Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Madie Coe is swaying beneath the night sky to:
Shakira (release date: 3/25)
Shakira harkens back to the rock roots of her early career in Latin America, making a vast departure from the hip-rocking Latin and Arabic-tinged tunes that her American audience tends to identify her with. “Empire” starts slow with a piano accompaniment to her soft crooning asking her lover to strip away any pretenses. I really love the depth of imagery in these lyrics, the track soars when it hits the chorus and she belts out “Like the empires of the world unite/We are alive/And the stars make love to the universe/You’re my wild fire every single night/We are alive.” The surge as the drums and bass kick in and the vocals rupture into distortion feels like the end credits to an action movie where the universe was saved and now everything is all peaceful and awesome. This is a wholly welcome departure in style which was only hinted at in previous albums. Shakira has always experimented with different styles and sometimes it’s just plain weird, but this one nails it. Her voice is at its best in ballads like this. Between this track and the steamy reggae-inspired duet with Rihanna on “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” I look forward to the forthcoming self-titled album on March 25th.
Julian Ames is gazing at the future to:
“I See You”
On “I See You,” the first track from UK band The Horrors’ fourth full length album Luminous, the band seems to be picking up where their last album, Skying, left off. Logical next steps between albums are actually pretty strange for The Horrors; they went from horror-garage on their first album, to post-punk on their second, and moved to psychedelic shoegaze on Skying. On that album, The Horrors used synths, arpeggios, and various organs, along with typical rock instrumentation, to make lush songs. “I See You” is no different, starting with arpeggios, the song kicks into gear with a psych-rock flavor as Faris Badwan sings about staring into voids and seeing the future. After they lyrics end around 3:40, the track starts to build adding in more layers of synth and even strings until it reaches it’s peak and brings it on home a return to the melody of the chorus. Although this one song from Luminous leads me to believe that the rest of the album will be similar, I’m not ruling out any surprises from the musical amoebas that are The Horrors. Luminous is available on April 22.
Nowadays, things are looking up for Sky Ferriera – she’s just released her album Night Time My Time and is on a world tour with Icona Pop and Miley Cyrus. But it wasn’t long ago that she was in a state of musical purgatory where she could only manage to release a few singles and EPs thanks to a number false-starts and publicity hangups with her record company. In an interview with Pitchfork she revealed that while at Capitol Records she had recorded over 400 songs, most would never see the light of day. Fortunately, one song made it out of the vault and on to the Internet. “Rancid Girl” is a mostly acoustic singer-songwriter piece – a big departure from the big, synth-pop songs of her full-length Night Time My Time. It isn’t totally stripped down though, there’s still some very good production going on here, as evidenced by the “oohh’s” that show up about halfway through the song. It’s refreshing to hear Ferriera in this setting; the basic instrumentation makes her sound more vulnerable and gives the song a more personal quality even though this song actually relates to her less than other songs that appear on her album.
Dominic Griffin is pouring one out to…
“Thug Cry (Featuring Lil Wayne)”
The closing salvo from MMG head honcho Rick Ross’ new album smoothly samples the classic “‘93 Til Infinity,” a move with just the right application of evocative nostalgia that also delivers the amusing image of Lil Wayne listening to Souls of Mischief as an added bonus. At once silken and contemplative, the track’s instrumental represents exactly the brand of sonics Ross should spend the better part of his time on. Production crew J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League always gift Ross with big budget, cinematic beats, so it’s no surprise that they come through here with a song that puts an oddly redemptive ellipsis on this, his sixth full length album. We’re long since the point of Lil Wayne guest appearances being something to salivate over, but Weezy brings his B+ game here, a pleasing mixture of introspective lament and paranoid bravura. Ross spits the kind of wide screen non sequitors that have paved his empire, generously leaving us by expressing his wing flavor preference (lemon pepper, if you must know) as empirical evidence of his choosing not to let money and fame change him.
“Brand New (Featuring Justin Timberlake)”
G I R L
The seemingly immortal hitmaker caps his stellar year off by releasing his second full length solo effort, the same week he’s slated to perform at the Academy Awards. It’s been a killer twelve months for Pharrell, but his LP disappointingly falls short of his recent success. It legitimately feels like Columbia Records was stoked by the popularity of Despicable Me 2 soundtrack hit “Happy” and asked him to record a few songs to package it with. Easily the best cut from this album, other than the aforementioned ode to joy, is “Brand New” a track that finally reunites the Neptune with former cohort Justin TImberlake (JAY Z’s “BBC” doesn’t count.) Aside from some egregious beat boxing from Timbaland, this is one perfect little slice of pop. Brassy and funky in all the right places, it hits that sweet spot of imitating prime period Michael Jackson without insulting his legacy. Pharrell always seems to write better songs for other people than himself, but this collaboration offers one of my favorite pop hooks in quite some time. “You got me feeling brand new, LIKE THE TAG’S STILL ON ME!” Elsewhere on the album, Pharrell awkwardly compares the objects of his affection to historical figures and “gusts of wind,” but there’s something gorgeous in the simple, effusive declaration of how this love makes him feel. I generally judge songs like this by how loudly I sing the hook in the shower, and I can comfortably say I probably pissed off a few neighbors with this one.
Just Like You EP
I don’t know much about LIZ, other than the fact that she recently signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label and she insists on spelling her name in caps. Regardless, this little EP she just dropped is so fucking addictive. She’s not the best singer, nor is she the most revelatory lyricist, but this collection of pop songs works as a Lisa Frank studded time machine to a simpler time, before Twitter and SnapChat. The modern shroud of post-internet ironic nostalgia is present, but it’s less reductive and more loving, a throwback in the sincerest form of the word. It sounds like the best album JoJo never recorded. I listen to “Y2K” and picture an endless .gif loop of Jordan Knight dancing in front of a carousel. Everytime the track gets to it’s closing moments, I mentally anticipate Carson Daly’s voice interrupting the music, along with a rabid chorus of squealing MTV audience members. Call it Trapper Keeper R&B, or Dreamcast Pop, or TRLcore. Call it whatever you want but good luck getting it out of your head.
That’s it for us this week – what have you been listening to? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page!