New year, new president, new music! This January I rediscovered my love for R&B, traveled to space with an Italian singer-songwriter, and learned the full story of one of the greatest bands of all time. Here are five tasty tunes to cherish before we are once again flooded with Zoom meetings and devoured by homework.
Fool for You ~ Snoh Aalegra
Leave it to singer-songwriter Snoh Aalegra to communicate a widely experienced clash with romance in a uniquely tantalizing way. With undulating synths and a voice rising from the depths of a tortured heart, this plush R&B track resurrects the pesky feelings that entice us to fantasize about those whom we’ve fallen for, but who aren’t right for us. The easy tempo, exquisite choral accompaniment, and tame backbone melody imitates the warmth of romance and the numbing of the senses that follows the initial fall. The slow pounding of the bass works like the hands of love administering CPR, waking us up to the familiar realm of infatuation. Once conscious, we must choose whether to “run away” or “stay right here,” as Aalegra contends. Though she stays, the song’s blue undertones suggest that following our feelings is not always the smartest choice.
Someone I Care About ~ The Modern Lovers
Underneath the excited jangle of buzzing guitars and stark vocals lies a rather wholesome confession by front man Jonathan Richman. The Modern Lovers pair coarse guitar riffs and fierce drumming with well-meaning intentions for a serious romantic relationship in “Someone I Care About.” This song exposes the soft side that many rock stars possess and which is often hidden by a tough or aloof display of fame-poisoned ego. In his recognizably conversational singing-style, Richman expresses his sensitive feelings through a blunt and decisive tone. It is charming, though, because it implies that even the hardest rockers may be a little mushy on the inside. The desire for a caring partner becomes just as contagious as the pulse of this early punk rock jam.
Immensità ~ Andrea Laszlo De Simone
Introduced to me by a friend and fellow music aficionado, this beautified interpretation of italo-disco is just as enchanting in 2021 as it might have been in the 1980s. This 2020 release screams nostalgia, or, I should say, serenades us in it. From gossamer operatic voices to synthesizer staccato that twinkles like stars, “Immensità” adds something new to the musical zeitgeist of the current decade. As with older songs from this genre, what is most striking are the chord progressions that never fail to give me butterflies in my stomach. As the volume crescendos, so does the yearning to return to the origin of one’s happiest memories. The melody rocks back and forth, which, for me, mirrors the rhythm of the playful dances I shared with my grandmother as a kid. The cinematic elegance of “Immensità” tells a story that resonates, even if one does not speak Italian.
Good Days ~ SZA
I am convinced that this is one of those songs that does not get old. I spent the past couple of days listening to SZA’s newest release on repeat, and with each listen I fell deeper in love. This soothing yet powerful blend of R&B and neo-soul first hit my eardrums during an impromptu car ride with my sister, which I have to admit is an ideal place to give this track a first listen. The beachside foley and reverberating guitar that begin the song synchronize with the flicker of sunlight on a car window, and the sound of SZA’s velvety voice allows one to slip into a daydream. SZA’s vocals rise and fall with emotion and create a bittersweet tone, which is supplemented by the subtle minor chords amidst various synthesized starbursts. Shimmery and chill, “Good Days” will surely become a memorable track this year.
To Love Somebody ~ Bee Gees
What comes to mind when I mention the Bee Gees? Saturday Night Fever, Studio 54, groovy beats and brass-like falsettos? Although this magnetic trio dominated the disco scene in the 1970s, some of their best work came out much earlier in their career. “To Love Somebody” exposes the pure, passionate hearts of a young Barry, Robin, and Maurice. This sweet ballad, featuring impeccable harmonies and mature lyrics, showcases a lesser-known side of the inherent talent shared by the three brothers. I recently watched the documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, which opened my ears to the group’s beautiful early discography, which I am guessing is underappreciated by many millenials who self-identify as Woodstock-audience-member-reincarnates. If this sounds like you, give “To Love Somebody” a chance and you won’t be disappointed.
Come back to the site next month to read about my February Fresh Finds! In the meantime, check out the articles by my fellow Shoegazing writers for more sweet sweet content. You can find the songs you just read about at the link below.