Fortnight Finds Vol. V

Welcome to the fifth edition of Fortnight Finds, in which we explore a new entry in the Chicago soul rap canon, some technicolor synth pop and mallet-assisted fingerstyle guitar.

From Here On Out - Gold Haze

Having spent too much of my childhood listening to Kanye West productions, I have developed a soft spot in some unknown region of my brain which renders me unable to resist a well-executed soul sample. Pitch the vocals right, slide the drums underneath, maybe include some swelling horns and I’m hooked. So yes, the full-length debut from Chicago producer-rapper Gold Haze is like comfort food to me, but it is also very well-made comfort food. Gold Haze has been cranking out instrumental tapes since 2012 and he knows his way around a beat flip. He’s also a more than decent rapper, and rounds out the album with features from some fellow Chicago soul-rap acolytes, including a strong verse from Joey Purp.

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An Overview on Phenomenal Nature - Cassandra Jenkins

In the tradition of any number of great American songwriters, Cassandra Jenkins writes short stories set to 3-to-5 minute songs. The unifying thread of the stories on Phenomenal Nature is the aftermath of the death of David Berman -- the beloved songwriter and Silver Jews frontman who died by suicide in the summer of 2019 shortly before Jenkins was due to tour with him. That’s a heavy emotional core for an album, but both in her gentle, straightforward lyricism and in the tender instrumentation Jenkins really guides the listener through her journey in a way that makes for a remarkably fulfilling listening experience.

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Urban Driftwood - Yasmin Williams

The guitar is an extremely old instrument, and it has been more or less at the center of American popular music for roughly as long as there has been American popular music. All that to say that it takes a special kind of mind to develop a style of playing the guitar that feels both new and not gimmicky. Enter Yasmin Williams, whose intricate acoustic fingertapping first caught national attention when she entered NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2018. Urban Driftwood is Williams’ second album, and it finds her doing more of the same: expanding and exploding what you think fingerstyle guitar can sound like and weaving together intricate melodies and rhythms.

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Dawn Drops - Aki Himaken and Aleksi Kinnunen

Dawn Drops is a really fun project: Two expansive, lush jazz tunes, paired with a techno remix of each. It makes for a great listening experience: The initial jazz tunes, courtesy of the Finnish duo Aki Himaken and Aleksi Kinnunen draw on some techno and electronic tropes and instrumentation, which are then chopped up, transformed and emphasized when the songs are reimagined for the club.

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It’s Nearly Nighttime - Arminda K

The cover art for Arminda K’s It’s Nearly Nighttime shows the U.K. singer-songwriter dissolving into video contrast -- shifting into yellow, black and pale stripes. It’s a fitting aesthetic match for the music, which is full of dreamy, technicolor synths that dissolve over you in waves. Aminda K explores a wide range of sounds that could probably best be called “dream pop,” but the best way to recommend this album is that If you’re interested in synth-driven tunes that lean heavily into both spaciness and warmth, this is for you.

Listen on Bandcamp: