We’re here to tell you what’s hot and what’s not in this week’s music roundup!
Boogie – EVERYTHING’S FOR SALE
Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop
Favorite Tracks: “Tired/Reflections,” “Silent Ride,” “Whose Fault”
While listening through Boogie’s first few mixtapes, the bitter tone and constant concern-trolling of women using social media a la J. Cole or Drake on cuts like “Bitter Raps” got really tiresome, so I’m happy to report that his debut album, EVERYTHING’S FOR SALE, mostly ditches that for more introspection. The opening track, “Tired/Reflections,” starts with a great spoken word piece dismissing criticisms that he talks too much about his impoverished upbringing, insecurity, and difficulties with women, and that’s where he’s at his most interesting. The instrumentation has become softer and more serene to match the change in content, with gentle pianos, acoustic licks, and cooing background vocals providing a good melodic foundation for him to sink into.
Sadly, while some aspects of his music have improved, his voice has not. Boogie has this generic, whiny delivery reminiscent of Lil Uzi Vert without the Auto-Tune, which makes it hard to get into songs like “Skydive” when he’s not given enough solid multitracking or background vocals to support him. The guest stars on EVERYTHING’S FOR SALE either bring out the worst in him or completely derail the mood. “Skydive II” was kind of working with its gorgeous vocal harmonies before a radically different vocal fidelity on the second verse and 6LACK talking about him and his girl 69ing, and “Rainy Days” features groan-inducing word play from both him and Eminem, who spends most of the song channeling the Slim Shady persona, flowing his ass off while saying nothing of value and ending his verse with more bottom-of-the-barrel mumble rap satire. Given Shady Record’s terrible track record with signees, I hope that this song is not a harbinger of how Boogie is just going to be used by Em rather than be nurtured by him, because I don’t want him to be mismanaged into irrelevance. Sadly, alternative hip hop that tries to be self-reflective and use touches of gospel or R&B is not a uncommon sight nowadays, and between its short length, weak guest stars, and overly homogeneous feel, EVERYTHING’S FOR SALE does not do enough to stand out from the crowd. [Blake Michelle]
Juliana Hatfield – WEIRD
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “It’s So Weird,” “Sugar,” “Paid To Lie”
As far as present-day voices in contemporary alternative pop/rock go, Juliana Hatfield is without question one of the most tenured. Her newest release, WEIRD, is her 17th studio album under her own name since her debut in 1992, and this isn’t even counting her other projects with Blake Babies and Some Girls, among others. Suffice to say, one does not generally get to the point of releasing their 17th solo studio album without having a great degree of merit to their work, and Juliana Hatfield most certainly does; going into this new project, my expectations may not have been exceptionally high, but I certainly expected at bare minimum an enjoyable and engaging release. Once again, Juliana Hatfield does not disappoint.
From the jump, it is clear that the woman behind WEIRD is a bona fide veteran, with a mature and complete approach to her own songwriting that ensures a baseline level of quality for every song. Her album-arranging acumen is on full display, as Hatfield wisely stacks three of the best tracks on the album at the very beginning of the record: “Staying In” provides an airtight and uptempo opener with a wry and self-effacing hook, “It’s So Weird” is a legitimately groovy and somewhat stripped-back song with a killer vocal melody, and “Sugar” is the closest thing this album has to a true single, driven by a positively sunny chord progression and a rather sharply employed drum machine.
However, for as strong as this opening combo of tracks is, WEIRD quickly falls into the rather common and ultimately harmless problem that many records of a similar persuasion often do: a rather monotonous and unmemorable middle. This is not to say that there’s any material here that isn’t worth listening to; every track here has its charm and better qualities, but Hatfield would likely be the first to admit that this album isn’t exactly pushing the boundaries of what her music can be. WEIRD is a ‘90s alt-rock and pop record through and through, and while there’s absolutely no issue with making good on timeless sounds, it usually doesn’t make for a particularly standout effort. Luckily, the album picks up a little bit of a second wind towards the end, with Hatfield channeling some Dinosaur Jr. on the foreboding and intelligent “Paid To Lie,” and letting a hint of grunge greats like Pearl Jam creep into the minor-tinged “No Meaning.” All told, WEIRD is yet another good-not-great addition to the alt-rock canon, but has enough high quality playlist material on it to be a worthwhile and recommended listen for any fan of the ‘90s indie sound. [Jacob Martin]
Toro y Moi – OUTER PEACE
Genre: Alternative R&B, Synth Funk
Favorite Tracks: “Miss Me,” “New House,” “Freelance,” “Monte Carlo,” “50-50”
OUTER PEACE’s lead single, “Freelance,” contains the lines “No more shoes and socks I only rock sandals / I can’t tell if I’m hip or getting old.” Despite the prevailing air of neurosis that dominated Chaz Bear’s latest release, the album is actually his most hip hop-indebted and thus most relevant and badass to date. Although the cover art evokes a lost ‘70s YouTube find a la Minnie Riperton or Haruomi Hosono, the music inside is more similar to Chaz’s work as Les Sins or on his mixtape SAMANTHA. Hip hop-y collaborations define the albums best tracks, Chaz seeming like more of a swaggering producer than a chillwave musician. Following his collaborative EP with Atlanta Tumblr. rapper Rome Fortune, OUTER PEACE leaves me hoping that Chaz bills himself as more of an impresario than an artist on future releases. With features from ABRA, dance-pop producers WET, and chilled out popper Instupendo, he takes the backseat more than he did on 2017’s FM synth-heavy BOO BOO, and this is a good thing, as Toro proved his abilities as a solo artist more than a decade ago.
OUTER PEACE, though incredibly suave, is still riddled with an existential anxiety that is best articulated on the track “Monte Carlo,” in which Chaz sing-raps the line “I can’t take the BART makes me paranoid” after he prefaces a crappy situation in which a Bay Area Uber driver cancels the ride. Chaz now resides in Oakland, and I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind so many amazing projects during my time living in San Francisco over this past summer—I can attest to the stubborn integrity of rideshare drivers in The City, and it frequently takes a few tries to get to SF from East Bay and vise versa. Where tracks like “Blessa” and “So Many Details” coped with the abstractly smeared concerns of youth, now that Chaz is in his 30s, he poignantly addresses the mundane anxieties of well-adjusted adult life. Although this stage in any artist’s career is often the start of their creative demise, Toro y Moi’s transition from stylish synth prodigy to self-assured savant is one of the indie music’s great success stories, and OUTER PEACE is another triumph alongside a canon of six other full length gems. [Ted Davis]
William Tyler – GOES WEST
Genre: Instrumental Folk
Favorite Tracks: N/A
When we last heard from William Tyler he was galavanting across the country, capturing the cosmic energy that radiates from the plains of Kansas to the deserts of New Mexico with an unwavering focus. His 2016 release MODERN COUNTRY was painstakingly detailed, each song capturing a different shade of American hope. On his latest album, GOES WEST, Tyler’s ramshackled troubadour spirit is less focused, no longer interested in answers or purpose. HIs guitar plucking is loose, and the orchestrations here are often jubilant and free. Frequently we can see dancing, as on homecoming romp “Fail Safe,” and a sense of joyful movement dominates the record. If anything, Tyler’s trip out west finds him content, particularly on the longer tracks like love letter “Rebecca” or May Day stomp “Venus in Aquarius.” GOES WEST is Tyler at his most relaxed, a far cry from dark mysteries he was exploring in the lengthy, sphinxlike guitar movements of 2010’s excellent BEHOLD THE SPIRIT. Even in its more solemn moments, like “Virginia is for Loners” or “Eventual Surrender,” there’s a plodding exuberance that can’t be contained. Even though it may be his least intentioned work, GOES WEST has an agreeable nature that alludes most records. Set aside 37 minutes to be at peace and hear what William Tyler has to say. [CJ Simonson]
Weezer – TEAL ALBUM
Favorite Tracks: Any of the Original Versions of the Songs Covered on This Record
Driving out of Las Vegas this morning, I saw a sign advertising a Weezer show at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, a solemn reminder that Weezer is now an actively uncool band. When the group dropped their regurgitative Twitter-born cover of Toto’s “Africa” this summer, it felt like a meme conceived in an Atlantic Records boardroom. It’s hard to imagine that the Weezer boys really felt a need to record an album of covers almost identical to the original songs. Instead, TEAL ALBUM was certainly recorded to keep the revenue from the “Africa” meme alive long enough to get a few extra thousand dollars from YouTube streams. Every song on TEAL ALBUM sounds like a way-too-high fidelity bootleg of Rivers Cuomo a few too many Bud Lites deep at a karaoke bar. The only exception to the redundancy is “No Scrubs,” which puts the original’s synth line on an offensively medieval harpsichord. When Cuomo’s far-too-rock-and-roll vocals come in, the track sounds like a long lost cut from the soundtrack to THE INBETWEENERS. Weezer become more problematically mild-mannered with every new release, but on TEAL ALBUM, the band seems to be flailing for help as they passively rehash songs that any intermediate musician with access to a microphone could have recorded in their mother’s basement. [Ted Davis]