Hello Talon readers! I write to you with some joy today as I’ll be going over what exactly I’ve been enjoying on the music front as of late. A lot has dropped this year, and with numerous artists starting their album rollouts, I figured it’d be wise to take a quick check up on what I’ve been listening to as of late.
DREAMCAST SUMMER SONGS, Devon Hendryx (JPEGMAFIA)- We’ll begin with something that came out while I was sitting in my second-grade classroom trying to figure out how addition worked (it’s a tricky one, guys). JPEGMAFIA has become one of my favorite artists for his incredibly unique production and interesting subject matter, but his back catalog is extensive. Recently, I’ve been listening to DSS, a 2009 release from him under his birth name. The tape features basically no vocals at all and is essentially a sample tape. However, the songs sampled and atmosphere Hendryx creates is incredible, and aptly named, as it fits perfectly with the brighter and warmer months. This is refreshing considering that most of his music can be described as menacing. My favorite moment on the tape would have to be Bloody Roar which switches the sample halfway through and clears up to present a beautiful soaring vocal line from the new sample.
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), Journey- Yet another “oldie”, Separate Ways has been a constant in my Airpods the last few days. Journey is known for stadium shaking rock anthems, and (hot take) Separate Ways is probably their best. The main draw for me is its extreme melodrama, as this song feels like it belongs on every spaceship traveling to an unknown and potentially dangerous land. The lyrics are of course about lost love, but the packaging of this subject matter is interesting. What I’d describe as a rock epic, blaring synth lines move the verses along with Steve Perry’s vocals flying overhead, only to build into a show-stopping chorus, that brings in a choir to back Perry for good measure. The way this song is filled out is incredible, as the guitar comes through with the synths to provide the perfect boom to an electric chorus, and song in its entirety.
Kaytranada- While I could’ve singled out a specific album from electronic music producer Kaytranada, I decided it was too difficult of a decision. I’ve been listening to his sophomore record Bubba more and more, but I return to his debut 99.9% just as often. As the school year winds down and summer approaches, Kaytranada provides the perfect backing track, as his production is sharp yet bouncy and wavy. The skill packed into each song is evident, and with an assist from a talented vocalist, most of his songs are pushed over the top. I’ll pick two songs from different ends of the catalog to suggest, with the first being The Worst in Me featuring Tinashe. The production here has some serious bounce, and Tinashe floats perfectly over the top of them, delivering sweet vocals that ooze with personality. I’ll also suggest his Janet Jackson remix of if for those who prefer the instrumental side, as the way the sample is chopped up and repurposed to fit the song is something everybody can enjoy.
Neck and Wrist, Pusha T, Jay-z. Pharrell Williams- My favorite single of the year so far came from one of my favorite rappers, Pusha T. The largest gripe with Pusha T is his repetitive subject matter, but if you can say the same thing in a million different ways, that isn’t terrible at all compared to saying a million different things one way. The Pharell influence ion this song is clear, as the 808’s dominate the entire beat, and do just enough to set up effortless verses from both Pusha T and Jay-Z. With an album titled It’s Almost Dry releasing in the coming months, I cannot wait to see what Pusha brings to the table, especially if he’s going to be utilizing production as good as what’s found on Neck and Wrist.
It’s a great time to be a music fan, as the landscape is evolving and changing with what’s happening in the world today. So far, artists have stepped up to the plate and delivered consistent and quality projects, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely excited for what’s to come.