Along with winter storms, some great tunes are blowing across the country to begin 2022. We’re only a week-and-a-half into 2022, but artists are bringing the fire to warm up chilled bones. The Manual advises that you take a few minutes out of busy days to kick back, relax and bask in some post-holiday recovery with tracks from The Weeknd, Earl Sweatshirt, and more.
Here We Go Again, The Weeknd featuring Tyler the Creator
In the dimmest of times, The Weeknd invites you to bask in the light of his new album, Dawn FM. The record’s release is joined by the video for Here We Go Again, an unexpected ballad with Tyler the Creator, who drops an octave to croon about an ephemeral love that definitely includes “prenups.”
“Forever is too long to me. We don’t need the government involved because we like to touch…”
The song succeeds with black humor revealing very real issues, marriage and age being two, with the latter represented by a makeup-aged The Weeknd looking wise and sad as a senior.
As a whole, Here We Go Again aligns with Out of Time’s smooth, old-school delivery, a dreamy record dripping with late 20th-century pop nostalgia. Joining the now old-faced The Wknd Lil Wayne on “I Heard You Were Married”, Quincy Jones, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Jim Carrey on the outro for “Phantom Regret.”
“Titanic,” Earl Sweatshirt
With Earl Sweatshirt, you’re guaranteed at least mild psychedelia accompanied by a dark, thrumming bass. Above the beat, Earl drops sly tribulations and revelations belied by a stony voice.
“Mask on like a supervillain. Daniel, who you in the den with? Lion. Wasn’t lying when I told. Dawg’s on the floor now ’cause I skinned ’em…”
The big bad guy sounds like a nod to the late lyricist MF Doom, who died in 2020. Daniel in the lions’ den refers to the Bible’s chapter 6 of the Book of Daniel, which describes of how the God of Israel saves Daniel from lions “because I was found blameless before him.”
Sweatshirt doesn’t flinch from the punches that hurt most, taking them with a stubborn pride or throwing them with a nasty mean mug. Titanic falls in a later category. Aided along by Na-Kel Smith for supporting comments, the song is an under two-minute free flow, Earl snarling at some unknown assailant to his peace.
Ghost Song, Cécile McLorin Salvant
Some voices just can’t be denied. One minute and 15 seconds in and it’s obvious that Cécile McLorin Salvant has one of them.
“I tried to keep our love goin’ strong.”
There’s no need for any other instruments when Salvant shows off music’s whole melodic range. And when instruments hit, the singer guides the group to pure gold old blues. Ghost Song is her interpretation of a long-lost love affair.
“I will dance with the ghost of our love, I will carry the ghost of our love…”
After emerging over the last decade, first covering jazz standards, and eventually weaving in her own work, Salvant continues to raise the bar of what music should be with tracks like Ghost Song — an immersed emotional experience.
Australian Bird Calls, Songs of Disappearance
Well this entry is cheating, plain and simple, but it deserves a mention for its proximity to the New Year as well as its odd yet logical entry on the Australian Recording Industry Association’s music charts. At the end of December, Songs of Disappearance briefly perched ahead of Taylor Swift, resting at No. 3 on ARIA’s top 50 albums chart.
The album captures 53 of those species to protect and preserve these precious avian sounds from being silenced. Produced as a collaboration between acclaimed nature recordist David Stewart and several nature-based nonprofits, including Charles Darwin University, the group released the record alongside the 2020 Action Plan for Australian Birds. The report found 1 in 6 Australian bird species are now threatened.
What’s enjoyable about the collaboration is not only the truly meditative natural chirps, but also the strange emissions that stand out in Australia’s ornithology. Be it a mad chorus of cockatoos, buzzing bowerbirds, a bizarre seabird symphony, or one of the last remaining night parrots serenading the jungle with its haunting call.
The album’s title track celebrates the incredible diversity of the Australian soundscape and highlights what humans stand to lose without taking action.
Young Man, Jamestown Revival
Also cheating, but not quite as bad, Young Man was released in October 2021 from five-man folk outfit Jamestown Revival. Young Man won’t be released on record, however, until this Friday’s album release of the same name — the band’s first all-acoustic project.
Featuring tight harmonies, twanging guitars, and soaring spiritual singing voices that characterize classic folk, Young Man is a tune that brings sentimental chills.
“Well, I saw my face at the water’s edge, the man with the heavy heart. Every now and then he feels so close, and every now and then so far.”
Currently sitting at the top of The Root’s Top 50 Alternative Country Album Chart, Young Man shows off the band’s country-folk influences, from novels by Louis L’Amour to Jamestown natives Credence Clearwater Revival. Co-founders Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay warn of how close and how reflective pining for the past might be.
“Down to the water, went looking a load. I wasn’t very far from home.”
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