Now Hear This is a daily dive into the standout songs of the day. Today, Childish Gambino goes funk, Ought's Tim Darcy goes solo, and Pick A Piper goes global.
Childish Gambino, "Awaken My Love"
You've got to give it to Donald Glover: when you think he's going to go left, he goes right. First he established himself as a comedy guy, then left Community to focus on hip-hop. Then, when Childish Gambino was firmly established as a nerd-rap rejection of notions of "authenticity," he went ahead and made the terrific FX show Atlanta, which focuses on a much grittier, "realness"-focused version of rap.
You might think all the time spent in the fictional Atlanta of the show would feed back into his music career, but the new Childish Gambino album "Awaken My Love" isn't even a rap album at all. It's a Funkadelic album. Straight-faced psychedelic soul, all sung, full of backing vocals and wah-wah guitar. It might also be December 2016's year-end list buster (if critics can get beyond "California").
If Donald Glover's next project is, like, a cookbook, it would no longer be a surprise. - Richard Trapunski
Childish Gambino's "Awaken My Love" is out today.
Tim Darcy, "Tall Glass of Water"
Ought frontman Tim Darcy introduces his solo effort with the "Tall Glass of Water" video single. The track begins in a rambling, alt-country shuffle, travelling further and faster down the dusty back routes of Americana than his Montreal post-punk outfit ever might, before settling into a midtempo barroom stomp. - Chris Hampton
Tim Darcy's Saturday Night is out February 17 on Jagjaguwar.
Pick a Piper ft. Introverted Dancefloor, "Geographically Opposed"
Caribou drummer Brad Weber says his forthcoming Pick a Piper album, Distance, is influenced by his world travels — to Chernobyl and Guatemala, to the Canadian Arctic and Japan. "A bewitching slow-rave travelogue of sounds," the press release calls it. "Geographically Opposed," featuring New Zealand electronic producer Introverted Dancefloor, sounds like land passing quickly underfoot; a new scene rises higher from the horizon. Each step — the sequencer like the traveller — advances the adventure. - Chris Hampton