Charlie Puth just put out the coldest blowoff track of 2017…

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Up until now, Charlie Puth has typically been tagged a ballad boy. With lovey tracks like the Selena Gomez-collaboration “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, sleek “Marvin Gaye”, and “One Call Away”, the 25-year-old’s discography has kept strong ties to innocent, undying adolescent mush. So when the singer dropped “Attention” on iTunes last week, a seething and side-eyed tribute to an insecure ex…(Bella Thorne, are you out there?), our jaws dropped. Originally generated as a homemade, beatboxed voice note on Charlie’s phone while on tour in Tokyo, the bass line for “Attention” is the heart and soul of the track—the relentless source of funk that fuels Puth’s distaste—and our absolute ear-addiction. The visuals are just as cool; Charlie circles clubby LA scenes while an unnamed, chic-but-crazy blonde ex follows his every move. And with nothing but a face-palm and pity, he responds with the track’s apathetic hook: [“You just want attention, you don’t want my heart, maybe you just hate the thought of me with someone new/ you just want attention, I knew from the start, you’re just making sure I’m never gettin’ over you…”].

They really do always come back.

Download on iTunes here; check out the vid below.

Review: Drake-‘Views’

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The wait for Views was really, really painful. Tardiness aside, let’s start with the skyrocketed hope for an album that instead plummeted with a false alarm: the passable-but-might-be-pile-of-throwaways otherwise known as If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. A cruel travesty at the least. Yes, “Know Yourself” might have singlehandedly sparked the Summer ’15 W.O.E. movement and repeated PARTYNEXTDOOR features provided the ultimate shoulder for your feels, but let’s be real. IYRTITL was an untimely tease, totally random, and not Views.

And then there was the dry spell that ran from the rest of Winter to that following Fall ’15. Well, minus “Hotline Bling”, of course. Any dose of Drizzy—whether accompanied by the raspy-voiced king of unconcern, Future (see: WATTBA; it’ll change your life/how efficiently you’ll clean your house) or a dancehall collab with Rihanna–we swigged like parched fangirls. When closely examined, the preoccuDRAKEtion really is frightening.

And in the midst of all that waiting, tension, and growing distaste for the OVO singer’s flexible take on deadlines, we remained obsessed. Eating up every Insta post, collaboration, basketball game appearance, and meme, our lurking means love; there’s a generational affinity for the man.

And Drake knows it. It’s why he reveled in our wait, and continues to bask in our love. And feels absolutely comfy in a grandiose, James Bond ambience that couldn’t more appropriately roll out the intro to Views. “You sit and you pray hoping that the stars align/ My luck is a sure thing cause I’m living right”, the 29-year old sings, over espionage fanfare, drumroll, and an invisible throne. It’s the right homage to an 8+ year run.

Emotion runs rampant on Views, with enough moments of absolute goosebumps to sink you into the feels for longer than seems comfortable (“Fire and Desire”, “U With Me?”) and side-eyed shade (“Redemption”). Throw in the cocky brushoff track (“Grammys”), add Future, and you get a Drake who [momentarily] casts his feelings to the wind. And there’s enough of that residual, thorny bitterness for the ones who missed out—like the slickly produced “Weston Road Flows”: (“Used to have secret handshakes to confirm my friendships/ Nowadays they’re just shakin’ my hand to hide the tension…”), blended beautifully with a circa ’94 Mary J. sample.

Views is a lot like Drake’s Instagram: a quirky collage of too much greatness to contain. A compilation of dabbling in things that look fun; dancehall and the Caribbean aesthetic, to name a few. In these moments, he and his guest stars shine. Collaborations–at any given time–just feel right, from Rihanna’s assist on the jungle-drummed out “Too Good”, to a PND-Jeremih falsetto combo on “With You” that steals R&B lovers’ hearts and doesn’t let go.

The thing is, most ventures are natural for Drake, whether it’s joining Jamaican dancehall vet Popcaan on possibly the brightest, bounciest cut on the album, “Controlla”, or rapping over a full-church chorus on the title track. Acting, singing, laying down the bars, or reinstating his softness on “Faithful” while a drowned-out Pimp C sample circles chipmunked choir vocals…nothing’s un-pull-offable. And somehow, he always gives the proper thanks: (“I gotta talk to God even though he isn’t near me/ Based on what I got it’s hard to think he don’t hear me…”), never totally losing his head. He’s well beyond the victory lap, and knows it. And we’ll continue to devour whatever he gives us.

Buy it on iTunes here.

Rihanna Releases New Single, “Towards The Sun”

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Featured in the upcoming film Home (hitting theaters Friday, March 27th), Rihanna just released her title track for the movie: a near-electronic, resolute 5 minutes of rapture by self-love.

Over a dance-pop symphony replete with footslogging, triumphant drumbeats and booming synthesizers, Rih cries a high-pitched, thematically appropriate mantra: (“Turn your face towards the sun, let the shadows fall behind you/ Don’t look back, just carry on; and the shadows will never find you…).

iTunes Download Link: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/towards-the-sun-single/id970475425

Varick Breaks into Brooklyn’s Electronic Scene With “Boundless” Track & EP

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NYC always welcomes addition to their indie music coterie, and EDM remains its one sub-category of persistent sprawl. Newcomer Varick is one of its freshest faces, a complex alt-electro twofold with nebulous, Thom Yorke-ish moments of darkwave reality-descent and jolts of wide-eyed, pulsating trance. His experimental, dual-mood modus—a mashed-influence result of early-age classical training and digital mixing dabble—makes for a mollifying sound catapult on his breakout album, Boundless.

Self-released, the 4-track compilation runs on heartbeat pace, with a seeming mechanical energy powering its intro, “It Will Be Done”, pounding with a techno-clatter beat that grounds its stargazing hook: (“If only you could see…the light in you, then you’d be happy too…).

On his title track, Varick is spinning in a storm of synths, his distorted vocals the single glint of ‘human’ in all the robotic white noise. It’s a soft nod to EDM, without dependency on electro-percussives, one of the genre’s notorious tools of overuse.”We’re Animals” follows in outer-space suit, and Varick takes a turn on “We All Know The Rest”, an unlikely sugary diversion to dream-pop tempo and hopscotch keyboards.

Order Varick’s Boundless EP on iTunes here; listen to its single below:

Gem of the Week: “Hang On To Your Love”-Sade

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Song: “Hang On To Your Love”

Artist: Sade

Album: Diamond Life (1984)

As elevator-R&B crept its way into mid-to-late 1980s radio, the exotic, glossy-toned Sade couldn’t have seized a better role than queen of the newborn genre. Oozing an unfound tropical vogue that could enchant any instrumental—jazz, pop, or otherwise, the singer’s unprocessed approach to vocals made her an essential in soft-pop’s revamp. And without really trying, Sade offered a hip,   alternative to the fluffier, synth-dependent bulk comprising the decade’s Top 40.

Sade’s 1984 classic, Diamond Life, spotlights the mod songstress’ usual complements: thick and jazzy syncopation, au courant funk, and coolly-uttered romantic musings.

Upstaged by the EP’s more radio-rotated hits, (“Smooth Operator”, “Your Love is King”), the 6-minute “Hang On To Your Love” is the unsung paragon of ‘Sade-sleek’, a piano-licked jam with a lesson as self-explanatory as its title.

Opening with a sly, “in heaven’s name, why are you walkin’ away?…”, Sade, relationship-bystander, croons her sage advice:

“So if you want it to get stronger, you’d better not let go
You gotta hold on longer if you want your love to grow…
Gotta stick together, hand in glove
Hold tight, don’t fight…hang on to your love”

A sublime slice of Sade Adu-cool, the track continues to defy its three-decade time stamp.

Listen below:

Playlist: Hippie Antiques

 

A warm & cozy, ten-track-deep playlist of acoustic mementos from the hippie era’s sweetest singer-songwriters…

1) “Cactus Tree”-Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell (1968)

2) “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”-Simon & Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)

3) “At Seventeen”-Janis Ian, Between the Lines (1975)

4) “Almost Cut My Hair”-Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Deja Vu (1970)

5) “A Horse With No Name”-America, America (1972)

6) “A Case of You”-Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971)

7) “Old Man”-Neil Young, Harvest (1972)

8) “Long Time Gone”-Crosby Stills Nash & Young, CSNY 1974 (1974)

9) “Evil Ways”-Santana, Dance of the Rainbow Serpent (1970)

10) “Sugar Mountain”-Neil Young, Decade (1969)

“Astronomicon”: Todd Rundgren & Nim Vind’s Spectral Single

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From the brain of production maestro/artsy-pop classic Todd Rundgren hatches a new single, “Astronomicon”. Mixed and mastered to excellence, the track runs on a sinister, high-octane beat and features horror-punk’s newest arrival, Nim Vind, on vocals.

Although we’re not sure what prompted such an unlikely collaboration—an offbeat rendezvous between ’70s-sown, Something/Anything creator Todd and the young and eerie-voiced, punk-star Vind—the duo manage to carve out a 3-minute terror-trance and Halloweenish hit with their creative contrasts.

A Rundgren-fed electric guitar riff opens the track, aided with a palpitating kick-drum. 8 counts later, “Astronomicon” slinks into sheer post-punk form…complete with the genre’s signature breakneck drum lines, flustering repetition, and synth indulgence.

And with sponsorship from Vind’s wailing, almost foreboding intonations…the mood is set for slasher film distress.

The song’s extraction of late 70s/early 80s post-punk vibes brings to mind none other than the niche’s goth-styled founders: Bauhaus, Joy Division, Gang of Four, Magazine, and all the rest of the essentials. In fact, “Astronomicon” so sharply resembles The Cure’s classic track “The Forest”–instrumentally and sensationally–that Todd & Nim could sneak right onto the group’s 1980 album, Seventeen Seconds.

Even the lyrics echo a similarly creepy portent:

“We’re picking up a strange vibration…
from the Second Star centered in the darkness.
of 20,000 Worlds away from you baby
gonna see you out there sometime…”

Combine Todd’s four-decade-long resumé of production extraordinaire and Nim Vind’s punk-proper pipes…and the two just might spark the lost genre’s resurgence.

Vind’s upcoming album, Saturday Night Séance Songs, is set for release on October 14th. Check out “Astronomicon” below:

https://soundcloud.com/nimvind-1/astronomicon-plx-2-mastered/s-bnqIs

Diamonds in the Rough: 90s R&B Edition

 

A brief but essential, 10-track collection of understated numbers and ‘non-hits’ from R&B’s best decade, designed & assembled by yours truly…

1) “Whatcha Need”-SWV, New Beginning (1990)

2) “Can I Get With You”-Jagged Edge, J.E. Heartbreak (1999)

3) “Candy Rain”-Soul For Real, Candy Rain (1995)

4) “Only You”-112, 112 (1996)

5) “No Doubt”-702, No Doubt (1996)

6) “U Know What’s Up”-Donell Jones & Lisa ‘Left-Eye’, Where I Wanna Be (1999)

7) “You, Me”-Men At Large, Men At Large (1992)

8) “Return of the Mack”-Mark Morrison, Return of the Mack (1996)

9) “Tell Me (I’ll Be Around)-Shades, Shades (1997)

10) “I Wanna Be Down”-Brandy, Brandy (1994)

Paying ‘Nevermind’ Tribute: A 90s Grunge-Gloom Playlist

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In commemoration of Nirvana’s Nevermind and a belated celebration of its 23rd anniversary, here’s a playlist specializing in 90s grunge & all the gloom that accompanies it.

To start…a piece of the low-maintenance yet thunderous album that morphed alternative music beyond comprehension…

1) “Come As You Are”-Nirvana, Nevermind (1991)

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2) “I Could Have Lied” -The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

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3) “Creep”-Radiohead, Pablo Honey (1993)

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4) “Dumb”-Nirvana, In Utero (1993)

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5) “Comedown”-Bush, Sixteen Stone (1994)

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6) “Right Through You”-Alanis Morrisette, Jagged Little Pill (1995)

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https://soundcloud.com/alanismorissette/right-through-you-1

7) “Black Hole Sun”-Soundgarden, Superunknown (1994)

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8) “Would?”-Alice in Chains, Dirt (1992)

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9) “Zombie”-The Cranberries, No Need to Argue (1994)

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10) “About A Girl”-Nirvana, Bleach (1989)

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Gem of the Week: “The Boxer”-Simon & Garfunkel

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Song: “The Boxer”

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel

Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970

Somewhere in the hazy, forgotten realm of Woodstock-eclipsed vinyl antiquity reside the uncrowned kings of hippie-folk: Simon & Garfunkel.

After their 1965 takeoff with the renowned, loner-celebratory track, “The Sound of Silence”, (which could easily be the prequel for the self-minded “I Am a Rock”), the two conquered the singer-songwriter game…with refreshingly less concern for aesthetics than most of their contemporaries.

Packaged with woodsy, organically-voiced appeal, Simon & Garfunkel had two things to give: profundity and humming harmonies. Armed with both of the above, “The Boxer” is a movingly vagabond-ish artifact from the 60s-rooted folk duo.

And one that can still blow your mind…

Flowering acoustic cadences decorate the song’s country-craving words, and the lyrical adept, Paul Simon, sings “I’m laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone, going home/Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me…leading me, going home…”.

Harmonized “Lie-La-Lie”s repeat throughout, further vocalizing the hoped-for passing of time.

Two choruses later and the climactic, hoofbeat-backed dynamics build to a soul-swallowing end. A final verse is the title’s metaphorical comparison…

“In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
and he carries the reminders of ev’ry glove that laid him down
and cut him till he cried out, in his anger and his shame,
‘I am leaving, I am leaving’,
but the fighter still remains…”

However much city life tests his endurance, Simon is the ever-fighting boxer–in or out of his country element.

A should-be classic, in every aspect.