Essential Tracks This Week: ShrapKnel, Dean Blunt, and more

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Like noisy, hallucinatory hip-hop? White-knuckle hardcore with a noise rock undercurrent? Hypnagogic pop from an enigmatic cult artist? Post-punk with a sense of unpredictable art-rock ambition? This week’s Essential Tracks has all of these and more. Check out our favorite songs of the week.

Blurbs by Jeff Terich (JT) and Mia Euceda (ME).

ShrapKnel – “Illusions of P”

Not quite as prolific as their Backwoodz labelmate billy woods, the abrasive New York hip-hop duo ShrapKnel have maintained a steady schedule of one quiver of acid-tipped beats and hallucinatory narratives every two years—and they’re right on time with the upcoming release of Nobody Planning to Leave in June. Its lead single “Illusions of P” is the duo at their most disorienting, PremRock introducing their descent into a hall of shattering mirrors with the declaration, “None of this will last forever but you pray it will.” In only two verses and one chorus, the two emcees bend reality and slowly increase the feeling of ill-ease and terror. It’s subtly menacing, compellingly weird, and a thrilling introduction to the group’s next chapter. – JT

From Nobody Planning to Leave, out June 7 via Backwoodz

Dean Blunt – “Downer” (Feat. Panda Bear & Vegyn)

The experimental pop heavyweights link up again, this time with London-based producer Vegyn, whose recent dive into ’90s trip-hop and the psychedelic Madchester sound are apparent on “Downer,” their latest collaboration. Dean Blunt’s signature mellow guitar tone elevates the downtempo drumbeat, not to mention Panda Bear’s ethereally hypnagogic voice, making for a dreamy, albeit melancholic fuzz. This track is like a more sedative, depressive version of the upbeat Euro electro-pop-rock the FIFA video games like to feature (which isn’t a diss at all, by the way). Let’s hope Dean doesn’t change his mind and wipe this one from existence. – ME

Out now

Vince Staples – “Black&Blue”

Vince Staples is known for both his stoic delivery and deadpan humor, but so many of his songs are elegiac. His previous album Ramona Park Broke My Heart is an ode to a lost youth, and violence often creeps within the shadows in much of his work. But the soulful and introspective “Black&Blue,” kicking off new album Dark Times, shows how pernicious the darkness is around him—poverty, mortality, isolation. Even his heroes and family aren’t around to hear his tribute: “I spend a lot of my time missin’ our kinfolks/Put ’em inside of a rhyme hopin’ they live on.” But the gospel-inflected sound of the song gives it a feeling of transcendence in spite of the grief, a ray of light to follow even when the path ahead is unclear. – JT

From Dark Times, out now via Def Jam

Blood – “One Dimensional Man”

Blood’s music is built on a foundation of post-punk, a rhythmically complex and abrasive sound that holds its cards close to the vest—revealing its tricks subtly and with intention, but often without warning. “One Dimensional Man,” the debut single from the group’s upcoming debut album, is as much art-rock as punk, its swirl of gorgeous sound veering on the psychedelic—and a press release cites artists such as Talk Talk and Grouper as perhaps unlikely but apt comparisons. But the tension of “One Dimensional Man” is what drives it, a dark and urgent core anchoring the song as its melodies reach into ever more rarefied space. – JT

From Loving You Backwards, out August 2 via Ramp Local

Bad Breeding – “Retribution”

Stevenage’s Bad Breeding are a bit like their Australian contemporaries in Geld in their furious hybrid of hardcore and noise rock, a sound that could shear muscle from bone and make pavement boil. “Retribution” is the group at their most explosive and visceral, a frontal assault with its most scathing vitriol reserved for the powers that be: “Because these days are ours to take/Seize them with union, love and rage.” It’s a positive message at its core—we can only get through this together—but it carries far more potent implications. – JT

From Contempt, out June 14 via One Little Independent

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