If you only listen to one song, make it the opening track, "December Is the Longest Month." It's my new late-fall anthem — my seasonally-depressed heart sparks a little as singer Anika Pyle hesitantly sings out a half-hearted pep talk: "December is the longest month and you've got 30 days to blow / Just need some time to be alone / just let me go, just let me go."
You can hear the whole album, and buy it, via bandcamp. Chumped is currently wrapping up a fall tour that didn't come anywhere near Nashville, but maybe if we all listen to Teenage Retirement and ask really nicely they'll make their way to Music City in the near future.
L’Orange describes Flowers as “a warm vignette — a glimpse into life after the end of the world. Waking up to a surreal heaven-scape, our tragic figure searches for his place somewhere between life and death.” And that tragically romantic set-up launches the listener head first into a world of silence, solitude and oblivion.
With each new release, L’Orange has sounded more and more at ease behind the boards. It’s taken him years to hone the precision he's demonstrating now, and the tidy, 9-track, less-than-20-minute-long Flowers might be his most deft offering to-date.
To simply run down an itemized, song-by-song list of every style that Nashville transplant Steve Voss incorporates into Whimsy, his solo debut under the name Tetherball, does a disservice to the imagination and craftsmanship Voss employs to tackle those styles. Whimsy, out yesterday on Music City's Silver Point Records, accomplishes an all-too-rare feat: It plays like one long, sustained breath of fresh air.
Throughout the record, Voss is able to draw a sense of coherence out of a remarkably varied palette that at times lands somewhere in the realm of jazz-folk (the acoustic campfire strum and unorthodox harmonies of “Gilded Rings”) but also touches on a vaudevillian brand of herky-jerky circus rock ( album opener “Bootss”), country blues twang (the roadhouse swagger of “Boulderado”), and elegiac balladry so convincingly rendered it'll stop you in your tracks (the breathtaking “Puzzles,” for example, with its delicate cocktail lounge arrangement and ghostly trumpet that hovers over the mood like a sad, heavy memory).
The album — the singer’s fifth, and her unabashed foray into pure pop territory — is self-confident without sounding self-serious. It’s charming in its complete lack of subtlety. It would be surprisingly self-aware if anyone but Taylor Swift had made it.
But she did. Following in the footsteps of Reagan-era-established superstars like U2 and Madonna, on 1989, the not-so-country girl who epitomizes New Nashville continues to try to elevate her fame to new heights by breaking free of genre constrictions, haters be damned.
By comparison, 2012’s Red, in all its jarring, super-pop-rock-dubstep-whatever, genre-bending success, retroactively looks like Swift in limbo. If she set out to make another album full of songs like “I Knew You Were Trouble,” she didn’t succeed.
Ducko McFli continues to stay busy, finding his name on the production credits of seemingly every rapper’s project over the past month. Or at least that’s what it seems like. In reality, the Nashville producer has been hard at work collaborating with some of Atlanta’s most promising, emerging talent, including several acts from Two-9, as well as the OGG crew’s OG Maco.
Among those collaborations are Curtis Williams’ (aka ThatBoyCurtis) latest full-length, Danco James (stream it here). Ducko snags four production credits on the Two-9 rapper’s mixtape, the most of any featured producer. My personal faves would have to be “Space Danco” and “NothinLikeUs,” which features some extra tasty verses from Two-9 co-founder, Key!, and British rapper Danny Seth.
Ducko’s recent collabs with Two-9 run deeper than just Curtis Williams, however. Two-9 duo FatKidsBrotha recently went into NWA mode and released a single called “Riot” that seeks to address the recent unrest in many of America’s urban areas. Building off of a hook that states, “Two wrongs can make a riot,” FatKidsBrotha proceeds to address problems with our country’s judicial system, stacking poignant and catchy bars on top of one another. Personals favorites include: “What’s the verdict? Not guilty? We bout to turn up!” and “And Lord knows I’m Travyon when they come around, and Mike Brown when they gun me down.”
The multi-talented Mr. McFli’s swing of hits and high-profile placements is one of the most impressive runs any producer in indie hip-hop is currently experiencing. The fact that Ducko is a local and a scene veteran who many of us have had the privilege of watching evolve over the past several years only makes it the more captivating.
Speaking of captivating, Fredo Santana (of Chicago’s GBE/3Hunna) just released a new mixtape called Walking Legend, and boy is it the bee’s knees. One of mixtape’s standout tracks is "Stay Da Same," a Ducko McFli and Childish Major production. It’s a rather emo track from 3Hunna, and the production puts a new spin on Fredo and Lil Reese’s theatrics.
This is part of what makes Robin Carnage’s Odes EP so intriguing. When the Vancouver native decided to make an “odes” EP that pays tribute to gangster music of the 21st century, he was undertaking an ambitious task. There’s no right or wrong way to approach something so expansive. Nonetheless, Carnage’s approach is sharp and insightful, deftly trekking through touchstones of Southern trap, East Coast gangster rap, West Coast gangster rap, and Chicago drill music.
Carnage’s Odes is a personal story, and one that features hallmarks from his own evolution. Of the EP’s seven tracks, three are G-Unit Records songs. While this might seem odd, the first of these tracks is “Ode to Tennessee,” a re-imagining of Young Buck’s “Shorty Wanna Ride.” The airy piano chords layered on top of delicate trap snares completely reinvent the neo-classic, while at the same time injecting it with a giant dose of nostalgia and melancholy. Young Buck has always been this adopted Nashvillian’s favorite member of the Unit; artistic evolutions often come full circle.
Beyond the eye-popping stagewear and cool-as-all-get-out-guitars, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s ongoing exhibit, The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and California Country, is its examination of the early years of the Bakersfield country music scene and how social and economic forces shaped a very different sound from what was coming together in Nashville at the same time.
German reissue label supreme, Bear Family Records, has brought the story of those early days of the Bakersfield music scene into focus across two volumes of The Other Side of Bakersfield: 1950s and '60s Boppers and Rockers from “Nashville West” (available for purchase here and here). The 31 tracks on each disc, mostly from small, Bakersfield-based record labels, trace the evolution of the Bakersfield Sound from pre-rockabilly honky-tonk and hillbilly boogie — built on a foundation of electric guitars and a driving beat, through the heady throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks days of rockabilly and on to the verge of Buck Owens’ and Merle Haggard’s ascent to country music stardom.
Brown, “Dollar Menu Ballad”
If you recall our review of the Nashville MC Brown’s February debut, 7:22, then you’ll recall that it’s one of the best releases in Nashville hip-hip so far this year. The young MC is back with a music video for “Dollar Menu Ballad,” the first visual treatment from the 7:22 EP. The video, shot by GemsOnVHS, features Brown and crew splurging at the McDonald’s drive-thru and sharing a bounty with a group of friends. “Dollar Menu Ballad” epitomizes the “no fucks given” everyman ethos of 7:22.
Brown is very reminiscent of College Dropout-era Kanye West. And if 7:22 is Brown's College Dropout, then “Dollar Menu Ballad” is a hybrid of “We Don’t Care” and “Spaceship.” It’s a song that highlights the struggle of dead-end jobs, big aspirations and the pressures of outside expectations, all while throwing a big middle finger to all those who can’t relate (and all while managing to keep the music upbeat). The video does literally contain a lot of middle fingers as well as a good helping of “fuck yous,” but that’s beside the point. Check out the music video above, and be sure to stream 7:22 on Soundcloud if you haven’t yet.
You may have heard by now, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for all of June: G-UNIT IS BACK TOGETHER!!! Back in late April, 50 Cent went on record saying that the group was still "dismantled," but all that changed on June 1, when the original G-Unit reunited at Summer Jam 2014 with members 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and hometown hero Young Buck, Ca$hville’s very finest.
The next day, G-Unit released a new song, "Nah I'm Talkin' Bout," a remix of HS87's "Grindin' My Whole Life." That song has a video now, and it’s just ballin’ enough to send a couple chills down your spine. The video features the Unit straight lampin’ in a warehouse, and also features G-Unit Records artist (and possibly new G-Unit member?) Kidd Kidd. Watch that above.
^^ The JNCOs of Cream comments ^^
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I have a legitimate question for Ms. Sneling. When you write an article like this,…