First Thoughts On The First Listen

First Thought On The First Listen: Thundercat – “Drunk”

So I take it this album is about getting and being drunk. Lovely idea for an album, in my opinion. The themed approach worked VERY well for him on The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam, which was about dying and being dead. Let’s hop in! Listen along track by track if you wish.

01. Rabbot Ho

Sounds like it’s picking up right where his last EP left off. He really has found a sweet spot with singing falsetto over his melodic bass lines. I love “Rabbot Ho” as a phrase and his choice to even write it this way brings me joy, because AAVE is the best.

02. Captain Stupido

HA!

“I think I left my wallet at the club” = been there, bro. This joint is so groovy. Reminds me of MonoNeon. Perfect background music for being drunk and not knowing what the fuck is going on (a lil bit).

03. Uh Uh

Ahh yes. This feels like the way your uncle who plays bass and was in a band tells stories about how poppin they used to be. These chord movements…YEESH!

04. Bus in These Streets

First single, was released a few months ago. Feels like 70s era Sesame Street, when every song was a hit. I love stream of consciousness songs and Cat is like…the king of that. Sonically this album already feels drunk. Wow, I’m really enjoying this.

05. A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)

Head knocker. Why is he meowing lmao. Greaaatttt pocket here. “Everybody wants to be a cat. It’s cool to be a cat.” Dope writing style. He’s drawing parallels between his stage name and the Lion King, yall. The meows make so much sense now. This will prolly be one of my faves off this LP.

06. Lava Lamp

Immediately sounds like what a Lava Lamp looks like. This one feels more like high than drunk to me. Yall, his sound selection somehow got better. Deep groove, mid tempo. Body roll worthy.

07. Jethro

Hip-hop feel. Make sure you get into the bass solo stuff he is doing in the right ear early on, gaht damb he killin. I love how short the songs are. 

08. Day & Night.

This is giving me a little bit of a vaporwave feel. Sample fodder.

09. Show You The Way [f. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins]

The term “Yacht Rock” cracks me up, but it is really fitting. This man really got Michael “Subwoofer Virtuoso” McDonald and Kenny “Midrange Falsetto King” Loggins on a song together again. Wow. The stuff music nerd dreams are made of. And not only that, this song sounds like it dropped the summer of ’75 and it still doesn’t feel out of place on this record, at all. Random Sonic The Hedgehog High Score sound fx for the win.

10. Walk on By [f. Kendrick Lamar]

Ohhh some slow burn 808 groove. Interested to see how K.dot attacks this. Thundercat really be singing yall, haha. Drunk reminiscing about a love lost, who can’t relate? Kendrick delivers as always. Perfect song for a kickback.

11. Blackkk

Got some mixed meter happening. Reminds me of Weather Report. Great harmonies. “I want to experience all the (light? life?) has to offer meeee.” Nice lil morsel of a song. 

12. Tokyo

Chippy synths have my heart. This will be a fave in Tokyo for sure, lots of cultural references. And I think he has a few performance dates there on his tour. WHOA DUDE…second verse gets weird asf, be warned.

13. Jameel’s Space Ride

Now we’re in the 80s. Now we’re in a video game. This could easily be a Sonic level. Afrofuturistic lyrical content. Self conscious Sonic the Hedgehog reference at the end.

14. Friend Zone

This song makes me so mad. Because it is so dope musically, but I can’t buy into the whole Friend Zone shit. That’s a toxic concept, because it assumes that you are owed something because you are a nice guy to someone. Nah b. If you can manage to ignore the fuckboiness of this song, you will enjoy the sonic presentation. Feels like it coulda been on TPAB. The arpeggiated synth here is magical. Shout out to black reclamation of electronic music.

15. Them Changes

So, this song was definitely on The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam. It totally makes sense to put it on this album if you’re drunk, though, so I think I get why it’s on here. One of my favorite Thundercat songs all time.

16. Where I’m Going

Darker feel. Drum work is dope asf. The filter he is singing through is perfect for the track. Great walking music. Fades out for like 30 seconds, nice touch.

17. Drink Dat [f. Wiz Khalifa]

Ayyyyeee! This is like a club love song. Wiz was a good choice for this track. Great chant “drink dat, drink dat”. 17 tracks in and I haven’t been unimpressed yet. We might have a classic in our hands, yall.

18. Inferno

A more typical Thundercat feel: straight bass, sprinkle of synth and vocals. His compositions move like classical music and I love that. Great build up. Another well placed extended fade out. Wow. Everything feels right.

19. I Am Crazy

Narraration of the foggiest part of drunkenness.

20. 3AM

Reminds me of Prototype a luh bit.

21. Drunk

“Drowning away all of the pain, ’til I’m totally numb.” Real asf. This is why a lot of us get drunk. Cool vocoder work.

22. The Turn Down [f. Pharrell]

The most psychedelic sounding track so far. I’m loving the subtle musical movements here. Pharrell sits snugly in this one. #BlackLivesMatter.

23. DUI

Revisiting Rabbot Ho here. A beautiful ending to a great musical work. Feels very cautionary. Synth work is stellar here.

I’m really impressed with this one! Will be in heavy rotation for me.

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Lemme Putchu On

Lemme Putchu On: MonoNeon – “Thoughts In The Morning Time”

MonoNeon is a bass virtuoso. Last bassist that Prince ever hired. Has been on the scene as a Youtuber and a live performer for some time now and is also sits in with the eclectic band Ghost Note. He released his first music video Thoughts In The Morning Time  and it is just as psychedelic and groovy as he is. Lemme putchu on:

Check out more of his stuff here.

Music I Like

Music I Like – Jake Sherman – “When It Was Summer”

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Jake Sherman is a soft-spoken multi-instrumentalist and singer out of Boston, Massachusetts. I first heard his music a few years ago when I visited my partner, who was in grad school at the time. She was (and is) very intentional about setting atmospheres with her music choices, and with the hectic climate she found herself in, Jake Sherman‘s soft and groovy When It Was Summer was the prescription.

I’d immediately gotten caught up in the swing of it. It has the bop of a gleeful walk down the street. It carries a warm assurance with it, which serves as a loving hug, preparing you for the cautionary, reflective and rich lyrical content.

The Music

The song opens with a bed of filtered e-piano and Sherman singing with a beautiful, conversational tone. It picks up soon after with a gleeful drum rhythm that skips along throughout the song.

Why I Like It

This song has such a pleasant feel and this guy can PLAY, y’all. His play style, particularly on piano, is so expressive and gives you a peek into his personality. It’s clean and warm like fresh towels. I’m a strong proponent for artist (who are able) to produce their own songs, because nothing feels as real as that. This is the reason why nothing feels like a Stevie Wonder or Alex Isley recording.  Jake Sherman is a shining example of this.

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How It Makes Me Feel

I always can vibe out to this song at anytime, on any day. Its calming and groovy and those are like…my two favorite things to experience. When I put it on, I feel like I should light some incense and kick back with a cup of tea. The lyrics cause me to reflect on my own past experiences and ponder my future with a clear and sober lens, and that is really refreshing for me. Sherman  has achieved the alchemy of assuring folks that “it’s gonna be alright” in music form…without having to explicitly say it.

When You Should Listen

When It Was Summer is great for days in with a clear agenda. Good background music to add to a work playlist. A nice soundtrack for warm days with rain. Perfect for autumn morning commutes.

Check out Jake Sherman’s Soundcloud and purchase his self-titled album at Bandcamp!

Comment below and tell me what you think!

Music I Like

Music I Like – Vulfpeck – “Funky Duck” featuring Antwaun Stanley

Vulfpeck is comprised of 4 Vulf Records studio musicians who went indie in 2011: Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss & Joe Dart. These guys really know what it means to enjoy being musicians and not take themselves too seriously. These qualities ooze out of their music making as well as their simplified online presence. The content hardly ever concentrates on deep subject matter, but rather dares to center the joy of making the music itself, featuring themes of fun, playfulness and innocence. Good music is the priority, as evidenced in their choice to record from a living room studio set up, as opposed to a conventional studio.

They call on the immense talent of established vocalist and Stellar Award nominee Antwaun Stanley for a substantial number of cuts. It really is a match made in heaven. Stanley’s musical background fits snugly within Vulfpeck‘s presentation.

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The Music

“Funky Duck” opens up with some dirty clav octaves laying down some groundwork. As soon as Antwaun Stanley eeks out the first note, you know what time it is. He then slides effortlessly into an intoxicating melisma. Stanley’s gospel roots make themselves plain as he delivers vocal flurry after vocal flurry with steady, ad-libby leads throughout both verses.

Also, I think it’s important to note that this song is not about a duck. (See (hear): second verse).

Why I Like It

Because it’s about a funky duck. Like. Yes.

How It Makes Me Feel

I’m totally convinced that Vulfpeck should be in charge of all public access children’s programs’ soundtracks. It would promote information retention and artistic interest in our youth. Kids would learn how to count to 100 and how to bring the funk simultaneously. There is simply no better educational endeavor. Could you imagine Big Bird jammin’ and teaching our little ones the importance of arithmetic?

This is NOT to say it’s never been done (Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock are the GOAT, in my opinion). There have been many genre based kids’ shows throughout the years, ranging from Little Einsteins to Hip Hop Harry (remember him?). I just think that Vulfpeck would do the best job. I would not feel an ounce of guilt plopping my toddler in front of the TV to watch a show where this band was in charge of all of the music for hours on end. Because when I debrief with my two year old afterward not only will s/he know the difference between adjectives and verbs, but s/he will also know what it means for a bass player to lock in a groove, and that is just as important.

When You Should Listen

“Funky Duck” is ideal for walking down the street with a boombox. You should definitely have it playing in the background if you are using a pick-up line on someone. It’s great for train rides and head nodding sessions as well.

Check out their latest album, Thrill of the Arts, and come back and talk to me about it!

Music I Like

Music I Like: Taylor McFerrin – “Florasia”

Taylor McFerrin, Early Riser – Album Art. I suppose he’s rising early.

Taylor McFerrin is a well established electronic music multi-instrumentalist, currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Florasia is a gorgeous and succinct song. It’s lush and fruity. It’s incense and warm cushions. I’d prescribe it for rainy days off and cozy blankets. It’s the sort of song that unctions you to have a REALLY nice stereo system in your home. McFerrin seems to have mastered the art of getting non-vocal music to express what the lyrics are saying whether the lyrics are there or not. He sings beautifully over it all to complete the sonic reverie:

I found this album at a low point in my life toward the end of last summer and it literally brightened up my life. I was drawn mostly to the loveliness of Florasia, because something about it connected to thoughts and feelings about/for my partner, who lives just under 600 miles away (566 miles to be exact). Upon listening intentionally and looking up the lyrics, I found that the song actually echoed my sentiments about my partner at the time:

Reasons for leaving you/
I can’t think of/
Never had to/
We both understand that we/
Are the reason for one another/
Seasons will be new/
And we’ll both find ourselves so far apart/
Stay my love/
I will always learn to find a way/

Taylor McFerrin

It’s a surprisingly groovy track on a heavily electronic album. He thrives in this space just fine, though. Florasia gives you the feeling of J Dilla and Marvin Gaye, boomy but smooth. Bass driven but light. Optimum for long drives or chill sessions. Great for walking playlists as well. I can’t help but see beautiful things when I listen to this song.

Another thing that comes to mind for me when I hear this song is childhood. I don’t have very many fond memories of being a kid, but the few memories I have of good feelings are extraordinary. I think about what it felt like to be so young and not feeling so impressed upon by life’s realities. I remember hearing my mother sing. I love the sound of my mom’s singing voice. She would sing when she was particularly happy. She would also sing when she was cleaning and have music on around my Nana’s place. I remember music feeling like magic to me. Florasia takes me to that happy place every time.

The synthesizers seem borrowed from Stevie Wonder‘s work in the 70s. There’s definitely some hip-hop influence in his sound and the musicianship is top notch. He employs some really interesting combinations of live instruments and synths to deliver something truly fresh and one of a kind. His newest album, Early Riser, features Hiatus Kaiyote lead singer Nai Palm, Emily King, Thundercat and Robert Glasper among a few others. You should check it out on iTunes and tell me what you think of it!