I just missed the perfect summer album - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #67


“Move on the Sun” a hitRECord compilation
 

In terms of weather, this summer was once again abysmal at home, with a few days of no rain or clouds being the scarce highlights. Nevertheless, it was still summer, man, and I was free! Exams passed, nothing to worry about, and one of the things I was most psyched for was finding that all-important soundtrack to my summer this year. I have a tendency to associate specific times and moments of my life with music, as regular readers should know, and last year my summer was made quite the spectacular with some of the songs I discovered in that time period. This year, however? Nothing, nada, zero, zilch. Nothing moved me in ways that I wanted: Sure, I found lots of good music, but nothing life-affirming, nothing light-hearted or with that dash of sea breeze in its wake; in short, nothing summery. I guess it made sense though: gloomy weather, gloomy music. But this week, finally, FINALLY I found something that evinced that true spirit of summer, music that immediately transported me to an open top convertible in the glorious sunshine, wind whipping through my hair, sipping on a cold one and leaving all my cares behind me. And guess what? I started back to university a few weeks ago and am in the middle of writing a dissertation. Life takes strange turns, eh?
 

The album in question isn’t so much a full album as a sampler of sorts from some of the best artists on HitRECord, a sort of online media hub overseen by the man I want to play the role of me if anyone makes a movie about my life: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. HitRECord encourages anyone to contribute whatever talent they have to the site; be that filmmaking, music making, drawing, writing or whatever. I guess in this article I could spend more time talking about what a great idea it is, but I was brought here cause of the music, man, and that’s what I’m going to focus on. This particular volume of music Move On The Sun was released about a month ago in the tail end of summer, and gives us a taster of some of HitRECord’s most talented contributing artists, compiled together in a special album just for the summer. It’s second in a series called HitRECorderly, and the sort of talent seen on Move on the Sun gives me great excitement to see what else the label has in store for me, because this album has it all: soul, variety, spunk or whatever you want to call it. I should have been listening to this album from the day of its release to inject some vibrancy the latter days of my summer.

 

The title track Move on the Sun opens the album with an injection of pure upbeat pop: sunny and vibrant, courtesy of The Morning Hollows.  Sparkling guitar and the far off tinklings of xylophones punctuate what’s already a beautiful jewel of a song; add this to the wonderful melody and tender, whimsical singing and already my problems are left on the shore as I lie adrift on a mellow stream of opalescent soft tranquility.  One song in: my eternal summer has begun, and it shall not fade! The following track, sensing my emotions, invites me to “Sit back and enjoy the ride…” I’m not going to turn that invitation down. “No I ain’t got much, but I got you,” the vocalist tells us soulfully, all the while my problems continue to be assuaged over the most infectiously funky musical backing: a cool electric piano soothes my mind, while sassy horns rouse my body into dancing. By the time I get to Kenneth Masters’ hip hop track Downtown 81, with its lush, soulful production that’s been sadly lacking in modern hip hop since the demise of  J. Dilla, I am just gone, transported to some tropical Elysium, body still grounded on Earth but my mind and soul elsewhere. I’m on a beach sipping Bacardi, (I don’t even drink Bacardi) I’m cruising on a sunny LA street, palm trees on either side. This is my summer right here: figuratively speaking. If I want it to be summer I give this record a listen. Masters and KamPAIGN absolutely rip Downtown 81, by the way, and it seems clear they’re feeling the same way I do about the song: “Lungs taste air/Smile it’s a nice day/Graf on the billboards/Kids burning cigarettes/Honeys stroll by/Nice when they trend dress.” They’re enjoying it as much as I am.

 

With another iridescent, soulful funk offering from Malicore, we’re nextly treated to a few more melancholy offerings, a mix of electro-pop and hip hop, which nevertheless offer our ears an opulent feast of beautiful singing and little splashes of gorgeous piano. The likes of Wolves In the Woods is probably the closest this record comes to feeling less than joyous, although with its bluesy guitar and organ lines, and singer May McDonough sounding like Beth Gibbon’s long lost twin, I’m more than satisfied. After a few short, dreamy interludes (“Please hold while we process your request for admission into the afterlife”) the record hits back with Diamond in the Rough, a song so bursting with soul it struggles to be contained. Kelly Morris’ vocals are utterly mesmerizing, entrancing, and soar over this record, riding high on the influence of the likes of Marlena Shaw and Aretha Franklin. The incredibly thick beat by Robo J, on top of which lies a fat bassline and some wonderfully penetrating trumpet work, gives Kelly room to shine while complimenting her vocals with such fantastic instrumentation. Absolutely spectacular.  Followed by the exotic, soothing More, and the capricious For Mallory, another Malicore instrumental appears, this time a little more ambient and chilled, with a few surreal vocal samples and jarring organ. Very trippy: not out of place Primal Scream’s Screamadelica I should think. I think I have run out of descriptors in my head to describe the penultimate track The Grind: spacey, epic, psychedelic, jazzy, soulful, funky… it’s all there. A thrilling guitar part brings send this track into overdrive, combining with the funky drums and epic horns and other elements already present to send this track to a spiraling, grandiose conclusion. Immediately afterwards the bare voice of “Regular Joe” (AKA Joseph G-L himself!) appears, self-accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar. Before I think the album was going all Empire Burlesque on me it becomes apparent that a plethora of instruments are slowly emerging from behind the shadow of Regular Joe’s persona, and whadda ya know? Strings, drums, bass, harmonium, banjo etc all coalesce and send this closer into in an anthem of huge proportions, and at just over 2 minutes it’s all over in a flash, a bombastic conclusion, a flash in the dark, a quick glimpse in the corner of your eye and it’s gone.

 

Okay, so summer might be over for another year, but you’ll have every summer for the rest of your lives to dig this beauty if you want. I know I certainly do. And besides, even one listen will automatically transport you to those sunny July and August days. An absolutely marvel from HitRECord and to every extremely talented artist who partook in the recording of this album. The bandcamp page is the key, why not check it out and relive the best summer of your life any time you want?

 

Words – Adam.

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