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02.19.24 ###NeoFoLK TaG FeST02.15.24 idiotican can't take criticism
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Umbrella Contest 2020 Round 5: Umbrella.mp3

2 more out, and 18 still in.
1White Noise
An Electric Storm

1. Link a song via YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, DailyMotion, Vimeo... or whatever you like as long as I don't have to download something.

2. The genre this round is electronic. Synth pop, techno, house, trip hop, and even ambient! If it's electronic at all it works, even if it's fused with a more organic sounding genre. Okay, like don't pick something that's 90% guitar and drum set driven with a synth section hidden in the back, let the electronic elements be loud and clear.

3. Aim to impress me with what you pick, since I'm rating these.

4. If I know the song already, I'll tell you to pick something new, otherwise, you're good.

5. I'm going to start each new round every Tuesday night, so if you're late, you're out. My 2 least favorite recs will be eliminated each round.

***The winner of the competition can recommend me whatever 2 albums they want and I'll listen to them no matter the album as long as it's not impossible to find..***
2Deniece Williams
This Is Niecy


Jazz piano intro with strings? Off to a good start. Nice bass. This sounds like it’d fit well on a playlist with Minnie Riperton. I like the chimes a lot here too. This is fantastic honestly. There is so much emotion in the vocals and beauty in the instrumentation. And it has a neat keyboard solo at the end as if I needed another reason to love this.

4.5/5 (Passed to next round)
3Tina Turner
Simply the Best

We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)

Those flute synths sound pretty cheap, but her voice carries a good tone. Her voice got so raspy in the 80s, when it was super clear in the 70s. I wonder if she damaged her vocal chords at some point. This isn’t bad, but it’s really not my thing. It’s kinda corny and didn’t age well.

2.7/5 (Passed to next round)
4Men I Trust
Oncle Jazz


Funky bass so far. The bass really feels like the only real connection to R&B here, but I guess it isn’t so loose that I won’t count it. Vocally it’s really bland and the drums and guitar are honestly not much better. It’s pleasant I guess though, and toothless.

2.6/5 (Passed to next round)
5Jessie Ware
What's Your Pleasure?

“Ooh La La”

Bass is funky. It feels very 80s nostalgic and weirdly like in a Let’s Dance Bowie way? Kind of boring, but fun enough to warrant a decent score.

3/5 (Passed to next round)

“Gotta Get to Know Ya”

This has a lot of personality and I like the use of the guitar here. This does certainly come off as rock too. Like Soul rock, which of course counts, but I suppose was unexpected! This is cool.

3.6/5 (Passed to next round)

“Long Drive”

Wow both shoegaze kids picked some real fringe stuff. Maybe R&B and shoegaze are diametrically opposed in a way? This one works though, if not just barely. Not too interesting either honestly. Poppy slow whatever meh.

8Anderson .Paak

“The Season/Carry Me”

I like the sample. It reminds me of Black Mother Super Rainbow… in fact lemme look that up. Nope, oh well. The gospel backup vocals are awesome, though the leads aren’t doing it for me. I do kinda wish there was more singing and less rapping. I’m mixed on this, but there’s enough I like about it to justify the score.

3/5 (Passed to next round)
For All We Know

“We Don't Give A”

Nice piano and percussion. Her voice has a weird whine to it, so I don’t love it, but I also don’t exactly mind it. Kinda lead into a disco type groove though? Not really my thing and kinda forgettable.

2.8/5 (Passed to next round)
10Nina Simone
High Priestess of Soul

“I'm Going Back Home”

Now this is some old school soul. I feel like I’m at church listening to this, but not a boring Catholic/Episcopal hymn church nor a protestant white “Chrstian rock” church. Nina’s voice fascinates me since it’s the deepest I’ve ever heard a woman's voice. Like Anita Baker’s is even higher. I can’t say this is the best thing I’ve heard by her, but it’s full of energy. Whoa crazy album writing credits. Chuck Berry, Angelo Baladamenti, and Duke Ellington. Jesus, that’s all over the place. This was good.

3.5/5 (+.5 for winning last round) = 4/5 (Passed to next round)
11River Tiber


Some pretty typical sounding modern Alt R&B. The vocals are pretty nice, but the background music is pretty bland. Not for me.

2.7/5 (Passed to next round)
Red Gold Green 3

“People Don't Dance”

Rapping parts are eh, but the music is pretty fun and the singing is nice enough. Not much else to say about this one, but it accomplishes being dancy, which is its goal so, yeah.

3/5 (Passed to next round)
13Utada Hikaru


Ugh the background music sounds like the shit you hear in Apple commercials when they tell you about how humanity is evolving or some shit. The vocals are so boring too. “'Cause we gon' rock this club, we gon' go all night, we gon' light it up, like it's dynamite.” Ugh why does that one part remind me so heavily of that song “Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. Johnny, why!


“Them Changes”

Ooh, that bass line is dirty as hell. The vocals are awesome and I love the sax. This is quite varied without seeming too random as well. Why the hell aren’t I already into Thundercat? What is wrong with me? Man this is good.

4.4/5 (Passed to next round)
15The Bamboos
Night Time People

“Night Time People”

Good bass groove, good drums, good vocals, good horns. Yeah this is a recipe for success. This doesn’t necessarily stand out as unique, but damn this is fun regardless.

3.5/5 (Passed to next round)
16Taylor McFerrin
Early Riser

“The Antidote”

The intro feels rather psychedelic. Ooh, good backups so far. Wait, featuring Nai Palm? Haha I already love Hiatus Kaiyote, is this cheating? It isn't. it’s actually a really safe decision. I like literally everything about this from the piano, to the bass, to the shakers (maracas or egg shakers maybe?)

4.7/5 (Passed to next round)
17Wendy Rene
After Laughter

“After Laughter”

Very old school again. This is pretty simplistic and very typical of its era. The key is kinda cool, but this otherwise is pretty meh.

2.6/5 (Passed to next round)
18Eugene McDaniels
Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse

“Headless Heroes”

Political right off the bat, okay. Whoa whoa whoa calm down Eugene this is some m14andthisisdeep shit. Side note: the bass, keys, and drums are all great. Goodbye subtly am I right? Here a sample of the lyrics: “Jews and the Arabs/Semitic pawns in the master game/The player who controls the board/Sees them all as the same/Basically cannon fodder/Left wing and right wing/Political pawns in the master game/The player who controls the board.” Not bad though, really grabbed my attention.

3.8/5 (Passed to next round)
19Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Tom Browne - “Jamaica Funk” (Funkin’ for Jamaica)

This one comes off as very jammy so far. Yet again good bass. Then again a lot of R&B is “good bass: the genre” so I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot. It reminds me of Parliament, but more broken down. Not a bad thing to be.

3.4/5 (Passed to next round)
It Is What It Is

”Dragonball Durag”

Good bass and sax again. The vocals and lyrics are very silly. I’m kinda mesmerized by this. Like it’s really got the right spirit I look for in a lot of music. Man I’ve been sleeping on Thundercat.

4.8/5 (ROUND WINNER, handicap (for others) of +.05 for the next round) (Passed to next round)

“Left Side Drive”

Cool backmasking sounds so far. She sounds so similar to her sister, but the music she chooses to back her voice is way more interesting than Beyonce’s. I guess maybe that’s because Boards of Canada is just the background music, but hey, it works.

3.3/5 (Passed to next round)
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