With Jonah, Michael, and Nick
The 6/7 Edition
All Fired Up // Matt Corby
real sad music hours
Matt Corby is an excellent songwriter — as compelling as he is creative. He’s not afraid to borrow chords from other scales or mix up progressions catching you by pleasant surprise. And while some musicians may do these things simply to expand their sonic palette, Corby uses it as a storytelling device, adding dissonance and tension which parallels the narrative.
At the end of the first refrain on his last “all fired up” there’s a subtle yet effective deviation from the song’s key in the piano chords he plays. Even if you’re not a music theory major, you can sense the precarious dissonance in the middle two chords of that last measure (the first one starts at 1:42). They’re a little off-balance, unexpected, and bittersweet. That harmonic friction accentuates the story of the strained relationship Corby sings of where both their problems and the chords are not quite resolved.
“All Fired Up” is rich with fun little embellishments that create interest and depth. If you’ve got headphones on, listen for the shaker at the very beginning bouncing from one side of the stereo field to the other as it clears a wide space for Corby and his piano to sit within. It’s a subtle yet effective element that creates space and dynamics in the less instrumentally dense moments.
Corby doesn’t need to rely on fancy-schmancy production. It’s apparent from his piano playing, singing voice, and lyrical smarts that Corby is a natural. Nonetheless, “All Fired Up” is filled with a thousand tiny little sound treats, the sum of which equals a rich, full composition and a damn great song. Corby doesn’t lean on these elements but takes advantage of them to make something even bigger and better.
Beyond // Leon Bridges
- singing your heart out
- warm summer nights
Leon Bridges’ voice is phenomenal — we know this (and if you don’t, prepare to learn). There’s not much else to say, really. He deftly glides through high notes and swaggers through each bar. Every phrase and word is sung with tonal precision and honeyed ease. He does all of this while simultaneously injecting every line with emotion and expression, making his vocal performance wholly capable of filling a space and carrying a story all by itself.
You know how when you’re on the phone with a very happy someone, and you can hear the smile in their voice even without seeing their face? Bridges’ voice radiates joy with such luminosity that I can almost see him in the studio now grinning from ear to ear as he sings.
Bridges makes pop music — a category that can invite an air of condescension and dismissiveness from some listeners — but “Beyond” deserves none of the negative connotations often attached to the genre. Bridges is an expert at creating songs that are irresistible, and “Beyond” is proof — almost genre-irrelevant in its universal appeal. It’s pop music for people who swear they can’t stand all pop music. “Beyond” is the best manifestation of pop: fun without being facile, simple without being lazy, and sweet without being cheesy.
Kids Turned Out Fine // A$AP Rocky
Eating ice cream on a beautiful afternoon in the heat of summer
Needing a reminder that everything’s going to be fine
Starting a game of Zombies on the OG Black Ops
People really didn’t like Testing as much as they should have. Jam-packed with risky production that found immediate backlash from our reactionary music culture, fans and hip-hop-heads alike seemed to turn on Rocky after the release of this album. But upon further review, this album has aged like a fine cheese.
A prime example of this development is the track that brought me back to Testing, “Kids Turned Out Fine.” The music video, a masterpiece in its own right, brought new light to a song that had previously bored me. Words won’t really be able to do it justice, but just know you’re diving into a compelling conglomerate of psychedelic visuals.
Much of the track belongs as much on a Mac DeMarco album as it does on an A$AP one, as Rocky’s sole verse on the song is almost noncommittal on being an actual rap verse- he switches between the spacey vibes introduced on the song’s chorus and a few quicker bars that go along with the song’s lyrical theme.
While most may have forgotten “Kids Turned Out Fine” in the saturated rap market of 2018, don’t let that be your excuse for not giving it another chance. With summer coming in hot, this track could easily find itself in heavy rotation.
Doorman // slowthai & Mura Masa
Sprinting through a crowded city
Escaping from the police after robbing a bank
Getting hyped to punch someone in the face
As has been well-documented in hip-hop circles over the past month or so, slowthai is the Next Big Thing as far as grime artists go. His debut album “Nothing Great About Britain,” burst the gap-tooth bar-spitter onto the scene, and “Doorman,” encapsulates at least one element of “Nothing Great About Britain.” With frenetic flows, punk-rock attitude, and an entrancing baseline, this song is about as fight-club as it gets, at least in the modern grime scene.
This song seriously bangs. Tracing back to the punk roots of grime, slowthai and Mura Masa collaborate on a track that’ll have you pacing back and forth ready to start a fight with anybody that crosses you. Slowthai brings an energy that’s so infectious it’s scary. If you hear of a political revolution in Britain in the next few weeks, there’s at least one up-and-coming rapper that’s stoking the flames.
Whether or not you have a background in punk or grime, this is a track that could suck you right in. Watching the song’s video is uber-necessary for understanding slowthai’s artistic vision.
What The Water Gave Me // Florence + The Machine
- feeling like this
- the end of the world (not in a sad way though)
There’s really something to be said about a song that gives you the chills while seemingly transporting you to a different world when you hit play. “What The Water Gave Me” does just that to the listener, bombarding them with eerie yet hopeful emotion in what can only be described as a sonic baptism. That’s not that surprising though considering the song’s name.
The track consists of multiple build-ups followed by increasingly cathartic releases. As lead singer, Florence Welch, begs for relaxation and reprieve from struggle and effort, a manic organ, passionate drums, and subtle guitar back her powerful vocals. The cascade of sound eventually overflows as every instrument hits max intensity while Welch, almost as if possessed, croons “eeeeyeaaaa” repeatedly. The epic progression is absolutely worth your time.
It’s the type of song that belongs at the end of a movie and, perhaps, the end of your night.
It Ain’t My Fault // Brothers Osborne
taking pong to the next level
Drag racing (please don’t actually do this)
Brothers Osborne are a damn good time. The Maryland duo pack real country punch. “It Ain’t My Fault”, and its passionate rejection of responsibility for a night of partying, fit seamlessly into both their amped discography and your electric summer.
As mentioned, the premise is pretty simple. Kicking off with a consistently enticing drum beat, the track soon adds the howls of the electric guitar before dropping out briefly so lead singer, T.J. Osborne, can inform us of what exactly it is that isn’t his fault. Lyrics like “blame my lack of knowing better on public education” and “blame the ex for the drinkin’, blame the drinkin’ for the ex, blame the two for one tequila’s for whatever happens next” ooze just the right amount of carelessness you need for a Friday night. I haven’t even mentioned the choir-backed choruses that give the song a soulful thump and propel the party even higher.
Put it on whenever you want to go fast or raise the stakes. Just please do it responsibility because, despite the name, it will not serve as a valid legal defense.