June: Black Lives Matter
Thanks for checking in on this month's Search/Play/Repeat where I listen to albums I've never heard before and then make a playlist of some of my favorite tracks from those albums. Sometimes I'm just playing catch up on an artist's discography, and sometimes I discover something completely new. The end result I hope being that both you and I find something new. Last month I decided to forgo sharing a playlist due to the lack of Black representation in the playlist. This month's playlist is made up entirely of Black artists of all genres, old and new. Let's get to it!
Kicking off the playlist is the iconic, Jimi Hendrix. I've ultimately refrained from listening to much of Hendrix throughout my life mostly because... well... I've been hearing him my whole life. You hear the same four or five songs enough times and you start to feel like you've heard it all. Not that "Purple Haze" and "Hey Joe" aren't classics, it's just another case of overexposure leading to disinterest. Much like Bohemian Rhapsody's press-junket souring my love for Queen. I decided it was finally time to give the man his due and dig further into his discography since Are You Experienced is the only album of his I've heard. As it turns out, Axis: Bold as Love is a magnificent record! I found the stronger R&B and Jazz-Fusion direction more gratifying than AYE's Psych-Rock. Another "classic" I finally checked out a big one within the Punk community -- Bad Brains. Bad Brains' self-titled album has been an easy one to avoid all these years. I hadn't really heard much aside from "Pay to Cum" and "Banned in D.C." Reports of HR's hate and homophobia has been so prevalent and was a huge turn-off. The band's influence on the Afro-Punk movement is undeniable, but damn if that album doesn't feel tarnished.
Fortunately, they weren't the only all-Black Punk band from the 70s and 80s. Before Bad Brains, there was Pure Hell. Up until recently, I had never heard of the self-proclaimed "first Black Punk band in the world." Pure Hell is another band, like Death, that was lost among Punk's historical roots. Let's be real, that's not an accident. They only released a single before calling it quits in 1978, despite having a full album recorded. It eventually came out... in 2005. I decided to jump to the other side of the early punk-spectrum with Ska group, The Selecter. For the longest time, I used to think The Selecter and The Specials were the same band. Like, I thought it was one of those situations where The Specials lost members so they just changed their name. It didn't help that their history was so intertwined. Another Ska band I finally checked out was Fishbone. The only time I ever saw Less Than Jake, they were supported by Fishbone and it was one of the most fun times I've had at a show. It's taken me way too long to finally check them out. From my understanding, they genre-jump a bit, so I'm curious to check out more.
My favorite discovery this month is The 1865 (which, ironically, I discovered on Juneteenth). A fairly new band with music that borders between Punk and Post-Punk and lyrics sung from the perspective of a post-Emancipation America in 1865. It's a history lesson and amazing music rolled into one. I highly suggest checking out their album, Don't Tread on We. Probably the best punk album I missed from 2019. Another newcomer to the scene I checked out is Meet Me @ the Altar. Fast-paced Pop-Punk like a cross between older-Paramore and Heartsounds. I was happy to see them get added to the Riot Fest bill for next year (assuming it still happens. ::GULP::)!
It wasn't all Punk all month. Run the Jewels released an "album of the year" contender. I swear it's just coincidence that the song I put on the playlist samples Gang of Four. I'm a huge fan of K-OS' Atlantis, but I never got far into his discography. I dug into his back catalog to check out Joyful Rebellion as well as the new EP he just released in May. I threw a little Soul into the mix with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones. Both were modern day classic Soul revivalists that passed away in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
That's going to close out June's playlist. Thanks for listening. I hope you found something new to your liking and I encourage you to search, play, and repeat. In the meantime, continue to fight for and lift Black voices. It makes a difference. Minneapolis is dismantling its police force. Racist monuments are toppling. However, many murderous officers still haven't been held accountable. Keep up the pressure.