UNSKIPPABLES #1: Lil Tekka, Surprise Ty Segall, Billie Does The Knife, PawPaw Rod, and Eddie Bo
A DONDA-free take on this week's new music
Hi, welcome to the Unskippables.
Each week this newsletter brings you five brand new songs that are worth a blurb, and one throwback to give you deep cut knowledge to impress/bore your friends and family.
So, before the Weeknd comes back and takes over your algorithms again - here’s this week’s Unskippables.
Lil Tecca feat. Gunna - REPEAT IT
This, the latest single from Queens rapper Lil Tecca, bounces in 12/8, the same pocket made famous by “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and it adds an ebullient joy to Tecca’s rhymes and the percussive twinkling of the minimal arrangement. I heard this riding over the Manhattan Bridge, and the sound of Tecca skipping over the compound meter was pure energy and joy.
Billie Eilish - Oxytocin
I love that Billie’s genre is just whatever sits around her voice. I didn’t really appreciate how much her vocal arrangement creates a center of gravity on her first songs, and how it can anchor a wide range of sounds and textures. But the lead-up to her second record showcased how her ear for intimacy across harmony, production, and use of asides/studio chatter translates regardless of what her instrumental is doing. “Oxytocin” from her new record is basically a Knife song, complete with clattering percussion and oddly threatening FM synths, but the vocal decisions make the track all hers. I’d take a whole album of this.
Ty Segall - Feel Good
Ty Segall announced a surprise new album Harmonizer on Tuesday on Drag City this Wednesday, his first since 2019. The album features more synthesizer than his last records, but the standout is a sharp punk song featuring his wife on vocals. The two have collaborated before on an album as The CIA in 2018, which shared some post-punk aesthetics with this track, but isn’t nearly as pointed or fun as this deadpan, buzzy jam. Don’t we all want our true love and devotion to blast out of the speakers just like this?
Wet - Larabar
Wet have “reunited” as a trio for their third record, Letter Blue, and dropped a new track Wednesday to celebrate their upcoming album.
Sounding far more deconstructed than their previous outings, “Larabar” takes the “just off my voice memos” off-the-cuff intimacy of James Blake, Sampha and Frank Ocean and anchors it with a barely-there chorus that dissipates just as it comes into focus. The coda is a delight, the lyrics chopped up like a flood of memories from the relationship that broke apart in the chorus.
PawPaw Rod - Thin Lines
Full disclosure: I made music with Godmode for many years, before their departure to Los Angeles and later successes with artists like Channel Tres and LoveLeo. This track, produced by Nick Sylvester and Adam Moerder, continues to hone their post-NYC approach to rubbery basslines and bright synth-and-drum pockets, drawing a (bass)line between Danceteria syncopation and deeply felt West Coast bounce. It takes work to sound this effortless - and it pays off here.
Eddie Bo - If It’s Good To You, It’s Good For You
I spent time listening to Eddie Bo, and by extension, his drummer James Black after seeing this tweet from rapper-turned-drummer J-Zone:
J-Zone’s Twitter is a delightful look into the beats he’s thinking about, or putting together for his numerous sample packs, or working on for his group the Du-Rites. (If you weren’t aware of his transition from rapper to fine breakbeat purveyor, this profile from the Passion of the Weiss is great.)
The break above, from James Black’s playing with Eddie Bo, is one of many proof points for Bo being an underrated funk gem from New Orleans. His biggest track, “The Hook & Sling,” is equally deep in the pocket, care of Black’s impeccable feel on the snare and hat.
See you next week!