Summer definitely puts us in all kinds of moods… Here’s what the summer of 2018 sounded like for ACRN!
Devon Hannan, Editorial Director: Dance Gavin Dance — “Care”
This post-hardcore track has all of the ingredients necessary for a certified summertime banger. From Dance Gavin Dance’s latest chaotic album Artificial Selection, “Care” is about a relationship that is being ripped to shreds. Well-rounded and polished, this track is impossible not to blast at full volume with the windows rolled down.
With incredible guitar work, Will Swan carries DGD once again. Twinkly riffs uphold both clean and harsh vocal performances while creating the slickest DGD single to date. Additionally, the track’s transition is as smooth as a “Hot Nut” shot at Tony’s, allowing Tilian Pearson’s vocals to cascade effortlessly into a new rhythm. “Care” is sharp, innovative and classically nasty in all the right ways.
Jon Fuchs, Music Director: JPEGMAFIA –– “1539 N. Calvert”
JPEGMAFIA’s latest masterpiece, Veteran, is an album that really knew how to pluck at my heartstrings. I’ve been a fan of the Baltimore/L.A.-based rapper for years now and am finally relieved to see him get some recognition. It’s an album I’ve waited for what feels like years now to listen to, and it’s also one of the noisiest and most beautiful records I’ve ever heard. Peggy’s experimental sampling and rich love for Baltimore is truly unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and his addicting energy has only been helping him climb the ladder to stardom.
“1539 N. Calvert”, named after Baltimore’s now gone Bell Foundry, is Veteran’s incredibly fierce opener that immediately gets your blood pumping. It’s crude, it’s offensive, and Peggy couldn’t care less about what you think. With how politically screwed up the country has been these last couple of years, it feels super refreshing to have a song this simultaneously upbeat and angry to blast while enjoying a nice heat wave. Also, the line “I beat that shit like Lennon beat his bae” is one of the best lyrics of 2018.
Justin Cudahy, Columns Editor: Gorillaz –– “Humility”
Gorillaz has dabbled in all kinds of genres and styles across their 20-year tenure, from hip-hop and alt-rock to dub and electronica. That being said, it was only a matter of time before Damon Albarn and Co. would release a jam like “Humility” to mark the start of the summer season.
Following up on what was inevitably a poor comeback with 2017’s Humanz (I mean… I thought it was pretty good), the group bounced back just over a year later by doubling down with a new album, in phase and musical direction. Whereas Humanz was more or less a “party” album, “Humility” slows things down a notch and moves in a more jazz-pop direction with legendary jazz artist George Benson lending some euphoric guitar riffs, which perfectly culminates the spirit of summer. The accompanying music video only adds to it, featuring the animated gang and Jack Black rollerblading and soaking in the Venice Beach sun. It’s a feel-good video for a feel-good song –– what more could you ask for in a summer bop?
Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor: Save Face –– “Weak”
Two years of exploring their emo-tinged, alternative punk rock sound has unquestionably paid off with what Save Face has achieved in their debut, Merci. Though the album has just about everything to soundtrack all kinds of summer wins and losses, “Weak” is the song you blast in the car with your friends, butchering the entire chorus at the top of your lungs.
As the gritty, tasty power chords cut through the intro, the anticipation of pop-punk goodness already settles in within the first verse, which bursts into an insanely infectious chorus that is sung emotionally with an ambivalence of regret and desperation: “I don’t wanna know how I wound up in your car again / You think that I’d have better things to do at 5 a.m. / So why don’t you and I go make the same mistake again?” With just enough screams to pack some aggression in the warm, catchy melody, this song will literally have you weak… all week.
Abby Jeffers, Contributor: The Bascinets ––”Jangle Bee”
The guitar riffs on “Jangle Bee”, the opening track of Columbus indie rockers The Bascinets’ album 378 Vol. 1, ring true to the title. Its jangly licks and sweet love-letter lyrics are the focus as vocalist Tristan Huygen begs, “Can I see things the way you do? / Because I love you.”
The beginning seconds of the song are full of jumbled piano, but unlike the first few weeks back to school, the initial chaos quickly resolves into an upbeat verse. “Jangle Bee” is a sunny track, perfect for its July release. It is just cool enough to beat the heat on a summer day, and its “barely-there” twang cuts through the stiflingly-hot air with ease. Huygen’s vocals are smooth like black coffee, with a “too-cool-for-this” attitude. They also contrast pleasantly with the surf-pop instrumental, blending to create a surprisingly-sunny love song.
Andrew Breazeale, Contributor: Mitski –– “Nobody”
Before the release of her album, Be the Cowboy, Mitskireleased three singles, one of which was the soon-to-be smash hit, “Nobody”. Now one of her most popular songs, Mitski’s “Nobody” is an indie rock take on a classic sad song. Singing about being alone and how “still nobody wants me” is a common theme in music these days, but the style of the song turns this common message into an emotional glimpse of the Japanese-American singer’s struggles with body image and love.
Her otherworldly voice opens a window into her soul, and the slow buildup to the repetitive but entrancing chorus makes the song more and more infectious with each listen. Her masterful lyrics describe her need for human connection and draw out the emotions of those listening, connecting the artist to the audience in a deeply personal way. Though it may sound like an upbeat rock song, the slow fading of the lyrics, “Nobody, nobody, no,” at the end of the song leave the listener with tears and the longing for someone to hold.
Jessica Jones, Contributor: Kali Uchis –– “Flight 22”
The dream-like feel of this song gets me every time; Kali Uchis’ voice is like butter. With a jazzy tone, this song was always a go-to on my playlist. Kali Uchis never fails to deliver, with music or looks, consistently serving ’60s housewife vibes and transferring that aesthetic into her tunes. Complete with violin and gentle drum beats, this easygoing tune is perfect for laying out during the dog days of summer.
Lane Moore, Contributor: ITEM –– “Magnesium”
Much of my summer was spent on drives with my best friends. We listened to a myriad of music, ranging from skramz, to rap, to shoegaze to pop-punk; however, the song that meant the most to me during those simple times with my friends was “Magnesium” by ITEM. The guitar on the track is riddled with delayed guitar coupled with tremolo and reverb effects. As a result, the mix is spacy and all-encompassing, especially once the clean and esoteric vocals are taken into account.
As my friends and I “watch[ed] the day pass” each time we were together, the end of this song reminded us all of something. It brought the telestic feeling of the ending of another chapter of our adolescence to light. The end builds ominously and gracefully, and even with the absence of vocals, prompted memories of all we had done and all that can be. After the crashing of cymbals and hailing of guitars, the instrumentation comes to a close just as fast as the summer did, followed by a dissonant, electronic noise that symbolized our separate futures, and possibly, the rest of our lives.
Kiah Easton, Contributor: Foodman –– “Clock (feat. Machina)”
“Clock (feat. Machina)” is the first teaser track from Foodman’s upcoming project, Aru Otoko No Densetsu. The track is a mix between an ambient soundscape and a jumble of textured, organic sounds. Woodblocks, soft electric piano, crumpling paper and toy xylophones are layered and interspersed to create a numbingly-chaotic environment for Foodman’s guest vocalist to explore. The abstract elements are all brought together by Machina’s vocals as she guides the listener through Foodman’s obscure world. The meticulous and satisfying sound design allows for a meditative refrain from the typical high-energy summer banger.
Fairly lengthy, the single clocks out at four minutes thirty-six seconds, with a few deviations from its original elements. The beauty in the repetitiveness lies in its ability to lull the listener into a vacuum, giving them a few minutes free from the constant buzz of life. If listened to with headphones, the various noises pan from left to right and create a seemingly-physical space to slip away to when in need of a short retreat.
Kwase Lane, Contributor: Tyler the Creator x A$AP Rocky –– “Potato Salad”
If there’s one artist who claimed summer 2018, it’s Tyler the Creator. Dropping nine tracks in three months is no easy feat, but Tyler’s nonchalant release of each song shows his cultivated confidence. After his domination, “Potato Salad” feels like a bit of a victory lap for him.A$AP Rocky joins Tyler on this track, and boy does it bop. I can’t help but smile when Tyler’s raspy voice grinds against the buttery smooth beat. Rocky isn’t to be slept on either, dropping lines like “I find it hard to find actual talent / I find it hard to find an actual challenge / I’m like Shabazz Palace’s last acid hit, elaborate.” This song is dripping with swagger –– can you blame me for wanting to bathe in its sonic gush? Tyler ends the track saying “I have nothing cool to do,” but that’s excusable. I’d be tired too if I spent the last few months dunking on the rest of the rap game.
Josh Pettis, Contributor: Kero Kero Bonito –– “Time Today”
“Time Today”, Kero Kero Bonito’s teaser for their upcoming album Time ’n’ Place, is the cutest, most sugary, Casio keyboard-sounding sonic experience from the London-based bubblegum bass/hip-hop/J-pop act in a hot minute. If you thought KKB wedged itself neatly into an over-the-top, hyper-poppy corner with Bonito Generation (which doesn’t sound all that bad anyway), then you’re going to want to open up your schedule and find a couple minutes to crack open a seltzer water by the pool for this one.
You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to find vocalist Sarah Midori Perry fitting her lyrics to just about anything and holding together an entire track that hardly feels like a linear follow-up to the carefree likes of something as iconic as “Flamingo”. This most recent offering falls on the more sparkly, upbeat side of the Kero Kero spectrum: the warm tape feeling, toyish keyboards, softly layered synths and chromatic bursts of lo-fi, old-school, video game-esque sounds, which generate a backdrop that’s almost too playful for how ruminatively Perry weaves her way through the track. “Time Today” listens like a paradigm shift in KKB’s musical career, coming to represent something refreshingly genuine and aurally distinct from the PC aesthetic they’ve cultivated thus far.
Originally published on ACRN.com on September 17, 2018.