Listening Post #46

by David Crone

The best tracks of the fortnight, every fortnight. This is the Listening Post.

1. Post Malone – Blame It On Me

Post Malone, at least until Drake drops his long-awaited album this June, is the face of pop music. Rockstar is still going strong after nearly 9 months of release, amassing a phenomenal 991M plays on Spotify alone, whilst newer hit Psycho is sitting comfy at 333M. This fortnight brought with it the release of Post’s much-anticipated sophomore record, ‘beerbongs and bentleys’, and whilst it doesn’t exactly revolutionise music, it’s a surprisingly detailed release. Whilst Better Now is the clear radio-smasher and chart-topper, I believe that Blame It On Me, one of the least popular tracks on the record, is infact one of its best. In the track’s 4 minutes and 21 seconds we get a slice of everything that makes Post such a phenomenon: a blend of powerful and subtle vocal styles, a twisted trap-inspired instrumental, a slow build of emotion, and the kind of despondent songwriting that’s at once sympathetic and relatable. It’s hard not to fall in love with Post’s intoxicating musical blend.

 

2. Thundercat – Final Fight

Last week we had Kamasi Washington’s epic saxophone, and this week we have frequent collaborator Thundercat’s infectious bass. The first track Thundercat has released since his 2017 album ‘Drunk’, Final Fight is three minutes of wacky lyrics and exciting instrumentation. As is standard with any Thundercat release, the track’s instrumentation evokes the psychedelic, with frantic basses laced within a larger soundscape of vocal harmonies and synth plucks. Final Fight’s lyrics follow a somewhat off-kilter style, describing a bizarre relationship with a woman that “punches in her sleep” before Thundercat dives out of the bedroom window in order to find “the light”. It’s an odd one, but a good one.

 

3. Zeal & Ardor – Waste

I have to firstly shout out Anthony Fantano of the ever-popular Theneedledrop for this one – his videos are what first introduced me to Zeal & Ardor. An avant-garde metal band from the depths of Bandcamp, they are a far call from the usual music that inhabits this list, but truly a worthy group to mention. The track kicks off with an eclectic, distorted energy and never lets it drop, with guitars crackling in the background before bursting to the forefront as the track progresses. Whilst the band has come under critcism for mixing the vocals too far in the background, on Waste this works to their success, allowing the numerous styles of guitar to truly shine. This is not a track for everyone, but if you’re looking for something new then I can’t recommend this enough.

 

4. Royce Da 5’9, Eminem – Caterpillar

After the catastrophe that was Revival, we needed Royce to put the fire back into Eminem. And luckily for Em fans, he delivered just that. Caterpillar is Bad Meets Evil at their finest, with both rappers appearing on top form. Much like the titular caterpillar, the beat chugs along methodically, letting the duo’s lyrics come to the track’s forefront. While there are some slightly sub-par lyrics (“shit is real like I pooped Jerusalem”, really?), for the most part the track is an exemplary example of the duo’s wordplay. I could cherry-pick lyric after lyric for this one, but instead I’ll leave you with one of my favourite rhyme schemes – “You’re looking at Atilla, the psychopathic killer, the caterpillar /
Don’t tell me when I’m supposed to rap until, uh / Especially when your favorite rapper ain’t even half as ill / A savage still, the track’s a banana peel, attack at a silver-back gorilla.”

 

5. Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott – Watch

Massive disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of Travis Scott. Forgive the bias for now though – Watch is a trap song done completely right. Embodying the theme-park aesthetic of Scott’s next album, Watch begins with a fantastic sample of a child experiencing her last ride at AstroWorld, before diving into a bouncy carnivalesque beat. Scott’s always been known for making the most of his guests, and this is no exception, with Lil Uzi Vert dominating the track as he effortlessly injects his enthuiasm into the track. Whilst Travis and Kanye’s verses are equally impressive, the track’s greatest success is the merging of such disparate voices. Uzi, Ye and Travis all have distinct, strong personas, and yet the track slides from verse to verse without so much as a hitch. This is everything I had hoped from Astroworld’s first single.