What better way to live it up in July than to relive some of the musical highlights that characterized June? Most of these 20 tracks are taken from album releases in June, with the exception of one standout single without an album and a few tracks from May 28th albums. Regardless, if you have nothing going for you in July, partake of some of brentmusicreviews’ recommending spins. These are in no particular order btw.
Queens of the Stone Age, “If I Had A Tail”
Album: …Like Clockwork
“If I Had A Tail” is arguably Queen of the Stone Age’s crowning achievement from …Like Clockwork. Characterized by a killer driving groove, an classic rock-worthy anthemic chorus (“If I Had a tail / I’d own the night / If I had a tail / I’d swat the flies”), and exceptional overall songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” is a head-nodding hit worthy of multiple repeated listens.
Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”
Kanye West constructs a juggernaut centered around a brilliant Nina Simone sample (“Strange Fruit”). After the track sets up with West’s emotional pop-rapping (autotune) accompanied by piano, infuriated production, accentuated by biting brass, transforms the cut into an epic ‘tour de force‘ unlike any song from West’s past.
The-Dream featuring Gary Clark, Jr., “Too Early”
Album: IV Play
“Too Early” contrasts everything else that The-Dream has done previously. The unique song has a bluesy, neo-/retro-soul nature about it, mixed with vocal processing and hip-hop swag. Gary Clark, Jr lends his prodigious guitar skills, further sweetening a mediocre album’s crowning achievement.
Sleeping With Sirens, “The Best There Ever Was”
“The Best There Ever Was”, featuring Fronz), opens brashly (“Don’t f**k with us”), proving the ideal soundtrack for any angst-filled teenager or twentysomething. The band seems quite pissed off to say the least: “I’ve got a short fuse / so don’t you go p-p-p-push it man / don’t f**k with me / you better back off while you can…” Scary stuff right there, but one sick track.
Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?”
“God Is Dead?” is equal parts triumphant and polarizing. Elements of atheism appear prominently throughout the single, perhaps most notably when Osbourne sings “The blood runs free / the rain turns red / give me the wine / you keep the bread / the voices in echo in my head / is God alive or is God dead?”
Kelly Rowland, “Kisses Down Low
Album: Talk A Good Game
“Dirty Laundry” has received plenty of attention, but it’s “Kisses Down Low” that is suggestively, delicious. Rowland ‘tastefully’ alludes to sex as opposed to brashly detailing her desires. “I like my kisses down low / makes me arch my back / when you give it to me slow / Baby just like that that”, she sings catchily on the chorus.
Wale featuring Juicy J & Nicki Minaj, “Clappers”
Album: The Gifted
(MMG / Atlantic)
Wale breaks from the intellectualisms that characterize much of The Gifted on this sick club banger. While lyric “Shawty got a big ole butt” is not Wale at his most profound, the ‘cellulite’ anthem is definitely one to nod your head to. Juicy J and Nicki Minaj provide Wale with some extra ‘stank’.
The Lonely Island, “The Compliments”
Album: The Wack Album
On “The Compliments”, The Lonely Island literally ‘compliment’ each other (“…he ain’t no f**king prince, my man is King charming…”). Too $hort hilariously questions their sexuality: “I’m starting to suspect that these dudes are gay / It’s none of my business, they just born this way / I mean how many times you gon’ mention your homie’s d**k / but still trying to act like this song is for chicks?”
John Fogerty duet w/ Miranda Lambert featuring Tom Morello, “Wrote A Song For Everyone”
Album: Wrote A Song For Everyone
In its duet, country-sensible rebirth, Miranda Lambert serves as a perfect vocal compliment to John Fogerty on “Wrote A Song For Everyone”. Tom Morello incites further excitability on the standout cut from the album of the same name, delivering an exceptional guitar solo to match the vocal chemistry.
J. Cole “Let Nas Down”
Album: Born Sinner
(Roc Nation / Columbia)
Choosing only one cut from Born Sinner was tough because the album is stacked with standouts. “Let Nas Down” is a personal favorite and has received multiple spins on my iPod. Based upon Cole’s idolization of Nas and feeling bad about disappointing his idol, the track turns out to be one of Cole’s most distinct and accomplished. Nas couldn’t possibly be disappointed about this joint – he is featured on a remixed version after all!
Chrisette Michele, “A Couple of Forevers”
“A Couple of Forevers” is Chrisette Michele at her best, exhibiting soulfulness crafted by a thoughtful sample of The O’Jays’ “Stairway to Heaven”. Relaxed, lush production work allows for CM to spoil us with prodigious vocal ‘goodness’. I mean, who wouldn’t want “a couple of forevers” after partaking of a gem like this one?
Goo Goo Dolls, “Rebel Beat”
Even with their most recent effort’s shortcomings (Magnetic is just al’ight), Goo Goo Dolls benefit from a spirited opener/single in “Rebel Beat”. ‘Sunny’ as the beach, the track may not have the star power to reinvigorate the veteran rock band, but it shines radiantly on a middle-of-the-road album.
3OH!3, “Two Girlfriends”
“Two Girlfriends” shines on brightly on a ridiculously stupid album, LOL! The hook goes stupid, but a truthful and fun stupid: “I use to have two girlfriends / now I got none / cause my number 2 girl found out about 1…”. Maybe lyric “you hang with d**ks like pubic hair…” could’ve should’ve been eliminated, but hey its 3OH!3, whattaya expect?
Alice in Chains, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”
Album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
(Virgin / Universal)
“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” epitomizes Alice in Chains at their best. Nearly seven minutes long, it is an epic seven minutes, delivering arguably the valedictory track from its parent album. A notable chorus is a highlighting moment: “The devil put dinosaurs here / Jesus don’t like a queer / the devil put dinosaurs here / no problem with faith just fear…”
George Benson featuring Idina Menzel, “When I Fall In Love”
Album: Inspiration – A Tribute To Nat King Cole
Throughout the entirety of Inspiration – A Tribute to Nat King Cole, George Benson sounds nowhere near 70 years old, commanding each and every vocal nuance nearly (if not) perfectly. His vocal skill shines brightly on the balladry of classic standard “When I Fall In Love”, where be blends magnificently with vocalist duet partner Idina Menzel.
Mac Miller, “Goosebumpz”
Album: Watching Movies With the Sound Off
Watching Movies With the Sound Off is filled ample bright spots. “Goosebumpz” is among ‘em, elevated by Diplo’s quirky, distinctive production work (remember Wale’s “Slight Work” or Usher’s “Climax”). Miller exhibits brashness (and horniness), confidently suggesting “when I die I bet she f**k my hologram…” A bold assertion perhaps, but its both a lyric and track that stays with you.
Mavis Staples, “Every Step”
Album: One True Vine
Man I wish I could still ‘rock it out’ like the legendary Mavis Staples does shy of her 74th birthday. She and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy seem to have a knack for successful collaborations, evidenced by the stellar “Every Step”. “My lord, he knows me / every step of the way”, Staples sings on the memorable, weighty chorus. A mix between southern gospel, Americana, and folk, “Every Step” is an appreciated musical gift.
India. Arie, “Cocoa Butter”
“Cocoa Butter” may not be the year’s most distinct nor decorated R&B single, but it hearkens back to the glory days of neo-soul. Honestly and beautifully penned, Arie remains invested and soulful, giving the urban world another compelling track. “I show you my burns, you show me lessons learned,” she thoughtfully shares on the second verse, providing ‘real talk’ lyrically.
Harry Connick, Jr., “S’pposed To Be”
Album: Every Man Should Know (also appears on Smokey Mary)
“S’pposed To Be” is nothing short of a showstopper. Written in a distinctive southern gospel-jazz style, Connick delivers one of his more distinct cuts of his career, using a gospel choir on the chorus (“…Every road leads back to you / be with you when I’m s’pposed to be…”). Kim Burrell & Tara Alexander and the Frontline Vocal Movement guest, giving the brilliant number even more oomph.
Schoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Collard Greens”
Album: Collard Greens – Single
(Top Dawg / Interscope)
For a stoner anthem, “Collard Greens” is quite distinct. “Oh, oh luxury / chidi-chidi-ching could buy anything, cop that / oh, oh, collard greens / three degrees low, make it hot for me drop that…”, Schoolboy Q raps on an infectious hook. Throughout, Schoolboy Q seems to be on autopilot. His bud Kendrick Lamar captivates on the second verse, providing a little bit of everything, literally.
Here’s the playlist via rdio.com for your enjoyment!
P.S., I’ve reviewed nearly all of the albums mentioned here, so please check out my reviews on the site!
- Where Does Yeezus Rank in Kanye West’s Discography? (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Review: Queens of the Stone Age,’…Like Clockwork’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Queens Of The Stone Age- … Like Clockwork (heavybassandbreakdowns.wordpress.com)
- Review: Kanye West’s “Yeezus” (nicholashautman.wordpress.com)