a bit musically derivative off of all the many Creed/Nickelback/Daughtry (god, remember Daughtry?) spawn of the early 2000s, but there’s enough heart in Never There that makes its production less annoying. The single is released in anticipation of Sum 41’s upcoming album, “Order in Decline”, coming out 19 July! RATING: 3.5 / 5


Simfoni - Ayam Hitam



GENRE: PUNK / POSITIVE PUNK / ALTERNATIVE ROCK / OI! DIY punk group Ayam Hitam might not be the best in production, with vocal mixes in Simfoni that slightly overshadows the guitar whenever the vocals come up, but there is still a very cool anti-establishment, uplifting mantra at the core of it all. Simfoni has some standout moments to it - the bendy, broken guitar plucks in the intro, the firey solo concluding the song, the “Oi” chants and also the lyrics about bringing down tyranny and coming together. They’re a punk band you should look out for, even if Simfoni doesn’t contain all of that energy yet. RATING: 2.5 / 5


Sendiri - Shadow Puppet Theatre

GENRE: ALTERNATIVE ROCK / INDIE ROCK Catchy chord progressions and grooves are the centerpiece of Sendiri, a good example of jiwang indie rock done right. The vocals are great, so evne though the lyrics are simple and there’s nothing to it beyond what you’d expect from a love song of this genre, there’s really not much to dislike about it. The sentimentality of it reaches your ears. The guitar solos, as commonplace or generic as it sounds, works within the context of this emotional display. Shadow Puppet Theatre is a band that consists really good musicians, with an ear for melody & innate funk. Imagine combining the bright jangly chords of early 2000s Brit indie for teen drama series like The Kooks but married to the lovelorn beauty of Indonesian alt rock of the same era, e.g. Peterpan. That’s Shadow Puppet Theatre, and Sendiri is their calling card. RATING: 4 / 5



bad minah - Ramengvrl (ft. Hullera)




GENRE: TRAP / HIP HOP Indonesian rapper, Ramengvrl is relatively new to the hip hop scene, coming in big around 2016, but already she is leaving huge burn marks on everyone with her assertive, face-melting and simply inescapable charisma and flow. I AM ME was one of my favourite hip hop tracks from last year with its swagger and infectious beat. With bad minah she continues on that flammable streak. Still braggadocious. Still catchy as hell thanks to the production by Denis Satria and Ramengvrl herself. But this time the lyrical machine gun doesn’t get used too much by Ramengvrl. Instead the bullets are fired more by Malaysian rapper Hullera with her amazing bars and rap performance that is super-memorable and really sets a freaking strong ending for bad minah. Truly this Indonesian-Malaysian collaboration is a blessing for hip hop. Ramengvrl’s debut album “no bethany” is out now! Although Hullera is also new, really making her presence known from 2018’s House of Vans event, she’s already got a couple of singles out that’s there for your listening pleasure! RATING: 5 / 5

Think About You - Crinkle Cut


GENRE: R&B / SOUL POP / POP / FUNK POP / CITY POP Crinkle Cut just keeps getting better with every single. It feels almost superfluous to mention how tight their vocal harmonies are, and it’s as though they know that, that’s why Think About You has the added benefit of also being impeccably funky and cosy. The keys on this track are spacey, but also retro-esque. The bassline is a brilliant accompaniment to this bright, wholesome track about romantic love. Think About You sees Frances Tsen again showing all her vocal chops, and all of the harmonies make the “da da da”s melt any tough facade you might have been wearing while listening to this song. Most of all, Think About You shows that Crinkle Cut is capable of amazing songwriting and musical composition (which is often done by Grace Foo and Kuzsanagi respectively in collaboration with everyone else in the group), regardless whether it’s a compact joyful cut or a spacious, sensuous (or emotional) track like in Sweet Nothings or Goodbye. RATING: 5 / 5



Megatron - Nicki Minaj


GENRE: HIP HOP / DANCEHALL / POP Lots of talk have been going around about a new “Nicki Minaj” era considering the fact that she left her old management team. Megatron doesn’t seem to meet up with that big fanfare that everyone’s talking about. Sure, the dancehall beat and the “braa ta ta” is catchy and the track is definitely a decent summer bop, but Nicki Minaj has hit way harder than this before. In fact, her feature with Avril Lavigne holds way more water than this. Megatron is sexy and has a tight hook, but it feels like the type of a song that would just drown in the mirage of all the summer heat. RATING: 3 / 5

Di Tengah Malam - Salammusik


GENRE: REGGAE / SKA / NUSANTARA REGGAE What creeps into your paranoid conscience late at night? That's the theme that Nusantara reggae group, Salammusik explores. A darker song than their previous singles DJ and Debar Lembut, Salammusik still packs that surreal, storyteller vibe they’re best at. Di Tengah Malam is creepier however, as the lyrics talk about feeling the presence of a being that seems to always escape into the depths of your peripheral vision. (Tiada jasad aku lihat dengan mata/Tapi hadirnya aku tahu aku rasa). RATING: 4 / 5




Imagination - Foster the People



GENRE: INDIE ROCK Every single Foster the People release gives me Torches syndrome - this constant need to compare everything to their amazing debut. It’s probably really unfair, and Torches doesn’t have a monopoly over all good FTP tracks. Supermodel has the phaser-drenched waviness of Pseudologica Fantastica, for instance. Yet it speaks volume to the fact that Foster the People used to make really interesting indie rock music that seem like it belonged to the heydays of post-punk revival while bringing with it a pop sheen that makes the band stand out. With Imagination though, the magic is still missing to me. This dreamy summer song is competent at best, as the band explores topics of “duality” between reality and fiction, but nothing about it feels remotely bold or doing anything to up the ante of their pop technique. RATING: 3 / 5




Get Munni - Lil Asian Thiccie & Zamaera


GENRE: HIP HOP / RAP Soundtrack your go-getter life with this new rap banger by Zamaera and Lil Asian Thiccie!

The song is filled with fun verses and flow, with both rappers showing amazing chemistry in terms of attitude and humour. SonaOne's production on Get Munni is your classic early 2000s horns-based beat that won’t feel strange in a Missy Elliot and it does just enough to give the track it's part comical, part in-your-face mood. Nothing too crazy or wild, just the necessities. THe production does border on being slightly stale after a while, but Lil Asian Thiccie & Zamaera saves the day with their personality and presence. RATING: 4 / 5



Not There Yet - Trophy Knives




GENRE: GARAGE ROCK / PUNK / HARDCORE Straight from their debut EP, Turmoil, released April 2018, Not There Yet is all sludgy riffs, liberating screams and punk sweats. Not one of my favourites from that EP, (Heartstrings and Protest Song in case you were wondering), but it still has a solid compositional narrative to it, with vocalist Vinesh Muniandy steadily breaking into an all out shout as the guitars come in with gut-ripping drums and bass. All of which ends with a steady refrain of “I’ve gotta get away from this hell-hole”. Now Unite Asia said that, I’m sure that last line is a trademark of theirs when talking about this song, but has anyone mentioned how hilarious it is that they’re singing “I’ve gotta get away from this hell-hole” while the music video shows them in Australia? No? Okay. Oh, and check out the EP, Turmoil on their Bandcamp, if you’re a fan of that dirty punk bravado. RATING: 4 / 5


Goodbye - HELLOLUQMAN




GENRE: POP / ACOUSTIC POP Helloluqman has been traversing the social media and open mic scene with his covers, medleys and acoustic originals, but Goodbye is his first proper mainstream release (let’s not count the Raya song), and honestly, this track deserves to be a breakout hit. It’s fun, it seamlessly moves from English to Malay inside the track. That’s very hard to do in a bilingual song where sometimes people just paste a verse in a different language over a whole different language so that audiences that don’t know the language can sing along or it just ends up a very clumsy, pastiche of disparate ideas. But Goodbye feels natural, and it’s kinda cheeky too. Like the kind of sunny pop song that you hear on teen movie soundtrack, where there’s passive-aggression but also a tinge of hope & humility. The melody is memorable too, Helloluqman’s vocals shines through along with the big wholesome production. I think sometimes what Helloluqman writes falls through as pretty generic or uninspired but with the right touch, there’s a huge potential to what he can do with the medium, considering his pretty sweet vocals. Excited to hear more! RATING: 4 / 5


Yellow - Rich Brian ft. Bekon



GENRE: HIP HOP / ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP Yellow is Rich Brian’s most mature and darkest song to date. The song tells a story of the struggles he goes through like his nicotine withdrawal and the fact that he learned English from rap songs and migrated all the way to America to start that career. This struggle is reflected in the arrangement of Yellow - the song has 3 movements, each symbolising different parts of his turmoil, all ending in triumph. In moving away from simply dropping trap bangers, Rich Brian pushes out a really contemplative, left-field track with the help of Bekon on vocals and production. It’s ominousness carried by those keyboard and string motifs that stay throughout the song but change slightly in octave and sequence depending on where you are in the track. There are really solid creative deliberations here, and I never thought I’d be excited for a Rich Brian album again, but here I am. His second album, The Sailor, comes out 26 July. RATING: 5 / 5



Organ Farmer - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard





GENRE: THRASH METAL Two thrash metal singles and an announcement for a full thrash metal album later, Organ Farmer has planted this seed into my brain that tells me King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard does the genre well the only way a psych rock band can. Unfettered, indignant catastrophe. Organ Farmer continues this theme of biological, ecological nightmare with badass, innards-busting riffs and lightning speed solos. King Gizzard’s thrash metal “Infest The Rat’s Nest” comes out 16 August. RATING: 5 / 5



Bad Idea - YBN Cordae (ft. Chance the Rapper)



GENRE: HIP HOP / SOUL RAP / CHILL HOP / GOSPEL RAP Bad Idea has Chance the Rapper, Mac Miller, old Kanye vibes all over it. Organ samples, warm basslines, whatever is needed to pass that minimum threshold of what makes certain rap songs soulful, you’ve got it here. There’s even a pretty obvious homage to Kanye’s song “My Way Home”, which sampled Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” in the refrain. Despite the name of the track, this collaboration between Cordae and Chance is a brilliant idea. Chance still on that laidback flow, and Cordae rapping about eating ramen on a tight budget is the type of homely wholesome rap the world needs right now. I’m really excited about YBn Cordae’s next album, The Lost Boy, slated for July, since it’s supposed to feature the likes of Meek Mill, Anderson .Paak, and Pusha T. RATING: 4 / 5


Pink Youth - Yuna ft. Little Simz



GENRE: POP / R&B / FUNK POP Funky guitars makes Pink Youth sound like the sonic equivalent of neon lights. It emanates pretty city pop, while celebrating self-affirming, girl power exuberance. The chorus is immensely catchy and bright, with a sexy bassline to boot. The bridge at the end showcasing Yuna’s vocals in all of its wispy majestic is also stupendous. Among all the three singles that Yuna has released so far from her album "Rouge", coming out 12 July, "Pink Youth" feels the tightest production-wise, featuring the likes of J.LBS of TDE fame (Kendrick Lamar's own label, with artists such as Jay Rock & Isaiah Rashad) and Robin Hannibal, who is one half of sophisti-pop duo, Rhye. Little Simz's feature on this song is short-lived but sweet and smooth. Her album The GREY Area came out to critical acclaim this year. (Listen to it, it's amazing). With all of this great features coming up (e.g Tyler, the Creator, Jay Park and more) , it's exciting to see what else Yuna has up her sleeve in perfecting her R&B/pop sound. With all the Japanese characters on her Spotify profile, we can probably be certain that more city pop, retro, nocturnal influences will come up. The music video directed by Esteban Valdez features a hijabi superhero in a futuristic dystopia, so you should definitely check that out. RATING: 5 / 5



Brew/Basic (Regurgitated) - Declan McKenna



GENRE: INDIE ROCK


Both Brew and Basic aren't technically new. They were B-Sides on Declan McKenna's 2016 EP "Stains". But in these 'Regurgitated" versions, the track is sped up and polished to give a freaking air-punching indie rock anthem. Basic might still contain most of its initial downtempo feeling but Brew underwent a magnificent change by being tighter and also boasting the kind of riff that pumped your heart as an adolescent who just discovered the Strokes or something. The coolest thing about Brew is that the lyrics are pretty short & sweet, with Declan singing about people pretending to be genuine but "ends up faking it so hard".

RATING:

Brew: 4 / 5

Basic: 3 / 5



Annie - Papastathopoulos



GENRE: INDIE ROCK / ALTERNATIVE ROCK / EMO Another new band popping up from Kuala Lumpur, Papastathopoulos brings this soporific single from their recently released self-titled EP. The jangly plucking on top of that steady bassline, occasionally countered by a fuzzy guitar - it comes straight from the sentimental facet of 2000s emo heart. Maybe a little Myspace indie rock touch here and there. There’s the vocalization of “Annieeee”, the nonchalant mention of nicotine addiction - all of which point to a more laid-back, and skeletal approach to the sound. This track irks me slightly since it sounds like it could be a really good indie rock cut if it had a fuzzier sound, the kind of reverb-laced production you find in contemporary indie bands like Slow Hollows. But it’s pristineness in the mix sort of betrays that potential, making it sound very cookiecutter. Not every track in the papastathopoulos EP is this downtempo though, with some faster, more overtly noir garage rock present in Bila Malam. Not every track is as bland as Annie too, since Perempuan Hantu is a pretty cool, nocturnal cut with adequately distorted bass and guitar. To me, Annie’s just not Papastathopoulos’s selling point, and runs too middle-of-the-road to leave much impact. RATING: 2 / 5



The Places and People I Long For - Rosemallows



GENRE: INDUSTRIAL / ELECTRONIC The Places and People I Long For EP is a poignant piece of industrial music. It doesn’t seek gratification from being constantly abrasive. Underneath the dirty machinery of distorted synths , New Wave, Depeche Mode-esque programming and attitude, there’s a broken man finding meaning in melancholy or solitude. Sure, some of the tracks speak from a more sinister, oppressive type of perspective, like the demented Willy Wonka-ness of Heavenless. But some of the best cuts of this EP are the sombre tunes of tracks like Dearth. That being said, Rosemallows’ EP overall is an enjoyable listen due to its many moments, like the synth breaks in the vacuumy fuzziness static of Fault which is abrasive and macabre. I love it when the distorted sleepy vocals synchronize with the synths. And it has a decent worldbuilding capacity in its songwriting, like the haunting lines of Dearth saying “We’re machines following commands”. RATING: 4 / 5

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