The August That Was

Poor, neglected blog.

It’s been crickets over here at In My Ear. Not for lack of listening to great music, mind you, but for lack of time and energy to write about it during an August that refused to calm the eff down even for a second. So it goes for this non-monetized side hustle.

But, but, but there is a bit more summer in early September in Maine! Time enough to highlight some tracks that I was jamming out to during the hectic, heady, hazy days of late August.

Ider / Wu Baby

I’ve already posted about Ider, whose record Emotional Education will surely be an In My Ear 2019 Album Pick. But, I must mention them again and call out this song because I got my 7 and 5 year old into it — meaning we listen to it all. the. damn. time. Wu Baby occupies the top spot as the most played song of my Apple Music library. Incredibly, it has not gone stale.

The Regrettes / Dress Up

The return of an In My Ear favorite, The Regrettes released How Do You Love? in August, their sophomore follow-up to their dynamite (and awesomely titled) debut album Feel Your Feelings Fool! There is a bit more range on the new record, some tighter production, and all the other stuff you’d hope to see on a band living into itself and growing from album to album. But, they remain true to their strength; smart, straight ahead, spiky pop punk .

DAISY / Day Off

Man, I just love music. DAISY was a new find for me this summer and I have been vibing with them for days and weeks ever since I heard this track. Together since 2014, they’ve put out one EP to-date. Day Off is only their second single. If it sounds a bit like The Internet, then you’re an astute know-it-all. The bandmates are friends and The Internet’s Matt Martians wrote the beat for Day Off. Fronted by Daisy Hamel-Buffa and her butter-smooth, classic-soul-sounding voice, DAISY cooks through this track. It remains at the top of my list for playing loudly on those good-feeling days.

The Good People / A Summer Night at the Symphony (feat. MXNXPXLY Family)

Another new find for me. The Good People, a hip hop duo consisting of respected NYC-area DJs, MCs, and producers Emskee and Saint, put out a record so perfect for the summer, they named it that — The Summer EP. Six tracks and 23 minutes of smooth, soulful hip-hop. They describe themselves and this album best on the track Windows Down, rhyming “West Coast laid back with that East Coast sound.” But, it’s the cut A Summer Night at the Symphony that stands out; an homge to The Juice Crew’s The Symphony and featuring fellow underground MCs MXNXPXLY that sounds equal parts classic and insanely fresh.

YBN Cordae / Broke As F**k

YBN Cordae‘s debut studio album The Lost Boy is straight fire. One of the best rap records released in 2019 IMO. Tight, taut, smart raps; solid production; a range of styles with some killer guest artists; and, throughout, bars and bars for days. Part of the YBN collective of young, talented MCs (an online game crew turned viral rap collective) who claim and champion a youth movement in hip hop , Cordae is clearly steeped in classic rap and channels some of the best of it. Broke as F**k is just insanely good….and has all kind of echoes of Nas.

Blood Orange / Dark & Handsome (feat. Tory y Moi)

Devonte (Dev) Hynes is the musician, producer, songwriter, and composer behind Blood Orange, a solo project of slinky, spacious, inventive R&B. It’s a perfect palate for the likes of Tory y Moi. Off of Blood Orange’s record Angel’s Purse, released in mid-July, the overall vibe of Dark & Handsome is what lingers for me. I still haven’t checked out the lyrics because I’m so captivated by this track’s movement. Airy, atmospheric production; discordant, buzzy synths that lend a slight underlying menace; a tight, staccato beat; and Hynes’ soprano, ear-candy vocal melody that pulls it all together. Since my first listen, I’ve returned to this track over and over and over again.

Snoh Aalegra / Find Someone Like You

Another repeat feature. I wrote and swooned about Snoh Aalegra’s first single off her at-the-time upcoming album. That album was released in mid-August — gamely titled Ugh, those feels again — and Find Someone Like You is the next track to completely slay me. But, slay me in the quietest, smoothest, sexiest way possible. The track opens with staccato piano chords straight out of a 1950s soul/jazz standard and proceeds in that vein, but with modern R&B stylings of a beat track, Aalegra’s smooth and fluid vocals, and a gospel choir finale. A breezy song that calls to mind the image of an arm outstretched from a car window, fingers moving dreamily in the wind on a warm summer night.

Spoon / No Bullets Spent

I don’t know how Spoon does it. I don’t know how they keep releasing new music that sounds *exactly* like a Spoon track — literally, exactly how you’d expect it to sound — without it ever sounding tired or repetitive. Even when they stretch out and change things up a bit, you know almost immediately that you’re listening to Spoon AND it always rocks like a Spoon song. Sure, a lot of that has to do with Britt Daniel’s distinct, raspy voice. That may make their music consistent across albums and decades, but it doesn’t alone explain how fresh they sound with each new, familiar-sounding track. And, so it is with No Bullets Spent.

Missy Elliott / Throw it Back

Speaking of consistency and awesomeness, welcome Missy Elliott back to the stage (she never really left) with a banging new EP and the single Throw it Back to bomb your stereo and blow out your subwoofer. And, welcome to my last two weeks, because this song has been on repeat since it came out August 23. Head-nodding and hypnotic, Missy commands it all with her usual effortless delivery, smart rhymes, and the bravado of a legend. “What ya doin’ now, I did for a while.” Respect, Queen.

The Internet — Roll (Burbank Funk)

Yikes, July up and ran away from me. After a brief, unannounced hiatus (oops, sorry y’all. #nonmonetizedsidehustle), In My Ear is back! And, we’re going to crush it this week with three new posts to make up for the three weeks of lost time.

Starting with….this. f*cking. jam. right. here. and the album release of July for me. Recently, I’ve recommitted to daily recording things for which I am grateful. Little things. Big things. Basic things. Amazing things. Whatever. While I get the premise and accept whatever data exists on the benefits of feelings of gratitude, it’s an ongoing struggle to cultivate the practice and reap those benefits.

I’ll tell you what, though, I am damn grateful for The Internet. And, I sure as hell wrote that down in my journal when their new album Hive Mind dropped on July 20.

theinternet_hivemind

With the exception of Erykah Badu, there is no other performer or group who channels 1970s OG funk better or more often for me than The Internet. There is just an instantaneous flow when they kick into a groove, like they do on Roll (Burbank Funk).

But, the sound isn’t just simply a throwback. Nah. The Internet’s music sounds fresh and current, even as it draws so clearly on classic bass-driven, syrupy, rolling funk. It’s also the sound of a really tight band — excellent, independently accomplished musicians in each of their own rights — that sparks magic every time they come together on a record.

This track is money all the way. It starts with a drum beat and hand claps (called to my mind right away De La Soul, People Under the Stairs, and EWF’s various odes to Saturdays), adds in a delicious bass line, a somewhat surprising lead vocal turn from guitarist Steve Lacy, and then settles into 3-ish minutes of throbbing, definitely rolling, but also spacious funk. If you’re not hooked 30 seconds into this, I’m not sure what to say….

[Verse 2]
As you’re coming down
Where’d your heart go?

[Chorus]
Star shine so bright
It’s all in your heart
They’re up so high
It’s all in your heart
I wanna fly
Look no further
Let your heart flow

[Post-Chorus]
Roll, roll, roll, roll
Roll, roll, roll
Let your heart flow…

The groove stands on it’s own, but tapping into the lyrics added another level for me. Simple and repetitive (and feeling to me like direct, personal encouragement), they are perfectly matched with the music in pace and theme.

After a three year hiatus between albums, I wonder and like to think that these lyrics reflect the headspace for how The Internet came back together and got on track to make this record…and do what they do so expertly and distinctly.