Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

I’ve got beef to address involving my favorite old track this week. Some of y’all have some explaining to do.

Honorable mentions for my favorite new track first though:

Kevin Abstract dropped another single as his newest album rollout continues. “Sierra Nights” features frequent collaborator Ryan Beatty, and unlike “Slugger” it’s the feature that shines here and Kevin’s performance that leaves me wanting more. It’s in the same vein of Beatty’s other collabs with Kevin and/or Brockhampton, with the singer delivering a late 90’s boyband hook over a slick nocturnal beat. Kevin’s again bringing great energy to this performance, but this time it’s just a bit too out of control and really detracts from the track. He pulls it together a bit more towards the end, but that first verse is pretty rough.

Similarly to the promotion of Black Panther, Marvel Studios seems to be really pushing the soundtrack to Shang Chi & the Ten Rings. This week they dropped the singles “Lazy Susan”- a posse cut with 21 Savage, Rich Brian, Masiwei, & Warren Hue- and “Every Summertime” by Niki. It seems like 88rising is going to take center stage on the soundtrack, similarly to how TDE dominated the Black Panther soundtrack back in 2018, which could be huge for the young label. “Lazy Susan” features some good verses from all four rappers over a very dramatic beat, but nothing spectacular. “Every Summertime” is the better track of the two in my opinion, a sunny, slightly gospel influenced love song- reminds me of Chance the Rapper’s “Sunday Candy”. I’m liking the versatility from the soundtrack so far.

I hadn’t heard of jazz group Onyx Collective before hearing new track “Tango” but this cut is apparently a bit of a deviation from their previous sound. The playful intro sets the tone for an upbeat piece of horn infused R&B. It definitely leans more into old school soul than jazz, with some chords and guitar runs reminiscent of early Stevie Wonder.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Soft Drink” by Cherry Glazerr

Speaking of bands I haven’t been aware of for very long.

I first heard of Cherry Glazerr when I stumbled upon “Rabbit Hole”, a single the band released towards the end of last year. It’s a decent synth rock song, with a few hyperpop touches but it didn’t compel me enough to do my homework on the band. I at least followed them on Spotify, but when “Soft Drink” ended up in my Release Radar, I had basically no expectations.

There are no hyper pop touches here- it’s a pretty straightforward lo-fi synth rock song. The lyrics revolve around vulnerability, insecurity and loneliness, with the line “people just want to shake me” – like a soft drink- popping up twice in the first verse. Clementine Creevy (great name) sings about pining for some basic human connection and nothing more- “just dancing”. The vocals are understated, delivered a bit like they’re being read from a diary entry, matching the lowkey, mid-tempo instrumental. Some faint, blown out guitars come in on the chorus building up a thicker texture that carries on through the second half of the song. There are a couple solid guitar solos at the bridge and before the closing chorus that, again, don’t do anything flashy and the song clocks in at a quick two and a half minutes.

Broken down like this it probably sounds a bit underwhelming, but it all together it makes for a focused single that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It could maybe use a longer bridge, or more fleshed out verses but the brevity of the track fits the idea of just wanting to enjoy a moment with someone. It won’t blow you away, but “Soft Drink” has made me a lot more curious about Cherry Glazerr’s discography and what they’ll be putting out in the future.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Pony” by Ginuwine

Alright white people- we need to talk.

A few weeks ago I was out on a 2nd date. It was with a white woman, and we’d had a good time on the 1st date, getting a coffee and going for a walk. This time we were out for a drink.

Like many cities, Melbourne’s bars & pubs have not dealt with coming in and out of lockdown constantly very well and it was kind of dead. Not empty, but not what you’d expect from any bar on Elizabeth Street, even on a Thursday night. But on the bright side the DJ got to play whatever she wanted, and was doing a good job. She started by playing some mid 2000’s hip-hop and afrobeats, then dipped into some 90’s R&B all peaking with “Pony”.

So like a good human, I said this was a great song. My date disagreed. She said she hated it. That it was trashy and not as good as the classic “Apple Bottom Jeans”…

Now I’m not about to cape for Flo Rida, but if you’re gonna call a song a classic you better know it’s name. And if you’re gonna talk shit about “Pony”- an actual classic- you damn sure better have a better argument than “I think ‘Low’ is better”.

We didn’t see each other again.

Fast forward to this week, and while I was on my lunch break Desus & Mero brought to my attention a new cover by Chris Martin. I was horrified watching a video of the Coldplay frontman barefoot in the middle of a line of equally pale people, strumming a guitar and butchering “Pony”. It felt like a hate crime.

So I am here to say: the Ginuwine disrespect must stop. I’m not disappointed, I’m just mad.

He’s no legend of music, but Ginuwine walked so that artists like Brent Faiyaz could… also walk; existing on the fringes of mainstream R&B, well known by anyone in the know while the normies know one song and couldn’t care less who sings it. But his name and this song has stood the test of time after plenty of his contemporaries from the golden age of R&B have been mostly forgotten (sorry Next).

Most importantly “Pony” introduced Timbaland to the world. The eccentric samples, breakbeats, and vocalizations worked in like extra drums on this track went on to become a staple of his production style, and eventually one of the defining sounds of late 90’s to mid-2000’s pop & R&B.

I’ve been in clubs when this song turned a dead dancefloor into a sweaty crowd, and thought this was one of those songs we could all love and responsibly enjoy. My date proved me wrong on the first part of that, and Chris Martin proved me wrong on the second. If you guys aren’t gonna do anything about systemic racism, you could at least do right by “Pony”. Is that really too much to ask?

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