This Week’s Playlist
In case you missed it last week, here’s a running playlist of my favorite tracks of 2019. I’ll be adding to it as the year goes on.
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Billie Eilish feat. Justin Bieber “bad guy”
Well, I’m not sure about this one.
Eilish’s “bad guy” has spent weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, getting as high as #2, which is a fantastic achievement. But come on, second place is just the first loser. We all know that and unless a massive shift in public opinion regarding “Old Town Road” were to happen, #2 is probably is high as “bad guy” is going to get.
I guess that’s where The Biebs comes in.
Eilish dropped a new version of “bad guy” today featuring Bieber on vocals and it’s a solid eh, okay. He doesn’t get in the way or gloss it up too much, so it’s not a total loss. His voice doesn’t totally fit the vibe of the song, but that’s an indictment that is less about him and more about the unique nature of Eilish.
I suppose if you’re going to bring in a ringer to help get you over the hump, you could do a lot worse that Bieber.
At least it’s not Ed Sheeran.
AND THAT IS THE ONLY TIME WE WILL MENTION ED SHEERAN THIS WEEK.
Man, I have to apologize. I was given some bad intel a few weeks ago and thought this album was actually coming out at the end of June. I feel like a real son of a gun now. I mean, if you can’t trust stuff you read on the Internet, what can you trust?
Here’s some stuff to read on the Internet about 311 that is true. No really, it’s true. I promise.
Did you know that 311 just put out their thirteenth album?
It’s crazy man. The dudes in 311 are still plugging away. It’s coming up on thirty years since they dropped their debut album, Music, and on July 11th, their third album and their breakthrough album, 311, turns 25. Every album of theirs since 311 has charted in the top 10 and every summer they hit the road, packing sheds all across the country.
311 might not be mainstream anymore, but they’re still very much a thing.
Voyager, their latest release, comes a little over two years after their last album, Mosaic. I can tell you that I listened to that album once and probably never listened to it again. I consider myself a 311 fan, but the truth is that the last album of theirs that I really paid any attention to was 2005’s Don’t Tread On Me. I dig “Speak Easy.”
311 have worked their way into that weird space that a band finds themselves in when they hit that third decade of their run. They could easily just get by playing the hits, the songs from back in the day that every loves. Not many fans of the band would complain if they did that, whereas there might be some grumbling if they didn’t and decided to play some of their newer songs instead. For every one fan pumped to hear something off of this new record, there are four that just want to hear “Amber.”
It’s unavoidable for a band that has been around as long as 311 has to successfully dodge the “nostalgia act” label. It’s happened to Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Green Day among others. If you’re around long enough for your fans to get older, they’re going to inevitably associate you with their past more than their present; back to when they first fell in love with you and you became part of their lives.
On top of that, I think that maybe as fans, we just don’t have the bandwidth to take in anymore new music from some of the bands we love. We have those handful of albums that we hold dear, but anything outside of that is nice to have around, but not essential.
Yet by continuing to record and release new albums at such a clip, it feels like 311 are not one of those bands, or at the very least, a band fending off the “nostalgia act” label. Instead it feels like they’re fighting for relevancy, which is tough for any band, let alone one that’s biggest hit was over twenty years ago.
But then you have a song like “Crossfire,” which they released a few weeks ago and it’s a song that kind of, sort of rocks and it makes you question your desire to dismiss anything new from 311 and instead cue up something from Soundsystem, which might be their best album.
Speaking of that, let’s quickly rank 311’s albums.
12. Universal Pulse (2011)
11. Mosaic (2017)
10. Stereolithic (2014)
9. Uplifter (2009)
8. Evolver (2003
7. Don’t Tread on Me (2005)
6. Transistor (1997)
5. From Chaos (2001)
4. Grassroots (1994)
3. 311 (1995)
2. Music (1993)
1. Soundsytem (1999)
Looking at those rankings, it’s easy to see that either I’m biased towards the band’s early work or I’m a reputable music journalist and therefore, it’s a given that the band was at their peak in the mid 1990’s.
I’ll let you decide.
Either way, if you like 311, there’s a good chance you’ll at least give Voyager a spin or two. If you don’t like 311, then literally none of this matters.
Khruangbin Hasta El Cielo
Listen, if rappers and DJs can get by releasing alternate versions of their albums, why can’t bands do it? Now I sincerely doubt that that was a question the Texas trio Khruangbin asked themselves when they decided to do a dub version of their 2018 album, Con Todo El Mundo, but I don’t think we can rule it out.
But yes, this new album of theirs is in fact a dub-style version of their last album. It’s not the first time that they’ve dabbled in dub, as they’ve reworked their tunes and created dub versions of them for B-sides, but this is the first time they’ve gone dub from start to finish.
In a statement, the band said that “for us, dub has always felt like a prayer.”
“Spacious, mediative, able to transport the listener to another realm. The first dub albums we listened to were records mixed by Scientist featuring the music of the Roots Radics. Laura Lee learned to play bass by listening to Scientist Wins the World Cup. His unique mixing style, with the emphasis on space and texture, creates the feeling of frozen time; it was hugely influential to us as a band. To be able to work alongside Scientist, a legend in the history of dub, is an honor.”
Scientist, a Jamaican producer, helped out with two bonus tracks on the album.
Khruangbin has been making noise in the past couple years thanks to their interesting, innovative and globe-trotting take on instrumental funk. Their name is Thai, meaning “flying engine” or “aeroplane.”
It’s also English for “hard to pronounce.”
Oscar Scheller & Lily Allen “1%”
I wasn’t sure what to make of this song. Those first thirty seconds or so are kind of weird.
However, here’s two things you should know about me.
The first thing is that I like Lily Allen. Her voice is fun. The second thing is that I’m a sucker for a tune with a nice, little bounce to it.
So with “1%,” once you get past those first thirty seconds or so, that’s exactly what you get and “1%” becomes a pretty great pop song. It’s nothing overly complicated; just a repeating keys line, a steady backbeat and Scheller and Allen trading vocals and then harmonizing.
It’s also about a phone dying and who doesn’t like a tune that has a theme we can all relate too?
“1%” will appear on Scheller’s upcoming album, HTTP404, which is set to be released in early September.
K.Flay karate-chopped her way into our lives about two years ago with the song “Blood In The Cut” that honest to God sounds like fight music. I don’t know how the song hasn’t made it’s way into more movies and television shows as it seems perfect for montages featuring everything from violent bar fights to high school football games.
Get your shit together, Hollywood.
“Blood In The Cut” came out two years ago though, so it was about time we got something new from K.Flay. In her previous releases, including “Blood In The Cut,” the Illinois-raised singer has picked from all kinds of styles, so it’s exciting to think about where she could go next on Solutions.
Based on the four tracks that were released leading up to Solutions coming out, she’s definitely not limiting herself when it comes to styles and genres. There’s pop, rock, some hip hop and more. Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, who’s a fan and signed Flay to his own label which is distributed through Interscope, co-wrote one of the tracks, “This Baby Don’t Cry.”
The album’s title is somewhat of a mantra for K.Flay, saying in a statement that “the solution to almost every problem is usually really simple. For me, it’s so basic: staying connected to the people I love, taking care of myself the way I’d want my friends to take care of themselves, and doing things I know are going to make me happy.”
I kind of agree with that.
Unless of course the problem is climate change. That seems like a tricky one.
Kool Keith KEITH
Kool Keith is back with his 17th solo album. Yeah man, 17th album. A little something for 311 to shoot for.
The new record is his first this year, although he dropped two in 2018: Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation and Controller of Trap. KEITH was produced by Psycho Les of the Beatnuts and features guest spots by B-Real of Cypress Hill and Prophets of Rage, Paul Wall and Jeru the Damaja.
“The album is so well rounded and put together without being overproduced,” Keith said in a press statement. “Track to Track it’s real raw art.”
That’s how I feel about The New Music Round-Ups.
HIRIE feat. Slightly Stoopid “I Like the Way You Roll”
If this song was released in the middle of winter, it would fall flat. But thankfully, it’s right smack in the middle of summer, a time of the year where songs like this find a home and a captive audience.
HIRIE, who is opening for Slightly Stoopid on the band’s summer tour, was born in the “born in the Philippines, raised in Italy and living the biggest and most influential portion of her life in Hawaii, HIRIE considers herself an island girl at heart.”
Slightly Stoopid’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation tour, also featuring Matisyahu and Tribal Seeds heads out to the Pacific Northwest this weekend.
Elsewhere in Music…
So Like, Woodstock 50 is Back On?
Well, let’s put it this way, they’ve resorted to taking their case to Instagram.
The reason for the move is that with a little over a month to go before the festival, the festival in question has yet to secure a place to actually have the festival. It literally is all about location, location, location.
According to festival organizers and no one else, they’ve been able to lock down 25 acts that were originally slated to perform and decreased the estimated attendance to 35,000 in an attempt to secure a temporary event permit as opposed to a mass gathering permit, which they had been denied getting earlier this summer.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t seem like these dudes have crossed the t’s and dotted the lower case j’s.
It’s all gotten weird and confusing and confusingly weird, so just watch this video of Dave Matthews Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band honoring the late Dr. John instead.
This Week in Wait, What?
Kanye West was supposed to have an album coming out at the end of last year and then early this year, but recently there hasn’t been news about it. It’s not as if Kanye isn’t in the news though. Because of course he is.
He’s Kanye effin’ West.
So is he designing clothes again or teaming up with Jay-Z for an album or did he dye his hair blond again?
He’s designing houses.
Wait, it gets weirder.
These aren’t just any houses, these are housing units for the homeless modeled after Luke Skywalker’s igloo-like home on the fictional planet of Tatooine.
This news comes from a recent interview Kanye did with Forbes and not surprisingly, housing isn’t the only new thing Kanye is working on. West is also prepping “a shoe made out of algae that will biodegrade completely over time in landfills — or almost immediately if sprayed with a certain type of bacteria.”
Remember when Kanye made music?
That was fun.
Cardi B Has a Question
This Is Pretty Dope
Although quick disclaimer.
Just because Common grabbed a mic and started rapping doesn’t mean you should if you find yourself in such a situation. You’re not Common. Just throw the performers a couple bucks and go about your business.
This Is Not Pretty Dope
Back in 2015, Nikan “Siyanor” Khosravi and Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani, two members of Confess, an Iranian metal band, were arrested for blasphemy in addition to other charges stemming from the anti-religious and anti-regime statements they had made in their music. Thankfully they were able to escape to Norway, where they sought asylum.
Earlier this month the two men were officially charged for their crimes, charges that add up to 14 years in prison and 74 lashes. They were officially charged with “insulting the sanctity of Islam,” “disturbing public opinion through the production of music containing anti-regime lyrics and insulting content and for participating in interviews with the opposition media” and “insulting the Supreme Leader and the president.”
Apparently they could have been executed if not for a loophole in the country’s practice of Sharia Law.
“If you insult the Prophet you will get executed, because he’s dead and he can’t defend himself,” Khosravi told Loudwire. “But if you blaspheme God and question his existence, he can forgive you. That was why we didn’t get executed.”
The duo were released from prison in 2017 to await sentencing and promptly fled to Turkey, eventually landing in Norway where they currently live. The track “Evin,” is named after the prison where they were held.
Because You Can’t Make Every Festival
Summer is festival season and they all sound fantastic. But who among us is getting to all of these things?
Thankfully there’s YouTube, which is a great place for checking out performances from recent festivals. I highly recommend Vampire Weekend’s set from Glastonbury.
Or Portugal. The Man from Lollapalooza in Chile.
See? Sometimes the Internet is pretty sweet.
And We’ll End Here
See you next week!