New Music Friday: Siergio- Complicated

Full-disclosure, I first met Siergio as a freshmen in high school. Fairly quickly, he established himself as a personality due to his singing, and what I recall as a vehement defense of superstar singer Monica’s vocal prowess.

It’s been a joy to hear him pursue his art these last few years. He seems poised to release another excellent set of tunes, if his latest single, a classic R&B slow burner, “Complicated,” is any indication of what else will show up on forthcoming LP, “Before it’s too Late” (available for pre-order here).

Listening through the song, you can hear his appreciation of Monica shine, albeit, through the prism of a variety of other influences. This allows Siergio to do something that strikes me as fairly unique within the world of modern R&B: call to what’s inspired him, but not so loudly, that his influences overwhelm the specifics of his persistent truth as a vocalist. 

In a musical landscape in which it can be increasingly hard to tell singers apart, Siergio has found something that is uniquely his own within his voice.

This has come about as a result of pursuing craft with steadfast dedication.

Outside of gorgeous production that manages to create a sense of cavernous depth, the song is marked by Siergio’s control of his voice. His singing reminds of a guitar player who understands that he’s in the business of handling business, but doesn’t feel like he has to let everyone know all the time. Throughout the song’s run, Siergio pulls off a variety of vocal flexes that on their surface, might appear to be light, but speak to careful consideration, and/or restraint on his part. Where he could easily, pop an octave or hit a run, he instead chooses to make his voice swell or fall accordingly.

It’s an incredibly admirable set of choices and keeps a certain amount on tension in play. When release finally arrives, it shows up in the form of a contemplative, three-guitar over/under interplay that sounds like the R&B equivalent of what you mind find on an 80s King Crimson record.

It’s an inspired choice that adds a nice additional flavor to the song, allowing it to fade out with a blissful release that feels earned.

If you haven’t already done so, head back up to the top of the page, and hit play on the YouTube link.

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75 Best Songs of 2021

This year when you were waiting in line for vaccine shot, taking an Uber to a bar for the first time in a year, or killing time in between watching any of the following:

Joe Biden’s inauguration
The Tokyo Olympics
Giannis dominate the NBA
Tom Brady dominate the NFL (again)
The process of freeing Britney (we did it)
The fluctuating prices of crypto and NFTs
or Squid Game

You were probably listening to something. And it was probably Adele or Olivia Rodrigo. But a lot happened in music this year, including a robust year for indie music, the return of concerts, the first annual Indie Pong Song of Summer Competition, and me finally seeing Everclear live and absolutely losing my mind. You were listening to something, and when you look back and listen to it a few years from now it will always remind you of the year that we got our lives back. Here are my top 75 songs of 2021. Keep in mind that this is objective and definitive, and if you have a different opinion it’s probably wrong.

Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/76S58vvSbS5Z1MJrVIHotY?si=f3745224e00f452e

75. “Be Sweet” – Japanese Breakfast
74. “deja vu” – Olivia Rodrigo
73. “Eastside” – F.A.B.L.E., ‘Kechi, Sage P, Domerie
72. “Great Mass of Color” – Deafheaven
71. “HUH?” – Serena Isioma
70. “I Do This All The Time” – Self Esteem
69. “peacewise silence” – Ackerman
68. “ENTERTAINMENT” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
67. “Txu Txu” – PPJ, Páula, Povoa, Jerge
66. “Never Been More Sure” – Royel Otis
65. “Name” – spill tab
64. “Come To Life” – Kanye West
63. “American tterroristt” – RXKNephew
62. “You Lose!” – Magdalena Bay
61. “Brand New” – TARYN
60. “All Grown Up” – Londo
59. “Take Off” – Prinze George
58. “Crying During Sex” – Carol Ades
57. “Surrender” – Tseba, PRICIE
56. “Heaven is a Pill” – thanks for coming
55. “Head Cheerleader” – Pom Pom Squad
54. “Velcro” – spill tab, Gus Dapperton
53. “telephone wires” – maxime.
52. “Gang Signs” – Freddie Gibbs, ScHoolboy Q
51. “Sister” – TSHA
50. “Give Me Your Love” – Girl Ray
49. “Hidden Qi 隐.气” – Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 and Tim Shiel
48. “Root Mean Square” – Summer Like the Season
47. “These Things Will Come To Be” – DJ Seinfeld
46. “Down On Your Luck” – SACHI
45. “Comerte Entera” – C. Tangana, Toquinho
44. “Basement” – Church Girls
43. “the angel of 8th ave.” – Gang of Youths
42. “La Perla” – Sofia Kourtesis
41. “Silk Chiffon” – MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers
40. “Swing of Things” – MAY-A, Powfu
39. “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” – The War On Drugs, Lucius
38. “Back To Oz” – Sufjan Stevens, Angelo De Augustine
37. “Hard Drive” – Cassandra Jenkins
36. “You Could Be” – Anz, George Riley
35. “Handsome Man” – Wednesday
34. “Mazda5” – MyKey, marinelli
33. “Rich & Famous” – Shelley FKA DRAM
32. “3 AM” – HAIM, Thundercat
31. “Welcome To The People (Baltra Remix)” – Jaded, Baltra
30. “Only for Tonight” – Pearl Charles
29. “spit it out” – Roksana
28. “Strawberry” – Doss
27. “Skyscrapers” – Nina Kraviz
26. “Bouncin” – Tinashe
25. “Enough” – Appleby
24. “Wake” – Big Scary
23. “Good Ones” – Charli XCX
22. “Jail 2” – Kanye West
21. “Little Things” – Big Thief
20. “Louisiana Jukebox” – Mad Gatsby
19. “Cold Blood” – Junior Varsity
18. “Go Outside” – Ratboys
17. “Payday” – Doja Cat, Young Thug
16. “Peaches” – Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar, Giveon
15. “But She Loves You” – Merk
14. “We’ll Figure It Out” – Black Dresses
13. “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS*” – BLACKSTARKIDS
12. “Xiu” – Yu Su
11. “The Mission” – Bakar
10. “He Gets Me So High” – beabadoobee
9. “Don’t Need You” – Genesis Owusu
8. “Breathe” – Lawrence Rothman, Caroline Rose
7. “Starstruck (Vegyn Remix)” – Years & Years, Vegyn
6. “THE DOOR IS CLOSING” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
5. “She Likes To Get High” – Cry Baby
4. “object permanence” – Sydney Sprague, Danielle Durack
3. “The Beginning” – Magdalena Bay
2. “Show Up” – Samia
1. “Jackie” – Yves Tumor


Some notes:

68. “ENTERTAINMENT” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE

You have to listen to the whole song, I admit the beginning is… challenging. But the transition from chaos to catchy and light-hearted perfectly sets up one of the best albums of the year.

67. “Txu Txu” – PPJ, Páula, Povoa, Jerge

Love this track. I specifically wanted to single it out because my ACTUAL favorite track of 2021 was released in November of 2020, and it’s amazing:

26. “Bouncin”- Tinashe

Why does Tinashe never miss, ever?

27. “Skyscrapers” – Nina Kraviz

This one is really interesting to me, because Nina is basically the most badass techno DJ in the game. I never expected a pop song, and I certainly didn’t expect one so aggressively good.

25. “Enough” – Appleby

It was hard to choose only one of Appleby’s songs, there were a lot of contenders. This Chicago native is up next. Mark my words, up next.

16. & 17.”Peaches” and “Payday”

These songs are truly so, so good. Peaches was more or less an anthem of this year along with Kiss Me More, which is also a banger but didn’t quite make the list. Payday did though, well-deserved.

15. “But She Loves You” – Merk

This song is so cool. To me it’s the quintessential song of the year that demonstrates doing more with less. The sounds are so simple, but the way they crescendo together is brilliant. A top 15 spot was a no brainer.

13. “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS*” – BLACKSTARKIDS

BSK are the best, and continue to steadily rise with groundbreaking sounds and just… energy. All the love.

11. “The Mission” – Bakar

I’m not here to die on the hill of that nepotism is a good thing, but this take on nepotism being an earned thing that we all aim to get for our kids is refreshing.

9. “Don’t Need You” – Genesis Owusu

Easily one of the best albums of the year.

5. “She Likes To Get High” – Cry Baby

How fun is this song? What a just absolute jam. Tickles the ol’ nostalgia bone.

4. “object permanence” – Sydney Sprague

This was my #1 most listened to song of the year on Spotify

Wink GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

One thing I can say for sure about object permanence is that it has lasting power, times a million. I’ve listened to this song almost everyday for a year and it’s never gotten old once. The way a top 5 should be.

3. “The Beginning” – Magdalena Bay

This was album of the year for me, not close. I don’t know how they did it- Magdalena Bay somehow made an album that sounds like Rumours but done by Britney Spears. Every song sounds different, the melodies are amazing, it’s just a home run.

2. “Show Up” – Samia

According to Spotify Wrapped I’m a a Samia superfan so I guess you have to take it with a grain of salt but

SAMIA IS THE GREATEST ARTRISAT DISFJNSKDNFLKJSDF

Sorry I blacked out for a second, Samia has some chill tunes.

Also Big Wheel doesn’t make me cry nothing makes me cry:

1. “Jackie” – Yves Tumor

The thing with the best song of the year is that you just know. This song blows my mind every single time. Yves has also been making bangers for years. Keep being the coolest human being on the planet Yves, you’ve earned it.

Memo’s Top 50 Albums of 2021

Hello everybody! Happy New Year! It has been a while. School and work kept me very busy this year. It prevented me from writing a lot of blogs this year. With that said, nothing will stop me from telling you all my top 50 albums of the year. Even though no one asked. This year has been an amazing year for music. In my list, I have a mix of the biggest releases and some underground gems. Every album here is great in my opinion. Check out these albums if you haven’t done so already. 

Without further ado here are my top 50 albums of the year for 2021!

50) Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

49) Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti

48) CHAI – WINK

47) Chief Keef – 4 NEM

46) J. Cole – The Off-Season

45) Shelley FKA DRAM – Shelley FKA DRAM

44) Boldy James & The Alchemist – Bo Jackson

43) Vince Staples – Vince Staples

42) Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

41) Tony Allen – There Is No End

40) Adele – 30

39) EXUM – Xardinal Coffee

38) Zack Fox – shut the fuck up talking to me

37) IDK – USEE4YOURSELF

36) Kota The Friend & Statik Selektah – To Kill A Sunrise

35) Rejjie Snow – Baw Baw Black Sheep

34) Pink Siifu – GUMBO’!

33) serpentwithfeet – DEACON

32) Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)

31) St. Vincent – Daddy’s Home

30) Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

29) Clairo – Sling

28) Nas – King’s Disease II

27) Conway The Machine – La Maquina

26) Paris Texas – BOY ANONYMOUS

25) Your Old Droog – Time

24) Porter Robinson – Nurture

23) Lil Nas X – MONTERO

22) Blu – The Color Blu(e)

21) CZARFACE & MF DOOM – Super What?

20) James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart 

19) GRIP – I Died For This!?

18) Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram

17) Turnstile- GLOW ON

16) Weezer – OK Human

15) slowthai – TYRON

14) McKinely Dixon – For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her

13) JPEGMAFIA – LP! 

12) Black Country, New Road – For the first time

11) Tyler, the Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

10) Genesis Owusu – Smiling with No Teeth

9) Magdelena Bay – Mercurial World

8) BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW ROAD

7) Kanye West – DONDA

6) Injury Reserve – By the Time I Get to Phoenix

5) Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES

4) C. Tangana – El Madrileño

3) Spellling – The Turning Wheel

2) Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

1) Silk Sonic – An Even with Silk Sonic

Let me know what you think?

P.S. Just like last year, I have a Spotify playlist for my top 50 songs of 2021. Check it out! I also started list week on my YouTube channel (FancyMemo), if you are interested.

An Interview with Brett Miller, Brainheart

A couple of weeks ago, artists Brett Miller and Brainheart joined forces again for “As Long As You Love Me“, the most recent banger on a long list of collaborations between the pair. A few months ago in July, Brett Miller joined me on Indie Pong’s Instagram Live for a special interview regarding a previous project (see interview here) and today I am excited to share an interview with Brett Miller and Brainheart (Roi).

How did you two come into existence with each other and decide to start working together?

Brett Miller: We met over Instagram. Roi messaged over summer of 2020 and shared some of his latest unreleased music, and asked if I could write and record over them. I loved his style and sound and we agreed to start working together. In fact, the first track he shared that I wanted to write on would eventually be “Surface”, which we released in February 2021. After our first project, we made plans to create more music and set a goal to release an EP containing all of our work. That EP is set to release in early 2022.

Brett, we learned a lot about you and your musical variety and your Floridian roots earlier this year when you did a live interview with me. Brainheart, can you tell us more about yourself and your background?

Brainheart : I am an independent music producer, songwriter, and DJ from Israel. Over the years, I struggled severely in the school system and felt that I was wasting my time. My first introduction to music was through playing piano at the age of 15. Music started out as a way to distract myself from struggles at school, but it quickly became much more than that. Today, unbound by genres I want to make a lasting impact and be an inspiration for many generations to come.

How does your partnership work together, especially considering the physical distance? Do you have creative brainstorms virtually, or do you send work back and forth to each other?

Brett Miller: That’s a great question. There’s a bit of a challenge to it, but over time, we’ve gotten very fluid with how we make music. having never met each other in person. We both play different roles for each song we make. Brainheart produces, composes, and engineers the tracks, and I handle writing the lyrics and vocal melodies, and recording my vocals, harmonies, etc, with some involvement on piano for certain songs. It’s a partnership that focuses on each of our strengths as music makers. So, to answer your question, it’s the latter. We send things back and forth to each other, while also having facetimes to go over ideas and notes…which we’re doing right now as we answer these questions. This collaboration is totally made possible by Facebook messenger, WeTransfer, and Distrokid. (Not sponsored)

What was the inspiration for the latest song “As Long As You Love Me”?

Brainheart: I heard the song “Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone and the production blew my mind. I was inspired to make a dark pop/hip hop song. Honestly I produced a full demo in 2 days and sent it to Brett. He loved it and started to write a story over the production.

Brett Miller: Yeah it was awesome! I knew I wanted to write something big over Roi’s haunting production. The production brought a whole new energy out of me, and it dared me to write something revealing to my personality. Some of it may have been dramatized, but I was inspired to stir up an emotion and thought process I’ve felt before in past relationships and even current ones. In an effort to leave enough to the imagination, suffice it to say, I’m always inspired to write about the dynamic between lovers, since it’s always so electric. In my experience, the highs can be euphoric, and the lows can be heartbreaking. I guess this song is just my way of mitigating risk to maximize reward.

What can you tell me about the music video? Where did you shoot it, what was the experience like, etc.? Is this something the both of you work on together?

Brett Miller: So, unfortunately, it’s a whole different obstacle when we want to make visual content together. We did a great job with our song “Wasted Years” with combining footage; me in the US, and Roi in Israel, but some visual ideas like these don’t always work with the song concept. “As Long As You Love Me” was one of those songs. I handled the scripting and directing of the music video with a small team and cast in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a very memorable experience, with just a healthy hint of stress to get things together on time. Gotta love working under pressure. Shoutout to the Nashville crew: Chaz, Chelsea, Greg, and Fiona (the star of the video).

The two of you have released quite a few songs together – have you or would you consider performing live together? How would that look?

Brainheart: Hell yeah, that would be great. I think it’s really important for collaborators to perform together. The connection between me and Brett can create something really special live. The electronic production + Brett’s voice could work really well at festivals.

Bret Miller: Absolutely! We’re obviously anticipating meeting each other one day soon. Roi really wants to come to the US, and I want to start performing worldwide. All this new music in 2021 is setting us up for some big shows in the future! Picture festival stages at Ultra Music Fest or Coachella, Brainheart behind the mix deck, and I’ll grab the mic to pump up the crowds to throw their hands up and sing these choruses with me! It’s gonna be epic!

Do you feel like it’s necessary to work in collaborations these days, or is your relationship more organic?

Brainheart: Honestly, in the beginning I thought we would create just 1 song together, but after we finished the first one and loved it, we decided to keep making music together and create a full EP. Our relationship has grown very organically. We work really well together, and we are very good friends. Our friendship definitely goes past music.

Brett Miller: There’s no right or wrong answer with making music. Some people do really well by themselves. I’ve experienced both: writing and releasing music independently, and with other creators. I do prefer the latter, since we can divide and conquer. I usually get better quality music out faster than if I did it alone. I’ve enjoyed working with Roi. He’s very driven and his talent level is growing fast. It’s been a very fruitful partnership and friendship. I definitely recommend artists team up with other creators, since you can make music better and faster, and forge strong relationships along the way.

How do you feel about the societal importance of social media tied to musicians’ careers?

Brainheart: It’s really tough. I believe that every artist wants to concentrate on making music. It takes a lot of time to build a fanbase and I believe that every artist should be very active on social media. Honestly, I hate being bothered with it, but it’s a great tool to make more fans and spread my music.

Brett Miller: Ditto. 

Who are your top 3 most played artists?

Brainheart: 1. Coldplay 2. Illenium 3. Ed Sheeran

Brett: A bit harder for me to list….for now:  1. Kevin Garrett  2. Incubus  3. Leon Bridges

What’s next on the Brett Miller/Brainheart agenda?

Brett Miller: Definitely our EP in early 2022. We are packaging together all our latest releases, with one more new track to release. This EP is the grand finale, and we have a lot of awesome content to surround it leading up. After that, we’ve got our sights set on performing the moment we get the chance to, given the state of the world. Either way, we’re staying patient, staying humble, staying grateful, and can’t wait to share more music and experiences with IndiePong and the world!

Thanks so much – Brett & Roi

New Music Flavor – PawPaw Rod

I’ve been MIA for a bit, I almost feel like I’ve been speed dating around with music this summer, partially due to absolutely SMASHING IT in the Song of Summer Series: Bangers Only playlist competition we’ve been running. The Drake v Kanye album sitch got me back into the album groove and I finally decided to settle down and commit to a listening session with PawPaw Rod.

He kicked off A PawPaw Rod EP last year with single “HIT EM WHERE IT HURTS” and has since released bangers “Glass House” and “Thin Lines”. Today’s EP release brough “Lemonhaze”. Honestly, if you haven’t listened to HEWIH or Glass House WTF are you doing with your days?!

LET’S GET INTO ITTTTT

I’m all about tunes you can groove to on a rooftop sans clothes, and I feel like PawPaw Rod is the best way to close out the summer. Grab a joint, flower, drink, or any vice of choice and start letting those seaweed arms flow.

Hailing from Oklahoma, PawPaw Rod has a pretty solid following, but he is definitely one of those artists who you either know and love or have no clue who he is. After today’s EP release, I imagine his numbers will soon see a spike as Spotify placed him on the cover of Pollen – no big thang!

We’re just starting to get a taste of what he has to offer, and I can’t wait to what else dear ol’ PawPaw will bring to the table.

One of my favorite finds of the summer has been the Mellon Collie Demos by Roksana

Not only are these demos awesome, but this 18 minute visual album is a BLAST. We see Roksana dance suggestively while dressed as a bee on “Only Plants”, invent a new kind of currency, run for her life, party her ass off, and enjoy(?) an interesting afternoon on roller skates. By the end we are cathartically led to the conclusion of this short film’s essence- the end of the world.

An absolute rocketship of a debut from Los Angeles based Roksana, for whom the future seems bright.

From what I understand, there were limitations to the music in this visual album. The reason these were released as demos and not full songs was because they COULDN’T be, so the fact that Roksana pivoted and made this visual album with the help of “The Commune” in order to launch her career is impressively resilient and thoughtful.

My favorite track off of the album is the first one:

but they all hit.

I mean, just look at some of these screenshots from the same 18 minute visual album:

Give me a break. 10/10

Memo’s Monthly Favorites: July 2021

Hello everybody! Happy August! I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far. I am definitely enjoying my summer. Especially since a lot of great music has been dropping recently. Just like the weather, I’ve got some hot recommendations for you all today. Let’s jump into the honorable mentions.

Song Honorable Mentions:

99 Neighbors – Live a Little: I can’t believe I just discovered 99 Neighbors this past month. I’ve been sleeping on their music for way too long. 99 Neighbors is a rap group from Vermont. They remind me of both BROCKHAMPTON and Injury Reserve. On “Live a Little”, they come out the gates with a lot of charisma. Each member gave some cool verses. I love the jazzy instrumental. This track is a lot of fun. I will definitely be excited for any new music they make in the future.

Kevin Abstract – SLUGGER (feat. $NOT & slowthai): BROCKHAMPTON member, Kevin Abstract, is teasing his upcoming album with a total fucking banger. This track is the definition of “chaotic”. I love the cluttered instrumental. Kevin starts things off with a verse filled with a lot of energy and personality. $NOT sounds so badass during his verse. Slowthai went off. His different vocal inflections were insane. This track is FIRE! I can’t wait for Kevin’s new album.

Little Simz – I Love You, I Hate You: Little Simz keeps continuing her amazing single streak leading up to her new album. Just like “Introvert”, this track has a grand instrumental. The instrumental sounds so classy. Somehow, it still doesn’t outshine Little Simz pen game. She is very vulnerable on this track. I don’t want to spoil it, but man this shit is depressing. The amount of emotion in her words gives me goosebumps. This is a must-listen!

Vince Staples – ARE YOU WITH THAT?: Although I wasn’t in love with Vince Staples newest album, I did love this single from the album. I don’t know how he did it. Vince somehow was able to make a very catchy song while rapping about the horrors of street life. The beat, from Kenny Beats, is very moody. Vince raps in a nonchalant manner. On paper, a song like this shouldn’t be so addicting, but it is.

EP Honorable Mentions:

Yves Tumor – The Asymptotical World EP: Last year Yves Tumor dropped one of the best albums of the year. This year Yves dropped one of the best EP’s of the year. I like how breezy and catchy the songs can be on this art-rock EP. Yves vocals are killer. They are an amazing performer. I am sure their concerts are insane. Although I think Yves deserves to rest, I am glad they are spoiling us with more music. Thank you Yves Tumor!

Skepta – All In: UK rapper, Skepta, just recently dropped a tiny EP filled with bangers. I like how diverse this EP is. On one track, Skepta is rapping his ass off on a trap beat. On another track, he does a good spanish cut with J Balvin. As someone who doesn’t listen to Skepta often, I am both surprised and impressed with his ability to fit into a variety of musical styles. This EP isn’t anything crazy, but it is a good time. 

Albums Honorable Mentions:

SAULT – Nine: SAULT is back once again with another quality project. Not a lot of bands or artists can drop several good albums in a short time span like SAULT. Even though they make albums in a short time span, every album has well-crafted instrumentation. Each album has great lyrics. They cover several important topics on this album. This is a beautiful neo-soul album. It definitely deserves a listen.

IDK – USEE4YOURSELF: I was very hyped for this album. Although it didn’t meet my expectations, this album has a lot of highlights. “Shoot My Shot” with Offset is one of my favorite bangers of the year. “Hey Auntie”, with legend Slick Rick, is a vulnerable track with a heart-wrenching performance from IDK. The tracklist is diverse with the beats diving into several different hip hop subgenres. Even the features are pretty diverse. IDK got Young Thug, MF DOOM, T-Pain, SIR, and more on this album. IDK has a lot of potential. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Dave – We’re All Alone In This Together: Dave is a UK rapper known for his lyrics. He has proved in the past that he is an amazing lyricist and storyteller. He once again proves his skill set on this album. There are moments in this album that leave me speechless. For example, the transition from Dave to ShaSimone’s verse on “Both Sides of A Smile” is mindblowing. On “In The Fire”, Dave brought in the Avengers of UK rap on the same track for an insane posse cut. Dave is rapping his ass off on “Heart Attack”. When the beat ends he is still spitting bars. Although I wish this album was a bit more focused, this is an insanely good rap album.

Song of The Month:

James Blake – Say What You Will: Over the past couple of years, James Blake hasn’t missed in my opinion. This single continues the fantastic streak he has been having. James is basically singing about being happy with yourself. As always, James gives an amazing singing performance. The second half especially is where he really goes all in. This man has the voice of an angel. I am very impressed with this song. James is dropping an album this year, so that is very exciting. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

EP of The Month:

Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3: I think it was no secret this was going to be my EP of the year. On my YouTube channel, you can watch me fall in love with this EP on first listen. I reviewed this EP here on Indie Pong. This EP is amazing with some jaw-dropping production, astounding rapping, and gorgeous singing. The cohesiveness of this EP makes me excited for her next album. Imagine the greatness Tkay can create with a full-fledged album if she continues in this direction. She has so much potential. I can’t wait for whatever comes next.

Album of The Month:

Rejjie Snow – Baw Baw Black Sheep: Rejjie Snow is an Irish rapper. He thrives on these relaxed and chill jazz-infused beats. This album is such a pleasant listen. This album was meant to make you feel good. This is the perfect album to listen to when you’re out walking at a park during sunset. It makes you appreciate your surroundings. It makes you appreciate the little things in life. That’s at least what I got out of this album. I hope it does the same for you. Give this album a listen if you haven’t already.

These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!

Is This EP of The Year?: Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 by Tkay Maidza EP Review

Australian rapper and singer, Tkay Maidza, just released the final installment for her amazing Last Year Was Weird EP trilogy. As this is the final EP for the series, Tkay made sure to end off the trilogy with her best work yet. With the help from producer Dan Farber, Tkay Maidza takes us on a fun and pretty journey through the flower territory.

The first track off the EP, “Eden”, does a great job at not only setting the stage for the listener, but also transporting them into Tkay Maidza’s world. The flower territory if you will. The song title and lyrics refer to the Garden of Eden from the Bible. The Garden of Eden is a beautiful flower-filled paradise. In the lyrics, Tkay raps about how she is in a blessed position. She has garnered a lot of success and she doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon. I love how the instrumental gives off a heavenly feel to the song. The song starts off with some lushes strings. It is very dreamy and atmospheric. I love how the instrumental slowly start building up during her verse then explodes with some cool trap production once she sings the chorus. The following track, “Onto Me”, has this amazing earworm chorus. It is sticky like honey. In this track, Tkay Maidza and UMI raps about two different scenarios. Tkay is in a rocky relationship with a guy. Although things aren’t perfect, she is willing to try and work it out with him. UMI does the opposite. Instead of giving the guy who wants her back another chance, she tells him to move on. I think having these two different perspectives on one track was a very creative idea. The beat is amazing. The plucky guitar and scattered minimal production are fantastic.

“So Cold” is a summery dance track. The production here is so groovy. You know this is a great dance track when it is able to make my fat ass move. It is almost impossible not to dance to this song. On this track, she raps about how the guy she was with ended up being soulless. After she learns this, Tkay drops him quickly. I love the different flow switch up during her verse. Once again the chorus is very catchy. Stylistically, “Syrup” is a total 180. The second single to this EP consists of minimal yet hard-hitting production. I love how drowning and overwhelming the production is. Tkay is absolutely rapping her ass off all over his beat. Her lyrics are braggadocious. The chorus is pretty clever. She even dropped the quotable of the year with this line, “I go hard, I’m a boner”. Spoken like a true poet. 

The next track, “Kim”, is not only another single, but it is another massive banger. Hard Tkay is thriving on this one. Her performance is absolutely wild. Especially with this hard-hitting, kind of industrial beat. The chaotic “bitch, I’m Kim” shouting is insane. Tkay’s verse is fire. I just love how confident she is. The same can be said about Yung Baby Tate’s performance. Her verse was very charismatic. I’m loving the Kim Possible references throughout the entire track. This track is absolutely amazing. “High Beams” is a nice transition point from hard to soft Tkay. This track is a lot calmer. It started with some angelic vocals. With that said, Tkay’s rapping is still vicious. There’s a lot going on within the production. There are these haunting vocals prevalent throughout the track. This is an amazing track that helps transition into the next track.

“Cashmere” is the third, and my favorite, single released before the EP. I love how dreamy and pretty the production is. Tkay’s vocals are delicate. She comes across as very vulnerable. She is talking about how she has been hurt so many times throughout this relationship that she is in. She knows that she can’t handle being treated poorly any longer, so she ends up leaving him. The outro to this song is one of my favorite moments on the EP. She really sounds relieved during this portion of the song. “Breathe” is a grand and emotional way to end off the EP. First of all, I love the call back from ”Eden”. During the intro, we hear vocal snippets of Tkay saying “Breathe”. This is the exact same way the final track starts off. Also similar to “Eden”, “Breathe” has a gorgeous and grand instrumental. The beat drop on this track really hits hard. It gives such an emotional impact that matches perfectly with Tkay’s lyrics. Tkay talks about how no one really believed in her. Although she did become successful, she did make regretful decisions on the way. In the end, Tkay is reminiscing about the good times and she doesn’t want to leave. She just wants to stay.

You can tell from the beginning this EP trilogy means a lot to Tkay. You can tell this is the case when you listen to the grand intro, the impressive performances, and the emotional last bow on the final track. Tkay Maidza and Dan Farber put a lot of love and energy into this project. Seeing how passionate they were on this EP, I can’t wait to see what they would do on a full-fledged album together. The sky’s the limit for these two.

Wednesday: Interview and Live Performance

Read a story of perseverance and triumph against all odds as I recap my interview with one of my favorite bands, Wednesday.

This interview was off to a blazing hot start from the get go as Karly Hartzman announced that there was a bear (a fucking bear) in their yard.

Jake Lenderman (guitar) and Xandy Rooben (muse of the band) joined us for one of my favorite interviews to date as the three of them were an absolute joy to talk to and left zero doubt as to why they are on such a fast ascent to stardom. We were excited to begin discussing new singles ‘Handsome Man’ and ‘Cody’s Only’ and the upcoming probably AOTY coming on 8/13…

That’s when things got blurry.

During the most important interview to ever be conducted in history, my home experienced a power outage. My neighbor called and LADWP said it was an 1800 home outage.

Sadly along with my unprecedentedly pink and blurry face, my audio had also become distorted, to the point that it made the interview unwatchable.

Ben Affleck Smoking Through the Pain of Existence

Fortunately Wednesday’s answers came through clearly, which is why this time around I am transcribing the interview here on the blog.

Even more fortunately, Wednesday’s PERFORMANCE CAME THROUGH CRYSTAL CLEAR, giving some some quality footage to use.

Extremely Happy GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Here’s the full interview video for anyone who wants to watch, but be forewarned that the audio makes it tough at times:

Without further ado:

What moment in music history would you buy as an NFT?

NFTs are bad for the environment, but let’s say in an ideal world where they weren’t for this example.

Jake: George Jones driving a tractor to the liquor store after a several day drinking binge

I didn’t know about this lol

Karly: Dolly Parton’s nails from the classic concert that Dust To Digital just released on video

Alan (via comments): Smashing Pumpkins, London ’93

What are some of your biggest musical influences?

Karly: This past year and right around the time we were recording it was Unwound, a big one for me right now.

Jake: Smashing Pumpkins. We try to layer guitars like that.

Karly: I like the Swirlies a lot, they’re one of my favorite bands ever. We also like a lot fo country music, especially when we’re grilling or sitting on the porch, it’s like the only thing that makes sense for what we’re look at and what we’re eating, which is usually hot dogs.

Besides from music, what are some other mediums of art that you think have influenced you?

Karly: I do a lot of sewing, I’m actually about to drop a bunch of Wednesday shirts that are handmade. Jake likes to paint trucks, and Xandy is a baker, which actually plays into the way we write music.

As we went in depth into this Karly mentioned that she a line of brand new handmade Wednesday shirts, available here. Here’s a preview:

What artists are killing it right now, and who should we watch out for?

Jake: Dan Wriggins, Michael Cormier, Fust, Colin Miller, bandmate Margo recommends Lavender Blue

Karly: Space Heater, Orindal Records, Dearlife Records, Jake’s album (MJ Lenderman), Walkhome, Zach Romeo, Harsh Realm

Xandy: Green-House

And also SECRET SHAME (of the 2020 Indie Pong playlist 🙂)

What artist’s discography would you take with you to a desert island for a month?

Xandy: Arthur Russell

Karly: Space Heater, final answer

Jake: Island Book Soundtrack by Lewis Dahm (made for the graphic novel Island Book by Evan Dahm)

In addition to all of this we discussed fun things to do in Asheville, shopping local and avoiding the new chains popping up (especially Harvest Records), baking on tour, and a myriad of other fun topics.

Anyways, take it away Wednesday!

Memo’s Monthly Favorites: May 2021

Hello everybody! Happy June! I hope you are all doing well. This past month was pretty busy for me. My semester ended last month, so that means I had finals to worry about. Somehow I passed all of my classes so yay me! Now that my semester is over I can finally focus a bit more on music. Speaking of music, I’ve got some recommendations for you all today, so let’s jump into the honorable mentions.

Song Honorable Mentions:

Chimurenga Renaissance, King Britt, and Nadine Stoddart – Zimbabwe: I got to thank the homie Mates for this song recommendation. This track is fire! As you might have guessed from the song title, this track takes heavy musical inspiration from Zimbabwe’s culture. This hip-hop track has traditional Zimbabwe sounds sprinkled throughout the track. Nadine’s singing is not only great, but she sings in her native language which adds even more to the song in my opinion. The rap verse was tight, but I just wish there was a bit more. One verse wasn’t enough for me. Overall great track! Mates came through with this recommendation. 

Bungalow Collect – Tell Me Where To Go: This might be the smoothest track of the month. Bungalow Collect consists of members Apollo J, Zay Suaz, Marcus Isiah, and Rshad. Each member absolutely killed it. This group is so charismatic. I promise after the first listen you will be hooked. The rapping from both Apollo J and Rshad are FIRE! The chorus from Zay and Marcus is extremely entertaining. I love the groovy production. It somehow feels old school and new school at the same time. This song is filled with great vibes. I can’t get enough of it. PLEASE GIVE IT A LISTEN! I AM BEGGING!

DMX – Bath Salts (feat. JAY-Z & Nas): This song is a must-listen for not only New York hip hop fans, but for hip hop fans in general. Three New York rap legends on one song. JAY-Z starts things off sounding hungry over this dark and grimy beat. He didn’t come to play. This man is spitting. “Every six months, I think I need a new bucket list” is probably my favorite line off the track. With that said both Nas and DMX had great bars and quotables. When Nas said, “Ha, let’s put success to the side, I’d still be this fly if I worked at Popeye’s, That’s a whole lotta spinach, whole game full of gimmicks, Make a fool out of yourself for a post on Akademiks”, I started geeking out. The late legend, DMX, went in. This line, in particular, got me laughing, “I’m taking half, it’s just that simple Or I can start poppin’ niggas like pimples”. Even in DMX’s later years, he was still able to give entertaining verses. This song is from DMX’s posthumous album Exodus. Give it a listen, especially if you are a fan of hip hop.

EP Honorable Mentions:

Paris Texas – BOY ANONYMOUS: This fiery duo just dropped some heat on this EP. Throughout this entire project, Paris Texas delivers some crazy moments. For example, the outro of “CASINO” is fucking insane! I love how it transitions into the following track “PACK 4 DA LOW”. Paris Texas has a lot of energy when they rap. Although I prefer their in-your-face rapping, when they slow things down on songs like “AREA CODE” the outcome turns out pretty cool. What stands out the most to me is the chemistry Louie Pastel and Felix have. Everything sounded so natural. Nothing sounded forced. I can’t wait to see what they do next. This is an exciting experimental rap duo that you should keep an eye out for.

Album Honorable Mentions:

Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti: Mach-Hommy has been a fan favorite in the underground for a while now. Pray For Paris is the first project I have listened to from Mach. Although I wouldn’t say this is the best rap album of the year, I do see why he has such a dedicated fan base and has garnered the attention of JAY-Z and Drake. He is a great lyricist with several cool quotables like, “I’ll put that biscuit to your tee like it’s England”. Throughout the album Mach tributes Haiti which is where he is from. Thanks to Westside Gunn, who executive produced the album, this album has a grimy feel to it. If you are a fan of Griselda you will love this album.

CHAI – WINK: This album is the perfect example of not needing to know the language to enjoy the music. CHAI is a female Japanese band consisting of four members: Yuna, Kana, Mana, and Yuuki. Although there is some English in this album it is mostly in Japanese. I have no idea what they are saying, but the singing is so pretty. Pretty might be the best adjective to describe the album. From the singing to the production, each song is so pretty. Some standout tracks I want to mention include “PING PONG!” featuring YMCK. I love the video game-like production. “Maybe Chocolate Chips” has a great feature from Rick Wilson. He sounds a lot like JID to me. Although the closing track is only one minute long, I love the serenity “SALTY” provides. Great album! Give it a listen.

Tony Allen – There Is No End: Tony Allen is a drummer hailing from Nigeria. He, unfortunately, passed away last year, but his music lives on with this new posthumous album. There Is No End is an exciting album filled with amazing instrumentals and incredible features. Sampa The Great, Koreatown Oddity, Danny Brown, and Skepta did their thing on their respective tracks. Some of the features I didn’t know going into this album blew my mind like Zelooperz and Marlowe. I love the music off of this album, but I think the best part of the album is how Tony Allen started and ended the album. Tony Allen wanted to remind the listener that music never ends, it lives forever. I just thought this was a beautiful statement. Tony Allen’s work will definitely live forever.

Song Of The Month:

Lil Nas X – SUN GOES DOWN: I need to let the cat out of the bag. Lil Nas X’s music has been a “guilty pleasure” of mine since the release of the 7 EP. I basically love everything he has dropped and “SUN GOES DOWN” is no exception. The production on this track is pretty simple. It basically consists of some trap drums and a calm loop consistently playing in the background. It is simple but effective. Lyrically Lil Nas X is in a very vulnerable place. He basically talks about his struggle figuring out his identity growing up, his struggle with depression, and at the end, he reassures his younger self. Although I love “Montero”, I think “SUN GOES DOWN” is the best he has released this year. Dare I say, the best song he has released in his career.

EP Of The Month:

Audrey Nuna – a liquid breakfast: Audrey Nuna is such an interesting artist to me. On the surface, she seems kind of dull with her monotone delivery, but she is the complete opposite. Yes, her delivery on this EP is pretty monotone, but she can rap. Her flows can be very impressive from a technical standpoint. The combination of the monotone and impressive rapping with these dreary beats sounds so cool together. What surprised me the most is finding out she can sing. She has a nice voice. I wish she sang a bit more on this EP. Especially without autotune because she proves on “Long Year” that she doesn’t need heavy autotune. Overall I really liked the EP. I hope she will be working on an album soon.

Album Of The Month:


CZARFACE and MF DOOM – Super What?: The first time I found out CZARFACE and MF DOOM were working together I knew it was going to be awesome. They both are known for having a comic book-inspired persona. It’s a match made in heaven. Czarface Meets Metal Face was amazing and so is Super What? Although it’s predictable at this point, I absolutely love the cartoony production style and the comic book references in the lyrics. Esoteric, Inspectah Deck, MF DOOM, and the features rapped their asses off. With this album most likely being the last project MF DOOM would have his name on, I think this is a great album to end off his discography. This is exactly what I wanted from these guys. I can’t ask for more!

These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!