Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Lupe Fiasco [photo by Tibrina Hobson; Getty Images]; Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy [photo by Josh Woning/AAP]

It completely slipped my mind that last week was the 52nd FN&OTOW.

The 1st FN&OTOW went up on June 11th, 2021, and other than a 3 week break at the holidays (when no new music is released) I have written one of these every damn week. I’ve been doing this for a year.

And I have absolutely nothing poignant or sentimental to say about it. Thanks for reading.

Honorable mentions for my favorite new track of the week first, as always:

The 2nd single from Steve Lacy’s upcoming 2nd album, “Bad Habit”, sounds much more like what we’ve heard from the Internet co-frontman before. The trademark thick bassline, reverbed guitars, and a simple chorus. The songwriting and structure is just as fleshed out as “Mercury” though, a great sign for “Gemini Rights” in a couple weeks.

I feel like I’m one of the few people that still haven’t decided whether they’re on the Brent Faiyaz bandwagon or not. Most people love or hate him by now, 6 years since “Too Fast” and 5 since “Crew”. Every time he does something interesting he follows it up with the most vapid modern R&B you could imagine. “PRICE OF FAME” is thankfully the first one, multi-segmented, well-produced, and Faiyaz doesn’t sound asleep like he often does. More of this please.

The title of Dear Silas’ new mixtape – “It’s Giving SELF LOVE” – is awful, but it is at least accurate. And the tape itself is pretty good. Littered with trap bangers and feel-good songs reminiscent of Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book”, it’s definitely up to the task of soundtracking a nice day out this summer. “MARCH 28TH” was the strongest track in my opinion, putting a nice bow on the mixtape’s overall narrative.

“Home, Before and After” isn’t quite the triumphant return for Regina Spektor that I was hoping it would be. In a lot of ways it’s a return to Spektor’s earliest albums and writing style. Her writing just doesn’t strike me as as clever as those records. Despite lavish orchestration on most tracks on this album, most songs feel really simple. I think it will grow on me with more listens, but for now I’m a little underwhelmed. The sardonic “One Man’s Prayer” was my favorite deep cut.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Kiosk” by Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco’s latest LP “Drill Music In Zion” might be divisive among his fans.

Since “Lasers” almost ruined the Chicago rapper’s career at the start of the 2010’s, he’s been able to build things back up with incredibly dense, layered, and lyrical albums like “Tetsuo & Youth” or “Drogas Wave”. Lupe has become who J. Cole stans think J. Cole is – one of the most thoughtful and politically literate rappers of all time.

He is literally a professor at MIT. Teaching rap. That is not a joke.

“Drill Music in Zion” is not all that dense. It’s not a collection of overblown drill beats either. Almost every track is full of incredibly sharp lyrics with a lot to say about the culture of violence in Chicago, set over some simple jazz rap beats.

You just don’t need to obsess over a lyric sheet to get it all. This is easily Lupe’s most straightforward album since “Lasers”, and surprisingly it’s better off for it. There’s a lot of nuance to Chicago’s struggles with gun violence, nuance that Lupe dives into. But as he sums up in the closer “ON FAUX NEM” – ‘rappers die too much. That’s it, that’s the verse’.

Lupe is talented enough to make the most complex rap album of 2022 with the same concept. He doesn’t need to. What he’s made instead might be the best rap album of 2022.

“Kiosk”, my favorite new track of the week dives into the materialism that underlies and sometimes motivates the glorification of violence in Drill. On top of that Lupe – an outspoken muslim – voices his doubts in his faith, his doubts in the use of God’s name to justify violent acts and violent legislation against underrepresented people.

“Kiosk” is great, but so is “Ms. Mural” or “Naomi” or “Seattle”. I could’ve picked most of the songs from “Drill Music in Zion” to fill this spot.

This album won’t shock you. It’s not sonically cutting edge or really anything Lupe hasn’t done before.

It’s just incredibly measured, succinct, and intelligent consistently for 40 minutes. The execution of this concept was almost flawless and I think I’ll only grow more impressed with “Drill Music in Zion” the more I listen to it.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Dance, Dance” by Fall Out Boy

My friend Javi went to the obnoxiously titled Hella Mega tour, the Weezer x Green Day x Fall Out Boy world tour that’s wrapping up soon.

I was a big fan of at least segments of each of these bands’ discographies when I was a teenager, and at one point in both of our lives, Fall Out Boy was Javi and I’s favorite band.

I still told him going to the show was a big risk.

Why? Well for every “Pinkerton” there’s a “Hurley”. For every “Dookie” there’s an “Uno” a “Dos” or a “Tre”. And for every “Infinity on High” there’s a… everything Fall Out Boy has done in the last 9 years.

Sure, the setlists could be all the good ol’ stuff. But it could also be “Uma Thurman” followed up by “Where’s My Sex” which precedes “Father of All…” and then… you get the point.

These guys are old. They’ve had a lot of time to fall off and have done so several times.

He did not listen to me, and the day after gave me a review of the show:

He hates Green Day but said they were entertaining despite being tacky. Suprisingly, Weezer (who have caught a lot of strays on this website) actually won him over – “My Name Is Jonas” was the highlight of the show.

Fall Out Boy made him sad.

His review of their performance echoed how I’ve felt about the band for most of the last decade – Fall Out Boy is less of a band and more of a day job to its members post-hiatus.

All four members are married with kids. The music has fallen into the pits of what modern dad-rock is because, well, they’re dads. It would be concerning if they were still making good pop punk music.

There’s a reason Paramore may be the only band from the genre that’s been able to age gracefully. Pop punk is inherently a genre built for young people.

So yes, for every “From Under the Cork Tree” there’s a “M A N I A”. But there’s still a “From Under the Cork Tree”.

That album is 17 years old and sounds dated, melodramatic, whiny. And it’s great. It had its time when it was cutting edge, and Fall Out Boy once made some pretty creative music. That time is probably long over, and that’s ok.

I hope every show is sold out but I won’t be spending any money on the Really Hella Mega tour when they inevitably do this again to squeeze out more cash to send all those kids to college. The old albums aren’t going anywhere, and that’s enough for me.

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