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The Manual Is Back for Your Music Roundup With June Tunes

Releases Include Drake, Bartees Strange, Kacey Musgraves, and More

It’s time for another song wrap that includes music releases from June 2022. Post pandemic therapy … that’s how we’re going to describe the cavalcade of creative audio expression spilling out in 2022. Like a string of patients, all reaching moments of clarity at one moment, we listeners are gifted with a parade of emotional expression that hits the heart over and over again.

Like a compassionate counselor, just sit back and relax in the effective waves.

The Marcus King Band at the Holland Blues Festival in 2018
Bé Speelman

‘Hennessey,’ Bartees Strange

Bartees Strange - Hold the Line (Official Audio)

Bartees Strange has been receiving rave reviews and in-depth analyses exploring his multi-genre success. On his new album, Farm to Table, the man born Bartees Cox lays out a buffet of music styles. No matter the mood that strikes, Strange can satisfy your appetite. There’s arena rock, unconventional hip-hop, and acoustic ballads that all fit on the same contemporary canvas, splashes of color connected by the creator’s effect.

In the midst of this is Hennessey, a slow-flowing wave, weaving these elements together in a joyful web of jazz, hip-hop, and indie folk. Plucking the threads, Strange is joined by a stunning, collaborative polyphonic harmony. If there was ever a song that embodied a musical collage, torn pieces tattooed on a three-dimensional heart, this is it.

‘Milonga Accidental,’ Alisa Amador

Alisa Amador, 2022 Tiny Desk Contest Winner: Tiny Desk Concert

Speaking of hypnotic instrumental harmony emanating from the human breast, we refer you to exhibit B: Milonga Accidental. In the opening song, the world’s finally introduced to Alisa Amador’s celestial pipes. Performed in Chicago on the last day of May, Milonga Accidental finds Amador’s sincere, soaring lyrics cascading into a string arrangement by a Washington, D.C. quartet. Ironically, the song about not belonging led Amador’s reentry to her professional home in music.

With Latin folk musician parents, Amador’s upbringing came through a multiplicity of cultures. Her parents’ musical lifestyle took Amador from Boston to Maine, Puerto Rico, and Argentina. Consequently, Amador’s been singing since she was 4 years old and entering the NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest every year since 2018. COVID-19 made the musician reconsider those dreams, but she still composed Milonga Accidental, a lilting goodbye to the music industry, and the song that finally thrust her into the spotlight.

Rehearsed for the first time just hours before the performance, just try not to be moved by Amador and the quartet at NPR’s Tiny Music headquarters.

‘Panda Scout,’ Little Monk Panda Scout

Little Monk Panda Scout (No-No Boy) - Panda Scout (Live on KEXP)

Coming to you from the Pacific Northwest, Panda Scout’s song nails it — tight, rhythmic, and infectious melodic breaks and tonal shifts. There’s rhyming Elvis with Elvish, references to living off the land in Mount Tabor Park, and a panda playing piano.

It’s a downright infectious take from the off-beat effort gathered by No-No Boy’s folk rocker, Julian Saporiti and his partner, Emilia Halvorsen, an aspiring lawyer providing backup vocals and drumbeats, and Julia McGarrity on the keys behind the black-and-white bear head.

Sometimes bands show pure, professional talent. On this live track from Seattle’s KEXP, Panda Scout’s easy chops almost tease with its ease, reveling in the icing of a well-baked cake of a song.

Good luck finding the band, though. They’re likely tucked into some woods hideaway away from the world’s prying eyes. Be happy we could catch a rare sighting on their June 29 visit. Look for Panda Scout in and around the Northwest.

‘Falling Back,’ Drake

Drake - Falling Back (Extended Version)

It seems like every song on this month’s music list has got a little extra to offer, whether it is a live performance or an extended, 9-minute music movie starring NBA power forward Tristan Thompson as the best man to Drake’s groom marrying about 32 different women.

Rolling in with a driving, auto-tuned beat and mechanic lyrics, Drake knows how to grab the listener with the bassy, synth flourishes. After snapping it out with each of his brides (and an energetic performance from profane wedding singer, Dan Finnerty), we’re brought into a thrumming, electro-bass under electric lights and a whole lot of twerking.

Like many deep house tunes, the lyrics slowly melt into a hypnotic chant, a snapping cadence over the deep beat. Drake’s surprise 2022 album shines as it hearkens to looser arrangements like Falling Back. It’s less about deep insights and more about just leaning back into the music.

‘Lie, Lie, Lie,’ Marcus King

Marcus King - Lie Lie Lie (Live From Easy Sound)

Speaking of prolific, it seems like 26-year-old South Carolina bluesman Marcus King never stops to step out from behind his ax. Previewing Young Blood, his sixth release since debuting in 2015, King dropped Lie, Lie, Lie on June 23. If the song’s any hint, King’s upcoming August release is going to feature just as many soul-tearing progressions.

King shows off his smoking low country blues in this flaming correspondence to an ex. With the drumming dervish Chris St. Hilaire backing providing a vicious pulse and Nick Movshon laying easy bass grooves, it allows King to settle into a crunchy riff that stays with you for days.

Where the head-bobbing jam settles into your inner ears in Lie, Lie, Lie’s first half, King launches into the stratosphere in the song’s second act. Not comfortable just burning bridges, King releases nuclear force notes, erupting in punching blues chords into a Southern rock flair.

‘The Last Ride,’ ​​Sidhu Moose Wala

THE LAST RIDE - Offical Video | Sidhu Moose Wala | Wazir Patar

The video for Sidhu Moose Wala’s The Last Ride actually debuted in May, but the performer never made it to June. Gunned down by gang members in broad daylight, Wala became another fallen rising star in gangsta rap on the other side of the world.

Hailing from the Moosa village in India’s northern Punjab state, Sidhu Moose Wala was an ascending actor, songwriter, rapper, and revered personality. Falling victim, like too many before him, to territorial disputes and internecine violence, the murder shocked the Punjabi community. Thousands of fans and admirers attended his cremation and Bhog (memorial service).

Fans, Artists, Politicians, Kids, Young Old and who not
Flooded the Mansa (Punjab) to attend Moose wala's Bhog (Antim Ardaas)…
Emotional father also addressed huge gathering.😥
"The Lion Sidhu Moosewala"
That's the love he earned…😥
Alvida brother…🙏#sidhumoosewala

— Amandeep Singh (@Amandee26050047) June 8, 2022

Not was Moose Wala the prodigal son, returned to uplift his home after immigrating to Canada; he wrapped a prolific output into five years, recording over 100 songs. Tragically, a song about being killed young is his last testament. The Last Ride is a dark banger, offering a jaded perspective from a people too often traumatized.

“Everything is revealed in the eyes of the young boy … the funeral will take place in its youth.”

‘Can’t Help Falling in Love,’ Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves - Can’t Help Falling in Love (From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ELVIS)

There’s a tricky protocol when covering songs, especially those from revered artists. The take has to at once show enough talent to respect the initial version, but offer an innovative enough sound that it’d distinguished from the original take. Think Kurt Cobain’s 1993 ode to his hero Lead Belly, performing Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (aka, In the Pines) live on MTV Unplugged.

Country queen Kacey Musgraves’ rain-drenched noir take on Elvis’ most famous ballad, Can’t Help Falling in Love, the singer squeezes the soppy nostalgia out of the tune and is left with a smoldering, searing heartbreaker.

Made for and appearing on the Elvis soundtrack, Musgraves only needs a little more than two-and-a-half minutes to evoke the wrenching misery that is love found only to become love lost somewhere along the way.

‘nothing (in my head),’ Pinkshift

Pinkshift - nothing (in my head) [Official Music Video]

Excuse the potential blasphemy, but on first listen, Pinkshift sounds like a harder, just as snotty evolution of No Doubt, the band that shattered the 1990s pop-punk ethos with a mindful punk anthem and an apt paean to the emotional trauma of being separated for so long, especially for young people.

Hailing from Baltimore, Pinkshift was about to hit the road for their first big tour before pandemic considerations shut down big plans. Not willing to be shuttered by a mere shutdown, Pinkshift changed gears and released the viral I’m Gonna Tell My Therapist On You in late July. Now two years later and finally on tour, Pinkshift announced their new album with the release of the undeniably smart aleck, nothing (in my head).

“At night, I’m all alone, wondering what’s next, but I’ll never know,” lead singer Ashrita Kumar pleads over hammering chords and bashing drums.

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