Cambridge Audio’s New Music Picks – May 2018

May has come and gone, but what were the new music highlights? Here’s what we think you should check out from last month.

That’s right May is done and dusted and who’d have thought it, there’s been some great new music released! Here are just some of the favourites from some of the team here at Cambridge HQ.

Tracks

Anderson .Paak - "Bubblin"

Anderson .Paak may be dropping a new album this year, but he's already celebrating with his invigorating new single "Bubblin'". .Paak has been climbing to the top of the rap game since he appeared on Dr. Dre's Compton in 2015, and this single proves that his energy is unparalleled. He rhymes on top of the track's elegant strings and horns with playful flow and effortless confidence, as if he's strutting down Hollywood Blvd. in a tuxedo uncorking champagne bottles. Mark our words Anderson .Paak will be one of the next leaders in hip-hop.

Kanye West - "Lift Yourself"

When most people click play on a Kanye West track, they may think "what is this guy going to say next?". The beautiful thing about "Lift Yourself" is West says absolutely nothing. The "poopity scoops" and "scoopity whoops" in its sole verse made us laugh hysterically, which is a somewhat rare reaction for a new rap track. Forget your preconceived notions of Kanye, and take this one at face value. 

Childish Gambino – "This is America"

At 34, Donald Glover has successfully dabbled in the many facets of show business. Comedian, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter  he’s largely succeeded on all fronts, and his latest creation is probably the most important music video of our current socio-political climate. The dramatic changes between aggressive trap and feel-good acoustic guitar music are as jarring as the swift shifts between horror and serenity onscreen, as Glover lays on thick the ugly truths of black culture in America. The track itself is best heard with the video, so check it out below.

The Regrettes – "Helpless"

If you have your finger slightly on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of musical theatre, you’ll already know about the smash hit show Hamilton. If not, we’ll summarise: a hip-hop musical based on the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. As part of writer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamildrop series, indie/post-punk outfit The Regrettes have given the showtune a guitar-led spin, where the almost angsty lovesick lyrics marry perfectly with the attitude of punk guitars. If you’re a fan of the Broadway hit, it’s a must play.

Albums

Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!

Parquet Courts frequently composes music from an inside-looking-out perspective. They write about how weird it is to be human and their emotions as they figure out life. Wide Awake! takes on an opposite perspective. Their fourth studio album is inspired by their observations of modern culture, corrupt politics, and their awareness of the conflicted world we've constructed together. They communicate their critiques in many engaging forms— they dabble in dance rock with "Wide Awake", mimic The Minutemen's art-punk style in "Violence" and "Normalization", and flex their creative songwriting muscles in "Total Football" and "Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience". Wide Awake! features some of the band's best tracks and most approachable experiments.

Playboi Carti - Die Lit 

It may be hard to admit, but Playboi Carti's Die Lit is a fine example of thought-provoking rap dressed in overtly simple lyricism. Carti and his main producer Pi'erre Bourne are a perfect pair. While Bourne constructs dense, multi-layered production that numbs your mind, using ethereal synths, glitchy electronics, and cathartic bass, Carti aptly contributes to the mix with his adrenaline-loaded rapping. Everything Carti says is ripped from the commonly-used trap-rap playbook, and he often repeats himself, but it works in his favor and doesn't overwhelm listeners as they digest Bourne’s expertise. The duo thinks outside the box to create an addicting sound that converts trap-rap naysayers to think differently about the genre.

DJ Koze- Knock Knock

Knock Knock is an electronic epic that challenges the limitations of house music and cues a variety of emotional responses. It's composed of two halves- one filled with a library of instrumental textures and another that features a handful of guest vocalists. Its electronic-led half radiates positive energy and seamlessly blends acoustic samples with his bold synthesizer tones. Gorgeous choir vocals allow "Jesus" to glow, and we've never heard anything like the symphonic strings sewn into "Club der Ewigkeiten". The vocal contributions donate momentum to Koze's more down-tempo movements, featuring Speech from Arrested Development, indie vets José González and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner, and electronica singers Sophia Kennedy and Róisín Murphy. When they sing, they reflect on the highs and lows that lead to breakthrough moments in life, whether it involves a break-up, jumping off a building, or seeking inspiration. 

This month’s entry is relatively short and sweet, so make sure you let us know if we’ve missed any big albums or tracks from this month in the comments below!

Load comments