The week has reached its end, and once again we’ve heard a lot of great new music! If anything, it’s almost overwhelming, which is why we do these little roundups at the end of each week–to help you make sense of the musical pile-up that is sometimes a bit too much for us.
The week has reached its end, and once again we’ve heard a lot of great new music! If anything, it’s almost overwhelming, which is why we do these little roundups at the end of each week–to help you make sense of the musical pile-up that is sometimes a bit too much for us. Here are five new jams that represent the best of what got sent our way over the past seven days:
Common – War (Produced by No ID)
Common made his landmark second album, 1994’s Resurrection, entirely in collaboration with producer No ID, so his decision to reunite with No ID for an entire album, the forthcoming Nobody’s Smiling, sent waves of excitement through the hip hop community when it was announced. The album was conceived as a response to the epidemic of deadly violence that has been a huge problem in Common’s hometown of Chicago in recent years. The lyrics reference specific murders that have occurred in Chicago over the past few years, and the song’s chorus is based on a sample from Mobb Deep’s classic “Shook Ones Part II.” With a track based around an ominous-sounding horn sample, “War” really bangs and will sound tough as hell through a boomin’ system, but the song’s subject is serious, which is further emphasized by the interview excerpt that plays over the song’s outro. For a rapper who has at times been accused of getting complacent, Common has proved with this track not only that he still cares, but that he can still show it in his rhymes. There’s no official release date for Nobody’s Smiling yet, but you can download “War” for free from the Soundcloud embed above.
The Men – Pearly Gates
On their second and third albums, 2011’s Leave Home and 2012’s Open Your Heart, The Men grew quickly from a muscular midtempo hardcore act into a tough, psychedelic grunge group. However, they threw their fans a curveball on last year’s New Moon, when the addition of a new bass player heralded a sudden transformation into a whiskey-soaked bonfire rock n’ roll crew that showed some admirable Neil Young influences but left fans of their previous albums grasping for anything recognizable in their new sound. With this year’s forthcoming Tomorrow’s Hits–a quickly-produced album showing that if nothing else, The Men are still prolific–they appear to be moving back towards their earlier work, bridging the gap between their earlier driving, grungy post-hardcore and New Moon‘s early 70s psych-rock excesses. “Pearly Gates” manages just that, starting out with a monolithic rock groove that would be right at, er, home on Leave Home, then augmenting that with saxophone, piano, and slide guitar. The result is a bar-crawl anthem that swings like the Stones but packs a Stooges-style wallop. If the whole album’s like this, I’m willing to forgive them for New Moon. Tomorrow’s Hits is out March 4 on Sacred Bones Records–you can preorder it on vinyl, CD, or mp3 HERE. And The Men will be playing at Strange Matter in support of their new record on May 2, but don’t worry, we’ll remind you when that date draws closer.
Modern Baseball – Rock Bottom
Modern Baseball are a Philadelphia band who might count as pop-punk or emo–but why worry about genre? The important part is that these guys make heartfelt, melodic rock n’ roll music without getting bombastic or creating some ridiculously overblown hipster persona for themselves. They’re just putting it out there, and letting the chips fall where they may, and it’s hard not to respect that. More importantly, it’s hard not to love their irresistibly catchy tunes, of which “Rock Bottom” might be the best I’ve heard yet. This all-too-eminently-relatable tune about the anxieties of attempting to start a new relationship, and the self-sabotage that can result from defensiveness, features some pretty goddamn amazing lyrics (“After reading that text from your friend, I started losing all my confidence, so I’ll stay tired–I know soon I’ll be bailing”), and the “ooh” backing vocals on the chorus are nigh-irresistible. “Rock Bottom” is from Modern Baseball’s forthcoming second album, You’re Gonna Miss It All, which is out February 11 from Run For Cover Records, and can be preordered HERE.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Stranger To My Happiness
Now if you love vintage funk/soul sounds (and really, who doesn’t? And what’s that person’s problem?), we assume you already keep up with the doings of soul legend Sharon Jones and her band, The Dap-Kings. But in case you were too busy to check the internet this week, we need to tell you about her new single and video, which you can check out above. For a tune with a rather bluesy lyrical message, “Stranger To My Happiness” has a thoroughly upbeat sound, which constitutes an irresistible siren’s call to the dance floor. Once there, you can thrill to Ms. Jones’s incredible vocal pyrotechnics as you dance the night away. You’ll notice in the video that Sharon Jones’s hair is a no-show; after spending several months undergoing chemotherapy as treatment for bile duct cancer, this video reflects the effects of her medical struggle. Jones’s decision to forgo a wig and represent herself the way she actually looked at the time of the video is just another indication of what a great, soulful person she truly is. Thankfully, she completed her chemotherapy treatments last week, and will be headed back out on the road in the new year in support of her new album. That album, Give The People What They Want, will be out on January 14, and can be preordered on vinyl from Daptone Records HERE, or from iTunes HERE.
Gehenna – Serve The Cult
West Coast hardcore band Gehenna have been scaring the hell out of moshing straight edge kids for two decades now, though their unfortunate predilection for irresponsible/illegal behavior has made enough trouble for them during that time that they’ve never really gotten proper recognition. In 2013, they both dropped off their US tour with Integrity and Full Of Hell due to “pressing legal matters” and severed ties with longtime label A389 Recordings rather than “complete and release [products] by deadlines”, so if one wanted to make the case that self-sabotage is partly to blame for Gehenna’s continued lack of success, the evidence is certainly there. Regardless, though, the band continues to crank out amazing music, and that’s enough to make other issues worth overlooking. Gehenna’s latest EP, Funeral Embrace, is coming soon on Dark Empire Records, and they’ve just made one of its five tracks, “Serve The Cult,” available for streaming on their Bandcamp page. It’s a major ripper, beginning with a rather over-the-top guitar solo of the sort that hasn’t really appeared on previous Gehenna material. Soon, though, we’re back to the dark, speedy, brutal thrashcore that has been the hallmark of Gehenna’s sound for the past two decades. With Mike Cheese’s demonic roaring backed by incredible riffs, lightning-fast drumming, and some more blazing guitar solos, “Serve The Cult” is an instant classic, one that is over all too quickly. Preorder your very own copy of the forthcoming Funeral Embrace EP (available on red, green, yellow, and black vinyl) for the extremely appropriate price of $6.66 by clicking HERE.
Email me your songs, and I’ll write about them: [email protected] Have a great weekend, everyone!