Every month since January 2011, Shaun Johnson has been making monthly playlists of his favorite music. As soon as the last couple days of the month roll around, Shaun starts a new playlist for the next month with whatever music he is jamming out to at that time. These playlists include any music that Shaun loves and are not confined to any specific genre or release date. The playlists usually include new music, but they can also include tracks from bands that Shaun is planning on seeing live that particular month.
These write-ups are solely for Shaun to promote the music he loves and to give him an outlet to write about music in a consistent manner! Don’t be afraid to send him your thoughts on his write-up or playlists on Twitter: @ShaunSJohnson
With the start of March and how February started, I think I have come to the realization that each month is going to start with the end of last month’s playlist leaking into it. March’s first chunk of tracks were songs sampled on Miguel’s “Do You…” seems like a track that was written with the thought that it would be sampled. The same goes for AlunaGeorge’s opening track to Body Music, “Outlines”. That track is simply unreal, it’s the first week of April and I find myself putting it on repeat while cruising on the interstate. AlunaGeorge’s “You Know You Like It” seems to have been overshadowed by their more popular single “Attracting Flies”. Both are really great tracks, I just enjoy “You Know You Like It” a lot more.
OSHI and Sam Gellaitry both made it back onto my monthly playlists again this month. These dudes are the future of music. They are going to be emperors of SoundCloud in the coming years. Gellaitry has already signed to Soulection Records based out of Los Angeles. I hope they sign OSHI soon. My friend and co-host of The EZPZ Podcast, Dan Brown, is confident that he will be on their eclectic roster soon enough. OSHI just made an appearance on Soulection’s Love is King compilation. The compilation is pretty solid, although only a few artists truly standout. Love is King was released as a celebration for Soulection reaching over 200,000 followers on SoundCloud. Gellaitry’s EP, Short Stories, is going to be one of my favorite releases of the year without a doubt. I hope he comes stateside soon. I would travel to Chicago, a 6-hour drive, just to see Sam Gellaitry perform. His performance in Paris at the beginning of March was put on YouTube and I have clocked a bunch of miles on the treadmill watching it. I suggest you check it out, Gellaitry is the future of music.
The boys in black and white (and floral green) have returned to my monthly playlists for the third month in a row. Their album, Hyperview, still gives me the chills. I absolutely love everything about Title Fight and how they are metamorphosing into something truly brilliant. The album didn’t receive nearly the amount of praise as their second album, Floral Green, but it did with me. I got to see them live on March 8th in Lawrence, Kansas with my friend and co-host, Nick Gandy. I needed to see them live, especially after their album, Hyperview, dropped. These dudes know how to put on a performance. I am bummed that I am missing their co-headlining tour with La Dispute due to class and work. It also didn’t help that the closest show to Des Moines, Iowa was in Chicago on Easter Sunday. I’m far from a religious man, but familial duties come with Easter Sunday. The same thing happened when Title Fight toured in support of Circa Survive, too! Such a shame, both those tours were monumental.
Okay, I am not giving credit where credit is due—the openers for the Title Fight show I caught in Lawrence, Kansas were phenomenal. Power Trip, a hardcore band, and Merchandise, manic pixie dream world indie pop. I loved the intensity and thrills that Power Trip brought to the stage. Kids were flying everywhere and going completely nuts. Merchandise wooed those same kids into a trance. The people that just watched Power Trip tear apart the stage stayed and watched Merchandise create something truly wonderful. The band ‘s music sounds like it should be played in front of English royalty. I can see why Title Fight wanted to tour with both bands. Loyal Title Fight fans love both their fast-paced, punk songs, usually led by Ned Russin and their soothing, whammy-bar abused songs, usually led by Jamie Rhoden. Both the opening bands brought a side of Title Fight to the show. I loved Merchandise’s set so much that I was kicking myself after the show for not buying any of their merch or material. I got their EP, Totale Nite, and threw the track “Anxiety’s Door” on my playlist.
I guarantee I will be getting the album’s logo tattooed soon enough. Title Fight is just one of those bands that makes songs that you take with you throughout your entire life.
Passion Pit released their first two singles off of Kindred mid-March. The singles are wonderful and I found myself listening to them non-stop for a week or so.
A Big Sean album would have never have been on one of my monthly playlists just a year or two ago but hey, we all change and grow as music fans. Dark Sky Paradise had some really fun songs. Although he is a strong rap/hip-hop artist on his own, Big Sean’s tracks where he collaborating with some of the biggest artists out right now are where he really shines. I especially enjoyed tracks like “All Your Fault” feat. Kanye West, “I Don’t Fuck With You” feat. E-40, “Play No Games” feat. Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, and one of the catchier tracks released this year, “Research” feat. Arian Grande.
We have the radio on at work 24/7. Although the radio gives me twelve times more headaches than pleasure, sometimes I hear a song play on the radio that is really good. Throughout the last decade or so Cage the Elephant has released a lot of good albums. I never really gave them the time of day because I would hear them on the radio enough the way it. I really like their latest sing’e, “Cigarette Daydreams”, though.
Kanye West is one of two artists that I know has the ability to release an album that can make my top three albums of the year. The other being Radiohead. Kanye West released his first single off his new album, which just got a name change to Swish, was released in late March. “All Day” is a strong track but it isn’t really anything remarkable and will probably go down as one of West’s good tracks instead of great.
Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp a Butterfly on March 23rd. After one listen I was convinced that nothing could come close to topping it for my album of the year. After listening to the album from beginning to end, listeners are sure to be exhausted, but it’s the kind of exhaustion that one gets from completing the Boston Marathon. After an active listen, you know you experienced something that made you a better person. That same thing that made you a better person makes you contemplate how you think of the world around you. The tracks are stories in themselves and at the end of each song is a separate story that is told as a spoken-word poem by Lamar. The culmination and pay-off is at the end of “Mortal Man”, the last track on the album, where Kendrick Lamar pseudo-interviews the late rapper, Tupac. Judging from the conversation Lamar has with Tupac, he is one of the few rap/hip-hop artists to admit he doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t know everything.
CHON released their debut album called Grow in March via Sumerian Records. The release of Grow couldn’t have been a better time for me. I was gearing up to see them open for Circa Survive and Balance and Composure on April 2nd at The Slowdown in Omaha, Nebraska. Just a few days before the show, I tweeted at the lead vocalist/bassist of CHON, Drew Pelisek and asked him if I could interview him for one of my classes. To my surprise, I got a “Yeah, no problem, dude”. I couldn’t believe it. Although many kids in my class gave the professor of my Media Production a lot of shit for never being organized and assigning a ton of projects, I appreciated it because of the fact that it brought me out of my shell. I interviewed Pelisek in the green room of The Slowdown with my sister, Shelby Johnson, manning the GoPro. Before and after the interview we got to watch Circa Survive from the VIP area backstage. It was a dream come true. The experience really opened my eyes and showed me that I can do this for a living! It gave me the confidence that I can do anything. The Saturday after the show I worked on the cutting together a video for the interview. I spent the entire day from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. working on the video. It turned out great and I got an “A”. After seeing CHON in Des Moines open for Animals As Leaders in July of 2014, I was already a fan but with just this one night, I became a lifelong fan of everything Drew Pelisek does with or without CHON.
Vance Joy has been on the radio for a year or so now with his song, “Riptide”. It’s a good song but I never really got into it too much. When I finished Better Call Saul, I was looking for a new show to watch. I had heard a lot about Transparent, an Amazon Prime exclusive, and their continuous push of the award-winning show on their app got me to check out the trailer. The trailer almost brought me to tears with the inclusion of Vance Joy’s “Mess is Mine”. Whoever chooses the music for the show and it’s trailers needs a raise.
In typical fashion, I added songs of bands I was about to see live to my playlist. With the Circa Survive, Balance and Composure and CHON show on April 2nd, I added songs to prep myself for one of the best tours of the year.
At the end of the month, Earl Sweatshirt released his single for his newest album which was due out just a week later. I snagged up the single, “Grief” with a pre-order from iTunes.
Your hosts, Shaun Johnson, Nick Gandy and Dan Brown are all back this week for episode 002 of The EZPZ Podcast. The lemonheads started off the episode with our weekly re-cap. The dudes chatted about the JEFF the Brotherhood/Bully show in Des Moines. Dan asked Shaun how his first 5K went.
Then the dudes dove into some listener letters and comments. Huge shout outs to Kyle (@kyle2314), Hunter (@Hunter_Whyle) and Nick (@TheFamousNickH) for the feedback! Shaun briefly spoke about the Omaha Maha Music Festival that “super fan” Nick asked about.
The Maha Music Festival is happening on the weekend August 15th the same weekend as the Summer Set Music Festival. Summer Set’s line-up was released this week and the lemonheads discussed their favorite artists on the list and some issues the festival has, according to past-year attendees.
HBO’s Game of Thrones came back this week with season five. We briefly (without spoiling anything) discussed our thoughts on the episodes and the fact that nearly half of season five leaked online. We briefly went into a Tyler, the Creator tangent with his new album, Cherry Bomb, which was released this week. Poor ol’ George “Rail Road” Martin got some “shade” from Shaun just before we got into a discussion about all the boobs and dick that is in Game of Thrones.
We hopped back into talking about Tyler, the Creator’s Cherry Bomb and how he hasn’t completely matured yet. Then we somehow fell down the rabbit hole of taboo words. Even though we aren’t social experts by any means, we made an attempt at discussing these forbidden words.
We closed out the episode with chatter about Brand New. They officially released a new track this week! The track, “Mene”, is wonderful and we all love it. We then discussed the possibility of them releasing a new album this year. Listen to us gush about the sold out Brand New/Circa Survive show that is on Saturday, April 25th at 7 Flags in Clive, Iowa.
Thanks for listening! You can send your letters to us at: TheEZPZPodcast@gmail.com
While the entire Internet was going completely insane over fellow rapper, Kendrick Lamar dropping his album a week early, the early bird himself, Earl Sweatshirt also dropped some news on his new album last Monday. Sweatshirt said, via Twitter, that his album would be released in one week.
He delivered on that promise today. His sophomore album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, was released today on iTunes via Tan Cressida under exclusive license to Columbia Records. The physical release is still set to be the original date of April 14th, 2015.
The album’s track listing:
5. “Off Top”
6. “Grown Ups” (featuring Dash)
7. “AM//Radio” (featuring Wiki)
9. “DNA” (featuring Na’kel)
10. “Wool” (featuring Vince Staples)
After one listen through while reading lyrics, I can tell this is going to be an album that I really need to stew on. The content is extremely dark, but not always in the obvious sense.
Resident Golfwang fan, @ShaunSJohnson, is fine with a follow here or there.
To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar was released early this morning because it allegedly leaked. His team definitely made a good call releasing it early because all those that pre-ordered it on iTunes got locked into their pre-order. If they stood their ground and released it on March 23rd even though it leaked, they would have faced a lot of cancelled pre-orders.
I’m one listen in and absolutely loving it. Kendrick Lamar masterfully brings hardcore rap lyrics with soulful beats. Just like his sophomore album,good kid, m.A.A.d city, he takes it to another level. I love how so many people had a hand with certain tracks. Including features from Thundercat, George Clinton, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg. Also, Flying Lotus produced “Wesley’s Theme”? Yes, please!
Fun fact: To Pimp a Butterfly is well over an hour long. There aren’t many artists that can pull that off these days. Kendrick Lamar is one of them that can. I’d love to hear what you all think of the album. Shoot me a tweet @theezpz and @shaunsjohnson!
February arguably started off better than any other months will this year. February is the month that Title Fight released their third album, Hyperview. The album leaked at the end of January, but that is not what I cared about. After a few listens to the leaked version, I realized I needed a higher quality version than the 128-kbps leak. I wanted to buy the 320-kbps version. Title Fight chose to go with an extremely different sound than their fast-paced punk from yesteryear. This time they were making their sound the most important aspect of each song. Without the best quality tracks, the album did sound a little muddy. I had to turn to read the lyrics to truly enjoy it to its fullest. Beside the vinyl, the 320-kbps was the best version to truly enjoy it. With producer, Will Yip, I knew the album was going to be nearly perfect. In 2012, their second album, Floral Green, was my album of the year. Even after having some sort of version of the album for over a month, I still need to let it settle in my stomach. Sure, I love it and it is easily my album of the year, at the moment, but that could all change within the coming months. Three of my favorite artists: Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Radiohead are all due to release albums this year.
After a conversation with my friend, Nick Gandy, about 2015 being the tenth-anniversary of Armor For Sleep’s What to Do When You Are Dead, I had to revisit it. I usually spin a couple Armor For Sleep songs on a regular basis, but for some reason, it had been months. The album holds up impressively well. I still got goose bumps during tracks like “The Truth About Heaven” and “Remember to Feel Real”. Both of those songs are complete bangers. When “Basement Ghost Singing” flows into “Walking At Night, Alone”, I melt into a puddle of 17-year-old happiness. I’m very happy I managed to catch them on their farewell tour in 2012.
At work, we listen to the radio. Usually, I hear the same shitty top 40 songs over and over and over again. Sometimes I don’t have very much patience for the pop-stations and I change it to oldies of some sort. One of my favorite songs that would play moderately frequently is a song called “Bennie and the Jets”. At the beginning of the month, I was having a rough time at work and then that song came on and my mood did a 180. I downloaded it later that night only to find that it’s an Elton John song. I didn’t hesitate to check out more of his stuff. I knew he was talented, but I had no idea how many older songs I liked were by him. What a talented man.
I made a New Year’s resolution with myself to see some friends outside of the usual weekend alcohol binge. I made that promise true in February with a few of my good friends. I didn’t pressure anyone to join me because I had been drunkenly telling everyone I wanted to do something like this for what seemed like years. After reaching out to a few friends, I was happy to hear that all three would love the idea of getting lunch or coffee during the workweek.
The first friend I got coffee with was my good friend, Dan Brown. Dan and I met in March of 2013 at a mutual friend, Tyler’s birthday party. The night I met him also happened to be the night I met a good chunk of my current friends and my girlfriend, Lydia Hagins. There was something about him that made me almost instantly respect him. Before I got to know him at all, I respected him and I have no idea why. Maybe it was just the way he presented himself. He seemed eager, driven and far from content. At that moment, I think I felt the same way. It was an eerie feeling being in the same proximity as someone else that you could just tell felt the same way as you.
Even though I made a New Year’s resolution doesn’t mean that I actually planned on following through. Nobody as follows through with those, do they? Maybe it was actually something that I would bring up, drunkenly with friends just to make myself feel better. Dan Brown didn’t operate that way. He reminded me about it the follow Monday after his birthday in mid-January. We genuinely were hanging out at least once a week in February, just him and I, chatting about any and everything. I almost forgot how important it was to have a friend to just spill your guts to from time to time.
In our conversations, he recommended I check out a record label from LA, Soulection. I didn’t really take him seriously right off the bat. I knew he had at the very least a decent taste in music. He liked some of The Chariot’s stuff, which I totally respected, and he also is the person that got a lot of people into RL Grime. One of the best conversations I have ever had under the influence was with him after the RL Grime show in Omaha, Nebraska in July 2013.
A couple days after he recommended that record label, Soulection, he sent me a text about one of their newly signed artists, Same Gellaitry. Gellaitry is from Ireland and he’s only 18-years-old. On February 17th, Soulection released Gellaitry’s debut release, Short Stories EP. His Short Stories EP instantly set my brain ablaze. I got halfway through the second track, “Reflectionz”, on Soundcloud and bought it off of Bandcamp moments later. The EP is that good. I haven’t been able to go a day without listening to it. I am very excited for what the future holds for “Synth-E-Sam”.
It was only a matter of time before someone uploaded on a remix of one of Gellaitry’s tracks on the Short Stories EP. When the 16-year-old from the United Kingdom, Oshi, uploaded a remix of “To Earth and Back”, Dan Brown made sure to ship the Soundcloud link my way. I thought to myself, “What do you know? Another talented child.” The track is almost better than Gellaitry’s effort. The second drop is way smoother on Oshi’s remix. I decided to check out his Soundcloud and Facebook page and get some tracks to jam out to on the go. I really like “I ❤ u” by him. I also think that his attempt at a fresh remix to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” isn’t half-bad.
Adventures released their debut album, Supersonic Home and unfortunately for them it was on the same day that I was introduced to Sam Gellaitry’s Short Stories EP. A good week into March and I still haven’t given the album the fair amount of spins they deserve. I really liked the single and music video that accompanied it earlier in the February, but like I said, I just cannot stop listening to material from Sam Gellaitry and Oshi. I hope to give it a fair spin in the March or April.
At work, when I don’t give a fuck and I get really sick of the radio, I’ll just put my phone on shuffle. It may not seem like a big deal, but with a bunch of co-workers around me, they can hear everything I am playing. It’s weird, literally everywhere else in my life I try and promote the music I love. I wear band t-shirts (almost exclusively, I have music tattoos (almost exclusively) and if you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you will get an weekly update about music (at the very least). I mean these blogs about my monthly playlists are evidence enough that music matters a lot to me. So, why is it that I am always trying to hide my music tastes at work? I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist. Anyway, on the last Sunday of February, I put my phone on shuffle. The last two tracks of Circa Survive’s Juturna played and I was instantly sent into a rush of my 16-year-old self. What a perfect album. I ran through the album, passively, a couple times that day. It still holds together really well.
The following Monday, the last of February, I decided I should actually check out some of Paper Diamond’s stuff. Especially since my friends and I were planning on seeing him in Kansas City on Saturday (2/23/15). I went to his Facebook and downloaded an EP or two and his 2014 Summer Tour mix. The mix was especially good. Paper Diamond samples some really outstanding tracks. Spoilers: the tour mix plays a huge role in the beginning of my March playlist. See you all next month with my March playlist!
Like many people on this planet, I stay connected with people through social media. I don’t delete these apps because they all serve a purpose, no matter how big or small. But I will say that my mind subconsciously follows the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” to a tee. So, by simply putting these apps in the second page of a folder, I free up hours a week. Find yourself burning every free minute on Facebook or Instagram? Try this for a week and reclaim a few hours back a week. This will simply prevent brain-dead “unlock, tap on whatever app has notifications”.
I also turned off notifications for all these apps! Do these two simple things and reclaim a few hours of your life back. If this doesn’t help out with at least an hour or two a week, I recommend deleting them too! My girlfriend, Lydia, just deleted her Facebook account and has a lot more time to get stuff done.
Scotland’s Sam Gellaitry just dropped his highly anticipated debut EP, Short Stories, on February 17th, 2015 with Soulection. Gellaitry is only 18-years old and he dropped 2015’s first instrumental release that caught my attention.
Gellaitry obviously has an innate ability at incorporating a bunch of different sounds into a 16-minute EP. Short Stories seems longer when you listen to it from beginning to end because of how well the songs transition to one another. The EPs fluidity is what gives it legs. The subtle opener “Temple”, I thought I knew the tone of the EP until “Reflectionz” rang in. I was hooked halfway through “Reflectionz” and I bought the album on Bandcamp for the reasonable price of $5. After about 30-listens of this monolith EP, I have to say that “To Earth and Back” is my favorite track. I wish the second half of it was just a little cleaner in it’s delivery. 16-year old, Oshi, from London remixed a version that has a warmer second half. You can listen to it here. “Monochrome” has some bass tones that are reminiscent of a Thom Yorke solo-release, which I can’t say I don’t enjoy. Short Stories is rounded out with “The End”. Sam Gallantry’s Short Stories is a journey that is the perfect length and will leave listeners completely satisfied.
Hey, Sam, you should tour the United States ASAP, please.
RIYL: Flying Lotus, Röyksopp, Thom Yorke’s solo stuff
Rothbury’s Electric Forest released their line-up today! The 5th annual music and camping festival taking place June 25-28, 2015 in Rothbury, Michigan. EF2015 is going to be insane with heavy hitters like: The String Cheese Incident (performing 3 shows), Bassnectar, Skrillex, Kaskade, Flume and Big Gigantic. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Yonder Mountain String Band, Odesza, Paul Oakenfold, Lotus, Carnage, Carl Cox, G-Eazy, Flux Pavilion.
The Silent Disco returns for another magical year, hosted by HUSHconcerts.
The massive line-up is capped off with even more awesome acts such as: Seun Kuti, Shpongle, Phantogram, Gramatik, Galactic with Macy Gray, Lettuce, Break Science, The Motet, John Digweed, EOTO, Alison Wonderland and a ton more!
The official Electric Forest 2015 line-up video:
*Update: Electric Forest 2015 has sold out in record time. The festival sold out in just 20 hours after the line-up was released.