Feature: Best Albums of 2021 (PopMatters)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – God’s Pee AT STATE’S END [Constellation]

It starts with the soul-less counting of an anonymous but mechanized war machine and ends with what be the Montreal post-rock collective’s most mournful song to date, an intricate web of weeping strings, buzzing guitars and plaintive synth washes. “God’s Pee AT STATE’S END” finds GY!BE saying “Goodbye and, by the way, go fuck yourself” to the paranoia-laced Era of Trump with tracks like “Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind),” master courses in how musical idioms beyond punk rock or hip-hop can be voices for bitter dissent. “GOVERNMENT CAME,” with its desperate wails from short-wave radio, is about as crushing an indictment of Alt-Right conspiracy theorists as one could do without sending up a MAGA hat. And the aforementioned closer, “OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.),” is a poignant reminder that, above all else, GY!BE knows the language of heartache. On this outing, the group trimmed off all the fat and laid their intentions bare, resulting in the group’s best post-reunion LP to date and a four-song set on par with classic GY!BE offerings like “Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven.”

https://godspeedyoublackemperor.bandcamp.com/music

black midi – Cavalcade [Rough Trade]

Everyone’s favorite English noise-making riff-raff upped the gambit from their debut, 2019’s “Schlagenheim,” with a bombastic and shockingly ambitious sophomore outing so removed from a slump that it practically came kicking and screaming out of your turntable speakers announcing its brilliance. Where “Schlagenheim” toyed with jazz fusion, “Cavalcade” seems preoccupied with blending avant-garde editing techniques with post-hardcore volume and, maybe, the self-conscious angularity of King Crimson, if such a cocktail could be conceived. Frontman Geordie Greep is as wonderfully weird as ever on the LP, which seems to sneer at those who recommend these guys fall into order. (The sax bleats alone are potent declarations of war.) The chaos occasionally hints at Miles Davis – it’s hard to catch all the points of reference – and, by the time you’re done spinning the LP, you’ll feel as though you’ve inhaled a rather abundant aural meal. Shazbot – onward to LP #3, lads! — Justin Vellucci, PopMatters, Dec. 20, 2021

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https://bmblackmidi.bandcamp.com/music

About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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