You know, every week I wonder, "Will I be able to find six great new songs?" And every week, I find six great new songs. Music—it's pretty good a lot of the time.
Kevin Abstract – “Joy Ride”
The MVP of the rap crew Brockhampton just dropped a three-track EP, Arizona Baby, its production from Romil Hemnani and Jack Antonoff steeped in Dirty South tradition. I dig “Georgia,” which exhumes childhood reminiscences while reaching back to Ray Charles by way of Goodie Mob. But “Joy Ride” is the real banger, as anxious and invigorating as peak Outkast and capped with a chorus of “I don't think I would ever wanna fuckin' listen” that I keep hearing as “fuck in the sun.”
Charly Bliss – “Hard to Believe”
To restate the obvious: Alt-rock, once deemed a commercial dilution of troo indie, now thrives among bands who recall it as the sound of their childhood. And these kids know all the tricks: Sustained, chiming chords build to a mighty riff, then the bass thumps underneath while the guitar drops out on the verses. Completing the mood is Eva Hendricks, who sings in a sunny alt-gal tone I’ve called “chirpy” way too often, but which invites that hack word the way postpunk guitars cry out for “angular.” “I’m kissing anything that moves,” she tells the shitty boy she’d rather be kissing instead, her voice never letting on the desperation her lyrics are willing to spell out.
Mark Ronson feat. Lykke Li – “Late Night Feelings”
All feelings are bad, of course, but the late night kind are the worst. But rather than despairing over how dumb she feels about the urge to sext at 2 a.m., Li basks in the illicit thrill of incorrect desire. And Ronson’s track echoes that mix of frustration and lust, coupling her vocal melody with electronic steel drums like a diehard Culture Club fan.
Open Mike Eagle feat. Danny Brown – “Unfiltered”
Made for Mike’s new Comedy Central show, The New Negroes, “Unfiltered” is like an inverted take on Lakeith Stanfield adopting David Cross’ white voice to climb the corporate ladder in Sorry to Bother You. Buttoned-down office pro Eagle, who laments his inability to be frank with his co-workers and bosses, stumbles into a careful-what-you-wish-for moment as Danny Brown emerges (quite literally in the video) to voice all his frustrations with a yippy frenzy.
Dilly Dally – “Know Yourself”
There is a long, not quite honorable tradition of rockers trashily covering rap songs, but this take on Drake from some fellow Torontons (a version surfaced two years ago; now it’s an official single) drags Drizzy through the mud in all the right ways. Singer Kate Monks keys into specific words without taking the overall verses literally, and then bursts the track wide open when she gets to the chorus: “I was runnin’ through the 6 with my WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHS!”
Steve Lacy – “N Side”
The spoken-word section of an R&B song is where the lover man is supposed to plunge deep into his baritone, his low, sonorous rumble stirring up sympathetic vibrations in his lady’s nether bits. But Lacy’s interlude here, about as suave as a teen dropping a note in his crush’s locker, is punctuated with uncertain “uh”s as he tries to find out if his attraction’s mutual and closes with an abrupt “Let me know, bye.” But with a beat as woozy as his guitar tone, Lacy proves you don’t have to be smooth to be seductive.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.