5 min read

Weekly Playlist – In Focus

Featuring Slim Thug, The Decemberists, and Nina Simone

In last week’s installment of Holyfield Weekly Playlist, our writers picked some great songs from an assortment of acts, ranging from OutKast to St. Vincent. Here is what they have for this week’s installment.

Premal Bhatt: Khalid feat. Rae Sremmurd and Yachty – Young Dumb & Broke (Remix)

“Young Dumb & Broke” is the second high-powered remix off of newcomer Khalid’s debut album. His first one, “Location (Remix),” features Lil Wayne and Kehlani. This time he enlists fellow newcomers Rae Sremmurd and Lil Yachty. This remix is the perfect way for Khalid to get some much-deserved extra attention on his fantastic album, American Teen. The album covers subjects taking you back to that age in your life in cohesive, wavy form, featuring one of the most unique voices in R&B. Most of us relate to being young, dumb, broke high school kids, but in Khalid’s case all of those adjectives no longer apply.

Matt Bram: Manchester Orchestra – The Alien

While there is no doubting Andy Hull’s songwriting, the last two Manchester projects have been somewhat divisive. The bones of their tracks aren’t the problem so much as the execution and the finished product. Simple Math meandered while Cope felt too monotone (see: palm-muting). Hull and the gang get back to their roots with “The Alien,” a reserved track that’s beautifully produced. The band is at their best when their haunting orchestration and detailed storytelling is given room to flourish. “The Alien” isn’t quite “I Can Feel a Hot One,” but it’s a refreshing return to what the band has always done best.

Grant Evan: The Decemberists – Apology Song

The Decemberists are titans in the folk genre, primarily for their unparalleled take on storytelling. It’s folk in its purest sense in that most of their songs feel like an old timey cautionary tale put to music with banjos and accordions. But when they’re not putting together epic tales of men who marry birds or brutally murdering a seafaring man who slept with and then robbed your mother, they write songs like “Apology Song.” It’s weirdly light and absurdly heavy as it starts so innocently but eventually boils into the now tried and true Decemberist formula. It has an absurd build up with a ridiculous payoff. It’s such a delight to listen to.

Charlie McDonald: The New Basement Tapes – Diamond Ring

In a 2014 Showtime documentary titled “Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued,” the world got a behind the scenes look at a monumental opportunity for some of the music industry’s most exciting songwriters. Using a box of old Bob Dylan lyrics from his infamous summer spent in his Woodstock home recording “The Basement Tapes”, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), and Elvis Costello, came together to record their own versions of Dylan’s musings. This particular song features Goldsmith on lead guitar and vocals and is a personal favorite of mine. Goldsmith’s style fits so perfectly well with a song written by Dylan. Jim James’ haunting falsetto, Mumford’s pitch perfect harmonies, and the driving toms really make this track something to behold. Though the lyrics of the songs are so quintessentially Dylan, each artist lends their unique songwriting capabilities to make this album something special.

Will Muckian: Young Thug – Harambe

As much as I never want to see the word “Harambe” again, it’s probably the hardest-hitting track on Young Thug’s Jeffrey, one of his best works to date. Thugger is at his absolute best when he’s making wild noise, and this might be one of most engaging and enjoyable uses of the rapper’s unorthodox vocal layering. If you’re looking for a summer driving banger, it’s hard to miss this one.

Akshat Singhal: Kavinsky – Nightcall

Is there a song more suited for a nighttime drive than this one? “Nightcall” by Kavinsky was released in 2010 as part of Kavinsky’s only studio album, OutRun. Co-produced by Guy-Manuel of Daft Punk, Nightcall rose to fame as the opening credits song of the 2011 film Drive. My introduction to the song was through this movie, which quickly became one of my favorite movies of all time. Naturally, I had a soft spot for the soundtrack, which also quickly became one of my favorite film soundtracks ever. Guy-Manuel’s influence on the track is obvious from the very beginning, as its old-school synths give it the feel of a Daft Punk track. Lovefoxxx’s soothing vocals round out what has become an iconic track for film lovers and electronic music fans everywhere.

Drew Steele: Nina Simone – Four Women

In honor of Jay-Z still not putting his brilliant 4:44 on Spotify, I selected four songs in which No I.D. sampled for the album. Nina’s Simone’s “Four Women” was sampled in the song titled “The Story of O.J.” Simone’s song is sung from the point of view of four different black women as they detail the struggles they face in American society. The simplicity of the instrumentals makes Simone’s lyrics and voice more powerful. Not only is it a perfect sample for the subject matter of “The Story of O.J.,” but it’s an even better song on its own. “Four Women” is just one of many examples of why Nina Simone is one of the best at what she does.


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