Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
I know that the Venn diagram of NBA fanatics and BYT readers probably doesn’t have much overlap, but I happen to be in the center of that overlap, and I cannot stop thinking about how similar Steph Curry and MS MR are.
“There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor.” – Mark Jackson, head coach for the Golden State Warriors, to Steph Curry on Monday night.
For those unaware, we’re just starting round 2 of the NBA playoffs, possibly the best post-season for any of the four major sports (society has yet to downgrade baseball or replace it with The Real World/Road Rules Challenge). Steph Curry, the 25-year-old point guard for the Golden State Warriors, just led his team to a huge upset over the Denver Nuggets and has recently “made the leap,” as sports writers love to call it, transforming into a true offensive force to be reckoned with. I, along with many others, never saw this coming. Sure, he did some great things for his tiny college of Davidson and he always had a pretty shot, but I didn’t know he had this in him, and it’s absolutely enthralling to watch. And that’s where MS MR comes in..
I saw MS MR play one of All Things Go’s New Noise showcases last July when they opened up for Alex Winston. They had just released their single, “Hurricane” and Lizzy and Max, the duo that make up MS MR, did a pleasantly serviceable job satisfying a crowd that was antsy to see Alex Winston in all her adorable fierceness. Their set was forgettable enough that I don’t remember many details from it, but memorable enough that I still think about it when their name comes up.
They stayed on my radar when their Candy Bar Creep Show EP was released, as a lot of my friends were very vocal about their love for “Dark Doo Wop,” a downtempo’d bit of, well, doo wop that I just couldn’t wrap my head around, like when the Warriors nabbed the undersized Curry with the 7th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
But when I saw that one of my favorite synth-pop acts, Chvrches, had recently remixed “Hurricane,” I felt compelled to check it out, only to be surprised with MS MR’s new album Secondhand Rapture streaming for free on Hype Machine. After a few listens, it’s apparent that MS MR have “made the leap” as well.
The tone of the album is purposefully dark, but it’s more Victorian fairtytale than Nine Inch Nails barren sonic wasteland. More importantly, though, this album is POWERFUL.
The recycled “Bones” is a strong opening statement and “Fantasy” is purely thunderous. But if that was their only trick, it would get old fast, like Steph Curry’s early career where he was all jumpshot with no court vision or passing to speak of. Fortunately, throughout the course of the album, they experiment with different genres, slipping from the spinning “Head Is Not My Home” to the swinging “Salty Sweet” and even doing a great Ace of Base-meets-Pink impression on “Think Of You” (that’s a double compliment too; Pink is underrated for a pop singer). Listening to it is like watching Curry make passes like the one he made Monday night and being shocked that you didn’t see this potential sooner.
If the next step for Curry is to see how well he can handle the veteran Spurs, MS MR’s next challenge is the Treehouse Stage at Sweetlife this weekend. But for those that can’t wait that long, come see them on Thursday for All Things Go’s Official Festival Kickoff Party (shameless plug) where I guarantee they will take over because they will be the best ones on the floor.
Voldapark – “Always Forever”
*Warning. This video makes no sense to the point that it angers me. This is one of those times where you click play then go answer emails/I mean read the really important things I have to say about the song.
It is currently 11:37pm the night before this article is due. An already-crammed work week, the previously mentioned NBA playoffs, and an urge to do some spring cleaning have left my procrastinating ass up later than I would like to be in order to write about a band that I not only have put off writing about this week, but that I have bumped out of the column for almost two months now.
But, as I polish off my last caffeinated beverage, heavy-eyed and a little cranky, Vondelpark sounds fucking perfect. Their debut LP, Seabed, which is preceded by two EPs and a misanthropic story involving them getting their equipment stolen, is a fluid bit of R&B meets post-dubstep meets minimalist pop. It’s not a perfect album, but for me, right now, it’s the perfect experience. It’s an isolating listen, meant for headphones, but it’s sonically warm and engulfing.
While the first single off the album, “California Analog Dream” may be catchier, one of the standout tracks from the South London trio is “Always Forever.” It has an almost vintage R&B backing that allows the emotive vocals to drape themselves over the song really nicely.
For someone that just wants to shut his eyes and pretend tomorrow isn’t only Wednesday, this is a welcome spring lullaby.
Hop Along – “Get Disowned”
When you hear lead-singer Frances Quinlan’s voice ferociously crack for the first time it’s pretty jarring. For me, it was about 30 seconds into “Some Grace,” the first track off their 2012 album Get Disowned. But by about 1:28 seconds in, I knew that she, and her fellow two Hop Alongers, had me hooked for the whole album.
I know that some might be turned off by Quinlan and Company’s sound, but I also know that those that come at them with an open mind (and open ears) will find something special here. Quinlan coos and wails throughout expressive, creative, and occasionally even funny songs that are equal parts intricate obsessiveness and confident recklessness. Guitar lines flaunt complimenting melodies and reliances on heavy bass riffs are well-rewarded.
The past two weeks that I’ve spent obsessing over this album have unearthed all the rambling beauty in tracks like “Tibetan Pop Stars” and the wandering “Diamond Mine,” but tracks like “Laments” are immediately accessible and as quirkily charming as anything you’d find on the Juno soundtrack. And while I originally thought raucous near album-closer “Young And Happy” might be the best song to write about/use as an intro, I realized that this band deserves for their entire sonic catalogue to be heard, so I had to include the whole album.
This trio from Philly has officially gained a superfan in me, and once they’re back from their current European tour, I will be hounding their tour schedule hoping for a DC date or convincing myself that it’s been too long since I was in the City of Brotherly Love. Hop Along, you may not be for everyone, but, to quote your own song, “No Good Al Joad,” “you are my favorite because you’re a long shot.”
I love supporting up-and-coming artists, and I love it even more when those artists make my job a lot easier and just email me their stuff; so much so that I will write about artists/songs that I most likely never usually would if said artists are proactive and nice enough when reaching out. Last week, I got an email from Le Crewe with a few of their newer tracks and a quick explanation of who they were, and I decided to broaden my horizons and shed some light on one of the tracks that particularly caught my fancy.
While I’m admittedly not an expert on hip-hop and probably not their target demographic, as I found myself skipping through some of their tracks, I did catch myself coming back to a few of their songs throughout the week, especially “Wats Good”. The song uses the same beat as “Westside, Right On Time” by Kendrick Lamar and Young Jeezy, but Le Crewe tells me unfortunately they were unaware of that until a year after the fact (having grabbed the beat from YouTube), meaning it’s now not an official track for them but it will appear on their upcoming Crewes Control later this summer.
Le Crewe is made up of PA-native Fresh Hadden and NOLA-native Kul People who came together at Langston University in Langston, OK. After they released their first mixtape, Juice, they received enough attention that they moved to Atlanta to chase the dream. While they released a second mixtape a few months later, Crewes Control is what they will really be measured by, so it looks like it’s time for these two kids to show the world what they’re made of. Le Crewe, the spotlight is yours to grab.