We got a pretty stacked list of albums, EPs and singles for this volume of GOOD Music. Let’s do this!
Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant
Favorite tracks: Sip Into Something Soft, Chivalry Is Not Dead, And We Go Gentle, Get Sun, All the Words We Don’t Say, Red Room, Stone or Lavender
This album brings a really refreshingly creative blend of neo-soul and nu-jazz, despite it having rough patches of production in the track list. I thought the instrumentally dense tracks in the first half have compelling flourishes and the grooves are energetic. Sure, the instrumental mix sounds a bit tangled and messy, but there’s a charm to the energy of the arrangements – this quality particularly rings through in Get Sun, Chivalry is Dead and All the Words We Don’t Say. The more soul-like songs feature vocals that have a wonderful range to them and the choruses are often catchy, especially in tracks like And We Go Gentle and Red Room. I’m digging this record quite a bit, I have a feeling it’s going to grow on me even more.
C. Tangana – El Madrileño
Favorite tracks: Demasiadas mujeres, Tú me dejaste de querer, Comerte entera, Nunca estoy, Nominao, Muriendo de envidia, CAMBIA!, Los tontos
While the production is a bit too compressed and commercial sounding, I have to say the left-field ideas in the production, the features, and catchy hooks. I got introduced to this album through Comerte Entera, the vocals of C. Tangana match the production blend of flamenco and art-pop, and that’s the case for a number of tracks on the album, as well – like Tú me dejaste de querer and Nunca Estoy. The features bring more Latin flair to the instrumentation, and that brings the production to a grander level like in Muriendo de envidia and CAMBIA!. If nothing else, this record boasts a solid mix of adventurous Latin pop.
Susumu Hirasawa – BEACON
Favorite tracks: BEACON, The Cognitive Another World…, Disappearing Topia, Ranks of Burning Flowers, Landing, Cold Song, Ghost Train, The End of Timeline
I’m familiar with his soundtrack work on Satoshi Kon’s movies but I’ve never tried out any of his solo albums (apparently he’s got over a dozen of them). This is a solid point of introduction for me because I’m really enjoying it. Right off the bat, the classical influence is strong with the tide-like vocal lines, the synths sound symphonic and match well with the chamber instruments, and the percussion has a march-like quality. The guitar riffs are memorable, too. I think the vocals on the record that make it so compelling – they have this strange mantra-like, operatic feel to them, the use of choral vocals is tasteful. The production on almost every single track feels ornate and “living”. I feel like the last two tracks kind of run out of ideas in terms of instrumentation. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that this is an assorted set of really creatively composed art-pop songs, even the underwhelming tracks have intriguing instrumentation.
Billie Eilish – Happier than Ever
Favorite tracks: Getting Older, I Didn’t Change My Number, my future, Oxytocin, Goldwing, Not My Responsibility, OverHeated, Your Power, NDA, Therefore I Am, Happier Than Ever
Okay, the last Billie Eilish album? I couldn’t get into it, there were some songs that were good but a good majority of the tracks didn’t grab me. But this new Billie Eilish album? I clicked with this on first listen. Her songwriting has matured a lot, Finneas’ production is subtly detailed and so well-curated for her vocals. There are some unexpected industrial elements in the production like in the backend of I Didn’t Change My Number, Oxytocin (that’s now my favorite Billie song so far), and NDA. There’s even a show-stopping alt-rock stunner like the title track. Even the ballads have their own bite to them through the songwriting, particularly in Getting Older and Your Power. Even the underwhelming tracks aren’t unlistenable (i.e. Everybody Dies and Lost Cause). So yeah, very cool sophomore album, hope she keeps up this creative streak on future albums.
Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
Favorite tracks: Buzzcut, Chain On, The Light, Windows, What’s the Occasion?, Don’t Shoot Up the Party, Dear Lord, The Light Pt. II
It took a while for me to appreciate this album, I had this insurmountable level of expectation going into this back in April and so I obviously got let down. Coming back to this now made me realize that the songwriting on some of the cuts is some of the strongest the boyband has put out so far – I mean look at songs like The Light (and The Light pt. 2) and Windows. Still, I think the vocal chemistry between the members is weaker than ever, I don’t feel that lightning-in-a-bottle type of electricity in their back-and-forth as it were back in the Saturation and iridescence eras. However, that’s not to say that their chemistry is completely gone, there are revival-like moments in Buzzcut, Don’t Shoot Up the Party, and the last three tracks on the LP. I guess Brockhampton now operates more on a sub-unit level, and that’s not all that bad. Overall, I came away from liking a good handful of tracks from the album, and I think this is more of a grower compared to their previous records.
GFOTY – FEMMEDORM
Favorite tracks: Brand New Bra, Hard King, The Beach, Kooks Song, Baby Freestyle, Fish in Lake
Back in 2017, GFOTY’s compilation was my proper introduction to hyper pop/ PC Music. To this day, I think GFOTY’s songwriting on there is hedonistically entertaining and that mixtape has some of my favorite cuts of hyper/bubblegum pop ever released. Unfortunately, I’m not as much of a fan of her other stuff, they sounded a lot more out-there in a not memorable way. But this new album does have tracks that bring back those aspects and, honestly, some of the best GFOTY songs so far. Brand New Bra is funny as hell and it’s probably my favorite track from her since 2017. Kooks Song ironically sounds like an A.G. Cook song with that soaring synth lead. The production, overall, sounds very bubbly and a bit too summery with absurdist elements… y’know it’s hyper pop – like The Beach and Hard King. There are some tracks that just sound flat, especially the opening and closing tracks – but I think this is quite an enjoyable, short record with more highlights than duds.
Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Favorite tracks: Michelangelo, New Bikini, Hard Drive, Crosshairs, The Ramble
This feels like a travel journal packaged in an ambient folk album in a very memorable way. The production has this soft jazz blended with binaural field recordings aesthetic to it – and the last track on the album sounds exactly like that. Jenkins’ lyricism often features great turns of phrases that swing between feeling like stream-like consciousness and authentically crafted. Her vocals ride the tides of the instrumentation really well, especially during the first three tracks. Her vocal lines on Crosshairs are really pretty. I think the only dud on the record is Hailey, it’s sparse but it’s the shortest song so it’s not really a huge bump. Overall, this is just a pretty-sounding, healing album front to back.
Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
Favorite tracks: ALL OF THEM
Sinner Get Ready is one of those rare cinematic experiences packaged as albums. The sound design is nearly immaculate, the instruments and drone are engineered like it’s a living, breathing thing – the instrumentation transforms and goes through ebbs and flows throughout the track list. There’s even field recording bits that sometimes transition from track to another. Hayter’s vocals are sermon-like, often sounding gut-rippingly tortured and harrowing in some songs, and often transcendental (I don’t say that lightly) in others. It’s impressive how harrowing and out-of-body the record sounds like even after Hayter ditched most of the death industrial elements from her previous albums and embrace more minimal but haunting sonic textures. The lyricism shares tortured spiritual and liturgical themes but this time around, it’s more more about questioning her faith, the hellish fires of Pennsylvania’s coal mines and, of course, the blood of Jesus. I think the album is greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, there were sparse moments where the direction stumbled a bit – but as a cohesive single body of work, I think it’s one of the best album-listening experiences I’ve had this year so far.
Joy – Hello
Favorite tracks: Hello, Je t’aime, If Only, Happy Birthday To You, Be There For You
So I’m late to party with this, but Red Velvet’s Joy has put out a solo EP of covers… and frankly, it’s probably one of the best K-pop releases of the year so far. The title track starts off as CM-grade commercial track but it does feature some detailed instrumentation and Joy’s vocals meld with the vibrant production so well. And that’s the case for almost all the tracks on this EP. The chamber instrumental is delicate as Joy’s vocals on Je t’aime, the woodwind lick on If Only is delightful and the playful production on the last two tracks are smile-inducing. The only track I didn’t like is Day by Day, the chorus didn’t do it for me. But still, this is a colorfully toned pop EP.
Dos Monos -Dos Siki 2nd Season
Favorite tracks: A Spring Monkey Song, Sagittarius, Estrus
I didn’t even know these were a set of remixes from their Dos Siki EP because they sound like completely new tracks. As usual, the tracks are wild and freaky. Each track sounds like a wonderfully messy smorgasbord of polar genres and influences thanks to their features. And of course, they have black midi on for a track (Estrus) that’s absolutely insane. I wish they would put together a full-length album where they bring on this variety of features – it would be cool.
Poppy – Eat (NXT Soundtrack)
Favorite tracks: EAT, Say Cheese, CUE, Dark Dark World
I don’t know what in the world NXT is but Poppy’s metalcore cuts on this EP fucking rip. The mixing of the instruments is heavy as hell, and Poppy’s vocals go as hard as the instrumentals. I love how the song structures are playful, and Poppy’s incorporation of Japanese phrases is a nice touch to the choruses (particularly in the title track). If this kind of sound is developed in the upcoming album, call me excited.
Hey what do you know? I actually have a handful of singles to talk about this time around.
Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open
I can’t believe I missed this back in March, but I’m glad I listened to this when their second single came out. The whole song is delightful, the vocal chemistry between the two is pure bliss. I’m hyped for their album.
Weeekly – After School
This is a bop and a half. The chorus melody has this 2000s-era Jpop vibe to it, which is nostalgic. The production has that aesthetic but modernized with cute blends of trap and bubblegum bass. My first rule of thumb when judging formulaic, radio-ready K-pop is seeing whether the hip-hop segment is good or not – and it’s good. So, the song is great, I’ll be checking out their latest EP in a bit.
Zeal & Ardor – Erase
The shrill guitar riff soaring above the marching vocals and metal riffage gives off this ominous, heavy atmosphere. The phases of the songs meld together smoothly, and that drum solo outro was wonderful. The B-side, Run, is equally as electric.
Lil Nas X – MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) [SATAN’S EXTENDED VER.]
Industry Baby is a cool song and all, but it reminded me that I didn’t mention Montero (especially the extended version) in my previous GOOD Music posts. Montero‘s probably the catchiest Lil Nas X tune for me, it’s making me look forward to his upcoming album. I love the hook’s melody and the flamenco in the production. It’s short and sweet.
AKMU – Nakka (ft. IU)
I thought their new EP was alright but the track featuring IU is pretty catchy. The synths are playful – it’s been a while since AKMU has put out tracks with production this playful (probably since Dinosaur). The bass is colorful during the bridge and chorus sections.
That’s all I have for today. Thanks for stopping by.