Remembering "Blurred Lines," Japanese Breakfast hits Brooklyn and Zack Fox's comedic debut
This week, the guys tackle a regretful hit, a near-magical show and the year's funniest album.
It’s official: Nnamdi liked James Blake’s Friends that Break Your Heart, more than Noah, Avery and music journalist and frequent 97 Demo guest Grant Sharples. Granted, our overall score for the indie-pop singer/songwriter/producer’s fifth studio album was a solid 7.6, some of us thought it fell a bit flat compared to 2018’s “Assume Form.” Check out the full review below.
After you’re done reading the newsletter of course.
This week, Nnamdi opines about the songs that America, collectively, should go ahead and let go, led by Robin Thicke’s globally-successful, record-breaking, massively-popular 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.”
Avery saw the incredibly talented Japanese Breakfast, the artist behind his album of the year — and book of the year — live in Brooklyn last week. He recounts his experience for you all.
And Noah writes about Zack Fox’s shut the f**k up talking to me, which may not get a Grammy nom, but is easily one of the year’s most entertaining debuts.
Friends That Break Your Heart by James Blake review
Remember “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke?
You know, the song that America obsessed over for the larger part of 2013? The one that topped the Hot 100 for a near-record 12 consecutive weeks and is in music’s exclusive Diamond club? Do you ever regret enjoying it as much as we, yes we, did?
I was in high school when the song dropped and it was everywhere. It was literally inescapable, hence its record for largest radio audience in history. Maybe its massive popularity was why it was so easy for us, yes us, to completely ignore the fact that it was practically a sexual-assault anthem. Looking back, any song with the chorus “I know you want it” probably should’ve given us pause. But, it didn’t. And, it’ll go down in history as one of the best-selling singles of all-time. And we can’t change that. But, we can acknowledge that its massive popularity is a stain, and at least try to stop listening, if you haven’t already.
A recent decision by the Rolling Stones to pull “Brown Sugar,” a song that details the slave trade in one breath and sexually objectifies Black women in the other, reminded me that Blurred Lines isn’t alone. There are a couple of songs that I’ve decided need to get dropped from my mental playlist. Here’s a few:
Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama
Look, I’m from Atlanta, Georgia so I get it. To a lot of people, including me until reading this, it's about Southern pride. But the song was partly created as a retort to Neil Young's "Southern Man" which highlighted the South's bloody history of slavery and lynchings. So, when you consider that Young is dissed in "Sweet Home Alabama", it makes you question the intended statement being made in the song. Especially since not a single member in Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Alabama. The group sure did love the confederate flag though, so there’s that.
Aaliyah's 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number'
When you consider that Aaliyah recorded the song at 14 and that it was written by R.Kelly who had a sexual relationship with her, it reminds you that age is *definitely* more than a number. Stream something from her self-titled album instead.
If you don't know this song, it’s probably for the best. It features rapper Rick Ross who says in part "put molly all in her champagne, she ain't even know it...I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it." How a song that references rape that overtly got cleared, I’ll never know. But there’s a reason Ricky Rozay had to apologize for this one.
And for good measure, in case you didn’t know, all of R. Kelly’s catalog. I think it’s fair to say sex trafficking convictions warrant immediate deletion.
Y’all hear about this?
I saw Japanese Breakfast live in Brooklyn
This past Saturday, Nnamdi and I had the opportunity to go see Japanese Breakfast live in concert. It was great!
Japanese Breakfast, whose name is Michelle Zauner, has both released my favorite book and album this year. Her memoir, Crying in H Mart, is one that I found heartbreaking and personal.
Her album, Jubilee, was equally as in-depthwith joyful and stylish indie-rock songs that was right up my alley.
Consuming both these pieces of art by the same individual really made me feel like I know who Michelle is, at this current moment. I know… parasocial relationships… but I can’t help it. I related to a lot of what Zauner felt throughout both of these pieces.
That being said, being able to see her and her band live after all this was incredible! Not to mention, this was my first concert since the summer of 2019. I couldn’t think of a better one to return to.
She went through songs from each of her three albums, mainly her latest. She also played a song off of the video game soundtrack that she composed “Glider.” Her voice and band sounded incredible live. Singing along with her to songs that I’ve adored all year like “Paprika”, “Road Head” and “Savage Good Boy,” was a feeling that I missed so much.
My favorite moments of the show were the ones in between songs, where it looked like she was soaking in the adoration that the crowd was giving her. You’d see her smile in between songs, or laugh like when someone from the crowd yelled, “We Love Peter!” in reference to her husband who is a part of her band.
As the show went on she referenced Peter more and more, saying a song was written about him or looking at him while they played. At some point, they put their foreheads together while they were both playing guitar. It was all very sweet.
Speaking of sweet, everyone here should listen to the band that opened for Japanese Breakfast, Luna Li! She had a high-energy set full of her more popular songs and unreleased songs and songs off her instrumental album from earlier this year. Honestly, she was one of the best opening acts that I’ve ever seen. It helped a lot that she absolutely shreds on the guitar.
All in all, I had a great time at this show. I left an even bigger Japanese Breakfast fan than when I walked in. I cannot wait to see what Michelle Zauner does next.
Now on the 97 Demo Mix:
Songs from: Adele, James Blake, Mac Miller, Maxo Kream
The most entertaining and funniest album I’ve heard this year
If there is nothing Atlanta is known for, it’s for having a myriad of rappers and comedians. But being a rapper and comedian? That’s rarefied air. There are only two people that come to mind.
First is Donald Glover aka, Childish Gambino (who went to the same high school as Nnam and sat at the same desk). But the second is nowhere near as famous and is not as critically acclaimed. He is probably the exact opposite of critically acclaimed with his score from Pitchfork. That would happen to be Zack Fox.
But what I do know is that his debut album shut the f**k up talking to me, has made me smile more than any other album released in the past couple of years. It is entertaining, goofy and hilarious. I have not laughed out loud this much while listening to an album since Riff Raff’s 2014 album Neon Icon.
But, the difference is that Zack Fox is a good rapper. His bars are witty, his lines are punchy and his voice is energetic.
Firstly, if you just look at the cover of the album and you think, “wow this dude doesn’t care.” It’s a cigarette in between his feet with eaten chicken bones on a paper plate on a dirty floor. Doesn’t exactly give you the feeling of an album that will impress. But to my surprise, every track did.
On the opening track, “uhhh” he says. “fuck nigga prolly callin 12 just like a Karen do, Red dot on a nigga cheek he look like Pikachu.” That line is witty, nerdy, and funny all at the same time. That’ll catch my attention 10/10.
But one of the things that brings the most joy is how hard he reps where he’s from, Atlanta, Georgia, and the south as a whole.
He has a line on “mind your business” where he says “faded as the fuck I’m in the club takin bad advice, I’m a southern nigga I like bitches with some cellulite.” Which is a coming feeling among black men who live in the Southern United States.
In the same song, he says, “if they ever let me into heaven I’ma make-it hell, fuck it if they send me straight to hell I’m from ATL.” It's such a simple line that isn’t special, but when an artist is repping my city like that, it makes me feel like I’m out with my friends in the middle of the night in Downtown Atlanta headed to Waffle House.
So if you like humorous and absurd bars you’ll like this album, but if you’re from Atlanta you might just love this album just as much as I do.
Edited by Hope Davis :)
Ep. 65: Friends That Break Your Heart by James Blake Review
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Coming up on the 97 Demo Podcast: We’ll be revisiting some of our recent reviews: Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, Lorde’s Solar Power, and Kanye West’s DONDA.