Friday, February 28, 2014

In Revue- 'Oxymoron' (Schoolboy Q)

"My grandma showed me first strap" Schoolboy Q giddily snarls in "Gangsta", the off-balanced banger opening his major label debut. On first listen it's one of millions of gun references that have popped up in hip-hop since Schoolly D "copped his pistols" in '85. If you're an interloper you'd roll your eyes and call it a day. But if you packed it in you'd be missing something most of those millions haven't been able to do, make perilous gangster talk sound uplifting. For the duration of Oxymoron's gut-wrenching hour, that's precisely what the Black Hippy crew-member does.

Of course not every line in Oxymoron possesses familial innocence. The record is replete with tales of casual sex, drug consumption, and gang violence that would make the bravest of souls noxious. Streetwalkers hit the corner regardless of whether or not they have pneumonia. Baseheads take over entire parks and no matter what room you walk into people will be carrying. The only reason Oxymoron doesn't suffocate is because Q's the kind of guy that'll crack a joke when things couldn't be tenser. He'll refer to wilin' out as "going hamhock" and spotlight a jiggling belly as he dodges junkyard dogs in the hypnotic Raekwon feature "Blind Threats." If the tongue was ever sharper than the sword it’s here.

Quite honestly few tongues in rap can twist in as many directions as Schoolboy Q's. In the aforementioned "Gangsta" he: snarls, imitates his mother, elongates "b****" into something almost unpronounceable, and manages about 400 "YAWK YAWKS." Blissful Chromatics sampler "Man of the Year" turns Q's s***-talking to stutters as he can hardly believe the breathing room his career has afforded. "Make mills from a verb" as he succinctly puts it. While the electro slither of "Studio" arrives as a half-baked pop bid, Q fully commits to the premise. He calms down to match the muted drums and chipmunk cries; allowing himself to get caught up in the moment.

Commitment alone doesn't carry Oxymoron to the finish-line though. The record has one of the best collections of beats since Kendrick Lamar unleashed good kid, m.A.A.d city. It's a musical factory where you'll get caught on a hook if you move around enough. Tyler, the Creator's wailing tornado sirens in "The Purge" draw you in, instead of sending you fleeing from the blood-soaked scene. "Los Awesome", Pharrell's clattering effort is the type to appear on a 90s Cash Money production if the budget was in the 7 digits. And even when a song is bare-bones in construction there's top-dollar craftsmanship involved. "Collard Greens" is the ideal of this standard. Dark "chintzy" keys call to mind Lamar's smash-hit "Swimming Pools (Drank)." MPCs are mashed with cement hands and drums bounce harder than Super Balls. It's an endorphin rush of sounds, one that fully energizes both Q and Lamar. School ticks off his drugs of choice like an overeager surveyor while Lamar becomes a whirling dervish of language. He'll steal your girl in EspaƱol before adapting a Houston drawl to  "slow it down." On the other side of the tracks, all "Prescription/Oxymoron"'s first half has to offer are stereo-pans, soft whooshes, trilling violins, and sobering handclaps. Still it's enough to pull at heart strings and when School's daughter Joy cuts through the pill-malaise to ask "what's wrong daddy?" dry eyes are an impossibility.

While the entirety of "Prescription" aims to leave a mark, Oxymoron is more impactful when personal details come in sprays. The Alchemist's lateral beat in "Break the Bank" sees Schoolboy Q hopping in a Nissan seconds after tipping his bucket hat to a departed "cuzzo.” Q could've dedicated a whole track to his uncle's worsening drug addiction; instead he tucks it in between Sega Genesis' and N64s in album centerpiece "Hoover Street." In my own life I've idolized uncles I never knew well, so I can't begin to imagine one shriveling up in front of my eyes. "He sweats a lot and is slimming down, I also notice moms be locking doors when he around," Q paints in painstaking detail over a canvas of bass knocks and ominous synth. And that's precisely where Oxymoron and good kid, m.A.A.d city deviate. Kendrick Lamar's game-changer resembled a Hollywood production, albeit one with the vision of Argo or American Hustle. He was a self-professed "good kid" who had to imagine some of the more gnarled elements because he was deliberately being kept away from them. When he asked "if I told you I killed a n**** at 16 would you believe me?" we could comfortably answer no. To its credit, Oxymoron lacks such imagination which is what makes it so uncomfortable. Tales of fallen college football stars and wide-eyed children getting caught up with Crips sound stock, they're not. They're the baggage Q (born Quincy Hanley) carries everywhere. If he ever sheds them and actually gets a "Hollywood ending" to this story, he'll have Oxymoron to thank.

"Man of the Year"

"Break the Bank"

"Whole Country Blues"- Tom Sauk

It annoys certain friends of mine to no end when I tell them my cut-off point for country music is firmly placed in 1993. I can even pinpoint it to one song, Dwight Yoakam's resiliently sad-sack "Ain't That Lonely Yet", the high-water mark of his impeccable This Time. It later won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and wriggled all the way up to number 2 on the Billboard country charts. But the real distinction it deserves is country music's Gettysburg, the moment everything would change for the worse (at least if you're the South.) When "sheen" mattered more than soul and Garth Brooks was the "face" of the genre.

"Ain't That Lonely Yet" comes to mind when I hear Cape Girardeau, MO trio Tom Sauk's "Whole Country Blues". Sonically the similarities are few, if existent at all. Country warbling is replaced by carefully coordinated folk "weeping". Barroom piano tags out for carved off-the-bone blues riffs. In Yoakam's beautifully stubborn track drums refused to stay the hell out of the way; here they quietly patter and wash back out with the tide. There are countless differences threatening to drown the comparison, but one similarity keeps it afloat. Both dig for nuggets of wisdom in pitch-black mines. It took Yoakam an unrepairable heart to know you don't always need to pick up the phone. In "Whole Country Blues" advice of "bad friends" is as likely to be sought as that of "good friends". It's the Who's "The Seeker" resurrected and given a copy of Fleet Foxes. Between bookending exhalations, survival becomes an art form where any sign (literal or figurative) is taken into account. All parties will move on, if they can find a way out.

Tom Sauk's new album Harbor (mixed and mastered by Shearwater collaborator Lucas Oswald) is out March 15th.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What's New(s)?

Unreleased Sky Ferreira track surfaces

"Leaks usually bother me but I actually like "Rancid Girl" so that's cool?" Sky Ferreira tweeted earlier today, and why shouldn't she?? Besides the impressive collaborators list featuring: Jon Brion, Cass McCombs, and Blake Mills, the sparse acoustic number is absolutely gorgeous. A skeletal guitar figure glides around a sawing sound while Ferriera whispers about sole survivors and intimate "ownership". Musically it's a far-cry from the austere indie pop-rock she unleashed on Night Time, My Time, but the themes are all-too-familiar. 

Night Time, My Time is out now via Capitol and Ferreira is currently opening for Miley Cyrus on the massive Bangerz Tour.

Bradford Cox scoring Teenage documentary

Considering Deerhunter/Atlas Sound artist Bradford Cox' continual entrenchment into "warped nostalgia" it's only appropriate he's authored the soundtrack to Matt Wolf's upcoming doc Teenage. The film, an exploration of how teenage culture was created around the turn of the last century, will feature 17 new tracks from Cox out on soundtrack March 11 through Cinereach Music. The film itself will be out in select theaters March 14 and features narration from Jena Malone of Catching Fire/Donnie Darko fame and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall/Cloud Atlas) among others.

Wolf has prior experience "working" with musicians. In 2008 he directed Wild Combination which examined the career of avant-garde cello player/disco artist Arthur Russell.

1. "Natural Harp Monitor"
2. "Skeleton Disk Loop"
3. "Snow on Cape"
4. "New Prairie Blackout Pattern"
5. "Canopy
6. "Daphne Duck"
7. "Harlem Crepescular"
8. "Paprika Expose"
9. "Pastel Ruins"
10. "Milk Glass Metronome"
11. "Planetarium"
12. "Doctor October"
13. "Kate"
14. "Wireless Fantasy No. 1"
15. "Dream Logic"
16. "Spanish Plastic"
17. "VHS Dream (Teenage)"


Pains of Being Pure at Heart announce new album

It's been nearly three years since Brooklyn indie-pop band Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but today's announcement of a follow-up to 2011's shoegazing Belong ends that wait. The new record is entitled Days of Abandon and according to frontman Kip Berman the band has gone in "a different direction." "I didn’t want to make Belonger. This album was a chance to step back from that universal style of songwriting to something that was far more personal, more in keeping with my original ideals," Berman says in a press release

First single "Simple and Sure" is certainly in keeping with those ideals. Gone is any sense of shoegazing and in its stead: giddy, hand-clapping idealistic indie rock. Berman's simple desire "I just wanna be yours" is relatable whether you're 15 or 55, and the sparkling guitars coupled with driving drums hit every possible pleasure center. It's the type of track to light up a room no matter where you are.

Days of Abandon is out April 22 through Yebo Music. The band will be hitting the road March 7 with Eternal Summers and Fear of Men, who were reviewed earlier today.

1. "Art Smock"
2. "Simple and Sure"
3. "Kelly
4. "Beautiful You"
5. Coral and Gold
6. Eurydice
7. Masokissed
8. Until The Sun Explodes
9. Life After Life
10. The Asp at My Chest

Tour Dates:
3/7 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar (w. Eternal Summers)
3/8 Charlottesville, VA - The Southern
(w. Eternal Summers)3/9 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle (w. Eternal Summers)
3/12-16 Austin, TX - SXSW
3/18 St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway (w. Eternal Summers)
3/19 Nashville, TN - Exit / In (w. Eternal Summers)
3/21 Birmingham, AL - Bottletree (w. Eternal Summers)
3/22 New Orleans, LA - The BUKU Music + Art Project
3/23 Atlanta, GA - The Earl (w. Eternal Summers)
3/28 Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
4/24 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall (w. Fear of Men)
4/25 Montreal, Quebec - Le Belmont (w. Fear of Men)
4/26 Toronto, Ontario - Horseshoe Tavern (w. Fear of Men)
4/28 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle (w. Fear of Men)
4/29 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock (w. Fear of Men)
5/2 Vancouver, British Columbia - Fortune Sound Club (w. Fear of Men)
5/3 Seattle, WA - The Vera Project (w. Fear of Men)
5/4 Portland, OR - Holocene (w. Fear of Men)
5/6 San Francisco, CA - The Independent (w. Fear of Men)
5/7 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (w. Fear of Men)
5/9 San Diego, CA - The Casbah (w. Fear of Men)
5/10 Phoenix, AZ - The Crescent Ballroom (w. Fear of Men)
5/11 Albuquerque, NM - Sister (w. Fear of Men)
5/13 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge (w. Fear of Men)
5/15 Kansas CIty, MO - The Record Bar (w. Fear of Men)
5/16 Louisville, KY - Zanzabar (w. Fear of Men)
5/17 Columbus, OH - Rumba Cafe (w. Fear of Men)

5/18 Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe (w. Fear of Men)
5/19 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's (w. Fear of Men)
5/21 Washington, DC - Rock 'n' Roll Hotel (w. Fear of Men)
5/22 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (w. Fear of Men)

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Luna"- Fear of Men

"I've tried my best to destroy you," isn't the sort of sentiment you'd expect to anchor a slice of sun-drenched dream-pop, but then again putting a calcified dog on your cover isn't a move for the masses either. That's the sphere U.K. trio Fear of Men occupies on "Luna", the latest track off of their forthcoming debut Loom. Electric guitar fizzles and fuzzes in an updated Byrds fashion, but the dark bass traipsing in the background is indebted more to Joy Division than jangle-pop. In one light, Jess Weiss' tone is joyous. Hit a dimmer though and those cries of joy become inexorable sighs. Even the mid-song break into "oohs" casts a ghostly pallor. Addled by feedback they call to mind Grouper's crushing "Cover the Long Way", an artist you should avoid summoning if your goal is "sunny." "Reality cannot abandon me, it's painful" Weiss coos in a critical turn. "Luna"s discord comes from being forced to stay awake when all you want to do is dream.

Loom is out April 8th through Kanine Records.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Californication" ft. A$AP Rocky- Schoolboy Q

Yesterday the first move I made was to snatch up copies of St. Vincent's digitally skronky self-titled LP and Schoolboy Q's heavily anticipated Oxymoron release. Bogged down by a major article, I couldn't wait to tear into two albums I'd been "dying" to hear. However, amidst all that great new music, I fell into a rabbit hole of Fallout Boy songs. I perused Wikipedia reading up on band members and who gets credit for what. It wasn't celebratory the entire time though. I gleefully sniped at "Sugar We're Going Down" wondering how exactly Pete Wentz won against this unnamed girl when she wound up as "a line in a song." Had I plowed ahead to their next record, 2007's Infinity on High I would've come across the perfect reference point for Schoolboy Q and A$AP Rocky's working relationship, "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race".

I'm fairly certain the bi-coastal pair hasn't heard much of the pop-punk band, but there's no other way to describe them. Q came to prominence on Rocky's churning "Brand New Guy" with full-throated threats and nightmarish squeals. So Rocky paid the Black Hippy member back by burning down the indelible "Hands on the Wheel" with a laundry list of drug-consumption that still makes me feel high. How does Q respond? By doubling down on the crisp Long. Live. A$AP cut "PMW". He tipped his bucket hat to "Hands on the Wheel", made 30 racks in one flight, and managed to bring back the much maligned Hush Puppies brand. Their partnership is a hip-hop Cold War with all of the escalation, but none of the ill-will.

That's why it seemed impossible Rocky wouldn't be appearing on Oxymoron, Q's major-label coming-out party. Did the pair have nothing left in the tank? Was there actual animosity? Had we already reached disarmament? All of those questions disappeared as soon as "Californication" (a Target only exclusive) was revealed. Rock doesn't waste any time coming in over the nightmarish 8-bit beat. He brings 808s back in full-force, lands a DDT on the rap game, and pulls-off a BBC joke that will make news junkies squirm. Not one to be outdone, Q bulldozes the listener with a brand of over-consumption he's perfected. Forget nibbling on fine lobster or steak, he'd rather "eat until my tummy swole." Sex turns into a game of "eenie, meenie, minie, mo" and enough indo will be blow to rival The Fog. "Californication" then continues Q's streak of making embraceable "lecher" raps that pull everyone around him into that universe. To quote the man himself, "wouldn't be the first" and here's hoping it's far from the last.

Oxymoron is in-stores now through TDE/Interscope. Look for a review of the LP later in the week.

Friday, February 21, 2014

In Revue- 'Burn Your Fire for No Witness' (Angel Olsen)

There's a piece of conventional folk wisdom which posits "smaller scorpions are more dangerous than the larger ones," and while the legend has no logical grounding, it's continued to linger around in our collective conscious. So much so that sagely Indiana Jones doled out the advice. It's akin to colossal elephants cowering in fear when confronted by a mouse. They leave “craters” in the ground, but scurry away upon seeing a tiny white fuzzball. Though these anecdotes seem disparate, they're part of the larger notion that big things come in small packages.

Indie-folk singer Angel Olsen's Burn Your Fire for No Witness is the latest example of this phenomenon. Even at its most bristly, there's an unmistakable tenderness to Olsen's sophomore LP. Behind massive walls of fuzz in "Forgiven/Forgotten" she warbles "I don't know anything, but I love you." Subtract the jangle and driving percussion, you're left with a romantic equation. Second single "Hi-Five" performs a similar concealment; spiky guitars raise hell, barrelhouse piano trots around, and Olsen dips into the muddy waters of honkytonk. However, it's the "Tear in My Beer" Hank Williams variety, where libations won't submerge a broken heart. Shaky, Olsen demands "all I need is someone out there who believes" and by her tone it'll never happen. "High and Wild"s facile chug paves over the maudlin end-road of "your spirit's disappeared."

Not all of the record goes to such great lengths to hide the high-stakes. "Stars" immediately crystallizes into a faux-Spoon groove to request a larger voice. Not to expose any human rights violations, simply to exhort "we exist." In an instant, you know "White Fire"s death-blues carries tremendous weight. "Everything is tragic, it all just falls apart" Olsen whispers from a desolate plain. Calm summers can't hope to right the sinking ship she's boarded. To Olsen, trying to find love in such dire straits amounts to "burning your fire for no witness," a desperate act done in solitude.

Necessity being the mother of invention, sometimes desperation can be a Godsend. Olsen finds paradise hiding in between strokes of brushed drums in "Iota." A cynic would note speculation rules and they'd be right, if not for Olsen citing time. As much as it ravages, time is an opportunity creator. Elegiac organ in closer “Windows” stretches time to its extremes. A withered Olsen demands “what's so wrong with the light?” Hiding in the shadows is no longer working as a life-choice and she’ll leap out of a window to escape them. The song's final push, aided by rousing drum fills, relates to the moment in a relationship when one person realizes it's over. Instead of prolonging the suffering, they cut ties forever because there are some things time can't heal.

Often this decay can be spotted from a mile away. You'll constantly think "this can only work for so long" and soon your fears are confirmed. Burn Your Fire for No Witness occupies this depressingly predictive realm. In the album's first chorus, Olsen's admitting "I lost my dream,” wanting an end to come swiftly. Given enough time a fire will always die out. No amount of knowledge (folksy or otherwise) can stop that.

"Or Nah (Remix)" ft. Wiz Khalifa & the Weeknd- Ty Dolla $ign

The prospect of two sexed-up R&B "freakazoids" like Ty Dolla $ign and the Weeknd teaming up is preposterous. Not because it'd be too much testosterone for one locale to handle, but that they occupy entirely separate hemispheres of sex. Ty Dolla $ign is content to chirp the goofy "I could slide for it, like Nelly" in an Autotune slathered voice. At the end of the night he's looking to have a good time. The Weeknd meanwhile could care less about good times.  He's the embodiment of the Oscar Wilde quote "sex is about power" and he wields that intimate power wildly. Whatever bridge is burned or heart is broken during the quest is collateral damage.

So that "Or Nah (Remix)" exists is somewhat surprising. Granted the sullen, lurching beat DJ Mustard stitched together is the type the Weeknd can live in for days. And he is perfectly at home. He delivers some of his most disarmingly explicit "pick-up lines" ever, which would read horribly here. But they're a mask obscuring a devilish grin. "Ain't nobody trying to save ya" he coos. Many still cling to the notion of a savior in a relationship, a myth the Weeknd deflates in a single turn-of-phrase. Dolla $ign comes out smelling like roses by comparison. "Girl make that ass clap for young Dolla $ign' becomes "laudatory. Once you've hit rock bottom in a relationship, there's nowhere else to go.

Ty Dolla $ign’s Beach House EP is out now through Atlantic.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Lonely Richard"- Amen Dunes

"A keen sense of how to drag 1968's Van Morrison into 2014" is how Mike Sugarman of the wonderful blog Ad Hoc describes Damon McMahon's latest effort as psych-rock outfit Amen Dunes. And while Sugarman is certainly describing the primordial backing of slide guitars and abrading violins, the "mystic" element of Morrison's '68 work is equally important. Guest Elias Bender Ronnenfelt’s (frontman of Danish punk-band Iceage) vocals have none of the power Morrison so effortlessly wielded, but every bit of the allure. "Know yourself" he croaks so faintly you only want to draw closer. Meeting Ronnenfelt face-to-face becomes impossible however when the woebegone "have yourself a good time" spills forth. It's the sort of wish you send someone when you know you'll never be able to experience the same thing yourself. 

David Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor produced all of Love and their sense of emboldened defeat is unmistakable in "Lonely Richard". For all of the sad-sack sentiments, Ronnenfelt continues to dole out Daisy-era aphorisms. Rudimentary, the drums march on while the guitars can do nothing other than cry. Yet somehow surrounded by such isolation, a company of voices comes through the fog to deliver a freeing chant of "do-do-do." Whatever is over the horizon isn't as far off as you'd think.

Love is out May 13th on Sacred Bones Records.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"DWN4U/JEEPS"- BC Kingdom

After several spins, I still don't think I can process BC Kingdom's new bifurcated single "DWN4U/JEEPS". There's the turn from modernist R&B touches (mechanical clapping and restrained synthesizer) to late 90s muted vocals promising to "fly you out to the West Indies."  And as frustrating as a clear lack of chronology is, the group's refusal to pick a tone is equally infuriating. They promise to "be down for you" then turn around to exalt "freaking". When taken together, you'd think the pledge was another attempt to score.

Something about "DWN4U/JEEPS" does lend the tune an unmistakable earnestness though. Anybody trying to play it cool wouldn't go all zoological and swear they'd run "faster than a cheetah" if called upon. Then there's the confessional in the "JEEPS" portion of feeling "tired", a condition no hyper-masculine male would claim. And last time I checked steel drums aren't on a shortlist of en vogue instruments. But the biggest tip-off BC Kingdom's being honest arrives early in "DWN4U". "I can love you 'til the end, if you stay with me my friend" is the unvarnished sentiment. Not: girl, lady, woman, or any number of non-familiar phrases, but friend. That one word alone ensures that no matter what BC Kingdom are aiming for; it isn't for one night only.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What's New(s)?

Lana Del Rey drops a new track

Lana Del Rey
broke through on the strength of the rueful "Video Games", so it's only appropriate that her sound would now mine the video-game aesthetic. A bouncing slice of electronica that Spin went so far as to call "J-Pop", "Behind Closed Doors" rides drum machine claps and synth firing to pop overdrive. It's a far cry from the orchestral inflections and bellowing coos Del Rey's typically trades in.

Idolator points out the song originally dropped a few months back, but there wasn't any real traction until late last week when the song popped up on YouTube in a "final studio version." Still the song hasn't made an official appearance on Del Rey's account, so it may be another of Del Rey's numerous past personas coming to light.

Lana Del Rey's second studio LP Ultraviolence has a rumored May release date, which could be featuring "Behind Closed Doors". To hear something much more in her wheelhouse, the dark fairytale of "Once Upon A Dream" is featured below and its worth every listen.


Hear Sufjan Stevens rap project Sisyphus' "Rhythms of Devotion"

Sufjan Stevens last studio album, 2010's Age of Adz cried out for a rapper to go in over the twitching electronic soundscapes. Soon enough that will be made reality as Stevens and collaborators Serengeti and Son Lux prep a full-length LP. The trio has already released "Calm It Done" and  "Alcohol", and today has yielded the aural onslaught of "Rhythms of Devotion".

The unwieldy effort which sees Serengeti globehopping and assuring "I don't give a f*** where you at" mutates into gigantic choruses and screeching walls of sound. Stevens' unmistakable tenderness hasn't gone away however. In the midst of all this chaos, he comes (Autotune and all) offering "an open heart and an open hand." No matter how long he takes between releases or what he does to manipulate his sound, some things will never change.

Sisyphus is arrives March 18 through Asthmatic Kitty and Joyful Noise.

A-Trak & Lex Luger team up

A pairing between trap-rap revivalist Lex Luger and electronic DJ/Fool's Gold Founder A-Trak doesn't seem unlikely, it seems impossible. But the two have found a way to intertwine their disparate styles and soon enough they'll be releasing an EP's worth of the resulting effort.

Under the name of Low Pros, the duo has already released the hypnotic boomer "Jack Tripper" featuring Young Thug and PeeWee Longway, and today they've followed up with the monolithic "100 Bottles", featuring G.O.O.D. Music artist Travi$ Scott. "100 Bottles" has exactly zero of the subtlety or dark menace "Jack Tripper" possesses. Instead it goes for a gut-punch in the initial seconds with gladiatorial horns. Scott's desperate wailing has an unmistakable malevolence to it. The background claps are dying to materialize into an army. If you had to craft a soundtrack for a war circa 2525, this effort would have to make the cut.

Low Pros' EP doesn't have a release date other than Spring 2014, but it will certainly be dropping on the Fool's Gold label.

For news updates throughout the day, follow @AllFreshSounds on Twitter and check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s).

"Baby"- Saint Pepsi

When I was first finding my way into music, I'll admit I treated electronic music with total derision. To me, there was no truth to be found in it. There were no lyrical takeaways to apply to your life. No great turns-of-phrase you could instantly quote. In my mind, the entire genre was little more than a series of cold, isolated bleeps and bloops. It was all 1's and 0's and I could've cared less about numbers.

Had I not already strayed from this line of thinking, a track like Saint Pepsi's "Baby" would've hastened my conversion. One tag given to his music is the somewhat curious "Mario Kart Dream Trap", which makes sense once you hear the booming drums laid atop impulsive keys. If Waka Flocka Flame wanted to detox while cruising through the Rainbow Road this is what he'd put on. But "Baby" has far more humanity than that genre tag would suggest. Undergirding the track is a warm synthesizer and opulent piano dots the landscape of the track. On multiple occasions disembodied voice swells up from the floor to moan and sigh. Seemingly all of the lyrics are obscured, but the meaning is understood. There is a longing here that can't be contained. A ravenous desire masquerading as tender. Somewhere in there, I recall the times my own heart wanted to leap out of my chest as I desperately tried to calm myself. So much for a few "bleeps and bloops."

Saint Pepsi's album Gin City is slated to drop next week through his Bandcamp page.

Track Attack- "Crimson & Clover" (Tommy James and the Shondells)

Velvet Underground's "Heroin" is one of the most accurate depictions of drug use to appear in any medium. Not once in the song's sprawling, static-laden 7 minutes does it endorse or deny drug use. There isn't a hint of sensationalism dripping off of Lou Reed's panicked lyrics. He has no idea where he's going, so he turns to drugs. While the journey sounds incredible at first, it soon descends into shrieking violas and wailing guitars. It consciously takes time to present the listener with yin and yang; high and low.

Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson & Clover", written in 1968 performs the same duty for lovemaking. Though the two colors have little, if anything to do with getting intimate, you can hear sex in all of its permutations when Tommy James exhales his first "oh." No matter how much anyone pretends, first times are nerve wracking. Religious declarations and marriage pledges are understandable reasons why waiting happens, but the nervousness felt is as valid a reason for waiting. No one wants to be nervous. "I think I could love her", James delicately trembles, proving even in when you're fully entrenched in such an outward act, it’s easy to drift inward. That mental focus is unavoidable. You can't bury it under piles of clothes, drops of sweat, tender music, or expressive moans. 

The group does manage to brush past those initial stages of shaky hands into something more assured however. James and drummer Peter Lucia Jr. penned the tune as a reaction to the success "Mony Mony" afforded them; and a desire to move forward is what fuels "Crimson & Clover". At a certain point, any thoughts are thrown to the wayside. In the song, we hear the lizard brain take control as guitars shift into hiccupping strums and tambourines jangle. When James mentions “I’ve been waiting to show her" an instrumental shift acts as proof. Soon enough, even the "showing" stops as a tremolo-weighted James is left extolling the virtues of "Crimson and Clover". Jitteriness and ecstasy will co-habit "over and over" for as long as lovemaking exists.

If you have suggestions for songs you want to see featured in future editions of Track Attack, feel free to leave them in the comment section.