I’m Being Followed by a Doobie Brother – Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Sherwyn [Promotional photo by Barrygruff]; Michael McDonald [photo by Clayton Call]

With Summer winding down and the major releases cooling off for a bit until the holidays, this week’s crop of songs is maybe the most eclectic yet.

There’s another left-field house track, an Elvis level campy ballad, and even Dayglow putting effort into a performance. All over the place.

With a title like “Viva Las Vengeance” I really shouldn’t be surprised at how schmaltzy these Panic! At the Disco singles for Brendon Urie’s latest LP have been. “Don’t Let the Light Go Out” is maybe the greatest offender yet – mostly in a good way? All it’s missing is some ‘shoo-wops’ on the background vocals and ten seconds of Urie crying at the end. I’m still on the fence with this shift in sound, though I can’t say I haven’t been at least entertained by every single so far. Looking forward to diving into the full record this week.

Summer 2022 is truly the season of unexpected dance records. Even serpentwithfeet deviates a little from his usual formula on “I’m Pressed”, injecting more rhythm into his music than ever. And it works, his whispery vibrato sounding silky over a house beat.

Dayglow at least attempts to match his production chops with his vocal performance on “Deep End”. The heavily percussive beat actually has a melody to compliment it. He’s not entirely successful delivering a strong vocal, but even the smallest effort is an improvement and the song is much better off for it.

“Cheat Codes”, the collaboration album from Black Thought & Danger Mouse has finally arrived. It is exactly what you’d expect. Grimy, lo-fi beats from Danger Mouse. Bars after bars after bars from Black Thought. Their chemistry is incredible, even shining with a number of guests and posse cuts where Danger Mouse manages to expertly blend the proclivities of all the MCs. The cohesion does come at the expense of sonic diversity – a lot of these tracks are lacking structurally, with no hooks or no changes to the beat through the whole song. The album also goes out with a bit of a whimper, the last two tracks dipping in quality from the first 10; Conway the Machine’s feature is the only dud across the record. Still, if you’re looking for old-school – but not dated – hip-hop you probably won’t find a better record this summer. “Strangers”, a posse cut with A$AP Rocky & Run the Jewels was my favorite track.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Goddess Reign” by Sherwyn featuring Amber Mark

Don’t worry, I don’t know who Sherwyn is either.

I feel like I should after listening to “Goddess Reign”, his new collaboration with Amber Mark. His funk production feels just a little off-kilter thanks to the distorted bassline and cavernous drums. Kind of like Steve Lacy if you took his guitar from him and made him take acid.

It brings the best out of Amber Mark as well. She and Sherwyn have great chemistry and it makes me wish he’d been a contributor on “Three Dimensions Deep”, her album from earlier this year.

“Goddess Reign” is subtly dynamic as well. There’s no beat switch or anything, but a sample pops in midway through, the beat is stripped down and built back up several times without being distracting or over-indulgent. Not to mention the vocal layering all over is gorgeous.

The track won’t be winning any awards for its lyrical content, but that’s not what it’s here for. It’s a melodic banger, and it’s put Sherwyn on my radar.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald

A song has been following me the last couple weeks.

First, I heard it at work, one of the many songs on the Everyman Media playlist that are Michael McDonald-level inoffensive. Nothing out of the ordinary.

My headphones died on the way home from a pub quiz one night. Whaddya know, there was Michael’s husky moan seeping out of a flat, serenading a couple in front of me that was having the ‘what are we?’ talk (no it didn’t go well).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t bump Michael McDonald when I’m handed the aux cord. Someone driving past my flat that night does though, and there it was: “Every Time You’re Near”.

Twice in one night was odd. Several times that week a bit strange. But I still chalked it up to Baader-Meinhof, frequency illusion.

Then a car drove past playing the damn song the next morning. Michael McDonald is trying to send me a message. Or someone has “Every Time You’re Near” stuck in their CD player a la “How I Met Your Mother”.

Until anthrax and a Doobie Brothers mixtape ends up on my doorstep, I’m going with the second one.

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