No one sent me any recommendations last week, so you’re stuck with my sensibilities again today, which you’ll find range from ‘literally indescribable’ to ‘hyper pop punk death metal fusion.’ Seriously. Be a HOR and respond tonight with what you’re listening to. I doubt you can take much more of what I am.
<10k streams: Fever Dream by Martin j. Ballou
Projects I have trouble describing in a paragraph make my job harder but my life better, and the latest LP from Baltimore’s Martin j. Ballou is no different. ‘Hybrid hip hop / R&B’ is about as overused in the underground scene as ‘members only benefits’ is in the crypto space, so let’s just say Ballou sings, raps, and makes it work.
Stretches of the project sound like ‘Nikes’ expanded to album length, but it swings frequently into a more classic Odd Future sound, like on the Earl aping ‘Master (& Margarita)’. The former works better, and not only because I cry during that scene in Normal People, too. Despite some hilariously memorable guest verses — Fonlon, here’s looking at you — Ballou works best when left to his own devices. Melancholy bangers ‘Burn’ and ‘Theme’ strike a better balance of melodrama and authenticity than the vast majority of artists who’ve made careers doing the same thing.
Best of all, even on songs with more traditional structures, no two moments feel the same, and the transitions between them are seamless, making the project’s eclectic impulses feel less like #aesthetic randomness and more like intentional world building. It’s Ballou’s world, and you should go live in it — for 33 minutes at least.
It probably sounded like I was pulling the genre up top out my ass, but this project from cemeteryflowers, a criminally underrated pioneer of the Soundcloud emo scene, really does sound as if 1000 gecs was tracked in Sony Acid on a 1999 Windows Workstation, which, going off the cover art alone, I’m pretty sure is the vibe gone for.
This EP has it all. The requisite earworm I’ll regret having heard when the hook pops back into my head at 2 AM tonight is there in ‘sleepless’ — and in case you don’t believe me on the death metal fusion of it all, do yourself a favor and skip to 1:24 in ‘take it back’ for the most abrupt heel turn this side of Stone Cold. The genre’s a joke, but maybe that’s the whole point. After all, it’s right there in the first song:
learning information but i know i’ll never know enough
when everything is everything, everyone is make believe