Fresh Goods 9: PARTYNEXTDOOR, Morgan Wallen, Blue Nightmare and More

Another couple weeks down, another batch of fresh goods at your doorstep— or your computer screen, I guess. In a dormant couple of weeks, here’s some of the best music I listened to recently. 

Revisiting PARTYNEXTDOOR’s COLOURS EPs: PARTYNEXTDOOR, at his best, is incredibly gifted at making romantic fuck boy-isms. His first two albums were loaded with scrolls of toxic late night texts. He makes soundtracks to drunken messages and risky jumpers in Instagram DMs. When Party announced he would combine his COLOURS EPs, I immediately reminisced on every wild Kik text me and my friends would take in high school. Songs like “Let’s Get Married” reinforce the same pernicious behavior Jagged Edge unleashed onto the world with their song of the same name. Party immediately introduces highly unrealistic desires he wants out of woman, wanting her to agree with everything he does and undress herself whenever he wishes. Despite the glaring description of a mindless sex drone, his melodies make the most nonsensical of requests sound borderline sweet in its incessant horniness. All across the two EPs, PARTYNEXTDOOR’s thirstiness is incredibly nostalgic of the sex-crazed, adolescent puberty actions teenagers frequented. It unveiled our worst characteristics but to have songs that perfectly conveyed those hormones connected with us instantly. His moody, atmospheric, auto-tuned anthems may be rooted in its hyper-specific time but it still translates well today. 

Morgan Wallen- “7 Summers”: In my continued search for great Country music, I’m not looking to coax anyone into recognizing some untapped genius. As someone who didn’t love a lot of Country, I understand why it’s not for everyone. It’s assuredly Southern and/or thick-skulled in some avenues. In others, it’s glaringly flavorless and easy to conform to blander territories. I’m not totally sure it can translate to other parts of the globe the way folk music does in its universal qualities. Maybe there’s just an unshakable stigma to Country music. The preconceived notions hardly ever uncover the best of what the genre has to offer. 

When I found out about Morgan Wallen, I only knew the name. The association with bland, alcohol fueled Country rooted itself deep in my psyche. Knowing Nashville’s presence on Billboard charts creates uneasiness naturally. Florida Georgia Line cosigns are the most dangerous red flags in Country music. But when I listened to “7 Summers,” I did not anticipate replaying it to death the way I did at the start of 2021. The best Country music always excels at immense warmth and homeliness. Even in its most bittersweet nature, the shaggy haired Country crooner makes even the most longing thoughts incredibly beautiful. When he reminisces on the times before he and this woman led new lives, it stings but it’s largely positive. There’s an overwhelming graciousness, rejoicing over the experiences gained. When he longs for those days with Coke and Southern Comfort and asks if she thinks about him, it’s yearning but it’s delivered with a sly smile. He’s self aware enough to know it’s but a mere daydream. Despite that, he relishes in the sweet moments, no matter how fleeting. 

Blue Nightmare- Quaranthree: Songs revolving around quarantine themes walk a very tight line. Depending on its framing and overall effectiveness, it can be rendered as dated once the pandemic comes to a close. The universal qualities of loneliness can be anchored by a time period where so many of us couldn’t go outside (or at least we weren’t supposed to but you know how people are). In the case of Blue Nightmare, maybe the on-the-nose subject matter can make it a little difficult to separate it from COVID. However, the influences it carries allow some outstanding R&B cuts to be produced. The Brent Faiyaz/Sonder comparisons are a bit glaring but I could never be one to complain over tremendously layered vocals and throwback R&B aesthetics. Blue Nightmare approaches songs with weighty stakes, treating COVID as the dire, world-halting circumstances they are. On “Me”, he skates over Aaliyah/Timbaland-esque production, lamenting how awful he feels in isolation and longing. But the way his delicate singing voices reflects off the cascading drums and bass makes Quaranthree a light, seamless listen that swirls around the brain. One of the most surprising listens I’ve had in quite some time. 

10kdunkin, Tony Shhnow, & Flee- “Disrespectfully”: Some of my favorite artists today blur the lines between ambient music and hip-hop. Since Playboi Carti’s “Yah Mean” in 2017, rap frequently finds its most euphoric and joyous moments in heavenly atmospheric. There’s a copious amount of space in these songs, allowing artists to float over beats like Goku on a Flying Nimbus. On “Disrespectfully”, even the most paranoid moments (“clutchin’ that glock, I feel like n****s after me”) or flagrant flexes (“I’m good at cheating, baby that is my specialty) are met by holy water submerged production. There’s somewhat of a spirituality, a divine quality to it, a song so unbothered yet cognizant enough to plod at their adversaries. Finding perfection in a dystopian wasteland grows exceedingly more difficult these days but “Disrespectfully” gives hope at future paradise. 

Top 5 Soundtracks of All Time: I watched Boomerang the other day and came to two conclusions: 1. This movie coasts a lot on Eddie Murphy’s likability and not on the strength of his character or the writing. 2. This has to be one of the 5 best soundtracks ever, right? As a result, I went over the arduous, thankless task of thumbing through all of my favorite soundtracks and seeing what would make the top 5. The following are some honorable mentions that could easily change in ranking on a whim. These are all classics: Brown Sugar, Shaft, Friday, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing, Love Jones, Do The Right Thing, Get Rich or Die Tryin, Juice, and Easy Rider. Now, I’ll briefly go over what I think are the best soundtracks ever. 

Boomerang: I knew I wanted this soundtrack on the list off the strength of Johnny Gill’s sensational, steamy bedroom jam “There U Go.” His professions of undying love and lust over Babyface and LA Reid production is a recipe for pure R&B excellence. The rest of the soundtrack lives up to its classic label, as expected when peak Babyface helps lay out the blueprint. The Boomerang soundtrack is a culmination of the 90’s best and most underrated, from Toni Braxton and Boyz II Men to Keith Washington and PM Dawn. It’s so good, it elevates a lesser plot and an unlikable lead through undefeated odes to romance. 

Lost in Translation: A lot of these soundtracks work best as their own solo bodies of work. You don’t need Boomerang the movie to appreciate its stellar soundtrack. In the case of Lost in Translation, I’d argue the soundtrack is much better as an accompanying piece to a lonely, secluded movie, both emotionally and physically. Like the movie, there’s so much space to exist but not enough to fully live in. It’s vast and expanding but its colors and textures adds to the desire to curl up in a ball for protection. The shoe-gaze perfection of “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine serves as a perfect climax at the end of an emotional whirlwind of a film. 

Above The Rim: Similar to Boomerang, the Above The Rim soundtrack adds so much more life to a movie almost solely reliant on a phenomenal performance by Tupac as Birdie. In the place of a good lead (Duane Martin plays a stubborn moron who doesn’t really redeem himself by the end) and compelling writing, the music is spotless. Sure, the beginning of the movie is insanely stupid, starting with rooftop basketball where the backboard is made of paper mache. But, at the very least, we get some of the best music Death Row ever produced. 

Superfly: The very best soundtracks produce a movie within the movie. While the plot rages on, Curtis Mayfield was the perfect narrator to convey the themes and energy rushing through Superfly’s veins. Getting one of the best soul singers of all time to do your entire soundtrack is an absolute cheat code. It’s only one better. 

Purple Rain: One of the best albums ever, let alone soundtracks. Every Prince album I’ve ever heard are life-changing events. They spark a city’s worth of electricity in the body. His expert use of guitars and synths are pure fireworks. Every guitar solo shreds the fabric of your heart and every drum is a set of fireworks launched in your sternum. Every second of Purple Rain exists outside of the physical realm and yet still demolishes every bone in your body. It taps into a spiritual, undefinable experience unlike any album ever recorded. You never truly know the power of Purple Rain. You feel it. When you feel it once, that physical reaction sticks with you for the rest of your life. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping, stunning albums ever recorded and it’s the best soundtrack ever.

Thanks for tuning into another batch of Fresh Goods. This installment was inspired by Stevie Wonder’s “As.” Listen to more Stevie Wonder, you’ll always feel better. Follow me on Twitter @caleb_catlin23 to stay updated on everything I’m working on.