I’m distracting myself from the paper I’m writing for adolescent psychology by putting the finishing touches on this compilation. Everyone needs a study break, right? Hope you enjoy tunes that supply the soundtrack to your next procrastination session!
Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street | Beach Slang
I found this band via Spotify on a summer playlist put together by Hundredth (a band I reviewed on my summer anthem compilation). I was only familiar with bands like Neon Indian and Best Coast before listening to it, but was pleasantly surprised by the range of showcased genres packed into a little over an hour. It starts off with Dirty Cigarettes, the first song off Philadelphia native Beach Slang’s 2014 EP, Cheap Thrills On a Dead End Street armed with a grungy, surf rock aesthetic and raw, gravely vocals (non Chad Kroger/Scott Stapp-ish and therefore good). I kept listening to this song’s infectious riff and was captivated by its unpolished sound in a culture of sterilized modern rock. I explored the rest of this EP a couple weeks ago and was surprised by how it kept my attention. All Fuzzed Out sticks to the same formula as Dirty Cigarettes, but still keeps itself on the tip of your tongue throughout this listen. American Girls and French Kisses slows the pace down towards the end of this EP and ends on a frenetic note with We Are Nothing. It’s been a surprisingly potent listen because of how it feels atmospherically throwback to older rock.
Into the Sun | Sons of the East
I reviewed this Australian singer songwriter collective’s debut eponymous EP early this year. I was drawn into this band’s rootsy, native flourishes that reared its thick Americana, Bob Dylan influences. I still enjoy it after all this time. This band released a new single two weeks ago and was curious to see how they would expand on an already robust sound. Into the Sun begins with a piano intro and transitions into a nimble acoustic guitar part that sustains for the rest of the track. It continues to stack on the original layer of instrumentation with heavy reverberating electric guitar and a stripped down percussion section. The vocals are a sweet balance between tenor and baritone voices from Nic Johnson and Jack Rollins. It’s a very somber sounding listen, but still has a bright disposition. I’ve had it on repeat in the last two weeks and I’m loving the new material! They are dropping a new EP in November called, Already Gone… expect that to come up on this blog.
Doris | Earl Sweatshirt
I haven’t reviewed much rap on this channel. There’s a time and a place for bling (the time is hardly ever if that, the places are few and far between), but I don’t like compromising lyrical substance for brainless club bangers. I’m picky with rap. With that said, Earl is worth the discussion. Originally a member of the nefarious Odd Future hip-hop collective from Los Angeles, Earl Sweatshirt has set himself apart form the rest of the group on this record with visceral talent, unmatched wordplay, choices in hazy beats, and an overall despondent vibe. Earl is an introspective kid who likes to use music as an outlet to depict his unorthodox personality. Doris is his debut solo record after being shipped off to a camp for troubled youth for an extended stay. This record is dark, has lurid production, and trudges through its own run. Throughout Doris, you hear tracks like Chum that showcase Earl’s reflective side, the abstractness of Hive, and even the comical with Whoa featuring Tyler, the Creator. Hoarse is my highlight with a haunting beat, a sluggish flow from Earl, and an atmospheric delivery. With all that, this album is vulgar at points, so you might have to stomach some explicit dialogue, but the kid has undeniable skills.
Somewhere Under Wonderland | Counting Crows
Known to be a household name in 90’s rock, Counting Crows have built a career over the last 25 years over a familiar formula of dyadic rock that still keeps its 90’s influences. I’ve grown up with singles like Accidentally in Love, Big Yellow Taxi, and A Murder of One, but never got into much of anything else. Until I started to revisit some of these singles again, I never listened to anything else from the band. I saw they released this new album last year, unbeknownst to me that the group had survived the early 2000’s. Somewhere Under Wonderland. This album reeks of the 1990’s… in the surprisingly good ways. Palisades Park is a great way to begin this record with a hazy, trumpet solo that takes off into a driving piano and a contemporary jazz vibe. As with the rest of this record, the lyrics take on abstract poetry reminiscent of artists like Iron & Wine that take interesting turns of phrase and go with the flow of the instrumentals. Elvis Went to Hollywood showcases the funky alt rock aesthetic of this album, Cover Up the Sun is a fun, folky head bopper that feels infectious, and Possibility Days is a calm way to end the record with acoustic piano and acoustic guitar to lead the listener to the finish line. This album doesn’t musically reinvent the wheel (and it doesn’t have to), but manages to stay on the tip of this decade’s tongue with diverse instrumentation and an easygoing flow.