Monday Mixtape July 16 2018: Wiz Khalifa, The Hunna & The Ramones
Every Monday, Up All Afternoon delivers the Monday Mixtape. It's six tracks to start your music-consuming week off the right way.
The Hunna, "Dare"
We played a lot of the Hunna's debut album on Alt Nation, though their follow-up does not seem to be gaining the same sort of traction. That's a shame, because the Hunna have smoothed out their sound and built a sturdy monument to mid-'90s Britpop shot through a very 2018 electronic lens. Most modern bands process their guitars all to hell, but the Hunna leave in just enough crunch to remind you that banging on a six-string is a deeply visceral act (and much more physically engaging than, say, twisting a sampler knob). NOTE: Not a cover of Stan Bush's awesomely cheesy song from the animated Transformers movie.
Wiz Khalifa feat. Bone Thugs N Harmony, "Reach For the Stars"
There's a documentary out right now called G-Funk that explores the rise of the West Coast hip-hop sound that birthed the likes of NWA, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the like. Warren G produced it, and he mentioned to me in an interview recently that he counts Wiz Khalifa as one of the torch-bearers for the G-Funk sound in 2018. Wiz is from Pittsburgh, but his sound has always had one foot in the SoCal swing: Deep funk bass, optimized-for-rolling amble, weed-friendly rhymes. He just released Rolling Papers II, a sequel to his best and most successful album (that's the one that bore the Hot 100 chart-topper "Black and Yellow"), and it's full of throwbacks that mark him as a true child of the '90s. And what better way to channel the sound of '95 than to invite along Bone Thugs, who I have not thought about in a decade?
Dreamers put out the best debut of 2016 with This Album Does Not Exist, a shambolic series of slack rockers polished just enough to reveal a sugary pop center. Sometimes their songs sound as meticulously constructed as a Brian Wilson track, and sometimes they channel their inner Pavement. "Screws" sits comfortably in between those two poles, with a satisfyingly druggy verse and a marlin-snagging hook.
King Princess, "1950"
I have been constantly bemoaning the lack of protest music out there. Considering all of the complete disfunction currently coming out of Washington, it's strange to me that we don't have an "American Idiot" yet (though admittedly Green Day didn't drop that until the end of George W. Bush's first term). King Princess says she makes protest music, though while this piano ballad about gender dynamics is deeply embedded in current social conversations, it's not very aggro. Still, I'll take any engagement in the issues of the day that I can get. Cool video, too.
The Ramones, "Spider-Man"
It's Comic-Con week, so I went looking for songs about super heroes. They're mostly stupid. (More on that in the next entry.) But I adore this cover of the theme song from the old Spider-Man TV show as done by the Ramones. It's an appropriate homage, as both the Ramones and Peter Parker hail from Queens. I'm pretty sure they recorded it some time earlier, but I first got ahold of this cover on a 1995 compilation called Saturday Morning: Cartoon's Greatest Hits. I distinctly remember that compilation being the thing I wanted most for Christmas in '95. It combined my love of low-fi animated trash (Scooby-Doo, Underdog, The Flintstones, Gigantor) with my adoration for alternative rock bands (Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield, Tripping Daisy, Liz Phair, Sponge). It's now way out of print and kind of rare (a listener forwarded me a listing on Amazon that puts the price point for the CD at 63 bucks!), but it remains an exceptionally weird treasure that has been eaten by the digital revolution. Also, the Ramones rule.
Our Lady Peace, "Innocent"
Our Lady Peace are a deeply uncool band. They're sort of the Canadian version of Live, a group of conscientious rockers who are too earnest by half and who are led by a dude with a questionable singing voice and a penchant for bad dancing. Their breakout hit was a song called "Superman's Dead," which sucks, but it did lead me down a rabbit hole that reminded me of this song. Our Lady Peace's fifth album Gravity came out during a period of my life when I was deeply depressed, and one of the few solaces I had was new music. I had access to illegal downloading software then, but I mostly enjoyed the process of going to record stores, which were always sanctuaries where I felt at home. Of course, I had little money as a college student, so I often could not afford to buy as many records as I would have liked. Luckily, there was a shop on 18th street (I think it's still there) that sold promo copies of new albums for a buck or so. (Magazine writers had a longstanding hustle of selling promos to a series of strange dudes who would somehow turn a profit on them. I always made a nice supplemental income from such strange dudes.)
I snagged Gravity for 99 cents and spun it on a bunch in the DiscMan I kept stashed in my shoulder bag. It was mostly dull, though I got hooked on "Innocent," a strangely seductive tune that tells a pair of stories about teens in basements who had it tough. Like most OLP songs, it gets caught up in the clunkiness of its narrative, but that chorus is undeniable. Strangely, it very often gets stuck in my head first thing in the morning while I'm feeding cats, and I'm not mad at my brain for doing that. There are worse ways to start your day.