Fresh Music Friday

With Jonah, Michael, Charlie, and Nick

The 5/31 Edition

Jonah’s Picks

Intro // Pusha T

Perfect for:

  • working out with deranged ferocity

  • blowing out your car’s stereo system

  • eye of the tiger moments

From the first lines of “Intro,” Pusha T sets the tone for King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude (a fantastic, seriously underrated album you should listen to if you haven’t already), delivering bars with his signature steely, scathing sneer: “Leave your conscience at the door / We done hid the monsters in the floor / I speak to the trap lords / and n*ggas with they hands in the white like blackboards.”

The beat is ridiculously aggressive, hard-hitting, and grimy — guaranteed to give you stank-face like you just shoved your nose into a pair of old sneakers. Its rhythm is unconventional, mostly lacking a snare or snare-esque element. Instead, the tempo is maintained by explosive, bruising kicks that rattle the track at a cruising pace.

“Intro” is a clinic in time-tested, refined lyricism from a rap veteran of twenty-six years. From time comes perspective, and Push’s view of how the rap game has changed is made clear: “I’m watching this three-ring circus / Old lions don’t roar so the clowns ain’t nervous / Even you fools serve purpose / Let ‘em run amok until the king resurface.” In short, “Intro” is the sound of the king resurfacing.

Astrovan // Mt. Joy

Perfect for:

  • soaking up the sun

  • road trip!

  • enjoying some ~chill vibes~

“Astrovan,” released just last year, embodies the spirit of feel-good 60’s classic rock. It just makes you wanna throw on a tie-dye tee, pile into a car with your friends, and drive to the nearest body of water smiling and waving at everyone you pass on the way. The muted electric guitar bouncing around the downbeats almost sounds like a bongo drum — which would’ve also been an appropriate instrumentation choice for the mood. The instruments the song does have, which are few and familiar, it employs effectively. The arrangement is loose and open, never overcrowding with layers, and the standard toolbox of a few guitars, some electric, one acoustic, drums, and vocals give “Astrovan” the warm sonic familiarity of an old friend.

All songs can be dissected, but even the best of explanations won’t do them justice — just like describing a sunset isn’t quite the same as marveling at it yourself. “Astrovan” is just sunny, breezy and free in a way that’s better experienced than explained. If there’s a musical equivalent of making flower crowns around a campfire, this is it.

Michael’s Picks

Sunburst // Lonnie Liston Smith

Perfect for:

  • taking a cosmic spaceship ride through the galaxies

  • taking a cosmic ride through your local forest

  • it’s 2am after a night of drinking and you just want to close your eyes and float

While he lacks name recognition along with the giants of jazz, Lonnie Liston Smith is an eccentric character in the industry, with a discography well worth exploring. “Sunburst” is a perfect example of what makes his music unique.

Every section of this instrumental feels directed towards creating a sonic trip through space —  relating closely to his band’s namesake, The Cosmic Echoes. A bright, clear flute rhythm sets the tone for the track, leading into Lonnie’s explorational and creative electric keyboard section.

It’s the type of song you won’t find anywhere near today’s top charts, but it’s absolutely worth a peep, and before you know it, you just might find yourself engulfed in the cosmos.

Angel // Pharrell Williams featuring Snoop Dogg

Perfect for:

  • inciting a dance party out of an average pregame

  • a good-mood kinda workout

  • singalong in the car, shower, or wherever you do your loudest singing

Both of these artists need no introduction — that’s why this collaboration is so special. While “Angel” is featured on Pharrell’s only rap-focused album, his vocal performance on this hook is downright legendary. On the almost lustful track, Pharrell borrows elements of R&B and soul on the track, and brings the heat with his delivery and production- in the most caring way possible- it’s a love song, after all. Pharrell drops a head-boppin’ verse to open up the track, setting the table for Snoop to deliver a smooth-as-butter verse: “Lay back while we sippin’ on a breezer / Fresh four-pack sittin’ in the freezer.”

The string-driven beat is just as soaring as Pharrell’s melody, as each matches the other in joyful concert. While Snoop doesn’t quite reach Pharrell’s highs, his verse still translates themes of desire and love first introduced by Pharrell: “When I seen her wit the homies I was like ‘Jesus’ / It’s been a little minute since I seen her / Hope her man don’t run up cause I’ll have to pull the nina.”

Released in 2006, “That Girl” is far off the charts and isn’t even the first “That Girl” that comes up on streaming platforms, but I assure you, without even hearing the others, that this has to be the best.

Charlie’s Picks

I’m Just Being Honest // Weezer

Perfect for:

  • post-argument jam sessions

  • screaming a song at the top of your lungs

Have you ever been in trouble for being too honest? Frustrated from a seemingly nonsense argument with a significant other? Believe me, you’re not the only one.

In one of the songs on their newest album, Weezer laments these types of arguments in their song, “I’m Just Being Honest.” The band uses a fusion of digital synthesizers and electric guitars to create a hypnotically satisfying backtrack, while the lyrics tell a story of a poor soul who just so happens to be a little too honest for his own good. With a lady friend asking how her band’s mixtape sounds, she was not exactly happy with the painfully honest response of: “…halfway through it, I had to quit / Your band sounds like shit / So, here we go / Don’t get mad at me, I’m just being honest / I should’ve lied / Don’t get mad at me, I’m just being honest.”

So if you just got out of a fight with the special person in your life, need a song that you can scream out of frustration with, or just want to listen to a super cool techno-rock fusion song with a series of stories, this is the song for you.

Behave Yourself // Booker T & the M.G.’s

Perfect for:

  • hanging out after a long day of work

  • drinking a White Russian while bowling

For those who don’t know me, one of my favorite movies of all time is The Big Lebowski, an amazing film only made better by its diverse and extremely interesting soundtrack. It contains everything from Bob Dylan to a Spanish cover of “Hotel California” by the Gipsy Kings; however, one song from the soundtrack stood out to me this week: “Behave Yourself”. The instrumental pieces don’t get a lot of love in general but hear me out. The song is primarily an electric organ solo backed up by a standard jazz orchestra with a blues guitar as the main secondary instrument. Being one of the most chill and relaxing jazz pieces I’ve ever listened to, I can’t recommend it enough for whenever it’s time for you to kick back and de-stress after a long day of work.

Nick’s Picks

Go // The Black Keys

Perfect for:

  • pretending you’re in a car commercial

  • the pregame

Clocking in at only 2:26, “Go” enacts a rock n’ roll blitzkrieg that the listener can’t help but be drawn into. The opening drum beat signals the song’s lighthearted, but impassioned intention for you to unwind and simply, go. As the track builds, adding fun vocals and catchy guitar riffs, the pace never falls, making the track incredibly energetic throughout.

As such, it’s the perfect sound to make whatever you’re driving feel like the newest sports car, even if it’s some rusty tin can. Likewise, it serves as the perfect soundtrack to start any night. “Go” will set the tone and keep it high, providing proper hype to any summer event.

All of this shouldn’t be that surprising, considering The Black Keys’ track record as one of few mainstream staples of modern rock. Their new album is coming out in late June, and if you haven’t listened to “Go,” or the similarly pulsating “Lo/Hi,” make sure you do. They’re a ton of fun and are a good example of how fun and classic modern rock can be.

Work It Out // Jurassic 5 feat. Dave Matthews Band

Perfect for:

  • making stress evaporate
  • the occasional soft boogie

Hopefully, you’re like me and played hours upon hours of NBA Live 07 when growing up. You know — the one with Tracy McGrady on the cover and the soundtrack to blow any nine-year-old suburban boy’s mind.

If not, let me introduce you to “Work It Out”, a track that stands the test of both time and nostalgia because of its unbelievably laid-back energy. Lyrics like “we live and we learn, we crash and we burn” and “I’m not lookin’ for nobody to judge” flow effortlessly from the Jurassic 5 as Dave Matthews croons “we gon’ work it out baby” in support. When mixed with the soft drums, groovy guitar, and the occasional organ accompaniment, the effect is irresistible. It’s just a really nice 3:52.

Whatever you’re worried about will begin to drift far away. Who knows, your head might even start to bob along with the good vibes.



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