Listens for the Week #17: Brent Bronze, Miles Davis, The Weeknd
Updated: May 14
Every week, I offer three recommendations: something new, something classic, and something I love. This week, I’ve been primarily obsessed with the music of two artists – Carly Rae Jepsen and Miles Davis – but I’ve also made some time to catch up on some recent hip hop albums which fell under my radar at the end of last year.
Brent Bronze - Mount Olympus (2022)
Mount Olympus is Brent’s most ambitious and satisfying project yet. The album’s structure revolves around different Greek gods, with the themes of the record playing into this mythology and tying it into Brent’s life and experience. The production is grandiose and elegant, with the more cinematic soundscape of Mount Olympus being a refreshing departure from the more futuristic style of PRODIGAL SON before it. What strikes me as most impressive about the album is Brent’s performance. The number of different flows, rhyme schemes and unique deliveries he showcases is incredible. His dynamicity, coupled with his endless supply of charisma, makes for a thoroughly entertaining album. While some songs on the second half of the album felt weaker than the rest, the difference in quality isn’t major, and does not affect the smooth flow and cohesive sound of Mount Olympus.
Miles Davis - A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1971)
Through the late '60s and early '70s, Miles had been playing with elements of rock music on classics like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, and A Tribute to Jack Johnson is his most rock-inspired work ever. The first track, “Right Off”, is a contender for the best Miles song of all time. The funky bass guitar and screeching electric guitar in the opening make it sound as if it’s a full-on rock album abandoning the jazz altogether, but then Miles comes in with his iconic trumpet which matches the rock instrumentation perfectly. As the song progresses, the production ebbs and flows from calmer moments to abrasive, finally rising to a crescendo near the end with Herbie Hancock supplying these wailing organ keys which make for a powerful finish. The second song, “Yesternow”, is far less lively, more akin to the cool and atmospheric ambience of In a Silent Way. While the track may not be as instantly gratifying as “Right Off”, the contrast between the two songs keeps the album interesting from start to finish. It isn’t my favourite Miles album, but when it’s on, there’s nothing else like it.
Something I Love
The Weeknd - DAWM FM (2022)
With January marking the one-year anniversary of Dawn FM, I felt compelled to revisit it. The first time I heard this album, I thought it was lukewarm at best, but over time I’ve come to adore its ‘80s throwback dance-pop production and haunting themes of death, regret, and the afterlife. Upon my relisten this year, I can safely say this is my favourite album from The Weeknd. The contrast between the dark themes and the irresistibly catchy production is genius, giving the album so much replay value because it can be enjoyed as both a simple pop record or as a deeper concept. The highlights are innumerable, such as the Daft Punk-esque grooves of “Sacrifice”, the haunting chorus of “How Do I Make You Love Me?”, or the heart-breaking climax of “Less Than Zero”. Jim Carrey’s inclusion is surprisingly powerful, with his whispery, joy-filled voice making the experience of Dawn FM all the more chilling. His profound poetry in the final track, “Phantom Regret by Jim”, summarises all the themes of the album and ties it together in a satisfying way which makes each listen feel so cohesive and whole. Dawn FM is The Weeknd at his most vocally impressive, thematically creative, and sonically engaging.