Monthly Music Mix: May
By Drew Renner
And we thought April was bad. Apocalypse 2020 continued on through May and our society seems more damaged than ever before. Luckily, the music industry didn’t let us down like every other institution seemingly is, giving us a little bit of light in these times of darkness. We can’t do anything to save the world here on the Monthly Music Mix, but we can try to give you a nice soundtrack to watch it burn.
Congrats to Ariana Grande, with the help of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, she debuted two more songs at #1 on the hot 100 with Stuck with U and Rain On Me, making four total #1 debuts which is more than anyone ever has. While doing so, she (arguably) proved how much of a better singer she is than her counterparts, but that is a whole different issue. This was also a great month for female rappers. Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and Nicky Minaj all hit the top for the first time with Say So and Savage. Beyonce is there too but she gets #1s all the time.
For albums, it was another month dominated by hip-hop. Gunna hit the top spot for the first time with Wunna. Future hit it for like thousandth with High Off Life. YoungBoyNeverBroke Again got another #1 with 38 Baby 2. The only one to break up the hip-hopoly was Kenny Chesney, the guy who sang about having sex with his tractor with Here and Now. Country music still thrives even though it isn’t always in our ears like hip-pop. The 1975 were only able to hit #4, and I can’t find Carly anywhere on the charts at all. Oh well, she is about to earn a much more lucrative award.
Album of the month:
Dedicated Side B by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly is the cure. It has been proven that a direct injection of her music into your body will give you immunity to all the blights of life. She knew we needed a pick up and gave us just that. There was a hot rumor all month that she was going to drop it without warning, but in 2020 it is hard to get optimistic about anything set in the future. Jepsen did it though, on a Thursday no less to avoid competing with the regular slew of releases at Midnight. Her B-Sides are the dreams of most singers, just so effortlessly blissful. We don’t deserve her.
Making A Door Less Open by Car Seat Headrest
While channeling artists like The Strokes and Beck, Car Seat Headrest adds distortion and a certain wary-aggressiveness that makes this album wholly unique. These guys have been around for awhile, though I’m just discovering them now along with you, but apparently they self-released twelve albums on BandCamp before getting signed to a record deal. That is some dedication right there. I’d probably give up after two (ok, fine, I’d give up after one.) I still need to check out that old stuff, but this has also been described as a radical departure in sound for them. For the best I assume!
how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX
Stuck at home like the rest of us, Charli decided to make her own album – with blackjack and hookers. While overproduction (so many lasers) is still an issue, these are some of the hottest tracks she has ever put out. Songs two through seven slay so hard. Make no mistake about it, even though this is at the same spot on the monthly list as her last album, it is significantly superior. So while I am still waiting for that A+ album from XCX, I will still gladly take one of these every year.
Notes on a Conditional Form by The 1975
The 1975 set a massive bar with their last album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, which continues to get better by the day. Perhaps it was too high, but this new album still has some really great songs on it. I do wish they had made more along the lines of If You’re Too Shy and People and also wish they had fewer interludes (the album runs at a ridiculous 88 minutes.) This band has never delivered what people were expecting before though, and it has worked out pretty well so far. This one will go down in history as perfectly fine and can proudly stand alongside their first two records.
Standout: If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)
Resonate by Lettuce
We have a pair of firsts here on the Monthly Music Mix. The first first is that we have never had five albums make the cut before, but May 2020 just had too much good stuff to leave out. The second, and perhaps more important, is that we have never had jazz music on here either. Not even Snake Jazz. The quarantine has made me stretch my musical borders though and this one of the beneficiaries. Now, don’t get it twisted, this is very much modern jazz, meant to boogied to more than just sitting there with wine and a cigar. It is so fun that the jazz purists would probably dismiss it as crap like funk or rock or pop. Jazz fans always think they are elite though, better than the rest of us even though they lost to Michael Jordan in the finals just like everyone else. We will forgive them though, for their fandom gives us more jazz and the occasional experimenter like Lettuce too.
Standout: House of Lett
Song of the month:
Bloody Valentine by Machine Gun Kelly
The simulation just went bad, but you’re the best I ever had.
I talk a lot about why it is important to give musicians second (or third/fourth) chances on this column all the time. This might be the very best example of why that is. Neither I, nor anybody else, was looking forward to MGK making “rock songs”, he could barely rap so what business does he have trying to breah out? Yet we are, completely addicted, with the song of the month now in his portfolio. Travis Barker helps alot here, both with drums (which he slays) and also with the writing (which I assume he did most of.) It sounds more like the short-lived Travis/Mark project +44 than Blink proper, but Blink-182 isn’t really Blink proper anymore so this is somehow the best we are going to get. Well done fellas.
Covid Mansion by Hopsin
Now there just ain’t many plans I can move on, All because someone at bat soup in Wuhan
This is the quarantine anthem we all needed. Sure, some of the lyrics are a little too corny (like the masturbation bit) , but for the most part they are sharp. “I sent you a text why you ignoring me? Hmm, I know you got time to reply bitch don’t even lie cause you in the quarantine.” Which is so true. People can just call you out on your bullshit right away in Covid world. Nothing that happened before matters anymore. And in a few years time we will probably look back on this as something surreal and out of a dream. Hopsin has ours back though, documenting how we all feel and that shit is gonna last forever.
Freaking Out by Dregg
Pitch black then boom I’m part of this reality, Time is of the essence and so is my sanity
I don’t know much about this band Dregg, their Epitaph Records bio is a very colorful read though not all that helpful. I do know that Siri has a tough time figuring out what I’m requesting when I yell at her to play this. She is like ok, here is a song by Drenge. Drenge are pretty awesome too, but not what I want right now. Freaking Out is a major headbanger in a time where mosh pits are prohibited. In that way, it teases a life we cannot live, yet even a taste of those memories are enough to get through until we can have real concerts again.
(Insert Girls Name Here) by The Luka State
Here we are again, she’s broken. I helped ease her mind.
First off, what a great title for a song. Everyone thinks their recently started/ended relationship is so very special, but for most us, the same shit just happens over and over. Thus, The Luka State cover enough ground to last the rest of time. And this song is jam intended to last that entire span as well. A hell of a guitar solo should hook anybody in (so long as they desire such a thing.)