Written by Joaquin Cruz (Features/News Writer) Recently while under quarantine due to the coronavirus, there hasn’t been much to do other than watch movies, play games and continue on with online school. But besides those things, there has also been a great amount of music being released recently by multiple artists from many different genres. Two new albums all released within the same three days (March 20-22) from three artists all giving us new takes on pop, rock, soul, techno and experimental works, all given from The Weekend, Childish Gambino, and two new singles from two other artists (all song/albums are explicit in some way or form).
On March 20th, The Weekend (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) had released his fifth studio album titled After Hours with fourteen songs and a run time of fifty-six minutes. The album follows a similar techno sound as Starboy but personally gives off a love bedroom pop feeling when listening as you could probably get from when listening to the album Trilogy. The album opens with the song Alone Again and has a slow dance or cold night feeling and really takes to the title of the song. The third song on the album is Hardest To Love, and when listening to the song, it has a pumped-up soft pop feeling, and some of the background noises sound like it’s coming from a 90s sitcom serious moment, and using that sound to an advantage as well as it’s a saddening love story in it makes it all really fit in perfectly. The fifth song on the album is called Snowchild which has a futuristic sound which does a bit of a better job than Lil Uzi Vert’s long-awaited album Eternal Atake. It also has a very well fitted rap aspect to the song as the song progresses. The ninth track of the album Blinding Lights is currently his most popular song and deserves the spot as his most popular. It follows a very great pumped upbeat and really fits in well with the After Hours title. Comparing it to an old synth pumped up a song called L’Amours Toujours by Gigi D’Agostino, it does a great job at succeeding in making a pumped up love song and fits well with its track number in the album. The next song is In Your Eyes which also gives off an 80s synth-pop feeling and is similar to a lot of the songs on the album. The song After Hours is another great song off this album, similar to the feeling of Blinding Lights, which gives off more of an ominous feeling as if you’re alone. Watching the teaser for the album and the song on youtube really makes the song pop out more in my opinion. Overall the album succeeds in the title After Hours and creates a pop/synth album that can remind listeners of some older pop songs from the past decades. My favorite songs of the album were Snow Child, blinding lights, alone again, and after hours. I give this album an 8/10.
Next up is the new Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) album released on March 23rd, titled very mysteriously, 3.15.20. This new album is now Gambino’s fourth studio album, his last one being Awaken, My Love! And has twelve songs in it, with a run time of fifty-seven minutes. This album was originally streamed on a website made by the artist called Donald Glover Presents, which would be a better title for this new album. The album doesn’t have any song titles but rather timestamps of when each song starts. The album starts off with an instrumental called 00.00, a spiritual type of song that makes the listener feel relaxed. The next song however titled Algorhythm is a really pumped up voicebox sung song. It has a bit of a rap aspect to it but also includes the soul feeling from Awaken, My Love! The song ends with an interesting jumbled up transition to the next song called Time featuring Ariana Grande. This song takes a political turn however calling out to people to make sure they’re in. mind and not wasting it, especially in these times we have right now. The next song on the album, 12.38, has a rap soul aspect to it as well as an interesting techy keyboard beat, and it doesn’t fail to be a good track with the simple sounds used. 21 Savage makes an appearance on this song as well near the end having a verse. On the song 24.19, the sixth song on the album has a bit of a lofi soul aspect and uses the keyboard sounds as you could hear from songs off of Awaken, My Love!. Near the end it starts to sound like a gospel keyboard then turns into an A cappella transition, sounding ominous yet exciting. Skipping ahead, the 9th track titled 39.28 is mostly A cappella, and only features the piano. In concert, however, the song was much different and had more of a pop feeling instead of an instrumental feeling. The next song on the album, however, is a single he had already released in the summer of 2018 called Feels like summer, but on the album it’s titled as 42.26. The end of the album is more like a soul/rock feeling on the song 53.49 and has lots of emotion in his voice making it strong sounding yet exaggerated in his voice at times. In my personal opinion, the album does a great job of taking a brand new approach that hasn’t been done by Gambino yet, and it really reminds of Because, the internet and Awaken, My Love!. Although bland with the album cover, song titles, and album title, it does a great job of releasing new music that has been long-awaited since 2016. My favorite tracks are Algorhythm, 12.38, 24.19, 47.48, and 53.49.
Last but not least are the two new singles released. The two artists are completely different when it comes to music genre yet both artists succeed at making new approaches to their music yet keeping the same pumped upbeat. The first single to go over is by the independent rapper known as JPEGmafia (Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks). He released a new single called Covered In Money! coming out after his last single released earlier this year titled BALD!. His last album released was last year called All My Heroes Are Cornballs and took an interesting new step into his career of experimental music. Almost all of his music is completely self-produced and even looking at live footage he is a total one-man band by making the sets and being the DJ for his own shows. This new single, for the first half of the song at least, is purely made out of random samples, including his voice, little clacking sounds of objects, squeaky sounds, water droplet sounds, some drums/bass, and symbols and more to create a great beat. The song has an unexpected switch to the song where it turns into more of a distorted guitar in the background, an auto-tuned voice, and a very flowing beat with more bass, drums, and ticks in the song. It doesn’t fail to be another great JPEGmafia song. And last but not least of the singles is Thundercat (Stephen Lee Bruner) who is a talented musician that’s worked with many amazing artists during his career. In this last year and last few months, he’s finally made his comeback after his well-received album DRUNK from 2017. In his past, he’s worked on albums with artists like Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar for the album To Pimp A Butterfly, Kali Uchis, Erykah Badu, Childish Gambino, and Janelle Monae. In this new single titled Fair Chance released (alongside two other past released singles) also features Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B. The song has a very melodic calming beat and calming guitar played by Thundercat creating a slow song. The song talks about money, love, family, and “holding on” for longer than you’d want to. Overall it’s a very great single as well as the other two released by him. That’s all of the music for this time, stay tuned for more artists and their work and the quarantine continues to go on. Stay safe!