Music is crucial in the summertime. Any good summertime soundtrack should be equally as empowering as it’s relaxing. But this can prove to be a difficult task. If we were talking beach music than things would be simple, I’d just tell you to dub it up with King Tubby & Scientist. But if your just kicking it around the District you’ll need something more upbeat and uplifting.
Public Enemy just released a new album, and if “Do the Right Thing” taught us anything its that the hot days pair perfectly with Chuck D’s outrage. . Vinyl Williams “Intro” provides chillwave gems prefect for relaxing by the pool. Sly & the Family, the original summertime band—Hello “Hot Fun in the Summertime”—will release previously unreleased live recordings. Then, if you want to seem extremely suave, there’s fresh re-issues from Cal Tjader, the best non-Latin Latin jazz vibraphonist, which is actually way cooler than it sounds. So check it out because a sweet summer playlist is totally necessary to properly maximize the hottest days of the year.
What to check out: Vinyl Williams “Intro”
What sounds like it: Stereolab “Emperor Tomato Ketchup”
Vinyl William’s second full-length album is some quality chillwave (though I don’t care for that genre label, I do like the general vibe of it). A much more focused album than his debut, “Intro” provides a soft and warm blanket of sound for you to spend a sunny day basking in. But still if I was planning to kick back and relax to some soft rock gems, it’d go with Stereolab. Not because I’m particularly a Francophile, but because it simply has a tighter groove. However, since Stereolab is no more, so I’m totally cool with settling for Williams’ latest effort. Listen to “Gold Lodge” and see for yourself
What to check out: Public Enemy “Mad Plans God Laughs”
What it sounds like: Special Ed “Youth in Charge”
Two weeks ago we got a new Ghostface release. This week we get something new from Public Enemy. But even more surprising is the fact that both these albums are incredibly solid efforts. Neither sounds dated yet both somehow still manage to remain true to artists’ original sound and attitude. With the continued revival of golden age hip-hop MCs, it’s interesting to think about those MCs who couldn’t be revived. For instance, there’s Special Ed, whose career is the equivalent of a first round draft bust. Special Ed’s dropped his stellar debut “Youth in Charge” when he was just 16, but was never again able to re-capture the magic. Although he tried too as recently as 2004 with “Still Got It Made,” which is a must miss. Please don’t listen to it—I could never condone such torture.
What you’re looking for: Sly & the Family Stone “Live at the Fillmore East: October 4th&5th, 1968”
What you should buy by them: “Stand!” or “There’s a Riot Going On”
What to avoid: anything after “There’s a Riot Going On,” but especially “Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back”
So like I was saying: there’s some artist that, no more how unique their talent, cannot for whatever reason be revived. “Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back” is a good example of this. By the mid-70’s Sly Stone and this family band glory had faded. It wasn’t entirely their fault, the sound of soul had simply change—or rather moved to Philly—and Sly was also having some addiction problems. But regardless the band had already left its musical mark with the back-to-back classics “Stand!” and “There’s a Riot Going.” However, the band had established itself even before these records. This release of the band’s 1968 live perform at the legendary Fillmore is testimony to the band’s undeniable magnetism. There’s a story about Miles Davis seeing Sly play at the Newport Jazz Festival. It goes something like: Davis was so compelling by the performance that he went straight home and invented fusion.
Reissue to check out: Cal Tjader’s “Heatwave”
Another gem from Tjader: “Soul Sauce”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bjek8Rod9O4
Cal Tjader is one of the great vibraphonists. He is also one of the great Latin Jazz musicians. He is no doubt the best non-Latin Latin jazz musician. In the 50 and 60’s, he was the middleman between Latin jazz and bop. He had fucking boss-hog sideburns. Recently, Heatwave was reissued and you should grab a copy. It was Tjader last album, he passed away four months after its recording. The album also features jazz singer Carmen McRae, whose voice has a depth and richness that is comparable to Nina Simone’s. “Soul Sauce” is another standout from Tjader long, illustrious career.