Moss Kena - Found You In 06:
Getting massive love from the likes of Zedd, Elton John and Zane Lowe, I was curious as to who Moss Kena was. There was little information on the 20 year old singer - besides than the press clippings provided from his label... so, in an effort to learn more about the crooning Brit, I relied on his music. His sound. His lyrics.
Often, artists share themselves via social media, leaving little to reveal for the listener. Kena's (mostly) anonymous presence allowed me to listen thoughtfully as I would learn everything I could about him in a 5 song EP. Found You In 06 is
more pop than R&B, still, it's sultry flow and strong melodic caricatures, were enough to keep me interested. The man is talented. In his phrasing, in his ability to write a hook. His vocals are simple. He barely sings above his mid-range and flows easily into his falsetto, singing sweetly yet singing about problems, manipulative lovers and his unfolding life journey.
With little online, I'm interested to see how RCA/Ministry of Sound continue to push Kena's sound. Will he compete with other R&B singers or cross over into the pop world completely? Will he take on a more electronic sound? I hope he stays authentic and continues to write from places of vulnerability as he showcased in this debut. I look forward to watching him rise and hope that we aren't waiting long to hear from him again. LANI
RIYL: Marc E. Bassy, Jessie Reyez, SG Lewis
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 4
Moaning - S/T:
Moaning is a post-punk band from Los Angeles. They just got signed to Sub Pop Records, so be ready for them to get big soon! They are commonly known to play DIY venues like The Smell and Pehrspace. I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard them until a couple of months ago, despite my constant plans to try to see them live. This record kind of blows my mind. My ears are happy from the beginning to end of this self-titled record. This record follows an EP the trio released in 2014, so this current album has been a few years in the making, but it’s such a great album. It is honestly pretty rare to find an LA band that releases such a killer album start to finish. There isn’t a single song I don’t like. The album’s opening track, “Don’t Go,” has been stuck in my head for the past week—in a good way. The first three tracks are a solid start to the album, but luckily for listeners, the distorted vocals, syncopated drumming, and fuzzy sounds don’t stop there. The songs are catchy and shoegazey. On their song “For Now,” the band switches up time signatures a bit and gets a little math-rock-y to keep things interesting.
Their record release is on March 9 at the Echo with Froth and Numb.er opening. Following that show, they’re going on a 3-month tour across the US and Europe. Definitely a band that’s going places, maybe the first from LA since Cherry Glazerr or Girlpool to really make it big on this level, in my opinion. Check ‘em out while they’re hot and consider supporting them on Bandcamp by getting a pretty pink vinyl of this wicked awesome self-titled debut. If you can’t make it to their record release show, be sure to catch them in May opening for Preoccupations. CHRISTINA
RIYL: Froth, Preoccupations (fka. Viet Cong), Slowdive, Metz
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, literally all of them
Sylvan LaCue - Apologies in Advance:
Formerly known as QuESt, Sylvan LaCue started 2018 off with Apologies in Advance. Straight from Miami, Florida, LaCue was signed to Visionary Music Group, the same record-label that house Maryland rapper, Logic. After parting with VMG, he started his own label, Wise Up & Co and changed his artist name to his given name: Sylvan LaCue. The name change demonstrated an artistic shift.
Whereas the previous emphasis with QuESt focused on bars and lyrical flow, Sylvan LaCue started making records focused on artistry as a whole: melody, bars, production, song arrangement and catchy hooks. This, I believe, is one of the necessary steps to becoming an influential artist with impact. Sure, we have great lyrical rappers that contributed to Hip-hop’s growth, but to have style, delivery, flow, bars, melody, hooks, and one-liners means one is destined to make an imprint on the culture. It’s about making music from a holistic standpoint than a one-dimensional lyrical approach, and LaCue is on the right track. In a hip-hop era where Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole already came up, LaCue is carving out his own lane
The form of the album is set up as AA meetings. The twelve interludes, split up as 12-steps throughout the album, serve as a talking point for participants to discuss their own lessons and journey into finding themselves. What I like about the album is LaCue’s sensitivity in discussing things that are often omitted in hip-hop: self-love, self-care, gratitude and acceptance. LaCue produced much of album apart from “Head Games” and “P.O.M.E.” – which was handled by Skhye Hutch, the Los Angeles-based producer who produced tracks for Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Rock.
The album begins with the “Step 1” interlude where the speaker opens the discussion with “What are you doing to become the best you?” It leads to the opening track, “Best Me” which is laced with a guitar-laden sample. On “Selfish”, LaCue sings, “How do I not know that I am first?/I put all my effort into everyone except the one who hurts”. Most of the tracks are good to great with the exception of “P.O.M.E.”, which completely feels like “M.A.A.D. city” track. On “Perfect Imperfections”, LaCue channels Kanye West on the first verse, “What's your imperfections?/ Is it love (love), is it trust (trust), empathy/ I been impressed with/ But not one (one), not two (two), but all three”. The album finishes off with “5:55”, a play on Jay-Z’s 4:44 album that had an impact on LaCue when creating this album. He raps, “I've been dealin' with some problems by myself in silence/ I ain't always at my best/ Even when I'm smillin'/ I might lose it under stress/ But I always find it”.
If you love A Tribe Called Quest, Drake, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, or Lupe Fiasco, listen to Sylvan LaCue. He takes a thoughtful approach to hip-hip. It’s not about being lyrical with the flow, but being potent and precise with words. Less is more, and that’s the approach LaCue is taking on this album. The album is about healing and can be played throughout the day. It’s an album about accepting the self and life’s course. As LaCue stated, “I had to learn that acceptance is really the first step of freedom”.
LaCue recognizes that we have to take life, every day and every step at a time. We can’t rush the journey to success. Wise Up! ANDRES
RIYL: A Tribe Called Quest, Drake, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco
Recommended Tracks: 2, 6, 8, 11, 12, 16, 20