Check out this week’s Timely Tunes by D.R.A.M., Saba, The Radio Dept., The Flaming Lips and Oval. Plus a new playlist for your listening enjoyment!
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D.R.A.M. (Featuring Erykah Badu) “WiFi” (From “Big Baby D.R.A.M.”)
Wherein one of the most charmingly goofy and loveable voices in hip-hop/R&B goes all Quiet Storm and gifts us a classic slow jam for the era of shared Netflix passwords, DM fishing, and right-swipes. Or is it left? Honestly, I don’t know that much about modern techno-dating. However, I do know that Erykah Badu lifts this track into the stratosphere. She remains a national treasure, an institution, and an eternal goddess, and D.R.A.M. is on his way up.
Saba (Featuring Noname) “Church/Liquor Store”
With the Chicago Cubs finally back in the World Series (but looking pretty sluggish in Game 1), I thought it would make sense to highlight two of the most promising stars in the Chicago hip-hop scene. Noname’s “Telefone” mixtape was an out of left field revelation to me earlier this year; a rich tapestry of joyful noises coexisting with black pain. Saba was also a magnificent force on Chance the Rapper’s superb “Coloring Book”, which is my favorite rap album of 2016. If this track is any indication, Saba and Noname are going to continue to be Chicago forces for quite some time. And go Cubs, go. Or whatever.
The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause” (From “Running Out of Love”)
It’s been a long, litigious six years since The Radio Dept.’s last record, the sublime “Clinging to a Scheme”. That album contained “Heaven’s on Fire”, a Thurston Moore-sampling dream pop fizzy lift into the clouds that felt simultaneously fresh and lived-in. “Committed to the Cause” reaches similar heights through a Madchester-winking, serotonin-tickling bounce.
The Flaming Lips “The Castle” (From “Oczy Mlody”)
The first single from the upcoming sixteenth studio album by The Flaming Lips is a sweet, low-key callback to the airier moments of “The Soft Bulletin” or ”Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”. The past decade of Lips material has been maddeningly frustrating; oscillating wildly between bad trip space rock freakouts like the underrated/monolithic “Embryonic” and undercooked pop collaborations. “The Castle” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and the lyrics are hippie-dippy cheese, but it’s a charming pop diversion during a month that has felt more than a bit like the Eve of Destruction.
Oval “ve” (From “Popp”)
One of the most forward-thinking electronic acts of the 90’s, famous for damaging compact discs and creating stunning, glitchy abstractions from the debris. “94 Diskont”, Oval’s towering masterwork, contained “Do While”, a looping, lysergic twenty-four minute centerpiece that remains one of the crowning achievements of avant-ambient music. Then Oval went radio silent for several years, but Markus Popp has returned to us this decade radically prolific and inspired. “ve” is a busy, kaleidoscopic funhouse that I would gladly let run on for another twenty minutes. And, yeah, it actually is kind of poppy.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 25
1. Chance the Rapper (Feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir) “All We Got”
2. Saba (Feat. Noname) “Church/Liquor Store”
3. Luther Vandross “Never Too Much”
4. D.R.A.M. (Feat. Erykah Badu) “WiFi”
5. Meshell Ndegeocello “Love You Down”
6. The Blue Nile “Headlights On The Parade”
7. The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause”
8. Saint Etienne “Tonight”
9. Girls “Morning Light”
10. Strawberry Alarm Clock “Curse of the Witches”
11. The Flaming Lips “The Castle”
12. Roky Erickson “I Walked with a Zombie”
13. My Bloody Valentine “To Here Knows When”
14. Oval “ve”
15. Fennesz (feat. David Sylvian) “Transit”
16. The Mountain Goats “Cubs In Five”
Note by Deanna: What are you listening to lately? If you’re on Spotify, leave me a link. I’m always on the lookout for new music.