#94 - Chanel No.5 🌞

C,XOXO review, 2024 top albums so far, Glastonbury, Seth Binzer passes, SOPHIE posthumous album, Toomaj Salehi, music labels sue AI generators, Wild Rivers.

Sunlighter Header

Happy Sunlighter Monday (blame bad weather for flight delays)! We’re officially halfway through 2024, which means it’s time for a midsommar update on our current favorite albums of the year–we’re covering a variety of genres. We’ll be off next week for the 4th of July, so you have a few weeks to catch up on what we think is this year’s best music so far 🎧 Here are the links in order: COWBOY CARTER, BRAT, empathogen, Clancy, Three, WE DON’T TRUST YOU, Prelude to Ecstasy, TYLA, Radical Optimism, and Why Lawd?

Rating Rationale: Camila Cabello’s debut album Camila solidified her career in the music industry as a solo artist with certified bangers like “Never Be The Same” and “Havana” and carried that momentum into sophomore album, Romance, and third album, Familia. After making what seemed to be a pivot into the hyperpop genre via commercial success with her leading single, “I LUV IT,”  we had high expectations for this new era of CC. While the album has a number of moments that showcase her signature soprano falsetto (“Chanel No.5”) and vulnerable storytelling (“Twentysomethings,” “B.O.A.T.”), the theme lacks the cohesiveness we were looking forward to. This is particularly true of Drake’s standalone track, “Uuugly,” which functions as a clever but oddly out-of-place male perspective to collaborative sister track, “HOT UPTOWN.” Since CC seems to build her albums in trilogies and her experimental renaissance is in full swing, we hope to see her mature into a more refined sound in subsequent albums.

What happened at Glastonbury?

A lot happened this year at Worthy Farm, so here’s a quick list of the highlights: 

  • Dua Lipa brought out Kevin Parker (who produced Radical Optimism) for a duet of Tame Impala’sThe Less I Know the Better” along with “Houdini,” the final song of her Glastonbury set.

  • IDLES had one of the most eventful sets of Glastonbury, bringing out special guest Danny Brown along with Banksy launching an inflatable migrant raft in the crowd during their song “Danny Nedelko,” a pro-immigrant anthem.

  • SZA’s set was not only marred with significant technical difficulties but also drew a shockingly sparse crowd due to set conflicts.

  • Jamie xx reunited onstage with The xx bandmates, Romy and Oliver, for the first time in six years and performed with Robyn.

  • Coldplay brought Michael J. Fox to the stage to play guitar during “Fix You,” and Little Simz as a surprise guest for a new collaborative track.

  • PJ Harvey kicked off her set by bringing Serbian performance artist, Marina Abramović, to deliver a sobering, reflective speech on the current state of the world and encouraging the crowd to participate in seven minutes of silence.

  • Fatboy Slim reunited with his old bandmates of indie rock band, The Housemartins, their first time playing together since 1988 🤯

  • SEVENTEEN became the first K-pop group to perform on Glastonbury’s main stage.

  • Blondshell revealed two new songs on her upcoming album.

World Music

Iran overturns Toomaj Salehi’s death sentence, K-Pop momentum continues

In 2022, the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, sparked nationwide outrage and worldwide protests against both Iran’s strict veiling laws and discriminatory police actions. The unjust actions eventually resulted in government defiance in many forms, including protest through music, in which Iranian hip-hop artist Toomaj Salehi rose to prominence as a voice of Iranian revolt in his song, “Faal.” Critical of the Iranian government’s actions and its lack of accountability for Mahsa’s death, Toomaj was eventually sought out by the Iranian government and forced into custody (including torture). Worse, in April, a local Iranian Revolutionary court declared Toomaj to be sentenced to death. However, after much criticism for excessive punishment, this week Toomaj saw his death sentence finally overturned.

In South Korea, several K-Pop artists have announced new music in recent weeks. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Per Source Music, LE SSERAFIM will be releasing new music in August.

  • Jimin of BTS will be releasing his second solo album, MUSE, in July.

  • Stray Kids will be releasing their next mini-album, ATE, in July.

  • Red Velvet celebrated their 10th anniversary with new EP, Cosmic.

Pop

SOPHIE releases posthumous final album

The late hyperpop pioneer, SOPHIE, who tragically fell from her apartment balcony in Greece in January 2021, will be releasing her self-titled posthumous album, SOPHIE, on September 27th. While SOPHIE had “hundreds” of unreleased tracks since her accidental fall, most have remained unreleased, even as her album with longtime collaborator Ben Long was nearly completed at the time of her death. As such, this should be one of the most culturally important albums of the year.

Rock & Metal

Paying respects to Seth Binzer of Crazy Town, new albums from Tom Morello and Van Morrison

Seth Binzer, known by the moniker Shifty Shellshock and as the frontman for rap-rock group Crazy Town, tragically passed away earlier this week at his Los Angeles home from an accidental overdose. While you may not be immediately familiar with the band Crazy Town, we can (almost) guarantee that you’ll recognize their #1 hit, “Butterfly.” 

Inspired by his son’s drop-D (a guitar tuning) riffs, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) announced he will be dropping a solo rock and roll album as his next project. Legendary rock and roll musician, Van Morrison, announced an upcoming new album, New Arrangements And Duets, which will be released on September 27th.

Electronic

Tycho returns, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew, Splash House lineup

Tycho has returned with the first single, “Phantom,” from his upcoming sixth studio album, Infinite Health. This will be his first since his 2020 album, Simulcast, and is described by Tycho as a “hope for the future and a requiem for the past.”

Since Kygo’s recently released self-titled album, his live music events company, Palm Tree Crew, has been busy with expansion plans while simultaneously putting out fires. After the conclusion of Palm Tree Music Festival in Southampton last week, attendees have taken to social media to request refunds due to operational issues stemming from poor festival access as well as shortages in alcohol and water, at the expense of spending more than $350 for the one-day festival. Separately, Palm Tree Crew has announced a new hospitality branch by launching The Palm Tree Club in Miami, which will serve as a restaurant, hotel, marina, and waterfront entertainment venue.

Finally, Splash House revealed its double weekend festival lineup returning to Palm Springs in August:

Tinashe and Blxst announce new albums

Following her viral hit “Nasty,” Tinashe has released her single, “Getting No Sleep,” along with confirming her upcoming album, Quantum Baby will arrive on August 16th. What a comeback since Aquarius ♒️

Los Angeles hip-hop artist and producer, Blxst, will release his debut album, I’ll Always Come Find You, on July 19th.

Primer: In solidarity with Noah Kahan, we believe everyone needs to start acknowledging the greatness that is Wild Rivers–a trio whose namesake was coined at a Subway sandwich shop with a little inspiration from a Gregory Orr poem, “The River.” The concept of the band began in the early 2010s when Devan Glover (lead vocalist) and Khalid Yassein (vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist) met at Queen’s University in Kingstown, Ontario. The duo began writing and recording music together, but it wasn’t until they added Andrew Oliver (lead guitarist) that they knew their group was complete. In 2016, their self-released and self-titled debut album caught the attention of Nettwerk, who offered them a record deal. Since then, the band has released two successful EPs, Eighty-Eight (2018) and Songs to Break Up To (2020). In 2022, the trio dropped their sophomore album, Sidelines, which was co-produced with Peter Katis (The National, Kurt Vile) showcasing how the trio continues to mature in their lyrical storytelling and overall sound.

What’s Next: After releasing a number of singles earlier this year, Wild Rivers are looking forward to releasing their third studio album, Never Better, on July 26th before embarking on their Everywhere We Go World Tour later this fall. 

Music labels sue AI music generators, MTV News archives officially shut down, Beats Pill speaker returns to stores

👨🏻‍⚖️ Big Music vs. AI Generators: The big three music labels, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment, along with the RIAA, have collectively sued generative AI music startups, Udio and Suno, for copyright infringement, claiming unauthorized use of original recordings to train their respective AI models. This could set the precedent for future music industry AI governance and serves as a potential blow to disruptive AI companies attempting to wrangle away power from traditional music industry titans. Other “losers” from the lawsuit include the venture capital firms that recently participated in Udio's ($10 million) and Suno’s ($125 million) fundraising rounds. As a possible corollary to the lawsuit, the big three have kicked off discussions with YouTube on potential licensing deals that would allow Google to legally access its music to train generative AI models associated with MusicLM.

📺 MTV News Shutdown: On the heels of a recently failed merger with movie production company, Skydance Media, Paramount has sadly shuttered its MTV News Archives for good (removing more than 20 years of music history). Another traditional music media publication bites the dust...

💊 Beatspilled: On Thursday, Beats by Dre announced the return of its culturally influential Beats Pill speaker, which is now $50 cheaper and 10% lighter, with an all-day battery life.

🌐 Web3 Updates: Web3 music streaming app, Audius, signed licensing deals with all four performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC), allowing songwriters to receive performance royalties for songs streamed on its platform.

Primary Wave Music dealmaking, PRS for Music gets sued, Create Music Group and Yoto raise new rounds of funding

🌊 The Home of Legends: Independent music publishing company, Primary Wave Music, announced the acquisition of Nuno Bettencourt’s catalog, including interest across all songs by Extreme, as well as its involvement in producing an upcoming documentary on songwriter, Gerry Goffin (Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, etc.)

🖊️ Songwriter Lawsuits: Several UK songwriters are suing PRS for Music, a British music rights (royalties, music copyright, licensing) management collective, for providing more prominent songwriters better live performance royalties than lesser-known songwriters as well as constructing purposely bureaucratic processes to discourage licensing with PRS. Separately, songwriter Jon Hume (JP Cooper, Bebe Rexha, Sofi Tukker, etc.) is filing a lawsuit against Universal Music Group Australia over the misappropriation of audio stems used in Dean Lewis’ “Be Alright,” in which Hume claims that he acted as the sole producer (not just songwriter) for the song. Why is this important? Let's start with numbers: 1.7 billion streams on Spotify alone…

💰 Securing the Bag: Create Music Group received a significant minority investment of $165 million led by Flexpoint to support expansion into new markets via acquisition. Screen-free audio player for children, Yoto, raised $23 million as part of a new fundraising round, with 50% of the round taken down by Chan Zuckerberg Ventures.

Don Toliver and $uicideboy$ score highest chart debuts of respective careers

📈 The title says it all this week, with hip-hop showing renewed strength as Don Toliver’s HARDSTONE PSYCHO debuts at #3 on the Billboard 200 (77K units, highest week of sales ever) and #1 on the Billboard Hip-Hop Albums Chart and $uicideboy$’ New World Depression debuts at #5 on the Billboard 200.

Zach Bryan’s 4th of July album drop, Bloc Party shares first single of 2024, Maren Morris announces new EP post-exit from country

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

🚨 Surprise Drops: Bloc Party released a surprise single titled "Flirting Again," marking a fresh addition to their discography for the first time this year

📣 Album Announcements: Maren Morris announced her new EP, Intermission, and shared its lead single, "cut! (feat. Julia Michaels)." Porches previewed their upcoming album with new single, "Itch."

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

  1. Zach Bryan, The Great American Bar Scene

  2. Soulja Boy, $sboy

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Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇸

Chris and Donya

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