What I’m Listening To: Week 9

by Stephen

1. Cold Water – Major Lazer (Feat. Justin Bieber, MØ)

Say what you will about the Canadian Ken Doll but he sure knows how to pick his features. After collaborating with Diplo on the monster hit “Where Are Ü Now”, Justin Bieber lends his pipes to a Major Lazer single entitled “Cold Water”. The song itself is another strong entry for the electronica pop pantheon. As the beats echo and vocals warble, they give off some respite from the damning Heat Dome of 2016. It’s an invited distraction for our senses, keeping focus on our ears and relieving our sweat glands in the process. The title itself and the rippling visuals in the lyrical music video further reinforce that “cooling” effect. With a soaringly sonic tune and an addicting hook, “Cold Water” keeps you listening all the way through. It’s another pop anthem with a stadium-minded presence, bound to be a massive (yet late) summer hit for Bieber, Lazer and MØ.

Watch the lyrical music video for “Cold Water” by Major Lazer below: 

2. Hyper Dark – Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells returns with a moody, industrial sounding single entitled “Hyper Dark”. The song plays in a restrained manner while holding just enough audible tension to keep us listeners interested. A direct descendant of noise pop, the distorted whirrs, random clicks and feedback sounds that pervade “Hyper Dark” seem random at first. Then after a few listens, a faint pattern of seemingly randomized noise emerges in the song’s progression. There’s a slight trickle of tunes, a subtle flicker of effects, something there that’s meant to be just barely noticed. It’s a far departure from their more enthusiastically sounding singles but something to be enthusiastic about nonetheless.

3. If I Ever Was a Child – Wilco

Wilco recently announced a new album titled Schmilco. And I’m excited. I’m excited because I’ve listened to “If I Ever Was a Child”, their newest single and I want more. Right Now. “If I Ever Was a Child” paints a poignantly nostalgic picture of one’s childhood. It’s a dark song, carefully sifting through one’s past haunts and current pains. Being caught in a state of reminisce, Jeff Tweedy, the lead vocalist, sings pointed lyrics such as, “I never was alone/Long enough to know/If I ever was a child”. And that there is the wistfulness of adulthood we’ve all faced succinctly expressed in just three short statements. Moreover, the country/indie influenced tune here is subtle yet powerful. And it’s catchy too. There is life coursing in the song’s verses and choruses, a streak of audible optimism in spite of all the darkened emotions expressed within the lyrics. Wilco’s newest album, Schmilco, is scheduled to drop on September 9th.

4. 7/11 – Tate Tucker

There’s a distinct split in Tate Tucker’s newest single “7/11” that caught me off-guard. But I have to say that it just barely manages to work. The first half is 100% rap with Tate Tucker unleashing a torrent of verses extolling the party life. The introductory chorus sings, “Stop drinkin’ at 7/Woke up at 11”. What follows shortly after is Tate Tucker’s aptitude for wordplay. He deftly raps, “Cordially/Informally/Informing me/Of the formalities/That’s sure to be”. Now, I’m not exactly sure what all of this means but it sure sounds nice coming off rapid-fire from the rapper’s mouth. Then cue the break and transition into a more soulful and electro-dance influenced phase. It’s a off-kilter song, a bit unsure of what it wants to be. Yet, it’s still as catchy as hell and a fun summer listen from the up-and-coming artist.

5. Tiimmy Turner – Desiigner

And so it goes the way of Desiigner’s break-out hit, “Panda”, where there are only one or two decipherable words (“Timmy” and “Turner”. Go figure) in the entirety of his new single, “Tiimmy Turner”. Yet, we all know that won’t stop us from actually enjoying the song. There’s a controlled cadence in here, less frantic and more flow-oriented than “Panda”. It’s good to know that Desiigner can show such restraint in his delivery. And as he starts to show us his true range, “Panda” will always be the springboard that cemented his audience. But in that case, “Tiimmy Turner” then becomes the first decent attempt (Sorry New English) at creating a sound for his fans that is fresh, entrancing and exciting.

6. Bleeding Heart – Regina Spektor

Believe it or not, I was a fan of Regina Spektor since her “Begin to Hope” days. Sure, this was most likely due to my sister’s tyrannical control over the car stereo during family trips. Back then, similar artists such as Sarah Bareilles, Paramore, Ingrid Michaelson, and KT Tunstall reigned supreme. So, it’s pleasantly surprising to hear Regina Spektor back with the new single “Bleeding Heart”. The song starts of whimsically as if one were caught in a fairytale atmosphere. But then at the chorus, the song really kicks in, sending itself into an unforeseen frenzy. It’s a song of duality (like Tate Tucker’s “7/11”), not in a profound philosophical sense but in the way that it listens. Soft then hard. Light then heavy. Switches like these are difficult to pull off in a song but Regina Spektor manages well here in “Bleeding Heart”.

7. Not Nice – PARTYNEXTDOOR

Tropics influenced “Not Nice” single by PARTYNEXTDOOR listens like the more dancehall influenced cousin of Drake’s “Controlla”. The song is incredibly simple, just a steady drum beat and a steelpan metronome guiding the vocal delivery all the way through the song. The vocals pine, “Girl you’re not nice, you’re rude/Want me to feel like I’m new/Want me to watch you do you.” With a finger-gun aimed at his exes, PARTYNEXTDOOR fires vocal shots at them one by one, calling them out with ease on the state of their true characters. It’s the sonic version of character assassination, the best part being how well the song distracts from those sentiments through its cool, comfortable and sleek melody of sounds.