Fresh Music Friday

With Nick and Michael

The 6/14 Edition

Nick’s Picks

Mama Song // Cody Jinks

Perfect for:

  • assuaging your mom’s concerns for you

  • a new drinking song (probably against her wishes though)

Mom, mother, mama, mum, madre, or ma — whatever you call yours, I can almost guarantee you she worries about you. It’s a cold world out there for her little baby, no matter how old or strong you get. It’s just instinct, and hopefully, we love and appreciate them for it.

In a bout of country splendor, Cody Jinks gives a message you can pass to her assuring her that you’re alright. Backed by a rocking drumline and some gritty Texan twang, Jinks belts lines like “I know you always worry about me drinking my dinner, but I don’t do that anymore,” and “Mama I’m ok, I know your late night talks with Jesus have helped me on my way,” weaving a love letter to the first and most important woman in his life. The beat is energetic and consistent, even bordering on sing-a-long-ish at times, and crushes any foul mood you could be in. Play it for your Mom or your drinking buddies, so long as you enjoy it to its fullest.

Body Talks // The Struts feat. Kesha

Perfect for:

  • buzzing

  • playing at loud volumes

If this song has one thing, it’s swagger. Between The Struts’ 70s-inspired rock energy and Kesha’s well-established persona, your ears will be anything but bored. The track is essentially a battle duet between two potential lovers as they circle each other on the dance floor. “You don’t need to say a word, cuz, (ooo ooo) your body talks,” is an immensely catchy chorus and allows both The Struts and Kesha to play into their eccentric strengths.

Everything in this track is revved up to maximum capacity but always maintains concrete focus on whoever you’re dancing with. Ripe with infectious joy and Kesha’s immense vocal talent, it’s hard not to grin and move your feet with it. It’s poppy and definitely in-your-face, but that’s exactly what you want in your party playlist. At the very least, it’ll get someone to run through a wall or shoot their shot.

Cold Little Heart // Michael Kiwanuka

Perfect for:

  • spiraling out of control

  • somber reflection

As many of you know, I wrote about Game of Thrones’s demise for this website. To do so, I had to use HBO GO, exposing me to the litany of other HBO products. Of those trailers, one really stood out to me: Big Little Lies. The reason it popped wasn’t the visuals or talented cast, but rather the song it opted to use. “Cold Little Heart” set such a perfectly ominous and sinister tone that I couldn’t help but check it out. I was not disappointed when I heard the full version. While I still haven’t seen an episode of Big Little Lies, I can report wholeheartedly that “Cold Little Heart” packs a serious punch.

Opening with dimly distorted hymns, the track quickly kicks into gear with a steady drum line and Kiwanuka’s passionate vocals. It doesn’t take long for the first chorus and subsequent shrieking electric guitar to send chills down your spine. “Cold Little Heart” has a soulful resoluteness to it that evokes a struggle wherein success can only be achieved at implausible odds. It’s emotionally stunning. I have to assume that’s what Big Little Lies is about.

Michael’s Picks

Just Listen // June

Perfect for:

  • the angst of feeling unheard/misunderstood

  • being a teenager

While the track is probably most appropriate for teenage angst, in reality, it could be applied to frustration at any age. Jared Dougall, the band’s lead singer, belts out impassioned lyrics, backed by an impressively talented band of dudes in high school.

In “Just Listen,” June employ a brand of production more fitting for a band that’s getting their reps in as a group of young-but-talented artists, and while that could be a turnoff, for me, it’s part of the charm. There’s something striking about screaming for validation through a filter that is message-blurring; it’s more relatable than a squeaky-clean studio rendition.

The track’s bassline is entertaining, and their instrumentation and a bout of mid-track mumbling is reminiscent of some shit The Internet would do. Towards the end of the song, the group descends into absolute madness, representing the absolute angst of being misunderstood.

And stay tuned — the band is dropping their debut EP in only a few weeks! Check out their Instagram for continued updates.

Anderson .Paak ft. Nate Dogg // What Can We Do?

Perfect for:

  • feeling soulful on a warm night in October
  • needing a song to wrap you up in a big hug that accepts you and your feelings
  • asking for help with some tough emotional processing

“It’s the rap singer, hook master,” sing .Paak and Nate Dogg in harmony, opening an emotionally dense track featuring a passed legend and a blossoming one, sharing the stage for the first and sadly last time.

“What Can We Do?”, produced by Nate Dogg’s close friend Dr. Dre, is a beautiful homage to the late hook master. The two a soulful and loving synchronization from the opening bars of the track, and continue the interpolation, each giving the other the perfect amount of room to explore their feelings.

In the album notes on Apple Music, .Paak is quoted from an interview with Zane Lowe; “I wanted to do something more creative… something that might sound like we coulda when he was still here.” Posthumous features often end up mostly being a financial flex (“Look at what intellectual property I can afford to license!”), but .Paak takes extra steps to make “What Can We Do?” feel like a true collaboration, with the two artists engaging in beyond-the-grave conversation only possible through music.

At the end of the day, everyone has some kind of sadness, and although “What Can We Do?” isn’t necessarily solving those problems, it’s a great track for processing and understanding that there’s nothing we can really do, and that’s ok.

Vetements Socks // Sheck Wes

Perfect for:

  • pulling up on anyone in any scenario

  • needing to resurrect at the pregame

  • when you just gotta belt out some shit after a hard day

As someone that had Mudboy in his top-five albums of 2018, I’ve been urging people to see Sheck as someone more than his ignorance on “Mo Bamba” and “Live Sheck Wes” for some time. His music may not consistently exhibit deep ponderings — or any at all — but almost all of it is fun.

Sheck’s fun-loving side is loud and proud on this one; “Pull up in a tractor, no Lambo / I’m a fucking Green Bay Packer,” but he’s still dropping wisdom on the outro to the track; “Listen young man, don’t be stressin’ / Bullshit’s part of life, it’s a life lesson.”

As a conclusion to Mudboy, an album perfect for letting loose in any scenario, this track wraps up themes Sheck introduced on many of the project’s tracks- it has the head-banging of “Live Sheck Wes,” without the bass; it has the witty bars of “Kyrie,” and it is topped off with the energizing verses of “Jiggy on the Shits.”

Don’t let anti-Sheck bias keep you from exploring Mudboy — give “Vetements Socks” a try and you just might find a gem!


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