Do you like your jams sensual or political? How about both? Take your pick! [Single Reviews]

Featuring a few discoveries and a couple of long-running favorites, and spanning everything from R&B, soul, and roots rock to funk, alternative, and yes, even metal, this eclectic batch of single reviews is bound to give you something new to spin, whether you prefer your jams more sensual or more political.

Paolo James – “Smooth”: Paolo James’ smooth (sorry, I had to) blend of soul and R&B is poppy enough to where I could see it belonging on AC charts across the country, yet it’s also funky enough to where I could see it impressing even the purists of the music snobs. His debut single is a sensual slow-burner that I would lope in with the same group as other names I’ve covered in the past like Adam Saxe. Regardless of the New York City-based artist’s musical disposition though, James is a name anyone and everyone should keep an eye out for.

Making Movies – “Cómo Perdonar”: Making Movies is a band which I discovered less than two years ago yet has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. The two pairs of brothers craft a distinct sound that more than dabbles in psychedelia, keeping things fresh while still staying true to their Afro-Latino roots as Panamanian and Mexican Americans. On “Cómo Perdonar,” the Kansas City-based quartet outdo themselves once again, enlisting the help of legendary salsero Rubén Blades and New York City’s all-women mariachi collective Flor de Toloache to provide some chilling vocal harmonies alongside frontman Enrique Chi. A haunting track that tackles the political injustices at the border over a meandering, mid-tempo shuffle that changes keys more than a few times, the second single from
ameri’kana hits hard in every way possible, which alone is enough reason to pre-order the band’s forthcoming full-length.

The Band Royale – “Loose Lips Sink Ships”: Over four years, two EP’s, and a full album worth of outtakes later, Chicago’s best kept secret has finally returned with the first taste of their sophomore full-length. A driving single that is as massively metal as it is magnificently melodic, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” boasts the enormous riffing that made me fall in love with these fellas in the first place. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s …As Long As The Money Lasted is complete, so hopefully that means we won’t have to wait much longer before we get to hear, or rather, experience, the new LP from The Band Royale in full.

Wilder Woods – “Sure Ain’t”: Despite sounding identical to a certain frontman of a certain well-known rock band, the voice behind the cryptic Wilder Woods has yet to confirm that he is in fact NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear Rinehart. Further research on ASCAP revealed to me that Rinehart is indeed one of the principle songwriters behind “Sure Ain’t,” all but confirming what the vast majority of us already knew. I’m not exactly sure why Rinehart decided to go about things in this way (that’s something only he could speak to), but one thing I am sure of: the soulful swagger displayed on this rowdy roots rocker makes it the perfect balance of powerful and sensitive. Add in a tight drum groove courtesy of a certain Darren King, and this single will be making waves for quite some time, regardless of whether the man behind it ever reveals himself.

Ozomatli – “El Otro Lado”: After already releasing one funky politically-tinged jam this year in “Libertad,” the Los Angeles-based sextet is back with another less than three months later. “El Otro Lado” is their second single of 2019 with former member Chali 2na, and this fun cumbia-laced party rocker about “the other side of that wall” is even funkier than the first. In a genius move, Ozomatli flips the script by using an excerpt from one of President Trump’s past speeches to open the song. If the infectious bass and horn lines we’ve heard so far, particularly those of “El Otro Lado,” mean that a similarly-sounding full-length is slated for release sometime later this year, I’m here for it.

Still Woozy – “Lava”: The solo project of Sven Gamsky sort of skyrocketed in popularity recently when his 2017 song “Goodie Bag” appeared on a YouTube ad, but now Still Woozy is back and even better than before with his newest single, a fuzzy bop that shows off some nasty synths and a head-bobbing bassline. With the release of his debut EP Lately just around the corner and a steady string of summer tour dates (including several festivals both here and across the pond), Gamsky doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon either.

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