Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for March 27, 2023: 100 gecs, Maxo, Channel Tres
Published Mar 27, 2023Geckos? Ducks? Oh my! Apparently we bought a very tiny zoo with this week's edition of Exclaim!'s Staff Picks, although 10,000 lizards might actually take up a fair amount of space. With besties and coping mechanisms in equal abundance, we're here to provide whatever kind of emotional support a small slippery reptilian pal or waddling feathered friend might. Let's let March go out like a lamb, shall we?
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(Dog Show / Atlantic)
Nearly four years removed from their debut album, the hotly anticipated sophomore effort from 100 gecs delivered on all its expectations. The duo of Laura Les and Dylan Brady lean further into their signature maximalist blend of hyperpop, ska and pop-punk for 26 minutes of the most rotted-out meme-inflected horrors one could reasonably be expected to digest in 2023. With its singles doled out over the course of the last several years, few of the album's 10 tracks are actually new to fans' ears; however, hearing them in cohesion — with their scattershot hat tips to Cypress Hill, Sleigh Bells, blink-182 and more — gives this hyperactive monolith all the more fuel to feed its own frenzy. Look no further than the record's opening bars on "Dumbest Girl Alive" for its ethos: "If you think I'm stupid now, you should see me when I'm high / And I'm smarter than I look, I'm the dumbest girl alive."
"Love Always Came So Easy for You"
There's nothing more infuriating than the people who, seemingly by virtue of simply existing, are loved without trying to be. Bestfriend air out their frustrations with this confounding charisma, or magnetism, or dark magic or whatever on the latest aptly titled preview of their forthcoming sophomore EP places i've left. With an assist from Australian singer-songwriter and producer Gab Strum, the IRL BFF duo of Vancouver's Stacy Kim and Toronto's Kaelan Geoffrey shake the can until it fizzes — pulling the tab on softly skittering percussion and twinkling synths bubble up until the drum machine explosion mid-way through. Is this why they call it popping off? Speaking of, coasts will dissolve at Bestfriend's EP release show in Toronto on April 20.
Luna Elle takes control of her own destiny on new singles "9 to 5" and "3 Days 3 Nights" — paired together as Coping Mechanisms. The 17-year-old Mississauga crooner demonstrates her skepticism of romance with a sophisticated lyrical prowess on both songs, expressing her disillusion with love on the former as she sings, "Alone with my thoughts and my feelings / With all of the things that you've been concealing / I can't get away but now I need healing." On the latter, Elle demands the answers that every anguished lover seeks: "Why'd you make a mess of my heart? / Why am I always to blame for all of your faults?"
"None of Us Have But a Little While (feat. Sharon Van Etten)"
The skin-tingling, levitation-inducing highlight of Lonnie Holley's stirring fourth record Oh Me Oh My, "None of Us Have But a Little While" is pure incandescence. It may feature the unmistakable Sharon Van Etten — she stands behind the outsider icon, providing wordless peals of voice — but this is Holley's show. His voice, richer in feeling and texture at 73 than it's ever been before, is heart-shattering; "The definition of gone / Is when we look around for our friends / And they are not here any longer with us," he sings, a sentiment so simple and painful that it nearly swallows you whole. Crucially though, there's an immense hope that swells in the song's blossoming arrangement — we may not have long to live, but that makes it all the more meaningful.
Quack! Quack! Quack! Vancouver's Nicholas Krgovich shares the mighty Ducks, a DIY album recorded solo on a four-track. He's in quiet singer-songwriter mode here, with intimate songs filled with appropriately plainspoken lyrics, which are sometimes poignant ("She asks, 'Nick, are you lonely?' / I don't even flinch and say, 'Yeah'") and sometimes funny ("The foul stench of Bounce dryer sheets / In the lane behind the house / A box of every Harry Potter book").
Even God Has a Sense of Humor
On "Who Gives Me Breath," Maxo captures the feel of Even God Has a Sense of Humor within two lines: "Standing in the booth, I let it pour, it's me and you / Like I don't got a thing to lose, I let it all go." More than the studio, there are moments on the insular album — highlighted by production from Karriem Riggins, Madlib and Lastnamedavid — in which one feels closer to the artist's mind, witness to an expressive self-analysis assisted by Pink Siifu, keiyaA and recent Staff Picks alumnus Liv.e.
Real Cultural Shit
(Godmode / RCA)
Channel Tres has spent the last half-decade dropping groovy, undeniably chill singles and EPs. With Real Cultural Shit, he cements the "Compton house" sound he's made a name for himself with while welcoming his most dancefloor-ready phase yet. Reflections on friendships and growing up are met with a maturity that remains fun, with tracks like "6am" and "All My Friends" earning constant rotation in my "no sad girls" playlist.