13 Beats: Quarantine Edition


Tristan Niskanen, Maroon-News Staff

  1. “Holding On for Life” by Broken Bells

This Broken Bells song sounds like it could be a disco or 80s hit. It comes from Broken Bells’ second album, appropriately called After the Disco. Broken Bells is a powerhouse indie-alternative duo consisting of James Mercer, of the Shins and the producer mastermind Danger Mouse.

  1. “Harm in Charge” by Toro y Moi

Toro y Moi (Chaz Bundick) has a proclivity for making new sounds every time he makes a record. He’s dabbled in every genre and “Harm in Charge” borrows elements from house, indie, pop and R&B.

  1. “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” by D’Angelo

There’s nothing quite like D’Angelo’s Voodoo album. It’s a true classic, now 20 years old. The album is the definitive neo-soul album and an example of music produced and arranged extremely well. This song is one of the lead singles and one of D’Angelo’s most popular songs.

  1. “Ezekiel’s Wheel (ft. The-Dream)” by Jay Electronica

For over a decade, the hip-hop world has anxiously awaited Jay Electronica’s debut album. The album, A Written Testimony, arrived earlier this month and was mostly produced by Jay Electronica. Jay-Z appears on multiple tracks, including this one, but is uncredited. This song stands out because of the ethereal chorus from “The-Dream.”

  1. “Fall in Love” by Slum Village

One of my favorite tracks produced by J Dilla. The beat is so crisp and smooth. The main sample comes from a Gap Mangione song called “Diana in the Autumn Wind.” This is probably Slum Village’s best known song and was also sampled by Chance the Rapper on his “Everybody’s Something.”

  1. “Can’t We Smile?” by Johnny “Hammond” Smith

The orbiting production that sets up this track is very wobbly. Then come in some smooth harmonies that are full of love and some sadness. It’s loosely sampled on Erykah Badu’s “Time’s a Wastin.”

  1. “Weird Honey” by Elvis Depressedly

Elvis Depressedly are geniuses of lo-fi indie rock. Their music sounds distorted and muted but still oddly smooth. This trance inducing song is reminiscent of a Pavement song from their Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain days. The guitar solo that closes out this song is simple but feels timeless.

  1. “Wait a Minute!” by WILLOW

A song that sounds right for spring. The guitar is soft and cute. The drums, consistent. The bass is walking. WILLOW just works her magic with curious delivery, fun phrases and strong vocals throughout.

  1. “Topdown” by Channel Tres

Channel Tres is making some undeniably funky dance music. “Topdown” comes from his debut, self-titled EP. The vocals and bass are the highlights of this track. The Compton native also throws in some classic G-funk synths at the end in the mode of Dr. Dre.

  1. “Surrender (ft. Dr. Chill)” by Jhené Aiko

This song is from Jhené Aiko’s new album, Chilombo. Everything about this album says chill. From the album title to the sounds you hear when you press play. Even the feature on this song refers to the album’s chillness. Besides, who can hate Dr. Chill?

  1. “Just a Cloud Away” by Pharrell Williams

On the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, this song plays right before the ubiquitous “Happy.” “Just a Cloud Away” is a nice contrast to the uber upbeat “Happy.” Although it’s still positive, it’s more laid back. The chorus is catchy but won’t get stuck in your head endlessly like “Happy.”

  1. “Strange Days” by the Doors

Given the times, it’s only right to include the Doors. We sure are living in some strange days. The times feel pretty psychedelic like this song. Everything about this song is strange and weird. It’s a good rock song but definitely not for everyday play.

  1. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police

Following the last song, I couldn’t resist adding this song in our time of social distancing. Although about very different material than COVID-19, the song still applies. It’s pretty catchy in itself too.