Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a music column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.

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Each week, I invite some hot name from the world of music to talk the coolest tunes. Today, Nate Scott of Fox Sports joins Bryce and I to chat about intimate hip-hop, future bounce, and NOLA DIY.

Feast your ear-tongues on these music pops, this is Some Songs Considered: #065.

Some Song Lindsay Likes…

It’s Called…

“One In Rotation + Wide Awake”

It’s By…

Little Simz

The PR Elevator Pitch…

After a fast few years of critical praise, integrity, and shout-outs from Kendrick Lamar, 22-year-old UK rapper Little Simz smoothly navigates fame and the music industry on her new concept album Stillness in Wonderland.

I’d Love To Hear Her Cover…

“Kill V Maim” by Grimes#.

But, IMHO…

– Lindsay

I first fell in love with Little Simz in 2014 when she released the wild, two-faced track “Time Capsule”# followed by the dark LP A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. But either I fell off the wagon or female British artists don’t get enough play in the U.S., because her latest LP, Stillness in Wonderland, snuck into the world back in December without crossing my ears. Blessedly, the team at DC’s Songbyrd Music House snagged Little Simz for a rare U.S. tour, injecting her back into my life last month.

My favorite track off this new LP, “One in Rotation + Wide Awake,” equates the dizzying navigation of the music industry with Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. On “One in Rotation,” Simz and California-based producer SiR rap their plans and affirmations over a lonely trumpet, which ends up conveying the exhaustion of the hustle more than its invigoration. Simz’s style on this track is a mix of nonchalance and intimacy. Her delivery on the first half is skillfully jaded, whereas, the backend of the track, “Wide Awake,” shifts into a measured intensity. “Wide Awake” feels like the moment just after an existential crisis when Simz picks herself up, shakes off the fear and gets back to work.

I’m not, nor will I ever be a hip hop artist from North London, but I dig Simz’s knack for low-key relatability. She’s a poster child for over-analysis balanced with badassery. We (I) could all learn a thing or two from her.

– Bryce

Lindsay actually told me about Little Simz last week, but I’ve had a blast meandering through her Spotify catalogue since. Her innate talent is blisteringly obvious, and I will never not be tired of hearing how the youngins have adapted to a timeless and contextualization musical education by duct-taping genres, moods, and sounds that my more linearly-tracking generation wouldn’t think possible.

I do think there are better first-impression songs out there (“Time Capsule”# “Doorways + Trust Issues”#) when it comes to Ms. Simz, though I will give it to you that ‘One in Rotation,’ with its Anderson Paak-y vibe, feels like one of her most holistically satisfying tracks yet.

– Nate

This is good. It takes confidence from a young MC to let a track build for a good 1:40 before dropping in, but Simz doesn’t seem to lack confidence. There’s a great song trend in hip hop right now that I’d loosely describe as “bewilderment at the world I’m encountering once I find success.” 2Pac is the forefather of the genre, but Young Thug wowed me last year with “Memo,” # a surreal track which has Thugger taking in all the wild changes in his life and trying to keep his head. Stillness in Wonderland, and especially this song, has Little Simz in a similar headspace, but she’s quiet, reserved, letting these new people make the first move. She’s gotten her hopes up before … “It’s familiar, I’ve been here/ been disheartened, still my heart stay sincere” she raps … but won’t get burned again. In part two she finally takes the edge off, though, submitting to a different experience: “This is that DMT. This is that DMT.” Psychedelic, ethereal, weird, gorgeous. And that horn at the beginning of the track!

 

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Some Song Bryce Likes…

It’s Called…

“Rough Soul”

It’s By…

GoldLink, feat. April George (of April + Vista)

The PR Elevator Pitch…

The most accessible hip-hop artist in DC teams up with the hottest voice in the District to create one of the most sonically pleasing, commercially viable songs to come out of this city in years.

Send This Track To…

NPR, Bandcamp, your friend who works at Spotify and is in charge of those What’s Hot playlists.

But, IMHO…

– Bryce

This track — released all the way back in September — got a bit lost in the dizzying ether of the past few months, but I’ve found myself returning to it more and more as I stumble back to the reliable joy of good music. GoldLink’s signature ‘future bounce’ sound has been masterfully alchemized over the past two years, and, as I’ve written before, the young man is a masterful showman. However, I think D’Anthony Carlos is truly at his best when he pairs his genre-bending sound and schtick with a captivating female voice to better manifest the surprisingly emotive lyrics he crams into each bar (e.g. “Divine”#, “Fall In Love”#).

For “Rough Soul,” he taps one half — April George — of one of D.C.’s hottest duos — April + Vista — and the result is one of his most sonically gripping tracks yet. Produced by the Internet keyboardist Jameel Bruner (aka Kintaro), this song could be one of the rare exports from the District that not only finds a national audience, but, god willing, drags some of that spotlight back to the nation’s capital. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them double-down on this winning combination and release an ‘April + Vista, featuring GoldLink’ track in the near future.

– Nate

Bryce will always carry the flag for the District, so I can’t say I’m surprised by the selection, but I was surprised by how much I dug this track. It’s as pop as anything GoldLink has anything done, I guess, or I guess it’s as much brightness and sunshine as one could ever expect from the artist, but I still do love its spareness. With some funky percussion and a couple voices, they manage to craft an entire experience, and the video — stark, simple — reinforces the message. When you’re good, you don’t need a lot to be successful.

– Lindsay

I’ve forever adopted the hottake; “He’s buck as hell!” from 6 very animated Bonnaroo bros describing Goldlink’s midnight set last year. His unceasingly entertaining, 40 minute set featured leaps between monitors, Nirvana air guitar solos with the mic stand and a wardrobe change from an outrageous orange overcoat to a well-loved Garth Brooks tee shirt. His self-indulgence made me a little nervous that the DC golden boy might be a little too much flash with not enough substance — of course, anyone who has listened to The God Complex would’ve have chastised me on the spot. Nevertheless, “Rough Soul” is the smoother, softer side that I needed to hear from him.

But as much as I love its infectious simplicity, it could *still* use more April George, who brings a lightness to everything she touches. I second Bryce’s plea for an April + Vista track feat. Goldlink.

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Some Song Nate Likes…

It’s Called…

“Decent”

It’s By…

Caddywhompus

The PR Elevator Pitch…

After a decade of building DIY cred, beloved New Orleans duo Caddywhompus releases new tune off much anticipated new album. The band manages to make soulful math pop punk, which is a thing, and tear your face off in the process.

Perfect For This Playlist…

“Sad boy dancing his feelings away”

But, IMHO…

– Nate

I’ve written about this before, but it’s hard for me to write about Caddywhompus because they’re so wrapped up in my own personal narrative. I love them unconditionally — not only because they’re brilliant, interesting, and smart, and can shred finger-tapping solos on the guitar while at the same time ripping your guts out with poignant lyrics on love and loss — but because they have been such a part of my life.

I first heard this band in New Orleans during a weird time in my life about a decade ago. I felt lost and disconnected from the people around me, and I stumbled upon Caddywhompus at a house show. I’d never seen anything like them. I still haven’t. There they were — lead singer/guitarist Chris Rehm bouncing pigeon-toed between stomps on his pedals, his voice, falsetto, flying and breaking in equal parts, standing in front of a leaning tower of shitty amps he had duct-taped together. To his right, Sean Hart, gently placing down his cigarette, then hitting his battered set of drums harder than I’d ever seen drums hit. (NOLA drummers learn pretty damn quickly not to lend Sean a cymbal, because it will come back smashed.) They were playing like the very fate of the universe rested with them, right there, for me and about 16 other kids in a battered-out living room in New Orleans.

I fell in love with Caddywhompus, then fell in love with the scene they were a part of. Great bands sprung up around them — Sun Hotel and Native America my two favorites — and in that scene I first started really writing about music. I made friends. I met a girl. It came from that one show, but I wasn’t the only one. Everyone down there in that scene was obsessed with them. They were our favorite band. Fuck, G-Eazy, a classmate of theirs at Loyola, who would later sample them on a track.

I was certain they would blow up. At 21 years old, I’d never been more convinced of anything in my life. They were too talented to miss. All it would take is that one song…

I’m 31 now. It never really happened. This is partly their own doing, as they remain committed to a maddening DIY ethos (Rehm was exclusively releasing music via a cassette subscription series for a while) … and also because they refuse to play any old songs at any of their shows, always choosing to push out new stuff no one’s ever heard. (It’s always driven me kind of insane, though there is a perversely beautiful honor in a band without any hits still refusing to play any of the hits). It’s also partly just stupid, weird, dumb luck. Some bands hit that zeitgeist, get that Best New Music, and never look back. Others write songs that are loved, passionately and unequivocally, by a few.

Who knows, maybe this is the one. Maybe this track, “Decent,” with its heart-wrenching opening (Rehm is one of the few people alive that can play a guitar part that gets me choked up, and he’s done it on like 9 different songs) and explosive conclusion, will be the song that does it. My fingers are crossed.

– Bryce

To know and love Nate Scott is to know, if not love, Caddywhompus. They are one of the most frequent artists I see under his little Spotify avatar when the whimsical joys of big data wield their mighty power, and I vividly remember one specific night in which I was dragged to some random guy’s unfurnished basement to see Caddywhompus play for a crowd of less than 25 people. And whle I fully admit I do not share Nate’s life-altering passion for this band, one of the many fortuitous results of our friendship is that I’ve been forced to reckon with a complicated, flambouyantly sporadic band who is, undoubtedly, worth taking the time to reckon with.

Whether it’s the out-of-nowhere time signature changes or the casual shredding of a jilted pop melody yanked from the upper neck of their guitars, this band always finds a way to surprise me. Sometimes it’s with some slight-of-hand that dazzles my jaded ears, sometimes it’s with musicial decisions that frustrate the hell out of my more pop-oriented leanings. Regardless, Caddywhompus always keeps me on my toes, which ultimately is a lot harder to do than make them tap.

– Lindsay

I think Bryce goes back and forth on whether “complicated, flamboyantly sporadic” is an inherently good quality in a band.

I, on the other hand, am always looking for bands that are complicated and flamboyantly sporadic. Caddywhompus fits that bill snuggly and has thus been in my rotation since their last release, Feathering a Nest.

“Decent” nails the balance between noisy, swampy excess and exceptional tightness. Their ability to creatively bend my expectations of rock while still managing to melt face is what elevates them above so many bands who play around with math rock and psychedelia.

“Decent” is actually a little more lively than I was expecting when I heard they had new music. Sometime I fear that a pop-y track signals a downward path to mediocrity for bands trying to break the DIY glass ceiling. But like Nate said, for Caddywhompus, DIY is a passion and a compulsion. I can’t deny my adoration for a band who genuinely loves the creative struggle.

 
 

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