In these disheartening times, we need powerful, impactful voices like Tink’s.
RIP to Michael Brown Jr. and the many other innocents who have been tragically taken far too soon. May they find justice and peace in the next world.
The world needs another piano ballad about how tough it is to make it in Hollywood about as much as Hollywood needs another cheap, shitty vintage store. That said, the Vancouver songwriter’s poignant break-up ballad with the city rings a little deeper than most, thanks to both his firsthand experience of not making it and his deft ability to stay close to his timeless source material (John Lennon, Randy Newman) without letting it overpower his own. Songs like this and the gorgeous, can’t-miss, “True Love,” feel like the work of a young artist still sifting through his early influences and searching for his own voice. And, when the early “figuring it out” phase yields these kind of results, it’s hard not to get excited about where he could go from here.
Long one of the most distinctive voices coming out of a Chicago hip-hop scene filled with distinctive, creative voices, Sadiki “SD” Thirston has consistently defied trends and co-signs, breaking ground as a solo artist and carving out his own lane. After a string of quality mixtapes and his move away from Chief Keef’s GBE Imprint, the 20 year old recently dropped his long-awaited debut studio LP, Truly Blessed. While I’m still not all the way through the record, its palatial, mantric lead single “Circles” has been on heavy rotation since it dropped last month, and it finally gets similarly unbalanced, wonky visuals.
Fresh off announcing the dissolution of his Dirty Beaches project (tear), Alex Zhang Hungtai returns with two more slabs of instrumental, bleary-eyed sonic wanderings. Though he is sporting a new moniker, these two songs follow a natural progression from Stateless: DB’s cavernous, wondrous final album that dropped earlier this month.
While Stateless explored the overwhelming nature of being a single soul lost in a vast world, these singles seem to speak to the other side. They capture the quiet, contemplative nature of a person synthesizing that vastness into a microscopic portion that they can understand. and call their own Much of Dirty Beaches’ music dealt with searching the great expanse of the outside world for a place to call home. Maybe, with Last Lizard, Hungtai has finally found the home he sought by looking inward, instead.
September 15, 2014. Roughly two weeks after his 22nd birthday, August Alsina dropped the video for his “No Love” remix. Featuring a verse and appearance from one of the biggest stars on the planet, Nicki Minaj, the clip looked set to cap off the biggest year of his life and announce him as an A-List R&B talent. Instead, the best day of his career turned into one of the worst of his life. On the night of the 15th, the New Orleans native found himself fighting for his life. He was placed in a medically induced coma after collapsing on stage in New York.
After three days spent in a hospital bed suffering multiple seizures, Alsina was brought out of the coma, safe and happy to be alive. That kind of experience would shake and humble even the most confident individual, and according to this single and his recent appearance at the Breakfast Club, it’s certainly affected his perspective and lifestyle. “Grindin’” sees the upfront vocalist salute those who stuck with him in his time of need, while reminding naysayers that he’ll respond to this setback the same way he has to the myriad roadblocks he’s already encountered. Stronger, undeterred, and more focused than ever.
B a noBody 7″ (out now on Rough Trade)
17 year-old Bridie Monds-Watson has been putting out personal, affecting folk music for a few years now, but this might just set a new benchmark for the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. Nothing she’s ever released has sounded like it could have been created by a teenager, and that’s never been more apparent than on this, her newest single. The Derry resident crafts songs that are mature in conception and construction — matching lyrics full of depth and insight with simple, yet developed arrangements and her curious, compelling voice. Listen up, because she has the raw materials to go very, very far.
When the Athens duo announced the departure of original vocalist Sarah P back in January, I assumed that it would be the last I’d hear from the dream poppers. Surprise, surprise, just 11 months later, they’re back with composer RΠЯ joined by new vocalist, Myrtha. “Fractals” sees the re-tooled group staying in their windswept, Balearic pop lane with Myrtha’s celestial vocals beautifully framed by washes of reverb, nu-wave bass, and some taut, The Edge-style guitar licks. The track is a solid addition to that “Dreaming of Summer” playlist you play to get through the winter, and it’s an exciting new beginning for the still-promising group.
Ugh, it’s good to have Jessica Pratt back in our lives. Her 2012 debut is a bewitching slab of mystical Laurel Canyon magick with Pratt’s slinky, plaintive vocals weaving across dusty, fingerpicked nylon strings. It reminded me of a cassette I would have heard in my mother’s Volvo station wagon. You know, the one where the tape inside the plastic had twisted in places and much of the label would have rubbed away: crackling, road-worn, and imperfect. It takes me back to a time when music was most precious and valuable — a little world you could get lost in while your Mom was driving you to the grocery store or wherever. Those transportive properties are on full display here, as she picks over the bones of a broken relationship with the kind of bittersweet melancholy that’s just as timeless as her sound.
Home has always been a central theme of young songwriter Chris Ward’s sublime, evocative music, culminating with 2013′s quality, Home & Consonance. Though the Southampton native comes off as reserved and camera shy, his best work is intimate and direct, pulling the listener’s face close while it whispers Ward’s secrets, fears, and feelings to you without reserve. It lets you into that home he cherishes.
“Blame” is another example of , as he pines for the death of a relationship that he admits culpability for. If delivered wrong, lyrics like “Blame me for all of it / Come back home” evaporate into vapid cliché, but Ward sounds genuinely heartsick here, stewing over the remains of something important that he let slip through his fingers. It’s the kind of crime you only realize you committed after it’s too late to fix it. It may not be a track you want to relate to, but I bet it’s one you will relate to.
It’s pretty depressing that it took an auto-tune free NPR performance for America to show a modicum respect to one of the finest hit-makers of the last decade, but these are depressing times. If you argued that Eddie Van Halen and Tom Morello’s usage of distortion pedals them frauds, you would rightly be called an atavistic, unreasonable dipshit. However, few would say the same if you slated T-Pain for running his (very good) voice through a vocal processor. In fact, most people would probably agree that this devalues his standing as a musician.
This faulty logic has been used (by dipshits) as a stick to beat the ATLien for most of his 10-year career. To them, I present some facts. At just 29 years of age, T-Pain has already sang on and co-wrote fifteen (15!!!!) US Top 10 Singles, including at least seven pieces of musical WD-40 that will set any dancefloor/club on the planet ablaze. He’s also consistently put younger artists over, providing them with the kind of anthemic, gold dust choruses necessary to introduce rising talent to the masses. More than anything, he’s just an affable, super talented dude who has spent his entire career soundtracking good nights out with friends and long nights in between the sheets. And, the vocal processing he’s used makes him no less of an artist than your favorite guitar-wielding rawker.
All those aforementioned facts are why we should be celebrating T-Pain’s 10 years in the game. Fuck a Tiny Desk Concert. Fuck your Twitter approval. Hell, fuck this exquisite, acerbic slab of lyrical majesty that puts his ridiculously versatile skill set on blast. More than anything, fuck the fact that if this was a Kendrick Lamar track, all those dipshits would be fawning all over it.