January is cold and a tad shitty. Get outside, put your headphones in and fight back. Let’s listen.
First thing comes first, how about some music for my people! I’ll be real – I can’t summarize a whole year in one post cause it’s too much to handle. But what I can promise are weekly posts, in addition to some reccos based on what I’ve been jamming to in the recent. I like that term, in the recent. Will continue to use it. Let’s end the depravity and start with some tunes.
Few Albums, couple Playlists, several Songs of choice I’ve been loving the past few months. Everything from Bonobo, DIre Straits, Live Shows, Alex G, and plenty more.
First is a shout out to the recently deceased Sidney Poitier – the title (and closing) track to his hit film, in the Heat of the Night (Ray Charles) about a Philadelphia’s finest holmicide detective stuck solving a murder in a podunk Southern town. Check it out… and his other films too
Stevie Wonder – Innervisions, Talking Book, Songs in the Key of Love
We all need a little Stevie in our lives right now. Love, happiness, coming out of a tough year and pushing on to the good things in life. Not much needed to say here – just been loving the life this man brings to all of us. A Stevie song on a rainy, down day – or a happy, cheerful one – is sure to bring the love all around. Suggestion: enjoy with friends and family, or even before work in the morning to hope out of befd easier.Sorry for the excess 😉
Herbie Mann feat. Cissy Williams – Cajun Moon
Cover of a beautiful JJ Cale track that hit me with that soooooul this week.
Little Feat – Midnight Special (A Southern Rock, Folk and Soul TV Tribute Show from 77′- links below to jump around)
A beautiful tribute spearheaded by the Feat (yes, I’ve been obsessed lately) that brings in everyone from Bonnie Raitt, Jesse Winchester, Weather Report, & Neil Youngin addition to Little Feat, of course.
Jump around through this one and I guarantee you’ll find something you love. Heavy influences resonate on folk, blues, jazz, rock & roll, and Southern Soul. Suggest you check out:
This album is completely, outrageously good. Combining that signature Bonobo sound that nobody seems to replicate or dares to tread near, but brings in some absolutely vibing, club house beats that make it both energetic, fun, and calming in some kind of incredible amalgamation of fun, joyful, mysterious, mythical style that we have come to know and love. It’s not only an innovation on his earlier style to some degree, but a beautiful show-stopping display and reminder of who is the king of his domain. That domain is one in its own.
Dire Straits First album: Dire Straits
Final: Brothers in Arms
Mark Knopfler is a legend and admittedly I disregarded his upbringing for reasons beyond my understanding up until now. This man not only shreds but this album is absolutely one of the best rock albums I have ever heard. Maybe you’ve heard Sultans, but I highly suggest a listen through from beginning to end. Highly under-appreciated (well not really he has millions of plays).
What you get: A unique sound that transcends space and time, but brings a sincere, groovy twang. Like someone with a sitar is sitting in the back of the recording studio smoking cigs the whole time. Every song on their first album is not just good, its fucking terrific. 11/10
Down to the Waterline, Six Blade Knife (personal favorite), In the Gallery, Wild West End = where to begin.
How about a little dad music to show pops you have a little something something to share round the dinner table between beers this winter season. Easy win.
Relaxing, melodic, introspective and dreamy is how I’d describe BANYK and his newest album release. Check out some of this here, I like you enjoy the calmness we all need this time of year as the world gets wilder and wilder…
Rufus Du Sol – Paradise
We’re not hiding our love for Rufus DS, who has exploded in popularity this past year and even in 2020 a bit. But they really come into their own in this heavy-hitting, melodic fantasy ride we are coming to know and love the more they put out to grace the public. Some favorites below include Surrender, Alive and Always.
ALEX G – OLD ALBUM CALLING OUT TO ME THIS WEEK – TRICK, and the more popular BEACH MUSIC
An indie talent with wheels that just keep rolling, and fans dying for new music. Trick is a particularly lengthy 16-track exploration, Beach Sounds a little less, incorporating not only the sincere, recognizable Alex G vocalizations, but is more meant to be an introduction to the mellow, etherial guitar melodies, synthesizers, occasional metallic riffs, mellow drum-kit that brings such a lovely signature sound I have come to know and love since my friends brought him into my life a few years back. I am grateful for those friends.
For his more popular, check out the magical HOUSE OF SUGAR. And my favorite of all his music: Southern Sky.
It’s the mysterious, dreamscapes he paints keep me coming back, time and time again. Maybe it’ll keep you thinking back on these beauties too.
The doors opened, tickets were purchased, and the lady, the boys, fam, and I were able to hit a handful of shows in the past few months. Masks up, gents. Then grab a beer so you can sing along. TRIED TO GRAB CLIPS FROM ALL THE SHOWS!
Billy Strings (Wang Theater, Boston): I’d been waiting to see the Kid Strings for some time and was incredibly impressed. The band was so in sync it was as if they had been jamming for decades. Every band member (bass, mandolin, banjo and Billy on guitar) not just Billy’s phenomenal vocals and signature plucking + ripping solos were certified eagle scouts themselves. Go see this man and enjoy the future of music as we know it blowing up before our eyes. They broke into several incredible jams that just brought the arena to its knees, hanging on every next note. The lights were incredible You can taste the Dead influences and jam band vibes they give off. Also, they play really whatever the fuck they want, and that’s just fine with me.
Little Feat (Portland, ME): The Feat bring a combo of soul, funk, rock and roll, jazz, southern blues and cajun vibes to each one of their albums. And this was my favorite show I’ve seen all year. I had no idea what to expect, despite them being a favorite of all time for certain. I believe they had 4 of the original 8 members remaining, but good lord in heaven did they put on a show. State Theater, center balcony with a perfect view of jam to jam to jam. I think they played every one of my favorite tunes, no lie. If they come to town, don’t miss out. Even if you aren’t familiar with their style, you will surely be impressed to say the least. Can’t say enough, will never forget this show long as I live.
Check out: Waiting for Columbus (One of the greatest R&R albums ever recorded), and their Feats Don’t Fail Me Now album, to start 😉 The below video may be the best thing I have heard all year…
Phish* (Atlantic City, NJ): Watched from a monitor (extenuating circumstances kept me from attending, to my great dismay – despite tickets purchased). But man – still my favorite band in the land and for good reason. You can’t truly replicate the level of continuity with a group of dudes still putting it out there for 2.5+ each night, in perfect sync, ready to jump into every and any jam that comes their way. Impressed as always.
TAB – Trey Anastasio Band (Thompson’s Point, ME): It’s like a WELL PACKED SANDWICH of incredible horns, very positive vibes, killer keys, drums, jazzier, and bluesier than your traditional jam band setting that cannot be missed. Next time they’re in town – don’t forget to buy! This is my 3rd TAB show and I cannot emphasize this enough as they have something for everyone to enjoy without the spaciness that draws people away from jam band(age)
Tedeschi TrucksBand (Orpheum, Boston): You know my opinion so I won’t ramble. We had some killer seats near the orchestra but was actually very refreshed to hear them both playing a lot of their new stuff but also a variety of covers I’ve never heard them play. Susan T sounded terrific and was the star, Derek a bit more subdued than recent shows we’ve seen but certainly had his share of jamming – and any jam from that brother is a sight to behold. I also LOVED how they dove deep into some jams which is a newer thing for them – great direction for the band and looking forward to #10.
Jack Broadbent (Passant, Cambridge): Saw this new fella at a small jazz club down an alley in Cambridge with max cap 30 people. Grabbed the last seats in the place and was incredibly impressed. Like a grungier, more soulful brit with a sharp tongue ripping tall boys and better guitarist (he played a mean slide), at that. He ended up opening for and playing with Little Feat in fact which was killer. Keep an eye out because I see major popularity coming.
Bob Weir and the Wolf Bros (Red Rocks, CO): Phenomenal performance from Bobby and Co. Red Rocks adds to the experience of course but it was the music that grabbed me. He played an absolutely outrageous setlist from Estimated Prophet to China Cat and everything in between. I was in heaven watching this and definitely a favorite of the year. He brought the horns in and I was VIBING on every note.
Kaytranada (HOB, Boston) – Admittedly, my biggest disappointment of the year. Not sure what was going on, but the visuals were weak, transitions were poor, he replayed the same songs in his encore and while I loved his edits he played I expected much more from a show I waited years for.
Yotto (Bijou, Boston) – This was a hell of a lot of fun! Bijou is a funky club, undoubtably. But the boys were out in force and the vibes, even from the opener, were incredible and we all had an awesome time. Best way to describe the tone was something akin to progressive, dark house. I danced the night away baby, and the lights were impressive for a small act. Finding the lesser known DJs and more underground vibes are what I have been into lately and am much more interested in seeing perform.
And what an absurd year it’s been, for all of us – indeed..
I apologize first and foremost for the 20 or so people who read this (and note I said commemorate and not “look back fondly on”, “celebrate”, or even “recap”. Because for lords sake it has been a year of ups, downs, laterals and other geometric patterns I am unfamiliar with. I’ve felt it, you’ve felt it – some more than others, but its been felt. Now, I’ve only lived 26 years of life, but I compare 2021 to something akin to an assignment your boss hands you; you know, the kind where you have to fill out like 20,000 spreadsheet lines, analyze some financial document, or work on some shit project and derive some kind of meaning from it and you just sit there and stare at it like life itself is trying to mess with you. And you just stare at it like am I in some kind of simulation or if life strange as hell right now?
Has 2021 been real? What has it been? That’s not to say I haven’t had some incredible moments, life-changing moments, felt pride in my work, travelled a lot, spent time with my best friends in the world, accomplished some great things, attended shows, found amazing music, watched incredible movies, visited some amazing places, and loved life along the way – wherever possible… I can’t complain, and I will not complain because I am beyond blessed to have what I have. But I certainly haven’t been making the most of it. And I’m sure many of us feel that way.
But hell if I haven’t been stressed. A lot. And no this is not a vent session – I will deliver you good news my friends, I promise 🙂 But I am certain we’ve all felt that. That impending “what the legitimate fuck is going on” – with our world, this virus, these absolute nutcases we hear about every day, the quarantining, the working in PJs (that was actually kinda dope tbh), everyone locked up inside, cancelled events, some lame ass, boring times mixed with absolutely insanely fun times (I truly wish you have enjoyed these), etc.
But what it boils down to is the monotony.
What I mean by this is repetition, repetition, repetition. The same news, usually something about the virus, masks, the same stories, the same shows, the same conversations, the same same same. Now, intermingled with fun and some amazing times, I reiterate that this is not a complaint letter – it’s an observation. An observation that 2021 has made me complacent in pursuing what I love to do when im not actually doing the things I love. I don’t know what it boils to, but maybe it’s laziness, or as I said – complacency. I haven’t read like I’ve wanted to, haven’t written (obviously) like I have been desperately meaning to, and I’m not doing enough of the hobbies I love outside of the regular, everyday. For some it’s work, for some it’s COVID, for others it could be personal – but I know for me this year wasn’t everything I had intended it to be in terms of personal productivity in pursuing the hobbies and activities that I love and in many ways make me better.
But that’s okay. Cause I’m hitting the reset button. Time to delegate my time to what I enjoy doing when I have the time to do it, time to get back in the groove and do what I love, find the time in the day to do it and make time for myself. This is not intended to be a self reflection, but a message to all you men and women out there in the same situation. Hit that reset button and grab your life back where you want to me.
IT’S TIME TO GRAB LIFE BACK BY THE REIGNS (except I have no idea how to ride a horse and would definitely get fucked up trying to do so).
I’m REVIVING this blog for better or for worse because I like doing it. And I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for hanging around. Content coming soon…
Written by the great Fred “Freddy” Bower – New York City, NY, just for us this April 2021. Listen up.
The music of the most recent decades is overflowing with innovation. Rap and hip-hop styles push the boundaries of what we ever expected the genre would be on a near weekly basis and electronic music continues to show us that we’re just scratching the surface of what is possible. Genre charts across the internet show the traditional categories of rock and pop exploding into hundreds of disparate fragments of new styles today. Needless to say music is far more broad and complex than ever before.
That said, I’ve noticed a subtle trend building throughout my teens and 20’s: people still long for orchestral music. The orchestra has a stereotype of being a dusty, boring medium of music, but I’d argue it’s much more than that and is in fact finding a new stride in the music of today.
Below, I’ve highlighted a handful albums or events that showcase a new era for orchestras, not as stuffy machines for ancient symphonies, but as complementary assets to modern genres.
1. Nas – Illmatic: Live From The Kennedy Center
When it comes to rap, the Illmatic truly does not need an introduction. The original album is often argued to be the greatest rap album ever. This album, Illmatic: Live From The Kennedy Center, may not come close to receiving such high praise, but it offers a new perspective on the now 27 year old debut release.
The great thing about this live version is that it isn’t a standard rap concert, but rather one where Nas’ words are backed by the National Symphony Orchestra’s nearly 100 member group. Each of the iconic samples of the original project have been transcribed into a beautiful arrangement that respects the original songs but adds that sense of sweeping awe that can only be generated through an orchestra.
Highlight: Listening to The World is Yours here will still make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and give you the same feeling of wonder and ambition that Nas must have felt running Queens as a 20 year old.
2. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson – Timeless: Suite for Ma Dukes
This project has to be one of my all-time favorites. J Dilla was a big influence on me as a teenager and his relentless work ethic as a crate digging, MPC fiend generated beats that were the background to so many years of my life.
This album Timeless: Suite for Ma Dukes is actually the recording of a one-off event organized by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to honor the late J Dilla who passed away three years before this recording (Ma Dukes is the mother of J Dee). This is a special piece of history not just because of how respected Dilla was, but also because this concert was put on by 60 handpicked musicians to compile an elite orchestra that performed alongside Talib Kweli, Karriem Riggins, Bilal, and more.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson is one of the most humble artists in the industry, specializing in the Viola, but his arrangements in the Suite for Ma Dukes are something special where his passion is self-evident.
3. Jameszoo – Melkweg with Metropole Orchestra
Jameszoo is a Dutch artist that makes electronic music but he is growing a name for himself experimenting with adding acoustic and traditional instruments alongside his digital sounds.
Melkweg was released in 2019 and strikes me as a very interesting outlier to the above two albums. Rather than substituting previously iconic beats with thoughtful orchestral arrangements, the Metropole Orchestra here is truly performing and at times improvising original material. It is because of this reason that this album gives me the belief that the orchestra is shaping and innovating itself into a completely new idea. With experimentation, rarely is the result down the fairway. And this album is no exception: some songs fall flat while others blow me away. Respect must also be given to Brainfeeder for encouraging projects such as this one to be seen through.
4. Floating Points / Pharoah Sanders / The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
Just released last week, this album has been getting a stream of positive reviews across the internet. The album is impressive for a number of reasons.
The first is the exceptional collaboration and team effort between Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, and The LSO. This is a collaboration between electronic, jazz, and symphony genres with a shockingly cohesive end product.
The second is that Promises represents what I would call a “true album” — it isn’t just a box set of songs released in a package. It is a complete work, designed to be listened to in full, from front to back. This clear intention of the artists (its tracks even labeled “Movement 1, 2, 3..”) combined with its seamless transitions song-to-song actually pays homage to the structure of classical symphonies.
I’m quite inspired by this one.
Highlight: Movement 6
It seems clear to me that the orchestra can be an incredible asset to modern genres of music, but this style of music isn’t as ready-made as other instruments.
If an artist wishes to add this element to their music, they need to find a 50+ person orchestra, arrange music for all those parts, and find the time to practice, tweak, and record the work. This is a significant barrier and one that may keep orchestra’s reserved for just the special occasions — I might just be O.K. with that.
2 April, 2021 —
Fred is originally from outside Portland, Maine and is both a creator and producer, player (an outstanding sax player, at that) and lover of music in every regard. More recently, Fred has been working and living in NYC for several years with his Fiancé, and been a very good friend of mine for far longer (we’ve attended live everything from Phish to Blackalicious together). He’ll be submitting content to our blog as he feels like it – just like we do. We’re more than happy to have him. Thanks again, Freddy.
2020 was a weird fucking year. Fortunately, it opened up plenty of time to watch some movies here and there. Of course, the issues being: many major releases were delayed, studios had nowhere to distribute their content aside from streaming services (fine but not ideal), movie theaters closed (many permanently), jobs were lost, projects abandoned, and a whole lot of other crap that waddled the amount of “NEW” available film content down this past year down to a mere splinter of anything really significant or cinematically solid. That being said, still worth reviewing – as always.
This is only a handful for now, but we’ll be releasing more in the next whenever with some other favorites (don’t these question marks just add to the suspense?!?). Including:
Mank – Comedy / Drama – (?/10) – another favorite from 2021…
Processor – Horror/Sci-Fi – (?/10) – hint: this could be a classic…
Kajillionaire – Comedy – (?/10)
Bill and Ted Face the Music – Comedy/Adventure – (?/10)
The Dark and the Wicked – Horror/Mystery (?/10) – This was one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen in my life and I almost regret watching it. Brilliantly made, complete dread and deep, deep horror to the point of something much more evil. Fun for the whole family!
The Rental – Horror/Thriller – (?/10)
+ more! Read on my friends for my thoughts and some of my favorite clips from each.
The Gentleman – Guy Ritchie – 9/10: I already reviewed this bad boy, but hell – this was maybe my favorite of the whole year. In Short Summary: Outstanding cast, fun plot/premise, and Ritchie’s trademark style of fast-paced, constant content delivery and clever camera angles/changes/cuts in his films that keep you glued to your seat (oh, and hysterical dialogue). If you like action, comedy and crime – this is about as good a bundle as you’re going to get. Here’s my review from April of 2020:
I am a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s work, particularly Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Sherlock Holmes (all top 20s for me). So, naturally when I see another new film by him, I jump on the opportunity – and I finally got around to seething this. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. In brief summary, it follows the attempts of one man, Mickey, attempting to sell his business. Mickey is an American expatriate who became rich by building a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes to undermine his sale. It’s different from many of his previous works, in that the plot focuses on only a few characters at a time, but it still has those wonderful elements that make a GR film great: fantastic music, quick cuts, clever transitions, outstanding dialogue, all wrapped up in an engaging and fast-paced story led by the one-and-only Matt McConaughey. Matt leads a great cast here and is as cutthroat, believable and authentic as ever in his role as the classy drug “connoisseur” – he is always such a showman and I eat it right up. Packed with an excellent supporting performances with Collin Farrel and Charlie Hunnam leading the way, this fast-paced film keeps you interested, laughing, and generally intrigued the whole way through without being at all overbearing. Its a fun, easy-viewing experience and worth your time. Certainly one of the most unique and fun directors out there.
Nomadland – Chloe Zhao – 7.5/10: One of my favorites of the year came with Nomadland, a Netflix original. The story is a melancholy, largely somber, but surprisingly hopeful picture starring and older Francis McDonald – an RV-bound traveler across the US who roams from place to place, campsite to campsite – with little agenda but to explore the country with the little funds she has left. What begins as a heartbreaking tale of a woman losing everything to the Great Recession in 2008 turns into an unexpectedly optimistic look into the sprawling natural beauty of the amazing country we live in.
There were more than a dozen shots that I had to sit back and just be in awe of – shots of long desert expanses, mountains, forests and long roads ahead that envoked a sense of peace and wonder. This movie had minimal dialogue, but it really – not much needed to be said, and that I truly appreciated. As a viewer I felt like I learned much more was told through McDormand’s face and the folks and landscapes she encountered along the way. I loved this film for its cinematic beauty, as well as its understand message. I’m sure everyone takes away something a bit different from this movie (another element I’ve enjoyed discussing with friends). But if I’m talking from a personal perspective, I loved the risks that were taken to boldly say little and show much more through action and images. An absolutely beauty through and through…
Side note… Props to Netflix honestly for taking the reins this year and creating an absurd amount of fresh content for the quarantined. Not that the Golden Globes are anything to be considered respectable in terms of awards (another topic for another day – and no offense to any of the winners), but you saw it win Best (Drama) Picture, and I would imagine it will be a candidate for inclusion in the Best Picture category come Oscar season.
Trial of the Chicago 7 – Aaron Sorkin – 7/10: A strikingly solid cast and topical subject matter is sure to make this one a favorite at the Oscars this year. Not to mention, it won best picture at the Globes. Great performances came from Sasha Baron Cohen (who also won best Comedy at the GGs), Alex Sharp, Eddie Redmayne, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt amongst others. In brief, the story covers the trial of 7 individuals (including leader of the Black Panthers – Bobby Seale) following the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which became a trial of natural fascination. A great historical piece, fantastic acticing, and beautiful camera work – which you tend to get when Sorkin is writing and directing. Top 3 of the year for me.
Tenet – Christopher Nolan – 4/10: A packed cast featuring John David Washington (guy is blowing up by the minute and absolutely killed it in Black Klansman in 2019) and the supremely talented Cedric Diggory, known by some as Robert Pattinson (check out The Lighthouse from 2019 and Good Time from 2017). As I’ve mentioned before, Nolan is without a doubt one of my top 3 directors. When you love a director, I suppose you are either ride-or-die (aka love everything they produce), or you can compare each new film against their past works, perhaps your favorite(s) by that director. I take the route initially when I’m watching a film, as a novice film critic (being generous here with “novice”), to try and watch a new movie I’m interested in without bringing in any potential bias. With that being said, I think it is just the nature of films to compare a movie to others as every writer, director, producer, etc. is just borrowing from others most of the time in some way. It’s not a bad thing, its a great thing, and forming those comparisons create the emotional connections and love of the movie itself. We all do this, and probably should…
In this situation, about halfway through Tenet or earlier I started to realize while this had some excellent cinematography as is typical of all of Nolan’s films (aka it looks clean as hell and is edited/cut beautifully), it completely lacked the intrigue, character development (or even allusion to character development), emotional connections to anyone or anything, action sequences, fun plot twists and just general excitement that I love about Nolan’s films, or really any thriller/action piece in general.
What starts with the promise of time shifting, bullet reversing, and complexities that inspire style and wonder turns into a complete mess of incoherent dialogue, boring long sequences, and just unnecessary confusion throughout. The plot felt like it was pieced together with a lot of decent ideas, but was executed not only in poor order but in a way that actually made me frustrated. It’s like he was trying to take elements of complexity from Inception, but ramped up beyond human comprehension minus the intrigue and explanations along the way that tell the story.
With a history of making films like The Prestige, Interstellar, Dunkirk, Batman Trilogy, etc. I have to say this was a massive let down for me. But hey, the guy is a god damn genius and I will watch everything he puts out, and everyone is entitled to a few poor showings every once and a while.
Borat (2) – Subsequent Moviefilm – Sasha Baron Cohen: Borat was a cultural sensation when it came out of nowhere in 2006. Hysterical – but at times just WAY too over the top – you know, like the scene where he and his pal are rolling around naked at a public banquet – that’s when I turned it off the first time. But so unique it had me and my friends imitating scenes and accents for the past decade and a half.
BUT – now we’re here to talk about THIS film, which was much less ridiculous but also carried a bit more maturity, if that makes sense. I was cracking up the whole time with my buddy and I’m sure others felt the same way. The Rudy Giuliani scene alone is alone worth sticking around for, but everything in between was still the solid, Borat humor and comedy without the complete absurdness. I really enjoyed it – and the message was, believe it or not, a positive one throughout the second half (or more like last third) of the film. Worth a watch for its cultural relevance alone- SBC is for sure a genius and will go where many comedians would never dare to tread. And let’s remember, he was one of the first to create this brand of public comedy we now see in the likes of Eric Andre and others. (7.5/10)
Soul – Pixar: Out of this weird year of delayed releases and cancellations, Soul stood out like a shining star. Pixar delivers again. What was most unexpected about this one was it’s more adult-oriented subject matter. It’s like I’ve said previously – Pixar knows how to the cater to the audience that grew up watching its movies. I’m talking jokes that would go WAY over the head of my 10-year-old self. Hilarious at times, exceedingly clever, emotional (but never too much), philosophical; sewn together with outstanding dialogue. Not only this, but I found it such a clever way to display a really complicated issue of life and death (and the SOUL). From a plot perspective it’s almost not worth describing because, well, it’s a bit challenging to describe and not sound silly. An aspiring jazz musician seeks his big break and it ends up going a completely different direction than he planned. You’ll have to discover for yourself to see – but I guarantee you will feel (and be) better off after watching. Don’t watch a preview, just do it. (9/10)
1BR(3/10): Girl gets trapped in a cult-like apartment complex in Los Angeles. Horrible premise, exacted poorly. Lots of tension and building up for little payout. A handful of deliveries of long scenes but would not recommend…
Onward (2020), Disney Pixar – Decent animated, family film about two brothers who go searching for their long-lost father. A few laughs here and there, but largely forgettable for a Pixar film. Funny, because I heard a little less than a peep out of this when it released. (5/10)
2020 was a weird year, definitely the weirdest yet for me in my short 25. However, when we take a step back I think it ended up being a much more promising one for music that we initially expected. While we lost the ability to see LIVE performances, which for some of us was enough of a tragedy in itself, I was impressed with the response from the musical community at large.
After the initial pandemic craze hit home, the whole world seemingly went on temporary standby. Cinemas and restaurants closed down, we all bought out the market supply of beans and TP, and buckled in for the strange uncertainty ahead. There was a several month period of what I could best describe as palpable silence, mixed with plenty of tension.
Someone had to step up – and thank god they did. Only caveat to that being – it was many, many individuals who stepped up and contributed to making music. From out of the woodwork, local artists took the internet to jam away for us and the biggest names began to release a TON of content. Escapism was just what the world needed.
Artists came out strong with a litany of fresh recordings – whether they came from bedrooms or boardrooms. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Soundcloud, recorded “local” concerts and in-home jamming became the conduits to which our favorite artists were able to speak to their voice to the public. Artists one by one began releasing new music, albums, EPs and singles and by the end of the year despite everything going on around us, things are starting to feel much more normal again – in some ways.
In times like these, it’s things like music that keep society from tearing at the seams a bit. I like to think about it in the sense that seeing artists playing their music made us all feel like things really weren’t that different from how they had been – just the settings had changed. Another important aspect of life this pandemic exposed was our vulnerabilities. It didn’t matter whether you were Shakira or Simon Smith, you still had to worry about this virus and take precautions. In this sense I think it brought our celebrities and artists a bit more down to earth, closer to reality and more tangible. I’d like to think that for many it made us realize that at the end of the day, many of us go through a lot of the same shit on a regular basis, and we’re all facing at least one exact same challenge now. Here are a sample, but you should explore for yourself. And if you haven’t been already, what else you got going on?
I’m one of the lucky ones and have no reason to complain. I have a steady job, was able to travel within my limits, and be with friends and family given some unique circumstances. But when I think about all of those physically impacted by the disease, whether themselves or a family member, and all of those families struggling to get by as their storefronts closed down… I hope for these people they are able to enjoy their own slice of life, music or not, to get by the best they can, both this year and beyond. Hell, if Cardi B and Stallion can get you hyped and feeling good – turn that damn stereo up on the way to your 9-5. Find what makes YOU happy when times get tough (or… weird).
We always enjoy making these yearly selections – regardless of genre or billboard status – and these are the tracks made in 2020 that we had on repeat. Enjoy!
We are going to be adding a “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify that you can follow.
Happy End of 2020! Sharing some of my favorites from the last month or so to close out the year. Hopefully this brings a little joy to your holiday season. Happy Holidays to all you wonderful people.
— Electronic —
Ta-Ku | Notice – Moods Remix : That groove funk with a heavy bass beat and echo-y vocals… some classic Ta-Ku here with a more than delicious remix from Moods which has become the regular these days.
Washed Out – Too Late – Marvelous music video from Washed Out which is definitely my favorite of the year so far. They were able to combine clips from all over the country in this overlay pattern that works so seamlessly with the song. Oh, and the song is beautiful. Feels something like a dreamy, melodic cruise down the PCH that reminded me of Malibu or something.
Com Truise – In Decay Too (Album) + Stress : Excellent new album from Com Truise who just continues to churn out great work. This album contains a lot of finished demos that had me thinking I had heard some of them somewhere before… Also check out his release “Stress” which is an awesome EP release that came in the past few weeks .
Pierce Fulton, Aspetuck – Nest to the Back (& Back to the Nest): Fun, two song EP from Mr. Fulton and Aspetuck. Upbeat, future house bass melodic non-aggressive cheese. Yum.
Tycho – No Stress : A cool, live music video from Tycho, the master of chill – work music and relaxation music. Check out his albums as well, particularly Simulcast.
Shigeto – Detroit Part 1 : A harmonious blend of tribal chimes, drums and synths. An oldie but a goodie.
–– Alternative —
TOLEDO – Hotstuff (EP) : Outstanding random find these past couple weeks. Whole album is particularly good. Something like Beach Fossils meets Real Estate, in the best possible way.
Dope Lemon – Kids Fallin In Love : Dope Lemon is a strange dude, indeed. But he deserves his due with a handful of hidden gems here and there. This recent release is an awesome, mellow but upbeat track that will have you bobbing your head and cracking a smile.
Bibio – Old Graffiti, Spruce Tops, Odd Lips : Bibio is just excellent. I couldn’t find a video for Spruce Tops in particular. But his new album Hand Cranked I have just started exploring (and enjoying), includes Odd Lips and Cantaloupe Carousel. Give him a listen, and if you aren’t familiar with his past work, dig a little deeper and you’ll find something you like, surely.
— Blues, Rock & Folk —
J.J. Cale – Travelin’ Light & After Midnight : Been really enjoying Mr. Cale this past month, and didn’t realize what a prolific songwriter he was (Cocaine and After Midnight by Clapton and Garcia were his songs which went on to be massive successes). Never anything flashy – you can watch him on stage – but his sound is always on point and he knows how to just make it work, in the coolest way possible. So relaxed in his playing.
J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton, Trucks, Bramhall – Cocaine : Written originally by J.J. Cale, this live production with some guitar legends and Eric C. is just a fantastic piece of work.
Mac Demarco – Here Comes the Other Cowboy Demos (See Dave, Out Of My Head, Very Spooky) : I preferred this demo tape to his first, which I also preferred to Here Comes the Cowboy. But, I digress. A few nice gems on both demo tapes worth taking a listen to. Boy would I love a new Mac album, right now…
Billy Strings –Lonely Midnight Waltz& Watson Blues: Been loving Billy these past few months along. This is a nice, slowed down piece along with Watson Blues that just makes you feel right at home in deep southern country. Explore explore explore this man’s live portfolio!
Gary Clark Junior – 3 O’ Clock Blues (Live) : A fantastic rendition of an excellent song. Really been loving his heavy handed, Jimi-like soloing lately. Incredible voice, as well.
Jerry Garcia & David Grisman – Been All Around This World : Just some classic, happy-times Jerry and David, making us smile.
Thanks for listening!
Have any suggestions? Send em’ through and let us know what you’ve been enjoying as well.
Hello my friends. While 2020 has been a bit of a wash for movie fans and studios alike (aside from the whole, having to stay inside and watch movies all day – thing), I was pleasantly surprised to hear some positive news this week which also reminded me to finish up this post I have been neglecting. Let’s get into some exciting news and insight about upcoming movies I’m particularly looking forward to in 2021…
It’s no question that 2020 has been a horrible year for movie theaters across the country, with many closed since March/April and those that remained open seeing a steep decline in attendance over previous years. Compounded with this was the probably wise decision on the behalf of the production houses and studios to delay upcoming movie releases into 2021 or indefinitely when they can be more sure they will get attendance. No surprises there from an economics perspective given COVID, but anyone who has been to a movie in the past year knows that there is really no substitute for the atmosphere, quality and full viewing experience of a cinema. Fortunately, we can all share a collective sign of relief that vaccines are near on the horizon (which is damn impressive, no doubt) – meaning good times are (hopefully) ahead for moviegoers.
What’s the news, besides the fact that a vaccine is on the horizon? Warner Brothers Studios announced this afternoon that they will be releasing upcoming films such as “Dune” and “The Matrix 4” in a new format, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, over the coming 12 months. While this still leaves some significant time between now and the following releases, it does mean that we at least have a timeline to look forward to! I expect (but more so hope) other studios to follow a similar path.
Without further ado, let’s get into some of the most exciting releases coming in the new year!
The French Dispatch– Wes Anderson: January 2021
Starting on a high note, I can’t help but be excited for Wes Anderson’s upcoming Dispatch, which has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in 20th-century Paris and centers on three storylines.” If you are unfamiliar with Wes’ previous works, I highly encourage you to check out his catalogue, my personal favorites (and I think a good place to start) being: The Fantastic Mr. Fox (10/10), Grand Budapest Hotel (9.5/10), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (8/10).
Those familiar with Wes’ directorial style will recognize his movies for their unique, almost whimsical flair that is better seen then described. If it had to be characterized, I would call his style one which places a great emphasis on the viewer’s perspective, particularly with his style of visual symmetry, with often quirky, offbeat characters and dialogue that puts you in a state of ease and enjoyment at the same time. His editing is masterful and color choices really bring you into the world he creates. Something I’d equate to eye and ear candy for a viewer. He almost always writes his own films, but regardless it is not hard to tell when Wes’ signature style is in play.
With a cast that includes Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, and Benicio del Toro – this is one that can’t be missed.
Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright: April 2021
Edgar is a well known and respected English director, and you have likely heard of some of his most famous works including the more recent Baby Driver(8.5/10) and 2004’s Sean of The Dead (9.5/10). The upcoming film Last Night in Soho, which is being described as a Drama/Horror/Thriller follows a young girl, passionate about fashion design, who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences. Starring the up-and-coming actresses Anna Taylor-Joy of Queen’s Gambit fame, a show I haven’t completely gotten through myself but have heard rave reviews about, and Thomasin McKensie, who played Elsa in JoJo Rabbit (which I can vouch for was a fantastic performance).
Edgar Wright is another favorite of mine for his ability to combine masterful editing, unique cuts/transitions and dialogue in his dark comedy & action films which I find to be some of the most entertaining ever created in it’s genre, if not for their uniqueness alone. Two of my favorite 20 films are, without a doubt, Hot Fuzz (10/10) and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World(10/10) – two movies so clever, hilarious and watchable it’s hard to stop yourself from repeat viewings (if that’s your cup of tea, of course).
I’ll be more than curious to see if the film brings in Wright’s dark humor elements or whether we will be getting a true Horror/Thriller. Either way, I remain VERY excited about this one, and the trailer has it looking deliciously creepy. You love to see it. As a huge horror movie fan and lover of Wright’s craft, this could be the film of 2021 I’m looking forward to the most.
No Time to Die – Cary Joji Fukunaga: April 2021
The final Bond installment of Daniel Craig’s tenure will end with No Time to Die picks up five years after the capture of villain Blofeld, where James Bond has left active service. He is enlisted by Felix Leiter, his friend in the CIA, to help search for Valdo Obruchev, a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that Obruchev has been abducted, Bond must confront a villain whose schemes could see the deaths of millions. That villain will be portrayed by none other than Rami Malek, fresh off an Oscar win for his portrayal of the incomparable Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody(7/10).
The film has had several delays and push backs, a continuing trend for these blockbuster-type films, but we can hope to watch Craig kick some ass one final time as soon as April of 2021. I’ve covered this film (and my thoughts on Bond films in general) previously in one of my first posts on this page, which you can view here.
Fun thing I just learned that should be exciting to some: Director Fukunaga also directed all 3 seasons of True Detective. Here’s hoping that same Season 1 vibe carries over a bit here.
Mission: Impossible 7 – Christopher McQuarrie: November 2021
The seventh installment of the Mission: Impossible series is slated to come out late next year, and will bring our favorite band of agents (Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) as they attempt to save the world in some way or another again for our entertainment. While I don’t have any significant details on the plot for this one just yet, I think we can expect to start seeing trailers coming early next year or once we hit the 6m out mark.
I know these films aren’t for everyone, but hear me out. The intention was never to make these the most hyper-realistic, believable action films. The point was to provide ~2 hours of James-Bond-style mayhem minus some suave and add some intense stunts here and there. Corny lines are obligatory, combat is expected, and you’re sure to see Cruise do something miraculous (which he probably actually did). What these films lack in realism they make up for in excitement and watchability.
I’ve been following Ethan Hunt for 6 movies thus far, and although they are often far from reality they are most definitely some of the best adrenaline-fueled action films that have been put to screen since 1996. I’ll look forward to sitting down with some popcorn and turning my brain off for a few hours for this one just the same.
Babylon– Damien Chazelle: Christmas 2021
Damien Chazelle’s a young American director and screenwriter from Providence, Rhode Island (representing our college down most admirably) whose short but impressive body of work includes the incredible La La Land (10/10) and Whiplash (10/10). While details surrounding Babylon are limited to say the least, what we have been told is that it will be a period piece that will take place “during the transition from silent films to talkies and will feature a mix of real-life and fictional characters, similar to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'” (Link).
Brad Pitt will Co-Star along side who was originally scheduled to be Emma Stone. As of a few days ago, it now looks like Margot Robbie is in early talks to replace Emma Stone in Damien Chazelle’s period drama after Stone exited the film due to scheduling issues. If you’re going to have a trade-off, this isn’t too bad – and it would be great to see Pitt and Robbie share the screen as they did recently in Tarantino’s Hollywood.
It’s exciting to see young, fresh directors like Chazelle, Aster, Eggers, Coogler, etc. hitting the scene with authority and I look forward to seeing everything they produce in the coming year(s). Given Chazelle’s recent track record, I’d expect this to be an Oscar subject for many. I will let you guys know as soon as I get any updates!
Dune – Denis Villeneuve: October 2021
One of the most anticipated films of 2020, certainly in the action/sci-fi category, was the on-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science-fiction epic, Dune. We were recently informed that although it was originally slated for this December, Dune has been moved into late 2021.
I feel supremely unqualified to speak about the hype surrounding this one as I have still not (despite being told by many, many people to do so) read completely through this monster of a book yet. What I can say is Herbert’s classic novel has a reverence in the Sci-Fi community that is largely unparalleled, and a cult following to match its awesomeness. One of the reasons for this recognition is what we call Dune’s masterful world building, or ability to create a setting / environment for the story which brings you deep into its lore and forces you to slow down and pay attention to every little detail. More than anything, I will be curious to see how the supremely qualified Villeneuve, whose resume includes Arrival (9/10), Sicario (9/10), and Blade Runner 2049(9.5/10), will build this world in all its gritty detail.
I think if anyone were up to this task of building and immersing the viewer in this visual adaptation, it would have to be Villenueve. I’m thinking particularly with regards to Blade Runner 2049, which was one of the most atmospheric, textured and well-made sci-fi films in recent memory. When I think about this movie, I am brought back to the futuristic, desolate landscape of Earth that he so well adapted from the screenplay, even when tasked with following up one of the most highly-regarded sci-fi films of ALL TIME with 1982’s Blade Runner (9.5/10) and not only paying homage to the lore but avoiding falling in the large footsteps of its predecessor. Villenueve clearly has a capacity for the genre unlike most and I have no doubt he will do well with this piece as well. Get excited!
The Matrix 4 (title TBD) – Lana Wachowski: December 2021
Let’s be honest, the second and third Matrix films were hot garbage compared to the first. They had action, excitement – yes, but they lacked uniqueness and substance that made The Matrix (9/10) original film so groundbreaking. Nonetheless, with #4 on the way it is more than anything my genuine curiosity about where in God’s name they are going to go with the story at this point that will bring me to the theater (hopefully) next December. While Revolutions (4/10) was bad, it did pretty much wrap things up from a plot perspective, so I’ll definitely be interested to see what tricks they have up their sleeve. Plus, I think we all can enjoy a little Keanu ass-kicking here and there.
Lana Wachowski is set to write, direct, and produce the film. Wachowski since then also co-wrote the screenplays for Cloud Atlas (9/10) and V for Vendetta(8/10).
I should also note that there are a ton of superhero films and/or sequels coming up, but none of which I am more excited for than The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson who will face off against the Riddler. I’ve been dying to see a modern adaptation of this villain, and here’s hoping Pattinson can put his own unique spin on the series that Bale currently holds the title for (and realistically, should never relinquish). The date on this just got pushed to 2022, I believe – so plenty more to come on this guy…
This is all for now, but will continue to update this over the coming months. Many thanks to all of you. As always, please feel free to send along any news / commentary / insights related to anything posted here or anything coming in 2021. I have no doubt these dates will be changing a bit!
If you’re looking for some chill summer feels, then look no further. Nescience oozes early Louis the Child vibes. From it’s beautiful piano chord progression in the intro, to the dancey filter envelope synths, this song is treat throughout it’s whole duration.
2.)Hurting On Purpose (feat. K.Flay) – Whethan [Electronic]
The Chicago native Whethan joins up with the incredibly talented K.Flay for this brand new summer banger. The perfect combination of pop and some pretty heavy electro, Hurting On Purpose is just another weapon added to Whethan’s arsenal. Not sure it’s possible for him to drop a bad song.
3.)KEEP MOVING – BRONSON [Electronica]
When Odesza and Golden Features announced their new collaborative project, I was excited, but had zero idea what to expect. What the pair have been releasing isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I’m glad I was wrong. This heavy four-to-the-floor style may not be too familiar to Odesza fans (more of Golden Features’ expertise), but my lord is it banging.
4.)Central Time (feat. Mick Jenkins) – Vansire [Dream-Pop]
The duo known as Vansire has been quickly becoming one of my favorite indie groups. With the release of their single Central Time, it just adds further validity to their rising stock. Merging their familiar indie sound with some Mick Jenkins hip-hop vocals has me continuously hitting the play button today on this track.
In my opinion, this “Song Machine” series that Gorillaz has been releasing music under has been some of their best work in years. Their song Aries released back in April has been on constant replay for me since and Pac-Man might be another finding its way into my playlists. Borrowing vocals from ScHoolboy Q, this mellow yet still oddly energizing track is nothing short of magic.
Loving this stretch of songs with 90’s hip-hop instrumentals being released lately. And what could be more perfect than a feature from none other than Wiz Khalifa to join Curren$y and Harry Fraud on this fresh vibe. The whole The Outrunners album Curren$y and Harry Fraud dropped today is great. But this song is definitely a standout.
7.)Library Theme – Dumage [Lo-Fi / Jazz-Hop]
What makes a song easy to listen to? I guess we should ask Dumage (whoever that may be) since this short but sweet track nails it on all fronts. The jazzy piano melody and chord progressions are simple to the ears, yet eloquent and complex to make it interesting.
8.)Problems (feat. Olan) – Mat Zo [Electronic Dance]
One of my favorite British boys, the always intricate and never boring Mat Zo just dropped some of my favorite work of his. Dancey and heavy in the verses while tying it together with some beautiful vocals and harmonies in the choruses, Zo knows how to keep his listeners happy. Zo knows…
9.)Get Your Wish (DJ NOT PORTER ROBINSON REMIX) – Porter Robinson [Electronic]
Finally Porter is giving his fans what they want…kind of. After releasing the Anamanaguchi remix of his song Get Your Wish last week, Porter returns this week with a remix that is most certainly NOT Porter Robinson. This sped up, chopped up re-imagination of the original song kinda gives me Virtual Self vibes (NOT Porter Robinson) and is another additional take to the incredible single. However, fans still have their fingers crossed we’ll see a new single soon. In the meantime, I’ll not not settle with DJ NOT PORTER ROBINSON…whoever that may be.
10.)What You Said (feat. Manela) – MADDOW [House]
BANGER ALERT. There’s just something about a four-to-the-floor pattern, groovy bass beat, and those defining female house vocals that I just can’t get enough of. What You Said is gonna make you wanna shuffle them footsies even if you don’t know how. But that’s the beauty of rave culture’s judgement free zone. You’re free to dance like a seal with epilepsy if you want.
TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK
1.)George Clanton and Nick Hexum – George Clanton & Nick Hexum [Alternative]
I have been absolutely loving everything this duo has been putting out recently. When they dropped their initial single, I was a little let down we weren’t seeing solo George Clanton work. But Nick Hexum’s vocals have truly grown on me and mixed over George’s production is what the French call “le magnifique!”. Another album that just oozes Summer vibes, be sure to bump this until the leaves change.
2.)Wherever You Go / Reflecting Light – The Avalanches [Alternative / Electronic]
I feel like I cheated on this one as it’s more just two singles than an EP, but let me get excited for new Avalanches. The Aussie music group dropped Since I Left You back in 2000, which is widely considered one of the greatest electronic music albums of all time and cemented their position as trend setters. These two singles are overflowing with features from talented artists, like Jamie xx. Reflecting Light is definitely the standout track for me and gets me hoping we’ll see a full length album soon from the group in the near future.
3.)The OutRunners – Curren$y & Harry Fraud [Hip-Hop]
If you looked through my top songs of the week, you may have seen 90′ IROC-Z crack the list. After listening through the rest of the album, I knew I would be crazy to not throw it on the Top Albums list as well. This vibe is unrivaled. Old school hip-hop sounds courtesy of Harry Fraud’s production throughout, mixed with incredible smooth flow from Curren$y’s vocals. If hip-hop continues this trend, we may see a nostalgic revival.
4.)FINISH LINE EP – SpeedStr [Speed-House]
Who is SpeedStr?!? Popping up out of absolutely nowhere and feeding everyone the “Speed House” they never knew they needed, people in the electronic music scene are buzzing over this masked racer.
5.)Sad in Scandinavia (Part 1) – Seeb [Electronic Dance]
Nearly six and a half years of waiting ended as the clock struck midnight on Friday April 23rd, 2021 when the North Carolina native Porter Robinson released his highly anticipated sophomore album Nurture. Set to be released in the final quarter of 2020, the album’s release date was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But patience is a virtue and having waited six years for a new record after his critically acclaimed first album Worlds (2014), what’s another half a year? Having had it on replay since its release, I’m ready to dive into a review I’ve been waiting to do for a very long time.
As a bit of background Nurture is Porter’s response to the anxiety that swelled in him as he looked to create the follow up to his freshman album Worlds that took the electronic music community scene by storm. Objectively speaking, Worlds was a pretty revolutionary album not just for Robinson as a musician, but for the entire electronic music scene. While the infamous “sophomore slump” is a norm within the industry, the darkness Robinson found himself in attempting to avoid this is not a topic so candidly talked about by artists. With writer’s block and self-doubt over the music he was creating post-Worlds, Robinson had an epiphany: make the album about this struggle and overcoming the hurdles that life throws your way.
I’m not going to sit here and compare Worlds and Nurture to each other for this whole review as they are two vastly different albums tonically. The dance focused synthpop, future-bass vibes of Worlds are left behind on this album. Nurture also has a more positive, uplifting atmosphere compared to Worlds‘ darker tones. But the sentiment of finding one’s place and meaning in life crosses over albeit in different ways. Where Worlds is about escaping this life to create a world inside your head that’s made for you, Nurture is about accepting whatever life throws your way and seeing the beauty in the real world we live in.
My expectations were high for this album after Worlds (last time mentioning this I promise), which, ironically, sort of killed my hype in a way. The singles were solid, but nothing as mind-blowing as I was anticipating. I was actually nervous to press play upon my first listen.
Fortunately, I found myself smiling throughout and laughing at myself for ever having doubted Porter. The album actually exceeded my expectations in a way I didn’t know was possible. The singles gained newfound appreciation and love within the context of the entire album. The new, unheard songs were nothing what I was expecting as they blurred the lines of dance, indie, k-pop, and ambient tracks. The general positive, yet nostalgic vibe gave me feelings I can’t remember having and awoke memories I haven’t thought about in ages. It almost feels the album’s vocalists are your inner-voice, reassuring you that everything will be okay.
This album has range and a little bit of everything. From internet and personal responses, everyone seems to have different favorite songs; the mark of a great record in my opinion. From the pop sound of “Mother”, to the emotional lullaby “Blossom”, to the ambient soundscape of “Wind Tempos”, and finally the synth-pop anthem “Unfold”, this record has something to hit everyone in the feels.
For the most part, art shouldn’t need a preface. Great art, in my personal opinion, is when the listener/viewer can decipher and feel the meaning of the artist just by listening or viewing whatever the art is. While many may agree with me on the surface, I recognize that this is an incredibly flawed mindset and basically wrong. All the art that’s meant the most to me personally is because of some attachment I’ve had with its content or creator. I feel this is Nurture‘s greatest weakness as those slightly familiar with Robinson or those listening to see what the hype is all about may feel lost listening with no understanding about the meaning. And while this may be a weakness to the uninitiated, it is an absolute strength to those who understand Porter, what he’s been through, and what he is attempting to express.
There’s no bad song on the record that I can tell. And every song being pretty different from the other is tell-tale sign of Porter’s objectively insane production and songwriting skills. Of the singles, “Mirror” and “Look at the Sky” were my favorites with “Musician” really growing on me within the entire album’s context for some reason. Of the new tracks, “Wind Tempos” is a modern masterpiece as it is ambient beauty in pure tonic form. “dullscythe” is like the Porter x Flume collab I’ve always wanted with it’s glitchy audio and unconventional arrangement.
But my absolute favorite tracks are “Sweet Time” and “Unfold”. The slow ballad “Sweet Time” makes me an emotional wreck thinking about what it will be like when a sea of people are singing along to it at a live show. Porter uses his patented vocaloid creating a personal a of himself and his female vocal alter ego as a love song to his girlfriend. The song’s meaning is Porter expressing that finding love filled that open depressing hole in his life. He goes from “wanting to die” to “one lifetime is too short with you”. A beautiful track that really hits you in the feels when the vocal pads kick in around the 3:11 mark. “Unfold” is an absolute masterpiece and the accumulation of Porter’s over a decade musical journey. So many elements that reflect back to his Spitfire and Worlds eras while still maintaining the Nurture vibe. The song is a surprise collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, who is a favorite of mine, and the only credited collab on the album. Probably the most “in-your-face” emotional track on the record, the synthpop vibes with big ethereal drops is reminiscent of his Worlds era. The vocals remind me of early Porter in his electro house days. My favorite overall track on the album for sure and, in my opinion, one of Porter’s best works.
So he did it. He avoided the sophomore slump and added a few more classics to his already impressive discography. And I know I promised to not bring it up again, but this will be the last time I actually will as I pose this question: Is it as moving and touching as Worlds? Hard to say after a week past the release date. On its surface, it may not seem so as Worlds was noticeably groundbreaking almost immediately whereas Nurture is more “intelligent” in its composition and more of a grower. Nurture feels like Porter maturing after he found his niche with Worlds. However, I will say that Worlds‘ success largely came about after going on tour and debuting his revolutionary live show. I believe the same will be true with Nurture. Porter’s live edits to his original works are something incredibly special as we’ve seen previously. History is set to repeat itself September 18th & 19th, 2021 as Porter’s festival Second Sky returns this time to Berkeley, CA for what will presumably be the debut of his Nurture Live show. Having been lucky enough to go to the inaugural Second Sky back in 2019, you know I’ll be there again. Make sure to register for presale tickets here before May 5th, 2021.
In the meantime, I will continue to have this album on repeat until my ears cannot handle it anymore. Nurture is an incredibly touching masterpiece that will keep you smiling throughout with the occasional wiping of happy tears. His maturity is evident, not just in music but in life. Hopefully the wait for new music will not be as long as his previous hiatus, but that’s an issue for future fans to worry about. Because right now we have the Nurture era to bask in and enjoy and for this album, “all the world is lucky to be your home”.
5.)Peur des filles – L’Impératrice [Indie-Alternative]
You’re what the French call…L’Impératrice. Hailing from, if you couldn’t guess, France, L’Impératrice debuts on this New Year’s list. Peur des filles translates to “Fear of Girls”; something all of us might relate to. You’d think with over 6 years of French classes I wouldn’t have had to look up that translation. Song title aside, the rest of the song is in French and won’t do you the service of translating that, but will gladly dive into the tonic structure of this groovey track. Those classic French-funk vibes ooze out of your speakers. The track holds a sort of ominous feeling as the female lead singer sings, about why you should be scared of girls. A warning I do not need to be told twice.
4.)Moving Men (Metronomy Remix) – Myd & Mac Demarco [Electronica]
I’ve always dreamed of a remix with some Mac Demarco vocals laid on top. But having tried to make it work myself, I believed his voice and style were just to unique to remix. Also the fact that his original tracks are always 10/10’s, it just seemed impossible to me. Until Metronomy stepped up that is. His Moving Men remix is the perfect approach to Myd and Mac’s track; add a sprinkle of electronica while still retaining the original power of Mac’s vocals.
3.)Naked (Georges Remix) – Kraak & Smaak [Dance]
Some more French vibes for ya soul here. Kraak & Smaak are some of favorites in the indie scene right now, and now they’ve helped to add the newcomer Georges to my electronic list. How and why do the French just pump out incredible music? A standard four-to-the-floor beat and using the usual French-funk sounds should get old after a while right? Apparently not cause I’m always dressed in my orange vest and camo scrolling through Spotify on the hunt for some new Francophile bangers. Smooth, concise, funky, yet some jazzy elements, Georges nails this remix and successfully places himself on the radar with my third favorite track from January.
2.)Close To You – Dayglow [Alternative]
2020 wasn’t so bad since it got me exploring an enormous amount of new music. Dayglow was one of my favorite personal discoveries luckily catching him at seemingly the beginning of an already impressive musical career. His Spotify discography only consists of one freshman album from 2019 (which is HEAT) and then this release to kick off the New Year. That’s it. But from the small collection he’s released it’s abundantly clear he’s something special. His goofy persona may distract you from his musical talents, but once you hit play, problems melt away into the beautifully crafted synth chord progressions, guitar rifts, and indie-crafted vocals that just perfectly mesh together. Hopefully this hints his output in 2021 is going to be a bit higher than the previous year.
1.)Look at the Sky – Porter Robinson [Electronica]
I’m a simple man. I see Porter Robinson, he makes the top of the “Best of the Month” list. Easy as that. 2020 was supposed to be the year of Porter. Set to drop his sophomore album Nurture six years after his first album Worlds dropped, Porter fans were forced to wait again as the ever infamous COVID-19 pandemic delayed the release and found another way to break my heart. But having waited 6 years, what’s a few more months? With his release of Look at the Sky Porter also announced Nurture will be released on April 23rd (MARK YOUR CALENDARS PEOPLE). Look at the Sky is my favorite single thus far. It feels like I’m finally understanding what Porter’s goals for this album are going to be. All the singles have featured a duet of Porter’s original vocals and his vocals ran through a vocaloid engine to sound more feminine. That higher pitched voice, I believe, is the voice in his head telling him he’s no good. Look at the Sky‘s release comes at a pretty opportune time with the New Year and the pandemic hopefully on the way out. If you want some unwarranted hope, hit play. Then wait 2.5 months for this hgihly-anticipated album to bless the world.
CHECK OUT THE “BEST OF JANUARY 2021” PLAYLIST BELOW
Coming in (hopefully) the next week, we will have a few fun items to share with y’all – both a playlist (in Spotify, with some commentary here) and a list of all of our favorite movies we saw in 2020, ranked (excluding those I’ve already commented on).
We’ve been working away to a nearly finished project, but would love to hear your thoughts as well… you know – if you have them!
What were you favorite songs and movies of 2020?
Let us know, and we’ll see if they make the cut!
Thanks for staying loyal during our content hiatus, as you know – things been crazy. Life is crazy. Times be weirder than ever… But we’ll keep posting. And we appreciate YOU.
P.S. We have a Podcast in the works and much, much more to come these next few months and in all of 2021, my friends.
Kicking this hell of a music month off with a little house/disco vibes. Max Styler has been making moves this year, dropping his sophomore album Body High back in April on RL Grime’s label Sable Valley, the future of house music looks bright with Max at the helm. Something Beautiful is a club anthem. Starting off with slightly dark vibes, it’s only when that classic house synth kicks in in the second verse that you’ll find your head involuntarily bobbin to the beat. For the 24 year old Cali native, the future looks very beautiful.
4.)6000 Ft. – Bonobo & Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs [Electronic]
An electronic music legend, Bonobo is a true king of ambience. He has this incredible ability to evoke introspectiveness upon the listener with his songs and sounds. But he’s not alone with possessing this talent. So why not team up with another artist who holds this similar talent in Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs? The duo’s collab Heartbreak was my second favorite song released in the month of September, so it’s only appropriate their follow-up, 6000 Ft., made this months list. The melancholic melody that drive the track at the beginning gets you in that previously mentioned introspective mood. But once that counter melody hits with its hopeful progression, I was hooked. But to be fair, I can’t think of a Bonobo song that hasn’t blown me away.
What could quite possibly be the chillest song of 2020, Satin Jackets’ take on Tycho’s song Japan is a magical four minutes. Borrowing Saint Sinner’s vocals from the original mix, I get intense Dido vibes from her voice which explains that mystical vibe felt throughout the song. Satin Jackets’ rendition just perfects the song. He’s able to maintain the original feel of the song while adding even more emotion.
2.)MIA (Robotaki Remix) – RAC [Indietronica]
I had a stupid hard time deciding the rankings of these next two as they’ve both beeen on constant replay for me this month. Both fantastic songs, just different vibes. But alas, the number 2 spot this month is still an absolute banger. Rarely does a remix capture the magic of the original while adding its own taste and novel attitude. Robotaki nailed it here. Vibey and funky, the bassline helps drive track with the incredible acapella. It’s like Robotaki was given the puzzle pieces from RAC and fit them all together in a brand new way. Lovin’ this.
1.)On a Spanish Dune – Liam Kazar [Alternative-Rock]
The Chicago music scene is absolutely on fire right now. And while you may be saying, “Oh, you mean the city that produced artists like Kanye, Chance, Vic Mensa,…”, I’m talkin’ about a little something called rock. I guess indie-rock would be the best label, but regardless, it’s something to keep your eye on and Liam Kazar is at the helm. With only his SECOND official release under the name, On a Spanish Dune is musical masterpiece. Combining elements from rock, country, indie, and electronic msuic, Kazar’s debut follow-up makes it known he’s a serious artist to keep your eyes on. His first song, Shoes Too Tight, was my second favorite track released in April. And while this track’s slower and more melancholic than the uplifting vibes of Shoes Too Tight, it feels like Kazar is proving a point; he’s here to take over.
TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE MONTH
5.)Rogue EP – Yotto & Cassian [Electronic]
A short but VERY sweet two song EP from some of dance music’s hottest stars on the scene now, Yotto and Cassian perfect their ethereal vibes with Inter and Grains. A little lighter vibes than the expected darker ones you’d expect from this pair, this is a great intro for anyone looking to get into the more “intelligent” side of dance music.
4.)A Matter of Perspective – DROELOE [Electronic]
A 29 track album from the Dutch (for the final time) duo is the perfect send-off to half of the group. After 5 years together, the pair are amicably splitting, but not without releasing their most creative, advanced album yet. Always willing to blend the lines of pop and electronic, DROELOE’s album here is essentially a showcase of their talent. While unfortunate the pair are splitting, it’ll be interesting to follow them both on their future endeavors.
3.)Forever Flame – Rome in Silver [Electronic]
If you (or anybody for that matter) reads these posts, you know Rome in Silver is a favorite of mine. Apart from being just an overall good dude, he’s also insanely talented at this music production thing. Forever Flame is a tasty little resume building EP from the Huntington Beach native. 2020 was a huge year for Mr. Silver with HUGE things expected in the future.
2.)First Contact – Lastlings [Dance]
The Australian sibling duo has a knack for those vocal-driven, smooth, dark, dance vibes. First Contact is proof of this expertise and should silence any naysayers believing they’d fade out. It’s subjective to call music “intelligent”, but I’m having a hard time picking any other adjective as to describe this collection of tracks.
ANOTHER Chicago based musician absolutely defining the future of music, Knox Fortune was a tiny blimp on my radar before listening to this album. Having been featured on another Chicago-artist-you-may-have-heard-of’s chart topping song “All Night” (yes, that Chance the Rapper), Knox Fortune was briefly thrust into the national spotlight. Four years later, Knox Fortune delivers with his sophomore album that is close to pure perfection. Going in blind, the intro song immediately caught my attention. And then the next, and the next…and the next. To be honest, one of the easiest and enjoyable albums I’ve had the pleasure to listen to this year. 9.5/10 from me.
CHECK OUT THE “BEST OF NOVEMBER 2020” PLAYLIST BELOW