Sorry this one’s a couple days late! I think it’s worth the wait though.
Chance The Rapper – “Blessings”
I admittedly am not the biggest fan of rap. But every now and then something comes along that just clicks. This time that surprise came in the form of Chance The Rapper.
I am so late to the game on this one. Chance’s Coloring Book was widely regarded as one of the best albums of last year. You can find it in the top 10 of just about everyone’s best of 2016 lists, including industry authorities like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Stereogum.
There’s not much more that needs to be said about Chance’s work. “Blessings” is a personal favorite because of the laid back beat, sterling vocal support from Jamila Woods and Chance’s effortlessly humble delivery and lyrics.
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White – “Thinking Bout You”
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White‘s duet album Gentlewoman, Ruby Man has very quickly become one of my favorite releases of the new year. A compilation of covers, each song is completely unique regardless of whether the original is an old favorite or a hidden gem. There’s elements of soul, funk and R&B threaded seamlessly throughout.
“Look At What The Light Did Now” – originally performed by Little Wings and later covered by Canadian singer/songwriter Feist – was the first single to be released ahead of the full album. For a few days there, it was so difficult to make myself listen to anything else. Fortunately the rest of the songs on the record offered even more options to keep on repeat.
Morrissey and White borrow from a wide variety of genres, including the Grease soundtrack, singer Nino Ferrer on “Looking For You,” and often-sampled funk artist Roy Ayers with “Everybody Loves The Sunshine.”
Frank Ocean’s simple yet profound “Thinking Bout You” was a monster hit off his 2012 debut Channel Orange. Morrissey replaces Ocean’s falsetto in the chorus, and White’s electric guitar is swapped in as well. It’s a lighter take on Ocean’s version that highlights the vocal interplay between White’s hushed baritone and Morrissey’s soaring high notes.
For those interested in learning more about how Morrissey and White teamed up, check out the quick documentary below.
“It’s a moment with another person that I really enjoy making music with, being around, and just sort of celebrating that energy,” White says in the video. “For me, I want it to be a record that’s a real document of that.”
Steve Gunn – “Ancient Jules”
Many months ago a friend of mine, whose musical taste I greatly respect, recommended I check out Steve Gunn. This is a fine example of better late than never.
Gunn is the kind of supremely talented, (generally) under-the-radar musician that you hear and figure you have to be one of the first few who have stumbled onto a prodigy. Otherwise he’d be a household name. As it turns out, Gunn has released three solo albums since 2013, and has collaborated with Kurt Vile and Mike Gangloff on a few different projects.
“Ancient Jules” is a rumbling, six-minute showcase of Gunn’s ability. His solo toward the end takes us dangerously close to going off the rails before Gunn reels it back in just time.
Gunn will play a sold out show with Lee Ranaldo at PhilaMOCA this Saturday. Here’s a little taste of what too many in town will be missing: