@@@ Pom Pom Squad: Death of a Cheerleader (City Slang, 2021) Some pretty rote power pop punk I got to via Vice’s best albums of 2021 thus far. Crunchy guitars, female singer with a droll delivery and a whole lotta vocal melodies. The third track, Crying, is supposed to be the clearest example of its genius combining a string, orchestral opening that gives way to the aforementioned power pop punk formula. The two styles aren’t integrated so it’s weird to me as it’s just a brief string opening that segues. WTF? It’s perfectly serviceable in what it does but I’m not a huge fan of the singer’s delivery. So solid B. Some PR douche got this record on the list.
@@@ Deem Spencer: Deem’s Tape (The Flower Shop, 2021) Also off a Vice list but hip hop this time. I’m digging Spencer’s bouncy slightly against the grain delivery over some tasty keyboard vamping. The dreaminess continues in the second tune but you get a chill beat and if I’m not mistaken he’s going for a lofi bedroom/hip hop thing and is pulling it off for the most part. His flow on the mic is sloppy and relentless, that’s how I would characterize it. I really like the front of the record is outstanding but it fades a little bit as it moves through the list of tunes but I could be wrong and I’m going to check this record out more when I get a chance.
@@@ DijahSB: New Balance (DijahSB, 2021) First two listens today off music publicist emails. Very stylish sounds here, some of the finest synth sounds to be found out there can be found in hip hop. Really impressive, almost three dimensional pulsating synths. Beats here are not trap which really changes the vibe and is refreshing to my ears. Two female MCs on about I’m not sure, as I thought originally it was gonna be about sneakers but it doesn’t appear to be about sneakers. I’m not sure how important it is to know what the lyrics are about if they’re purposely not presented in a way easily digested. The rhyming and tone is tight, minimal and funky. Very good track.
@@@ Boom Bap Project: Deion Sanders (Self-released, 2021) Oh this is a very different type of hip hop track with retro beats, rhymes and epic rock feels personified by big guitar riffs. I like the droning high synth barely audible in the verses and I don’t like the guitar parts. Beats are cool, the MCs are all right. I’m agnostic on Deion Sanders, I have nothing against the brother nor do I worship him and his flow. It’s all right, the track that is.
@@@ Joel Culpepper: Thought About You (Pepper, 2021) A blend of funk and smooth r&b that really caught my ear in the chorus when he hits the ‘thought about you’ hook. Culpepper kills it on the microphone, falsetto, funky and engaging. I don’t love the guitar sound but I’ll trade that for the hook in the chorus. Lots of Curtis Mayfield lush arrangement feels here as well as Prince style pop funk on the docket. I looked him up and he’s a Brit which I think is a bit surprising as well as impressive as he has a real knack for American style ’70s soul and funk music. If you enjoy these genres you should check out this record and I will be doing the same.
@@@ Attawalpa: Killer (Attawalpa, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off this week’s Line of Best Fit email. This track is a slotted at mainstream but sounds very mainstream in both its arrangement and intent. The singer is a low voice male who provides some contrast to a fairly energetic arrangement. I can’t clearly hear the vocal hook so I don’t really know what the song is about — I found the lyrics on their bandcamp page and it’s we all drop dead, we all down dead it’s in that vein. I like the production, it’s very well done, but I’m less enthused about the lyrics and the vocal performance.
@@@ Anne-Marie: Therapy (Warner UK, 2021) I don’t know what to say about the number of mainstream confessional pop songs about mental illness. I can’t tell if they’re genuine statements or something pre-planned as a topic that resonates with listeners. It’s weird to hear cheerful sounds tied to this set of emotions — not saying it shouldn’t be done, but it’s a strange listening experience. Production here is medium bounce focused mostly on electro sounds. Anne Marie is a good singer and overall it’s a restrained sad dancefloor banger.
@@@ Mashd N Kutcher: Get on the Beers (Brewery Records, 2020) Stupid and brilliant at the same time — some clown ass down Under spliced up some news broadcast footage about Covid and turned it into a celebration of beer and pub culture all served up over trashy dancefloor banging. Take this seriously, get on the beers, you can’t beat that shit. Classic unt-tss drum machine action, an appearance by the Orange Chaos Pig, and some super fat arena style synth action. Very funny and stupid.
@@@ Hermitude: Don’t Forget Me (Nettwerk, 2021) This is a breezy world music infused dancefloor slider with a G rated hook and a loverboy singer. It’s pretty straightforward with it’s boombaton/reggaeton beat and friendly sounds so I’m going to peep a couple of other tracks. Lots of guest vocalists, mainstream electro sounds, it’s a suburban/normie/cubicle dance thing. Not really for freaks like me.
@@@ Bizzy Banks: Genesis (Atlantic, 2021) Off the Twatter! This tracks opens with a very cool synth keyboard patch with a little bit of crunch and a tight rhythm. When Mr. Banks hits the microphone, he’s quite urgent. I like almost everything about this song except the lyrics are stupid. I like the hook that it starts with him and he’s called Genesis, and I like he drops some rhymes in Spanish, but other than that, meh. I’ve checked out a bunch of his other stuff and he’s incredible on the mic, as for thoughts and concepts it’s get money, shoot people, bang bitches, standard business. He says get money at the beginning of every track and not just on this record. It’s not like I’m a communist and shit but I don’t need to hear that.
@@@ Muwosi: Frozen Blueberries (Leaving Records, 2021) Pleasantly retro and chill r&b that I got to via a Bandcamp recommended listening list. Muwosi’s voice is the star here as the beats and the keys are pretty basic, I take that back there’s some pretty stylish keyboard tickling going on here. It’s a dreamy vibe and it works, I like her voice and the lack of oversinging and 47 backing vocal tracks that is pretty common these days.
@@@ Josh A: Warzone (Josh A, 2021) I got to this via a music publicist email. It’s whiteboy hip hop with space age, sci fi sounds and a trap undercarriage. Anybody producing or knowledgeable about electronic music production knows that the beats and bass come pre fabbed. The main offender to me is the guitar tones, they’re pretty cheesy unfortunately. Mr. A. is all right on the mic, neither shameful or particularly strong but he flows all right. I’m briefly checking out another track and there’s a fair amount of Disney feels to go with the dark lyrics which I think works for a lot of folks out there. I don’t find it very interesting.
@@@ Rowan: One of these Days (Beverly Martel, 2021) Also from a music publicist email. These guys hail from Ireland and they definitely have heard The Strokes. By the time they throw some pub energy into it, it’s a blend. I like the verse, the chorus less, oh no a tambourine! The tambourine is my mortal enemy. There are a fair amount of unpredictable choices here — a slow down that breaks the rhythmic flow and a brief and fiery guitar shred at the end of the tune, so I appreciate their efforts to freshen the formula.
@@@ Natty Jean: Ready (Little Rock Sound, 2021) A blend of more modern dancehall with roots reggae conciousness. Not only does Natty Jean throw some serious microphone energy he has plenty of help from background singers on this track. Plenty of percussion too. Downside might be limited to a huge cloudy synth that drops a descending melody to open the track and is woven throughout albeit at lower levels. Lyrically, there’s not that much to discuss the dude is ready. Me ready, ready, super ready super ready. He sounds prepared.
@@@ Soul Sugar: Cool Down (Gee Recordings, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off WRIR’s weekly playlist email, those folks have mad style in picking and spinning music. I don’t believe these are retro tracks I think they’ve been made more recently — hold up let me go google that shit. It is not a retro reissue typa thing and this track is quite stylish — solid summertime reggae bounce, lots of melody and a roots sound without descending into the murky Lee Perry depths, which I love btw. I checked out other tracks on this record and it really is a mix of genres — there are a couple of loverboy clunkers in addtion to some ballads and a bunch of rootsy jams.
@@@ Meta and the Cornerstones: Breeze (Self-released, 2021) We finish up today’s listening sesh with more roots reggae. I could listen to roots reggae all day. It’s a right in yer face production style that I find really nice. Meta, I think the singer, has a tight rhythmic approach and a world weary gravelly tone to his voice. It’s concious lyrics all the way including burning Babylon down and love being the only way. Hopefully when he burns Babylon he really uses extra matches and burns it down really completely and thoroughly. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, it’s a tad epic for my taste and there are a couple of rock vibes that I don’t usually enjoy being mixed into my reggae. Anthemic roots reggae with a unique sound.
@@@ La Luz: In the Country (Harly Art, 2021) Twatter! A pre-release track from an indie hipster upcoming full length banger. This track is a surf-y slower track with female vocals. Plenty of twang to be had here in the guitar neighborhood, a little electro synth garnish and some California hippie style vocal harmonizing. I think that’s the money shot right there, people dig that harmonizing. I’m agnostic on it, neither be hatin’ nor lovin’ it. It’s an all right tune, I just wish it had more energy — maybe a faster tempo or something to contrast all those vocals and electro garnish.
@@@ Abstract Mindstate: A Wise Tale (Yzy Snd, 2021) Same here, via the Twatter! This for me is a dream as I get to hear Kanye West’s sounds without hearing Kanye West! Big plus for me. I thought this was an album but it’s a single with an fresh faced sounding MC over a soul based arrangement including a male whoo hoo. Multiple MCs are revealed as the song progresses with a female MC I like a whole bunch. It sounds like pitches the sample down in the chorus and back up in the verse, that’s an interesting move while making the chorus a bit stranger and weirder. Kanye West is nothing if not strange and weird and while I like the sounds I prefer the MCs and think they shine here.
@@@ Benoit Delbecq: The Weight of Light (Pyroclastic, 2021) I saw this French pianist’s new record shouted out on the Twatter. There’s a whole blurb on this record on Apple Music and I bet there’s more explanation on the interwebz but it’s a solo piano record that uses various prepared piano techniques to generate percussive tones to go along with melodic ideas. The video below is an almost 10 minute banger and I dig it. I want to hop around a bit to see if the rest of the record is of similar structure and quality. I’m checking out the first track called The Loop of Chicago and it’s pretty high quality. The clarity of sound and spaciousness here certainly helps you enter into the music and remain engaged. Check this out, it’s soothing and pulls you in at the same time.
@@@ Patrick Paige II: Whisper (Fat Possum, 2021) I got to this via the twatter! It was shouted by an indie music tastemaker, wow what an oxymoron — indie music and taste in the same sentence. Out on Fat Possum means it’s gotta be connected to classic punk, funk or soul music. I love the bass sound here and the rhyming is chill (with delay) and it evokes retro hip hop and funk more than it does trap and more modern hip hop subgenres. Even significant Parliament/Funkadelic feels. I moved from the back end of the record to the third tune Big Plays and it’s a whole ‘nother trip. Trappy, quick rhymes, boasting, all the updated flavors. Lots of guests here so I’m wondering if Paige is the producer and he subcontracts the rhymes. I like black music of all flavors and I like this all right without jumping up and down. Have a slight preference for the old school track as that’s less commmon than new style trap product.
@@@ Bonniesongs: Ice Cream (Small Pond, 2019) I’m on the mailing list for many non-American music periodicals and I got to this track via an online music magazine out of Australia. This is some modified rock and I believe I hear cowbell — oh glorious cowbell, the perfect hand percussion. Most notable is Bonniesongs’ voice which is almost painfully waif-ish, she sounds less than 10 years old. This is not a put down it’s an observation of the tone of her voice. If you took her out of the track it would be a pretty ordinary. The track is a celebration of ice cream, and both ironically and fittingly she’ll have vanilla! That about concludes the review right there. Straight rock beat with a schmear of cowbell, a fair amount of electric guitar and the waif voice! Will you have vanilla??? It’s up to you.
@@@ Theo Croker: (Sony Music, 2021) I saw this jazz trumpeter shouted out on the Twatter. Love the Twatter! Wow, this is a trip. Snippets of what sounds like an indigenous drum circle opens the track and then is played along with by the musicians on the track at the same tempo. I’m not sure what to think of that. Otherwise it’s a bottom heavy straight jazz/jazz fusion-y type formula. The drum circle is brought in again and I don’t think I like the effect it produces. Croker is the trumpeter here and he’s all right, it’s hard to compete with how much is going on this track but it’s more of an ensemble piece with the solo laid over it. Like the bass player, don’t love the snare sound, and the trumpet sounds a bit weird and kinda cool at the same time.