Thanks to the advent of music recording software that’s as accessible as the channels to distribute the latest Hot Track, it’s seemingly easy to drown in the river of new tunes these days. Here are some choice cuts from your friendly neighborhood college radio general manager in case you need a life-preserver:
“Sandra’s Smile” by Blood Orange
We already got an idea of the striking political nature of Dev Hynes’s new material four months back with the ten minute narrative collage, “Do You See My Skin Through the Frames,” ushered in with social media commentary before he took a rest from his accounts. But who could predict how well he could succinctly express the frustration from a) modern genocide b) media coverage c) the silence of allies and d) his own experience? Employing a mournful falsetto relaying personal accounts over record scratches, Dev proves that it’s one thing to shine a light on an issue; it’s another to be an active participant; and it’s a whole other prospect to transcend both and force the listener to be a witness.
“Ch-Ching” by Chairlift
“Have we met before?” This is a question members Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift might encounter again, this time around with the release of “Ch-Ching”— the first thing we’ve directly heard from the duo since 2012’s underrated “Something.” After a variety of appearances on works by Das Racist (RIP), Beyoncé, and a solo project, the duo emerge bruised and victorious with a track that doubles down on infectiousness and empowerment, making 27-99-23 the new 1738.
“Roked” – Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, and the Rajasthan Express
An Israeli composer, a Radiohead member, and a group of Indian musicians— that has got to be some kind of collaboration bingo. Thankfully, from the snippet of Paul Thomas Anderson’s documentary of the album and press releases, we’re seeing this album appear as a snapshot of full immersion in each of the participants’s cultures, rather than something that Greenwood describes as “rock bands half-heartedly dabbling in world music– itself a slightly greasy term.” “Roked” only further pushes this concept; a hypnotic three minutes that make you want to learn about the experiences behind the hand drums and drum machines.
“Vestiges” by Martin Courtney
The lead singer and guitarist of Real Estate looks back so often that you’d think he’d have a neck problem. Working with Woods’s Jarvis Taveniere, who builds a clear window to the songwriter’s “cracked car parks,” “black mold basements,” and general ruminating on growing up in the time of instant nostalgia, Courtney reads off a litany of landmarks from his youth, coasting on the vibes that made “Horizon” and “Navigator” such highlights of “Atlas.”
“Angels” by Chance the Rapper (featuring Saba)
Chance the Rapper’s first song commercially released under his name feels like a victory lap; two provocative, genre-pushing mixtapes and an album later, the artist brings it back home, celebrating with those who are lucky to be alive in his time, and paying respect to those that aren’t. Taking friend and frequent collaborator Saga along for the ride, they cruise through a “city so damn great,” questioning success and religion, and blasting the horns all the way so everyone can hear. When I was showing this to fellow WCPR staff, Dylan Praul, he nonchalantly explained exactly what makes the rapper so accessibly powerful in the process: “He sounds so happy on every song he’s on.” Not only that, but anyone who listens can’t help but put on a smile themselves.
Be sure to check out these and other staff selections over at the WCPR Spotify page: play.spotify.com/user/wcpr