NOTE: It has been a while since I’ve connected with the StudioDNA crew. We have crossed paths and emails many times over the last couple months, but our schedules haven’t lined up and this particular episode hasn’t (and perhaps won’t ever) make it to the air. That’s fine. They’re busy. I’m busy. Things happen. However, this has been kicking around waiting to go live for a while now (since late June) and I felt like I should release it and move on in whatever direction works best. If you enjoy reading these and there are no more New Music Digest episodes, fear not. I’ll start something else soon. In fact, I have something music related planned for Friday (unless I lose power). If this episode ends up airing, I’ll update it accordingly. Thanks for reading.

This episode features a 90s monster, a debut with a sense of the 90s, and a collaboration between a familiar face and a DJ whose career BEGAN in the 90s. Capping all of that off is a serious track which in part mourns the loss of the lead singer from an iconic 90s band that was in the middle of a comeback. Let’s get to it then.

Album 1: Come Tomorrow, by Dave Matthews Band (6/8/2018)
If you listened to music in the 90s at all, you couldn’t avoid Dave Matthews Band. I think I went back and forth with liking them or not. They certainly gained a cult following as a jam band, in the vein of the Grateful Dead and Phish, with people collecting various bootleg recordings of shows. But at the same time, they were snubbed by many critics as too popular or sell-outs. When a friend of mine introduced me to Coldplay by playing YELLOW, I asked him if it was a Dave Matthews knockoff. I’ll never forget the look of betrayal on his face. I’ll do worse, here, I’m sure. This is their first new album in six years, I believe – first one I’ve listened to in maybe twenty years?

Starting off with a nice stripped down intro and the familiar, raw vocal, SAMURAI COP (OH JOY BEGIN) opens the album as the first I’ve really heard from DMB since the early days. I get the sense that this would be amazing live. I love the drums and just the bare elements. Everything sounds so… open. Like early U2 almost. Now that I’ve thoroughly irritated U2 fans everywhere, I CAN’T STOP there. The addition of the horns adds a thickness to this song, which is when Dave’s falsetto really shines as a contrast. Yeah, this would definitely be great live. Drums are very impressive. HERE ON OUT feels like the new album’s CRASH INTO ME. Acoustic guitar. Ballad. Nice melody. Yeah. Nostalgia. It’s enchanting.

BONUS:If DMB still has what it takes to wow the panel and win this thing, the bonus song is called, THAT GIRL IS YOU. I don’t really like this song – especially the vocals, but It is pretty well orchestrated as a dramatic build and payoff. Definitely my least favorite of the first four, though.

Album 2: Lost & Found, by Jorja Smith (6/8/2018)
This is my stumbled upon artist of the week. Just poking around all the new releases and came across this release. I know nothing about Jorja Smith, but when I first gave it a listen, I earmarked it as a winner. The last time I did this, I found Paloma Faith, which turned out to be quite a discovery. Let’s see if this holds a candle to that.
Roll credits, the first song is the title track, LOST & FOUND, and it starts with a very 90s R’n’B (en Vogue, SWV, etc.) back beat and some scatting that almost has a middle eastern feel. Definitely an accent on the vocal, which kicks in calmly at about the minute and a half mark. I really like the vibe here. I think this is a combination of Adele and Ed Sheeran. And Rihanna. Yeah, that’s about right. TEENAGE FANTASY continues this 90s vibe for me at least. I love the additional touches of piano keys throughout here. This production is a little off, though, like the speakers are blown out. It’s washing out the vocal. That certainly lowers the enjoyment of the song overall. The intro to WHERE DID I GO is all piano. Very laid back. There’s still a hint of that fuzzy production on here. It’s so distracting.

BONUS: The fourth song is called FEBRUARY 3RD. It’s a slightly different style with the same basic elements. This is perhaps her ballad. It’s really impressive, but I think the production could be better.

Album 3: Let the Trap Say Amen, by Lecrae x Zaytoven (6/15/2018)
Lecrae is always a favorite here. This his latest release which embraces the southern “trap” style and finds Lecrae collaborating with a legendary producer, Zaytoven. I started seeing promotion for this project maybe 7 weeks ago, so it feels like the Church Clothes projects, which were intentionally sprung on listeners with as little lead time as possible. Trap is not really my favorite, but I have softened to it in recent years, so we’ll see.

The little kids love Zaytoven, apparently. GET BACK RIGHT kicks things off with a thick bass-filled beat underlying the ominous tones of the instrumentation. It’s pretty strong. I don’t know if it’s that the beat is not too heavy or if Lecrae’s vocals are clear enough. It’s enjoyable, though. PREACH begins with another little kid shout out to the producer. The thing with trap is that it’s thick beats, often a dark tone, and very repetitive. So far, this is avoiding the annoying aspects of that, it is repetitive, it is thumping bass, but it works. 2 SIDES OF THE GAME features Waka Flocka Flame and K-So Jaynes. I’m less engaged in this one. Not sure if it’s the beat or something else. There’s a bit of mumble rap going on, but it’s not horrible.

BONUS: The fourth track, in case this one wins, is PLUGGED IN and we’re back to something that I’m more apt to listen to on a regular basis. The beat stops in the middle of the hook, I like the sound. I just don’t see myself listening to it a lot.

TUNE DU JOUR: Nothing Makes Sense Anymore, by Mike Shinoda
Mike Shinoda was the yin to Chester Bennington’s yang throughout the musical lifespan of Linkin Park. This solo album is his way of processing Bennington’s suicide. I was intrigued by the prospect of any solo material, but this makes it much more emotional and noteworthy in a sense. This is also one of the few non-explicit songs on the album, so if that bothers you this is probably as far as you should go.

peace… love… bdg…