Music can add a soundtrack to any kind of experience. It can create a whole new story or add a different energy to a situation, surging itself into memories associated with things like a road trip or vacation. I spent this last week down in Southern California, taking time during flights 36,000 feet in the air, or long car rides winding through the desert landscapes of Joshua Tree, listening to some of Friday’s new music releases. Some albums, EPs, and songs jumped out at me, giving a fresh energy or creating the perfect background music to the sights of the California streets. This is the soundtrack to my vacation, and this week’s new music picks…
Future // FUTURE
Future is hitting a winning streak. After coming off a massive joint tour with Drake, the king of Atlanta was largely silent, but promised something big. This week, he delivered. Future dropped a new full-length LP, accompanied with a massive tour announcement: Future, Migos, Young Thug, A$AP Ferg, Tory Lanez, Kodak Black. With one swift movement, Future Hendrix dubbed 2017 his year. And don’t be fooled. While some artists may make a big play out of a new release, only to drop an album that’s mediocre at best, Future delivers big on his self-titled effort. While many Atlanta rappers may stick to a tried and true trap formula, Future makes it entirely his own, flipping it and twisting it to cater to his wants in sound and fit around his unique voice. With no features and relatively no big production credits, it’s fitting that this album be eponymous. FUTURE is Future at his best, and clearly his most himself. It’s a definitive work, adding to the greatness of DS2 and kicking off what’s sure to be an insane year for the Atlanta king. (NOTE: Friday will bring part two of Future’s self-titled collection, HNDRXX. Be on the lookout…)
Anna Wise // The Feminine: Act II
There is a sweet spot in hip-hop which ditches the trap beats and standard synthetic sounds for a texture of real instrumentation, combining other genres such as jazz and gospel with the poetry of rap. A stellar example of this blend is Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus To Pimp a Butterfly. On track “These Walls,” the Grammy winner for best rap/sung performance, Anna Wise brought a light breeze of R&B with her stellar vocals to Kendrick’s verses. After wowing as a feature, Wise continued her rise with the empowering single “BitchSlut” and release of her debut album, The Feminine: Act I. Now the vocalist is stepping into her sophomore effort, the continuation of Act I. Almost doubling the number of tracks, Anna Wise brings more female empowerment to the world with her music, which provides another perfect example of the genre blend TPAB did so well. Taking jazz instrumentation and lacing in her compelling R&B vocals, Anna Wise shows true skill, and exemplifies exactly what made Kendrick’s effort and “These Walls” true winners.
Tash Sultana // Notion EP
Many musicians create art out of hardships. Through struggles with home life, their childhood, addiction, or a combination of many, the beauty of music is it’s therapeutic tendencies, it’s ability to create something wonderful out of so much darkness. Tash Sultana is an all star example of this. At the age of 17, Australian musician Natasha Sultana suffered a drug-induced psychosis. She had struggled with addiction, and it eventually lead her to a break. Awoken to her problem, Sultana sought help, and after a long recovery, started a Bandcamp page. Sultana had spent her life with music, becoming a master of guitar, brass, woodwind, and percussion. This love of music, and true talent in the art, brought her out of her addiction and created something beautiful. Where Tash Sultana really shines is live, and this is exemplified in two live track recordings on the EP. However, her talent shines throughout the whole of Notion, providing a unique sound that spotlights her guitar work and minimalist productions. Throughout the EP, Tash Sultana doesn’t commit to one genre, but blends elements of rock, pop, and more to create her own unique sound. Now signed to Mom+Pop, Sultana is in good company. There’s no telling what more beauty the Australian artist has in store.
Maggie Rogers // Now That the Light Is Fading EP
Maggie Rogers’ debut EP opens up with a hymn. Over the chirping of crickets, Rogers pure voice swirls into a colorful melody, creating beautifully simple harmonies sans instrumentation. It’s a true demonstration of how perfect Maggie Rogers’ voice is, even standing on it’s own. Adding in icy synth beats just completes the outfit, then it’s easy to see what Pharrel was raving about. Maggie Rogers is truly the next great thing to happen in music, and she’s just starting out. Taking on her debut TV performance with Jimmy Fallon, Rogers gave a stunning rendition of “Alaska” in jeans and a tee, showing that the power isn’t so much in the fashion or show, but in her raw talent. And Maggie Rogers has plenty. With only this beautiful EP to her name so far, this singer-songwriter has a lot more in store for the world.
Misterwives // Machine (Single)
The rise of Misterwives is nothing but a success story. I first ran into the stunning pop outfit as the very first opener on the tiny Royal Concept / American Authors tour in 2013. In the span of four years, Misterwives have risen to being the second name on a festival bill here in Portland, touring with bands like twenty one pilots and (soon) Panic! at the Disco, and putting together a stunning debut record in Our Own House. Now, Mandy Lee and her band of merry men are upping their ante with “Machine,” a single that takes inspirations from hip-hop groups like The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, and A Tribe Called Quest to create a huge and mature sound, proving the band has even more and better things up their sleeves. With an upbeat hook and premise, “Machine” adds to the ever-growing list of impressive female lead pop anthems that have dropped in 2017, and surely won’t be the last we’ll hear from them.
Judah and the Lion // Suit and Jacket (Single)
Among my adventures in SoCal was the reason I booked the trip in the first place: a chance to see twenty one pilots kill an Emotional Roadshow stop for a second time (once is never enough). While Tyler and Josh brought a huge show as always expected, what was less expected was the impressive set from the night’s first billed name, Judah and the Lion. The Nashville alternative rockers brought an energy to their set rarely seen in openers. Though they were fully aware the audience really had no idea who they were, their confidence never slipped as they brought a massive sound, blending country, rock, alternative, and hip-hop just as smoothly as twenty one pilots do with their melting pot of sound. The most impressive track to me was “Suit and Jacket,” an anthem of not giving up your dreams, and working toward something greater, even if it means not conforming to what the world really wants. Before launching into it, I made note when leading man Judah Akers pointed out, “this song comes out tomorrow.” I downloaded it the next day, and it’s been on rotation since.
Though California is a great change of scenery, nothing will ever beat Portland. It’s truly a musical capital, and to show appreciation for the city I live in, and the bands that inhabit it, enjoy this PDX music playlist on our Spotify. You can also find these New Music choices and others on our ever-growing list.