I’m leaving Thailand, and my good friend here who has let me live with her for awhile, owns a coffee shop. When she first told me about it, she said she wanted it to be like an art gallery, filled with fun and colorful paintings.
I remember reading this quote once floating around somewhere…
At first glance, Tommi Postley does not look like an R&B singer. The 20-something year young adult carries a stern gaze, with his serious forehead and piercing eyes. His scowl is almost too intimidating for his stature; although a tall and large guy, his height doesn’t make him seem tough - in fact, he looks like a cuddly teddy bear trying too hard to gain the respect of a ferocious grizzly bear.
Tommi is, to many, a gentle creature, but he doesn’t crack a smile until he realizes he knows you. And once the familiarity kicks in, he won’t stop laughing, smiling, joking and jiving.
Yet, still, one wouldn’t call him an R&B singer.
He wears a beanie (his favorite is a purple one), several beaded bracelets around his wrists, solid colored clothing and lots of hoodies. And let’s not forget his main accessory - a pair of earbuds. One is usually broken and dangling from the split wire cord that holds the two buds together. Dangling like a tired, trepidus twin. (Tommi actually has a twin. But they’re far from trepidus).
Nope, he’s nothing like the rhythm and blues crooners from the late 80s and 90s and certainly not like the trying-too-hard-to-be-everything R&B singers of today.
Tommi doesn’t even consider himself an R&B singer. First and foremost, he would say he’s a rapper - Tommi Truthz. Before that, he’d say he’s a drummer. Above that, a metal music lover. But he’s also an all around musician, skilled at composing experimental instrumentals and lending a hand (or ear, or vocal chord, or lyric) to a wide range of artists that he collaborates with. There’s at least 8 other outlets he’s musically committed to, both officially and unofficially, one of which includes the soulful The Stoners. It’s actually a sight to see him perform live with this eclectic band. His short dreads fly all around his head like Medusa’s violent snakes while he thrashes his drum set.
On his latest EP, Dearly Autumn, Sincerely Winter, he does what many didn’t expect and what so much more anticipated - he sang. And the sound that escapes from such a cuddly giant with shoulder length copper-tipped dreads is something worth buying functioning earbuds for.
He’s not a perfect or conventional sounding R&B vocalist. His voice often cracks, he talks behind his harmonies, he has an audible breath. And, like most vocalists, he has to jump back into old experiences rather than voluntarily turn on his emotions in order to work. But all of these imperfections (or perfections) makes his music more meaningful. And it heightens his bright moments. For one, he does have an interesting vocal range, one that his engineer DJ CNote can easily understand and manipulate. And also, his experiences with playing so many different roles as a musician, from producer to songwriter to instrumentalist to rapper, grants him the power to easily understand all of the mechanics behind his music and effectively execute a song.
On DASW, which he considers his singing debut, Tommi Truthz and DJ CNote challenge the ideas of love, loss and epiphany. The two utilize cliche R&B sounds (a deep-voice, Boyz II Men-esque announcement greets you at the beginning of “A Night To Remember”), experiment with old and new styles (“Catch You” Interlude is a completely acapella joint), and express their vocal abilities. It’s filled with subjects taken from experience and scenario and layered with intense and dramatic harmonizing. Some subtle and not so subtle sampling is involved, and the duo also does not forget to rap on some of the tracks. The piece, in its entirety, can best be described as an honest outlook on failed relationships, while still harboring the optimism for future true love.
It automatically opens with a melancholy tone, with tracks like the reflective “The Level” and the apologetic “One Mistake”. From “Expendable” to “Catch You”, the songs have a more regrettable nature, but nonetheless, still mournful and attached to negative past experiences. However, between “Lover’s Quarrel” and “A Night To Remember”, there is a realization of acceptance, and oddly enough, an attempt to reconcile. The piece closes with two songs that are surprisingly hopeful and hint at a new prospect; “Summer Love” and “What’s Love”. The flow of the story provides several interpretations for listeners, one of which proposes the idea that “A Night To Remember” describes that final moment you connect with a failed lover before saying goodbye.
In Dearly Autumn, Sincerely Winter, Tommi shows that he is not a typical R&B singer at all. He is a young man with raw emotions, past regrets, desire for redemption and an aspiration for a meaningful relationship. This project reeks of vulnerability; with its uninhibited vocals, personal lyrics and down to earth material. Tommi’s musical nudity is often more humbling than the stoic yet romanticizing aura of everyday R&B.
photo: Hong Kong Rocks. @ The Bitter End, NYC.
Murray almost New Year ya’ll!
If you read my list last year, you know the deal. I take 12 albums from the year that I believe were absolutely stellar, and apply them to the months I think best describe it’s mood for listening. Hmm…this year was a leap year…February had the 29th…should I make it 13 albums this year? Only makes sense, since we are entering 2013.
Okay! 13 albums it is. I will either create an imaginary month or Feb will have 2 albums. BAM.
Remember, this list may include EPs and independent artists. I must warn you that I haven’t listened to many albums this year that were considered greatly acclaimed. Also, I have not read not one end of the year list from any publication. No Pitchfork. No Stereogum. No Complex. : twitches: Not even Rollingstone! Hope you enjoy.
Oh! Almost forgot. I’ll try to keep it shorter than last year. Please excuse my word farting from last time.
January: Band OF Skulls - Sweet Sour
Sweet Sour is filled with everything I desire in a rock collection - erratic guitars, emotional vocals, boisterous drums, and some heavy hitting lyrics. I started listening to this band this year. They were referred to me by a great fan, and I’m glad I lent my ears to their brooding, passionate rock. They come hard with the infectious joint “Sweet Sour”, truth telling track “Lies” and the stunner Wanderluster, but also know how to wind it down with a smooth ode like “Lay My Head Down”. An all around great listen.
February: Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough?
So wonderfully articulated and expressed, LLH’s American debut album is totally precious. The album shows the perfect transitions between a relationship or relationships, and is highlighted by her strong and sultry voice. There’s a healthy balance of unrequited love songs, love songs, redemption and rediscovery songs and empowering ones. She’s a killer songwriter and composer, which makes this album feel so homemade and personal. Check out “Forget”, “They Could Be Wrong”, “Don’t Wake Me Up” and “No Room For Doubt”.
Yes! Seasons change. March it is.
And I refuse to talk about Kilo Kish, no matter how cute she is.
My heart melts when I think about her music. In fact, her lyrics can be so dead on it that I have to avoid listening to her, for fear that I will morph into a down and out crazy hoe or become a puddle of tears. Anywho, she is another artist who made a graceful and unforgettable U.S. debut this year. Yuna is all about making metaphors and painting pictures, so songs like “Tourist” and “Island” will sweep you off your feet. She’s also a beast at making the sweetest love songs, like “Favourite Thing”. Yet, she can be totally down to earth with “Fading Flower” and “Live Your Life.” Oh Yuna, from Malayzjer. Please, also listen to her Decorate EP and Malaysian releases if you’re obsessed.
Phonytember: Phony Ppl, Phonyland
I thought it would be fun to make a month for Phony Ppl. I also think they deserve it, considering how much great work they’ve done and music they’ve made this year. Performing at Afropunk, with Erykah Badu, The Internet and The Roots, I’m very excited to see what 2013 brings for these musicians. Phonyland is their second EP, followed by a later release this year, Nothing Special. But we’ll talk about Phonyland. The production on this joint was solid, featuring live drums, sax, guitars, and Dyme, Sheriff PJ’s and Elbee Thrie’s charming vocals. Some favorites are “I Wish I Was a Chair”, “Morning Light”, “Iii Think About You Sometimes” and “John Jay”. But what’s most loveable about this band is their on stage chemistry; its an absolutely wonderful experience witnessing them live.
April: Regina Spektor - What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
What I appreciate about Ms. Spektor is that she does more than sing in her music. She often makes sounds or weird noises, that are sometimes unexpected, often creative, and always strangely appropriate. In this album, she truly reaches a new height to her aesthetic and serves some thoughtful and wonderful songs. Some songs are studio recordings of songs she performed live earlier in her career, while others are entirely new. “Oh Marcello” is one of my favourites, sucking me into the album early on. However, the whole collection is something special. Spektor knows control of her voice and is very aware of what she wants to articulate. Ah, word farting. Its just an amazing listen. I’ll stop here.
May: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Is it safe to talk about Mr. Ocean yet? Please? I couldn’t go through a list without bringing him up. Can I do a split first? A cartwheel? Some spins? Just to show my enamoration for this masterpiece. Am I gassing too much? :pumps gas into Frank O’s car:
I wrote a 5 page thesis statement on why this album is spectacular. Just kidding It was more like a very long album review that is still online. :cringes: I think I went beyond decent writing and into complete fandom on that one. Forgive me! I’m a growing writer.
I’m using too much space on his Channel Orange. I will briefly say that this album went there - emotionally, lyrically, aesthetically and vocally. He spoke about important topics in society, like teenage pregnancy,(Sierra Lione) dumb rich kids, (Super Rich Kids), drug abuse in and out of relationships, (Pilot Jones +Crack Rock) unrequited love (Bad Religion, yes! That is an important topic in society), the evolution of the woman and how we perceive her* (Pyramids), touring (Monks), vagina! MAJIN BUU! (Pink Matter dawg)- complete with clever audible imagery and stacks on stacks on stacks of wordplay.
Can we teach this album in school? Assigned listening for class? Can he win a Grammy? Frank, do you like chocolate milkshakes? Frank, will you murray me?
Yay! I love the Summer time. :SuperMario voice: Here we go!
June: Frankie Rose - Interstellar
At times silent and swift, then rambunctious and playful, Frankie’s Intersellar is a sweet, disco-rock joyride. With bells, horns, synths, keyboards and happy drums, this album can be both loud and laid back. The beginning of her album is consistently fun, from the title track to “Daylight Sky”. But for me, the album truly starts at “Pair of Wings”, a sweet and simple song filled with repetition and harmony. Followed by “Had We Had It” and “Night Swim”, the album transitions smoothly while still sticking to her true vibe. Her melodies are completely contagious - I could see a lot of people jamming to this, especially my rap fiend friends. Ah. What a great way to start Summer. Listen to “Apples For The Sun.”
July: Blind Benny - No Honor EP
Jade<3 is extremely cute and so tiny but her voice is huge. That’s the best way I can describe her. When her and Jonathan came out with No Honor, I realized how much stronger their sound was becoming. Blind Benny does a great job of releasing some deep romantic emotions, something I’ve always appreciated from them. Most importantly, they do it in crafty ways. “Chewjitsu” and “Sweet Sweet” are as energetic they are sincere, while songs like “Goodness” and “No Honor” are dynamic and melancholy. Especially “No Honor.” That song has such a haunting effect.
August: Robert Glasper - Black Radio
O man o man. This right here was a cool project. The Robert Glasper Experiment delivered a collection of songs featuring an abundance of artists, such as Bilal, King, Erykah Badu, Chrisete Michelle, Musiq Soulchild and Mos Def. Black Radio is a lovely ode to neo-soul music and rhythm and blues, done in such a rich manner that it leaves you feeling happy, romantic, nostalgic and full. “Ah Yeah” is great, nothing more or less. “Move Love” is a very sensual track, and “Why Do We Try” with Stokely is another lovely tune. But “Cherish The Day” with Lalah Hathaway is quite stunning.
HA! We’s in Autumn and I’m not talmbout, TALMBOUT The Weeknd. I say, I SAID at all. :blows raspberries:
September: The Internet - Purple Naked Ladies P1 and P2
I am totally cheating on this one. This album came out in December of 2011, digitally, but it was physically released in January of 2012. Most publications didn’t post reviews on it till this January. Also, the second part of PNL came out this year. So technically…this album passes for a 2012 joint!
(It was between The Internet and Kimbra…but as much as I love Kimbra, I didn’t enjoy her American Vows so much. Her Australian Vows was much better, and that came out in 2011. BAM.)
PNL didn’t receive great reviews. But I thought it was a pretty dope debut. It has Coco O. from Quadron on it, bringing sparkle to “Visions” and “Ode To a Dream”, as well as appearances from Kilo Kish, Left Brain, Mike G. and Pyramid Vritra. But apart from that, Syd and Matt distinguished themselves as a soulful, electric, creative duo. Listen to “She Dgaf”, “The Garden”, “Partners in Crime” and “Lonely Notes.”
October: Flylo - Until The Quiet Comes
FlyLo said that this project is filled with music intended for children to dream to. I don’t know. I think I read it on Pitchfork or something. I think thats a more than adequate description for the album, no? The sounds are completely spaced out, other-wordly, ethereal even, and all around imaginative. FlyLo has a way of storytelling through his sounds. His roots make his music even more colourful and intense (raised in LA, Coltraine blood) In my opinion, this album is one of the most perfect things I’ve listened to this year. That scares me sometimes.
Listen to the whole album. Straight. And close your eyes. You can touch yourself too, if you’d like.
November: Jessie Ware - Devotion
Yo this album is so sexy. So sexy. Sheesh! But I think I am way more obsessed with the title track than with the whole album. I’m usually not overly impressed with title tracks, but Devotion the song is dope!
Okay. Done jizzing.
I noticed Ms. Ware due to her features with SBTRKT and Sampha. I’m so glad that the Brit songstress now has her solo album out, because she’s truly a gem. When she sings, it sounds effortless, as if she’s not trying hard at all to make you like her. I appreciate her songs “Sweet Talk”, “Night Light”, “Strangest Feelings” and of course “110%” (who can deny that Big Pun sample?) This is another album that’ll emotionally take you there, but in a very comforting way.
December: Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.A.A.D. City
From this moment on, please read my words in Kendrick Lamar’s rapping voice. Try it! I like to use his voice from “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” It makes this long ass post more entertaining.
I am not a rap enthusiast.* The most I can say is that, as a child, I knew all the lyrics to Biggie’s Ready to Die album, I was into old school sounds like those of Tribe, I was in love with Bone Thugs and Harmony’s flow, I listened to 50 cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying religiously while doing homework, and I worshipped Eminem, Other than that, I stopped listening to rap sometime in Junior High because a, I was starting to believe I was a gangster and had a gat in my left jeans back pocket and 2, rappers became boring. With that said, the fact that I enjoy this album so much means I am either B, returning to my rap phase, 4, am following the hype or maybe this album is extremely special.
I’ll lean on the last one. I think this project shed more light on some very important topics, like gang violence, coming of age, peer pressure, parental pressure, sex, and finding oneself. I admire that it’s in narrative form, even being cinematic at times, and that it contains so many of Kendrick’s voices - from his conscience, to his id impulse, to his superego foreshadowing. I also dig that it challenges the ideas of religious values versus human nature and insecurities.
And who doesn’t love those Sonnymoon features? Anna Wise and Kendrick sound very very nice together. I hope they make more music.
Albums I listened to that didn’t make it:
Lana Del Ray - Born to Die
Matt and Kim’s Lightning
Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe
Beach House’s Bloom
The Killer’s Battle Born
John Mayer Born and Raised
Kimbra: Vows (American Version)
The Temper Trap
Sky Ferraira’s Ghost
Albums I wish I listened to:
The Fray : Scars and Stories*
Yeasayer: Fragrant World
Keane : Strangeland
Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions
Grizzly Bear’s Shields*
The Xx : Coexist
Jason Mraz : Love is a Four Letter Word
Esperanza Spalding: Radio Music Society
Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream
Well, I still can. There’s always next year.
Other than that, I’ve been listening to a bunch of old but rediscovered artists and albums.
My fave artists + finds this year:
Redline Graffiti* (Hearts, rainbows, love!)
As Tall As Lions (even though they split up)
Bad Bad Not Good
The Middle east
Full Crate and Mar
Before I close, did you know that:
-God forgives, but Rick Ross doesn’t?
-Green Day came out with 3 albums this year…
-Both Lana Del Rey and Nicki Minaj rereleased their one album.
-I didn’t listen to Cruel Summer!
-Taylor Swift and Ne-Yo both named their albums “Red.”
- Rihanna makes an album every year.
-There’s “A$AP Rocky” and “Aesop Rock”. :)
- Perhaps fun. has taken Panic! At the Disco’s throne?
Things that stayed the same in 2012:
- Flo Rida’s name is still Florida, and he is still making bad but catchy pop music.
-Will.I.Am’s name is still William, and he’s still successful at making a dope beat and comeback song. (Peep his track with Britney, bitch.)
Artists to look out for next year:
Toro Y Moi*
Janelle Monae (crosses fingers!)
Away in Ostend
Tegan and Sara
Little Dragon (I hope)
Thunder, Thunda, THUNDERCAT!
Lykke Li (?)
Geez. This was a long year.
Oh snap, me think I have new favourite album! (Ahem, fave Winter album.)
Its called “This Silence Kills” by this German woman called Dillon. At first I thought she sounded like Lykke Li. But I hate comparing artists, and once I got past the similarities I fell in love.
I think I need a singer like her right now. I’m currently a down and out souldier, and her music relates to that. Her crispy, soft but endearing voice married with her dark but beautiful lyrics serve as a perfect match. I was digging her songs “This silence kills”, “you are my winter” and “tip tapping”, but then I got to “_______” and “undying need to scream” and I knew she was becoming my best friend. Then out of nowhere on “Texture of my blood” she sings, “let him taste the texture of my blood lacking iron…gates to my heart”, and I thought “oh shit! What a metaphor!” And I can relate to both - the no iron in blood thing and the no iron gates thing.
I like how she or her engineer arranges her voice on songs. On the title track, her voice goes in and out as her vocals wildly dances with the instrumentals. And she continues this aesthetic on her other songs by singing over and with herself. Its quite lovely. She sounds almost childlike and whiny, but still so womanly and strong.
So right now I’m so connected to a party of emotional singers with great songwriting skills. Oh, this sad soul I am. But “sadness is a blessing” right? And “when it hurts so bad, why does it feel so good”? Shut up, Alisha.
Mm. But this is a pretty stellar album.
As i sit here, finally listening to the Jeff Buckley Grace CD that I purchased last weekend, I can’t help but think that his music sounds so beautiful to me because he is gone.
Yes, his voice is effortlessly ethereal, wondrous and wounded sounding, wispy and empowering. His lyrics are filled…
Jhene Aiko “mirrors”
I can’t stop listening to this song. Perhaps Jhene put crack in the instrumentals. Or maybe it’s because her voice has a flow like water. She sounds so velvety within her songs. I especially dig this one!
Jhene is one artist who has grown tremendously. I always admired her during her B2K days. But she’s truly blossomed into one sultry songstress and songwriter.
Needless to say, I anticipate Souled Out.
Her visuals for Mirrors is Black Swan-esque, with noir and a lot more horror. Both cinematic and engaging, she seems inspired as well as intimidated by her reflection. Her eye make up is pretty dope too.