Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week July 2nd

This week’s old track is indisputably old. It took four weeks, but we got there. Didn’t think this would be the first classic I talked about here, but that’s part of what makes writing these fun.

Another reason I started doing this was so that I could talk about deep cuts on new albums without necessarily having to write up a whole piece about an album. Again, It took four weeks, but I’m excited to say this week’s new track fits that bill.

One honorable mention to the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra single “Weekend Run”. I really enjoyed their “IC-01 Hanoi” EP trying some more experimental, darker material and was curious to see if their next full length would go in that direction. If this new track is the start of a new album rollout that doesn’t seem to be the case, but “Weekend Run” is some classic super groovy UMO, and I love it.

Favorite New Track: “And We Go Gentle” by Hiatus Kaiyote

Two albums on my radar dropped on Friday. I was a lot more excited for Tyler, the Creator’s “Call Me If You Get Lost” so as soon as I was finished with work, it got the first listen. I was personally pretty disappointed, but like with St. Vincent in the 1st edition of this post, I don’t want the first time I write here about an artist I usually really enjoy to be a negative piece, so I’ll just say this: It’s not 2005, I don’t wanna hear a Gangsta Grillz mixtape, and even if I did I don’t want to hear one from an artist like Tyler, the Creator.

So I moved on to the 2nd album I had marked down on my calendar that I’d been a lot less hyped up about, Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Mood Valiant”. The band’s been around for a decade, but the singles leading up to this release were my first exposure to them (outside of their previous work being sampled by artists like Kendrick Lamar & Anderson .Paak without my realizing), as the band’s getting a lot more promo here in their hometown of Melbourne.

“Mood Valiant” delivers a versatile tracklist of jazzy neo-soul, and unlike a lot of non-concept albums put out in the last half decade or so, it feels like a lot of thought was put into the sequencing. The album opens with a couple sparse, short introductory tracks and the songs from there build up to the brash & bright “Get Sun” before dipping into more lowkey cuts on the back half. It all flows really nicely, and there are a few other tracks like ‘Chivalry is Not Dead” or ‘Stone or Lavender” I could’ve picked to talk about here.

But the track I’ve had stuck in my head and have so far gone back to the most is “And We Go Gentle”. The song is built around this simple “tell me can I get a light” refrain sung by lead singer Nai Palm, as she effortlessly flexes both the lower and upper register of her range. The bass is playing the same motif right with her, and the melody hypnotically slides into a background vocal as the verses eventually come in over the top. Nai’s sultry singing is the highlight of the track here, but the subtle touches from the instrumentation around her like the quiet keyboard chords floating around on the first verse really make the track feel full without being too busy. If I was trying to sell someone on “Mood Valiant” as an album- and I’m definitely doing that now- this is the track I’d pick to pique your interest.

Favorite Old Track: “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones

I have to be honest; I’m not the biggest Rolling Stones fan. I don’t dislike the band, but I’ve always preferred other bands in the pantheon of Classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith and so on because- to me- Mick Jagger’s the only truly special part of the band.

And that’s because he taps into something that I think a lot of modern singers lack. He is by no stretch of the imagination a great singer. Limited range, not much control, no real technical skill. But Mick Jagger is one of the greatest performers of all time, even if you just take his vocals without the flamboyance of his iconic stage presence. We’ve got more “good” singers in the public eye than ever in 2021 with how easy it is for anyone to record and distribute music, but most of them have no idea how to put any personality into their voice. So we end up with hundreds of objectively good singers, with far more technical ability than Mick Jagger, or really most old school rock frontmen.

But I’ll take Mick over the latest TikTok cover singer any day.

“Miss You” is such a perfect example of what makes him special. He’s barely singing through most of the song- it’s more of a slightly melodic spoken word performance outside of the opening refrain and woo-hoo choruses. It’s yelpy at moments, it’s growly at moments, most importantly it’s fun at every moment. Throw in a killer riff and a sax solo to cap it all off and it’s clear why this song has stood the test of time. It feels like leaving the pub with a buzz on your way to the next pub at the start of a great Saturday night, and as a non-Stones fan it’s probably my favorite Stones song.

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