Before we get into the new music, it's worth taking a second to pause and remember some old music. Specifically, that of Walter Becker, who along with Donald Fagen was the driving force behind the virtuosic, astoundingly complex, and deliciously cynical Steely Dan, a soft-rock group named after a dildo that wrote cryptic, feel-good songs about snorting coke and hating yourself.
In college, I was so obsessed with Steely Dan that I got a hoodie custom-made with their name on it. It has since passed from one of my college friends to another, kind of like the traveling pants from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. No matter whether you are currently in possession of my Steely Dan hoodie or not, I urge you to roll one up to listen to Aja in Becker's memory. Now here are some new tunes, though it remains to be seen if any of these artists will be honored on my apparel in the foreseeable future.
Stormzy ft. Kehlani - "Cigarettes and Kush"
Hey, here's a song about weed, with a music video that takes place in a growhouse, which is now getting posted on a weed website! Fortunately for your ears, I'm not posting this song out of some pro-weed-song bias; I'm posting it because it's good as hell. Duetting with the rising star Kehlani, the British Grime dude Stormzy reveals he's got a set of golden pipes on the chorus of this track, which I'm really hoping is some sort of coded reference to that real weird film Cigarettes and Coffee, i.e. the one where RZA and GZA hang out with Bill Murray.
Merzbow - "Vacation of Merzobow Lowest Music and Arts"
Given that much of his compositions are atonal, jarring, and so creepy they'll make you hide under a table, most people think of the Japanese artist Merzbow as a noise music king. But, in fact, he also makes non-noise music, and his cover of the Japanese national anthem from the '80s, released on the internet to hype a modular synth compilation from Trax Records, is perfect for a meandering head trip into the void.
John Maus - "Combine"
John Maus's eerie, analog-sounding synth-pop was, in many ways, a precursor to whatever popular music you probably like today. And luckily for you, he's released his first song in six years and now you know about it. Now go listen to "Cop Killer" and pretend you knew about him all this time.
Tee Grizzley f. Meek Mill - "Beef"
Tee Grizzley's "First Day Out" has been all over rap radio for the past few months. It's easily one of the best major rap singles over the past decade, full of intensity that lurches from simmer to boil without warning. Its most obvious antecedent is Meek Mill's intro to his album Dreams and Nightmares, which quickly became one of the defining rap tracks of 2012. The ascendant Grizzley is obviously psyched as hell to be rapping alongside one of his formative influences, and Meek Mill seems energized by his interplay with Grizzley. This is, as the kids like to say, a banger.
Rainsound - "Wake (Sunlight at the Bottom of the Ocean)"
Newsflash: Post-hardcore was never not good. Of course, there was a lot of bad post-hardcore that was popular for a minute there (not going to name names, but they know who they are), but now that there's not oodles of MTV2 airplay to go around, only the true believers are still making music in this style. Rainsound's new track oscillates from Sunny Day Real Estate to Modern Life Is War so fast it'll give you whiplash, but, like, in a good way.
Vomitface - "Mad Sugar"
I mean, obviously you have to listen to a song by a band called "Vomitface," even if it sucks. However, Vomitface does not suck; in fact, they rule, and they rule even harder for releasing "Mad Sugar" as part of the Sugar Rush Vol. 2 compilation, the proceeds from which will go QORDS (Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer). As the comp's BandCamp explains, QORDS is "an overnight camp for queer and gender non-conforming youth or youth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual families, with special focus on youth in the South."
Lil Goofy ft. Philthy Rich - "Expensive"
Man, how good a rap name is Lil Goofy? Really good, is the answer to that. The beat here inverts those little bouncy bumps of electronics that typify Chicago bop music, spacing them out and using them to inspire little feelings of lost young love, like rummaging through your childhood bedroom only to find a note from somebody you had a crush on in 7th grade.
Odonis Odonis - "Check My Profile"
And now, a song whose point is to make you want to die.
Don Mykel - "Hell on Earth"
If a New York rapper has the audacity to call a song "Hell on Earth," the least they can do is make it as dark as Mobb Deep, who made the term their own after using it for the title of their pitch-black third album. Harlem's Don Mykel more than knows what he's doing, though, and front-loads the track with a sense of apocalyptic doom.
Lyte ft. Insane Clown Posse - "Flint Town Tittie Bar Bathroom"
I present to you "Flint Town Tittie Bar Bathroom," a new song by Lyte, a signee of Insane Clown Posse's Psychopathic Records, which also features Insane Clown Posse. If you do not like Insane Clown Posse, you will not like this song. If you already like Insane Clown Posse, which I do, you will like this song. Additionally, the far-left group Industrial Workers of the World recently issued a statement in support of ICP's Juggalo fan community, which is preparing to march on Washington D.C. to protest the FBI's labeling of the group as a gang. Have a good day.
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