It's all too common for an artist to declare they're on some other shit with the most basic of boasts, but the interstellar :3lON titles his EP "Ronin" (a ronin is a samurai without a master) and finds a subtler way to say that he isn't beholden to anyone. On highlight 'Prometheus,' :3lON—who recalls Otis Redding, Mr. Hudson, and Mima from "Perfect Blue" all at once—steers pounding-the-stage, arena soul straight into a melting 'Moments In Love'-esque beat like Idris Elba steering his spaceship into the ancient aliens at the end of the Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel with which this track shares its name.
Abdu Ali, 'Did Dat'
Some massive post-Blaqstarr club put together by Mighty Mark that should give some of you '90s babies Paradox kiddie party flashbacks, with an Abdu Ali twist—as the rapper/poet/singer/CP contributor boasts of conquering (what exactly is unclear, more likely whatever you got), soused soul-jazz horns slink through the track. Then Ali starts scatting like Billie Holiday covering George Kranz's 'Din Da Da' at a vogue ball in 1986. On Ali's latest and most fully-realized release "Mongo," this track is sandwiched between scraped-out electro that samples Miriam Makeba ('How?') and a lifted demand for romantic seriousness for the Tinder generation ('Boy Bye').
G Baby feat. Ziya and Young Moose, 'Devil Be After Me'
Like Young Moose but more uncouth, G Baby constructs a poppy trauma track that's plainspoken in how it accesses pain ("poverty make you swing a ratchet in your face"), while standout guest Ziya adds some dark humor ("And these niggas they gettin' goofy, fake Muslim I take his Kufi") and Moose himself, more dejected than usual, raps a harrowing origin story of why he just doesn't give a fuck: "My granny got shot in the eye in '05/ Ever since then [murder] what I really had on my mind." Check out the video where Moose and pals puckishly rap in front of Mitchell Courthouse.
Hystermajesty, 'Two Feet'
A bedraggled ballad with the stirrings of say everything from the #softgrunge of Candlebox to the lonely proto-soul of Karen Dalton with lots of low-key confessional Cat Power details too. Opague poetic scenes signifying everything and nothing—watching a car crash on Calvert St., a bird trapped between the screen and window in your apartment—add up to a David Lynchian sense of the surreal-melancholy. The final verse injects some hedged hopefulness worthy of Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car': "And in some moments, it feels like I made it/ Like I made a life like one I always wanted/ With these people, these people I needed."
Imaginary Hockey League, 'Six Feet Under Frost'
This eight and half-minute journey by trans punk Chaz Monroe and company begins as a kind of mock-black metal song in the vein of, say, Impaled Northern Moonforest or the Soft Pink Truth (who covered INM) and then moves into painfully, powerfully sincere territory—with fusion-minded explorations of emo, pop-punk, dance-punk, post-rock, jangle pop, post-hardcore, and more. Moreover, it is unafraid to get noodly and epic and even has a clap-along before sinking into a foggy Fugazi interlude and then returning to rock with galloping triumph. So much is happening here and all of it is very good. Appropriately binary-blurring.
Post Pink, 'Night Beat'
Ok so it totally makes sense that Post Pink's new EP, "I Believe You, OK"—featuring 'Night Beat,' a loose character sketch and clubby tone poem, along with seven other bold, breezy tracks—comes out on cassette via Sister Polygon Records, the D.C.-based label run by Priests, probably the best guitar music band around right now. See, a few years ago, Priests mined a similar, vaguely proggy sing-along style to Post Pink, but now Priests sound almost arena-sized in their ambitions, so leave it to Post Pink's purple prose version of surf-punk to keep loosely math-y, airtight anthems alive while Priests go get big and glammy.
Queen Wolf, 'We Don't Grow Up'
This track stoopidly chugs along like Fu Manchu or, to take it way back, Grand Funk Railroad—this is a good thing, it's pure Homer Simpson rawk—but minus the meathead meandering of those bands and the many, many, many just like them. Echoes of Acid King, really. The whole thing's over and out in less than two and a half minutes and stoked by Sarah Gretchen's declarative vocals. And is that a cowbell I hear for a moment? From "The Moon," the second in a series of seven-inch compilations released by Girl Problem Records and also featuring tracks from Natural Velvet, Beachmover, and Moist.
Terrell Brown, 'Never Stressing'
DIY soulbrah Terrell Brown sings, hums, and mumbles about persevering ("Never stressing, my lessons have turned to blessings, I'm alive, I'm high, and they still ain't catch me") over a malevolent beat from Schwarz that recalls G-Funk at its most scorched and unforgiving, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony at its most "Mortal Kombat"-iest, GZA's "Liquid Swords" at its most synoptic, Fetty Wap at his most diffuse, and Durutti Column at its most doleful. Uncharted slow jams breathing rarefied unsettled air. Since this single, Brown has dropped a similarly lugubrious full-length, "To Whom This May Concern," also out on Nina Pop.
Trap Jxhn, 'Errythang'
Unabashedly in the pocket of what's cool right now, Trap Jxhn's 'Errythang' keeps it moving with personality and an ear for the weird, and nothing more. Gucci Mane-ian rubbery trash talk ("I can't see these niggas I'm going blind/ I'm blowing up like a land mine/ And now your bitch think I'm so damn fine...Squeezing that ass she say it's mine/ She telling me come put it in her spine/ But I don't pay that bitch no damn mind/ I'd rather the money consume my time") convenes with tenebrous production from beatmaker Chris Romero, who has looped and roasted a vocal sample and whirled it around gristly stumbling Rick Rubin-esque drums.
The hurricanrana is a professional wrestling move that entails jumping up and grabbing an opponent by the neck and face with your legs and flipping them over onto the mat (it is named after its inventor, Mexican luchador Huracán Ramírez); wrestling at its most purely spectacle-grabbing for sure. Antonio Hernandez, who DJs as Vicunyah (and with this track make his production debut), named his insoluble DJ tool of a track, powered by a combo of regional styles (among them, Bmore club, funk carioca, and kuduro) and jagged breakbeat-friendly sounds after the high-flying move, and once it gets going it similarly grabs you, takes control, and won't let go.