There are some big acts that have released/are releasing albums in September, but my anticipation for any of them pales in comparison to the interest I have in this particularly project. Their last album was excellent, and the previews we’ve had from this, particularly the hugely-acclaimed Dontcha, have suggested that’s only going to evolve and get better with their sophomore LP.
13 tracks make up the project, one which promises to be a little livelier and more instrument-driven than their synthy, atmospheric layering found in their debut album. Of course, it’ll still all be tied together with a chillout sensibility, and it’s that combination which could make this essential listening this winter, and probably again in the summer.
Their burgeoning status has given rise to a few noteworthy appearances- their recent work on Mac Miller’s tour has been repaid with a Mac feature, whilst Jesse Boykins III reprises his connection with Matt Martians (see The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s most recent album), and the wonderfully gifted Yuna lends her vocals to proceedings. Adding to that is Tay Walker, a previous collaborator, rounding off what is a small but promising batch of features, all of which make plenty of theoretical sense. It’s all about Syd and Matt though, and I’m sure they’ll deliver once again- find out here with the stream, and be sure to buy the album on Tuesday.
This just became my new favourite song. Expect a biased review.
When reviewing their release last week, I mentioned that their new material is expected to be closer to their live performances than their previous work, and hence fans may require adjustment. Whilst that holds true, this track lands in a perfect medium between their atmospheric sound on Purple Naked Ladies and the livelier sound they’re now going for, and requires no adjustment to appreciate. The production combines gentle melodies and easygoing percussion for a smooth sound that simply oozes cool from start to finish, whilst also adding a little funk courtesy of the bouncy bass and crisp lead guitar on the hook. Syd’s vocals are excellent again, moving from a delicate yet emotional delivery in the verses through to an incredibly catchy and mellow chorus that’ll rattle around your brain for weeks.
The video is an easygoing one, featuring the band performing the track in minimal surroundings, filtered through a monchrome style, and making for an uncomplicated accompaniment to the track. Look out for a Chad Hugo cameo- not out of context either, as he’s contributed to the production on the new LP. If you’re of eclectic tastes, it’s the type of track you’ll constantly go back to as safe, fallback listening in a few months when you’re not sure what to listen to- until then, it’s a fantastically smooth jam that I’ll play to death, and has hugely upped expectations for Feel Good.
The duo have announced their Feel Good album will land on 24th September, and if it’s anywhere near as good as Purple Naked Ladies (and its bonus tracks EP), it’ll be a thoroughly excellent project. They’ve mentioned that the new album will be more representative of their live performances, and hence I’d expect it to be a little less synthy and atmospheric, and a touch sharper and more upbeat- not bad changes at all, and a sideways move that should still allow their inherent mellow qualities to shine through.
The original Partners In Crime remains one of my absolute favourites from their back catalogue, and its sequel is a clear representation of that stylistic switch. They’ve retained some small vocal portions from the original, creating a nice bridge between the two parts, whilst backing it with crisp, lively percussion and a jazzy set of melodies that both enhance the upbeat qualities and add in more relaxing elements. It’s a good backdrop, and one that both contrasts and works with Syd’s wonderfully smooth vocals to good effect. Truthfully, if you’re a fan of the original, it’ll take a lot of getting used to as all of the synth-driven night pop elements of the first part have been thrown out for this multi-instrument effort- if you can take it independently of part one though, it’s musically superb. Looking forward to more from the new LP.
I’ve never had anything against Mac’s music at all, but equally I’ve not been fully coerced into launching properly into his work. With that said, his upcoming Watching Movies With the Sound Off album is shaping up to be excellent. Due for release on 18th June (with Kanye and J. Cole, of course), features and producers are set to include Jay Electronica (yep, he’s alive), Earl Sweatshirt, Pharrell, Flying Lotus, ScHoolboy Q, Action Bronson and more. It’s a great lineup, and time will tell if Mac holds his own in such company.
The album’s tracklisting doesn’t have Odd Future’s The Internet featuring on this track, but here they hook up with Mac for a first listen to the Pharrell-produced number from the LP. My lack of exposure to Mac also means his live work is a mystery to me, and here he’ll definitely win some fans with a solid performance; he steps between singing and rapping with a vocal delivery that smoothly hovers the two, and commits either way in small segments and where required. It’s a show of versatility that works for him- he’s not a natural singer and hence isn’t vocally perfect at all, but his imperfections add to what is a raw, committed performance, and the slick instrumentation from Matt Martians and co. not only helps set the mellow vibe, but also fills any gaps in Mac’s vocal work with smooth, relaxing production. I’m very much into this; more of this quality, and there may be a dark horse in the race for the best album on 18th June.
We were treated to a stream of this single a few months back, and the duo took to KEXP (whatever that is) to offer a good live performance of the track.
I’ve not seen or heard Syd perform live (or indeed, Matt Martians), but it’s almost relieving to hear this as it’s always good to know your favourite acts aren’t just studio performers. Syd’s vocals are admirably close to their studio equivalent, with her unique whispery, rough-around-the-edges delivery complementing the live instrumentation well, and creating the atmosphere and ambience the duo’s tracks are so heavily entrenched in.
The use of live instrumentation in itself is a good touch too, given that most acts would usually just opt for the studio instrumental rather than risk altering the song’s sound, and it’s a decision that comes off here to add a crispness to proceedings. Good performance, and hopefully more new material is on its way.
Whilst we wait on new material from the talented duo, The Internet come through with a remix of upcomer Mikky Ekko’s single, lacing his soulful voice with their trademark laidback vibes.
Mikky’s seemingly got a very strong voice, though his ability to rein in his rousing vocals and packing the same emotion into his more hushed sections is the facet most impressive here, and its the one best suited to the backdrop provided. Soft, funky flashes of bass, airy synths and a dash of other samples and effects combine for a relaxing collection of layers, and a subservient, dynamic backdrop that emphasises Mikky’s voice in just the right places rather than overly repeating itself throughout the track. Good slice of mellow soul, and let’s hope they’ve got some of their own on the way.
Always a pleasure to have new material from Matt Martians and Syd Tha Kyd (who appear to have dropped ‘The’ from their name), and they’re gearing up to release their first project since dropping off the excellent Purple Naked Ladies album just under a year ago. The laidback soul stylings of that album made for excellent listening, and their upcoming Feel Good EP will hopefully provide more of that next month.
This track is much livelier and more positive than the chilled, sometimes downbeat approach their LP took, and the title of the forthcoming EP could suggest a shift towards this style. It doesn’t sacrifice their natural smoothness, but instead layers it up with a more summery vibe courtesy of perky guitar plucks, sharp and bouncy percussion, and vocals that operate much more in the foreground than their previous works. The lyricism still has hints of bittersweet qualities, creating a nice consistency with their regular produce, and this is one that definitely feels like a step forward for the duo without detracting from what they’re good at.
Not hugely (remotely) familiar with the original, but as a big fan of Mike G’s raps and The Internet’s general existence, there’s plenty of attraction to the track, and it actually stands up fairly well.
The video is trippy, deliberately rough-looking and mostly random; everything you’d expect from heavy Odd Future involvement. There’s little more to say: it’s frighteningly hypnotising (those creeping skeletons are weirdly mesmerising), works strangely well with the audio, is completely bizarre and yet I just can’t stop watching it.
Matt Martians (who I’m assuming helmed most of the production work as part of The Internet) does a great job with the beat, keeping it funky and bouncy throughout but throwing in those spacey, atmospheric, Jet Age of Tomorrow-esque synths where he can, making for a good overall beat that’s prevented from becoming annoying by simply being quite short. The highlight for me is undoubtedly Mike G’s verse, with his relaxed yet ever-slick flow being a great contrast to the psychedelic production, whilst his lyricism works within the confines of the track well without stunting his naturally clever style. The YouTube description suggests this is out on 19th August, so keep an eye out for it to hit iTunes then.
With December being the manic month that it is, I completely forgot to grab and listen to The Internet’s debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, which is surprising considering how warmly recieved the offerings preceding the album’s release were. Nonetheless, memories everywhere have been jogged and I’m sure many of us will be looking to check that album out sooner rather than later.
Having given these 4 tracks a brief listen, I can absolutely confirm you’re in for another audio delight. The productions are a fantastic combination of uptempo, midtempo and slowed down, with each having a continuity via the atmospheric, relaxing soundscape each track remains layered with, whilst Syd’s vocals (on 3 songs, the other is an instrumental) boast that delicious, and addictive, whispery quality. In recent memory, this has to go down as one of the better free releases any music fan could hope to grab, and you can do so below.
Along with Frank Ocean, The Internet (at this stage) looks like the next entity to emerge from OFWGKTA with some genuine longevity about them. Their music boasts a much wider, more mature and probabaly more lucrative appeal than the violent Odd Future raps, and we’re now treated to a trailer for their upcoming Purple Naked Ladies album, set to be released on 20th December.
One of my favourite elements about The Internet is Matt Martian’s continuation of the atmospheric, slightly trippy style he utilised heavily on The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s Journey to the 5th Echelon, and it certainly lends itself to the soft, soulful vocals of Syd the Kyd. This trailer captures both factors well, opening with a lovely ambience, and closing with mellow yet vibrant vocals that synergise excellently with the production. Very excited for this album, and hopefully it matches the quality of their previous two releases.
From a musical perspective, it has to be said that winter is the best season. Ambient, atmospheric music really comes into its own during the dark, cold months and it’s always a perfect synergy of environment and audio.
Odd Future’s latest collective arrived a week ago with a mellow effort that had a wonderful ethereal quality, and we’re now treated to another R&B/alternative/soul crossover. The production blends sharp percussion with soft synths and samples, making for an atmospheric yet lively backdrop, whilst Syd flexes her sultry vocals, with a soft, enchanting delivery that works the production well. Newcomer Tay Walker brings forth some good vocals of his own, crooning in a real classic R&B style that adds some diversity and contrasts nicely with Syd’s work. A fantastic effort that justifies the love for winter music.
A longer episode this week, with plenty of R&B’s luminaries making appearances this week, including Frank Ocean, Ne-Yo and Trey Songz, alongside a track from the latest group emerging from the Odd Future collective.
Nothing to recap on from the week gone by, so go ahead and treat yourself by clicking below and gorging yourself on the treats within.