Okay… so May has brushed past quickly… I guess after the seemingly endless months during Covid havechanged the perspective a little. Lots of favorites in the list this edition. Some artists here that I’ve featured quite a lot over the last few years such as Dessa, L’Orange, Aesop Rock, Son Volt, and Making Movies. Also plenty of new artists as always.
Ayron Jones has been grinding along and building his career in the Pacific Northwest for some time now with a couple independent releases, and last year was signed to Big Machine records. I would describe Ayron Jones and his band as a Post-Hip-hop Grunge-Blues, but I’m not expert when it comes to accurately distilling an artist down to a few words like this. I’ll clarify this a bit. The Grunge and Blues should be clear within listening to a few songs, but “Post-Hip-hop” isn’t a term I’ve ever really heard thrown around. I think that a lot of current rock music right now has been influenced by the philosophy and the techniques of hip-hop, and I also think that this is a defining characteristic of rock music in our current era. This is, in part, why we see classic Hip-hop acts being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ayron Jones is an artist whose rock music clearly has a Hip-hop edge. Ayron himself has described his music as being influenced by Blues, Hip-hop, Grunge, Hard Rock, and Soul. I strongly recommend giving his new album, Child of the State, a listen.
At this point, I sort of wonder how L’Orange manages to absolutely kill every beat he makes. Now for the last few years there has been a L’Orange project in my top 10 at the end of the year. It seems this may again be the case. Imaginary Everything was released this week, and this time around L’Orange is paired with Nashville multi-instrumentalist/producer/MC, Namir Blade. I was unfamiliar with with Namir Blade before this album, and I’m enjoying his work here enough that I’ll have to take a look at his previous albums. One thing that I’ll note here about Blade is something that I think of with numerous rappers, and I think is something many hip-hop fans struggle with at some point; the use of the N-word. I don’t think it is my place, as a white man, to criticize any black person about this usage, but at the same time I would be lying to say it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. At times, I think that is the point, and those are the instances where I actually think the word may be useful. Sometimes we should feel uncomfortable. In large part, I tend to agree with one of my favorite rappers, Akala, that there is just too much blood attatched to the word to use it casually. I tend to gravitate toward artists that keep it’s usage very sparing. I’m not familiar enough with Namir’s work really say whether his usage casual or conscious (and again, it should be said with emphasis that it isn’t my place as a white person to judge when a black person should or shouldn’t use the word), but I did feel that it was time to bring this up. There have been a fair number of songs that have included the word, and I know I’m not alone in finding this difficult territory.
Other particular favorites in this edition are Kaidi Tatham, Dessa, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (featuring Moses Sumney), and Tomo Nakayama.
MALIA – Lucid Dream
Hiatus Kaiyote, Arthur Verocai – Get Sun
Wu-Lu – Times
Kaidi Tatham – Intergalactic Relations
Tony Allen, Jeremiah Jae – Gang on Holiday (Em I Go We?)
L’Orange, Namir Blade – Shotgun
Aesop Rock – Jumping Coffin
Busdriver – airliner_patio
Ayron Jones – Boys From The Puget Sound
Sleater-Kinney – Worry With You
Modest Mouse – We Are Between
Weyes Blood – Titanic Risen
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Moses Sumney – Soon It Will Be Fire
Anjimile, Lomelda – 1978 (Reunion)
Tomo Nakayama – On The Way
Dessa – Talking Business
Jose Gonzalez – Visions
Robert Finley – Sharecropper’s Son
Ayron Jones – Baptized in Muddy Waters
Making Movies – La Marcha
Son Volt – Reverie