Beach House, 'Space Song'
There's an exploratory languidness to Beach House's songs. These termite artists turned art-rock stars do boring well. The highlight from "Depression Cherry," their latest, is titled 'Space Song' which feels like one of those in-joke working titles a band gives a track as they're making it that stuck for good reason: There's a Russian sci-fi grandiosity to the instrumental and some "Alien" soundtrack string stabs, and lots and lots of Vangelis synthesizers in there, too.
Christa Wilcox, ‘Rude Hangs With Bad Friends’
Thanks to Dog Belly Records artists slugqueen and mothpuppy, and similarly minded Christa Wilcox, a self-deprecating folk movement’s gnawing at singer-songwriter seriousness here in town. Here, Wilcox, whose name is less Pokémon-esque than her Dog Belly cohorts, hums to her crush, observing them in their element. What’s alluring about them are simple things, it seems, before the big things make things weird and complicated probably: “I liked the way you just stood there/ Lookin’ ’round the room without a care/ I like you.”
DaKidd Moo, ‘Court Today’
Pragmatic gangsta rap mostly concerned with lawyer fees and how to pay them (with money made from dealing drugs which got you busted in the first place, of course, how else), the indignity of court, in which you are told when you can and cannot speak, and well, screwing up. “Riding dirty, got the gun where the license be,” Moo says, not so much boasting as baffled as to how he got here. In the background, gravelly, auto-tuned ad-libs sound like cries of the thousands like Moo caught inside the system.
Dave Heumann, ‘Here In The Deep’
This hesher dirge from Arbouretum frontdude’s solo record sits somewhere between a sauced waltz and a lullaby for those who sport manbuns. Listen closely for unexpected hints of the brawny soul folk of Bill Withers and a palpable sense of “summer’s over, damn” in Heumann’s resigned guitar solo. And check out its gorgeous video, shot at Druid Hill Park by frequent Future Islands collaborator Jay Buim.
GMG Tadoe, ‘One Call’
You keep waiting for ‘One Call’ to start up—or maybe escalate is a better word for this seething street song. GMG Tadoe’s droopy-eyelid flow sneaks around the beat, reminiscent of Gucci Mane in its half-assed virtuosity. Plus, ‘One Call’ arguably features the best use of toy piano since the Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man.’ Usually giddy ring-tone rap doing the Lexington Market lean. Circuitously catchy.
James Nasty feat. Abdu Ali, ‘Games’
James Nasty’s beat for this one brings Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works 85-92” moodiness into the club, constructing a rickety, inverted version of Nasty and Ali’s previous collaboration, the noisy ‘Bleed.’ On that last one Ali screamed, “I wanna give you what you need, until you fucking bleed” and here he’s less of a dom, though no less assertive: “Games ain’t my thing, I wanna fuck.” Empowering hookup music from one of Baltimore’s prominent queer voices and one of its most capricious club producers.
President Davo, ‘With Me’
Super-catchy sobbing robot rap that’s essentially a sprawling breakup song—with his girl, his friend, his plug, his street, his city. Whatever you got, President Davo’s not feeling it at this moment. Still, he derails his frustration just long enough to express some sobering singsong gratitude: “But on another note, I’ve been doing good, and I still wish the best for you and yours/ I been working hard setting up a tour/ If they ain’t stunting with me, I’m stunting on them.”
Schwarz & Gurl Crush, ‘Want 2 Release’
The naive diva house of Gurl Crush recalls Atlanta real-talk R&Bers Cherish, the Spice Girls seminal middle school sexy-time song ‘2 Become 1,’ Grimes, and Diamanda Galás all at once, and her circuit-bent beats are like George Lewis by way of Jam & Lewis, but here she teams up with the perpetually stoked producer Schwarz on a freestyle-tinged club song that gets to the heart of what nearly every dance song’s about. “Want to release, when the day-to-day’s confining,” Gurl Crush sing-splains.
Tate Kobang, ‘Bank Rolls (Remix)’
A minimalist montage of uncompromising Baltimore-ness: A wandering freestyle heavily indebted to 2000 local hit from Tim Trees, ‘Bank Roll’ is full of the kind of Baltimore references everybody gets (the remix adds a verse and a shout out to late club queen K-Swift). That said, uncompromising Baltimore-ness also means some bullshit about how you need to “strap up” if “you fuck a Morgan bitch” which, come on, Tate. But hey, rap music, right? Throwing women under the bus often.
Thrushes, ‘Joan Of Arc’
This one passes our totally made-up dream-pop litmus test: Does the breathy, soaring song make you want to simultaneously make out with somebody and sit alone in bed and cry a whole bunch? If it does both of those things, then you’ve got a shoegazing winner on your hands. Thrushes’ first single in five years has all that and a pitter-patter pit of the stomach worry and edgy nervousness to it and some things to say about mortality and even a mad-corny-in-a-good-way Mumford & Sons-style buildup too.