Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Feb. 19

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The Budos Band

The Budos Band

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how platforms like YouTube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud have opened the floodgates of independent artists. But navigating the flood is easier said than done.

That’s where RIFF steps in. We do the heavy lifting for you, scouring the sea of sound with ears perked for choice listens.

Enjoy this week’s memorable tunes!

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Yoshi Flower, “Dirty Water” — It’s hard to classify this single from Detroit songwriter and producer Yoshi Flower, and it would seem he likes it that way. Trendy Roland TR-808 beats synthesize with crisp guitar licks, effectively making “Dirty Water” the nonconformist response to chart-toppers like Post Malone. There’s a distinct flavor of R&B in his nimble vocal inflections, which coincide with the hard-hitting trap beats, suave chord progressions and an anthemic chorus that find a place on this song. Yoshi Flower gives the popular sounds of the 2010s a vital dose of unique arranging and impressive vocal chops.

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BRUX, “Belong” — Combining the eccentric sonics of intelligent dance music (IDM) with the hypnotic rhythm of deep house, this Australian producer manages to ground his explorations with catchy vocal hooks. What results is a song that functions as a rave starter as well as a memorable pop tune. “Belong” has something to offer for production nerds as well as people who just want to vibe. With dynamics and mood switches to spare, this track helps Brux find a niche as an evocative, infectious beat-maker.

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Rain Phoenix featuring Michael Stipe, “Time Is The Killer” — Marking 25 years past since Aleka’s Attic disbanded after the tragic death of cofounder River Pheonix, the project’s other half commemorates her brother in this spellbinding folk ballad. Rain Pheonix enlists the help of REM frontman Michael Stipe for a heartfelt ballad tracking the journey of accepting death and human frailty. Driven by heartland guitar swells and a earthy backbeat, “Time Is The Killer” uses simple homey lyricism and dreamy instrumentation to address life’s most dire questions. The weight of real loss and heartache is evident, but through a filter of gentleness and hope. Instead of railing against the ravages of time, Phoenix and Stipe embrace life and love in remembrance of the influential actor and artist, and caring brother.

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Matt Maeson, “Beggars Son” — Putting a clever twist on a tried and true trope, Virginia Beach’s Matt Maeson has written the ultimate song for those who have partied until they’re partied out. The absurdist video notwithstanding, “Beggars Son” is essentially Maeson’s recollection of spending all of his money getting wasted at South by Southwest. It’s a rather dismal tale at first, but the song’s crescendo takes it from a glum folk number to a rousing blue-eyed-soul ballad. His emotive timbre and incredible range balance melodic fluidity and emotional realness, complementing the imagery while retaining a relatable vibe. Walking into the sunset with his guitar in hand is a fitting ending to the video, as this solid tune illustrates the result of his decision to move on from unsavory situations.

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Taali featuring José James, “Star” — Drawing from her Judaic roots to empower her trailblazing progression, New York’s Taali balances contemporary production and vocal chops with a profoundly spiritual undertone. Long-time collaborators, José James and Taali wrote their verses separately, which gives their respective input a convincing synergy of lyrics and musicality. Both musicians shed light on their personal pursuit of self-actualization and transcendence, which meet on the chorus: “Climbing higher/ Burn through every single heartbreak/ Every single mistake/ I’ve been chasing fire.” With textured synths, a syncopated bottom end and harmonious voices, “Star” kickstarts a promising year for Taali.

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The Budos Band, “Old Engine Oil” — Jammy and gritty, this New York band’s newest single bridges the gap between ’70s psych-rock and funk. Evoking a streetwise, beaten-path take on jazz-rockers like Weather Report, The Budos Band uses a heavy psych-rock foundation to support precision-timed rhythm. The explosive distortion and bluesy soloing of bands like Blue Cheer finds common ground with unrelenting brass hits and syncopated beats, held together by steadfast melodic motifs. If funk needed a reminder of its grimier side, this song comes out of left field to knock the genre into the muck from which it came.

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Max’s Pick: Every now and then, my Tuesday Tracks research introduces me to a band that leaves me thinking, “I have to listen to everything these guys put out.” This week, The Budos Band was that pleasant surprise. They wear their ’70s influence on their sleeves, but it’s more of an inspiration than a crutch. “Old Engine Oil” balances tough-as-nails riffs with the danceability and instrumentation of funk and jazz fusion, capitalizing on the best elements of each genre it borrows from.

Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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