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, Ben Schurr of Br’er/Blight Records joins Bryce and I to chat about fiery first mixtapes, nepotistic giraffes, and post-vapor wave nostalgia corruption.

Feast your ear-tongues on these music pops, this is Some Songs Considered: #062.

Some Song Lindsay Likes…

It’s Called…

“Tears of a Black Mova”

It’s By…

Abdu Ali, produced by DJ Haram

The PR Elevator Pitch…

Fiery Baltimore rapper Abdu Ali unleashes the powerful, multi-genre Mongo on the world. This may be his first mixtape, but absolutely won’t be the last we hear from him.

Send This Track To…

The next idiot who posts “All Lives Matter” on your Facebook feed.

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

“Baltimore-Born rapper Abdu Ali releases his debut, Mongo, at the intersection of queer and black identities in the United States. The outcome is raw, energetic, and deeply impactful, despite becoming disjointed at times.”

But, IMHO…

– Lindsay

Abdu Ali’s fiery first mixtape, Mongo, is the outcome of being queer and black in Baltimore – a city infamous for racial tensions though considered (by me) to be one of the greatest creative hubs in America. It’s a defiant patchwork of noise, sass, and rage that’s best heard as one loud expression, but “Tears of a Black Mova” is a good place to start.

The production is a harsh slice of Baltimore club and electronics perfectly paired with Ali’s unfolding identity crisis/identity revelation. “I’ve got the tears of a black mother/I’ve got the rage of a black mother” has personally been the most effective statement to elevate brutality against black Americans beyond media bullshit and place it rightly in the context of empathy and heartbreak.

Ali’s sound is a lot to handle, but his furious and challenging tone is exactly what we need right now.

It’ll Earn My $_:
The monetary percentage of my ticket sale from Fields Festival this past weekend, where Abdu Ali poured out a large portion of his soul on the floor of a humid, wooded pavilion.
 

– Bryce

Baltimore club music can be so hit-or-miss with me. I love me some TT the Artist#, I love me some DDm#, I grew up on WPGC Friday nights. Still, ever since Wale essentially parodied the entire genre# while whining about not getting Bmore radio love, I’ve had a hard time taking it seriously.

This, Lindsay, I take seriously.

The sonic levels of “Tears of Black Mova” have overloaded my eardrums like a sonic Q-tip, forcing Mr. Ali’s gripping lyricism straight into my brain. And, like when a Q-tip goes too far in, I was left feeling good, bad, and somewhat invaded when it was all over.

He’ll Earn My $_:
$12 for a ticket whenever he next plays a U Street Music Hall-esque venue.
 

– Ben

Wow, it’s hard to write honestly about something you like (as opposed to something you don’t like.) This shit is awesome though. Abdu Ali has such a visceral attack in his songs; it dabbles in a personal psychosis that I really dig, and musically, the intensity and excess of samples accentuate the explosive fire of this guy’s persona.

We actually played with him at The Pinch in DC earlier this year and I didn’t think his recorded music could come near the intensity of his live show, but “Tears of a Black Mova” really lives up to that experience.

It’ll Earn My $_:
$25 of whatever he wants to sell me; a CD, a t-shirt, or the skin off my back, this guy can have it.

 

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Some Song Bryce Likes…

It’s Called…

“Girafe”

It’s By…

Hunter (nee Hunter Gawande)

The PR Elevator Pitch…

A random 17-year-old girl out of Boston whose niche-famous dad, Dr. Atul Gawande, happened to mention her in a recent episode of The Ezra Klein Podcast.

In A Dream World, She’d Be Touring With…

Allen Tate of San Fermin (who just released the first single from his solo project’s new album and who always benefits from being paired with cooing, smart female vocals) or Girlpool (whose fanbase would lap up the similar, ‘mature teenager’ ilk of Hunter and her music).

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

“Hunter Gawande delicately balances her intrinsic youthful naivety with emotional and intellectual precociousness. Her new single “Girafe” is a glimpse beyond the Spektor of her idols into a future where – if only their neck was a bit longer – one could easily see Hunter’s name in lights.”

But, IMHO…

– Bryce

A confession: I discovered Hunter Gawande because her dad is Dr. Atul Gawande, a fantastic writer/cancer surgeon/world saver, who appeared on an episode of Ezra Klein’s podcast a few weeks ago. He, only half-seriously I think, plugged Hunter’s SoundCloud page, and, because I’m a weirdo, I checked it out. Next thing you know, I’ve listened to her 5 most recent tracks on repeat for an hour.

So, now I’m stuck in this weird position where I want to share this song (and her other very-listenable tracks like “Sanity” and “Le Sommet du Monde”) with you all, but in doing so I have to admit I am a possibly creepy weirdo who can’t stop listening to a 17-year-old girl who never signed up for this.

I guess, like a giraffe, I’m really sticking my neck out there with this one…

It’ll Earn My $_:
$0, because all of her music is currently free and the last thing I need to do is be giving this underage girl any money under the table.
 

– Lindsay

I want to give Bryce credit where credit is due for following the uncommon lead and helping out the little guy, but my muscles instinctively clench at convenient nepotism. “Girafe” is a lovely song, Hunter has a killer voice and a gift for poignant songwriting, and the Beirut diehard in me was tickled when the horn kicked in at the end of the track, but music is a dirty game and there are thousands upon thousands of well-intentioned singer-songwriters on SoundCloud whose parents don’t get invited on high-brow podcasts.

At the risk of sounding like a jaded asshole (I just turned 27, so I’m entitled now, right?), you can’t just record heartfelt folk in your bedroom and get my approval. I need more than a horn flourish to pierce the thickness of my overstimulated music-brain. Maybe I’m too hungry for weird, new sounds to pull me into the unknown – or maybe I see this girl’s talent, resources, and youth and can’t help but push her to put the piano aside and face the strange.

Or do I need to lighten up? Should I stop approaching any SoundCloud track labeled ‘Folk & Singer-Songwriter’ as the musical equivalent of an NPR filler story? Bryce, teach me how to lighten up.

It’ll Earn My $_:
0 dollars. Because, as previously mentioned, her music is free; and because SoundCloud hasn’t strong-armed us into subscriptions yet. I will, however, check back in 2 years to see where Hunter’s at.
 

– Ben

There’s a naiveté here that sounds good, but it lacks the excitement of the experience of being a teenager. Mature teenagers are great and all, but (as I remember it) being a teenager was a really intense experience, and I just wish she had tapped that a little more.

Ultimately it’s great that she is this young and expressing herself in music, but in my honest opinion, 17-year-olds should be making punk music and fighting with their parents; not being this thoughtful and well-produced. I agree with Lindsay that Hunter’s music could use more individual flavor and a divergence from such a common structure; when I hear “Girafe,” I don’t picture someone excited about music.

That being said, if she did arrange and produce this all herself, then she is an undeniably brilliant 17 year-old – just one who should dig a little deeper in her individual expressions.

It’ll Earn My $_:
$0 dollars, but certainly my encouragements.

 

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Some Song Ben Likes…

It’s Called…

“Human Om”

It’s By…

Tobacco

The PR Elevator Pitch…

Post-vapor wave, nostalgia corrupter Tobacco (Thomas Fec of Black Moth Super Rainbow# fame) hypnotizes you into a parallel, Dune-like universe where peace and inner calm is obtained only through distortion, nausea, and tape hiss.

Send This Track To…

A ketamine casualty desperately clinging on to their own existence.

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

“Thomas Fec of Black Moth Super Rainbow continues his visually-oppressive, sonically-contentious spiral into pre-digital notoriety.”

But, IMHO…

– Ben

I’m someone who believes nostalgia in the musical arts is like salt in the culinary: it should be used sparingly and very intentionally. Tobacco has mastered this discipline.

Fec’s use of distorted electronics that pulse, throb, and waver over whispered vocoder lines and grooves all getting swallowed by a sea of cassette flutter creates this inviting dimension that both horrifies and lures me in. It’s like finding a portal into the multiverse that pushes you into the past and future simultaneously.

It’ll Earn My $_:
$15. I was going to get Ultima II Massage, but saw this on pre-order and took the risk. Totally worth it.
 

– Lindsay

The first time I stumbled across Tobacco I was left feeling a combination of intoxication and confusion. I honestly could not decide whether his music should be taken seriously.

The disjointed, disturbing (yet undeniably creative) visual aesthetic was probably to blame – was this more Skrillex or Blanck Mass? or something entirely different? – but confusion aside, Tobacco’s sound on “Human Om” is a real trip I can’t pretend I don’t enjoy every second of. It is helpful though to hear someone like Ben feels a similar sense of intriguing horror, yet without my confusion.

Like a soft stinky cheese or Lars von Trier movies, I’ll probably learn to enjoy Tobacco after a little more time, exposure, and social pressure.

It’ll Earn My $_:
$12-$15 next time Tobacco plays at U Street Music Hall. I might be aesthetically confused, but live, this seems like it would be an unmissable freak-fest.
 

– Bryce

One summer during college, my friend Austin and I were driving out to a friend’s house on the Cape and decided to be irresponsible college kids and smoke a strong joint whilst doing so. Since I was driving, he was in charge of music, and he decided that scenario should be when I got introduced to Tobacco’s Black Moth Super Rainbow, using “Forever Heavy”# as a jumping off point down a twisted psychedelic synth pop wormhole that caused the next 45 minutes to become one giant, semi-cognizant blur.

Needless to say, I’ve been a Tobacco fan ever since and “Human Om” is just one more song to add to the old collection. It might not earn a spot in my Top 10, but it’s all a part of the journey bro.

It’ll Earn My $_:
That same $12-15 for a U-Hall ticket, possibly more if I’m stoned and find a poster that looks fun.

 

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