It’s hard not to notice that the opening lyric on Paris Texas’ surprise follow-up to their head-turning Boy Anonymous EP from earlier this year zeros in on the question seemingly on everyone’s minds when they introduced that project with the aggressive rap-rock single “Heavy Metal.” Louie opens the track putting YouTube commenters on blast—the listeners who “can’t tell if it’s rock, can’t tell if it’s rap” and debating genre tags—before pledging allegiance to neither pole. It’s hard to believe that Gorillaz’s self-titled turned 20 this year, yet this is still a conversation we’re having.
Within a year that seems to have a particular emphasis on obliterating that barrier between two quickly dissolving reference points for most popular music—be it through Injury Reserve constructing their latest sonic statement out of prog-rock samples or another nod to Nirvana from Denzel Curry—Louie and Felix’s grunge-guitar-infused verses continue to stand out. It feels like they just had us all strutting around with their catchy, bombastic hooks stuck in our heads, and their new EP Red Hand Akimbo provides a refresher on the sounds and images that bolstered that first release, from the aforementioned opener “Dr. Aco’s Miracle Bullets” and its “Heavy Metal”–esque strong-arm guitars, to the music video for “Girls Like Drugs” re-contextualizing the rappers within the bizarre universe of Tom Waits music videos.
To get a better understanding of the EP’s sonic reference points, we had Felix and Louie put together a playlist of tracks they’ve had on repeat lately, many of which provide some insight on the unconventional turns Akimbo takes (none of these tracks, however, are spoken-word narrations). “The songs I picked just keep me on my toes, honestly,” notes Felix, whose picks range from SoundCloud rapper BoofpaxkMooky to Toro y Moi. “They help me understand different parts of the world.” Louie, picking up on the not-dissimilarly spiraling lyrics of RXKNephew and Say Anything, adds that his picks are less specifically tracks he’s had on heavy rotation for the past month. Hear all their picks below.
BoofPaxkMooky & StoopidXool, “Bag Szn”
GrindHard E & Rio Da Yung Og, “Hardly Breathe”
TisaKorean & Kblast, “iRock (Sippin on Dat Ciroc)”
SahBabii feat. T3, “House Party”
Toro y Moi, “Labyrinth”
Bobbi Humphrey, “San Francisco Lights”
Jordan Ward, “Lil Baby Crush”
RXKNephew, “American Tterroristt”
The Pack, “Oh Go”
Say Anything, “About Falling”
Enjoy, “Genetic Tree (Remix)”