Scene Selections — Singles
Spring is coming and the sun is finally starting to shine. Enjoy the warm weather along with these hot singles from some of Scene’s favorite artists.
Natalie Prass — “Short Court Style”
By Adam Ramos, Scene Editor
Richmond vocalist Natalie Prass made big waves with the release of her beautifully ornate 2015 self-titled debut. The record showcased the young star’s ability to seamlessly transcend genres, incorporating elements of rhythm and blues, jazz, folk and pop, sometimes all in on one track. Since then however, aside from a live EP, output has been scarce — that is until this week. On Monday, Prass announced that her sophomore record, “The Future and The Past,” is out June 1. While June may be some ways away, Prass was kind enough to provide something to chew on in the meantime, a bouncy new single titled “Short Court Style.”
A funky bassline opens the track behind Prass’ tender vocals, forecasting a change to the vocalist’s normal formula. Indeed, this new funky vibe pervades throughout the rest of the track, bolstered by polyrhythmic beats and whizzing synths. What hasn’t changed though is Prass’ vocal abilities. Dripping in confidence, the vocals in “Short Court Style” play pristinely well with the instrumentals on the track. “No, but I can’t be without / My love that I have found” Prass croons on the track, echoing a sentiment I understand too well — it is going to be a long wait until June.
Flatbush Zombies — “Headstone”
By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer
The Brooklyn rap trio known as the Flatbush Zombies have returned to the scene. The squad’s brand of psychedelic hip-hop garnered attention in 2016 after the release of their first studio album “3001: A Laced Odyssey,” which featured the beloved track “Bounce.” After a relatively quiet 2017, the Flatbush Zombies seem ready to make more noise in 2018.
In February, Flatbush Zombies member and producer Erick The Architect released his own full-length project, “Arcstrumentals, Vol. 2,” and the Zombies announced that their upcoming album “Vacation In Hell” would be released in April. “Headstone,” the first single from the project, is a promising and hard-hitting track.
All three rappers get fairly equal time on the track, but it is Meechy Darko’s chorus and verse that stand out. Meechy Darko utilizes his signature gravelly voice to deliver a catchy and attention-grabbing refrain. On his verse, Darko makes multiple Kanye West references saying “They say Jesus walks and the Devil wear Prada / But I’m so, so deaf, God can’t tell me nothing” while a sample from “Jesus Walks” plays.
As a whole, “Headstone” provides a small dose of hype for “Vacation In Hell” and brings the Flatbush Zombies back onto the stage.
Frank Ocean — “Moon River”
By Maggie Walsh, Scene Writer
When my sisters and I were little, our parents would sing to us all the time: to wake us up, to put us to sleep, to make us laugh and even during bath time. While Dad tended toward The Replacements and other college rock artists, Mom would usually sing older tunes: the classics and sometimes, “On Top of Spaghetti.”
One of my favorites that Mom would inevitably sing as my sisters and I fiercely resisted bedtime was “Moon River.” So when Frank Ocean released his own cover of “Moon River” around Valentine’s Day, I knew I would love it.
Frank exceeded expectations with his achingly nostalgic rendition of a love song made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Countless artists, from Frank Sinatra to R.E.M., have covered the song, but Frank Ocean’s “Moon River” is new and different. He changes some lyrics and cuts others out altogether. Harmonizing with himself throughout, he adds a haunting and wistful spin to the already sentimental lyrics. The final third of the song is a dreamy instrumental that makes it hard not to push the replay button.
Frank Ocean covers “Moon River” beautifully, leaving his personal signature on a classic tune. It will make you dream of romance and long for simplicity.
Janelle Monae — “Make Me Feel”
By Megan Valley, Assistant Managing Editor
The 1980s influences on “Make Me Feel” are undeniable and irresistible. The Prince-reminiscent synth line, funky guitar, crisp and snappy percussion and even her performatively sensual vocals make the first single off of Janelle Monae’s upcoming “Dirty Computer” a standout. “Make Me Feel” is similar to Monae’s older work in how it mixes modern pop and experimental rhythm and blues with an old soul and psychedelic edge, but it is notably more “poppy” and accessible than her singles off of her previous albums, “ArchAndroid” and “Electric Lady.”
That’s not to say (or even dare suggest) that this track is Monae watered-down in any way; as made especially apparent by the electric, disco-fantastic music video, anything sugary about this track is borne of the same sort of theatricality and performativity that fans have come to expect from the Wondaland star. She’s just as “powerful with a little bit of tender” as she’s ever been and, after five years since her last solo album, “Make Me Feel” is a near-perfect return to form.