Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Dear Silas (left) photo by Mississippi Today; singer Miguel poses for a portrait to his new album “Wildheart”, in New York. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)

I’d kind of marked this week off in my head for 2 albums I expected to have my favorite track. I was almost right- Megan Thee Stallion’s hot streak continues, but one surprisingly great single in a week full of good singles stood above anything on her new mixtape. I also went a whole 3 weeks before stretching it again with the word ‘old’- this week’s ‘old’ track is from 2017. Honorable mentions first though:

Benee released dreamy, lowkey new single “Doesn’t Matter”. It’s got that island-adjacent vibe most Benee songs have, but things are a lot more stripped down than usual. I enjoyed “Hey u x”, her full-length debut that dropped last year, but a shift in this direction could be interesting.

This whole modern disco thing Jessie Ware’s been doing for the last couple years is here to stay, and I’m here for it. Kylie Minogue joins her on “Kiss of Life”, which is a little bit more by the numbers than most of “What’s Your Pleasure?”, Ware’s stellar album from 2020. Still “Kiss of Life” is sexy and groovy and worth your time.

“New Tooth” is the new song from Rich Brian. The 1st half of the song is Brian doing his best 2010’s Eminem impression over a pretty generic trap beat. So y’know: not great. But there’s a beat switch, Brian changes up his flow and the 2nd half is much smoother. Hopefully this is just a loosey though- I would hate for his whole next LP to sound like that first part.

The last single promoting Snail Mail’s sophomore album “Valentine” dropped early this week. “Madonna” is the best of the singles released, and it’s probably the most rhythmic & dynamic track Snail Mail has ever released. Looking forward to listening to the rest of the LP which came out today.

The other project I was looking forward to, the full-length debut from Geese, “Projector”, is a solid post-punk album. Track by track though, it gets quite samey. Still a very strong debut- it’s just the best songs were definitely the singles, which is usually not a good thing. The best deep cut I’d point to is “Fantasies/Survival”. The whole album is definitely worth a listen if this is your kind of music, but if not don’t rush to this one.

“Something For Thee Hotties” is the new ‘thank you to the fans’ project from Megan Thee Stallion. It’s very much so a mixtape style B-sides compilation so the production doesn’t have the polish or variety of a legit studio album, and lots of the tracks are just freestyles. So it relies on Megan to provide great performances…and it works. She’s charismatic, sexy and entertaining, doesn’t phone in any of the new tracks, and most of the time they land (let’s just pretend “Kitty Kat” didn’t happen). I’d probably pick “Opposite Day” as a favorite, but if you like Megan at all just listen to the whole mixtape.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Scary/Call You Back” by Dear Silas

With a new mixtape from Megan Thee Stallion & Geese’s debut record coming out this week, I did not think I would be writing about Dear Silas of all people here.

“Scary/Call You Back” is by far the most adventurous track I’ve heard from him, and the risks he takes all work out. The song’s not even 2 and a half minutes so nothing has the chance to overstay it’s welcome, but it’s also a lot to throw at listeners in such a short time. Making it all work is impressive.

The “Scary” part of the beat sounds like a 2000’s horrorcore track updated for the trap era. Silas drops lines like “I used to get scared, now I get the academy award for best actor of your nightmares” and “I might open up your eyelid with an ice pic”. It’s another track that’s borrowing from Eminem, but the better Eminem and Silas makes it his own as the rest of the verse spills out. He’s animated, bouncing between flows and characters and accents in just the 1st minute, but it never feels overwhelming.

There’s a beat switch before the “Call You Back” section of the song, brought in with some deep, thumping drums. Silas answers a phone call and a hilarious story about his friend getting sprung for a girl called Jamika follows. They just met, Silas warns she’s been, um, active in these streets, but his boy still gets off the phone so he can go buy her a ring. The flow here reminds me of Juicy J, but more toned down.

Dear Silas has always made music that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but more often than not it’s just come off as goofy to me. On “Scary/Call You Back” though he’s got the craft to let his talent not get overshadowed by corniness. Hopefully this isn’t just a flash in the pan.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Caramelo Duro” by Miguel feat. Kali Uchis

I’m not about to try and big brain about a ‘candy is sex’ euphemism song. Most of “Caramelo Duro” is in Spanish, my Spanish is pretty awful these days, but trust me- you’re not missing out on the next Stevie Wonder. Listen to “Candy Shop” and you’ve got the gist.

No we’re here for Miguel’s performance and a killer beat built around a Spanish guitar groove. Miguel is another artist who’s never taken himself too seriously despite being a big name in R&B, a very self-serious genre. He’s having a great time, and it comes across in his vocal, one of the few tracks the Mexican-American speaks Spanish on.

“War & Leisure”, the 2017 album this track comes from continues to grow on me as time passes, and I don’t think I’m alone. I’m hearing it more and more on the internet lately, and I was shocked to hear this song get play on a dance floor I was on Saturday night (shout out to whoever was DJing at Amersham Arms). Miguel’s never really been an album artist, with massive singles like “Adorn” or “Skywalker” being a lot more synonymous with the R&B mainstay than any particular project he’s released. Maybe that’s fair, but I for one don’t think I gave “War & Leisure” the credit it deserved when it came out.

Kali Uchis provides subtle, but evocative back-up vocals here too and the only gripe I’ve really got with “Caramelo Duro” is that it isn’t a duet. If you’re gonna bring on Kali, let her work you cowards.

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