This column comes at the end of the week. It takes seven days of gathering, parsing, editing, and sifting through songs to get to this final product. Sometimes we get all the songs by Monday. Sometimes, like this week, it takes a whole week of picking to really get to the gems the in the pile. But we reached them and they are shining bright. We did the heavy lifting, now take them, listen to them whole week through. Let them sink in. Feel the weight. This is 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To.
Lord of the Fly- Gold$
Lord of the Fly is a young rapper hailing from North Carolina, but lacing up his sneakers in Madison, Wisconsin right now. His new track “Gold$” seduces you into the first bar with something that Luther Vandross would sing over, but instead Lord of the Fly comes in, and checks his ego at the door, saying “this ain’t a track at how good I am at rapping.” In his delivery there is a sly nonchalance covering an earnest heart. He’s honest. He’s introspective. This song investigates a moral space of growth and maturity. He wants to grow but he doesn’t want to forget who he is. He wants to be a rapper and do rapper things, but he still wants to be the kid who read Captain Underpants by lamplight and sample The Lion King in a song. He achieves all of that by creating this song.
Lord of the Fly’s mixtape, Not Safe For Work, is available FOR FREE right here.
Listen if you like: smooth hip-hop/R&B, young talent, videos that trick you into thinking that they are not actually videos
Atmosphere- The World Might
When I first heard Seven’s Travels 10 years ago, Slug’s personality was the most memorable and striking part of it. His anger, rage, passion and fear were on full display, and his delivery was fast, loud and full of bravado.
Fast forward 10 years to Southsiders and I’m not sure what to make of today’s Atmosphere. Ant’s beats and sounds are true to form, but Slug’s delivery has changed. His pace has slowed. His delivery is less forceful. Like a pitcher who only threw fastballs, it feels like everything on this record is off-speed. Less specifics, more generalities, yet I’ve found it incredibly enjoyable, because of songs like “The World Might Not Live Through the Night.” It’s a breezy jam about something, I’m not sure (and they probably don’t either), but it’s an incredibly catchy song, and with lyrics like, “Now pretend you're not alone/and put your hands up in the air like a drone/Yeah now hold ‘em over your head/like your homes got invaded by the feds” it’s playful and aware, like the best parts of Atmosphere’s work.
Jonwayne looks like a 30-something year old dude who, if seen, you would assume still lives in his mother’s basement. You would make that assumption, but then would feel like a dick, and find out that he is actually the opposite—an independent-minded producer/MC at that. His latest release, Cassette on Vinyl, which is a compilation of tracks that he released on cassette through Stones Throw Records awhile back, is getting re-released in digital and vinyl format on July 22nd. His stand out is the track called “Gross”. Here, Jonwayne creates his own vibe both with his gospel-like production and addicting-to-listen-to rhyme scheme, genuinely not caring what anyone thinks with lyrics like “laugh at me, I define baffling/I hide mysteries seriously, back in high school I was voted most likely to defy history/kicked into the wild with a mic and some Listerine.” Jonwayne is an original artist. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t care about hip-hop, he doesn’t care about being ‘next-up,’ and he doesn’t care if he looks like he lives in his mother’s basement. In an industry where image is everything, Jonwayne is here to make good music and if you throw an MF Doom comparison or a ‘he’s a top 5 in the game right now’ he will probably smirk and say ‘gross’ because he knows that’s never what making music has been about.
– Jake Kestly
Black Diet- Nothing to Say
This song is heartbreak on a sunny day. On one hand, your heart is broken. You’re messed up and you’re feeling down. On the other hand, damn, it’s beautiful out. Maybe you shouldn’t worry because lovers will come and go, like the seasons. When it’s cold outside it sucks, but when it gets warm it makes the sunny days so much sunnier.
Black Diet’s album, Find Your Tambourine, is available here on bandcamp.
Listen if you like: Garage rock that sounds like soul music, Soul music that sounds like garage rock, Stax records, Curtis Harding
Album of the week
Sylvan Esso- Sylvan Esso
Our album of the week is Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut album that was released on Partisan Records this Tuesday. The album is filled with deep textures, thick synth, and electro sounds that reach a balanced melody when matched with soulful and expressive looped vocals. Also, chalk up some points to Nick Sanborn, their main instrumentalist, who hails from the mean streets of Milwaukee. If you haven’t heard us playing “Coffee,” “Play it Right,” or “Wolf,” check this track “Hey Mami,” that was recorded outside with the soft coo of cars lulling in looped patterns as Amelia Randall Meath’s voice soars over scores of synths in this beautiful song.
Sylvan Esso’s album is out now. It’s available at Rushmor, Acme, Exclusive, and all your other record stores. And if it’s not, demand that it is.
Listen if you like: Autre Ne Veut, electronic music with female vocalists, Milwaukee
Coley Jones- Drunkard’s Special
It’s just a drunk guy, trying to figure out the world around him. There is a mystery on his hands. The clues point to his wife. It seems like she may be entertaining another man, and lying to him about it, but he is too drunk to prove her wrong. He is a drunken sleuth, being led astray by inebriated reasoning. He could decide not to drink one night, so that in the sober light he will see that there is basically another man living with his wife, but he chooses to stay in his state of impairment. His proof is not the sober truth, instead, he scratches his head and says, “I’ve traveled this world over, a million times or more, and I’ve never seen that before.” There is no resolution or sobriety. He may still be wondering.
Coley Jones, Drunkard Special, is on The Anthology of American History: Volume 1
Listen if you like: Folk songs of early America, blues music, Tom Waits.