@@@ Yola: Stand for Yourself (Easy Eye/Concord, 2021) I got to this track via a blurb/feature on USA Today. If it’s in USA Today it’s mainstream and this is a mainstream, update version of old school soul. Big rock guitar. drums high in the mix (I like that!), and to me this sounds like an attempt to draw the rock fans who don’t have to snack on these days. They compressed this track pretty hard to pump the rock feels. I like her voice, she’s got a really strong voice. Of course, I always prefer a little something something to set the track apart from its predecessors but that is not really the trend these days. So I will accept how things are while also stating that putting something unique in your track keeps shit fresh.
@@@ Leah Blevins: First Time Feeling (30 Tigers, 2021) I got to this country track from a music publicist email. This is the title track and the third track on the record and when it opens up it feels more like an indie/country blend as the drums are straight as hell and there are really no signifiers of country music here except a little in her voice. I like the organ while I don’t love how they placed her voice in the mix. I’m mostly wishing it was more country, the world doesn’t need more indie music, it needs less. I let the player click through and it’s much more country with fingerpicked guitar and a more classic country approach. I checked out a bunch of other songs as my wife loves the female country/rock business and overall I feel a bit mixed about it. Moments I like, others I don’t like as much so decide for yourself and shit.
@@@ 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.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Doja Cat, The Weeknd: You Right (RCA, 2021) I’m not a huge Weeknd guy but this Doja Cat seems to be blowing up. It’s a midtempo love track, breathy with chill keyboards and 808 beats. The Weeknd is just as feminine sounding as Doja Cat and I find that interesting. I like it all right but it doesn’t move me. Sounds are solid, production is good, I don’t think the chorus hook is that great, that’s the view from here.
@@@ Nate Smith: Bounce Parts 1 & II (Ropeadope, 2017) Sitting in that spot right between funk and jazz, this album is for anybody who loves to hear records by drummers who pump the drums high as shit in the mix. The horn playing is really good, maybe not as abstract and fiery as I would prefer but it fits what’s going on here. Guitar playing also high end but also a bit restrained. The drums sounds fucking great, fully pimped with clarity. This is not your basement Funkadelic with grit, it’s a corporate sounding effort. Peoples love that, I think it could use a bit more dirt but that’s just me. I’m listening to this effort because the second record of a trilogy of records is coming out in September. I want to be educated on it. I like it more at the beginning than at the end which isn’t the greatest sign.
@@@ Nicole Bus: Rain (Roc Nation, 2019) All three of today’s listens are off a 2019 All Music notable release email that’s been in my email box. Nicole bus is a Dutch r&b singer which will change the proceedings for sure. This is the 8th track of the record and it’s a lush piano driven midtempo sad banger. The player clicked through to the next track With You which has a decidedly retro feel which I’m torn about. I will give the opener ‘Mr. Big Shot’ a peep and when I hear that late ’90s/early oughts drum beat it’s clear where this music is rooted. Bus is an above average singer but overall I find the tracks lacking spark and a bit of flavor. Again that’s just me.
@@@ Jim Noir: Deep Blue View (Dook, 2019) Opens with what I would call a indie hippie flavor and strong California faded vibes. Super comforting sounds with just a schmear of weird up in there. The first tune Good Mood is a feel good jam with obvious intentions so I thought I would skip to the next one which I like more. I find the combination of indie rock sounds and electronic sounds well done here. I prefer a bit more growl or muscle but that’s just me. I’m not a huge fan of the third tune Hexagons but I have a sense a sliver of the listening public might like this formula.
@@@ Eddy Current Suppression Ring: Vicariously Living (Castle Face, 2020) Post punk heroes from Australia. Nice punky guitar squall, not Sonic Youth more rocking than feedback. There’s a straight up approach up here that I appreciate — set ’em up and knock ’em down without. The sounds are good but no epic production values here. The tempos here are not the manic Dead Kennedys about to lose your mind. I do crave a little more energy but I appreciate this outfit and feel I’ve described them accurately. I checked out the next song ‘Future Self’ and I like it even more than the one clipped below.
@@@ Moneybagg Yo: A Gangsta’s Pain (Interscope, 2021) The title track is the last track and that usually in my experience it’s not a good reflection of the record so I switched up to track 7 called ‘If Pain was a Person’. Solid trap with a superfat bass pulse but the most notable aspect is the guitar samples which are retro and sound great. Mr. Yo or Mr. Moneybagg is quite skilled on the microphone, I really have to work hard to catch his rhymes as he’s going fast. He paints the emotional state of living in the ‘hood and the values encased in that environment. Lots of street gossip and a guest MC that gives the low down as to how much money Mr. Yo is making in the game. Love the bass and the guitar, appreciate his microphone work and his emphasis on the street pyschology and less on the guns and bitches and whatnot.
@@@ H.E.R.: Come Through (RCA, 2021) Another mainstream track this time a slow booty jam. H.E.R. is working the sultry tip with extra mustard and she’s inviting him to come through tonight, you know swing by and get to know her more intimately. Chris Brown comes as a guest and he’s working not the sultry tip but the emotional guy. The chorus is very good, I dig it. I don’t love the acoustic guitar and the rest of the arrangement is pretty standard though the use of the big bass is very catchy at certain chord change points in the track. There’s enough here I won’t denounce the fingersnaps. There are very few spots in any track where fingersnaps are the right move.
@@@ Dreya Mac: Time (ColorsxStudios, 2021) British hip hop, you know I love it! Female MC hittin’ the mic with above average energy and some sounds you don’t often hear — the singalong and faintly African/Caribbean flavoring. I like the sounds here, the slightly chopped and off kilter feel, just slightly, and her smooth rhyming and singing over the top. Not jumping up and down but definitely an interesting package.
@@@ Vocab Slick: Atonement (DR, 2021) Off a music PR email. Anchored by a swelly church organ and a mellow trap beat the MC (oh there’s a second one and later more I think) and lyrically it’s the opposite of gangster business. The first MC seemed a bit jumbly on the mic but the microphone flow tightens up over the course of the tune and the sounds are pretty nice. With a title like ‘atonement’ it would stand to reason that this is a Christian hip hop track but that’s not entirely clear. I appreciate its non gangster vibe and the sounds.
@@@ Peaches: Pussy Mask (Third Man, 2021) Out on Jack White’s Third Man, it comes out as a cross between Megan the Stallion with some detuned power chords smashed up on it and poured over as a sauce. Every line starts with pussy — pussy, wear a mask, pussy clean no infection, pussy stand up erection. So it’s a complete celebration of pussy and all aspects of it, Peaches’ pussy is fully human it wears a mask, it has feelings and desires, it’s been personified. The sounds are what I refer to as strip club hip hop — trashy and proud of it. I would like the lyrics more if I liked the beat more. I like the guitar all right but it’s not enough. It goes out with a section repeating listen to Fauci so maybe it’s more about the ‘rona than other aspects of the three dimensional concept known as pussy. NSFW, dummies!
@@@ serpentwithfeet: Fellowship (Secretly Canadian, 2021) Album of the week over at Line of Best Fit and I’ve seen it peeped in other outlets as well. I switched up to the second tune Same Size Shoe as this track is number two and bound to be prime and representative of the record. Mr. serpentwithfeet sure does make some very lush loverboy r&b and when I say loverboy I think he’s a lover of gents which is none of my bidness. His voice is stellar, sweet and a bit fragile. He sings like he’s ringing a bell. On the flip side there are a lot of lush soft sounds and not a bit of contrast so it does come off a bit claggy. The elasticity and energy of his voice overcomes a bit of that but a bit of firmness is what I would jump and down over. Otherwise, it’s hard to be against his voice and his singing.
@@@ Karl Benjamin: Apricot Sky (Atlantice, 2021) Also over at Line of Best Fit. More lushness, there’s a lot of comforting music out and about now, could be the Covid. The chorus is an epic recitation of the words ‘Apricot Sky’ which I have no clues as to what that’s about. There are repeated references to spending too much time in front of the tv which I don’t know how that relates to the apricot sky. I like his voice, but the song makes no sense to me and it doesn’t move me. That’s not a rational thing but that’s where I’m at.
@@@ Art School Girlfriend: In The Middle (UMG, 2021) Our last listen is also off this week’s LIne of Best Fit weekly email. It opens a bit gray before it goes to a beat that is half rock/half dancefloor. I’m not obsessed with gender, I think this is a gent singing in a falsetto but I’m not 100% on that. There’s a wave of distortion that could be synth based or an undercover guitar that swells right before the end and that’s pretty much the only sound that caught my attention, the other sounds are meh.
@@@ Tanya Stephens: Good Good (Tad’s, 2021) I can’t find this on Apple Music so we’re stuck with the ol’ GooglePimpTube. More reggae which is great. More toasting than roots with an energetic singer who straddles the singing/rhyming fine line. I like this track — I don’t usually go for the electro dancehall business but this is tight. This is the best tune I heard today and Stephens works the mic with style. Check this out.
@@@ Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth (House Anxiety, 2021) A self-professed concept record that comes out with heavy D’Angelo vibes including the falsetto singing which I’m enjoying. The singer gives way to a spoken word section that I like less. I do like the sounds here and thankfully he only speaks his mind for a short while. Not that I’m against him speaking his mind, just I prefer the singing. The last 90 seconds turns into a singalong with multiple voices doing a black church choir of the chorus with a little extra guitar melody thrown in. I like this all right, I might even check it out more deeply. A few Prince feels and lot of D’Angelo.
@@@ Khalia: Free (K-Licious, 2021) Off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. A blend of old school roots reggae and more modern sounds/production. Most notably the vocal stacking in an r&b style and other small flourishes. Lyrics are of the concious style with the main theme presented the desire to be free. It’s a solid track with a full reggae rhythm wallop. I like it without loving it.
@@@ Valerie June: Call Me a Fool (Fantasy, 2021) Concord seems to be interested in releasing a lot of retro soul and r&b around strong women doing their thing and whatnot. I think I got to this track via Line of Best Fit. Most notable here is Ms. June’s voice — it’s got a slightly offkilter cadence and a sharpness to it. Sharpness isn’t bad or good, it’s just what I’m hearing. When they bring in the lush strings her voice really stands out in contrast to those buttery strings, that’s interesting listening and shit. I appreciate that she’s not rocking a classic, soaring r&b powerhouse voice, it’s a gravelly thing. She does go high into some woo hoo action and that’s more contrast. I like contrast, I find it closer to real life. The band is cool life, nothing that particularly stands out to my ear. Clasic swelling organ. This lands somewhere between late ’60s mellowed out Janis Joplin and mid ’70s Rolling Stones faded blues.
@@@ The Anchoress: Unravel (Snapper, 2021) This record is slotted as rock on Apple Music and whether it rocks or not is one issue but I can tell you this music aspires to be unabashedly meaningful and emotional. This idea comes out of the vocal tones, the lyrics, the heavy tom tom sound and just the general feels of it. I’m not one for the performative seriousness in my art, I like it presented in a different way. If you don’t want me, then I don’t want me and we unravel from here — I think that’s the vocal hook. That resides in middle territory, not the worst I’ve heard and not one I think is just awesome sauce. Our love is dangerous, now that’s the kind of sentiment I’m not a huge fan of. Not really my cup of tea but as always don’t take my dumbass word, check it for yourself.
@@@Lake Street Dive: Hypotheticals (Nonesuch, 2021) Speaking of meaningful music, Nonesuch! Yowsa, Nonesuch. I guess they’re taking a break for setting standards in perfomative serious art to participate in this bouncing, 1980’s feel good woo hoo stuff. She’s playing out a lot of hypotheticals in her mind, and I’ve been pondering the question what if I stopped listening at this point? How’s that for a hypothetical? It’s a bit cute for my taste, there’s no weirdness — I could picture a Prince tune that embraces these sounds but he was either horny as fuck or he was talking about God. I’m a white person by birth but not by culture at this point in my life, so I feel more than qualified to say this is white business. If you like white music business then good on you, I’m out of the white music game. I like me some white black metal and some freak show punk but I punched my ticket out of the bounce house a long time ago.