Writer: Jake Donohoe
Edited By: Sophia Alexander
If you’re looking for some solid music to get you through Covid, I’m here to help you out. Below are some of the albums that I have been enjoying recently, and that I want to shoutout for y’all.
Hot Rats by Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa has enjoyed a very long and storied career, but his solo work had to begin somewhere, and that somewhere was 1969’s Hot Rats. The eclectic album employs a wide array of instrumentation, with opener “Peaches en Regalia” featuring countless sounds that I can’t place. It borrows from jazz in that each of their very unique instruments trades off solos, creating a song that changes and evolves at a dizzying rate, never losing its momentum. Next up is “Willie the Pimp,” the only non-instrumental track, featuring vocals from no other than Captain Beefheart himself, who lays his guttural growl all over the track, with absurd lyrics and assorted screaming. The rest of the album explores jazz fusion and prog, and continues to use the same palette established in the opening tracks, but evolves and constantly switches it up. From the back half of the record, the soft yet funk “Little Umbrellas” is a personal favorite. In Zappa’s own words, Hot Rats truly is a “movie for your ears,” and I think anyone can enjoy the bright masterpiece. I also think it would make outstanding music for running, as it is upbeat and driving, without being aggressive or abrasive. Highlights: “Peaches en Regalia,” “Willie the Pimp,” and “Little Umbrellas.”
Knock Knock by DJ Koze
Full of melodic samples, light and groovy drums, and plenty of guest vocalists, Knock Knock is a deep house masterpiece and shows how talented DJ Koze truly is. It’s great study music, driving music, hangout music, dance music: it’s just great music. Hovering around 120 BPM, the songs on Knock Knock are peaceful but still have an energy from the complex drum patterns and melodies that allow it to be placed in a multidies of contexts. “Planet Hase” is a great example as the steady bass and drum pattern is layered over with thick synth sounds and stupidly chill vocals. Breezy and sunny, Knock Knock will certainly be common in my summer album rotations. Disco inspired “Pick Up” is a great dance cut that “picks up” the tempo a bit, and the funky drums and guitar provide a rising groove, with a vocal sample providing some structure to the song. Since the album’s release in 2018, I haven’t stopped listening to “Pick Up,” it just slaps that hard. Knock Knock is certainly music made for dancing in the mountains watching the sun come up, but is an incredibly versatile and accessible album that I think everyone should give a try. Highlights: “Moving in Liquid,” “Pick Up,” “Planet Hase,” and “Seeing Aliens.”
Beautiful, Wonderful – EP by Yung Gud
I mean the title really says it all. Swedish producer Yung Gud creates a psychedelic dance trap masterpiece in Beautiful, Wonderful and all of the EP’s four tracks bang. Majestic synth leads soar over fat 808s with big drops. Driving bass sits underneath frantic electronic sounds. Gud manages to bring so many influences and styles together to create amazing soundscapes. There’s really not much more I can say, this album is dope. Go check it out. Highlights: All of them.
I hope that you find something you enjoy out of these projects, and maybe helps alleviate the tedium of lockdown. Stay safe Royals.