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.
Dominic Griffin is coolin’ out to…
The First Lady of Top Dawg Entertainment has finally blessed us with the lead single from her debut album, and it is a stunner. The same diehard rap label responsible for Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and the rest of the Black Hippy crew is also home to this incredible songstress from Jersey. She’s got a great voice, strong songwriting, and a delectable ear for beats. DJ Dahi, the man behind Drake’s “Worst Behavior” and Q’s “Hell of A Night,” produced this single, a slow burn with skittering drums, synth burbles and a woozy tone. SZA’s lyrics recall the forlorn introspection of Neo Soul stalwarts like Jill Scott, but with an edge. There’s something ethereal in her voice, but icy at the same time. The first person narrative, her throwing herself on the cross for a lover, connects based on the hushed intimacy of her breathy vocals. The push and pull between early 90s R&B influences and a more modern pace creates something really special, like Fiona Apple collaborating with Jodeci. Coupled with the striking video, this feels like one of the most important singles for an emerging artist since Frank Ocean dropped “Pyramids.”
Julian Ames is getting his party on to…
Funk & Roll
It doesn’t get much better than new music from The Purple One. My whole office was abuzz on Thursday morning after Prince’s takeover of The Arseno Hall Show where he performed his new song “FunkNRoll” plus two songs from his back catalogue, “She’s Always In My Hair,” and “Mutiny.” Prince has been teasing his new album PlectrumElelectrum for a better part of a year now, releasing several songs from it, beginning with “Screwdriver” in January of 2013. “FunkNRoll” is the newest song released from the album and it delivers exactly what it promises: a rocking funk tune about partying. We get a basic rock beat and pretty funky bass line underneath Prince trying to get somebody to his shindig, (as if anyone would need convincing) at one point telling them to “put your phone down, get your party on.” Eventually Prince brings a horn section in and goes into his screech-singing that fellow Deadshirter, Mike Pfeiffer, has affectionately dubbed the “pterodactyl voice.” “FunkNRoll” delivers on it’s message, and a good time is definitely insured for all who give in to the rhythm. There’s still no announced release date for PlectrumElectrum, so we’ll all have to hold our breath until Prince has decided he’s edited it enough and it’s suitable for us to hear. But until then we at least have a few songs to hold us over.
Max Robinson is winning or dying to…
Catch the Throne: The Mix Tape
HBO’s latest venture to promote runaway sword and sorcery/idiots performing cunnilingus hit Game of Thrones is Catch the Throne, a mixtape from hip hop luminaries including Wale, Common and Big Boi. It’s a cool gimmick but the album itself is understandably a pretty mixed bag. The best track though is Dominik Omega’s “Arya’s Prayer”, a surprisingly thorough recounting of the story and struggles of murderer-in-training Arya Stark. Omega’s obviously a huge GoT nerd and with lyrics like “Livin’ life on the run is a sad short story / Bitter with my troubles from the day they kill Jory”, there’s a “Daniel Desario playing Dungeons & Dragons” fun to it. Obviously that alone doesn’t make it good but Omega wisely uses Arya’s revenge list as an anchor point for the rest of the rap and even shows off some lyrical complexity towards the end of the track when he starts talking in Jaqen H’ghar’s weirdo third person indefinite.
Mike Pfeiffer is headbanging to…
Ume came across my radar by accident when someone I follow on twitter linked to a contest to win a guitar from the band. I saw that it was hard-edged garage rock with a female singer and when I found myself nearly slamming my head into my keyboard from involuntary metal response syndrome (donate to the IMRS injury fund today) I knew I had to share. The effusive praise for lead singer Lauren Larson’s bodacious licks are well earned and the sludgy, classic metal riff on “Black Stone” instantly sets expectations that are shattered and exceeded by her indie angel voice. Everything I’ve read about her incredible stage presence suggests that I should probably keep away from videos until my heart heals from meeting Deap Vally, but I can highly suggest this track to anyone who likes imagining they’re battling frost giants while being sung to by a Portland Valkyrie.
That’s it for us this week – what have you been listening to? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page!