New Music 7/12/19

It’s week 28 of ’19. The last few weeks have been kind of weak for new music but it should start ramping back up now. Either way, I’m still downloading records on Tidal based on name recognition or album covers that intrigue me, only. Some artists I have a history with and some I’ve never heard of. This is how I discover as I trek through the new music landscape.

  • Album: Ed Sheeran – No. 6 Collaborations.
  • Previous knowledge: Just kidding. Fuck Ed Sheeran. Wouldn’t touch this with a 10-foot pole. The only artist currently on my unlistenable list.
Song of the Week: K. Flay, “Not In California”
  • Album: 311 – Voyager
  • Previous knowledge: Everything during their hit period from 1995-1999 or so.
  • Review: I’m happy to admit that I knew that 311 has never stopped releasing music over the years. I often thought about doing a Tidal catalog on them but never quite got around to it and I don’t know that I really needed to either. I’m assuming that the majority of their albums sound very similar. Voyager does.

If you’ve heard anything from the group over the years, from the opening minute you’d absolutely know their 13th album is a 311 record. Although they aren’t exactly the only band to play Reggae rock, they have an overall musical feeling that can only be attributed to them. And the band members have remained exactly the same for almost 30 years, so they’ve certainly established themselves together to create that vibe. And on the surface Nick Hexum seems like a frontman that kind of blends into the background, he’s got a pretty recognizable voice.

By saying Voyager is recognizable, is not saying it’s completely retread material here. Yes, there’s plenty of hard rock-reggae-rap (“Crossfire,” “Charge It Up,” “Better Space”) in here just like you remember the hits. But there’s a pretty great, reggae-funk track (“What the?!”) some progressive moments sprinkled throughout the 44 minutes and a full blown pop song “Good Feeling” that would be a radio hit if the 311 name wouldn’t be attached to it. In my heart, I’d always like to believe that a great song can be a hit no matter the artist attached to it but in reality, most music directors probably see a release for “311” and go “these old farts again…” and don’t even bother. Maybe it doesn’t work that way and it’s just me but it sure seems like that. It hasn’t been released as a single yet but if they do put out “Dodging Raindrops” and radio doesn’t play it, then you’re talking some major bullshit. Because Imagine Dragons or Twenty-One Pilots could record the same song and it would be a number one hit.

I realize there’s something weird about me though, as I am giddy that this record is so good. Like I want to high-five P-Nut, S.A. and the band for just putting out something so good that it took me back to my formative years and yet still stands out in today’s musical climate.

  • Rating: 9.5/10
311, “Dodging Raindrops”
  • Album: K. Flay – Solutions
  • Previous knowledge: None?
  • Review: My question mark for previous knowledge is simply because I’ve heard the name K. Flay a lot. It could be from guest spots on other’s songs or something like that. I don’t recognize her biggest hit, “Blood in the Cut” so I’m really unsure why I seemed to know about her enough that I didn’t hesitate to download this. White, female rappers that are any good often get buried under crap like Iggy Azalea (who BTW has an album coming out very soon) because they don’t sing about shaking their ass, so a great alternative hip-hop track like “Bad Vibes” doesn’t do a damn thing on the charts. And a great guitar heavy pop-rap tune like “This Baby Don’t Cry” will only get heard by a handful of people. She should also be able to break through with a dance-pop track like “Good News,” as well. There’s also a song about Cali, which is always the way to get a hit. “Not In California” isn’t about beaches and teeny weeny bikinis but pointing out that the bright lights and glossy nature of everything in that state really isn’t reality.

Overall, this is the pop-rap-dance record that we all needed in 2019 and very much a magnificent record from start to finish.

  • Rating: 10/10
K. Flay, “Bad Vibes”
  • Album: Bleached – Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?
  • Previous knowledge: None
  • Review: Bleached is a three piece band led by sisters, Jennifer and Jessica Clavin who play a wide variety of styles, from pop-punk to funk, to garage rock, all with tremendous skill. Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? is all over the map, starting with the pop-punk, “Heartbeat Away” followed by “Hard to Kill” which sounds what I think Sleater-Kinney would be if they covered Rio era Duran Duran tracks. Then “Somebody Dial 911” could have likely fit on Our Time In Eden by 10,000 Maniacs back in 1992. The album closer, “Shitty Ballet” is a post-punk track that starts off mellow and then is a total blast of energy at the end. It’s one of those albums that’s both vintage and fresh at the same time. Really quite cool
  • Rating: 9/10
Bleached, “Hard to Kill”

Albums ranked 10/10 so far in 2019 (ordered only by release date)

  1. Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
  2. Emily King – Scenery
  3. Good Fuck – Good Fuck
  4. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
  5. UB40 – For the Many
  6. Griz – Ride Waves
  7. Pup – Morbid Stuff
  8. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
  9. Howard Jones – Transform
  10. Mavis Staples – We Get By
  11. Prince – Originals
  12. Yeasayer – Erotic Returns
  13. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
  14. Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants of the Sun
  15. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
  16. K. Flay – Solutions