UNSLUMP! Volume VIII: June 2024 (2024)

What’s cooking? Welcome to UNSLUMP! The Music Recommendation substack. If you’re getting this email, that means you are finding yourself in a music SLUMP (bad), and I am here to give you some recommendations (good)!

As I write this edition of UNSLUMP!, I’m in Washngton, D.C. working the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as a member of the stage crew! It’s great to be in D.C, and this is my first edition from the road, so lots of variety this month in honor of that unpredictability.

UNSLUMP! can’t feature em’ all, but here’s this month’s top 7 for you to try!

Follow along on Spotify. (Sorry, Apple Music users).

7 - Haircut - Finom (Not God) [May 2024]

For fans of: tight harmonies, Talking Heads, the pains of scheduling a haircut, no skips albums, Bar Italia

Finom (formerly known as OHMME) is a new discovery for me, and the Chicago-based band’s newest album, Not God is killer! Lots of great range here, from the spunky, Wet Leg-esque hum of “Haircut”, to the more avante garde, slow-paced “Not God” and “Hungry”. The band has previously collaborated with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Chance the Rapper, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the album does more than you think it will in its 40-minute runtime. I’ve listened to this album on repeat this month! Finom is a band I’ll be keeping an eye out for as they tour- So much fun, I’d love to see them live! They are weirdos!

6 - Poppies - La Luz (News of the Universe) [May 2024]

For fans of: staring at the ceiling, uplights, airplane announcements, surf rock, Sgt. Pepper’s

Seattle band La Luz made me smile softly and develop a little twinkle in my eye with their latest album, the psychedelic News of the Universe. Beachy and peachy keen, the album floats effortlessly between guitar-first surf licks and syrupy-sliding lyrics and harmonies.

The album comes to us following a big change in the La Luz Lineup (felt like it should be capitalized), with keyboardist Alice Sandhal announcing her departure and replacement by musician/producer Maryam Qudus, also known as Spacemoth (2022’s No Past No Future was one of my favorite albums of that year!). At the same time, bassist Lena Simmon was replaced with Lee Johnson. The lineup changes result in a whole new sound- the album features both arrangements of the band, members old and new as they “passed the torch” and literally metamorphosed.

The album is inspired by science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, the title gleaned from a collection of metaphysical poetry. News of the Universe was also created entirely by women (including the recording, mixing and mastering)!

An all-around fantastic album, I’m interested to see how this one will age as I listen to it more throughout the year- it feels like a pretty seasonal album, and I’m wondering how it will transition into fall/winter.

I would love to see La Luz live- their live shows are known for including Soul Train-inspired dance contests and crowd surfing- Hard to imagine crowd surfing to this album, but hey, I love a challenge!

5 - Sari Sari Raat - Narmeen Niazi (Disco Se Aagey) [September 1984]

For fans of: Le Freak by Chic, new wave, your next party playlist showstopper

Buried treasure alert! Disco Se Aagay (commonly translated to Beyond Disco) is an absolute gift of an album by British Pakistani brother-sister duo Nermin Niazi and Feisal Mosleh. It’s their one and only album, initially receiving little notice (sad) before its 2021 remaster and re-release by radio show, club, and eventually label Discostan. Reborn was this feisty new wave, synthpop disco extravaganza - featuring Urdu lyrics and Hindustani music as the backdrop to lyrics describing the experience of the album’s British Pakistani artists.

UNSLUMP! Volume VIII: June 2024 (1)

Aside from being a sonically fascinating album, it’s equally badass to see the hom*ogeneity of British new wave challenged. New wave, despite being one of my favorite genres, is glaringly white. Disco Se Aagay and “Sari Sari Raat” is an invigorating protest of the status quo and a look into some of the great new wave coming out of the UK that wasn’t getting radio play at the time.

Check out this article for more info on the album.

4 - Daydreaming - NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge (Why Lawd?) [June 2024]

For fans of: Bruno Mars, Maneater, old school RnB, Smino, when your car A/C is down but so are your windows

I loved the totality of Why Lawd? NxWorries second album, the release of which follows eight years after Yes Lawd!, an album I absolutely ATE UP in high school. “Daydreaming” was the second single, perhaps why its longevity as an earworm puts it in the mix this month. The complete album is an excellent ode to old school RnB, with the songs feeling cohesive and telling stories of heartbreak, longing and general horniness (it totally works). In Dylan Green’s Pitchfork review, he writes: “While this isn’t a concept album, the songs feel connected, as if each were an episode of your favorite romantic dramedy.” - I couldn’t agree more.

Anderson .Paak’s vocals complement Knxwledge’s beats perfectly. Lots of guests on this album- H.E.R., Thundercat, Snoop Dogg, Earl Sweatshirt and Rae Khalil (see UNSLUMP! III) all feature on excellent tracks.

3 - I think about it all the time - Charli xcx (BRAT) [June 2024]

For fans of: cultural relevance, Kate Nash meets 100 Gecs meets Kesha?, sprinkler (dance move), sprinkler (outdoor entertainment accessory), Massie Block from The Clique

Are you a hamburger?

So why are you so up in my grill?

(this is the energy BRAT is giving ^)

BRAT is a divisive album! Critics and NY Times music journos claim this album “changed pop”, and did it? Maybe a little? Electronic production in pop radio is a big thing, sure, but what about Kesha and Gaga? They did it first- and when I first heard lead single Von dutch, all I could think of was Kesha’s TiK ToK (sorry!). That doesn’t mean the album isn’t an exciting homage and potential pivot back to those early 2000’s roots, I’m cool with that! - A.G. Cook as a producer shines bright - after all, his work on Oneohtrix Point Never’s 2023 album Again was one of my favorites of last year (See UNSLUMP! I)! But to call this album groundbreaking is a little dramatic (Please don’t kill me!!!).

BRAT is great for a few key songs, but all together the songs can blend into a big smorgasbord of sorts. “I think about it all the time” is my favorite track because it stands out as something a little deeper (I also LOVE “Talk talk”.).

All in all, I’m excited for whatever Charli does next- hey, this certainly beats Boom Clap!

2- People Move On - Jess Cornelius (CARE/TAKING) [June 2024]

For fans of: existential dread, shrooms, if Adele was more interesting, self-sacrifice, tambourines

Jess Cornelius feels very personal to me, perhaps because we share a first name, but also because her 2020 album Distance was one of those that got me through the isolation of early COVID-19. Her voice is healing, and her production is so interesting which makes me jump for joy. Jess Cornelius is one of the most honest and direct songwriters I’ve come across- her lyrics are bitingly real and raw, wrapped in huge swaths of reverb and jingly instrumentation perfect for a more sonic or lyric-based listener- I admit it usually takes me a few listens before even noticing lyrics, but I think everyone is built different when it comes to our experiences of music!

Cornelius’ debut Distance was an album of solitude and self-discovery, and CARE/TAKING grapples with more transformation, both global and personal. Give it a listen!

1 - Any Day Now - Kate Bollinger (single) [June 2024]

For fans of: eyelash kisses, summer romance, The Mamas and the Papas

Stumbled across this new single from Kate Bollinger and knew I had to include it this month- it fits the summer mood so well- laying in the grass, doing some light frolicking- you get it! Kate’s been dropping great singles for a while now, and her debut album Songs From A Thousand Frames Of Mind,comes out September 27th. The album will feature Sam Evian as one of its collaborators (check out his latest release, it rocked!) which I am excited for.

That wraps up Volume VIII of UNSLUMP! Let me know what you thought of this month’s releases and what your favorites were. What were your thoughts on BRAT? Any records you’re excited for next month?

Until July - Stay out of the slump!

Jess

UNSLUMP! Volume VIII: June 2024 (2024)
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