As every Friday brings new music, Tomorrow’s Verse brings you our top picks for the week. Here are our favorite albums from June 22.
By: Alex Wood
Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
With only three releases under his belt, Kamasi Washington is already a living legend. A modern savior for the jazz scene, Washington’s strengths are not simply his technical abilities on saxophone, but his ability to choose unbelievably talented musicians to play beside and his ability to stick to a single musical vision for each project. Much like his debut, The Epic, Heaven and Earth is a sprawling affair, with 16 songs filling its two-and-a-half hour duration. With a band that utilized trumpet and trombone aside his saxophone, Kamasi keeps a tight rhythm section, with the drums, piano and bass each remaining a prominent part of each piece, not simply time-keepers. Yet there are lush strings and choir vocal harmonies, production tricks, vibraphone, funky guitars and samples – it’s as though each song refuses to sit still. Another gigantic feat, Heaven and Earth proves Washington to be a saving grace in today’s music scene, and simply has to be heard to be believed.
Dawes – Passwords
Though Dawes have never been a band to hide their 70s influences, Passwords sits comfortably within the early 70s Laurel Canyon sound, soft pianos and simple acoustic guitar backing Taylor Goldsmith’s reflective songwriting. Yet, with each record, Dawes continue to improve their musicianship. When Passwords really shines is when the band can stretch out instrumentally, using the sometimes-formulaic song structures as a simple blueprint for expansion. In the end, it’s another solid album that finds Dawes continuing to do what they’ve done best, and continuing to do what they potentially always will – it’s a pleasant record with outstanding lyrics and very obvious influences, and maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Record Company – All Of This Life
Indiana trio The Record Company specialize in a stomping brand of roots music, infectious vocal melodies met by quarter-note kick drum thumps, slide guitar and gritty, driving bass. It’s a sound that’s easy to digest but difficult to dislike, and with their sophomore album, All Of This Life, the band has only improved the formula. The same catchy, formulaic tunes exist (and are still extremely fun), but the band throws in a few wild cards, like the soulful “Goodbye To The Hard Life” or the laid-back country of “The Movie Song.” Regardless the tone, the songs all have one thing in common – they’re insanely, unabashedly catchy. There are enough hooks on All Of This Life to keep it fresh and, hopefully, for the record and these guys to hold up in the long run.
Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch
Bad Witch, the newest album and third of initially planned EPs from Nine Inch Nails, plays like a summation of all of the different moods, textures and experimental techniques that have led the band to their beloved status. Across its 30-minute runtime, the album features insanely aggressive, distorted alternative rock, electronic songs, sludgy, instrumental noise rock, ambient soundscapes and so much more. The fact that Trent Reznor is capable of fitting so many ideas into a meticulous, tightly crafted is beyond impressive, and leaves something for fans of any level to love. With Bad Witch, Reznor has invented yet another dark world of his own, and songwriting of this caliber proves that NIN are anything but simply a band from the past.
T. Hardy Morris – Dude, The Obscure
Athens, GA songwriter T. Hardy Morris’s music has a deep respect for the lineage of self-made psychedelic music that remains a point of pride for his hometown. His third full-length, Dude, The Obscure, is loosely based off of Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude, The Obscure, but is mostly a set of trippy set of songs looking at all aspects of life as a whole. Built primarily around dense layers of guitars, the tracks are held down by a simple percussion section and his distinctive vocal delivery. The songwriting is excellent, the music is heady, and there isn’t much to not like about this record.
R+R=NOW – Collagically Speaking
Prolific jazz pianist, composer and producer Robert Glasper returns with another supergroup, this time with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Derrick Hodge on bass, Taylor McFerrin on synthesizer, Justin Tyson on drums and Terrace Martin on synth and vocoder. Essentially, Glasper grabbed most of the biggest names in the Blue Note Records scene to create music with an extremely modern feel, without losing its traditional jazz backbone. Standing for Reflect+Respond=Now, the record is decidedly political, without smacking you in the face with it. Glasper’s piano and Tyson’s drum remain the vital jazz aspect, while the rest primarily provide atmosphere and additional layers. It’s a laid-back, captivating listen that should be on your radar.
Yukon Blonde – Critical Hit
Canadian indie-pop band has an infectious, electronic sound that straddles the line between rock and pop. Specializing in a catchy, party-ready vibe, their newest record, Critical Hit, sounds like a blend between Portugal. The Man and Phoenix. Gang vocals drive the hooks deep into your head alongside funky, clean guitar riffs and simple-but-effective synthesizers and rhythm section. The perfect album to drop on the second official day of summer, this one feels like a drive to the beach.