Songs of the Week: 3/20/2020

I only have two goals for this series: 1) Introducing the masses to great new music and 2) Giving myself an excuse to listen to every single new release on the Tidal streaming service so I can stay up with new music. Doing this on a weekly basis means that I have a one week window to get this up before the Tidal feed flips to the next set of records, so by posting song reviews rather than full album reviews, it allows me to get more out there and then if you choose to dig deeper, you can.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 3/20/2020.

  • Artist: Childish Gambino
  • Song: “35.31”
  • Album: 3.15.20
  • Genre: Alternative Hip-Hop
  • Notes: On 3.15.20, this album went up on Donald Glover’s website and was taken back down 12 hours later. On 3/22 this showed up on streaming services under the Childish Gambino moniker and just a title of 3.15.20 and apart from two tracks, all track names are the time when the track starts. Overall, it’s a pretty amazing album of alternative hip-hop, pop, rock and noise – very eclectic. As I was listening I kept thinking of Prince’s Around the World in a Day. Unique, quirky and accessible.
  • Artist: Die Antwoord
  • Song: “Zonke Bonke”
  • Album: House of Zef
  • Genre: Alternative Hip-Hop
  • Notes: It’s a great week for alternative hip-hop, between Childish Gambino and the completely different style of Die Antwoord, which are one of the most unique groups in existence. This is the 5th album of this South African duo that combines hip hop, rock and electronics, with filthy narratives and a sound that kind of resembles a robot with a glitch in it’s operating system.
  • Artist: The Weeknd
  • Song: “In Your Eyes”
  • Album: After Hours
  • Genre: R&B
  • Notes: After Hours is the first record I’ve ever seen make the Billboard Top 200 album chart before it was released simply based on the number of purchases of the first two singles. That sounds insane and it might have happened previously but if so, I’m not aware of it. But this likely means that The Weeknd may be the biggest artist on the planet right now. Or that Billboard still hasn’t quite figured out the correct algorithm to account for digital sales. Either way, this album got one million pre-orders on Apple Music. To sell a million of anything in music today is amazing. And the album is damn good – it’s a bit of what you’d expect from the weekend, big beats but never in a quite danceable form, heavy keyboards, creating someone of an 80s/early 90s sound and a bit of pushing the boundaries of what R&B can be. Well worth a listen, of which one million people (at least) are doing that right now with me, I’m sure.
  • Artist: Morrissey
  • Song: “Love Is On Its Way Out”
  • Album: I Am Not A Dog on A Chain
  • Genre: Alt Rock / Pop
  • Notes: I’ve never been a huge fan of Morrissey as his brand of misery just wasn’t my style but this is a damn fine record. It opens with a downright upbeat track, musically at least, which was a shocker for me but throughout, it’s got great rhythms and hooks, even with how wordy Morrissey tends to be (which I know is one of the thing that makes him unique).
  • Artist: Adam Lambert
  • Song: Love Don’t
  • Album: Velvet
  • Genre: Glam Rock
  • Notes: Every time I talk about Adam Lambert, I say the same thing – I wonder how his career would have turned out had he not become the lead singer of Queen? He’s obviously well known, has a great voice and has done a pretty admirable job as the voice of the iconic group. But if he had just stayed a solo artist after American Idol, would he have been able to tour the world 10x over on his own and become one of the biggest artists in the world, or would he have flamed out? It’s a mystery we’ll never know. But his last solo tour was back in 2016 where he was performing in 1500 seat venues. Now with a new album out, that’s really fucking excellent and four consecutive years of touring with Queen, when he makes it back out on the road, I wonder if he’ll be an arena artist. My opinion (which means so very little here) is that if he focused on his solo career he could be as big as say, Justin Timberlake in the end, since he’s such a showman and has some really great music. But Queen’s a really cool gig (and he’s probably getting paid nicely too). But back to this record – it’s a glam rock, pop, disco masterpiece, one that should only help cement his status as a superstar.
  • Artist: Conan Gray
  • Song: “Affluenza”
  • Album: Kid Krow
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: Had I not looked at the album cover, I would have assumed this was a woman singing, but it’s a 21-year old dude that according to notes on this crazy internet thing, is one of the most streamed artist of the last few months on Spotify. No idea how this guy got on so many people’s radar but the album is pretty damn fun and full of pop hooks, so he’ll be on even more radars now.
  • Artist: Paul Wall
  • Song: “Year of the Pint”
  • Album: Mind Over Matter
  • Genre: Rap
  • Notes: It’s funny, when The Peoples Champ came out in 2005, I was laughing at this white dude with the most bling I’d ever seen on teeth and here we are 10 albums and 15 years later and I’m telling you to listen to a Paul Wall record. But again, in this age of trap, even some artists that I never liked before have started sounding much better. I didn’t know Paul Wall still existed because the last six records have been released on this own but this is a solid disc. The sound doesn’t really vary much from song to song but fortunately that one sound is pretty good. So if you listen to this and like it, it’s hard not to like the rest of the disc since it’s a bit samey.
  • Artist: Kelsea Ballerini
  • Song: “Overshare”
  • Album: Kelsea
  • Genre: Country Pop
  • Notes: As close as you’re going to get in country music to a pure pop record, Kelsea Ballerini is seriously in position to be the next Taylor Swift with this gem of an album.
  • Artist: Modern Rituals
  • Song: “Scratcher in the Mash”
  • Album: This Is the History
  • Genre: Post-Hardcore
  • Notes: A vicious, dark hardcore base with some sludge and shoegaze, as is the case for most post-hardcore but for the most part, these guys don’t scream like is most common in the genre. The singing is a bit darker and more subtle but the riffs are jagged and unique.
  • Artist: Eliza & the Delusionals
  • Song: “Pull Apart Heart”
  • Album: A State of Living in an Objective Reality
  • Genre: Indie Rock / Pop
  • Notes: Hook filled indie rock / pop blend with a bit of an electro feel to it.
  • Artist: My Ugly Clementine
  • Song: “My Dearest Friend”
  • Album: Vitamin C
  • Genre: Indie Pop
  • Notes: My Ugly Clementine is a four piece, all female indie pop-rock group from Austria.
  • Artist: Missing Persons
  • Song: “Just What I Needed”
  • Album: Dreaming
  • Genre: New Wave
  • Notes: Well, at this point Dale Bozzio is the only original member of Missing Persons left in the band and for this record (only their 5th) she decided to do a cover record. The standout track for me is their cover of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” which is turned into an industrial piece that sounds very different from the original.
  • Artist: Lucifer
  • Song: “Cemetery Eyes”
  • Album: Lucifer III
  • Genre: Proto-Metal
  • Notes: If you know your Proto-Metal, or essentially those modern bands that has a distinct 70s hard rock / metal vibe to them, then you know exactly what to expect here. And not only that but the band name sounds exactly like something to come out of 1977 anyway. Lucifer is more rock than metal in my ears but so was a lot of the 70s metal as well.
  • Artist: No Raza
  • Song: “Reborn”
  • Album: Transcending Material Sins
  • Genre: Death Metal
  • Notes: Colombian Death Metal of the highest caliber!
  • Artist: Master Boot Record
  • Song: Edit.com
  • Album: Floppy Disk Overdrive
  • Genre: Chiptune
  • Notes: Master Boot Record is an insanely good project. And I say project because it’s a weird one for sure. This is all music made through coding, as far as I know, no actual instruments are played in this band but this the premise of this project is that this is computer telling its story through music or some shit like that. If you’re not familiar with chiptune, it’s like vintage video game music and Master Boot Record mixes that with metal and classical to create a really dark, heavy version. Pretty fantastic band, with a really unique concept, as long as I’ve understood exactly what that concept is.

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