Vince Staples dropped one of the best albums of 2015 with Summertime ’06 a month ago. It’s one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve heard in years, up there with Kendrick and Killer Mike and Future and anybody else who’s had a mad flash of love on the internet in the 2010’s.
I’ve already shared the full album and the stunning (and fucking gut-punching) Señorita video, but a short drive today convinced me that Lemme Know needed to be singled out. Listen:
There’s something about that rollicking, open beat, rising and falling like gentle swells or deep abdominal breaths. The soft yet world-weary vocals from Jhené Aiko add a gritty sensuality, especially when paired up for a liquid duet in the middle of the song. The constant patter of background hand claps threaten to pour like a storm but never quite break. It’s an incredibly restrained performance that manages to feel as epic as an eruption.
I honestly can’t get enough of Staples or his album. His sound is audacious, intelligent, warm, biting, angry, and accepting all at once. He’s wise beyond his 22 years – catch his eminently quotable Twitter account – and is beyond bursting with potential. I can’t wait to hear what’s next, but Summertime ’06 is more than enough for now.
I’ll probably be posting a lot more from this guy.
Thundercat dons some samurai armor in this exquisitely weird clip for the instant classic funk tune Them Changes.
This song is on the brief but brilliant The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam, a mini-album that manages to nearly render the man’s prior music obsolete. In a mere 16 minutes he manages to fuse his latent Isley Brothers and Parliament influences into the sharpest iteration of his unique space funk sound yet. The above song is the most pure pop moment of Thundercat’s career but the remainder of the set veers into more progressive, fluidly jazzy territory.
You can pick up the album Since I like making things convenient, I’ve got the full mini-album streaming below, courtesy of Spotify.
Because sometimes it feels like this.
My mom would have been 65 today. She liked Black Moth Super Rainbow, said it often sounded pretty, reminded her of The Beatles, “but way weirder.”
This tune always felt oddly touching. The combination of sweetly nostalgic melodies and an alien vocoder masks the deep sadness of the lyrics. I feel like my mom would wish the singer felt better.
Sitting in the humid blur of the summer, on a day that’s stormed twice between bouts of unflinching sunny splendor, this tune hits the spot in a way nothing else can.
I don’t want to live through winter
I can’t stand to see everything ending
I’ll just stand on the meadow
I’ll be taken by sunbeams
I’ve been on a weird nostalgia binge lately. Instead of wallowing in the shallow pleasure of reminiscence though, I’ve been trying to hear my old favorites with fresh ears. What’s new about it? How has my perception changed? Does it still hold up?
For a lot of my music choices past age 18 or so, the answer to that last question is yes more often than not. I present as evidence the first Gorillaz single, Tomorrow Comes Today:
The slow mixture of dub and French pop works wonders, with an inimitable melodica sound that ended up sprinkled over the entire debut album. It’s kind of a magic mixture, especially when you consider that this was on mainstream pop, Top 40 radio stations almost 15 years ago.
When Blur’s Damon Albarn hooked up with Del The Funky Homosapien and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett for a one-off virtual band project starring animated primates, it seemed like a lark, a total gimmick. But then the songs worked, worming their way into the pop lexicon and cresting the cultural zenith for months at a time. The album was a hit, led by infectious summer hip-hop jam Clint Eastwood. If you’re over 25, you probably still remember the lyrics.
The best part of the story is how the “band” came back in 2005, armed to the teeth with pop songcraft taken to the next level. Partnering with producer Danger Mouse this time, Albarn added De La Soul and dropped one of the biggest hits of the 00’s. Feel Good Inc. was iconic not only for its ubiquitous airplay, but for kickstarting the slick series of candy colored Apple advertisements that became pop touchstones on their own right.
I’m saving that part of the story for another post.
You need to hear this fantastic live band cover of Flying Lotus‘ brilliant collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, the incredible Never Catch Me.
The band is absolutely on point; every player nails his or her part, from the pair of alto saxophonists to the trio of backup singers. Special mention should go to the drummer and keyboardist for really adding that swing. While the rapper is no Kendrick (and no one else is), he pours his heart into the rapid-fire delivery of the song, nailing the cadence and approaching the breathless energy of the original.
Thanks to a tweet earlier today, the whole world gets to enjoy this sublime take on an instant classic song from last year’s incredible You’re Dead. I feel like I haven’t heard a cover version this good in years. These guys show a ton of potential, and I’ll be following their moves in the future.
They say people never change / but that’s bullshit; they do
Tame Impala‘s new album Currents is flat out fantastic. You can hear the synth-laden psych rock epic before it’s officially released or stick with the official singles for a couple weeks.
Or you can check out one of the best tracks from the album right now. It’s a deep cut called Yes I’m Changing, and it gives me some serious feels.
The backing synth pads remind me of Avalon-era Roxy Music, while the hum-worthy bassline is one of those timeless earworms that dives through pop music history, from girl groups to modern hip-hop. The lyrics evoke that goosebump-raising, optimistic-yet-spiritually-heavy yearning that the Beach Boys perfected with Pet Sounds, almost 50 years ago. The couplet posted at the top of this page, obvious as it is, puts a chill down my spine when heard in the context of this tune.
I’ll probably share more about this album once it’s released, but in the meantime, remember that you can still preorder it right from the band!
Tame Impala have a new album coming, but the internet-savvy can hear it a little early. This is just a heads up for fans who can’t wait for their LPs to arrive, or a proper stream to go live. You can listen to Currents right now if you know where to look. (see below)
If you’d rather wait, tide yourself over with the exquisite, motorik-tinged first single Let It Happen. This epic in miniature is the first track and really sets the tone for the new, expansive and more openly electronic sound flaunted on the album.