Talib Kweli - Radio Silence:
In an era of ad-libbing and SoundCloud rappers, Radio Silence is a much-welcomed change of pace. It’s been about six years, but Talib Kweli is back and has never been more conscious. Like a true New Yorker, Talib Kweli’s polished and political lyrics go hand in hand with his jazzy instrumentals reminiscent of 90s hip hop.
The beautifully crafted bop, “The Magic Hour,” is a spiritual start to the record, followed by “Traveling Light” with a stellar feature from Anderson .Paak. Most of the record is somber, tackling issues like racism and the gentrification of his Brooklyn neighborhood. However, there is a bounce and liveliness to the album, especially on the track “Chips” with Brick Squad darling Waka Flocka Flame.
This is the perfect album to cozy up to as Scorpio season winds down and philosophical Sagittarius season urges us to question those around us and search for the meaning of life. After a few months of debauchery, Radio Silence will detox your body and cleanse your ears better than an at-home ear irrigation treatment. NATASHA
RIYL: Black Star, A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village
Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 6, 9, 10
Gavin Turek - Good Look for You - EP:
I remember it all too well. I was sitting on my bed, probably procrastinating on some assignment when my fellow co-host and all-around gal pal C Sabzzz asked me if I’d heard of Gavin Turek. Nope. So, I hit up Apple Music (sorry not sorry) and there it was, a collection of certified funky fresh sounds. Now, I know, usually I talk about R&B, but there’s a nice overlap between the vocals and sounds used to justify why I need to talk about this EP. See, without the FUNK, we wouldn’t have Erykah Badu or even the classic Kendrick album To Pimp A Butterfly. I digress...
Gavin Turek is best known for her work with good friends Mayer Hawthorne and TOKiMONSTA, but don’t ever get it twisted, she stands strong by herself.
The Good Look For You - EP grooves hard. From tracks like, “The Distance,” which reminds me of a Chaka Khan and Rufus song, to “My Delight,” which opens up with a mock Sheila E drum intro, Turek knows funk legacy and emulates it perfectly. The title track alone will get you moving and best believe, if you’re looking to shake your booty, this is the EP for you. Vocoder runs, analogue synths and choppy bass lines: what more could you want? Give this a spin and you’ll be the coolest relative at your family functions this holiday season. LANI
RIYL: Mayer Hawthorne, Tuxedo, Chromeo
Recommended: 2, 3, 4
Remo Greatest - Greatest Hits:
“And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good –
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things”
So, Greatest Hits is the debut album of Minnesota post-rock trio Remo Drive. To be completely honest, I like this album but I can’t really say why, so I’m just gonna make some guesses. On one level, Remo Drive is just a bunch of angsty white kids with guitars, but on another level, this album consists of well-written rock songs with smart lyrics (still pretty angsty though), and energetic performances, particularly from the band’s drummer. The album’s single “Yer Killing Me” is a prime example of this phenomenon, with its nauseatingly adolescent lyrics that still come across as humorous and heartfelt, followed by some cool instrumental work that makes up the latter two-thirds of the song’s runtime.
What is quality? I find it quite interesting that in music–and all other forms of art–everyone is able to point to things that they like, things that they perceive as having quality, but no one is able to explain what quality is. The funny thing, as everyone from Mark Twain to Lao Tzu to Alice Munro has pointed out, is that the more you analyze something to try to get at what exactly gives it it’s quality, the more difficult it becomes to see that quality. That’s because quality is best perceived in things that are whole, and as soon as you separate something into its parts, the quality is diminished exponentially. So the thing to do when trying to cultivate peace of mind is to use analysis with caution. Know when to stop analyzing, when to stop splitting things into their underlying parts, and instead take a step back and appreciate the things in your life as the complete entities they are. JATIN
RIYL: Pinkerton, American Football
Recc: 1, 6, 8, 9
FCC: Clean, except 6, 8
Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys - Rot:
Well if their band name wasn’t enough to entice you to listen to the album, I’ll do my part now. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this lil’ trio of lads dropped their first full-length project on Spotify November 10.
Their sound is like wrapping myself in a cozy blanket because it is so familiar, even though I had never listened to them prior to writing this review. Maybe its because you can tell how heavily they draw from other influences, as they are so reminiscent of so many favorite British rock bands of my youth. They sound like a cross between The Cure, Arctic Monkeys, and Billy Idol. Songs like “Away” are so quintessentially garage rock; they have a grainy, crunchy quality, but are overall very accessible and pop infused. “Plastic Tears” is old school, fun, catchy, and essentially formulaic, sort of like the rest of the album. Overall, it is in many ways a predictable record, but does what it sets out to do very, very well. It is a good starter pack for those debating sticking their toe into punk rock waters, (try “Expanding Horizons” or “Work Again”) but remains very accessible.
This is the kind of music that is best listened to live in a crummy, overcrowded venue with a bunch of dancing sweaty bodies, though Rot still holds up pretty well on its own through a pair of headphones. VIRGINIA
RIYL: The Clash, Bad English, The Cure
Recommended Tracks: 1, 3, 6, 8
Meridian Brothers - ¿Dónde Estás María?:
Eblis Álvarez, the radiance behind Meridian Brothers, the Bogotá-based musical project that begs, borrows, and steals from the best American ritmos, has returned.
The songs on ¿Donde Estas, Maria? begin from very simple rhythms that repeat and build into larger themes. There is an orchestral element provided by strings, specifically the cello. This is the first Meridian Brothers album to utilize that timbre, and it modulates their already-distinctive interpretations of cumbia and psych-folk. Additionally, the traditional Latin Rock of Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico is coupled with the tropical elements of Brazilian music.
This combination strikes me as potent, but more staid than earlier albums. It seems that the strings have a grounding effect on Álvarez’ compositions: where once the cascading, frenetic keyboard would disorient and exhilarate the listener, there is now sharp plucking or long string notes, while the synthesizer adds flavor in the background.
Regardless, there is still levity in these tracks. "Yo Soy Tu Padre, Yo Te Fabriqué," which translates as “I’m Your Father, I Made You,” has a hilarious theme, as Alvarez tells us “yo soy tu padre, madre tambien.” (I am your father, mother also.)
In sum, Meridian Brothers’ new album is a lot of what was good in the old, with enough newness to feel fresh and ~lush~. Take a listen while you’re stuffing yourself this week. AUSTIN
RIYL: Michi Sarmiento, Los Speakers, cumbia, descarga, the cello
Recommended Tracks: 1, 3, 7, 10