Shopping - The Official Body

Post-punk may as well be one of the few lingering genres that actively bridge old and new through the most engaging and strident methods attainable. The tightly-coiled basslines, unbendable rhythmic power, and decades-long minimalist streak never fall short of skillful and knotty songsmith. In the eyes of Shopping, London’s 21st century reincarnate for old stagers like Public Image Ltd and This Heat, post-punk is what dictates their limber pulse and calibrates even the most stingy of their melodies. Professedly accepting the relatively harmless allegation of wearing their influences on their sleeve, the trio retaliates with a breed of dance-friendly, expressionless rock music for audiences of all temperments to admire.

On their third full-length album, The Official Body, Shopping meander through a funk-inspired core with political overtones lagging behind their elastic beats. In its 31-minute duration, the ten snappy numbers successfully intertwine the decompressed urgency of Wire’s Pink Flag with the nihilistic, anti-everything rhetoric bubbling up in today’s youth. There’s a traceable gimmick for each track: de facto frontwoman Rachel Aggs’ barbed and repetitive guitar licks in the spotlight, Andrew Milk’s clear drum exercises chugging faithfully behind, and the band’s apparent propelling force, Billy Easter’s stout basslines holding it all together. Occasionally giving in to alternate means of expending their stockpiled energy, the band taps into playful vocal duality between Aggs and Milk as well as embellishing their otherwise frank compositions with buzzing synthesizer hooks à la Killing Joke. For the most part,The Official Body abides by careful restraints to make its directives transparent to the audience and its energized messages resounding with each listen.

The Official Body band members

Speaking to Bandcamp about these motivations, Aggs conceded, “As a band, it’s really important for us to laugh, and have fun, and to be really silly—that, in itself, is a defiant act.” While Shopping’s closefisted instrumentation often curbs their potential for aggressive defiance, it’s not misguided to label The Official Body as a protest record even if its arrangements cut back rather than climax. The Liquid Liquid akin dance-punk of “Discover” and “New Values” are captivating exceptions to their unswerving technique. Jarring opener “The Hype” kicks the album off with a midtempo stomp while simultaneously leading a youth revolt against classroom conformity and corporal discipline. Treading into empowering territory, “Suddenly Gone” claps back at the society’s inflexibility of acceptance toward queer artists and artists of color. It’s an uphill effort to classify these topics as easy to swallow, but the band’s artful approach channels these frustrations into sophisticated songs of discontent.

While it’s amusing to see bands like Shopping taking the piss and scrutinizing humanity’s regressive traits in the same song, The Official Body inevitably encapsulates our tendencies as members of an imperfect society to guise our anxieties with seemingly convincing façades. “You have a chance to lead the group,” Milk even suggests in the bustling midpoint “Shave Your Head,” advising the listener “it’s not forever” and it “doesn’t matter.” “My Dad’s a Dancer” further disavows a desire to follow a crowd of lurking bigotry with Aggs’ taunting unseen enemies in the pursuit of adversity (“Taking up another space / Do you deserve this? / You wanna take my place?”). It goes to show that in The Official Body, laughter is not only the best medicine against societal ills but a mechanism denying them victory. Shopping deconstructs these uncertain times ushered by one’s individual obligation to confide in their own beliefs instead of falling in line with an antithetical mankind.

Kali Uchis + Tyler, the Creator - After the Storm

Sunflowers, springtime, butterflies, pastels – these are just a couple of things that come to mind when we think of Kali Uchis and Tyler, the Creator together.

The duo has previously teamed up on the song “PERFECT” as well as its corresponding music video:

Clearly, the two have mastered a fresh yet timeless aesthetic and sound together. I am convinced everything these two do together will always be impeccably executed.

Directed by Nadia Lee Cohen, “After the Storm” shows us just how possible it could be to add “LOVER” to your grocery list and go to the nearest convenience store to cross that off.

As a play on Tyler, the Creator’s most recent album Flower Boy, Kali grows herself her very own “Flower Man”, who is forced to endure every season and believe as the song states: “The sun will come up, nothing good ever comes easy.” An animated Bootsy Collins delivers his playful ad-libbing from the labels of his own name-brand foods.

Seemingly set in the surreal time and place of Edward Scissorhands, this music video is captivating to watch and extremely fitting for the types of projects these two consistently and masterfully release. See for yourself below.

Villette - Drip Crimson

“Who do you think I am?”

New Zealand’s R&B beauty Villette ends several tracks rhetorically asking this question in her debut mixtape Drip Crimson. With every track, I feel as though she doesn’t aim to answer this question for herself; rather, she targets those who have questioned her sense of self and sends out a message for those who think they know who she really is.

For example, in “If You Go,” Villette is kicking butt and taking names:

Take me as I am
I’m not the type to switch it up for no one
Think you know me now b****, please
Keep my circle small
You can’t sit with us
You can’t hit with us
You don’t wanna bang like us
You can’t chill with us

Through this song, she reclaims her individuality, and in this way, Drip Crimson is about identity- specifically Villette’s own. She simultaneously reveals her truest self and shares with us a personal and heartfelt masterpiece.

With a cover that oozes pleasure and a name that feels good leaving open lips, Drip Crimson entirely captures the uninhibited, unapologetic self-expression that Villette embodies throughout each track.

As listeners, we explore Villette’s love life and sexuality, both of which are dynamic and entirely relatable. “Missed Call” shows us Vilette’s softer side:

I never miss a call when you’re calling
I promise to stay when it gets boring
I know it’s out of fashion to be this in love
But it’s okay, it’s alright
‘Cause I’m yours

Complete with perfect harmonies, powerful beats and a synth that will have you swimming in her sound, “Missed Call” alone is a showcase in and of itself of the endless talent of this woman. Her vocals and the production consistently complement each other in such a way that neither ever overpowers the other.

Villette strips away any and all façades in a candid and sincere mixtape. Honest and vivid descriptions of her memories and experiences allow listeners to truly get to know who Villette is in every listen-through. These quiet, private moments are like windows to her innermost self, and we get to look inside:

I like it when you get excited
When you’re nervous, when you smile
When you kiss my neck in the morning, wakey wake
So I pretend to sleep to feel you do it again, do it again

Though fairly specific, the lyrics of “Missed Call” are built upon extremely relatable emotions to those who know the complexity of modern day relationships.

My favorite track “Used 2 Be” presents flawless production by KEV and Villette’s velvet voice. A demanding bass mirrors the sexual tension Villette sings about and induces in her listeners. She also continues her acknowledgment of her identity, both past and present, while taking into consideration who she is in relation to someone else:

Who I am, who I am
Who I am ain’t enough for you
What I want, what I want
What I want ain’t enough for you
Reminiscent hearts, devil in disguise
I am just an outline of the girl I used to be

Villette closes Drip Crimson with “If You Go, Pt. 2,” a stripped down ballad with lyrics that seem to be asking herself the question she’s posed throughout the mixtape – “Who do you think I am?”
She faces the prevalent conflict of whether or not we are satisfied with what others think of us and with what we think of ourselves:

Stay, my lover
All I need is you
If you go, will I ever be the same?
If you go, will I ever feel the same?

Drip Crimson is an intimate invitation into the heart and soul of Villette Dasha. We are so lucky she has given us the opportunity to enter and come out knowing more about ourselves in addition to getting to know her. As a self-proclaimed “one-woman band,” this multi-talented singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and DJ can quite possibly do anything- and I am eager to see what comes next for her.

Check out Tiffany’s show CTRL ALT DLT here: