The 20 Best Songs We Heard in June
"Big Blue Hole," David Olney "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all them saints are dead and gone / Amy Winehouse and Curt Cobain, they ain't comin' back here again." David Olney is like the black sheep rounder uncle the family wanted you to stay away from. A former running bud of Townes van Zandt, Olney plays and sings like he'll cut you if you don't get it.
His new album, When the Deal Goes Down, has more edge than a straight razor and cuts just as deep. If you're into music for good news, fairy tales, cotton candy or dance beats, move on. Your life is in danger here. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
"Doses and Mimosas," Cherub "Doses and Mimosas" will do it for you, regardless of what you're getting into for the night. Your quintessential "getting ready" anthem, you can be primping for a gallery exclusive, putting on the bling for a club night out, or putting out your homemade amuse bouche platters for a dinner party: it does not matter. This is a party anthem, sans the onoxious nature of LMFAO. Put it on. Love it. SELENA DIERINGER
"Dream Shook," Roosh Williams While half of Houston seemed to be cozying up to Gregg Popovich's nuts in the wake of another stomach-turning Spurs title, Roosh Williams' "Dream Shook" suddenly appeared on your favorite social-media outlets like a breath of fresh, Nigerian air.
The dope young MC has already long since proven himself among the city's best, but he deserves special recognition for reminding a bunch of youngsters (and more than a few old-timers) who the baddest baller ever to win a ring in the state of Texas really was, and it damn sure wasn't Kawhi freakin' Leonard. Hear more from Roosh on Optimo Radio's Live From the Underground Vol. 1 mixtape, available at optimoradio.com. NATHAN SMITH
"Dunked On," Froggy Fresh During the NBA Finals, this comic gem became the song of the moment the moment the A/C went out in that raggedy-ass shack the San Antonio Spurs call home court. With LeBron grimacing from Heat-failure, my son went right to YouTube to introduce me to rapper Froggy Fresh's ode to B-ball victory. The song actually includes the lyric, "Why is James crying? 'Cause he just got dunked on!"
During the excessive timeouts and commercial breaks, my son showed me more of the joke-rapper's catalog, dating back to his pre-cease-and-desist days as "Krispy Kreme." I'm no Spurs fan and begrudgingly congratulate them, but their dominance allowed me to sing this song for a week or two with embarrassing enthusiasm. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Ebb and Flow," Larry and His Flask Maybe you wouldn't expect a perfectly executed musical existential treatise from Larry and His Flask. After all, the Oregon-based folk-punks' 2014 excursion through Canada has been cheekily dubbed the "Show Me Your Poutine" tour. But this stellar track philosophizes directly and honestly about "all that we know" about this life: "we all come and we all fade away." Listeners mature enough to understand and celebrate that fact should seek this track out and get jubilant with the five-piece "bluegrass traveling circus." JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Irregular Heartbeat," 50 Cent Apparently, 50 Cent released a new album this month. I hadn't heard anything about it until Spotify suggested I give it a listen, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It's certainly no Get Rich or Die Trying, but every track holds it own, especially "Irregular Heartbeat" featuring Jadakiss, which has 50 and Jada whispering threats above a minimalist beat.
Animal Ambition doesn't break the mold, but it serves as proof that 50 can still churn out a respectable album, even if G-Unit is no longer relevant. MATTHEW KEEVER
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," Kitty Wells Rolling Stone just released an issue (featuring cover star Miranda Lambert), trumpeting the magazine's new Nashville-focused digital offshoot Rolling Stone Country. As part of the launch festivities, the magazine proudly announced its picks for 100 Best Country Songs of All Time, which in "It's a Surprise to No One" news caused quite the earthquake among country fans and Texans alike.
The negative? Many country lovers felt their favorite artists were underrepresented in favor of pop-centric acts like Taylor Swift. But on the bright side, newer Nashville fans were able to discover classic talent like the ever-wonderful Kitty Wells. Sometimes overshadowed by the equally fabulous Patsy Cline, Wells sang heartfelt and honest songs about 20th-century life. "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonks Angels" might experience a dial spike due to the article, and if that's the case, I'm all for it. SELENA DIERINGER
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"Jungle (Remix)," Ambassadors & Jamie N Connors feat. Jay Z I remember when Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" crept into my head and became the most ubiquitous commercial song of the past two years. Couldn't escape it if I tried. Then the World Cup happened, and the "Jungle" track came and the remix followed suit along with its inclusion in the Hercules commercial. Yeah, I'm not getting rid of this thing quickly, either. BRANDO
"Latch (DJ Premier Remix)," Disclosure feat. Stan Smith This song is so smooth, sensual, and cool as can be, but adding the DJ Premier touch puts it at No. 1 on my Spotify playlist. Absolute chillax mode engaged. MARCO TORRES
"Love Never Felt So Good," Michael Jackson feat. Justin Timberlake From the late King of Pop's recently released Xscape album, and on the five-year anniversary of his death, this track is precious. The spirit of Jackson runs through JT's veins, making us sing and dance to this supremely catchy tune. MARCO TORRES
"People Forget," Antemasque The latest from former At the Drive-In and Mars Volta members Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala skews a lot closer to the former group than the latter, trading in prog rock for more traditional song structures and some nice screaming vocals from Bixler-Zavala that recall one of his greatest influences, Texas legend Roky Erickson.
They've retained some melody, but they're rocking out harder than they have in years. It's a welcome return to form and shows the band at their most lively in some time. COREY DEITERMAN
"Pressure Drop (Ska Version)," Toots & the Maytals Ever since I heard Los Skarnales perform this song in Spanglish during the encore of their 20th-anniversary show at Fitzgerald's on June 20th, I've been playing this regularly when I need a pick-me-up. It reminds me of the times I attempted to play in a ska band in high school. MARCO TORRES
"Rollin' & Tumblin'," The Gaslight Anthem Handwritten was one of my favorite records of 2012, one I still listen to regularly, which is why I was worried that The Gaslight Anthem's next release might be a letdown. Luckily, if "Rollin' & Tumblin'" is any indication, the New Jersey quartet has every intention of coming back swinging.
Raspy vocals are layered above pulsing percussion and energetic guitar licks on this short, sweet single. It's true to their sound but also offers something different from the Handwritten days -- something bluesier and perhaps even rawer. MATTHEW KEEVER
"Seen It All," Jeezy feat. Jay Z To be honest, trap rap has its days where it's really, really good and others where its a boring parade of 808 drums, hi-hats and tough-guy talk. If hearing Jeezy paired with DJ Mustard for eternity was going to make me swear off the Snowman, then his getting Cardo's whiny production and an above average, possible verse-of-the-year guest appearance from Jay Z on "Seen It All" restored my faith. BRANDO
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"She's My Witch," Kip Tyler This mesmerizing twanger was posted on Facebook by Texas proto-punker Thom Tex Edwards. Long-time West Coast rock photographer Todd Everett chipped in with background info that Tyler's band was actually legendary twanger Duane Eddy's band "minus Kip Tyler." Not exactly rockabilly, not exactly rock and roll, but something kinda Bukowski-ish, this is one evil track. Cats and kittens, this is basic. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
"Somebody Else," Shinyribs This is not the first time I've heard this, but it recently came up in my Facebook feed and I remembered what a great upside-down love song it is. I feel rather sorry for people who have never felt this exquisite form of pain. "That's why I wish you'd told somebody else that you was in love with them" is a Sam Cooke theme taken to its farthest logical extension, a hilllbilly Levon Helm love song. I'd love to hear Bobby Bland interpret this. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
"Thirst," Every Time I Die Every Time I Die has been plugging away for years, building up a pretty solid fanbase with their mix of hardcore and southern rock sensibilities. I always not-so-secretly hoped that they would re-embrace hardcore to its fullest extent, and picking up producer Kurt Ballou of Converge for their latest record, From Parts Unknown, gave me a lot of hope for that.
The first single, "Thirst," is a less-than-two-minute burst of straight-up hardcore action, delivering harder than almost anything Every Time I Die has produced in the last decade. If the rest of the album kicks this much ass, it will definitely be the best these guys have done in many years. COREY DEITERMAN
"Walking Hard," Z-Ro I almost came thisclose to swearing off Z-Ro's radio friendly singles when they sampled Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" for Slim Thug's "Pokin' Out." Then this Beanz N Kornbread beauty landed upon my ears and God decided Z-Ro and Tim Howard should save the universe. BRANDO
"When the People Cheer"/"Understand," The Roots In case anyone was wondering whether all that late-night frivolity would lighten the tone of new Roots music, the band left no doubt by giving its latest record the provocative title...and then you shoot your cousin. Questlove and co. come from a time when Run-DMC invited sleepyheads to "Wake Up," so they've continued to thrill with socially conscious, thought-provoking themes on their day job.
The former track is a dark look at the results of losing all hope, with vocalist Modesty Lycan reinforcing with the hook "everybody acts like God is all that/ But I have the feeling He ain't ever comin' back." The latter explores the consequences of how we won't allow ourselves redemption even when we do find our savior. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"(You) Got What I Need," Freddie Scott Another song to add to my "Samples of the Old School" playlist, this Freddie Scott track inspired Biz Markie to create his hip-hop classic "Just a Friend." MARCO TORRES
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