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Menahan Street Band is an amalgamation of various musical disciplines spanning years of collective musical exploration by its individual members: Thomas Brenneck (Budos Band, The Expressions, Los Yesterdays), Dave Guy (The Roots, Late Night House Band, The Dap-Kings), Nick Movshon (Lee Fields and the Expressions, The Black Keys, The Avalanches), Leon Michels (Big Crown Records, El Michels Affair, The Black Keys) and Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings, Holy-Hive, Lee Fields and the Expressions) - each contribute a unique perspective and approach. Set against the backdrop of their home base of New York City, they have yielded a signature sound that has been the foundation for some of modern hip-hop's most successful beats; their music has been sampled by the likes of Eminem, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, 50 Cent, Curren$y, to name a few.
Label: Western Vinyl
Across eight tracks that mesh spacious, jazz-laced composition with fourth-world and adult-contemporary tonality, Toronto saxophonist Joseph Shabason sketches an auditory map of the transcendence, unity, conditioning, and eventual renunciation of his upbringing in an Islamic and Jewish dual-faith household. The resulting album The Fellowship bears the name of the insular Islamic community Shabason’s traditionally Jewish parents belonged to from a time before he was even born; a mental and spiritual push-pull which continued shaping, even controlling, his outlook well into his adulthood. As a listening experience, The Fellowship follows a chronological arc that spans three generations covering his parents’ early lives, his own spiritual and physical adolescence, and his subsequent struggle to eschew the problematic habituations of such a conflicted past. On The Fellowship, as on prior albums that bear his name, Joseph Shabason does what only the best instrumental music makers can: tell a story with emotional clarity that conveys even the subtlest of feelings, all without singing a single word. As wordless as ever-- with as complex a theme as ever-- this album may be his most emotionally articulate yet. Most importantly, those lost in the woods of repression and self-doubt that organized religion can be at its worst now have The Fellowship to help guide them into softer light.
Label: Warner Records
Coming on the scene with a throwback style that betrayed his years, Pittsburgh-based rapper and producer Mac Miller combined languid vocals, playful rhymes, and hypnotic production influenced by OutKast, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and Lauryn Hill. His debut full-length, Blue Slide Park, topped the charts upon release. Subsequent efforts kept him in the Top Five into 2016, when he hit another peak with The Divine Feminine, which topped the R&B and rap charts. Miller followed up with the Top Three-charting Swimming in 2018, but the rapper died a month after the album's release. Following his death, his albums crashed the Billboard 200 as mourning fans flocked to his early output. Miller's first posthumous album, Circles, was completed by producer Jon Brion and released in early 2020, peaking at number three on the U.S. charts.
Label: Mello Music
Marlowe is a collaborative alt-rap project from Seattle-based hip-hop producer L'Orange and North Carolina-based rapper Solemn Brigham. Their unique blend of quickfire vocals and dusty breakbeats is most well-known on tracks such as "Lost Arts" and "Cold Open." The project came together in 2018 with the sole intent of marrying Brigham's lyrics concerning social commentary, police brutality, and poverty with L'Orange's thudding beats and crackling vinyl samples to achieve a new, refreshing take on hip-hop in the late 2010s. They made their first appearance in mid- to late 2018 with the track "Lost Arts." Their self-titled LP soon followed via Mello Music Group.
TOPS was formed in Montreal in 2011 when song-writing duo David Carriere and Jane Penny decided to join forces with drummer Riley Fleck. Since then they have become one of the most influential underground bands of the past decade, creating a space for sophisticated pop music in the indie world.
Their tendency to opt towards making straight-forward stripped-down and honest recordings let their pop songwriting shine out in the open. With a heart firmly attached to their sleeves, their songcraft delves into the emotional intricacy of personal relationships, asking questions about power and desire. Riley Fleck’s measured drumming and David Carriere’s trademark guitar licks mesh with Marta Cikojevic’s lush keyboards. All these elements work in tandem and in service of Jane Penny’s unmistakable, wistful voice.