Music is my favorite thing. Here's where I write about it.
Thundercat - Is It Love?
“Suddenly, you gave it all to me”
Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse
Sounds like: Mayer Hawthorne playing James Jamerson’s bass with Prince and the Revolution (FlyLo Remix)
If bass and synth aren’t your thing, cover your ears and run. That combined with airy vocals and a lot of reverb are pretty much the formula for this entire project. But if you ask me, that’s completely fine. Sure, this album probably won’t start a musical revolution. It won’t sell more than Thriller. But if you give it a shot, there’s a pretty solid chance that at some point you’ll catch yourself grooving to it. Probably embarrassingly hard.
Here’s my favorite thing about this project: Thundercat plays bass like a jazz guitarist. Bass (the stringed kind, at least) tends to take a background role in modern music, but this album will inspire quite a few young bassists out there to take a spot up front and center. In fact, as a member of Erykah Badu’s current band, Thundercat does just that. He played a long solo at Outside Lands this year that made the crown go nuts. Do you know how good you have to be to make a huge crowd lose it over a bass solo these days? About as good as you have to be at “yo-yoing” to impress anybody older than 9.
So what distinguishes this from say, a sped up Bootsy Collins album? Flying Lotus. If production credits were more detailed/public-friendly, they would say: FlyLo - Chillification, Experimentification. This album has so much of his sound in it, it’s almost cheating. I’m convinced that right before he dies, he’ll admit to owning a time machine that he uses to hear what the future sounds like. Accordingly, this album is full of the sounds people will hear during their commute in 2112.
There are plenty of long instrumental breaks and songs that don’t have vocals at all. But honestly that’s probably for the best. Thundercat isn’t a bad singer, it’s just not where he shines. Imagine Aretha Franklin releasing an album of piano instrumentals. All you really want to hear that other thing they do. Case in point: the beginning of “For Love I Come” is ok. But listen to how it goes from “ok” to “time to audition for Soul Train” around 2:30. We want the funk!
And that’s what we get for the most part. This is a very promising first effort from a guy that’s already well-known and respected within the industry. He shows all the signs of an innovator and considering the company he keeps, he’s likely to stay that way. Looking forward to hearing much more.
Frank Ocean - Try
New music from the OF’s least disturbing member. Don’t ask why, but I really expected an all-kids chorus to start singing during several parts of this song (sorry if that ruins it for you). Here’s hoping this is just a reference track from when this happened:
James Blake and Bon Iver - Fall Creek Boys Choir
So this is a thing that happened. It’s too early to say for sure, but these guys might’ve just released one of the best examples of collaborating without compromising styles that I’ve seen in a long time. This could’ve fit right into both of their latest albums (Bon Iver, Bon Iver and James Blake.) That’s like a magic trick or something. More to be come on the 29th…
Phonte - Not Here Anymore (feat. Elzhi)
Some songs just make you go, “WHAT?!” in the best way possible (maybe second only to the Lil’ Jon way.) Some songs feel like what would happen if the music industry had a “Create a Team” option. Some songs make my entire morning. Some music writers stretch a theme way too long. But I digress…
Today saw the release of one of those very special songs with rapper/singer Phonte’s “Not Here Anymore,” the first single off his upcoming album, Charity Starts at Home. Elzhifills the guest spot and 9th Wonder takes production credits. Just in case you didn’t catch the weight of that roster, let me phrase it this way: members of Little Brother, Slum Village and The Foreign Exchange got together and made awesome. It’s like an underground rap fan’s Watch The Throne. 9th Wonder lays down a Rose Royce-sampled groove, Phonte takes care of a few verses and the hook, and Elzhi drops off a verse that’ll make you start scheming ways to put Slum Village back together. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!
Look out for the rest of Charity Starts at Home September 27th! 9th Wonder’s newest album (with a track-list that I’d probably make heads explode if it’s ever performed live) comes out on the same day.
Florence + the Machine - What the Water Gave Me
Good news, everyone! There’s a new Florence + the Machine album on the way.
Better news, everyone! The whole thing is produced by the guy who did “Cosmic Love” on their debut album (and you definitely can tell.)
Even better news, everyone! You can hear a track from the new album right now if you click play.
(I’d keep going but that was already obnoxious after the first time. Just watch the video!)
“I can’t feel a damn thing…”
The Weekend - The Zone
Being a professional musician must be really frustrating sometimes. One successful album and all of a sudden you have to think about things like “how creative you can be” vs. “how to keep all those new fans”. On Thursday, it feels like The Weeknd just decided he’d make 9 copies of what worked last time (either that or House of Balloons was originally supposed to be twice as long and we’re just listening to part 2).
The Weeknd has issues (I can’t understand most of his words but the ones that get through are usually along the lines of “Get away *****, I’m crazy!”) so he does a lot of drugs and has angry sex. He expresses this musically through excessive use of reverb, the word “OHHHooooOOOHHHHHH”, and distortion. You now know what to expect from this entire album. Oh and sometimes it sounds like somebody’s singing over a Explosions in the Sky song. Turns out that’s not something that should happen.
It sounds like I hate the album. I’m not saying I hate the album. I really enjoy “Gone”. “The Zone” isn’t so bad either, despite the fact that I think I’ve heard enough Drake verses to last until, well, forever (He’s like if the word “swag” came in human form). I loved “Rolling Stone” when it came out a couple of months ago. I loved it last week. But by the time I got to it on the album, it was dead to me. I guess when the thing that got you so much attention in the first place is being unique (this Alt. R&B thing is still so young), you don’t get away with using the same sound twice.
It comes down to this: I appreciate the fact that he’s trying to put out so much material in one year. But maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe “new material” means more than “wasn’t available for purchase yesterday.” Some time to grow and experience new things worth making music about really wouldn’t hurt.
The Weeknd - Thursday
The Weeknd’s highly anticipated follow-up to House of Balloons has finally made it’s way to the internets on…you guessed it…a Thursday. Click the photo to download. Remember, this is part 2 of 3 so when you’re done, go ahead and start counting the days until Echoes of Silence.