Dom B. Feat. Shadowpact – “2016 Untouchables”
Is it possible to feel like something is too classy? Spoiler alert: no. But I challenge anyone out there to listen to this, and not feel like they need a smoking jacket and/or monocle. Well, that may skew a bit too “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” for this set, so let’s just picture that classiness in the back of a neon-lit bar, the cigar smoke in the air tinged pink, something on the rocks clutched in your hand and ill intentions on your mind. This is the kind of hip-hop that would inspire Frank Sinatra to ball — the sort where you imagine that a deal is being cut, and you might not like it, but dammit, you’ll respect it. Dom B has a measured flow, and paints a helluva picture, accompanied by Shadowpact, who compliment his work perfectly. Are they untouchable? I can’t speak to that, but this track will certainly make you think twice.
Frederick the Younger – “You Don’t Lie”
It’s easy to envision “You Don’t Lie” as the soundtrack to a very cathartic moment on film, that part where the protagonist — college-aged probably — realizes something very important and acts on that information with a vigorous passion. That’s the scale that the band works with — the kind of narrative earnestness backed by stormy chord progressions and catchy lyrics. The back and forth between the male and female vocals is an excellent touch, and creates a sense that you are involved in the dialogue as a listener. As such, this is a considerably more active listen than most, if only in the sense that the track itself demands attention to the story. For Frederick the Younger, it’s all about the story, and that shows in the care that they put towards their craft.
Dry Summers – “Tonight Will Be Fine”
There is something about Leonard Cohen that makes him seem like your cool uncle at the party — like you can smell just a hint of booze on his breath, and he might have a sketchy girlfriend with him at Thanksgiving, but you know it’s going to be a good time. Dry Summers captures that kind of closet fuck-up vibe that Cohen puts out, of the sort where maybe you don’t always make the best choices, but you have the best intentions all the same. Of course, with a track titled “Tonight Will Be Fine,” it’s hard not to pick up on that, like that semi-lecherous pick-up line, where you’re trying to get someone on board with your plan. Dry Summers infuses a garage-punk sensibility to Cohen’s work, one that pays ample homage to the original, without ever losing sight of what makes their own take so unique. This is summer music at it’s best, the kind where you stay up too late, and have a permanent sunburn, and that’s alright.
The Pass – “Canyons”
There is something that screams ’80s montage so hard about “Canyons.” It’s more than just the slick synth work, or smooth production, both of which are on point here. It’s not the new-wave style guitar parts, the melodic bass work or the remarkable vocals either, but the synthesis of the bunch. The Pass has always worked best playing with pop tropes, and that practice makes perfect, as the band has an imminently listenable — and danceable — song that just makes you want to spin around while you’re digging into it.
Tara Jane O’Neil – “Craze”
Life is a little bit better with the music of Tara Jane O’Neil. There is an ephemeral quality to her compositions that recalls the work of Grouper, this kind of melancholic breeze that seems to shift without touching down. Part of the We Have a Bevin Problem compilation, Louisville expatriate O’Neil provides one of the darkest tracks of the collection, one that uses the space between the notes to create a visceral tension. This is heavy music, at least from a cinematic perspective, and one that paints a picture using a number of tools. O’Neils dreamy voice is the perfect accompaniment to her reverb-soaked instrumentation, a chilling song that doesn’t hesitate to question villainy, however that may manifest.
Jaxon Lee Swain – “Romantic Motherfucker”
Jaxon Lee Swain comes busting out of the gate with his cowpunk-infused “Romantic Motherfucker,” a furious bit that privileges good time rock ’n’ roll above anything else. You want lead work and thick power chords? Here you are. You want sneering vocals? Swain has you covered, my friend. There is more than a little Dead Kennedys to the swing here, in terms of the spidery guitar work, and Swain’s voice, which blends that Biafra warble with a Nick Cave baroque. Were this the late ’70s, Swain and company would be the belles of the ball, and the inevitable 7-inch would be banned where people were to uptight to appreciate the word “motherfucker” in the title of a track. If you want to freak out the squares, this is your ticket, and it’s a blast.
Dom B. Feat. Shadowpact – “2016 Untouchables”