Weekly Radio Roundup: March 27 – April 2

The most exciting singles that came out over the course of the week.

The arts desk is back with some recommendations of singles you may have missed this week. (Staff Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

The world’s halt has driven many creatives to fully involve themselves in their craft. Whether it be Arca taking over Twitch or Nick Hakim announcing a new album, the music world seems to be booming with one grand release after another. This week, we witnessed the return of Bob Dylan, two fiery releases from NYU students and a plethora of similarly ingenuitive singles that you can enjoy before we update the list again next week.

“School of Losers” by Nono Chen

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor

First-year graduate student Nono Chen is here to brighten up your quarantine with “School of Losers.” Playfully embracing the insecurities of being a “loser” over a vivacious Latin groove, Nono Chen effortlessly proves she can construct a wittily entertaining pop sensation. Her voice and the beat dance with the fiery passion of a night out in Latin America, where anything could happen and everything feels right. By the time the song ends after two-minutes and 35 seconds, you’re left yearning for more, hoping the night could last forever and you didn’t have to return to the prosaic rhythms of reality. 

Advertisement

“Mal Juju” by Creek Owens

Alexandra Bentzien, Staff Writer

“Mal Juju’s” intro is different. Is it a chant? What is that echo? The vocals are simultaneously haunting and intriguing as they melt from a churchlike a cappella into a spiraling distortion that bleeds right into the thumping main beat. First-year Creek Owens’ latest single fits right into a time populated by songs suggesting sadness with a rhythm unafraid of asking you to dance. In simpler terms, the crying part of “crying in the club” is replaced by a desire to stop staring at the ceiling and move around, with the track’s balance of clear, airy singing against a firmly grounded beat delivering the same special quality locked in by songs like LAUNDRY DAY’s “BULLDOG” or Kendrick Lamar’s “LOVE. FEAT. ZACARI.” “Mal Juju” sounds familiar, but it’s more advanced than a regular bedroom production: sprinklings of guitar and the well-timed subtraction of the guiding beat know how to capture attention. The real stamp of originality, though, is the intro’s modern spin on ancient-sounding harmonizations with a recurring ghostly, ethereal ambience. It’s this instinct for experimentation that, if taken further and maximized, could evolve Creek Owens’ next songs from a riff on the recognizable mainstream into a singular style.   

“Murder Most Foul” by Bob Dylan

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor

Five seconds short of 17 minutes, Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” acts as a dirge for JFK and a eulogy for the counterculture of a bygone era. Opening his precious elegy by recounting the moment of the assassination, Bob Dylan employs surrealistic flourishes to paint the pain of the nation. His raspy crooning complements the bareness of his instruments as each syllable shines with meaning. “I said the soul of a nation been torn away / And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay.” A more fitting two lines couldn’t have been offered up by anyone but the Bard. These are times of distress, and those were times of anguish, but there’s still an ounce of hope in the legacy he’s chosen to memorialize — a pressing importance that justifies his eulogy as one of praise and not purely sorrow.  

“Sludge” by Squid

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor

What is sludge? Well, if we were to use this song as a dictionary, I could tell you that sludge ought to be used to be defined as the brutal clashing of disparate forces. What Squid offers us is a viscous mix of psychedelia and punk where the former’s odd strings are stretched beyond disrepair by the latter’s anarchy. The product unveils itself as a whirlwind of sounds that are militantly driven forward by the shrieks of its commander, singer-drummer Ollie Judge. His rage is ever-present, the only fixture amidst the track’s rambunctiousness. As he screams “Scrape my teeth out on the floor / I don’t want any more” you can feel the pain of his pearly whites being dragged across concrete in a similar manner to the way this song  pleasurably works to obliterate your cochleas. 

“Budapest (feat. Shy Boys)” by STRFKR

Alexandra Bentzien, Staff Writer

It seems that sounding like space — or at least trying to — is the new trend that certainly hasn’t skipped STRFKR, even if it’s a style true to the band’s semi-popular tunes at the turn of the 2010s. Stripped-down but not really, dreamy but with roots in conventional structure, a soundscape but not daring enough to deliver a transportive effect, STRFKR’s new single “Budapest” featuring Shy Boys (whoever they may be) is mediocre at its most absolute, entirely medium, and almost apathetic to the point of being aloof.  Everything about this song is sort of this, kind of that, inhabiting a sense of compromise that creates real lackadaisical energy. The flighty vocals drag their feet on a whine against a cyclical backbeat that is catchy in the way a jack-in-the-box wind-up is. If only something instrumentally interesting would happen so the repurposed lyrics would make more sense, or less sense — one or the other — to alleviate the track of its frustratingly just-fine mediocrity. By the way, as I was writing this, I momentarily forgot the name of the song I was reviewing. 

“NO MORE CAKE” by CHAI

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor

AAAARRRRGHHH! What’s going on? I have no idea, but … I love it! Following the success of last year’s “Punk!,” female Japanese punk band CHAI is back to enact revolutionary tracts in the form of … fun punk ballads? And they’re amazing! Their combination of cryptic lyricism and rhythmic repetition produces a sound that’s bound to get stuck in your head all week long and still have you be totally okay with it somehow. It’s a sound that recalls the work of early-Gorillaz and yet is anything but. CHAI has managed to assemble the same quirky and delectable madness that made Gorillaz’s earlier stuff so cool all the while doing so by creating a wholly original soundscape that’s not afraid to combine pop, punk, chants, guitar-solos, social commentary and I don’t know, you name it. CHAI is here to leave its mark on the musical zeitgeist, and I am here to witness that take place.  

“WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던” by Yaeji

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor

Friends. Family. Plants. These are the things that preoccupy and matter most to house-music sensation Yaeji. With “WHAT WE DREW,” the titular track to her newest album, she sonically stitches together glistening electronica, soulful singing and a lively tempo to create a beautiful portrait of the joyousness that arises from spending time with your plants, friends and family. The millenial Monet meticulously dots her musical manifestation with what it means to share your love with those around you, regardless of whether or not they can reciprocate it. The final product sees her ideas and emotions slowly building on top of each other en route to a rapturous finale that reifies why the music community is so enthralled with Yaeji, for she’s a kind heart immersed in a harsh genre, a harbinger of change from computerized cynicism to algorithmic gaiety within the realm of house music.

Email the Music Desk at [email protected]

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here