Jay Brown deals in a brand of rural songwriting that is hard to come by these days. Usually when someone is as good as this, they get swooped up by a label and groomed into some fabricated version of themselves. But being a fixture in the North Carolina music scene for over 15 years, Brown has had time to shape and develop his folky style and has emerged from the Carolina High Country as one of the most authentic songsters since Doc Watson. Jay’s newest offering, Beginner Mind, is a kind of philosophical coming of age album. The songs speak delicately on the issues of life and family while alluding to the joy found in maturing into ones true calling. The phrase ‘Beginner Mind’ conjures up the possibilities inherent in the mind of a child and it is this state of openness which Brown imbues his work with.
“Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music”
― William Edgar Stafford
Chance The Rapper just released a new song called “No Better Blues” on his SoundCloud page. For the Kid Cudi lovers out there (I’m shouting myself out right now), this might resonate with you. It’s a heavy emotional song that tells a story about the blues, and the feeling that can come with a form of depression where you hate everything – the ordinary things, the good things, the bad things, the comfortable and uncomfortable things. There isn’t joy to be found.
I imagine there are people out there who don’t appreciate hip hop music who will press play and say they hate this song. They hate that rappers don’t have any musical talent and that they can just speak over music that they often don’t make. They could go on and on about what they hate, just as Chance has in this song. But what I’d urge them to do is go beyond the sound that they may or may not like about hip hop music and think about the storytelling that goes into this. Chance is telling a story about the blues at exactly the right time. Just over a month ago, the world was mourning the passing of Robin Williams and depression and the demons that come with it were being talked about on the news. Today, it’s a thing of the past, and we’ve moved on to the more current news. We mustn’t forget the true battle so many face with a darkness so overwhelming one can feel they hate every single thing in life — their bed, their home, their family, the sun, the rain, the clouds, the war, the charities. It’s all covered in darkness.
But there are two lines in particular in this song by Chance that stand out to me. One is repeated throughout the song as Chance sings and raps “it don’t get no better,” and one is more subtle when he says “I hate to hate.” This isn’t something people choose to feel. But unfortunately, it’s not something there’s an easy cure for either. It’s an important matter that needs to stay in the foreground, and I commend Chance for bringing it back into the conversation, so long as people can see the true meaning of the song as I’ve interpreted it.
Is Chance himself actually feeling this way? Who knows. Maybe not…after all, he talks about things in here that he doesn’t have (a twin, for example). But that’s the beauty of art: it can tell stories about meaningful topics that don’t always have to represent the 1st person’s true life. The power is the story behind it. And Chance has told an incredibly powerful story in a song that many may brush off as something they hate. But take a deeper look, and you just may see the importance of it after all.
Close your eyes and drift away to London chanteuse LAYLA’s haunting new remix courtesy of Oakland’s Dimond Saints. Her beguiling pop number “Weightless”, which was released this past September, finds new life in this excellent rework by the future bass pioneers who treat the sexy original with spiky bass riffs and otherworldly atmosphere. Dimond Saints have this track available for free download as a part of their newly released Hunters Moon EP.
Shura has a way of making effortlessly cool tracks with a sound that hooks us in completely with just the first listen. This particular track is no different, with its love infested mood and mystical vibes. “Indecision” has our hearts on lockdown and it’s done in the sweetest, softest way possible. You’ve definitely got our love Shura. Listen to the fresh beauty below.
We have the pleasure of giving you the first listen of Austin based quartet Just Walden’s “Summer Day Charade” – a melancholy meditation on finding ones true purpose in a sea of overbearing societal ideals. The songs crafty wordplay boasts such abstractions as “patience is a paper plate on a summer day picnic charade” but ultimately forms a cohesive coming-of-age narrative which advocates taking ones attention away from nonsensical outside stimulation. Just Walden’s signature piano driven sound has often been compared to Elton John circa 1970 but on this particular track singer Danny Ferraro sounds a little like Jack White interpreting Coldplay with his relentless vocal finely cutting through the evocative soundscape.