Wah. Here’s what I was listening to this week as the President of the United States suggested injecting ourselves with bleach. Let’s not forget that happened.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator (2019)
Perhaps nothing is more rewarding in listening to and writing about music to see an artist finally spread their wings creatively or artistically before your eyes. This jump is often what separates your typical “flash in the pan” acts from artists who not only are important, but also feel important. The feeling of an artist taking the world by storm – and everyone knowing it – doesn’t come around every day, because it’s that shared feeling that often creates legends.
Now, I’m not saying that Tyler, the Creator has earned legendary status yet, but, he’s certainly deserving of all the praise that’s come his way on IGOR. Once known best for rapping about shooting up schools, Tyler has grown in ways that would have been unimaginable for him only five years ago. He’s clearly proud of what he’s created here; displayed on the album artwork front and center is “All songs written, produced and arranged by Tyler Okonma.” He’s taken his music to the next level on this album, creating an undeniable masterpiece that will certainly influence future generations of musicians. Of course, it’s all about the next thing, so what Tyler does next will ultimately play a key role in whether or not he attains that higher echelon, but for right now, “I think I’m falling in love.”
Viral Tracks: I THINK, A BOY IS A GUN*, GONE, GONE/THANK YOU
Everything Smiles at You – Khruangbin (2019)
A collection of the Houston trio’s earliest tracks, and officially only released in Japan, Everything Smiles at You is a compilation that’s just as great as the two studio albums that Khruangbin has released thusfar. It’s simply made, but dynamic and hypnotizing music that can be enjoyed both actively and passively. Even the album cover is one of the best I’ve seen – the sunset colors over the white mountain, contrasting with the black outer frame just grabs you and gives the music on the record even more of that feel. Unfortunately, four of the tracks on here aren’t on Spotify yet, I guess other people agree – this record goes for well more than retail price on sites like Discogs, I can only hope they give it an official repress here in the States one day.
Viral Tracks: Master of Life, La Javanaise, The Number 3
Ganging Up On the Sun – Guster (2006)
Guster started making music in the mid 90s in their dorm room at Tufts University, and soon became a feature of the emerging jam band scene along with bands like Phish, and moe. But, Guster was always more of an indie/alternative band at heart, taking heavy influence from the melodic techniques and song structures of bands like The Beatles instead of the free soloing and experimentation of the Grateful Dead. They quickly honed their sound as they swapped their dorm room for an actual studio (with an actual budget), finding their stride at the turn of the millennium on Lost and Gone Forever, but Ganging Up on the Sun (along with it’s sister release the G-Major EP) is no slouch of an album either, and it’s the one that has provided a soundtrack for some truly indelible memories for me.
The first concert I went to without my parents was Earthfest 2007 in Boston, which had a very 2007 lineup of Mat Kearney, KT Tunstall, and John Butler Trio and headlined by Guster. I didn’t realize it at the time but there were probably (definitely) a lot of people doing drugs at this event on the Esplanade on this sunny day. But, I wasn’t there to get into trouble – I was legitimately innocent, there only for the music (though this was the first time I had any real amount of alcohol). Guster played what was essentially a homecoming show, and the crowd loved it, throwing plastic water bottles around to the dismay of the band. The concert was attended by many, but like so many events of the time, it only lives on in grainy cell phone footage. I’m probably somewhere in that blur, oh well, chalk it up to simpler times.
Viral Tracks: Hang On, The New Underground, Ruby Falls