Malachi Lui’s August 2019 “Current Spins” Playlist

Have you been wondering what music I’ve been listening to lately? Probably not, but I’m telling you anyway! And maybe now that I’ve brought it up, you genuinely would like to know what AnalogPlanet contributing editor Malachi Lui currently spins in heavy rotation. Below are embedded playlists from Tidal, Spotify, and YouTube along with comments on the songs and/or mini-reviews of their associated albums that I unfortunately don’t have enough time to extensively cover.

Tyler, the Creator - “IGOR’S THEME”: If a rare 11/10 score for the brilliant IGOR (FLAC and LP, Columbia) didn’t say anything, then I don’t know what does. Some of our readers have stupidly chosen not to listen to it. Their loss. Everything else that I can say about this song and album are in my review (link here) and the subsequent updates (exclusive to AnalogPlanet).

SHADI - “Lord Mohamad:” SHADI’s new album You Can’t Hear Me (Deathbomb Arc DBA211) is really good. Difficult to digest, yes, but a worthy listen nonetheless. I’m still taking this record in. Recommended if you have the patience, which you hopefully will! (Needs more listening before I can elaborate on the rest of the album.)

Kanye West - “Hold My Liquor”: Yeezus (16/44.1 FLAC, Def Jam) is one of the greatest albums ever made by anybody and there’s no way you can convince me otherwise. Try. I dare you. Based off of the arguments that ensued in the comments section of my Vanatoo Transparent Zero follow-up, I guarantee you’ll fall flat on your face trying to argue against my points. Anyway, “Hold My Liquor,” featuring vocals from Justin Vernon (better known as Bon Iver), is a great song that simultaneously shows the Yeezus character’s ego and the vulnerability that the ego tries to mask, marking a turning point in the album’s narrative. Instead of writing 3500 words on how great Yeezus is, I’ll just quickly score the album here: Music: 11, Sound: 9.

Injury Reserve, Rico Nasty, Pro Teens - “Jawbreaker”: Injury Reserve’s self-titled debut album (LP, Loma Vista LVR00650) is, in my opinion, the second best album of the year. Coincidentally, it dropped on the same day as IGOR, meaning I temporarily forgot about it. Injury Reserve starts off with the trio (made up of rappers Richie With A T and Stepa J. Groggs along with producer Parker Corey) basically saying “we’ve begun to ‘make it,’ we have a record deal, etc” before taking a more personal turn. The way it takes that turn as well as the excellent production is what makes the album so fascinating. Chris Bellman cut the vinyl edition, which sounds as good as it can given the less than stellar (although still decent) recording quality. Music: 10, Sound: 8.

Billie Eilish - “all the good girls go to hell”: I don’t care if WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (colored vinyl LP, Darkroom/Interscope B0029729-01) is one of the most popular albums in the United States right now, because it’s great. It’s truly stunning in this current era that such an excellent album (by far the best pop record of the year, and one of the year’s top 10 best albums period) is so popular. More importantly, it has maintainedits popularity with a young, mostly female audience (many of the other boys in my class despise every note “Billie Eyelash” has ever recorded, but those kids have repeatedly proven to me that their music taste sucks anyway) who otherwise would probably be listening to whatever garbage radio-friendly song that mysteriously needed ten songwriters to make. The LP doesn’t fully engage the listener upon its first spin, rather revealing its subtleties (and strengths) upon further listening. To me, that is what great albums do; oftentimes when all the details hit immediately on the surface, they quickly become stale. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is a strong debut from an artist who, within the next few years, could potentially change the direction of pop music. Musically and sonically, it’s a strong 8/10.

And before you start screaming at me: no, the Melon does NOT control my opinions!

The Raconteurs - “Help Me Stranger”: I’m currently reviewing Help Us Stranger (LP, Third Man Records TMR-600) so all I’ll say right now is that it’s one of the best rock records in recent years that sounds great too.

Thom Yorke - “Dawn Chorus”: ANIMA (XL Recordings 987) is the best thing Thom Yorke’s ever done outside of Radiohead. Kill me now, but I actually enjoy this album more than OK Computer (I’m comparing them on a level of personal enjoyment, not on a compositional and textural basis as that would be unfair to both), and that isn’t so much a knock on the latter as it is praise for the former. Another one of the year’s best albums... this “2019 music” thing is amazing!(Note: Due to its lack of availability on the platform, “Dawn Chorus” is not included in the YouTube playlist.)

Kid Cudi - “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven”: My other, more significant unpopular yet genuine opinion is that Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven (24/44.1 MQA, Republic) is Cudi’s best solo album. Universally panned by critics upon release (Anthony Fantano famously gave it a scathing 0/10), Cudi’s departure into grunge deserves far more credit than it gets. Many of the songs are legitimately good, even great. I’ll likely write a future thinkpiece about how underrated Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is but for now, let’s enjoy the title track included in the playlist.

Frank Ocean - “Nights”: Every time I listen to Blonde (16/44.1 FLAC, self-released), I tell myself “this might be the greatest album of all time.” It’s perfect in every way possible, with its minimalist soundscapes leaving Ocean’s emotional vocal performances front and center. I also find this album’s release strategy frustrating; the vinyl edition was a one-day-only affair on Black Friday, 2016 that now commands an average of $400 on Discogs. Anyway, if this was the only album I could listen to for the rest of my life, it really wouldn’t be terrible. Sure, I’d miss hearing every other album I’ve ever enjoyed, but blond is so brilliant that there’s no way I’d be able to complain that much.

Pusha T - “Infrared”: “It sounds like Nas but it came from Quentin.” That’s the line in the Kanye-produced “Infrared” that set off King Push’s iconic feud with Drake, which, in addition to resurrecting that initial ghostwriting accusation (on which more information can be easily Googled), culminated in the former accusing the latter of having a secret son named Adonis with a porn star, using that kid to promote an unannounced Adidas sneaker line (later cancelled), and being a deadbeat dad on “The Story Of Adidon.” Drake’s response a month later? “I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid.” Yeah... Pusha obviously buried Drake. Rap battles aside, “Infrared” is a fitting album closer to a short yet brilliant album (DAYTONA, MQA stream and LP, G.O.O.D Music/Def Jam) by one of the best luxurious drug dealer rappers of all time, produced by the greatest musical genius currently walking the planet.

Bud Powell - “Duid Deed”: Recently, I picked up an original mono pressing of Bud Powell’s The Scene Changes (Blue Note BLP-4009) for $40CAD, having never heard the music prior to purchasing. I’m glad I bought it - it’s truly a fun listen with performances by a fantastic trio (Powell on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums). Rudy Van Gelder’s mono folddown LP sounds spectacular, three dimensional, and natural; in comparison, the stereo recording places Powell on the left with Chambers and Taylor on the right, leaving an empty center. However, the stereo MQA file in the below Tidal playlist is still no slouch. Review of this album likely to come at a later date.

Sam Rivers - “Euterpe”: Recently reissued on AAA vinyl in Blue Note’s excellent Tone Poet series, Sam Rivers’ Contours (BST 84206) with Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Joe Chambers is a terrific avant-garde jazz record. Instead of me describing it in-depth, I’d rather you listen! That’s all I’m saying for now.

Gil Evans Orchestra - “La Nevada”: Blame Fremer for making me listen to this record. Now I’ve fallen into the Gil Evans trap and there’s no way out because the music is so good and I simply can’t stop listening to Gil Evans, specifically 1961’s Out Of The Cool (LP, Impulse A-4). I assume that many of you have already caught the bug, but if you haven’t, now you have. I applaud those who, for whatever reason, are still able to resist, but I also feel bad for them as they’re missing out on brilliant music.

Ortofan's picture

... Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms, are we?

MalachiLui's picture

I listen to it occasionally, but it makes up less than 1% of my listening. just not as much of my thing as other genres.

but instead of complaining, let's just listen to the playlist.

Michael Fremer's picture
Time. If jazz is there at 13, classical can't be too far behind.
MalachiLui's picture

by the time I'm Fremer's age, I'll likely have a shelf of classical records and I'll be obsessing over the insanely high quality of the 60-year-old Analogue Productions reissues of the RCA Living Stereo catalog.

Michael Fremer's picture
Ortofan's picture

... as to the forming of his musical tastes.
Does he play any instruments and what musical genres do his parents prefer, if any?

My father had a large collection of classical music recordings and listened to the live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.

By age thirteen I was already about five years into classical piano lessons. That was about the same time I bought my first audio system and started buying records. Familiarity with pop and rock music came from listening to various FM radio stations and Casey Kasem's weekly Top 40 program. Jazz somehow never really entered the picture.

MalachiLui's picture

whenever I mention to him (in a matter-of-fact manner) that not many people listen to classical music, he says "well, there's always new old people to listen to classical music!"

Michael Fremer's picture
The embedded video of him playing "Pinball Wizard" at age 8 (or so) on a full sized Gibson SG. Watch it!’s-“white-album”-pressing
Ortofan's picture

... I asked if he could play any instruments.
How long has he been taking guitar lessons?
Did his instructor teach him how to hop around like that?
Can he read musical notation?

Michael Fremer's picture
Like Paul McCartney, Malachi does not read musical notation. No one taught him to hop around like that. His mother told me he rehearsed what he was going to play sitting down and when he got up there on stage and did that it was a total surprise to them. I show it to people and they light up!
bkinthebk's picture

Most people born after WWII are not highly influenced by the musical genres of their parents. Most people who listen to classical music do not play instruments found in an orchestra. Most musicians are not audiophiles. Most people under the age of 70 don't listen to classical music.

I'm early 40s and classical was far from common in the music libraries of any of our parents. I play guitar (badly) and found classical on my own without any of those preconditions. I grew up on classic rock (older brother) and have seen Pearl Jam 30+ times and found jazz through 90s hip hop. I've also been to too many performances to count at Avery Fisher. Not a normal profile. My TIDAL algorithm doesn't know wtf to do with me.

No one is introducing kids to classical. Not parents, not grandparents, and not music teachers who are a dying breed. I think my generation is missing out big time and I hope to pass on a love for classical to my kids, but it's a long shot. At Avery Fisher I was always the youngest one there by decades. NoP (new old people) are mainly listening to the Beatles, not Brahms. Unfortunate, but true. On the other hand, go to a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie and you will find "kids" as "young" as me. Perhaps there's hope yet. But certainly not enough to expect a 13 year old (or a 53 year old) to add any of the "B's" to their TIDAL playlists. It's likely that hectoring is the best way to turn a kid off of something.

volvic's picture

I got into classical/opera at age 18 and haven't looked back, it makes up over 97% of my listening. Given Malachai's accelerated learning and musical abilities I think that genre is just around the corner for him to discover. For me it was vinyl and my trusty LP-12, that I worked a whole summer to acquire at age 19 that allowed me to get into classical. I was fortunate to be able to gobble up at the time new-sealed DG, London, Philips, EMI's and Telarcs for $1 dollar at second hand stores that the rest of the world including companies were dumping for CD's. Who would do such a thing but I didn't complain I bought so many it took years to finally listen to them all. Nowdays some of these titles are worth quite a bit. I have no doubt that as Malachai's equipment needs grow so too will his musical tastes. This is why we are all here and conversing over our wonderful hobby.

dhyman's picture

i'm 52. still can't listen to classical. more importantly, when do you all start listening to kanye, taylor, dre, saba, public enemy? the only viable genre in the last 25 years that shows real genius and creativity?

MalachiLui's picture

You said “Taylor” when I think you meant “Tyler...” lol

But the list of “Kanye, Taylor, etc” definitely gave me a good laugh!

Good notes otherwise!

GD's picture

Gil Evans and Pusha T on the same playlist. A truly eclectic mix!

Jim Tavegia's picture

Igor, Why, Why, Why. Not my cup of tea. YM obviously varies, and that is fine.

MalachiLui's picture

if you read my review of "IGOR," I dissect the album and explain why it's great. it's a multi-dimensional story that's told in a very simple way, with FANTASTIC production as well. I'd recommend that you listen to it a few (more) times with maximum focus, and then it will click. I think you also have to listen to "flower boy" too to fully understand the impact of "IGOR."

Jim Tavegia's picture

you or I like something, doesn't make it great. It just means we like it. If he sells a million out of 300+ million in the US alone, that might mean something, but when I look around our fair land and see what many are FOR, I get very worried.

I take what I like and don't try and tell everyone that they have missed the boat. It is art and nothing more.

MalachiLui's picture

the lead single "EARFQUAKE" is now certified platinum if that counts for something.

and since most music critics agreed that "IGOR" is a great (or at least very good) album (score of 85 on Metacritic) I think it's safe to say that it's generally agreed upon that "IGOR" is a quality album.

Roy Martin's picture

Meaning "in matters of taste there can be no dispute." But there can be sharing and I appreciate your sharing some of your recent enthusiasms. Some items on your list are not for me but you sent me back to the Sam Rivers Mosaic box that has been mouldering on my shelf for years. If you haven't done so already, check out the Gil Evans arrangements of Hendrix songs that popped up on some of his later albums.

All the best to you.

cherrybobeddie's picture

I believe I was promised a Tidal playlist. I don't see it. I am, however, old. I wear bifocals.

MalachiLui's picture

it's the playlist embedded toward the top of the article. it's just hard to notice that it's a Tidal playlist since the logo is very small in the upper right corner.

Rumblestrip's picture

I for one applaud young Malachi for evaluating gear on music that he likes. As well as that he has his own tastes in music. Like Darko Audio, it's nice to see people who don't feel as if they have only listen to jazz, classical or folk to be an "audiophile".

MalachiLui's picture

i've always emphasized that being an audiophile is mainly about wanting to get more enjoyment out of the music. it can be nice to find a spectacular sounding recording of music you don't typically like just to see what your system can do, but those who focus on only well-recorded music are missing the point. as I type this, I'm listening to my vinyl copy of "WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?". it's not an audiophile recording by any means, but still sounds great on my system. another good example is "White Blood Cells." not a fantastic recording but the music is great and the Third Man pressing sounds really good. that's what this audiophile thing is all about - enjoying music as much as possible through good sound (or the best sound you can have).

cdvinyl's picture

I don't get exposed to what to me is the "newer" artists, so your samples were interesting. I think Tyler the Creator piqued my curiosity more than the others. I will continue to follow your posts with relish.

MalachiLui's picture

In case you haven't seen it already, here's my review of "IGOR:"

mariojzz's picture

Malachi you have to listen to the music you like.That's where the enjoyment comes.

avanti1960's picture

we appreciate your youthful perspective. i was also a music nerd at your age- lots of time to explore different music in depth.
thanks for the thom torke tip, sounds like a good one. i'll check out some samples of "igor", i am very open minded.
don't worry about classical- i have tried several times, most recently a purchase of mahler's 9th. it still reminds me of old movie soundtracks.

here are some jazz tidbits for you- extremely lost but not forgotten from well regarded artists- absolute 10/10 music ratings.
1) john scofield, rough house. just spectacular electric guitar jazz that flows like a smooth stream and has some sweet hooks.
2) larry coryell- tributaries. an acoustic guitar trio set that has virtuosity, pace and mood.

zer0's picture

Malachi, at first I was very turned off by your comment: "I actually enjoy this album more than OK Computer" regarding Anima. I have been a Radiohead and Thom Yorke fan since 1996 and after listening 5 times I just can't get into Anima...maybe I'll keep trying..I do like Dawn Chorus though...the rest feels soulless to me.

But anyways, after reading all this talk about IGOR on the comments I decided to give it try and I'm really liking it, So thanks! I will check all of the other stuff you recommended ; ) Cheers!

Egbert Souse's picture

Kanye West's "music" will be swept into the dustbin of history.

MalachiLui's picture

YOU should be swept into the dustbin of history idiot