Last week we took a deep dive into my favorite new records of 2020. Going forward, every Friday I’ll be bringing you a sampling of what I’m listening to; new albums, reissued records, and even some interesting singles. The goal is to help you discover new records that you can jumpstart your weekend with.
2 new records have been on my turntable all week and I’ve enjoyed them very much.
Aaron Frazer – Introducing…
Hear Aaron Frazer’s voice once, and you’ll never forget it. Frazer has built up a devoted fan base over the last few years drumming and showing off his sweet falsetto voice in one of the best modern soul groups around, Durand Jones & The Indications. He’s also released a couple of tracks with The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY; a gospel side project that many, myself included, hope might one day release an LP. I first discovered Frazer via The Indications back in 2017, and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. While singing on just one track on their debut album, Frazer took the lead on nearly half the tracks on their 2019 sophomore release, American Love Call. So, when he announced in October 2020 that he was releasing his debut solo album in 2021, it set off an exciting countdown to see what his solo material would be like.
Introducing… showcases a wide range of styles and influences on Frazer’s music, and takes his signature sound to another level. The opening track, “You Don’t Wanna Be My Baby,” begins with a fuzzed-out guitar and shimmering production; the influence and contribution of producer Dan Auerbach is quite evident. The record reflects a marriage of styles between Auerbach and Frazer that honestly works better than anything else I’ve heard come out of Easy Eye Sound. That’s saying a lot because I’m a big fan of everything on the label. Throughout the record, there are tinges of soul, R&B, gospel, hip-hop, rock, pop, and doo-wop. It’s truly a melting pot that makes it more difficult to define as simply a soul album.
Lead single “Bad News” immediately captured hearts with its retro sound, complete with a funky guitar and bass line, and a soulful flute. The vocal run towards the middle of the song is one of the rare instances where Frazer descends into the lower registers of his vocal range; news flash: it’s as silky smooth as his falsetto. My favorite track is “Ride with Me” — a feel good sing-along that will no doubt be the soundtrack to many road trips this summer. “Love” is a big theme on the record and is referenced in four song titles alone; the most impactful of which is the closer “Leanin’ on Your Everlasting Love.” With a hymn-like feeling, it provides the perfect conclusion to the album. Frazer has cultivated a sound that is all his own on Introducing…, leaving the listener longing to start another countdown to his next release.
Where to buy: $21.98 at Amazon
Micah Sheveloff – Rockville
Micah Sheveloff is a self-described “meticulous songsmith” hailing from Boston. More specifically, Rockville Street in Boston, which served as inspiration behind the album title and music on his latest release. Sheveloff’s interest in music began early and grew quickly; his father was a music professor at Boston University and their home was a constant flow of music. After playing with several rock bands over the years, he has shifted his focus to writing and producing his blend of classical piano and ‘70s pop that results in a really unique, classic sound.
Rockville opens with Sheveloff showcasing his piano background on “High Notes.” It’s a track that anyone can listen to and relate to what it’s like to discover music, and yourself in the process. The song is subtly anthemic; it builds in a way that feels so natural as additional vocals and guitars are added to the mix. The instrumentation throughout the album is superb; it’s understated in the best way possible. When you listen to an album and hear musicians who know how to display their showmanship without being showy, you know you’ve discovered something quite authentic.
The collection of songs are very cohesive while also exploring different sounds. Tracks like “Dynamite,” and “Euphoria” reveal a darker side touching on loss, while “Just Love Someone” and “The Simplest Things” bring great messages of hope via up-tempo arrangements. The production is fantastic, which makes for a great listening experience as every aspect of the music is beautifully recorded. As I was listening, by the time I was mid-way through a song, I’d find myself singing along to the chorus. The melodies and hooks are top notch earworm caliber. Sheveloff has composed an album in Rockville that is distinctly modern while still paying tribute to the influences, both musical and personal, that shaped him. And with that, he’s created a timeless pop album that anyone who appreciates great musicianship will enjoy.
Where to buy: Rockville on 33 rpm vinyl