Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Remi Wolf (left) photo by Alma Rosaz; Daft Punk (right) photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

I’m going to sound a lil’ negative talking about the new songs that dropped this week, but I swear- I do like them. Lots and lots of new music was released, and there were gems buried in fairly average albums, along with good singles with some annoyingly distracting flaws. None of the albums that dropped this week were impressive front to back to me, and new projects from Young Thug, Coldplay & The Darkness were, um…disappointing let’s say.

Highlighted by a quietly hypnotic bassline and unexpectedly expressive drumming, “Smooth” by BJ the Chicago Kid is a nice R&B single. He still sounds bored on his own song compared to how great his features typically are, but he’s awake enough here to hold my attention, if not his own.

Here to save the music industry by leveraging boomer nostalgia one more time, Adele released “Easy on Me”. There’s really only a handful of Adele songs- this one’s piano ballad Adele. I can talk all the trash I want, but her performance here is as strong as ever, and I am looking forward to “30”, sure to be the best-selling divorce album since “Here, My Dear”.

If Justin Timberlake isn’t going to make good Justin Timberlake music anymore, someone has to pick up the slack. Good thing there’s Aussie synthpop group Winston Surfshirt, who did their best impression on “Complicated”. The verse from Young Franco is pretty meh, but there’s a nice groove and a catchy chorus.

There are a lot of nauseating tracks on lauded songwriter & producer FINNEAS’ new album “Optimist”, but there are definitely bright spots beyond opener & single “A Concert Six Months From Now”. The album bookends pretty well with the final track “How It Ends”, an infectious, bass heavy dance-pop song.

As one of the last traditional rockstars still making interesting music, Jack White always has a lot of hype around new releases. His new single “Taking Me Back” is a nice blend of his usual brand of blues-rock and the more experimental sounds on “Boarding House Reach”. He’s not a really a loosies kind of guy, so we can probably expect an album rollout soon.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “wyd” by Remi Wolf

Like the singles that promoted it, “Juno” – Remi Wolf’s sophomore album- is just as often irreverent & catchy as it is cringey & grating. It’s a synth pop album with some light R&B influences, written, produced, and performed with hyperpop sensibilities. If that sounds like too much going on at once- you’re right. Several songs are far too busy for their own good, crowding a good hook with too much instrumentation, or souring clever, funny lyrics with annoying vocals. Remi’s definitely talented, but at times she can’t get out of her own way.

One deep cut on the album where this isn’t the case is “wyd”. Somehow Remi gives one of her more straightforward vocal performances while singing about “little bitches telling me what to do” and how much she wants to “Bite down in french baguette, eat cheese, pray and just forget”. Structured around a 2000’s era R&B melody & guitar riff reminiscent of Nelly’s “Ride wit’ Me”, the verses are bouncy eventually building to an earworm chorus.

The baby-voice Remi uses in spots throughout the album does appear here unfortunately, but this early in the tracklist you don’t want to rip your ears off when you hear it yet. It’s one of the less obnoxious appearances it makes too. There’s a pay-off to hanging in there, because there’s a little switch-up in the rhythm to close the song that makes for the most danceable section on the album.

“Juno” is a mess of an album, but it’s a fun, entertaining mess when it isn’t trying it’s hardest to annoy you. That’s not exactly a glowing recommendation, and honestly if you’re not into zoomer-pop you can probably give most of this one a miss. “wyd” is the best of a handful of songs that have enough great moments that I’m definitely keeping Remi Wolf on my radar though. I think if she trims the fat and focuses her sound a bit more, she’s got a great album in her.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Something About Us” by Daft Punk

I’ve been listening to a lot of Daft Punk this year.

It actually started before the French dance superstars announced their partnership was over in February. At the start of the year I’d found myself listening to a lot of indie/indie rock records, like Maggie Rogers’ “Notes From the Archive” and Daft Punk for whatever reason kept being what my mind thought of when trying to buck the pattern.

Then the day of their announcement came. I was staying with my Aunt on the Mornington Peninsula, and she rents out one part of her house on AirBnB. I came into the living room that gets rented the morning after some guests left and turned on the TV. They’d been listening to/watching a YouTube playlist of Daft Punk music, and left it on “Something About Us”. “Discovery” is arguably the defining dance album of the 2000’s, so I’d heard it before, but not for quite a while. “Random Access Memories” had been the only Daft Punk project I regularly revisited in full, and I’d mostly just listen to the hits from their older stuff.

Well that was really dumb, because “Discovery” is fantastic and this song is one of the best tracks. Deviating from the big, cacophonous sound of most of the tracks on the album, “Something About Us” is built around a funky bassline, and a muted guitar lick. It’s one of the earliest vocoder ballads Daft Punk did, and it still stands up against the best ones on “RAM”. The highlight (obviously) is that sexy riff that takes over in the second half of the track. This is more or less a break-up song, and somehow it makes you want to shake your ass. Only Daft Punk.

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