Phoenix Playlist Picks: June 2021

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The eleventh installment of Phoenix Playlist Picks — a series of monthly articles where Phoenix editors make Spotify playlists of the best new music each month and then select some of their favorites to write about — focuses on June’s new releases.

This month’s playlist centers around the latest album from Tyler, the Creator and debuts from Goof and Superbloom.

Tyler, the Creator – “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST”

Tyler, the Creator dropped his much-anticipated follow-up to 2019’s “IGOR.” The 16-track, 52-minute album is closer to an hour-long clinic in the artsy rap he’s become so well-known for.

The tracks meld seamlessly into one another, creating a unique experience and once again proving Tyler’s proficiency in creating cohesive albums. Even the songs, despite their occasional chaos, find a flow within themselves due to their exquisite production.

Tracks like “LUMBERJACK” even hearken back to Tyler’s previous album with frantic instrumentation and dissonantly calm vocals. His voice isn’t just what carries his contribution to the song, though — introspective lyrics show how far he has come from the angsty, shock-value lines of his earlier work.

“We ain’t gotta pay attention to the stuff that he battles / Everyone I ever loved had to be loved in the shadows / Tug-o-war with the X and Y felt like a custody battle / Felt like the boat goin’ down, it felt like I’m missin’ a paddle,” Tyler raps in another venting verse about his sexuality on “MASSA.” 

There’s no doubt this album will be another Grammy contender, a bar Tyler set for himself in 2019 when he took home Best Rap Album for “IGOR.”

Goof – “Seasonal Fantasy”

Chicago-based pop artist Natalie Carioti, known by her stage name Goof, released her full-length debut June 20. For 36 minutes, she plays along with genre-bending instrumentals to create an extremely well-rounded trek through a multitude of sounds. 

The previously released singles, such as “All Scraped Up,” were only the surface of what Carioti had in store for listeners. Aside from a slow-burn buildup in the intro track, starting with “Rewind Halloween,” the first song she ever released, only seemed fitting. It also set the tone immediately for the pop bangers scattered throughout the 12-track run.

What all of this built up to though was the album’s peak, smack dab in the middle of the tracklist. The pop-punk-esque “Not The One” is both a display of Carioti’s vocal performance but also her malleability when it comes to shaking things up. Fans of Halestorm and other early 2000s alternative legends will likely find this as one of their favorite tracks of 2021.

This isn’t to discredit the country-inspired “Kale Flowers,” back-and-forth closing track or “Jean Ross,” which sounds like it was pulled from a musical, because these are all equally amazing. Carioti doesn’t establish herself in any specific genre and that’s the greatest strength of “Seasonal Fantasy” — there’s truly something for everybody.

Superbloom – “Pollen”

New life was breathed into the grunge genre June 1 when Superbloom released their debut album “Pollen.” 

Each song’s title is a cheeky nod to the band it takes inspiration from, with gestures to Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Korn and more heading the majority of the tracks. Between their guitar tone and vocals, parallels could be drawn between them and bands like “Breaking Benjamin” as well. 

The Nirvana-esque “Whatever” is the album’s definitive track. It’s the purified culmination of the “Nevermind” tracklist, complete with a guitar solo somewhere between Kurt Cobain’s minimalist style and modern alternative riffs. His scratchy wail, obviously indebted to Cobain, makes the song even more convincing when paired with the nearly nonchalant strumming.

This isn’t to say there aren’t entirely original, modernized takes on the genre throughout the album. “Hey Old Man” seems to be all Superbloom and it’s just as stunning as the rest of the tracks despite lacking the kick of nostalgia the others harbor. 

Whether the tracks are a tribute to a long-dead genre or unique originals, it’s clear there’s no more fitting leader for the grunge revival than Superbloom.

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