“No Truck Song” – Tim Hicks
“No Truck Song” appears on Wreck, a three-song album recently released by Tim Hicks. The long-standing argument against country music is that every song is about trucks, girls, booze and small-towns, which is a pretty well substantiated stance. However, those are exactly the things that make country music so good. Hicks is no exception to country singers who keep their content pretty consistent with these recurring topics. “No Truck Song” would imply no trucks are featured on this track, however, to the delight of country listeners, and disappointment to country haters, the first lyrics are, “I got my ‘89 Silverado all shined up, headin’ for the back forty lookin’ for mud.” “No Truck Song” is a light-hearted, feel-good track that features Tim Hicks’ signature voice and fun, upbeat instrumentals. This song sounds loose, care-free and very natural, making it an easy listen. As soon as the weather is nice enough to drive with the windows down, this song will be on full blast. Five stars.
“Feel Me” – Selena Gomez
“Feel Me” by Selena Gomez is disappointing in every respect. Gomez has never been known to have a strong range of sound, and this song is no exception. This track features her regular airy notes, slightly whiny voice and one-sided love-story lyrics. The synthesizer sounds are forgettable and mundane, leaving listeners bored. The chorus and bridge are predictable and surface level, and as a whole the song comes across as extremely repetitive. To wrap up the thoughtlessness of this track, the single cover art is the song title in white block letters, with a completely plain navy background. Overall, this seems like a throwaway of a song and brings the meaning of “doing the bare minimum” to another level. One star.
“Take It Easy” – Surfaces
“Take It Easy” by Surfaces is a gentle pop song that makes for a great listen. Surfaces are fairly new on the music scene after releasing their hit “Sunday Best” last year. “Take It Easy” is light-hearted and sounds like a pastel coloured daydream. Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki’s sound is soothing and smooth and their instrumentals are simple yet match the vocals perfectly. “Take It Easy” does not have a lot of complexity in the lyrics, which might be purposeful to make this a truly care-free sounding track. My prediction is that this song will be a hit this summer as it has a beachy vibe and relaxed sound. “Take It Easy” leaves me excited to see where Surfaces’ career will go as I think they are on track to stardom. Four stars.
“Mona Lisa” – Terror Jr & Total Ape
Electronic producer duo Total Ape and hypnotic pop band Terror Jr are the perfect pairing. “Mona Lisa” is typical Terror: lead singer Lisa Vitale’s voice is sultry yet vulnerable, breezing over once again another pop culture-infused narrative that paints her as a troubled figure veiled in confidence: “you call me Mona Lisa / I’ll never be that Lisa / You’re looking for a classic / I’m something new and tragic.” It’s nothing rare for the duo, but Terror Jr continuously finds new ways to reinvigorate their style and adding Total Ape to the mix is what does it this time around.
Verses quickly build up into a kinetic chorus paired with these powerful drops. Total Ape utilize Lisa’s voice as an instrument throughout the track, a creative risk that pays off. During the drop, her high notes are malleable to the masterful production and weaved into the depths of the song’s synths. Autotune occasionally overtakes the vocals and turns Lisa into something more robotic, but only when absolutely necessary for the construction of the song. It’s safe to say that this masterpiece is fittingly titled. Five stars.
“Stupid Love” – Lady Gaga
“Stupid Love” is a blast from the past in more than one way. The eccentric, bouncy tune is 80s-inspired – this is clear from even the opening seconds. Prior to this new track, though, the last times we heard from Gaga was from her turn as Ally in A Star Is Born, on a stripped-down country-inspired record and a jazzy joint effort between her and Tony Bennett. All of these songs exercised her voice and felt very far removed from her meat dress days. “Stupid Love” also plays it old school because it takes Gaga back to the early days of her career.
“Stupid Love” veers in the opposite direction: it’s campy and over-the-top, a high energy dance joint. The song’s 80s inspiration is so front-and-centre that “Stupid Love” winds up sounding dated instead of a 2020 re-imagining of the 80s style. The pure pop of the song sounds more fitting of 2011 or even 2008 Gaga.
But Gaga’s vocals manage to shine even over the song’s aggressive electro. It’s fun, sprightly and a brilliant showcase of her ability. The fact that it sounds so dated in multiple regards speaks to the song’s lack of staying power, though; we’ve heard this song before and we’ve definitely heard it from Gaga. Three stars.
“Shimmy” – Aminé
Aminé’s return to music after a brief hiatus is marked with an homage to one of rap’s greats. Featuring a sample of the original and a shoutout on the chorus, “Shimmy” takes direct inspiration from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 1995 classic “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”. The single cover is even made to look like a library card, Aminé’s take on the classic Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version’s cover art, which was simply ODB’s welfare card.
“Shimmy” features a contrast between Aminé’s chill, laid back flow and braggadocious lyrics. Only restrained sonically, the lyrics don’t hold back: “you thought you made you an anthem, but you just sang you a Fergie,” he raps on the second verse. The beat by Boi-1da and Vinylz explains the track’s subtle familiarity: the beat sounds like it was lent to Aminé from an old Drake song but Aminé takes full ownership. He spends the two minutes that feel rather hefty rapping about his musical prowess but makes sure to leave plenty of evidence. Four stars.