Jams of the Week: Frank Ocean, Grizzly Bear, MJ from beyond the grave
Frank Ocean, Frank Ocean, Frank Ocean! Oh, and some other good songs came out this week.
Seriously, the non-Frank songs are good too. Let's have a listen, starting with Frank of course.
Frank Ocean - "Pyramids"
Frank Ocean (who released my second-favorite album of last year) releases the first song from his official debut album - and it's a 10-minute epic with an ancient Egypt metaphor and a John Mayer guitar solo - and you don't think it's going to lead off Jams of the Week? Ocean's "Channel Orange" is coming July 17. Here's a teaser video.
Grizzly Bear - "Sleeping Ute"
Grizzly Bear are at their best when they break from their signature prim and proper and start hulking around like the monstrous creature from whence they chose their name. (See: The end of "Fine For Now" and "While You Wait For the Others.") On "Sleeping Ute," the first taste from the album the Brooklyn elites are dropping in September, they split the difference between "stay classy" and "get nasty."
Michael Jackson - "Don't Be Messin' Around"
A posthumous album of unfinished Michael Jackson tracks is coming in September; the "Bad"-era "Don't Be Messin' Around" makes a strong case that this is more than a cash grab (though it's most certainly a cash grab) and might actually be quite listenable.
The-Dream featuring Pusha T - "Dope B----"
The-Dream, a critically acclaimed R&B wizard who produced more hits than you realize and even sang a few, teams again with new best friend Pusha T to offer a salute to his lovely lady. (P.S. Is this what passes for romance these days?)
Jens Lekman - "Erica America"
This starts out sounding like Muzak at its most obnoxious, but once Jens busts in with his sad-sack croon, I'm instantly glad to be back inside his world, one where pondering sadness is like a sport. It can be a pleasantly wistful place to visit, though I certainly wouldn't want to live there. Stick around for the sax solo! "I Know What Love Isn't," Lekman's first album in five years, is due Sept. 4 on Secretly Canadian.
Four Tet - "128 Harps"
Keiran Hebden: Still going strong! This latest offering is fast, minimal and gorgeous.
Fiona Apple - "Werewolf"
Another strong indicator that all this "Fiona Apple is back!" hubbub is kinda sorta maybe legit. "The Idler Wheel..." is out June 19 on Epic.
Usher featuring ASAP Rocky - "Hot Thing"
Nothing too revolutionary here, just a fun club track from the king of fun club tracks, featuring a guest verse from the always reliable (or is that always predictable?) Mr. ASAP. Usher's new album "Looking 4 Myself" drops this coming Tuesday, and it also features the incredible "Climax" and a track produced by Drake's trusty sidekick Noah "40" Shebib.
Calexico - "Para"
For those who have trouble keeping track: Calexico is the one from Arizona that makes vaguely mariachi-influenced experimental folk and used to bro down with Iron & Wine. Califone is the one from Chicago that makes dytopian future gleaming-rust folk. I'm more of a Califone man myself, but I can dig this new Calexico track, which comes from their forthcoming "Algiers." It's out Sept. 11 on Anti-.
Recloose featuring B. Slade - "Magic"
Feels like magic, indeed.