The Band Camino’s 5-track EP feels so good. Waves of nostalgic love and summer happiness wash over every song as one spills flawlessly into the next. Themes of California sunshine transcend throughout, but these Memphis natives know how to keep rock alive.
Opening track, “California” feels like a love letter. “I’ve been home, I’m waitin on ya, drove all the way from California,” repeat over and over making love a sense of urgency. The buildup then breakdown at 4:15 make you wish you were lacing up your Converse for a Warped Tour set.
The band spoke out about their new music on Instagram saying, “Taking feelings and thoughts and turning them into something tangible is a careful task. But we have done our very very best to give you the most honest expression of the band that we are. We hope that these songs are there when you need them forever and always.”
“What I Want” starts off with the words, “Second chances, they don’t bother me.” Lyrics build and build to a chant-heavy chorus reminiscent of one of the band’s main influences, pop/alt band Walk the Moon. While the message is about failing and never getting what you want, the overarching element of “moving on” is prominent. A similar message is shared on the bands lead single, “My Thoughts On You.” Another love letter begging for an ending to turn into another beginning; “and I know this, I fell for your eyes, I just realized, I still need you.” The band has mastered their own sound with glistening guitar melodies and triumphant choruses.
Lyrics like, “sniffin vicodin in Paris never felt so euphoric, baby,” “get another bottle, maybe get another bag,” and “I heard that you’re addicted to them Xans now, girl,” shouldn’t make you bop your head and swing your hips, but if there’s one thing Blackbear conveys, it’s that the lyrics don’t make the song (although his can be quite witty and modern-day erotic), the music makes the song. He’s a rhythmic rapper who can actually hold a note over a ravishing electropop/hip-hop beat. The contrast between the sweetness in his voice and the brash lyrics makes him standout in his own genre; branching out from what other rappers are doing.
Yanking at the obvious cliches in our society, it’s easy to make fun of the people we’ve become in 2016. In the pop-esque “Wanderlust” Bear sings, “All her friends areverified, wow, man that’s so cool, wow, girl can we hang out? let’s take a thousand pictures…people sayin’ that we’re goals.” Social media and the California lifestyle are common themes in all of Blackbear’s music, but his disgust for our culture is also evident throughout this EP (listen to “sniffing vicodin in paris” – second verse.)
There are times when you worry about Blackbear, as he openly admits to being a drug user and wanting to die as he explicitly mentions on “Sometimes I Want 2 Die.” You almost feel guilty for liking his music for fear of encouraging such damaging behavior. But the charts don’t lie, Cashmere Noose shot up the iTunes Top Albums charts, even crowning it the #1 R&B album the day it was released. Fans have been stalking this set of tracks ever since the rapper released them on his Soundcloud back in the heat of August. It’s no surprise his fame is impressively rising due to his own team of devoted friends. He remains proudly unsigned as he mentioned on Twitter October 19th saying, “blackbear remains unsigned :)” The overwhelming success of Noose sent fans in a frenzy to buy the EP. Bear even tweeted out that if you can’t afford the new music or are struggling, to text him your email and he’ll gift it to you. He understands the importance of having a strong fan base which has kept him relevant in the music scene without needing to be backed by a label. That’s a true artist, all drugs aside.
Miguel’s Wildheart is just that; unapologetic, spontaneous, and sensual. His third studio album will be released Monday (6/29) and it has easily perched Miguel on top of the R&B ladder. Miguel’s ear for electronics, vibe-y choruses, and overly sexualized lyrics keep him relevant and always on point. R&B is revitalized through the artistic eyes of Miguel, the visionary. Wildheart is a concept album focusing on West Coast influences as you hear sprinkled on every flawless track.
Several 70’s vibes are filtered throughout this album on several songs; the sultry/dance tune “deal”, the clap-happy “wave”, and the easy-going “nwa”. There’s no denying, electric guitar and a heavy drum beat guide almost every song into an endless good vibe. Miguel’s voice echoes every guitar strum as smooth as melted butter in cookie batter.
You say Miguel, I say…sexual. The amount of sexual innuendos are pretty much spilling through every song. Wildheart is definitely not an album to play in the van when you pick the kids up from school. “valley” is definitely one of the most explicit songs off the album; “I wanna f*** like we’re filming in the valley” just gives you an idea of what Miguel’s talking about here… A clear homage to the saucy side of California with racy lyrics to fit the cliché bill. Harmonies overlap near the end as Miguel leaves you in a trance-like state of mind. “Flesh” is another sexually charged anthem. Miguel’s falsetto takes shotgun as you ride through heavily sedated verses and low rumbling guitar. “I’m a slave to your flesh, woman put me right where I belong,” he sweetly sings in the 4 and a half minute tune.
The lyrics may be super racy but songs like “what’s normal anyway”, “leaves”, and “face the sun” carry more weight lyrically. “what’s normal anyway” challenges the racial boundaries that we see and hear about everyday. “I look around and I feel alone, I never feel like I belong.” A more emotional side of Miguel. A bit of 80’s synth pops into the song near the end adding more of a melancholy feel. “What’s normal anyway” quickly turns into a proclamation of self love; “don’t let them change you, just be who you are.” Miguel proves he can still write a powerful love song with the gorgeous “face the sun” featuring Lenny Kravitz on the electric guitar. “leaves” serves as another ode to California just like he promised; “sweet California, I should’ve known better, cause the leaves don’t change.” Impeccable vocals and simple lyrics flood this song with strong symbolic meaning. One of Miguel’s finest off the album.
For me, Wildheart is Miguel in his prime. He blows through everyone’s idea of R&B and creates a new age style that you can’t resist. A little bit of rock, funk, R&B, and pop thrown into a blender and you have the masterpiece that is Wildheart.
Here’s his latest music video for single, “Coffee”: