@@@ 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.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Tkay Maidza: Cashmere (4AD, 2021) Pitchfork 10 Best reviewed albums of the week a few weeks ago. I heard Ms. Maidza a few years ago when she was an Aussie only indigenous pop singer but I could hear then that she might end up in the mighty Pitchfork at some point. It opens just a wee bit below midtempo with a plain beat that doesn’t really signify a particular style. The arrangement is pretty minimal, tucked under the voice/voices and spacious with some guitar arranged as a synth might be arranged. Lyrically, she’s soft as cashmere and the rest of the lyrics support that vibe which is interesting because a lot of American singers are hard, they’re hard as shit and they’re coming for you. I’m checking the first tune and the vibe on this record is pretty chill with some really nice bass parts and spacious sounds. I’m feeling the opener, Eden, much more than Cashmere. Her rhyming is odd and very engaging.
@@@ Mariah the Scientist: 2 You (RCA, 2021) Same Pitchfork list! A different vibe, but not completely different. This is more of a sci fi arrangement with some deftly chopped and served up glitched and Ms. Scientist goes pretty mainstream and epic over the top. Outside of the vocal chop shop and her singing there’s not a ton of stuff going on the arrangement, it’s diva time. I like how the processed vocals de-cheese the whole tune but overall it’s pretty mainstream. Not horribly so, and it’s certainly not a cheese comet crossing the sky but it’s pretty straight, which is fine but not how I ultimately roll. I let the player click through and it’s the same move — they take a small nugget of something to support her vocal work and she just goes off.
@@@ Ike Palumbo & El Da Sensei: Blast Off! (Spacelab, 2021) Some retro indie hip hop I got to via a music publicist email. Opens up somewhat old school with a swinging piano part and a NY style drumbeat. The MCs rhyme off that piano riff, and while it’s not a straight boast track they are about to do like the title and blast off. I like the piano part though I think it gets repeated too much and the guitar part at the end is cool. Old school rhymin’.
@@@ Novacain: Shine on Me (Authentic Record, 2021) I think I saw this on the Twatter but I’m not a 100% on that. Rawk! Upbeat danceable rock that could be the soundtrack to a Friends sequel but it’s rawk. Oh boy, this is not my demographic for sure. There’s an interesting guitar melody that shows up at spots and a little drumbeat alternative that I dig but overall the vibe is one of perkiness. Alone I hide, I need a resurrection for my pride that’s the first half of the chorus hook, I’m like a treasure chest living at the bottom of the sea, so shine on me. That’s the whole kahuna right there, two slices and a piece of luncheon meat. Not sure what to make of that sentiment so I’ll just leave it at that.
@@@Nas: 40 Side (Mass Appeal, 2021) I haven’t heard anything by NAS in a long long time, but he still going and he remains an impressive and legendary figure in NYC hip hop. Sounds here are updated, neither trap nor straight NYC retro ’90s business. Very stylish bass sound with skittering hats in contrast. I like it without jumping up and down. The player clicked through to the fourth song, EPMD 2, where the old school group EPMD makes a guest appearance as well as Eminem who brings some super bounce to his turn on the mic. This track really lifts itself up, especially when Eminem hits it rhyming off the arrangement. I’m guessing bunches of youth out there don’t know Nas and who and where he represents but there’s solid business on what I heard.
@@@ Liars: Sekwar (Mute, 2021) Saw these guys profiled on the Guardian, throw ’em a peep! Slotted as alternative on the Apple Music, it opens with an elastic melody, a shuffle beat, some rock guitar and low voiced Tom Waits via London Bridge. I’m most intrigued by the beat, there’s very little if any funk and rhythmic sophistication to rock these days but it’s here and I give some respect to that. It brings a piano and flattens out into a stylistic pancake and a bit of chanting. I had higher hopes in the beginning but it sorta stays in its lane when I could use a change to the beat and something to break the track and then inspire a return to it. I clicked around a wee bit and it’s rockier, with the focus on guitars and further expanding the bucket of space rock available to the masses. I’m listening in my studio and the production is super lush and impressive so if you’re a space rock guy or gal get up on this horsie and ride.
@@@ Lava La Rue: Magpie (Marathon Artists, 2021) A last listen off this week’s Line of Best Fit. It’s slotted as indie pop in the Apple Music but to me somebody is injecting some heavy hip hop looping flavors up in this track. After a sung intro Ms. La Rue does indeed break into some rhyming. I like this, it’s both weird and funky and mashes British Beatle type trippy vibes with black musics. I like the melding of big vocal melodies with loops in the middle and funk on the bottom. This is a 5 song EP and the track clipped below is the best of what I sampled. The third track Goofy Hearts Club caught my ear as well. Big ups to whoever who put these sounds together.
@@@ Andrea Von Kampen: That Spell (Fantasy, 2021) I got to this track via a music publicist email. Concord/Fantasy has pretty much become the go to outlet for rock, classic rock, adult alternative adult music, etc for people with good jobs neat living spaces and this track is no exception. I will not go on and about finger snaps and these are pretty restrained finger snaps but combined with the coffee shop strummed acoustic (very well recorded btw) and the vocals it’s a staid affair. Flavor coffee staid. There are a couple of horn lines, non macho affairs but good garnish that I dig. Like the guitar sound most of all and don’t love the vocal delivery that much. Feel the horn.
@@@ Scotch Rolex: Tewari (Hakuna Kalala, 2021) A Japanese electro producer goes to Uganda and gets it on with the locals. Regular readers know of my fondness for world music/electro flavor packs. This first track is highlighted by a female African MC that goes off on top of a murky arrangement heavy on liquid bass and skittering beats. Since the artist here is the producer the album is chock full of guest vocalists and MCs. The second tune features a vocalist that could be on a recent metal release, the throat shredding is right up in yer piehole over a long aggro bass tone and some up high bell type synths. I was really excited at the beginning of the record but a little less so after four or five tunes. I have added it to my library to check out later, it’s an interesting formula that produces a unique listening experience so if you’re looking for that check it out.
@@@ Zelooperz: Van Gogh’s Left Ear (Brigade Bruiser, 2021) Put your woofers on notice cuz when this record opens up the kick drum cuts like a knife. Mr. Zelooperz has a purposely unhinged flow on the microphone, playin’ at crazy and spittin’ for the sake of it. And he has friends who show up and hit the microphone in a similar manner. The crazy hop I dig as a counterweight to the gangster low ridin’, this dabbles here and there in x rated imagery and mentions of violence but it has a different way to boast and raise profiles. I like the creativity of the sounds, I like Zelooperz approach to the microphone but the record never takes off for me.
@@@ Dan & Shay: Lying (Warner Music, 2021) This some new country shit (which I love for its cliches and predictability) but the hair on the dude on the right when you see the album picture on Apple Music, that’s probably gonna be the best part of this track. It’s bodacious. The track opens up with a piano part that bites another track I can’t remember — you know that one with the line ‘we all need somebody to lean on.’ This track has way more pop music, then black music, then a few pubic hairs of country music. A little electric guitar slipped in the back of the mix, barely there. Key here are the vocal harmonies which are quite stacked and quite white, and I say that as a white dude. I do wonder if this works in pickup truck America or if this isn’t macho enough. I find mainstream culture so weird sometimes, way weirder than freak music out there.
@@@ Logic: Theme for the People (Def Jam, 2021) I love Logic’s space age exploration of funk and black musics. Not really, but ‘merka has no love for the honest folks out there. This one has an MC and he’s actually breaking a sweat over a pretty chill funk track. The bassline is the most notable aspect of this track, the other being how sharp the mix is, those hi hats are so splashed out I had to turn the track down. Bassline Grade A, MC solid B mostly for energy, and C- minus on the beats – dang hats.