London-based writer James Holland has compiled together a playlist of music from all around the globe, picking out wrong records for the right people. The tracks he is compiling together come under the elusive label of weird bangers and international gems. Both weird and banger are subjective terms and I’ll define them as such: if I say it’s a weird banger then it is a weird banger. (Banger doesn’t mean club track, most of these are not going anywhere near a club). I will try to keep English/American music to a minimal and each list is probably going to be completely different to the last. The songs are generally meant to be an introduction to the artist/genre and is usually their most accessible stuff.
I was in a good mood when I wrote this so all 5 are upbeat, they are all fairly electronic but there’s no real consistent theme. I was pretty self-indulgent only picking stuff I really like - I’ll probably expand the variety in future so that there’s something for everyone. You’re also probably not going to want to bust these out in front of friends. “When the Going is Smooth and Good” is nearly 13 minutes but don’t skip it because that time flies by- if you’re not enjoying it by the 6-minute mark feel free to skip. My favourite tracks out of the lot are 'Satan Said Dance' and 'Underground'.
Haru Nemuri- Underground
In a Sentence: Electrifying Japanese “poetry rap” with a fantastic electro beat and some near screaming at the chorus
About the Artist: Japanese singer songwriter and self-described poetry rapper is pushing music forwards with her unique sound which effortlessly blends sounds from j-pop to punk to electronic (think Japanese Death Grips with a lot more guitar). Her live shows are not to be missed- a performer who really gives her all.
What next: Her Debut album Haru to Shura is completely unmissable- specifically the tracks Yumewomi, Narashite and Nineteen.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Satan Said Dance
In a sentence: A literal rave in hell- this song is dissonant, chaotic and relentlessly paced but most importantly it is a fucking banger
What Next: You should check out: Over and Over Again, Heavy Metal and Is This Love of their eponymous debut, none are too similar to the spirit of this song. The closest thing to that is probably Come to Daddy by Aphex Twin
The Knife- Is It Medicine?
In a Sentence: Weird techno beat, other-worldly overlapping vocals and Swedish accents– I really like this song
About the Artist: For over a decade Swedish brother and sister duo The Knife were one of the best and most unique voices in music. Trademarks include Karin Dreijer’s extensive use of vocal effects, overtly political lyrics, creative use of synths, consistent reinvention, unique instrumentation and their penchant (especially in their later work) for layering several melodies on top of each other. Honestly though their music’s extremely hard to describe and that’s part of what makes them so good.
What next: The albums Deep Cuts, Silent Shout and Shaking the Habitual are all damn near perfect (listen to them in that order) as well as Lead singer Karin Dreijer’s two solo albums under the Fever Ray alias. Great songs to start with include: Pass this On, We Share our Mothers Health, Marble House, A Tooth for an Eye and Heartbeats
Animal Collective -Floridada
In a Sentence: A tribute to America’s weirdest state, with 110mph vocals this bizarre psychedelic pop banger is disorienting and wonderfully catchy.
What next: Golden Gal of the same album is equally catchy with a weird electronic instrumental, Brother Sport of the acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion is beautiful, experimental and similarly disorienting while Leaf House is an acoustic song which creates a similar effect to this William Onyeabor – When the Going is Smooth and Good.
William Onyeabor – When the Going is Smooth and Good
In a Sentence: A life lesson, fantastic synths, an 8-bit sounding loop and brilliant backing vocals -it’s difficult to not nod your head along with these.
About the Artist: Nigerian funk musician and synth pioneer William Onyeabor is a man of mystery. Little is known about his life and what is known just adds to the enigma. After releasing several successful albums from 1977-85 he retired and became reclusive and his music would remain unknown outside his native Nigeria for years. He won West African Industrialist of the Year in 1987. His music is so far ahead of its time and is characterised by catchy loops, several extended synth solos, and has a real sense of fun whilst his lyrics are often politically charged.
What Next: Fantastic Man and Atomic Bomb are equally fun. The anti-imperialist Better Change Your Mind is another great one and The Christian: Heaven and Hell deliver some strong backing vocals on top of one of his best instrumentals.