Fresh Music Friday

With Mason, Charlie, Nick and Jonah

The 5/24 Edition


High Beams // Flume & HWLS  (feat. slowthai)

Perfect for:

  • flying down an open highway

  • crazy gains in the gym

You may or may not have heard about the wild mixtape that Flume dropped earlier this year: Hi This is Flume. For those who knew the Australian Producer as a party favorite with hits such as You & Me and Say It, the mixtape was a strange passion project that didn’t grab the same mainstream audience. But for music snobs, production-heads, and lovers of weird music, the 42-minute mixtape was a goldmine of boundary-pushing experimental EDM unlike anything else. It has a 42-minute visualizer that provides stellar scenes and imagery to go hand-in-hand with the entire audio. “High Beams” offers an appetizing combination of experimental EDM and hardcore grime with slowthai’s British Bars (B^2). It helps to already have your hands dirty in the British grime scene, slowthai spits passion-infused, emphatic vocals that’ll strap anyone into Flume’s rollercoaster of pure bumps. Warning: it’s a wild ride.

Chicago Boy // Ari Lennox

Perfect for:

  • vibing in your car in an empty parking lot

  • turning your bedroom into a forest of sound

  • anything at 2:30 AM

One mere paragraph can’t do justice to Ari Lennox’s latest album: Shea Butter Baby. The Washington D.C. product features a perfect blend of sounds like Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis that come together into a silky blend of neo-soul/R&B that is as smooth as, well, shea butter. The album-opener starts off with a jazzy trumpet, setting the stage for Lennox’s vocals to surround you like a misty fog of pure sound. Lennox’s rhythmic, confident bars provide a perfect contrast to the groovy background beat that one might find in a funky Rainforest Cafe. Overall, this song serves as the perfect opener for an album that puts Lennox’s foot in the door as one of the up-and-coming faces of R&B.


Farrah Fawcett Hair // Capital Cities, André 3000

Perfect for:

  • any 420 playlist

  • reminding you of things in life that make you smile

You might’ve heard of the techno-psychedelic rock group Capital Cities back in 2013 when their first single, “Safe and Sound,” was released. While the song gained a good amount of radio time, the band eventually faded from the mainstream. However, this didn’t stop them from making some truly sick techno-rock fusion perfect for everything from morning drives to evening kickbacks with friends. “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is one of many great songs released on their 2013 album, In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery. The song features a lively yet relaxed synth foundation and lyrics about everyone’s favorite things, from “when public bathrooms have scented candles” to “Enjoying ceviche in Peru and seeing a double-rainbow/While listening to ‘Bitches Brew’ as recorded by Miles Davis.” Regardless of whatever your particular preferences in this world are, give this song a listen, and see if you think it lives up to the “good shit” that the song references.

Mama Tried – Live at Fillmore East, New York, NY, April 29, 1971 // Grateful Dead

Perfect for:

  • long road trips

  • kickbacks with friends

I know what you’re gonna say: “But Charlie! The Dead aren’t even together anymore — how could anything from them be fresh?” Yes, I’m sure you know all the basic Grateful Dead songs any semi-literate frat boy can name; Casey Jones, Truckin’, Friend of the Devil — I get it, they’re not a new group.

However, their live recordings contain a wealth of underappreciated hidden gems, such as their amazing cover of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” Originally released in 1968, Haggard wrote a masterfully bittersweet song of a man who, despite his mother’s best efforts, spends his 21st birthday in prison lamenting that “Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied / That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried.”

The Dead loved covering country and western ballads, and the sound quality of their live recordings is amazing. So if a bittersweet ballad with some kickass guitar solos performed by the most famous hippy jam-band in the world strikes your fancy, I would definitely recommend this diamond in the rough.


Tijuana Sunrise // Goldfinger

Perfect for:

  • day drinking

  • night drinking

  • brews on the beach

“Blacked out again down in Mexico” is the first lyric on this track and nicely sums up its pleasant, slightly melancholic vibe. Bolstered by tipsy trumpets, a thumping bassline, and a catchy chorus, “Tijuana Sunrise” is everything you’d want in a ska-punk song. It’s uplifting, fun, sometimes wistful, but ultimately, its energy is soothing. Lines like “I was drinking with you, then I’m drinking till noon, now I’m drinking by myself” sound sad, but they’re delivered in such an infectiously relaxing way you can’t help but feel the sand between your toes.

Put this on if the sun’s still up and the beers are still cold. It’s a great summer song, well suited for barbecues, pool parties, and the beach. If you’re not fortunate enough to be in chill mode, Goldfinger’s good vibes will let you at least dream of the next time you will be.

Peace Blossom Boogy // Babe Rainbow

Perfect for:

  • barefoot dancing

  • classics-infused road-tripping

  • the other kind of tripping

I wasn’t around to know for sure, but this song feels like what I imagine partying in the 1970s was like. It’s easy, breezy, loose, and free. All Babe Rainbow want you to do is tap your feet and move with the groove. The twangy guitars and shameless “all good, man” vibes bring a haze that washes over the listener, bringing life and sun to any day.

Lyrics like “kiss the wrong person goodnight” serve as the song’s philosophical thesis. The vocals are further reason not to take anything too seriously when listening to a song called “Peace Blossom Boogy.” Parts of the track feature nothing accompanying the electric guitar and bass but multiple voices singing “shalalalalala,” slightly out-of-time with each other. It’s fucking great. Easy, fun listening: what more could you ask for?


Animals // The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger

Perfect for:

  • staring into your friend’s psychedelic rainbow spiral poster

  • a bright, peppy morning pick-me-up

  • rolling up, chilling out, and kicking back

“Animals” is psychedelic rock with the best of both worlds: the rough-around-the-edges, live-recording sound so emblematic of 60’s jam-bands, and all the technicolor digital weirdness only made possible by modern music tech. It also makes good use of the whimsical anything-goes imagination of the era, setting the yellow-submarine-esque tone right from the first stanza: “Everywhere you go you’re in a microscope / Living in a fishbowl and your mind’s under control / Say a prayer for the internet billionaire / The solar flare will burn the hair of man and polar bear.” It’s a clever balance of giddy absurdity and relevant subject matter — hiding behind the half-joking nonsense are the modern issues of mass surveillance, social media and climate change.

You’re welcome to tumble down those rabbit holes, but “Animals” is just as easily appreciated for its sonics alone. Pay as little or as much attention as you want, and the track holds up. It’s wavy, wild and wholeheartedly weird — maybe the best summary of psychedelic rock as a whole — but it’s a calculated weirdness. In a world where tweets start wars and ten-year-old Walmart buskers go on world tours, “Animals” and its profound strangeness are right at home.

Ninety // Jaden Smith

Perfect for:

  • summer romance – or wanting one

  • fleshing out your soaking-up-the-sun playlist

  • storytelling rap with a strong instrumental side

Electric guitars wading in watery reverb lend Jaden Smith’s “Ninety” the summery, shameless nostalgia of surf rock, one style of many that Jaden blends into the seven-minute, forty-eight-second track. There’s also a chilled, jazzy electric piano foundation and a mix of processed and live percussion. “Ninety” excels at the little things: ad-libs, sound flourishes, and other clever ear-candy production tricks that make the difference between a decent concept and a fully-fledged song.

“Ninety” is a long one, clocking in at 7:48, but it fluidly navigates multiple sections, each containing their own energy and sound without sounding disjointed in context. In a way, it’s two songs linked by a seamless interlude, but they share elements of theme and sound, and thus their combination into a single track is a solid compositional decision.

“Ninety” was hard proof that I haven’t been paying enough attention to Jaden Smith’s recent musical endeavors. I’m going to continue exploring his discography, and you should too. “Ninety” is a great place to start.


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