Five new songs better than anything on DONDA
Feat. Mr. Twin Sister, Turnstile, Tokischa x ROSALÍA, Little Simz, and Pearl & The Oysters
Hello welcome to the Unskippables, and we’re all going to jail tonight.
DONDA week finally came and went, and the album was about as inspired as you’d expect from the man who brought out DaBaby and Marilyn Manson at his third of three release events.
This take from GQ is the only one that resonated with me - as someone growing up in the early aughts, the sheer emptiness of Donda is what hurts, from a man whose use of weird detail was one of his most redeeming qualities as a songwriter:
Kanye evokes his god and his adversaries with steely discretion, never detailing the trials and tribulations he insists he has endured. His book of Job is stripped of temptations and losses. There are no ultralight beams, no blood on the leaves, no skipped leg days, no dark, twisted fantasies, no drunk and hot girls, no gold diggers, no spaceships, no polos, no teddy bears, no chipmunk squeals, no soul.
You deserve a more fulfilling musical diet than this. You do! So - on to this week’s Unskippables!
Mr. Twin Sister - Polvo
Mr. Twin Sister have been on an absolute hot streak for 2021 last singles. “Polvo” joins “Diary/Expressions” as a perfect slice of disco-house, with a perfect eye for just how much sonic weirdness to throw on a bouncing bass and Andrea Estrella’s center-stage vocals. “Polvo” leans on a slightly nervous chorused guitar and streaks of synth applied like heavy pastel paint in the chorus. It’s as charming as it is effortlessly funky.
Turnstile - Blackout
This album took a handful of listens before I knew I liked it - though it has a smart mix of hardcore, electronic drums and Perry Farrell-esque anthemic singing, I couldn’t help but think of “Headstrong” as I took in the album’s major riffage.
However, the band’s sheer enthusiasm and lack of chest-beating seriousness make it work - catch the COWBELL BREAK(?!?!) at the 1.35 mark. This isn’t Active Rock 2.0 as much as a joyride through streets paved with Mesa Boogie crunch. Let yourself headbang for once, it’s okay.
Tokischa feat. ROSALÍA - Linda
The result of wanting to cross dembow with flamenco in the studio, Dominican singer/rapper Tokischa collaborates with ROSALÍA on this new energetic single. The two trade vibrant vocal lines, bouncing over a rubber-band bass synth and skittering claps. The song feels like one last blast of heat before the fall, like rattling bass from a nearby park party carried over humid air.
Little Simz - Introvert
Need a song to make you feel a million feet tall? Like you’re in your own Rocky-style training montage? Like you’re getting the gang together for ONE LAST JOB BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF THE GAME? The first track on Little Simz’s new record has you covered and then some.
Pearl & The Oysters - Bit Valley
Sometimes it just takes a bass player to push a band over the edge from good to great. Especially for groups mining the late 60s and early 70s - an ear for the perfect bass pocket is your ticket to greatness. French-American duo Pearl & The Oysters nail the perfect post-Stereogum pocket on their album Flowerland, splitting the difference between BBC Radiophonic sounds, Ye-Ye cool and a dusting of “lo fi” pop. That bass though!
The Ray Conniff and The Singers - The Windmills of Your Mind
I heard this in an Uber the other week, and listened in shocked amazement that this hasn’t been flipped by an Alchemist, RZA, or…anyone really. Only appearing on a MC Phrase track from 2009 that didn’t cross over in the states, this feels like a no-brainer boom bap classic waiting to happen. The drums have the dead-even menace of great Portishead beats, the reverb shimmers, and the minor key melody feels like it’s asking for a huge Ghostface verse. My driver merely looked back, nodding, knowing he was dropping a very dope deep cut, before flipping to equally wild live 1951 jazz. Five star ride!
And that’s it! See y’all next week!