We are happy to introduce The Sorry Scholar‘s Best Tracks of the Month playlists! And what a place to begin: January was a remarkable start to the new decade featuring gorgeous pop from Rina Sawayama and Westerman, new rap classics from Roddy Rich and Max Miller, rich soul from Jeff Parker and The Milk and driving techno from Squarepusher and Nicolas Jaar. Find the Apple Music and Spotify playlists below:
We love all of these songs, but here’s more on five of the standouts:
Spotlight on Five:
Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys) – Rina Sawayama
Featuring a bone-shaking synth line, a chorus sticky like honey and actual bona-fide hand claps, ‘Comme De Garçons’ is the kind of hit of pop perfection we’ve come to expect of Sawayama. She announces herself with an addictive confidence, winking aloud with boasts like “excuse my ego/can’t go incognito/every time you see me/it’s like winning big in Reno!”, yet among the thrills she still finds space for quick pot shots against her male counterparts; she’s confident ‘Like The Boys’, who are too often given every reason to be. The fact that this track will follow the fiery ‘STFU’ on her upcoming SAWAYAMA makes her debut album one of our most anticipated of the year.
Blue Comanche – Westerman
To see how hard it is to nail this sound, just look at the thousands of songs in this style released every month which seem to insistent that you forget that they’re on as they play. Londoner Will Westerman somehow manages to muster the quiet enrapturing which evades so many creators of these subtle, airy, New Wave ballads. From the slow layering of vocals to the thick, Spandau Ballet guitar licks – this is a romantic cut, and all the more notable for its rarity.
Salt Of The Earth – Billy Fay
We spend so much time ruing on the artists who only found appreciation after their passing – from Arthur Russell to Nick Drake and Vincent Van Gogh – that we’d better not take Billy Fay for granted. Fay was a rising pianist in 1969 but, underperforming commercially, he was dropped from his label in 1971 after only two albums, and didn’t record again until he acquired an underground following which pushed him to back before a microphone in 2012. Eight years later, he’s still producing beautiful and raw ballads such as ‘Salt of the Earth’.
Good News – Mac Miller
Being a posthumous cut from one of the most beloved figures in hip-hip; ‘Good News’ is an unassuming gut punch. Produced by John Brion – a collaborator of Fiona Apple, Kanye West and Aimee Mann – you can feel indie-giant’s touch in the gently plucked strings and shuffling synth-lines, but they only serve to provide a sweet and casual bed for Mac’s intimate vocals, and his hushed thoughts on depression and hope make this gentle vignette a hard pill to swallow now that he’s not here to see its acclaim.
Alucinao (Feat. Estado Unido & FKA Twigs)
Announcing itself with none of the carefully sliced neu-disco grooves of Nicolas Jaar’s last record under the Against All Logic moniker – and all of the thrust of an industrial drill – ‘Aluncinao’ is a monstrous, ten minute re-brand. Powering through a sizeable track-length like it’s nothing; it’s a sweaty percussive workout which is heavy on the cowbell, warped bass and drum clatter. Common understanding is that Estado Unido is Jaar himself, speaking in the Spanish of his father’s Chile, but the appearance of FKA Twigs at the end of the track is unmistakable, even under the maniacal distortion as she lays down one hell of a groove, and the climax of the track sounds like Aaliyah trapped inside a sandstorm. Expectations for the tantalisingly close sophomore LP 2017-2019 have been swept away by it too.
Words By Liam Inscoe – Jones, with thanks to Ellie Freedman.