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Here Are The Manual’s New Music Offerings For May 2022

April brings in a time of growth that emerges from dusky days. The best of this month’s music seem to look back on the past few trying months to burn it away with funky fire, searing lyrics, and sharp-edged chords.

Taken together, this mix is an escape from the day-to-day to meditate on emotional journeys we’ll all have to take. Taken individually, these songs all offer their own singular entrances in new sonic worlds.

S. Carey at the drums in studio.
S. Carey at the drums in studio. Photo by Peter Larson.

‘Stealing Dark from the Night Sky,’ Arlo McKinley

This one arrived from seemingly nowhere, a cry from the wilderness. Arlo McKinley’s surprising arrival belies a voice with a hundred thousand miles traveled in “Stealing Dark from the Night Sky’s” chords.

McKinley draws this character (and the listener) into an audial realm searching for consolation in black gravity.  An animated cowboy leads his livestock across the world in the song’s video. A vampire and cowgirl tragic, heroic avatar’s for the singer songwriter’s own hurt, making his way under a dark firmament that reflects McKinley’s own pain. He wrote much of his new album, This Mess We’re In, following the loss of his mother and multiple friends. Like another lyricist on this list, McKinley isn’t sure he’s going to make it through, but the ballad allows us a view from inside this tunneled cavern.

“Till the first sight of daylight. Tryin’ to get through the breakdown. Find a way out of this town, or in a lake of fire we’ll surely drown. That’s alright if you’re with me.”

‘Sugar,’ Surf Curse

We’ll continue with a song actually released the second to last day in March. Declaring itself a hit single in a winking video on the fictional Knight Show, apparently Surf Curse knew it had a hit on its hands with “Sugar.” There’s not yet an album supporting its release, but the infectious, raucous pop-punk gem needs no help. “Sugar” stands on its own with a saccharine melody that crescendoes into banging symbols and a plea for sweet love.

“My God, you are such a looker, tell me you love me and give me some sugar.”

The duo-turned-quartet is emerging from a roller coaster pandemic, at once rocketing to streaming fame for the rediscovered 2013 single “Freaks,” and crashing from their label due to since retracted sexual assault allegations. And now Surf Curse looks poised to emerge from isolation with not only with a stone cold hit, but by a forthcoming album from Atlantic Records.

‘I Feel for You,’ Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett keeps crankin’ out the classics to add to add to the country singer’s prolific output. On April 22, Crockett dropped the fourth installment of his tributary Lil G.L. Series — Jukebox Charley. Marking his tenth album since 2015 and third full-length in a little more than a year, Crockett continues to pay tribute to his predecessors with covers of country artists from Willie Nelson and George Jones to “Eastbound and Down” author Jerry Reed, whose “I Feel for You” is now a Crockett video.

Reed’s 1966 sarcastic ball gets dusted up and polished with Crockett’s subtle changes — a kicked up tempo and an acoustic guitar, accompanied by Crockett’s thick, all-American baritone. The song recalls smoky bars that accentuate Reed’s I-told-you-so response to the man who ran off with his woman.

“So sit there and cry boy, the way that I did one time, and wish you could die boy, to get that woman off of your mind.”

‘Call My Bluff,’ Pusha T

You may already know this one as its already been streamed at least a million times since its April 27 video release. If not, I’m happy to introduce to you to the now Billboard 200 topping Pusha T.

Since 2017, the Virginia Beach rapper has been pushing out the slow, heavy-hitting bangers. Now he’s at the top of his game with ‘Call My Bluff’ and his new album, It’s Out to Dry. Produced half by fellow Virginian Pharrell Williams and half by Kanye West, Pusha T finds his groove in crystal sharp licks amidst labyrinthe beats that troll deep into the night.

“We only in this sport to be LeBrons. When you’re used to platinum, that gold be bronze. You’re favorite rapper’s dressin’ like Comic Con.”

‘Monster Truck,’ King Garbage

This baby is a slow burn that erupts intro a pure magma flow. King Garbage continues its ascent to the top of the musical game while keeping its feet firmly on the ground. While the songwriting and production duo Vic Dimotsis and Zach Cooper launch ‘Monster Truck’ into the folk electronic aether on bass engines and piano wings, references to truck nuts and “heavy metal greasy love” keep King Garbage firmly in the American soil.

“Truck Nuts glisten off the back bumper, swinging low with challenging and poetic weight,” Dimotsis said in an Ipecac press release. “In the American South, a truck is not just a truck, but an idea. Curiosity shakes its leathery wings… with stars down the sleeves, blow your tail feathers off type alpha Stevie Nicks with no intent on ever returning from said pyrotechnics.”

‘Intro,’ Charles Mingus

The opening track from jazz icon Charles Mingus’ ‘lost’ live recording, The Man Who Never Sleeps, is the shortest track we’ve ever included on this list. This brevity is a challenge, though, rather than an easy out. Just try to listen to this powerful opening without getting ensnared in its beauty and power, from the opening ‘Haah!” to the catcalling, pealing trumpet notes that pop like solid rain drops in a storm.

The song opes an a never-before-released live recording of Mingus from Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London captured in August 1972. The virtuoso bassist takes his listeners on a twisting, emotional, joyous jazz odyssey with a ride that clocks in over two hours. Check out the video for a taste and the full album for a transcendent journey.

‘Magenta Mountain,’ King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are musical alchemists weaving transcendent instrumentation to achieve thunder and lightning in the atmosphere. On their April album, Omnium Gatherum, they soften dissonant progressions to synthesize electronica, psychedelia, hip-hop, pop, and other influences into a seething, savory stew.

Powered by a hammering electro beat and carried electric guitar grooves woven through synths, “Magenta Mountain” takes its audience into imaginal landscapes lit by bright, futuristic neon reflected in piercing technologic nights. Hop on their evocative train for a ride like no other.

“Look past the dying trees, beyond waterless seas. Atop the horizon, adjacent to the sun, ive my word that it’s there, Magenta Mountain.”

‘Sunshower,’ S. Carey

“Sunshower,” off of S. Carey’s new album, Break Me Open, looks at a ray of light from inside a veiled view. After 2018’s Hundred Acres, Carey faced monumental loss: his marriage fell apart and his father passed away. “Sunshower,” like Break Me Open, has Carey navigating the dark Wisconsin woods and saddened, shadowed emotional halls, a yellow beam seen from beneath the clouds.

“We swam like we never even knew what land was. Spent, tan, and the day became a colored canvas. Daily I still feel the silk sunshower. Dripping salt your eyes, my soft sunflower.”

It’s heartbreak is layered in Carey’s signature dense, dulcet arrangements, seen also in his vocals and instrumentation in the folk band Bon Iver. It’s a song at once spare and complex, naked hurt sitting in a stark, shimmering sun.

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