Three new tracks to get lifted to, including some summery guitars and a millennial-friendly outing from Years & Years.
Kamasi Washington – Fists of Fury
You’ll know Kamasi Washington from his feverish work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, the mastermind behind those jazzy interludes. I’m not shy about admitting TPAB is my favourite Kendrick album, even given the bombast of DAMN., and I credit Washington for that selection. His own work has been much less of a crossover — it’s pure jazz — and can be a bit daunting on first listen. New album Heaven and Earth definitely qualifies as daunting — long tracks take smooth intros into absolute freak outs, before returning to the ground. It’s almost like an instrumental Blonde in places, where there’s so much going at once that you need multiple listens to break out the layers. The first song on the album, “Fists and Fury”, is a reimagining of a Bruce Lee soundtrack, and provides a great introduction to the genius of Washington’s solo work. A choral introduction gives way to breakdowns on the piano, then the saxophone, before everything comes together with vocals at the end. It’s relaxing, then overwhelming, then peaceful — a total journey that needs to be heard to be believed.
Years & Years – Palo Santo
Since their 2015 song “King” became a sleeper song of the summer in 2015, I’ve had a soft spot for London’s Years & Years, a synthpop band that pumps out catchy singles for the blogosphere to eat up. Right now, they’re starting to tease music for their second album, and the lead single — “Palo Santo” — has arrived. There’s a definite lead single feeling to the song, as the lyrics find Years & Years going a bit deeper than their previous work. While standalone track “Sanctify” dipped its toes into Catholic metaphors, “Palo Santo” frames love in a specific form of incense. It makes for a pretty neat chorus, “And I’m giving in to your fever touch / Let it all begin when the fire starts / You’re the darkness in me, Palo Santo”, almost turning into a Mr. Brightside for the Instagram generation. It adds up to Years & Years working at their peak, lifting up my excitement for what’s coming on the album.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight
There’s no shortage of bands out there trying to make a living off guitar-centred indie rock — but damn, does this music feel good when the weather’s warm. In the vein of bands like Real Estate and DIIV, New Zealand’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (incredibly cool band name) is pushing out a similar festival-ready sound. On their new album Hope Downs, you can hear the guitar experimentation between the cracks of their songs, and on “Talking Straight”, you see the band go a little beyond the verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula. They pepper in a chord change, a slick breakdown, and some fuzzy melodies. Bring your portable speaker out to your patio and put on this record, I guarantee it’ll sound great.