This Week in Records (29/3/2021)- Lil Nas X, Taylor Swift and AJR

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For this week’s newest releases, we’ve got new tracks from Lil Nas X, T-Swift, AJR, KAWALA, and so many more. Check out my thoughts of all the music you should definitely be listening to down below!

TUNE OF THE WEEK: Lil Nas X – ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’

It’s no secret that I am a massive Lil Nas X fan. ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ has reminded me all over again why I love him so much.

First of all, this music video. Lil Nas has easily had some of the best music videos of the last few years, each one its own mini-movie, with a lot of thought, high-production and detail put into them; ‘Old Town Road’, ‘Panini’, and ‘Rodeo’, to name a few. ‘MONTERO’ is no different; it’s a stunning piece of work, and goes above and beyond for what you would expect of a music video, really pushing the medium beyond its limits. Not to mention, the video itself in its visuals and plots is amazing. It’s, as Lil Nas put it in a Twitter post, blatantly campy and queer, with the rapper himself stating that he wants people to ‘stop dictating’ who he is, and just to let him fully embrace himself. Lil Nas is no stranger to homophobic comments, with his attire at red carpets (being one of the MOST fashionable people out there, just check out his recent Grammys red carpet to see what I mean) and persona often landing him with hate from homophobic trolls online. This video is essentially a huge screw you to them; rather than dull himself down, Lil Nas has gone all out, showcasing his sexuality with pride, and really just being whoever he wants to be, as he should. It’s damn empowering, especially as a member of the LGBT community. I mean, in the video, Lil Nas has not one but two seemingly male-presenting mythical love interests, one of which being Satan, of all people. He descends to Hell on a stripper pole, with black leather thigh high heeled boots and not much else, to seduce a very muscular Satan, following a trial set in a Grecian-esque city, with him-as-defendant versus other versions of himself, all lavishly dressed; you genuinely could not make this up, it’s fantastic. Not to mention, the video begins with an Adam and Eve-like sequence, with Nas as both Adam and Eve- it doesn’t sound like it could work, but it just DOES. Lil Nas’s queer story is turned into one of legend in this video, and if you haven’t seen it already, I implore you, please go watch it, you will not be disappointed.

Now, the song itself. It’s got Nas’s now-signature style of lo-fi hip-hop beats, with a heavy bass beneath them, of course, accompanied by the low tones of his voice and laidback line delivery. A letter to his 14-year-old self, and a commentary on his life as a gay black man, ‘MONTERO’ recounts a summer fling, in which one member is still closeted. The lyrics speak of a secret love, but one that can’t be denied, with Lil Nas embracing his ‘Sin’ in his ‘garden’ (obviously an Eden link), and lamenting that his ‘baby’ still ‘lives in the dark’. A reality that unfortunately many LGBT people still have to face, especially POC, the song feels overly intimate, as well as almost a release for Nas. Indeed, following ‘C7osure’ on his 7 EP back in 2019, this is one of the first times that Lil Nas has addressed his sexuality so head-on in a song. The production on this song is great; I’d recommend listening to it with headphones, as it’s clearly been attuned to an intimate listening experience, with its 360-degree design. ‘MONTERO’ is flamboyant, it’s fantastical, and it’s just plain good.

Overall, this is easily a winning tune for me. With the release of Lil Nas’ debut album dawning on the horizon (we’re hopefully getting a September release), I’m incredibly excited to see what he’s going to do next and if it’ll top this masterpiece.

‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ is available to listen to now via Columbia Records.

Taylor Swift ft. Maren Morris – ‘You All Over Me (From the Vault)’

The second release of her re-recording of Fearless, albeit this time a previously unreleased track written in the aforementioned era, Taylor Swift is back again with ‘You All Over Me’. It’s important to note that I’m actually completely unfamiliar with the original Fearless album, bar a couple of its huge tracks (like the recently re-released ‘Love Story’), so I was going into this song not really knowing what to expect with the ‘style’ of this Swift era. ‘You All Over Me’ feels lowkey, country and sweet, especially with its use of the occasional harmonica that just screams backwoods music to me. It’s a classic heartbreak song, something that Swift excels at, singing of being unable to fully shake free of the bonds of old love. The harmonies with guest singer Maren Morris truly make the track, with Swift’s higher register pairing wonderfully with Morris’ lower tone, and both their accents shining through, really suggesting a return to Swift’s country roots. Much like ‘Love Story’, this song feels emotional both for its lyrical content and the context that it’s being released within. Overall, it’s another great track from Taylor.

‘You All Over Me (From the Vault)’ is available to listen to now via Taylor Swift.

AJR – OK Orchestra

After only being introduced to AJR in the last year or so, I’ve quickly become infatuated with their work. OK Orchestra, their newest album, is no different. Albeit, it sounds increasingly similar to all their other albums; I will say that AJR is just one of those bands that knows their style and sticks to it. As a fan of them, however, I’m more than happy with this. OK Orchestra follows their previous works in another album that very much feels like it’s coming alive and coming together as you’re listening to it, as if you’re tuned in to one long jam session. It does really feel like the band are directing an orchestra, especially with the ‘OK Overture’ (my favourite track, an AJR staple overture that opens each album) that introduces musical elements in turn, first the ‘’drums’’, then the ‘’melody’’, and then the drums as they become the melody, before the album bursts through your headphones in all its glory. Other highlights from the album include ‘Bummerland’, ‘3 O’Clock Things’, ‘Bang!’, and ‘Christmas in June’.

OK Orchestra is available to listen to now via Black Butter Ltd. Check out ‘OK Overture’ down below.

KAWALA – ‘Chasing/Wasting Time’

The newest track from KAWALA gives me major summer vibes, both in its lyricism and instrumentation. Upbeat, light instruments like a twangy guitar, jumpy bass, and the occasional marimba create the perfect toe-tapping beat, especially when paired with lead singer Jim Higson’s quick-cut delivery. This definitely gives me an essence of a bit of Vampire Weekend (especially their album Father of the Bride), with a touch of Two Door Cinema Club thrown in there for good measure. It just feels snappy, upbeat and alive, to put it into simple words; I can only imagine how good this would be live. I know that this for sure will be at the top of my picnics-in-the-park playlist; it feels the perfect tune to kick back with a cider in the sun with.

‘Chasing/Wasting Time’ is available to listen to now via EMI.

Other Selected Releases

SINGLES

Becky Hill – ‘Last Time’

beabadoobee – ‘Last Day on Eart’

All Time Low – ‘Once in a Lifetime’

Sam Ryder – ‘Tiny Riot’

easy life – ‘a message to myself’

Demi Lovato – ‘Dancing with the Devil’

Miguel – ‘Ooh! Aah!’

ALBUMS

Ben Howard – Collections from the Whiteout

Neil Young – Young Shakespeare

Carrie Underwood – My Saviour

Evanescence – The Bitter Truth

This Week In Records: Playlist Edition

Need a weekly music fix of all the songs you should care about?  We’ve made a super handy playlist of all of this week’s biggest releases, so just sit back and listen to the good stuff.  Updated every Friday.

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records editor 2020/21 !! 3rd year film and english student. can be often found arguing about costuming in the avenue cafe or crying into a beefy novel in hartley

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