Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
This weekend is the BYT Twerk or Treat Halloween Party and in an effort to get you fully pumped, I bring you the Tunes You Should Fucking Know This Week: TWERK OR TREAT EDITION
Whether it’s seeing someone’s monster makeover, getting a full-size candy bar instead of those lame minis, or watching someone dressed up as Miley Cyrus twerking to Rex Riot, you’re probably going to be screaming at some point Saturday while at the Sphinx Club, so I’m going to judge these songs on how many Ghostface Scream Masks they warrant. Unlike the Scream movies though, the more the better.
Here we go.
- Torres – “Honey”
8/10 Ghostface Masks
If a song gives you goosebumps, that’s got to be worth at least 8 Ghostface Masks, right? Well I defy you to watch this live video for “Honey” with your full attention and not get chills. The song itself is heart-shattering and the cinematography, especially for a live video, is absolutely powerful.
And 22-year-old Nashvillean Mackenzie Scott, also known as Torres, is something special.
Let’s start with the fact that her voice is so vulnerable it’s agonizing. It’s like the way that keeping eye contact with someone for a long period of time is. It’s that scary kind of real. And she blends that with an attitude that is a mix of what I think it is people that like Joni Mitchell like about her mixed with an (I know this sounds crazy) Alannis Morrisette defiance. Just listen to the venomous drawl that bubbles at times…
And the way she delivers it with a hostile fragility brings a “Breaking Bad”-level of emotional depth to every line. She’s got the innate star power to match her early-Cat Power songwriting, and it goes a long way to sell her emotive songs.
What’s interesting though, is that according to her press release/bio, it sounds like Scott had a bunch of these tracks written but was trying to go more the acoustic singer/songwriter route before being given a Gibson 335. It says that the life-changing guitar helped her music sound “intensified, with deeper shades of darkness creeping into the mix.” Usually, this is PR talk for “please excuse anything done before this album and let’s just pretend that old stuff didn’t happen,” and while usually I’d still go hunting for earlier stuff, I’m really digging Torres and her self titled album, so I’m going to honor that request and consider this her debut to the world.
As a proud Nashville resident, she readily admits that the city also helped her perpetuate that maturation, but with her being only 22, I’m going to really enjoying seeing her put her own dent in that scene over the next few years (Diarrhea Planet collaboration, maybe?
Not many people can harness fragility and delicateness so well that they seem stronger for it, but she seems to radiate that naturally. It could still be captured a bit better on her studio recordings, but look no further than the other songs from this On Vinyl session or the performance she did for the DC website All Our Noise to see what kind of talent is there.
She’s the real deal.
- Kendrick Lamar – His verse on TDE’s 2013 Cypher
10/10 Ghostface Masks
Kendrick Lamar is scary good.
And if your jaw isn’t dropped into a frozen Ghostface after hearing his verse on the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher, the only excuse is that you’re Drew Barrymore 10 minutes into “Scream” (…dead).
From Kendrick’s near-perfect debut good kid, m.A.A.d city to his recent headline-poaching verse on “Control,” it’s been readily apparently that he is incredibly talented and quite possibly the next HUGE hip-hop superstar, but after seeing the TDE crew’s cypher at the 2013 BET Hip-Hop awards, I’m officially scared of Kendrick Lamar.
He has continually raised the ceiling of what he’s capable of to the point where I have no clue if he even has one anymore. When is the last time someone, after their debut album, was this respected for their lyrical content, their technical ability, their showmanship, AND their actions within the hip-hop realm? Not since the days of 22 Two’s or another Young Black Male?
In a hair over two minutes, Kendrick propels himself to a level of hip-hop that no one has reached in far too long; the kid from Compton throws subtle shade and lobs outright threats in between backed-up boasts and black-diamond verbal acrobatics.
I think he’s been on such a roll recently that this cypher performance might have been a bit of a heat check for Kendrick, with him throwing the kitchen sink at this verse in terms of his abilities. If so, he’s now officially on fire. The kid who stole just a bit of the spotlight on a 2011 cypher is now the solar center of the hip-hop universe.
Honestly, Kendrick has reached the point where I am terrified to see where he goes from here. He gets all the Ghost Faces (sorry, Wu-Tang).
- Thomas Azier – “Red Eyes”
6/10 Ghostface Masks
You know how in scary movies there’s always that one couple that has to go and have gratuitous passionate sex before getting chopped to bits?
“Red Eyes” is the song they should always be listening to.
Its balance of sexy and sinister just screams, “I don’t care if this means I die right after the black guy, I need to get laid.”
It comes from Thomas Azier, a dark-pop musician out of Berlin who turned some heads at CMJ last week, including Shauna Alexander, who turned me onto him. The 24-year old is currently working on the third EP of his Hylas trilogy, which he’s been releasing in sections since early 2012, but you can find more of his stuff here.
Just remember the perils of putting the O in Ghostface…
And now it’s time for a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Jennifer Litvak Edition
Editor’s Note: Jennifer Litvak was another person I met via the interweb. She emailed me a song from a band called Majical Cloudz after stumbling upon BYT while looking for information about the National Book Festival (whatever gets them through the door, right?).
She mentioned that she would be attending the Har Mar Superstar concert that took place at U Hall a few weeks ago, and I asked if she’d be willing to write up a bit about him/the show. Luckily, Mr. Superstar fits in perfectly with this week’s theme, as he is one frightening person to look at and is known to get somewhere between half and fully naked during his sets.
7/10 Ghostface Masks
Har Mar Superstar – “Restless Leg”
“This song is about my penis,” he laughed to the audience, right before tearing into my favorite track, “Restless Leg.”
Sean Tillman, aka Har Mar Superstar and the man behind those words, is equal parts man and character, performer and musician. And in front of only 40 people on a Monday night at U Street Music Hall, he put on a show that was easily one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Arriving on stage in a white-leather fringed poncho with two drinks in hand, the Minnesota-born Ron-Jeremy lookalike has an ease of stage presence (and discourse…) that only comes with knowing exactly who you are, exactly what kind of show you’re going to put on, and just how good your music is. Because beyond the belly and the booze, Har Mar Superstar puts on one hell of a moving and grooving show. And on his third, most recent album, you can tell that he’s finally finding his stride – a balance between the ridiculous and the ridiculously good.
When I was first introduced to Har Mar Superstar by a friend to whom I will be forever indebted, “Lady You Shot Me” literally rocked my socks off. But to hear his track and then to see his picture – you almost can’t believe that a sound so transcendent of genre and generation could come from this person. But it does – and how.
With a killer voice, neo-soulful sound, and strong horn presence, the music of Har Mar Superstar is a nod to sounds past yet maintains a relevancy (and addictive Instagram feed) that is 100% now. On tour with everyone from Best Coast to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Har Mar Superstar is making waves not just for his music but for his show, which, today, are often two different things. Lots of music acts play their music – but Har Mar puts on a show — devoid of insincerity or forced characterization. Instead, it seems to be unbelievably (in every sense of the word) him.
And just in case you still hadn’t taken note of the magic that is Har Mar Superstar, he will – without question – end up singing in a half-naked upside-down headstand that may have you laughing at first, but when Har Mar never misses a beat as he does it, you’ll be blown away.
“Haha, no it’s not about my penis…Ok it is…” he continued, before turning into the sweatiest and silliest pirouette I’ve ever seen.
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.