It’s been a few weeks in a row now where I’ve ranted about something or other to you, so let’s keep the intro short and sweet this week.
The only big crazy news is that at some point today, the Trillectro Festival is going to announce its lineup. This year it’s graduated to RFK Stadium (home of HFStivals past), and I can only assume they have more than a few amazing surprises coming our way today. Pay attention to the news here.
Also, follow the Tunes You Should Fucking Know in 2014 playlist on Spotify. That way this weekend you can impress your friends with awesome new music to distract them all from the fact that you forgot to do that whole “summer beach body” workout plan you talked about all spring.
- Sun Club – Dad Claps at the Mom Prom
So there is this local band The Sea Life who I saw once at Paperhaus a while back, and I’ve listened to their album enough to be familiar with it, but for some reason, I don’t feel like I know them yet (and yes, I mean that in the most pretentious iteration of the word). But all of that is going to change tomorrow night when I go see their single release show at Black Cat. I am excited about this prospect.
So excited that I even checked out who was opening for them, only to find out it was two bands I hadn’t heard of, Humble Fire and Sun Club. I checked them out and holy hell wowzers Sun Club blew me away.
How has this band not just taken over everything? Is Baltimore really just that cool a scene these days that acts like this aren’t immediately hoisted on shoulders and paraded for StereoGum to interview or something?*
Admittedly, I haven’t done any real research on the group because now I want to get “the full live experience” with a tabula rasa, but I will say that I have been wondering for a while now when this kind of album was going to come out. It’s got the grooviness of Grouplove, and the innocent melodies and rhythms of Reptar, and the jubilation of Fang Island, but it’s got a ferociousness about it that gives a much-appreciated edge to the kind of music that I once called “Celebration Rock” when first describing Japandroids’ sound.
Front to back, this album is just flat out impressive.
The album opener, “Beauty Meat” could fit on your favorite neighborhood music blogs “SUMMER 2014 JAMZ” playlist with its melodic chimes and gang “oh ohh” choruses, but the following track, “Spring Diamond” is the song that I hope they get big for; it’s just as catchy as “Beauty Meat” and doesn’t feel as shameless. Then there’s “Repulsive On Chocolate,” my favorite track on the album.
I appreciate the balls they had to play the fuck out of this song when recording it and the the extra testicular fortitude utilized to stick it in the #3 slot on the EP. This song made me take this band a lot more seriously than i thought I was going to.
Unfortunately though, it looks like they’re going on first for an 8pm doors show on a Tuesday at the backstage of Black Cat. That means it’s an inevitable fact that far less people than this band deserves will be there, so if you’re feeling crazy/finally trust me after 2 years of writing this column and never leading you wrong, I suggest joining me in being the few that will get to enjoy this really talented band before someone with more influence than me discovers them.
Get tickets here. And obviously stay for The Sea Life
*In all seriousness, if anyone reading this wants to educate me on Baltimore’s music scene so that I don’t sound like such a xenophobe, email me ([email protected]). I’ll cover up my DC flag tattoo like my dad has always wanted.
- Thurgood Holmes – Gateway Drug
If the name Thurgood Holmes rings a bell, it’s because it was only a month ago that I was writing about his most recent mixtape, Younginnocence.won’tsave.you, and throwing my weight behind him as an emerging hip-hop talent in DC.
Since then, I’ve gotten the chance to chat with Thurgood a bit, and while he was more than thankful for the write-up, he pressed me to check out his earlier mixtape, Gateway Drug. It took me a few days to get around to it, but ever since I have, I’ve grown to appreciate Thurgood on an entirely different level.
While I loved Younginnocence.won’tsave.you for it’s creative production and Thurgood’s versatile flow, I didn’t know if it had the substance to elevate Thurgood into the “whoa” level, but Gateway Drug is not only substantial, it’s deep. It’s introspective but perceptive about the world it.
Unfortunately, the beats are a few steps back from the more recent mixtape, but the simple structures do help emphasize just how well Thurgood can fit verses into rhythms, and it’s fun to see that kind of natural talent on such casual display.
“Gateway Drug”and “Drugs (Rock Bottom)” and are the major highlights, but if you want to download the whole mixtape (and you should want to), you can over at DatPiff.
BONUS: To throw a quick tease out, I’ve already made sure Che Brown and Joshua Davis of ACME are aware of Thurgood’s presence, and I would be very surprised if they didn’t end up pairing up for something/I will make sure they pair up for something. It’s a match made in heaven.
TEEN – The Way and Color
I wish Celebrity Deathmatch was still around so that I could get a claymation rendering of what it will be like when HAIM starts a beef with TEEN after TEEN steals their throne as indie pop’s most revered sisters (TEEN is comprised of the three Lieberson sisters, Kristina aka “Teeny” (who was in Here We Go Magic), Katherine, and Lizzie; plus a non-relative named Boshra AlSaadi).
I’ve been listening to their album The Way and Color all week and every time I go through it, with each track, there’s a moment where I go, “I could see a lot of people liking this song.” Most of the time, I am one of those lot of people too.
“Rose 4 U” is one hell of an album opener; it’s quirky, powerful, and sneakily catchy (and almost 5 minutes long). “Not For Long” delicately borrows from such an exquisite array of influences that i can’t even let my brain begin to go down that rabbit hole with comparisons. “More Than I Ask For” should be every girl’s new karaoke jam.
Then there are songs like “Sticky,” which I find a little boring but which I could also see being one of those songs that when played live, a vocal minority shrieks for. And that’s saying something when their “weak” material is still possibly shriek-worthy.
This band is poised for stardom. Somewhere, Bassface is biting her nails.
And now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS: Justin McCarthy Edition
Editor’s Note: Justin McCarthy has blessed us with his presence on the column a few times before, and with each guest post, I find myself more and more smitten with him.
- Cam’ron – “Dipshits” and “Humphrey”
Hip-hop in 2014 is a fickle beast. The genre used to be a young man’s game exclusively; an arena for the virile and the vanguard-focused, a musical game of king of the hill on steroids, wherein falling off even temporarily was tantamount to death. There’s traditionally been astronomically little chance of a career comeback for a hoary, maligned veteran like, say…Cam’ron.
But thus far this year, the art form’s newbies have failed to wow, and its old(er) heads have been turning in Tim Duncan-esque performances left and right. Old man Jay-Z has submitted a smattering of quality verses implying that he might still, you know, care a little. Just this week, Eminem and Busta Rhymes dropped an absolute gem of lyrical prowess that earns every second of its near-six minute timestamp. And need we continue harp on the Waynaissance?
But of all these comebacks that over-the-hill MCs have pleasantly surprised us with in 2014, has any been as unexpected and as exciting as Cam’ron’s? In case you don’t know: Harlem’s finest purple verse eater, a rhymesmith who peaked commercially in 2002, has teamed up with genius producer and consummate student of the game A-Trak for an EP called Federal Reserve, due this year. The two singles produced from the project already, “Humphrey” and “Dipshits,” are glorious.
“Humphrey” is the most joyful piece of hip-hop you’ll hear all year, and if you’re a fan of Cam’s 2004 magnum opus Purple Haze, it will warm your heart to hear his classic punchlines reunited with soulful vocal samples. “Dipshits” is a trunk-rattling behemoth anchored by a gale force organ synth and a fan-fucking-tastic video.
These are two of my favorite songs released this year. And Cam’ron made them. It can’t be overstated how crazy that is. So go on, add these two bangers to your barbecue, workout, data entry, and drug dealing playlists. And the next time you’re hunting for new tunes, and you linger your cursor over a link to a new song by an aging rap star of a bygone era, and you’re about to navigate away, just remember this: if Killa Cam can come back, anyone can. Well, maybe not anyone.
Finally a fresh track/free download from intern Trent Burns
- Yesper – “Cannibal King”
Virginia native turned Seattle singer/songwriter is, in the most basic terms, indie-folk.
Stop, because I can hear the eye rolls already.
The man behind the project remains nameless, which makes it all the more impressive that Yesper’s sleepy folk tunes remain astonishingly intimate. Not unlike Mimicking Birds or Blind Pilot, “Cannibal King” combines charming melodies with sparse instrumentation for a strikingly simple, minimalist sonic profile. Tongue in cheek lyrics are delivered in beautifully layered vocals, and the singular guitar riff takes on a life of its own as the track progresses.
Pick up “Cannibal King” and the rest of Yesper’s EP for free, or pay a few bucks in support of a full album release.