#89 - Big Summer Feelings 🌞

empathogen review, Apple Music Top 100 albums, T-ARA hints at reunion, Suno AI raises $125M, DOJ sues Live Nation, Luna Li.

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Happy Sunlighter Sunday and Memorial Day Weekend! A lot of ‘suits happening these last few weeks, and we don’t mean binging the slept-on TV series. The DOJ sued Live Nation, and the Mechanical Licensing Collective sued Spotify. Horrific hotel video footage from 2016 was released this week, exposing Diddy of physically assaulting his then partner, Cassie, and fueling a seventh sexual assault lawsuit against him. Finally, Sean Kingston was arrested on theft and fraud charges.

Rating Rationale: If you can believe it, WILLOW signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and debuted her career with “Whip My Hair” nearly 14 years ago. If that’s the last you heard of her, allow us to bring you up to speed. After initially gaining mainstream attention, WILLOW has paved her individualistic expression through each album release (even honoring her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith’s metal music roots by releasing a slept-on rock record), creatively pushing herself to fine-tune her artistry. We were intrigued to listen to her sixth studio album, empathogen, after hearing the track, “b i g f e e l i n g s,” on Spotify’s New Music Friday. It’s a breath of fresh air in the midst of uniformity across many of the mainstream releases today. Filled with improvisational instrumentation, wide vocal range, and fine-tuned volume dynamics – every piece seamlessly blends together. Chet Baker and a glass of wine in Napa Valley served as the catalysts for inspiration as she joined forces with friend and co-producer, Chris Greatti, to actively separate her value from the way her music is perceived, thus building an experimental, career-defining record. She describes “symptom of life” as the doorway to the house of empathogen; along with “the fear is not real” and collaborations from Jon Batiste and St. Vincent, it’s one of our favorite tracks.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill crowned as best album in modern era, KAYTRANADA announces TIMELESS, Beyoncé sued for copyright infringement

With the help of artists and experts, Apple Music assembled their top 100 greatest albums ever created, revealing Ms. Lauryn Hill as the artist taking the top spot with her only solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

KAYTRANADA will release his third studio album, TIMELESS, on June 7th, which is expected to feature Anderson .Paak, Channel Tres, Childish Gambino, Don Toliver, and Charlotte Day Wilson.

Finally, amidst the legal turmoil of Diddy and Sean Kingston, Beyoncé and Big Freedia (the queen of bounce) are also experiencing their own headaches with a copyright infringement lawsuit by bounce quartet, Da Showstoppaz, for “BREAK MY SOUL” and associated sampled song, “Explode.”

World Music

Trailblazing K-pop group T-ARA hints at reunion

Before BTS ushered K-pop to the forefront of international popularity, groups like Super Junior, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, and T-ARA initially helped pave the way for subsequent K-pop groups to flourish during a time of evolving globalized listening trends. This week, members from T-ARA teased a reunion for their 15th anniversary. Initially debuting as a six-piece K-pop girl group, T-ARA eventually saw two members depart, most recently reuniting as a four-piece girl group in 2021.

Electronic

Frank Walker and NGHTMRE release new records, CRSSD Festival reveals lineup

After 8 years of producing music, Canadian DJ, Frank Walker, finally released his debut studio album, ORIGIN, on Friday. On the same day, bass/trap EDM artist, NGHTMRE, released his latest EP, Unsound 2, through his imprint, Gud Vibrations.

Separately, San Diego EDM festival, CRSSD 2024, revealed its lineup that will include Disclosure and Gesaffelstein as headliners, along with artists such as Four Tet, Gorgon City, BLOND:ISH, Nora En Pure, and TOKiMONSTA.

Indie & Alternative

Clairo announces upcoming album Charm

Clairo announced that her upcoming third studio album, Charm, will be released on July 12th. Fans should expect a vintage, 70s-inspired sound that blends psychedelic folk, jazz, and soul.

Pop

Founding bassist of Train tragically passes away

In sad news, Charlie Colin, the original bassist for the five-person pop band, Train, best known for hits, “Drops of Jupiter” and “Hey, Soul Sister,” tragically passed away this week from a slip in the shower. Our takeaway: live every day like your last and be thankful for what you have in life.

Primer: Luna Li is not only Hannah Kim’s musical project and alter-ego, but it’s where she feels most at home while being a voice of representation for women in music and her Korean-Canadian heritage. Born and raised in the Toronto region, Hannah’s mom always encouraged her musical pursuits - from immediately saying “yes” when Hannah asked if she could learn piano at age 5, to renting Hannah a harp for her birthday a few years ago. More formally, Hannah’s mother runs the Classical Music Conservatory of Toronto, which Hannah decided to attend to continue pursuing her craft. When it came time for college, Hannah enrolled at McGill University to study violin performance but quit within the next year after becoming fascinated with the burgeoning music scene in Toronto. In 2017, after a few years of playing in Veins, her garage rock musical project, and gathering production expertise from a program at Seneca College, Hannah self-published her first project, Opal Angel EP, as Luna Li, which caught the attention of AWAL and In Real Life. Since releasing her debut album in 2022, Duality, she has toured with Japanese Breakfast and Wolf Alice, in addition to her headline tour. Click “Shuffle” on any Luna Li mix and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in an alternate universe: engulfed with ethereal production, consumed by airy yet strong vocals, and filled with a plethora of instrumental interludes to showcase her “Baby Shred” on the guitar, piano, violin, bass, drums, and harp – a dynamic and poignant mix for which we have major respect.

What’s Next: Starting in September, Luna Li will embark upon a North American Tour to support her sophomore album, When a Thought Grows Wings, which will drop on August 23. In the meantime, you can hear her first single from the new record here.

Suno raises $125 million, Mahogany gets into distribution

🤑 Mikey Raises: In one of the largest fundraising rounds by a music technology company in recent history, generative AI music company, Suno, raised a $125 million Series B at a $500 million post-money valuation. Participants include VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, Nat Friedman (GitHub), Daniel Gross, and others.

🪵 More Mahogany: Mahogany, the UK-based music company known for its cinematic music discovery channel, Mahogany Sessions, will be partnering with Believe to launch a DIY distribution service for independent artists.

📝 The Future of the Creator Economy: Epidemic Sound, the content creator-focused royalty-free sound effects catalog company, released its 2024 Future of Creator Economy Report highlighting insights on content creator challenges, opportunities, and future trends. From a music perspective, content creators acknowledge the pivotal role of music in creating impactful content. Here’s how creators leverage music:

🎧 Sonos Ace: Sonos, a long-standing audio company focused on reinventing the home audio experience, officially made its first foray into the competitive headphones market with the Sonos Ace, priced at $449 (sheesh).

🔦 Fan Spotlight: TikTok has announced a new “Fan Spotlight” feature in partnership with Billie Eilish’s latest album release, allowing artists to showcase their favorite fan-created videos on their profile.

🌐 Web3 Updates: The Web3 Music Association (W3M), a new music industry trade organization, officially launched to support industry-wide technology R&D initiatives. Snoop Dogg and Death Row Records are doubling down on web3 by launching music exclusively through web3 streaming platform, Gala. On-chain music streaming company, Audius, is partnering with Music Reports to support the administration of music licensing rights and payment to music publishers.

The DOJ files antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation, RAYE wins Songwriter of the Year at The Ivors, Warner Music expands internationally

👨🏻‍⚖️ Break It Up!: The Department of Justice, along with 30 state and district attorneys, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation and its subsidiary, Ticketmaster, for its alleged monopoly over ticket pricing, exclusive ticketing contracts, as well as serial acquisition of concert promoters. Live Nation responded to the lawsuit by suggesting that Ticketmaster’s market share has actually declined since 2010 and candidly mentioned that regardless of the lawsuit and separation of companies, the goal of reducing ticket prices and service fees will not be met.

🏆 The Ivors Academy: This year, The Ivor Novello Awards, known as the British awards for songwriting and composition, honored numerous artists including RAYE who won this year’s coveted Songwriter of the Year Award.

🌎 Warner Global: As part of a broader theme within the music industry, Warner Music Group is expanding its international footprint by striking a partnership with Dominican artist, Tokischa, to launch the artist’s own imprint, SOL, through Warner Music Latina. Additionally, WMG is also planning to establish a new creative hub in Lagos, Nigeria to spur A&R and marketing growth for Warner Music Africa.

🎞️ Music as Film: As music and film continue to interweave due to the growing popularity of musician biopics, several documentaries/docuseries are expected to be released in the coming months: Celine Dion’s documentary detailing her health struggles will be coming to Amazon Prime, Camden’s rich music history, featuring artists like Nile Rodgers, Chris Martin, and Noel Gallagher, will be available on Hulu, and a potential Diddy documentary that was recently subject to a bidding war will be coming to Netflix.

Bring Me The Horizon and Vince Staples drop surprise albums, the Piano Man returns

📅 For upcoming albums, tours, and festivals access our comprehensive music calendar here.

🚨 Surprise Drops: Bring Me The Horizon revealed to fans early Friday morning that they would release POST HUMAN: NeX GEn, their first studio album in 5 years (we spy a feature from Lil Uzi Vert). Earlier this week, Vince Staples announced his eighth studio album, Dark Times, which dropped Friday.

📣 Album Announcements: Elton John will reportedly release a brand new album in the next few weeks. Zach Bryan shared the tear-jerking “Pink Skies” along with news of his upcoming album, Great American Bar Scene. Covers are hot right now, and Aloe Blacc knows it – catch volume one of two of his EP, Rock My Soul, where he will cover ‘90s alternative songs.

⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week: 

  1. Willie Nelson, The Border

  2. Shaboozey, Where I’ve Been, isn’t Where I’m Going

  3. Ayra Starr, The Year I Turned 21

  4. Becky Hill, Believe Me Now?

  5. Kameron Marlowe, Keepin’ The Lights On

  6. ATEEZ, Golden Hour : Part. 1

  7. Arooj Aftab, Night Rain

  8. Maya Hawke, Chaos Angel

  9. ELIO, Something In The Air

  10. Ben Platt, Honeymind

The Merch Table

  • 💚 X Years of X: No, not the rebranded Twitter. Earlier this week, Ed Sheeran celebrated ten years of his sophomore album X with a series of shows at Barclays Center. If you missed them, check out the exclusive merch celebrating the occasion here.

  • 💎 Nothing New: Catbird, a Los Angeles-based jewelry company, has again joined forces with Phoebe Bridgers to restock their best-selling collaborative pieces from 2023.

  • 🍟 More Munchie Meals: Ice Cube has partnered with Jack in the Box on their recent, limited “Munchie Meal,” sixteen years after releasing a song of the same name.

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See ya next Sunday 😎

Donya and Chris

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