Sean Bones - "United"
I'm not usually one to like a song because it sounds like summer because, well, eventually the warm weather will be over and what does that mean for the band? Are we to just curate our playlists like we do our wardrobes, going for icy beats in winter and hazy pop in summer? (I know this is a point of contention--I've had many a late-night argument over this with friends.) But if anyone could capture the way it feels this very moment in New York, as the days veer between sunny and humid and overcast and chilly, it's the new single from Sean Bones
. The track bounces between oohs
and sparse guitar notes, never settling on one or the other. "Taking shape in the best of ways," the opening lyric, perfectly sums up what this middle season (and, by extension, the song) is all about. And really, I think I'll still want to listen to it well after our first snowfall.
REBECCA WILLA DAVIS
Joey Bada$$ - "Catharsis"
Considering I haven't missed a hip hop show this year, big or small, I wasn't expecting 17 year-old Joey Bada$$ to put every other rapper to shame. Nor did I expect him to drop some of the best tracks of the year. One of his newer songs "Catharsis" sounds a lot like '90s rap for someone that wasn't even around for most of the decade. After months of listening to Waka Flocka and 2Chainz inaudibly rap about illicit activities and hooking up with bitches (their words, not mine), Joey's super-smart lyrics and classic beats are not only refreshing, but really impressive regardless of his age.
Robert Raimon Roy - "Robert Raimon Roy"
From 2Chainz [Editor's note: second mention in one week, whoa!] to Weezy F. Baby, rappers love the sound of their own names. My top pick this week is the eponymous new single (and video, costumed by yours truly) from Robert Raimon Roy, who is paying homage to the classic hip-hop name game. Formerly known as Rob Roy, Mr. RRR is now going by his government name, but the music still comes from the very same brain that had everyone from Erykah Badu to Kanye West buzzing off his 2009 viral hit "Fur in My Cap." The horns on the '90s-influenced beat (played by another viral success, the one and only Sexy Sax Man) are twisted but classic and Robert's delivery is intricate and thoroughly modern. You can't read a thing about this underdog that doesn't compare him to Southern rap legend Andre 3000. I've been listening to the whole album (Le Tigre Blanc
, out December 11 on Dim Mak Records) and can confirm: If anyone's capable of delivering rhymes and visuals as interesting as 3-Stacks, it's Robert Raimon Roy. I've got a feeling we'll be repeating his name for years to come.
Panama - "It's Not Over"
You could say my love affair with the Sydney-based band Panama was love at first hear--but that would be a lie. I liked their beachy melodies and nostalgic lyrics just fine at first, but love would definitely be pushing it. And then they released their new single "It's Not Over," and I guess you could say it was all over for me: I've fallen helplessly in love with this five-piece band, and I haven't even heard their debut album (out next month) in its entirety. Maybe it's their crazy truthful lyrics, or my weakness for any song that could fit on the soundtrack of a '80s island romance, but I'm in deep. Take a listen below and see if you fall head-over-heels too (don't worry, I don't mind sharing).
Atlas Genius - "Islands"
The XX's "Islands" music video
has racked up nearly 12 million views (and counting) since it was posted a year and a half ago. Needless to say, you probably know it all by heart: the boy-girl singing, the sparse guitar work, the propulsive bass line. Which makes Atlas Genius' cover of it all the more surprising--when you take on a well-known song, you're facing a lot of built-in expectation. And yet, this Australian trio makes "Islands" their own. Their version manages to be even more low-key than the original, paring down the song to just the acoustic guitar strums and soulful singing of Keith Jeffrey. While we wait for their debut album to come out (winter 2013, we hear), it just might tide us over.