Here we are, back on the hill. Summer is more or less a distant blur now filled with faded memories of a concert here or there, maybe a festival, and plenty of warm beer. However, this summer was not lacking in the music department. We here at The Doobie took the summer off, if you didn’t notice, only posting truly notable occurrences, releases, or news. Like two up-and-coming rappers named Kanye West and Jay-Z released some sort of album I think? Beats me. Anyway, here is the Doobie’s all-inclusive wrap up of the summer’s greatest albums, videos, concerts, and releases.
JAY-Z & KANYE WEST - WATCH THE THRONE
Don’t believe the hype, hanh? Nah. The hype surrounding Jay and Ye’s collaboration was feverish and immense and upon first listen it did not live up to it. It felt tossed off, not nearly as good as it could have been, a strange sort of joke. Too much flash, too out of touch. And those fucking interludes. But. But. But. After repeated, loud, intoxicated listens,Watch the Throne began to sound incredible. It melted together; it sounded like a very high quality mixtape. It the kind of album that just solidifies itself after spending a day or two, the kind that becomes so singular that even the duds feel crucial. And the good songs are amazing. Certain verses are so good that you want to hear them over and over and over. It slaps, basically. Black cars black cards black on black black broads whole lotta money in a black black black strap you know what that’s for.
BE GOODY - GOODY SOUNDS
Chances are you’ve never heard of Be Goody, the young rap-duo out of Chicago, but that’s kind of cool at this point. You’ll soon be able to say you discovered these guys in their infancy, just months after their debut mixtape dropped.Goody Sounds is a twelve track, independently produced mixtape that’s oozing with quality. Sure they put this thing together on their laptops, and Nick Howard, one half of Be Goody, did all of the recording, mixing, and mastering himself, but this hands-on approach resulted in the finest indie rap release of the summer. Whether they’re rapping about childhood in the 90s in”Live It Up”, surviving haters in “Up The Wall”, or weaving an Atmosphere-esque narrative in “Stairway to Hip-Hop Heaven”, these two do so with a sense of glee and optimism. More than anything, it’s just fun to listen to. They avoid the two distinct indie rapper routes, the hard-spitting, often-angry lyricist and the too-playful, all-I-do-is-smoke-weed youngin’, while still making it evident they have influences in each. It’s a truly unique blend of entertainment and substance. You’ll recognize a few tracks here and there, some Xaphoon Jones and Gramatik productions make an appearance, but what these two do to it, how they go about making it their own, is what makes Be Goody’s Goody Sounds one of the best of the summer. You’re going to want to download this.
Be Goody – “Stairway to Hip-Hop Heaven”
Be Goody – “Up The Wall”
Popular electronic artists nowadays are in a very unique position. They have enough popularity and credibility to catch the attention and admiration of tens of thousands of listeners, the ability to sell out massive venues like it’s child’s play, and rack up enough fans on facebook to make any ‘mainstream’ artist jealous. However, everything they’ve achieved is done so independently. No record companies, no endorsements, no advertising, and no magazine covers. So when the weather is fine and seven eighths of their fan base is off of school, these artists hit the road. And no artist did that in more spectacular fashion this summer than Pretty Lights. Derek Vincent Smith ditched his drummer, developed a new mind-boggling cityscape live set up, and churned out high quality remixes left and right. He sold out Red Rocks, slayed Congress Theater along side Skrillex (I was fortunate enough to attend), and became the first electornic musician to remix classic rock songs without absolutely butchering it. HIs summer adventures were perfectly captured in two recap videos, the first of which, a highlight of his Bonnaroo set, features a brand new dubstep-influenced track titled “I Know The Truth”. The second, which dare-I-say is even better, sets his Led Zeppelin remix/mash-up to footage of his two sold-out shows in Colorado.
CLIFFIE SWAN - MEMORIES COME TRUE
Cliffie Swan is three women and their latest, Memories Come True, released this June on Drag City, sounds like a Stevie Nicks solo record played through a mist of modern hipster L.A. sleaze and ice cream. The production is cleaner than cleaner giving it an unmistakable 70s studio rock feel, but there is something noticeably gritty about it, too. All of this, of course, combines to create a very perfect summer album. “California Baby” struts with a chunky guitar solo until it breaks down into a cruising pace and eventually the lyrics: “Summer days/ come back again/ sitting by the pool/ sunglasses on.” “Falling for You” sounds stoned with its shimmering guitars and multi-tracked female vocals. Memories Come True is a total classic, something you’ll find someday and not be entirely sure what decade it’s from. Don’t worry, though, it’s from the best ones: the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s. Rock n roll.
Cliffie Swan – “California Baby”
GRAMATIK - BEATZ&PIECES VOL. 1
Pretty Lights and co. make a second appearance with our final highlight of the summer. Gramatik, dare I say the best artist currently on Pretty Lights’ Label, dropped his first album with a PL seal of approval this summer, and it was everything and more than I wanted. There are funky beats, melodic strings, smooth jams, and jazzy joints all accompanied by his signature heavy-hitting, fast-paced drums and ridiculously clever/highly-repetitive samples. Every track has that instantly recognizable Gramatik sound, but it’s all packaged and presented in such a fresh way that the routine nature of it should easily and justifiably be overlooked. Check out a track below and then download the President of Funk’s new album, Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1, here.
Gramatik – “Dream BIG”