Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of 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.
Julian Ames is all over the place to…
When I heard that often worried child actor and Will Smith progeny Jaden Smith had released a seven-minute-long song, I was incredibly curious. I am a follower of Jaden’s Twitter account where he frequently spouts a bunch of hot nonsense, so I figured that a long song from the guy that tweeted “how can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?” would be pretty bonkers. As it turns out, “Blue Ocean” is rather coherent, albeit a little trippy and I ended up liking the song way more than I was expecting to.
Musically, the song is pretty gorgeous. It’s a sprawling, piano-heavy hip hop ballad with a couple “movements” and a lot of atmospheric effects like a thunderstorm, or police radios. It’s reminiscent of, and probably inspired by, tracks from Frank Ocean or Childish Gambino–Jaden shows off his range, switching between singing and rapping. Some of his singing is doubled by a female vocalist who I assume is his sister, Willow, since the song is posted on her SoundCloud account. The strongest musical bits of “Blue Ocean” are the melody in the first half of the song and the beats in the second half, where his flow goes from being laid-back and lazy to faster and more aggressive.
Lyrically, the song is fine, there’s nothing too crazy here. Jaden sings about a girl he met at Coachella, who apparently already has a guy. He mentions meeting her blow dealer, WHICH IS NO WAY FOR THE SON OF THE RAPPER WHO WOULDN’T CURSE TO BE ACTING, YOUNG MAN! The second part of the song gets a little more trippy. “Don’t tell the police, I fell into the crease of reality and bled on my fleece,” he explains, then proceeds with phrases like “I hate myself for hurting you,” “I love you,” and “I don’t have to explain myself” in the background in a slowed down pitch. All in all, “Blue Ocean” is a little odd, but much less odd than what you’d expect from Jaden Smith, and it’s definitely worth a listen.
Fly Golden Eagle
Fly Golden Eagle’s “Stepping Stone” is the kind of song you’d hear in commercials. It’s that bluesy rock tinged with psych that we’ve been getting from bands like The Black Keys for a few years now. It’s got a really catchy stop-and-start guitar riff in the intro and the verse, and a great harmonized chorus. “Stepping Stone” is off of the Nashville band’s upcoming album Quartz Bijou, which is apparently the abridged version of the larger twenty-six song collection called Quartz. Both are out on October 14th. We’ll see then what the rest of the album(s) hold, but for now don’t be surprised if you start hearing snippets of “Stepping Stone” in commercials soon.
2013 was a big year for the electronic duo of George Reid and Aluna Francis, also known as AlunaGeorge; they released their debut album Body Music and were featured on Disclosure’s crossover hit “White Noise.” Now they’re back in the studio working on a new album, and they’ve just released “Supernatural,” presumably to give us a taste of their sophomore effort. “Supernatural” is a cool piece of alternative dance complete with a really great synth bass groove, a backwards pitch-shifted vocal refrain, and some cowbell. The real selling point for any AlunaGeorge song though is Aluna Francis and her stellar vocals. She’s got the delivery of a 90s R&B singer that’s both cool and exciting. Layered on top of George Reid’s production her voice becomes an unstoppable force compelling you to groove along. It’s no wonder why Disclosure’s “White Noise” was a hit single. If you haven’t yet checked out AlunaGeorge, “Supernatural” is a great place to start.
David Lebovitz is kicking it old school to…
“Eleanor Rigby” (The Beatles cover)
The Art of McCartney
The Art of McCartney is an upcoming tribute album to Sir Paul McCartney that features an absolutely star-studded collection of artists covering his material. The talent alone is enough to get my attention, even if Paul is my fourth favorite Beatle. This week we’ve been treated to a full length track: Alice Cooper, frontman of Alice Cooper, covering “Eleanor Rigby.”
Though Cooper may seem like an odd choice to cover such a gentle, nuanced song, he makes it work well. Cooper sings the song straight, with no harsh vocals, no character “makeup,” just a normal singing voice. It might as well be the same backing track, as well. It’s a solid reminder that Cooper doesn’t need to rock-strain his voice to sing well.
My only real problem with this track is that it’s too loyal. It occasionally seems like Cooper is trying to emulate Paul’s accent. While the string section on “Eleanor Rigby” is legendary and I understand the impulse to keep it, part of me wishes that Cooper would spice it up a bit and maybe add an electric guitar. Even so, it’s a solid, loyal cover, sure to please Beatles fans.
Dominic Griffin is Gleesh Walking to…
“Multiply (Featuring Juicy J)”
“When the real niggas die, all the fake niggas gon’ multiply…”
Comeback singles are a fun cultural event in music. Regardless of the length of absence, when an artist reappears, they have the opportunity to completely shift gears, deliver more of what’s been missing, or make a grand statement. Here, beloved rapper Rocky uses his new song “Multiply” to rage against inauthenticity and shady fashion labels. He’s never been the most lyrical MC, and honestly, there’s a Rapunzel-length list of performers who’d sound less hypocritical calling out their competitors for being fake, but there’s something undeniably urgent in Rocky’s unique charisma, something, dare I say pure?
On surface level, the song is riddled with mixed messages. Juicy J’s stamp of approval prologue suggests a “see, he thinks I’m great” sense of insecurity, but the boasts are all above board, up until he smirks the questionable directive “Ask Tumblr if I’m accurate!” Confounding, but totally overshadowed by the undeniable star presence Rocky brings wherever he goes. The striking visuals of the video call to mind the era when a hot Hype Williams video could bulk a song up like creatine and, my own concerns with the entire A$AP crew’s obsession with image aside, the entire experience is one of the most vital to happen in months. If nothing else, I’m excited to hear what’s up Rocky’s sleeve that’s got him feeling so brolic.