@@@ Halsey: The Tradition (Capitol/UMG, 2021). Halsey’s new record is getting quite a bit of ink out there, is it a massive artistic statement? We shall see! HIstory would say it’s more of a marketing effort rather than a true statement. The opening track of her new record, it starts up with piano and Halsey singing. It grows with more vocal tracks, an understated string part and then back to the verse. Aargh, I don’t know if I should click to the next track cuz I’m not feeling this, it’s collapsing under the weight of its own whatevs. The second track Bells in Santa Fe, starts differently, oh not really it just takes out the piano, nope it doesn’t even do that. Yikes I could use some beats to distract from all the whatevs. It’s Sunday and maybe I just suck today but I will check out one more track tomorrow and see if it fits me any better but the first two tracks are not encouraging. It’s Monday and I promised a second listen so here we are! The production signals an epicness I don’t find in the track itself. The lyrics are interesting for a mainstream track, highlighting the mistreatment of women and how that’s just a tradition. I like the segue with about 90 seconds left but I could use more anger and less drama or something more sonically. In its way it’s very conservative and traditional.
@@@ Lorde: Solar Power (UMG New Zealand, 2021). It’s mainstream female musician day! I saw somebody on the Twatter taking down Lorde for her condescending to normal people. Oy, I can’t believe listen to this mainstream shit as real music, the vibe here is quite manipulative and so shallow as to trigger a depression. On the surface (and that’s about how deep it all goes) it’s a breezy ode to going to the beach. It’s 2/3s done by the time the drums kick in and at that point I want to drive my car into the ocean. The outro consists of stacks of vocals singing the word ‘solar’ over a rockin’ beat and a little melody at the end. It’s hard to convey how something put together in such a manner, so exquisitely manicured and groomed before release can still be trash but that’s the view from here. This is straight pop music trash. I’m not sure if Lorde is guilty of any condescending to normal people but she sure as shit took that three minutes and I’ll never get that back. Beware the zombie pop!
@@@ Kacey Musgraves: star-crossed (Interscope, 2021) Folks just love motherfuckin’ Kacey Musgraves. I have nothing against her, I just haven’t witnessed the genius quite yet. I keep an open mind and peep this pre-release track from a full length coming out in September. It opens with a nylon string harp type thing and a huge vocal sound before a kick drum comes, then a shushing type shaker and an outstanding synth bass which is my favorite element of the track, it fits like a key in a lock!. It’s a love track burger with plenty of cheesy epic-ness. Don’t love the arpeggiated synth sound that approximates a guitar. I hate to be a finicky prick (not really) but that harp-y sound and the arpeggiated synth aren’t the most creative things I’ve heard. Still a big fan of the bass. It’s all manicured and arranged professionally, I just don’t encounter that much passion in it.
@@@ Meek Mill: Sharing Locations (Maybach/Atlantic, 2021) I don’t have the greatest view of the hip hop that appears up on the hot tracks section of Apple Music but I remain open minded. Three MCs, a brisk tempo, a fairly generic trap beat that sounds a bit toy like as it comes out of my monitors. I like the bass and the bounce. I’m paying all the lawyers for the murderers, there’s a lot of murderers up in this track, that’s the vocal hook. Not sure on that, not sure if I dig that or even understand that. I know folks love Meek Mill and I have nothing against him but this sounds kinda disposable. The all vocal arrangement (meaning the sounds outside of drum, bass and rhymes) sounds a bit cheap.
@@@ Jany Green: Lost in Love (Self-released, 2021) You gotta give it up for the interwebz to be able to present non-stereotypical combinations of music. This is some rock music but it’s got a lot black music feels, including the almost MC rhymes of the singer and the moderate amount of swing swirled into the arrangement. Lots of guitars, plenty of pop elements, even some hip hop as I mentioned. I got to this via this week’s Line of Best Fit email. I let the player click through and he pursues the same formula. I like the mash of different styles while not super connecting to the songs. It’s not quite shopping mall music but it’s not that far off.
@@@ Indigo De Souza: Hold U (Saddle Creek, 2021) Also off this week’s Line of Best Fit and released by Saddle Creek, a home for sensitive white people’s music. I haven’t peeped anything Saddle Creek wise for a long while so here we go. It opens simple drum machine, keyboard and female singer, clipped below. It seems to want to dip a toe in dance type music with the plinky guitar, ooh, there we go as the simple drum machine gets a big addition with a rock beat but upbeat and danceable. It reminds me of a Peter Gabriel type of track where other musics are infused into rock business. Handclaps, sidestick in the break to go with the guitar where the attempted funk is centered. It’s gonna be all right, I want to Hold U. It’s a bit clunky as one would expect from an indie label. Yowsa, the next track up cued the indie guitars and we’re back in rawk-land. I’m outie, but if you feel this have at it, there’s no shame in it.
@@@ Malawi Mouse Boys: I’m so Tired of Evil (Toy Gun Murder, 2021) I got to this track via the fine folks at WRIR in Virginia. I couldn’t find the tune I”m listening so I clipped another track up here. As African musicians continue to outperform in unexpected ways this is a reggae tinged vocal tour de force in a native tongue. I have no clue what he’s actually singing but it must be related to the title. These guys are called the Malawi Mouse Boys so either we’re hearing a dude and his guitar or they’ve misnamed themselves as it’s a stripped down tune. He just keeps digging this acoustic guitar/singing groove through the course of the 6 minute track. I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more.
@@@ Jon Quan & Carlton Livingston: Accidental Badman (Easy Star, 2021) Bounce it up classic reggae feels in this story of an accidental badman. It’s a full ensemble reggae band including the bubbling organ with a loverboy singer who does some fun brup bup bup bupping on the microphone. Lyrics center around the mistreatment of a man as a chilld that led to a murder and now he’s on the run, he never wanted a life of crime. It’s a great groove, but it doesn’t make me jump up and down the way the track by Kenya Eugene, Bun it! did yesterday. I let the player click through and I’m actually enjoying the dub more than the actual track.
@@@ Kenya Eugene: Bun It (SOA Group, 2021) Off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email, where I get a lot of my world music jams. Great station! After a single female vocal opens up the tune you get a full ensemble, modernly produced, roots reggae track. Ms. Eugene is concious and passionate and she starts to work rhythmically on the microphone. Wow, fat track full of righeous sentiments. I’m feeling this. Crab in a bucket mentality, we bun it! Bun it as in we burn it, she’s had enough of a lot awful things happening in the world. This track has it all as far as I’m concerned so if you dig reggae, you best peep it. This was originally the second listen of the day but after hearing the opener I had to boost this up even if it’s racist against white people and shit.
@@@ Yargii: Just Wait (Skill Syrup, 2021) I got to this punk rock track via an Australian music magazine called Happy Magazine, which is bit of a strange name. I thought this was set to be a pumped up punk rawk nugget but I’m greeted with a mopey guitar strum, though it picks up when the tune proper drops. It’s a little twee indie in the vocal melody, a bit punky in its simplicity and a bit poppy in the arrangement. The lyrics are a little melancholy and a bit hopeful at the same time, they kinda pass without a huge impression left, the melody hits harder than the sentiment.
@@@ Samia: Show Up (Grand Jury , 2021) I can’t remember how I got to this track, sorry about dat, cash me outside. To my ears it’s a blend of pop and indie with power chords in the chorus and poppier production in the verse. It’s a saddie, it’s a song for the people she loves and has loved, it’s a fine sentiment if not a bit bland. I’m finding the delivery and tone of her vocals to be dragging down what is a pretty usual arrangement. It perks up a bit in the chorus but I tell ya it could use a Red Bull.
@@@ Lingua Ignota: Pennsylvania Furnace (Sargent House, 2021) Off a Pitchfork 10 best reviewed albums of the week email. There’s a one sentence blurb on Apple Music saying this record is about betrayal and the repercussions of that betrayal. This is the fourth tune off the record and it opens up slow with some nice piano chords and some impassioned singing. In the tradition of Tori Amos and Nick Cave mashed up in a car crash. I’m feeling the piano, how it’s played and how it sounds and the minimal arrangement keeps the dramatical vocalizing within accepted boundaries. My rigid boundaires, that is. There’s a breathy one note synth that comes and go and I think that’s just a righteous choice. The tune is building in energy and volume without adding a ton of new parts, she’s just adding more of herself to the equation. I like this track and if you like emotional business rocked via piano check it out. I know everybody has been shitting themselves over Nick Cave’s recent work but I consider this to be similar in themes but more original in its songwriting and sounds. I’m listening to the tune after Pennsylvania Furnace and it’s a country dirge with a huge pile of voices and it’s dark as fuck anchored in some satire or indulgence of fucked in the head Christianity.
@@@ Boldy James & The Alchemist: Photographic Memories (ALC/Boldy James, 2021)Hip hop off a recent Pitchfork 10 best reviewed albums of the week that I’m on the email list for. I picked this track because I’m an Earl Sweatshirt fan, not pants shitting but he’s caught my ear before. At the center of the arrangement is a romantic/lush female soul vocal sample over a chill beat. It’s a purple drank kinda feeling here, slowed down and a bit blunted. I’d like to hear some different sounds here. I do like the sample how they start to chop it up but I still want a bit more. I’m peeping the opener Double Hockey Sticks and it’s got a bit of a Helloween spooky flow that gives way to ambient drummer. The rhyming on both tunes I’ve checked is solid but a bit low energy spittin’. I think you’re supposed to be high for this record, it’s got that kind of feeling to it. Ooops, right in the middle of the track, the vibe shifts and the energy picks up. I like this. Mixed bag, grab the weed.
@@@ Lucinda Chua: Until I Fall (4AD, 2021) Opens up slowly, percolating with a bit of modulation and orchestral string action over the top of that rolling dark sound. A female singer, Chua I assume, comes in very gently but not overly annoyingly over a super chill keyboard progression that matches well with the ambient sounds that opened the track. The subtlety of the ambient sounds here is impressive and gives a pretty hip framework for her to vocalize. This is most definitely music for people who have nice brunches and keep their couches super clean, this is not cheap beer and humping behind a dumpster action. The second tune is a solo piano piece with light ambient garnish which I find a bit refreshing and humble. The absence of a singer that is. I’m not usually a fan of 4AD business but I’m open minded and dig what I’ve heard thus far on this record.
@@@ $uicideboy$: Long Term Effects of Suffering (G59, 2021) Off the Twatter! Super dark hip hop I got to via the Pitchfork Twatter feed. The whole 25 minute record is attached below but I will be peeping the first three tunes. Lots of opioid America type titles like If Self Destruction was an Olympic Sport I’d Be Tonya Harding, Degeneration in the key of A minor. Trap beats lend an ominous feel to the opening track, the arrangements are pretty standard trippy focused. Lots of cloudy synths and plucked sounds. The rhyming is team style, usually two dudes at the same time with individual breakouts. Super fat assed bass sounds in this second track Self Destruction. I thought the most fleshed out track was the fourth one 5 grand at 8 to 1. I love the idea of these tracks and what they’re trying to do but I wish they were more exciting and dynamic.
@@@ Chorusing: Watching the Beams (Western Vinyl, 2021) Last week’s All Music notable release email! Slotted as alternative, this is the third track on the record and it opens up fully electronic. Oh no, a rock style singer, that changes things quite a bit. The combination of the vocal delay and the sci-fi-ish electro backing gives moderate to medium Pink Floyd feels. I like one of the synth sounds and I don’t love the arpeggiated synth. There are three at least going here with a drum machine beat. I love the electronic music and I guess this is why I gravitate towards the African electronic music as it tends to be wilder and more imaginative. This isn’t full Republican but it’s kinda staid.
@@@ The Bronx: Curb Feelers (Cooking Vinyl, 2021) This full length banger is out in 5 days and this track rocks a hybrid, quasi-mainstream rawk/punk combo platter. More melody and less thrash but plenty of energy, the sounds here are polished and modern. Very riffy with a singer, not a metal orc or a classic metal opera singer, just a normal rock singer. Rock is so out of favor something that’s decent and not fully shopping malled out that’s not metal seems like a strange animal walking across the street. I checked another track and it’s big rawk energy as well.
@@@ Willow Kayne: Two Seater (Sony Music, 2021) A single from a major label and this might be a Sony music arm that’s not located in the U.S. because this is too odd and not in line with the steady diet of garbage coming out of major labels heah. The chorus does indeed straighten out into a pretty tuneful section but hold up, let me google this Willow Kayne and indeed she be from Bristol in the UK. I like the bass sound and arrangement is quite sophisto, the lyrics are pretty shallow with reasons why she’s gonna buy a two seater but whatevs. Interesting feels in the verse, grabs you when it opens up, not sure it follows through.
@@@ Hana Vu: Everybody’s Birthdays (Ghostly, 2021) I got to this track via the Twatter and the listen below via a music publicist email. This is getting the big pre-release push with the full length banger not out ’til November of this year. The track opens with a little cloud synth action and an ’80s gated snare sound and female singer comin’ on in a wavy, a bit all over the place vocal style before shit firms up in the chorus. Now I was half hearted on this til I heard the cowbell tucked in the back of the mix in the chorus. Fucking cowbell, you can’t deny the power of that can you? Who can fuck with cowbell? Nobody, that’s who. I appreciate the sonic delineations between the verse and the chorus, it’s not like the track doesn’t move as a lot of indie business does kind just opens up with a vibe and then power flounders. Not a huge fan of these sounds, if you like them then good on you and have at it.
@@@ Alice Longyu Gao: KANPAI (Self-released, 2021) This is an insteresting smash up of Japanese melodies and right now dancefloor pop banger sounds. By the time the chorus comes around she’s chanting Kanpai….kanpai….kanpai. This track is jam packed with kinetic energy. Sharp vocal rhythmic delivery and each sounds seems to be chosen to elevate the energy. Now the point of the song? Not quite sure. Google the title, check. Kanpai is a drinking toast and that clarifies a lot of what might be going on here. It’s got sort of a manic drunken feel to it, I most definitely get that. At first I thought Ms. Gao might be satirizing her own culture with the sped up off kilter flavors of the track, and she might be, but the alcohol explanation makes more sense.