This Week’s Essential Tracks: Kamasi Washington, Ithaca and more

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Kamasi Washington essential tracks

Bandcamp Friday is a great day to dive into some exceptional new music. If you’re inclined to exercise that pre-order finger, this week’s picks include gospel jazz, epic metalcore, and a sea shanty turned guitar drone. Dive in.

Listen to our ongoing playlist of 2022 Essential Tracks.

Kamasi Washington – “The Garden Path”

Kamasi Washington plays jazz, generally speaking, though he’s collaborated with a number of artists in the worlds of pop and hip-hop, and even his epic spiritual jazz compositions often have an element of more traditional pop songwriting in them—particularly when there’s a choir involved. “The Garden Path” pushes even farther into that space, with big choral hooks and heavy gospel influence. Once Washington breaks into a saxophone solo, we’re reminded again of what he does best, but on “The Garden Path,” he and his large ensemble remind us that their music is fluid and ever-changing, improvisational and ecstatic, accessible and unpredictable.

Out now via Young

Whatever the Weather – “17º C”

After releasing last year’s outstanding Reflection, producer Loraine James has debuted a new project, Whatever the Weather, through the release of the new IDM track “17º C.” It walks a balance between heady ambience and frantic rhythms—if you removed the overstimulating layers of beats, what’s left is something soothing and gorgeously otherworldly. It’s in that balance between the two that James finds a particularly enchanting chemistry, finding harmony between elements that don’t immediately seem like they belong together. It’s easy to imagine them separately, but they become even stronger when layered together in one contrasting, unlikely whole.

From Whatever the Weather, out April 8 via Ghostly

Young Guv – “Good Time”

Young Guv, the power pop project of former Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, is releasing a double album in two installments, titled Guv III and Guv IV, the sheer ambition of which isn’t all that surprising given his former band’s penchant for sprawling conceptual works. But “Good Time” is pure jangle pop—no traces of progressive rock to be found in its three minutes. There’s a certain irony in hearing music this bright and summery in early February, Young Guv’s gorgeously shimmering guitars and stunning vocal harmonies creating an atmosphere of bittersweet euphoria somewhere between Alex Chilton and Jeff Lynne. But it’s not like it’ll lose any of its appeal six months from now.

From Guv III, out March 11 via Run for Cover

Ithaca – “They Fear Us”

British metalcore group Ithaca once toured with folky indie rock darlings Big Thief, and the sheer volume and intensity of their mosh-pit anthems almost certainly caught a few folks in the crowd off guard. But it’s not like Ithaca don’t also write a great melody. On “They Fear Us,” the first single from their album of the same name, they don’t get there immediately, instead delivering a satisfying helping of chug and stomp for the first minute or so, as if to remind us that this is a band whose biggest strength is in making musical instruments sound like weapons of street warfare. But when they do get to those soaring chorus vocals and heroic, melodic guitar riffs, it sounds as glorious as ever, as strong a showcase of their seamless ability to bridge the muscular and the mellifluous as ever.

From They Fear Us, out July 29 via Hassle

Shane Parish – “Haul Away Joe”

Shane Parish is about a year late to take advantage of the, admittedly strange, resurgence of sea shanties on TikTok, but as a unifying motif for his new album of psychedelic guitar dirges, it offers a fascinating way to explore an ages-old musical tradition. “Haul Away Joe” doesn’t involve grog-fueled galley singalongs, but rather a slow build of hypnotic guitar loops, haunting ambient haze and an urgency that’s constantly on the verge of boiling over but never quite ready to explode. It’s tense and turbulent like the raging sea, but somehow serene, the picture of cool in the eye of a storm.

From Liverpool, out March 4 via Dear Life

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