Of course Frank Ocean drops a new cover and potential snippet of a single when I take a 24 hour siesta from technology. “It’ll be fine,” I said, “nothing majorly important will happen in music today.” Frank’s falsetto said (or, rather, sang) otherwise. In remembrance of Aaliyah‘s birthday (she would have been 36 today), Ocean absolutely nailed the Isley Brothers slow jam that she covered on her debut LP, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.
If you somehow don’t know or aren’t convinced about Frank yet, this could very easily be the vocal performance that changes that. Saying little is probably best for something this gorgeous. If you’re a fan though, can we talk about that snippet at the end? My god, I need a new Frank Ocean LP in my life…
(Listen via Frank Ocean’s Tumblr)
New Orleans’s Generationals are, in short, the kind of rising indie band commercial music supervisors have dirty dreams about. A description like that sounds damning in some circles, but a few seconds into a song like “Black Lemon” off their latest LP, Alix, and you’ll practically allow the dancing images of silhouetted iPod listeners into your head. This shouldn’t discourage indie credibility purists though, as Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have evolved Generationals with such a genuine, New Wave-adoring quirkiness, it’s easy to imagine them spending afternoons lovingly flipping the same a-ha and Duran Duran singles over and over.
Their video for “Reviver” though feels far from the synthesized, urban pep their songs occupy though. Generationals appear as backwoods dirtbikers, winning the hearts of ’80s-redux, flag waving models and beer-smashing rednecks alike. Although it’s questionable whether the airy synthwork or heavy reverb verses in “Reviver” would convince such a normally conservative Southern crowd, Generationals just visually up their fun-loving quota with color-spewing exhaust smoke and Widmer being swallowed by the sun on a high jump. “Reviver” and Generationals as a whole make relentlessly happy sounds, intending to unite redneck and music snob alike under the good old fashioned power of a catchy chorus.
Okay, Fort Lean, who gave you clearance to be this upbeat in the middle of January? I’m not going to even bother questioning what possessed you to ditch your shirts when, as I write this, your home base of Brooklyn is resting at an average of 35° until, like, Easter. I’m inquiring more about “I Don’t Mind”, which practically shaved the seasonal “too lazy/sad to shave” beard off my face mid-chorus.
As far as I can see, this is only Fort Lean’s second single from their debut LP, but “I Don’t Mind” wear those fuzzed out verses and that undeniably summer-ready chorus with almost too much confidence for a band so young. There’s a clear lineage to indie rock relatives Young the Giant with some fuzz rock nurturing from The Black Keys and Tame Impala, but Fort Lean swagger off with those comparisons like a couple kids fearlessly throwing their first college party. And frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a ton of people show up for a single as fun as “I Don’t Mind.” I’m still skeptical about the (lack of) shirt choices, but party on, gentlemen.
Raury has released his first single of 2015 and it’s his reaction to hearing that officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for the murder of Mike Brown. It’s a emotional song that speaks to the injustice surrounding the case. Malik Shakur, Raury’s best friend, is featured on the track.
I”m not a nuisance to mankind and even if I was, I don’t deserve to die.
Oscar Scheller (known professionally as O S C A R or, for those who can’t be bothered with the artistic use of a space bar, Oscar) picked a hell of a stage name to go by. You’d think Googling the Londoner’s brit-poppy EP, 146B, or even a Facebook page would come somewhat easy. Alas, the hot topic trials of runner Oscar Pistorius got in the way and, of course, that whole Academy Award thing that happens every year shows up, but it was worth the extra effort to find more on the one that penned “Daffodil Days”.
Wichita Recordings, Oscar’s new label and home to Gold Panda and Cloud Nothings among many notables, are likely going to tell you this debut single is pure “bedroom pop.” I love a good bit of tape hiss and lo-fi production in a song, but no, “Daffodil Days” is worlds apart from the bedroom Oscar came from. Bursting out of the gate with infectious “oh’s”, a determined four-on-the-floor beat, and his crooner’s baritone, Oscar is mailing this one straight to any summer festival looking for a last minute spot-filler. And hey, he absolutely deserves the Freshman honors treatment; “Days” recalls fellow Englanders Swim Deep‘s penchant for seasonally gloomy pop rock and amplifies their formula with a wide-eyed, sugary chorus. It’s the kind of indie pop fit for aficionados of the genre and the people that got stoked when Coachella announced their H&M fashion line alike.
The music of North Carolina’s Boulevards belongs in bins of discount 45s like the dust that perpetually coats their crates, but there’s no better time than now for his brand of pop funk to rise up. My college roommate last year was a bassist that surrendered his heart and soul to funk. A day would not pass without praise to Maggot Brain and the Blessed Trinity: Parliament, Funkadelic, and The Immaculate Combination (i.e. when the two became Parliament-Funkadelic) When Daft Punk dropped the “punk” for disco beats, it was through him I saw that the robots merely borrowed Herbie Hancock’s vocoder and rode the Soul Train for a couple of stops.
My roommate (if he’d ever pick up his damn phone and call) would be overjoyed though that funk is #1 in America right now. Mark Ronson‘s brand of “Uptown Funk” has charted for weeks and perhaps we’ll see many acts like Jamil Rashad’s Boulevards riding the trend’s wave. I think Rashad should be given more credit than that though by the sounds of “Got to Go”, which runs deep with admiration for funk’s machinations of staying relevant in the ’80s. The work of Hancock and, chiefly, the King of Pop himself are alive in “Go”, bolstered by the undeniably groovy bass work of producer Rollergirl. Seriously, try not bobbing your head to this. It’s impossible. As Boulevards’ Facebook page readily hashtags, just “let the groove be with you.”