This is Music Mondays, a weekly list of music recommendations. I’ll run down the albums, artists, or songs that I’ve been listening to in the last week. Sometimes the recommendations will be dated, sometimes they will be new. Either way, music is great!
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, “Surf”
In a well-deserved win, Chance the Rapper (or Chancelor Bennett) took home three 2016 Grammy awards thanks to his smash mixtape “Coloring Book.” Not only did Bennett release one of the best albums of 2016, but he also did so in 2015. More recent fans of Chance the Rapper are obviously familiar with “Coloring Book,” and perhaps even 2013’s “Acid Rap,” but many have overlooked “Surf” due it being published under Nico Segal’s stage name “Donnie Trumpet” and his band, The Social Experiment. Of course, the catchy single “Sunday Candy” is well-known by many, but lesser known tracks like “Wanna Be Cool” and “Go” deserve just as much love from listeners. The early DNA for “Coloring Book” can be heard in “Surf,” like in the gospel inspired “Miracle” and the tropical and sunny sounding “Slip Slide.” While “Surf” is largely a product of Bennett, “Surf” is filled with guest appearances and writing credits from Big Sean, Jeremih, Janelle Monae, J. Cole, and Busta Rhymes, and are all the better for it. “Surf” suffers from some overproduction in the instrumental tracks like “Nothing Came to Me,” but other than this critique, the album is another joyful delight that proves Chancelor Bennett’s musical talent.
A Tribe Called Quest, “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service”
Speaking of amazing albums from 2016, the Grammy’s, and Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest honestly shocked me with 2016’s extremely relevant “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service.” After the sad passing of original Tribe member Phife Dawg, it seemed unlikely ATCQ would ever release music again. Not only did “We got it from Here…” prove this wrong, but it blew my expectations out of the water, and if it ends up being the group’s final album, it will certainly mean going out on a high note. “We got it from Here…” keeps the band’s signature jazz-influenced sound, and offers important commentary on topics like minority groups in “We the People…” and millennials in “Dis Generation.” The album also offers a strong mix of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop styles. “The Space Program,” the album’s opening track, is a great example of this. I can’t help listening to all of “We got it from Here…” after hearing the first track’s strong keys, drums, and bass line. While the second disc of the album isn’t as strong as the first, the album keeps listeners constantly on their toes (a weird thing to say with music) with guest verses from Kendrick Lamar (“Conrad Tokyo”), Anderson .Paak (“Movin’ Backwards”), Busta Rhymes (“Solid Wall of Sound”), Andre 3000 (“Kids”), and many others. I highly recommend giving this album a spin and going on a quest with Q-Tip.
DREAMERS, Selected Tracks
While I can’t sincerely recommend all of DREAMERS’ debut LP “This Album Does Not Exist,” there are quite a few tracks that I find myself really enjoying. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but I would describe DREAMERS as a pretty generic alternative rock band. Their LP has catchy choruses, a few forgettable tracks, and enough radio pop sensibilities that I could envision hearing the band on the radio one day. While the bands don’t sound very similar, the closest parallel to DREAMERS I can think of is Imagine Dragons. Two of the album’s singles “Sweet Disaster” and “Drugs” are fun, satisfying rock songs, complete with distorted guitar licks and simple, but enjoyable drum fills. Some songs like “Come Down Slow” share some similarities with Weezer, especially with the crooning lead vocals during the chorus. Other songs I would recommend are “Never Too Late to Dance” and “Little New Moon.” DREAMERS is a cool new band, and I’m excited to see where their sound develops from here.