Jeff McCord –Music Director, Fridays 6a-9a
Childish Gambino – “This is America”
A provocative juxtaposition, inseparable from its viral video. Musically it’s all dancing, jubilant chants, and African choruses giving way to grim, steely rap. Lyrically it’s something more, a spot-on summation on being black in today’s times, where violence and racism shape the reality of so many lives. “Don’t catch you slipping’ up.”
Gabriel Garzon-Montano – “Golden Wings”
Maybe it’s the surroundings of his Brooklyn neighborhood, or his French-Colombian heritage. Whatever the cause, Gabriel Garzon-Montano feels the funk with a capital “F”. His previous standout, “Crawl”, boasts a slinky rhythm that imbeds in your cortex. “Golden Wings is even better. Garzon-Montano plays everything, opening with a floating-in-air vocal refrain and a pregnant pause, the slow stealthy groove seems to almost spill into place. With little more than a click track, some echoing drums, sparse electronics and a bass line supplied from what sounds like a tuba, Garzon-Montano makes his own kind of magic.
Janelle Monae – “Make Me Feel”
This bold, impossibly talented champion for equality and humanity’s latest release, Dirty Computer, is one of the year’s most beguiling. As the album’s sole straight-up love song, Make Me Feel, is a bit of an outlier. But as a joyous Prince homage/knockoff (which he may or may not had a hand in), it’s pure pop wizardry.
Night Glitter – “Tunnels”
The dreaded “H” word – hiatus- has been put forth in connection with this Austin band, led by Iranian, Paris-raised vocalist LouLou Ghelichkhani (who also tours and record with Thievery Corporation). But this was a busy year for them, they released an EP, and this hyper-cool gem (produced, of course, by Adrian Quesada), hanging Ghelickhani’s free-floating French vocals amid vaporous reverb and blazing sitars (what year is this, exactly?).
Soccer Mommy – “Cool”
As if to say there’s a lot of life yet to live, she keeps a sense of the absurdity of it all. Few manage to see so clearly through the haze of adolescence. Twenty-something Sophie Allison’s mission statement “Your Dog” (“I don’t want to be your f–ing dog,” she snarls in answer to decades of obliviousness) gets most of the attention, but it’s this blunt declaration of peer envy that brings her self-deprecating charm to play. “She’ll steal your joy like a criminal,” Allison sings in admiration. “I wanna be that cool.”