New Track: “Money Trees Deuce“ – Jay Rock

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Jay Rock’s new single “Money Trees Deuceis a tantalizing release for his upcoming album. The last we
heard from him was the single “Pay for It,
featuring Kendrick Lamar and Chantal. This was all the way back in late October of last
year.

A reference to his feature on “Money Trees” off Lamar’s good kid, mA.A.d. city, this time around
the song is all Jay Rock. At almost five and a half minutes, it offers ample
support as to why the long wait for his next album will have been worth it.

Opening with smooth, dark horns, the beat implies a dim
story is about to develop. The relaxed vibe is decreased slightly with the
addition of a clapping snare as Rock begins his first verse, and the final
layer of subtle bass and drum kick sets the tone for a laid-back but charged
tale.

Rock’s lyrics and steady flow convey a tough story that he
is all too familiar with. Over his three verses, a drug-laced, fatal stumble
towards the all-encompassing goal of getting money unfolds. He raps, “I’m a
locomotive, steam rolling, gotta fight to keep that money stream open”, which
paired with his usual raw inflection, conveys the exhausting toll that this
non-stop grind creates. Rapping about the harsh confines of the ghetto is
familiar to Rock, with songs such as “M.O.N.E.Y (feat. J. Black)”, “No Joke (feat. Ab-Soul)”, and “Life’s a
Gamble” off of his first album Follow Me
Home
all describing in vivid detail where he comes from.  

Towards the end of the grim song, he snarls “Had me snatch
that switch off that branch with some leaves on it, fantasizing bout some money
trees on em”. This line ultimately sums up the toxic relationship between the
chase for money in poor cities around the US, and the violence and damage
caused by this pursuit. The fantasized money tree is whipping those in pursuit
of it with the very branches being strained for.

All in all, “Money Trees Deuce” is a fantastic single from
Jay Rock, proving he is more than capable of finding shade in his own trees, no
matter how unforgiving the environment. If you haven’t listen the song already,
it’s definitely worth checking out.

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DJ Holmes

ASTR Has Been Waiting For You (NEW Music Video)

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After an
almost excruciating wait, ASTR has finally released their new single, “Activate
Me”
. Originally intended to be released late February, the duo left fans in the
dark for months as the two worked, unbeknownst to the fans, on a music video.
Below is the product of their labors, a cold, dark video that suits perfectly the
abysmal aura of the band.

“Activate Me”
is co-produced by Rodney Jerkins (A.K.A. “Darkchild”), an American record producer
who’s worked with the greats (Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston,
just to name a few, he’s also worked with popular artists of the day, like Rihanna,
Justin Beiber, and Lady GaGa.) Both band members Adam Palin and Zoe Silverman have expressed
in previous interviews a great admiration for the production giant, so I can
only imagine the enthusiasm that went into making this track.

As an ASTR
fan from the beginning, I could quickly hear the foreign influence in the
track. ASTR have always steered clear of the simplistic pop beat that is
present in the chorus of “Activate Me”, always opting for the more rhythmic beats
of hip-hop and R&B, as can be heard on the verses. Though Jerkins is an incredible
producer in his own right, I couldn’t help but feel that his presence on this
track was more of a burden than a blessing. The transition and flow of the song feels interrupted by the switch from the rhythmic beat of the verse to the
mechanic beat of the chorus.

That being
said, “Activate Me” is a strong track, perfectly foreshadowing the imminent release of their much-anticipated album. I highly recommend checking out ASTR’s EP, “Varsity”; it’s a perfect collection of moody electronic R&B tracks that sound both sinister and uplifting at the same time.

Stay tuned for more ASTR, these guys are hitting the music scene with
full force.

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Alexander Bonilla

The Jazz To Move Dat Ass

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Kendrick
Lamar’s
latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly,
was undeniably brilliant. It was both lyrically and sonically divine. One
of the album’s most beautiful aspects was its funky, jazz-infused sound. I
wasn’t a fan of jazz before To Pimp a
Butterfly,
but now I’m obsessed. Thank you based Kendrick.

Jazz,
as a genre, can be quite daunting. I had no idea where to start with it. So I
did the only thing I could do: I searched for “jazz” on Spotify.  There was so much to listen to! I found some
cool Spotify playlists (Shouts to “Late Night Jazz”) that helped narrow down my
choices.  

So, two months of jazz-capades
later, here are my three favorite albums. If you want to get started with jazz—and
you totally should, it’s dope—these albums would make for an ideal starting
point:

1) The
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out
      

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Dave Brubeck sure can
play the hell out of a piano. This album’s sound is playful and sunny. Perfect music
for rolling down a grassy hill, or for a wine-soaked picnic on the beach. The
seven pieces on this album each elegantly swell to their euphoric peaks.
“Strange Meadow Lark” is my personal favorite on this album. It’s pure bliss
when the horns kick in:

2) John
Coltrane – A Love Supreme

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About six minutes into this glorious beast
of an album, Coltrane puts down his saxophone to chant “A Love Supreme.” The
other instruments carry on, providing a smooth backdrop for his chant. It’s a
simple and fleeting moment, lasting only about thirty seconds. But somehow, it’s
my favorite thirty seconds on this album. It’s amazing. It’s catchy. It’s
Coltrane:

This album is abundant with such
moments of wonder. The whole thing just swings into your ears. Tension
frantically rises and falls in a majestic tide of harmony. This album feels
like an insane action movie. Like Die Hard. A Love Supreme is the jazz
equivalent of Die Hard.

3)      Miles
Davis – Kind of Blue

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This is a phenomenal album. Miles
Davis
and his trumpet are a soothing balm to the ear. Also, the man himself,
John Coltrane, plays the tenor saxophone on this album.  

The album kicks off with pensive
piano notes, an oddball bassline and tentative bursts from the trumpet. It’s so chill:

This album makes me feel like I own a
yacht. That’s a great way to feel, no doubt about it. I listen to this album almost every day. I brush
my teeth to it. I fall asleep to it. I even ate pizza to it once. If you haven’t
heard anything on this album yet, get with the program.

But, don’t just take my word for it all. Venture into the wonderful world of jazz and experience the magic for yourself. In the words of the great jazz pianist, Bill Evans (He also played on Miles’s Kind of Blue. That album is straight up star-studded), “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience. Because it’s feeling, not words.”

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Pranav Shivanna

New Release Watch: Made in Heights

The West Coast duo consisting of former wedding singer, Kelsey Bulkin, and local Seattle-based producer of Blue Scholars, Sabzi, released the single “Slow Burn” on Tuesday.  It’s the second single off their upcoming album (out May 26th) Without My Enemy What Would I Do. And I’m a little disappointed.  

I want to start off by saying Made in Heights is an amazing group. Attempting to label their sound as a whole proves difficult, seeing as they have yet to accept any one genre themselves.  Continuously welcoming suggestions from fans, the current official description includes: mythical filth, pop fiction, beauty slap, goon lit, artisanal (c/t)rap, and west coast gothic. To put it as simply as I can, they are known for pairing soulful vocals with crisp electronic beats and atmospheric soundscapes.  At times even incorporating elements of rap into their bright and ethereal sound, Made in Heights weaves an intricate and special sound under the ever-growing umbrella of synth-pop. The only way to truly experience the sound is to hear it for your self, something I highly recommend.

Slow Burn turns its back on this complexity of genres and heads straight for the dance floor.  Let me get one thing straight – this track is completely infectious and a solid dancy-synth-poppy song.  The track begins with a catchy synthesized staccato baseline with Kelsey’s simmering vocals drifting atop. By the end, snapping and groovy instrumentals layer in, creating an intoxicating, sparkly-smooth pop track. I would be lying if I said I didn’t bob my head to “you give me that burn, burn, burn, burn, burn”.  It’s received good reviews from several sources and is now one of their most-listened to songs on Spotify, it just isn’t what I was hoping for.

Listen for yourself in the stream below:

It might be a personal taste issue that turned me off the new single, seeing as the airy female vocals and snappy dance beat of Slow Burn kicked in some post-traumatic stress from my days working in retail.  Once you imagine a song bursting from the cheap speakers of a former employer at the mall, it’s hard to listen to it without feeling a little bit guilty.

It also could be the high expectations I hold for the duo, set by their stunning previous work. Ever since first hearing "All the Places” and “Wildflowers” off of their 2012 self-titled album, I’ve been craving more.  Even their opening act for TOKiMONSTA I attended in LA last October reflected their original aesthetic I adore, the pair performing synchronized 60’s backup singer dance moves throughout the set. I just hold them up to a higher creative standard than what this newest track has produced. With sporadic releases and no single website to find their collective work (scattered throughout Soundcloud, Spotify, Bandcamp and their website), I was overjoyed to hear about the new album coming out in late May.

Now I’m just hoping that this single follows the rule of singles, and is the lone shamelessly-dancey track of the album; the rest hopefully following more in suit with the innovative sounds I’ve come to expect from Made in Heights.

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Cassie Lynch

New Song: Alina Baraz & Galimatias – Can I

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The chill duo have released another track, and “Can I” is in
keeping with the glue-covered sound they have created. This track sounds as if
it was composed in the warm depths of a tropical ocean, swaying softly to the current,
only to surface when ethereal singer Alina Baraz needs a breath of air.

Much
like the rest of their work, the new track sounds as if it is meant to be heard
when under the water of the swimming pool, floating lazily as the warm lights dance
beneath the calm surface.

Alina has a beautiful voice, and the airy way in
which she sings really compliments the tracks Danish producer Galimatias creates. The mixing of
sultry voice and sultry instrumentals laden with piano riffs and smooth bass could make any cloudy day feel warm.

I
can’t stress enough the amount of warmth that comes from their tracks. They bring to mind the soft flames that would sway back and forth in slow motion on the candle
wick at night. They’re like the sunlit patch of kitchen or living room floor
that you would take a nap on when you were a kid. They’re the warm steam coming
out of the showerhead, the warm touch of a loved one. 

The pair have been working together
for around a year now and have gathered quite a following after their debut, “Drift”. Below is their most popular tracks, “Fantasy.” I
highly suggest taking a listen, they’ve created something absolutely beautiful.

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Alexander Bonilla