Music Is My Drug Of Choice’s 18 to Beat for #NewMusicFriday, 3/20/15
Artist Highlights | Kendrick Lamar, Death Cab for Cutie, Laura Welsh
Featuring tracks from Kendrick’s Lamar new album, To Pimp A Butterfly, that dropped this week, with a welcome throwback to Death Cab for Cutie since their O.C. glory days, to soulful, UK singer/song-writer, Laura Welsh, accompanied by John Legend, and many more for this week’s #NewMusicFriday.
The Rolling Stone offers a conclusive review on Kendrick Lamar’s new album and its gratitude to him for furthering the year of “2015 to be remembered as the year radical Black politics and for-real Black music resurged in tandem to converge on the nation’s pop mainstream.” Lamar dives right into the album with 70s funk influences of George Clinton and Thundercat in “Wesley’s Theory” and describes it as “a disarming goof that’s also a lament for the starry-eyed innocence lost to all winners of the game show known as Hip-Hop Idol. ‘Gather your wind, take a deep look inside,’ Clinton says. ‘Are you really who they idolize?’ Lamar’s got plenty of jokes and jeremiads to launch at himself, us and those malevolent powers that be. ‘I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey,’ he raps later on. ‘You vandalize my perception, but can’t take style from me.'”
70s funk influence bleeding heavily through, Miami Horror produces a funky, upbeat rhythm and flow to this track – perfect for a day of catching rays and sunshine. Perhaps a picnic outing at Dolores Park, San Francisco?
3/ Stole the Show – Kygo feat. Parson James
Kygo maintains his tropicool sounds and production but with a twist this time and enters the lush, powerful vocals of Mr. Parson James, bringing with him his rightly Brooklyn influences. It results in a clenched fist, infectious track, with enough warm emotion and rhythm to keep you dancing at Kygo’s next show.
Death Cab for Cutie has risen in their new album, Kintsugi. The original hipsters of our time, we fell in love with them during their earlier introductions in the indie-music soundtracks of The O.C. but haven’t heard from them in many years. However, they’ve reincarnated their sound to still maintain their pop-to-indie rock sound with poetic, thoughtful lyrics taking the listener through the journey of their many trials and tribulations in recent years – from the sobering and divorce from Zooey Deschanel – but with a glimmer of hope and ray amidst the sadness.
This UK singer/songwriter’s soulful, airbrushed-like vocals were featured on “Here for You” by English production duo Gorgon City in 2014 when it entered at #7 on the UK Singles Chart. “Soft Control” takes us through a shimmering, complex ride with fiery tugs and waves of “highs and lows.”
Teach Me is this Dutch producer’s first single to be dropped from his upcoming debut album, anticipated to be released at any moment now. His sounds draws certain parallels to Clean Bandit’s and draws a wide range of influences from jazz, soul and and this track particularly samples Grammy-winning American Gospel singer, Shirley Caesar, tying it all together with an underlying house sound. It takes you to church and makes you get up, clap yo’ hands, sing out loud, and DANCE.
It’s been three years since their international chart-topping debut album, My Head Is An Animal, was released, and their ever popular, upbeat, jump-all-around track, “Little Talks,” which reached the Top 10 in most music charts within Europe, as well as No. 1 in the US Alternative charts. Around the same time that Mumford & Sons introduced us to indie-folk, this Icelandic band – made up of a female and male (Nanna and Raggi) singing duo, guitarist, drummer and bassist – came in with a bang and put a pop spin on folk that was infectious and contagious during our car ride jams and shower tunes. Now they’re back with their fresh single, “Crystals,” from their upcoming album and cannot wait for what else they have in store for us.
Having read somewhere that Grimes was dissatisfied with the slew of tracks that have surfaced from a rough edit mix tape, but she sounds as fantastic as her previous releases and maintains her versatility across genres, from trap to a happily gliding pop sound in collaboration with Bleachers.
Who can simply deny snapping your fingers and tapping along to Adam Levine’s infectious voice and chorus of this funk-pop, disco, soul song “Sugar,” despite your feelings of being for or against Nicki Minaj? The music video, alone, makes you fall more in love, as Maroon 5 goes around LA “crashing” weddings as a sweet surprise for a handful of happy couples – hugely inspired with a positive twist to the infamous film, Wedding Crashers.
Having previously grabbed the accolade of Rolling Stone’s Band of the Week in 2010, the band’s lead, Dominican-Republican born singer’s, George Lewis, Jr., earlier sound was influenced by a more 80s reminiscent sound with layers of synth and drums but has taken a departure towards a more contemporary sound. In his Pitchfork interview, he describes the journey of his new album, Eclipse, allowed the re-alignment of areas where he felt he had drifted from and instead coming back together for a healthier balance.
Although Sufjan Stevens has always held a very melancholy temperament in his music, it’s still somehow uplifting, in a similar way where you see the rainbow or ray of sunshine amidst the rain. The talented, Detroit-born Stevens, has held an impressive musical career receiving many accolades and recognition for his work produced over the past ~15 years. He’s back to show he still has what it takes with this reflective, soft, string-laded track, equally fitting for a soothing bath or nighttime lullaby.
An angry, “mad,” funky foot stomper – Lamar embeds many pop, funk references and influences amidst issues he strongly and demands “we want the funk” in a desperado manner, repeatedly stressing “Bitch, where you when I was walkin?…Now I run the game, got the whole world talkin.”
Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, better known by his stage name Oddisee, is an American rapper and producer from some of the roughest parts of Washington, DC. Drawing upon African American, Sudanese, and hip hop influences of his parents and cousins, Oddissee explains how he also further identifies with earlier East Coast rappers who shy away from rapping about drugs, murder or sex but would personally rather evoke meaning and experience in subjects around his hometown and issues of inequality.
Huge fan of the synth pop sound, lending a gospel, longing sound, this online-formed London trio has a promising start and musical future ahead of them, with a notable, first single, “Take Shelter,” and collaborations with prominent DJ, The Magician.
Great Good Fine OK’s EP, 2M2H, just released in 2015, and they’ve already got the backing of the rising St. Lucia, who is appearing on the Coachella 2015 lineup this year. It seems like yesterday when they rolled through the small venue of San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop in fall of 2013. They offer up their dreamy, shimmering synth and tribal-esque, Johannesburg influence of St. Lucia’s frontman with an aptly unexpected combination of Great Good Fine OK’s beautiful sax, which truly makes this track shine.
Given the Death Cab frontman’s tumultuous several years endured in his personal life, I decided to listen intently to the lyrics, and it seems as though he is blatantly spilling out the details of his failed marriage with Zooey Deschanel. It’s refreshing to hear someone tell the story as it is with a sound of final resolve.
With the soul and emotion that Laura Welsh possesses, its only natural and not at all surprising to have her collaborate in a duo with John Legend. Much like Sam Smith and John Legend in “Lay On Me,” they pair together beautifully in “Hardest Part.”
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