Well, these two last weeks felt like a month on hell, but things are alright now. Thankfully, I came across some cool new music in the meantime, and here they are!

ALBUMS

Yola – Stand For Myself

SPOTIFY // BANDCAMP

Favorite tracks: Barely Alive, Dancing Away in Tears, Diamond Studded Shoes, Be My Friend, Great Divide, Now You’re Here, Whatever You Want, Break the Bough, Stand For Myself

While the warm, vintage production sounds easy on the ears, it’s Yola’s voice that powers through all the sepia and brings color to the whole record. The tracklist is just one catchy tune after another. I rarely listen to country music but Yola somehow makes country enjoyable for me, although I’d say the album is more soul than country. Dancing Away in Tears’ vocal harmonies are what hooked me to the album and came away liking it quite a bit. Her vocal range is pretty incredible. Songwriting-wise, there are a few songs that speak to being alive and feeling alive as a Black woman in songs like Barely Alive and the title track. There are a few points in the tracklist where the vocal arrangements didn’t grab me as much. But whenever I do put this on, I rarely find myself skipping any tracks, they go by like a breeze. I’m surprised this isn’t more popular.

Isaiah Rashad – The House Is Burning

SPOTIFY

Favorite tracks: Darkseid, From the Garden, RIP Young, Lay With Ya, Claymore, Headshots, All Herb, True Story, Wat U Sed, Score

Honestly, I don’t have any problems when Rashad brought on features that outshine his performances for a good chunk of the tracklist; they all sound great, and I’m sure that Rashad was aware of this and orchestrated the whole thing, so I don’t want to discredit him too much for not having a stronger presence than them. The production and beat choices are not much to complain about, either – they have a smooth summery theme. The second half isn’t as great, the song’s felt a little too short. Still, a majority of the tracks are wonderful and strangely “feel good” – I put it on whenever I was playing Jedi Fallen Order last week, and it was a good time.

Tinashe – 333

SPOTIFY

Favorite tracks: Let Go, I Can See The Future, Bouncin, Unconditional, Undo, The Chase, Small Reminders, Bouncin Pt. 2

Tinashe and her producers cook up a slightly assorted helping of alt-R&B that sounds equal parts catchy and creative. There are prominent elements of spacey, hypnotic cloud rap style of production in most of my favorite tracks – Bouncin, Unconditional and Small Reminders. The songwriting isn’t as creative or as attention-grabbing, but the hooks are there, Tinashe’s vocals go well with the beats. Because of the relatively lackluster songwriting and unmemorable feature performances, I can’t say that this is a great album through and through. Still, overall, I can’t deny the earworms in the tracklist.

Porter Robinson – Nurture

SPOTIFY

Favorite tracks: Lifelike, Look at the Sky, Get Your Wish, Wind Tempos, Musician, Mother, Sweet Time, Something Comforting, Blossom

At its best moments, this album sounds euphoric and dream-like, this feeling is particularly accentuated in the first half. Even with a relatively inconsistent second half, I think this is one of the more colorful electronic albums I’ve heard this year. The J-pop influence is stronger than ever, the production takes a leaf out of Snail’s House book… in the best way possible. I enjoyed the more toned-down folky tunes at the backend of the album. Whether it’s in the melodies or the songwriting, there’s a strong nostalgic vibe to Nurture. I have a feeling I’m going to like this album more with further listens.

Horsey – Debonair

SPOTIFY // BANDCAMP

Favorite tracks: Sippy Cup, Arms and Legs, Underground, Everyone’s Tongue, Lagoon, Clown

Yo, UK Post-punk is popping off this year. Although this record is more art-punk than post-punk (I still don’t know what the hell post-punk is), there’s no shortage of creative instrumental arrangements. I love how manic the lead vocals get in songs like Sippy Cup and Clown. The lyrics are often as strange as the song structures and vocal performances, with Lagoon being a highlight. The album often sounds like something Ween would cook up back in the day, but I wish it was as consistent – there were moments on the LP that felt super sluggish and underwhelming in the second half. Still, this is a promising debut.

EPs

Rakky Ripper – Xtra Cost

SPOTIFY // BANDCAMP

Favorite tracks: Whatever, Dame y Vete, Coyote

Similar to Slayyyter, Ripper infuses bubblegum hyperpop and 2000’s pop revivalist music to make some catchy tunes on this EP. The songwriting is hedonistic and braggadocios (if the title didn’t give it away). I like the Spanish refrains, and Eurosanto’s production has its own character. Even if it’s sounds derivative at points, I think the performances and production comes through strong and caught my attention.

Weeekly – Play Game : Holiday

SPOTIFY

Favorite tracks: Weekend, Holiday Party, La Luna

This is definitely a more consistent mini-album compared to their previous one. Although none of the tracks are as catchy as After School, the production is vibrant and has more versatility. The opener follows a similar instrumental palette from After School with some fun adlibs sprinkled in, Holiday Party and La Luna have more dance-oriented instrumentals, I think their vocals have gotten better, too. Three of the five tracks here are great, if not just enjoyable.

Red Velvet – Queendom

SPOTIFY

Favorite tracks: Pose, Knock on Wood, Better Be, Pushin’ N Pullin’

This is easily their most consistent mini-album since Summer Magic (released back in 2018). This is like a return to center after a year-long hiatus. The production is very on-brand and safe, yet it’s still fun. The title track is probably the weakest one in the EP, and this isn’t a first for an RV EP. The vocal lines and their harmonizations are better than ever in tracks like Better Be and Pushin’ N Pullin’, which only leaves the raps to complain about – still, I’ve heard worse rap sections in other Red Velvet EPs. This mini-album is very reminiscent of their old stuff, and with a title like “Queendom” – I guess that’s what it’s supposed to celebrate and I’m not complaining.

SINGLES

Satoko Shibata – GT

I’m just loving the raspy vocal delivery on this, it’s so playful and endearing. You know I’m always down for any brass arrangement in a pop song, and those licks bring in the vibrancy, the tempo keeping bass intermingling with the low-toned guitar is so sweet. The B-side (from JINTANA & EMERALDS) is equally as sweet, despite it being slower, it’s kinda lounge-like and Christmas-y and the percussion is so nice on the ears. Gosh, what an amazing split single this is.

ABRA – Unlock It (ft. Playboi Carti)

The production is this seamless intersection of cloud-trap instrumentals and early 2000s RnB (kind of similar to Tinashe’s new album), the chorus is an earworm. Playboi Carti’s verse was alright I guess, ABRA dominated in terms of presence. And the song has the perfect length, it doesn’t run the sound to the ground.

Xiu Xiu – A Real Indication

This track is as demented as any other track off their Twin Peaks covers album. I kind of forgot how unhinged Jamie’s vocals sounded before OH NO. The “HA! HO!” refrain is disturbing, and the off-kilter guitar tones… oh man, Halloween has come early.

And that’s all for this edition of GOOD Music, see you in the next one!