I’m behind. I’m so, so, so behind. Forgive me, goddess of rock, for I have sinned.
I am astronomical levels of overdue for getting some good rock songs on Sharing The Goodness. This is the genre that all but defined my childhood (besides non-stop disco and bad europop) and I’ve got a proverbial pick-up truck to unload over the next few posts. Let’s get this show on the road!
Check out my last post where I looked at alternative R&B and soul if rock doesn’t do it for you!
1. “Shakedown” by Valerie June
A new reoccurring favorite on Sharing The Goodness, Valerie June continues to impress with her iconic pipes and musical flair. ‘Shakedown’ is a song I’d love to hear at an outdoor porch party and, come to think of it, I really should throw one of those once I actually get a porch. It’s lively, charming and just a little on the short side — perfect for constant repeats while enjoying an evening drink. At least, I think.
A bit of bluegrass, a bit of classic rock, there’s a little bit for everyone to love here. The lyrics are simple, more for shuffling your feet than contemplating your navel, and I’m totally fine with that. …Have I also mentioned I love her fashion sense? Because I really do. Valerie June somehow strikes this tender balance between old-fashioned and modern with one of the most incredible hairstyles around. Short and sweet, you need to get this woman on your playlists pronto. It’s the least you can do!
Feel it when you sing it
That shakedown breakdown showdown
Alternative R&B And Soul
Fell behind on these, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of songs. In fact, I’ve found far more than I even know what to do with. I’m learning more and more about all the varied categories, sub-categories and what-the-fuck categories as I go. Terms for specific genres I didn’t even know existed are popping up left and right, making it easier than ever to find songs that make my eyes glaze over with delight. That’s not just me, right? That can’t just be me.
If this isn’t your style, check out my last post where I looked at hip-hop and jazz!
1. “Gooey” by Glass Animals
Damn if it doesn’t feel great when you find a new group and discover they don’t just have a few decent singles, but their entire repertoire is addicting as candy. With only a few years to their name and an incredibly varied sound that gets more eclectic with each hit they put out, I can see Glass Animals only getting more successful from here. (They’ve actually got another fantastic single that I’ll have to put on another list for its entirely different genre)
‘Gooey”s title fits the song’s style perfectly — it’s like if melted butter was put to sound, almost bizarrely smooth and utterly sultry with each whispering note. A dreamy harp and the signature hissing croons of the lead singer create a brilliant atmosphere right off the bat, eventually pulling you into a rhythm that sways like a lullaby. I looped this song without mercy the first time I heard it, with each listen progressively better than the last to the point I had to share it with everyone I knew as soon as possible. It’s one of those.
I mean, when it comes down to it you just can’t go wrong with lyrics that include the lines ‘peanut-butter vibes’ and ‘icky, gooey womb’.
Ride my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance
Wanna sip this smooth air, kick it in the sand
Hip-Hop & Jazz
I’ve got some real good stuff this week. Songs that get me jazzed up (heh) are ones that blur the lines between genres, bringing in the best of each and something entirely new all at the same time. Some of the hip-hop picks here are going to have some distinctively jazzy influences, but there’s bound to be something here for fans of both genres and all the little overlaps. Let’s just get to it!
If you’re interested in past posts, check out the last one where I revisited more of indie and acoustic.
1. “Rose Golden” by Kid Cudi ft. Willow Smith
It’s a damn good feeling when you click on a song and know it’s gonna be good from the first few seconds. Kid Cudi and Willow Smith’s talents have crashed into one another like two planets, creating a result that’s as bombastic as it is unique.
Drawn in with classic harps and crooning only to suddenly swing into a pounding beat, the song all but grabs the listener by the proverbial hand and leads them on a journey — hip-hop, classical and indie are just a few of the influences on full blast here and make for something that’s as interesting as it is plainly catchy. Their vocals are fantastic — I’ve become a huge fan of Willow Smith over the past few years and Kid Cudi’s voice has taken a turn for the gravelly, providing a stellar contrast for an overall stunning piece.
It’s a full-package song through and through. I was drawn in by the lush instrumentation, swayed by the fascinating lyrics and left tingling by the sheer personality of all the incredible talent on board. There’s just so much to talk about to the point I risk overhyping. Just check ‘Rose Golden’ out — you won’t regret it.
Oh, since I was young, been grooving to my own drum
Ain’t that many teachers show me my potential
Indie & Acoustic
Let’s face it. It can be really hard getting through the week with so much bad news pouring through social media and public programs like a stubborn leak. The kind of music I like to listen to in order to further my mood during rough times varies quite a bit — sometimes I want pounding, angry rock to offset hopelessness, while other times I seek out sugary pop to perk me up. As of this week? Indie and folk can be the ticket you need to pull out all those seemingly elusive artistic emotions when you need to create or just get a good cry going.
I’ll be putting a touch more emphasis on the acoustic part of folk in this list, if only because we all could use some low-key, wind-down music once in a while. If this is a genre that tickles your fancy, check out my previous indie and folk recommendations.
1. “Wanna Be On Your Mind” by Valerie June
With one of the most charming set of pipes I’ve ever heard, Valerie June is a new favorite that’s found a permanent place in my playlists. You could even say she’s regularly on my mind! I’ll stop.
Her work is a vibrant blend of country and folk, leaning toward the latter with certain pieces and leaning back with others. If you’re like me and aren’t overly fond of country’s general sound, rest easy knowing Valerie June is versatile enough to cover a wide variety of approaches while retaining a strong identity. ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’ is a jaunty acoustic-folk number, the almost earworm hook supplemented with a gentle keyboard and quirky chimes. I’ve even put on this song for a few friends and their organic head-bobbing only confirms what I already know.
I wanna be on your mind, stay there all the time
You can’t call my name
Electronic & Synth-Pop
Got some good stuff this week! Unlike some of the previous lists where I’ve been sharing new favorites, some of these artists I’ve been a fan of for years. With so much music released week after week, it’s nice to do a little reflecting and see what’s stuck with you along the way (it helps my Youtube account is one giant music repository and I’ve been using it since community college). Without further ado, let’s take a look at some electronica and synth-pop!
1. “2012” by Genki Sudo (WORLD ORDER)
Remember those men in suits doing the robot? Then you may know a thing or two about Genki Sudo. If not, his smooth and dreamy synth-pop single ‘2012’ is a good place to start. The Japanese group WORLD ORDER gained a notable Internet presence through their catchy tunes and choreographed dance routines a few years back, still going strong today with concerts, advertisements and periodic album releases. While their self-titled ‘WORLD ORDER’ is their most popular song to date, I thought I’d take a glance at a piece that might’ve slipped under the radar.
Soothing and gentle, ‘2012’ leans more toward the low-key with its synthetic violins and electronic notes. The video is just as beautiful, embracing the natural beauty of Mexico City both in its environments and downtown cultures. This group clearly loves what they do yet don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing the confused and delighted reaction shots of passerbys to permeate multiple shots. It’s not an easy balance to strike and Genki Sudo’s WORLD ORDER encourages it in spades.
Perfection is when we’re here
Perfection is where we’re going to
Alternative & Chill-Pop
Alternative has always been a mainstay with me. It’s a slapdash of everything, the best of rock, pop, electronica, synth-pop, hip-hop and just about whatever it needs to hold your attention and lift your heart. A veritable delicious stew where you can’t figure out where one genre starts and the other ends. It’s just brilliant. If you’ve got a hankering for some quality soul and funk instead, check out my previous post here.
Since alternative is such a broad category, I’m going to switch it up a little with future Sharing The Goodness posts. Alternative and electronica or alternative and jazz, for example, are likely candidates for the future! ‘Til then, let’s take a look at the smooth and more relaxed end of things — alternative and chill-pop.
1. “Sly” by Polographia ft. Winston Surfshirt
Double-feature time! I found this band pretty recently while browsing different playlists. With the political landscape getting more hectic by the second, I am in a constant need for something to slow down my heart rate and put me in a better headspace. Polographia’s fantastic old-school melodies and delightfully relaxed approach have since weaseled their way into my own ongoing playlists and I don’t think they’ll be leaving any time soon.
Don’t confuse relaxed with boring, however — their single ‘Sly’ has enough zest to get you moving, but is low-key enough to be as comfortable in a car radio while speeding down the highway as a temporary snooze on a warm beach. Alternative really is a little bit of everything! For those that want a solid first impression, ‘Sly’s throwback sound and vaporware music video are a prime place to start.
Who’s counting all the things you tried
Can’t remember how or why but in the end you’ve grown sly
Soul & Funk
Last week we rounded up some good ambient and R&B tracks. Now we’re taking a look at soul and funk, my go-to genres if I want to feel both chill and inspired. Considering art anxiety is an emotion I still haven’t quite gotten over, these will make the rounds on my playlists when I pull out my tablet pen and get ready for a few hours of sketching. This list is going to have a double-feature, followed by a few artists you may of heard of and may not have.
1. “Inhale, Exhale” by Nao
First impressions go a long way and I’m still pretty peachy over this one. I’m a huge fan of any piece that immediately hooks you in by sheer force of personality, so ‘Inhale, Exhale’ shoots to the top of the list for being characteristic right off the bat. I love the brisk pace, the punctuated back beat and halting delivery. The hook comes in with an entirely different swing and it’s just oozing funky goodness. You can’t help but bob your head to it.
Nao’s vocals are sweet and a little odd, hard to pin down and making you all the more grateful for it. I initially thought the lyrics were discussing a relationship with another person (the default assumption, no doubt), but upon repeat listens I’m actually thinking they’re describing a troubling relationship with alcohol. Even as she recognizes the foolishness of her actions, she finds herself falling back into the spiral of metaphorical oceans and rivers with every ‘inhale and exhale’. A stylish melody with abstract lyrics. I like it.
Glass empty or full
Quench my thirsty tongue, I’m drinking it
Ambient & R&B
Time for the second round-up! The first Sharing The Goodness focused on indie and folk — this time we’re touching on some atmospheric ambient and R&B. Since art is malleable and not always easily categorized, a few of these are going to have some soul and electronica flavorings.
These songs have been kicking around on my playlists for months, so it feels good to take a look at why they’ve affected me so much.
1. “Message” by Kelela
You can’t go wrong with Kelela. It took me a little thinking as to which song to choose for the list and I ended up picking the one I keep coming back to. ‘Message’ is a piece that invokes the subconscious and steady nature of breathing, incredibly minimalist and slow with its swaying backbeats and emphasis on a strong vocal presence. Coupled with a deceptively simple music video that later transforms into a lush animated experiment, Kelela is an artist that really doesn’t mind playing around with your expectations.
The lyrics are brutally honest. I’m 100% down with a woman who’s fed the hell up with a significant others’ callous behavior, creating a foundation for a song that can either act as smooth catharsis or a pretty warning sign depending on where you stand. Personally? It helped mete out a few of my frustrated feelings during a break-up. Thanks, Kelela!
When you look at me, you’re somewhere else
And all we know is all we got
Indie & Folk
This marks a new weekly segment: Sharing The Goodness! It’s exactly what it says on the tin — I’ll be sharing songs I’ve come across and feel could use a little more attention. Whether it’s a bouncy disco track I heard a week ago or an obscure acoustic number I’ve been bobbing my head to over the past month, I’ll be rounding them up five at a time every Saturday to help these artists get more exposure and to help you get some inspiration for the work week. Better yet, I’ll be grouping these up by genre(s) so you’ll know what you’re getting into. Not too fond of rock? Want to see more electronica or synth-pop? Just keep an eye out for my next piece.
After all, I want to share the goodness!
Starting off the list: indie and folk. Considering I’m a huge fan of this sound, expect me to re-visit these a lot in future posts. I’ll also occasionally put an artist on the list twice, if I feel their repertoire is just too damn grand to be confined to one suggestion. (Links in the titles!)
1. “Sing To The Moon” by Laura Mvula
I was indirectly introduced to Laura Mvula by a mutual on Twitter, who then told me she’d make me cry, no less. Well, they weren’t wrong. British-born folk and neo-soul musician Laura Mvula is a tour-de-force, tugging on your heartstrings even as she sweeps you off your feet and ignites your imagination. ‘Sing To The Moon’ is the very definition of a showstopper — a gentle chorus and tender vocals initially draws you in, only to wrench at your heart with fanciful violins and harp strings. Even better? The lyrics are beautiful.
They hearken to a friend or a family member holding your hand through hard times, invoking hope when life is pushing anything but. Too many songs attempting to relate to a ‘general and impersonal audience’ can come off as overly vague or corny, but Laura Mvula knows exactly who she’s talking to and why. The despondent and the depressed, the hopeless regularly beaten down by reality yet turning their faces to the sky for one last look nonetheless.
Sing to the moon and the stars will shine,
Over you, lead you to the other side