Chris Ingalls: Judging from the deadened delivery, GAIKA is seemingly numbed by what’s happening to his city. The brutality and violence is palpable in the track, with music stabs and samples that seem to bring to life the unrest. Musically, it’s diverse yet danceable (although the starts and stops create the requisite drama). Yet another reason why, when looking for new voices in hip-hop, you need to cross the pond. [7/10]
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Chris Ingalls: Daveed Diggs has rightfully established himself as an eclectic powerhouse thanks to his Grammy- and Tony-winning performance in Hamilton, and returning to his experimental hip-hop outfit Clipping. is a reassuring sign that he’s not content resting on his laurels. From their upcoming album Splendor and Misery, “Baby Don’t Sleep” is full of restless sonic experiments like static, distortion and myriad sound effects, but it’s Diggs’ rapid-fire rhymes that tie the whole thing together. For anyone who thinks hip-hop is getting stale, listen to this refreshing revelation. [8/10]
Chris Ingalls: NAO’s “R&B on helium” pipes serve this song well, creating an atmosphere of (perhaps) misleading innocence. Her voice mixes nicely with the unique dynamics of the music, which comes in sparsely during the verses and crashes in, anthemically, during the powerful choruses. The spacey keyboard solo before the final chorus is a fun, retro treat, as is the little funky keyboard/guitar coda. [8/10]
Sav Buist of the Accidentals has very nearly famously described North Carolinan piano-rock artist Ian Ridenhour’s music as “like Jack White and Ben Folds had a baby”. Humor and spectacle aside, the reason why this endorsement has rung like a bell as much as it has for the bespectacled, Asheville-centered rising alt. rocker is because it’s true. There is a certain melodic flair to the man’s music that comes across as very pop-sensible, but without sacrificing any of the darkly, sometimes Burtonesque gloom of his overall musical persona. Even still, there’s a warmth and a kindness, there, too, and it all blends together to develop what is easily one of the more diverse piano-centered rock acts of modern times to uncover.
Chris Ingalls: Lorde co-wrote this song for fellow New Zealanders Broods (siblings Georgia and Caleb Nott), and it’s a pleasant enough dance track, with a nice electronic beat pulsing throughout. Lorde’s involvement will certainly help—the song is a bit generic and unspectacular without her name recognition, sadly. [6/10]