With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Mt. Joy, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Pharrell Williams.
Astrovan // Mt. Joy
“Astrovan,” released just last year, embodies the spirit of feel-good 60’s classic rock. It just makes you wanna throw on a tie-dye tee, pile into a car with your friends, and drive to the nearest body of water smiling and waving at everyone you pass on the way. The muted electric guitar bouncing around the downbeats almost sounds like a bongo drum — which would’ve also been an appropriate instrumentation choice for the mood. The instruments the song does have, which are few and familiar, it employs effectively. The arrangement is loose and open, never overcrowding with layers, and the standard toolbox of a few guitars, some electric, one acoustic, drums, and vocals give “Astrovan” the warm sonic familiarity of an old friend.
All songs can be dissected, but even the best of explanations won’t do them justice — just like describing a sunset isn’t quite the same as marveling at it yourself. “Astrovan” is just sunny, breezy and free in a way that’s better experienced than explained. If there’s a musical equivalent of making flower crowns around a campfire, this is it.
Sunburst // Lonnie Liston Smith
While he lacks name recognition along with the giants of jazz, Lonnie Liston Smith is an eccentric character in the industry, with a discography well worth exploring. “Sunburst” is a perfect example of what makes his music unique.
Every section of this instrumental feels directed towards creating a sonic trip through space — relating closely to his band’s namesake, The Cosmic Echoes. A bright, clear flute rhythm sets the tone for the track, leading into Lonnie’s explorational and creative electric keyboard section.
It’s the type of song you won’t find anywhere near today’s top charts, but it’s absolutely worth a peep, and before you know it, you just might find yourself engulfed in the cosmos.
Angel // Pharrell Williams featuring Snoop Dogg
Both of these artists need no introduction — that’s why this collaboration is so special. While “Angel” is featured on Pharrell’s only rap-focused album, his vocal performance on this hook is downright legendary. On the almost lustful track, Pharrell borrows elements of R&B and soul on the track, and brings the heat with his delivery and production- in the most caring way possible- it’s a love song, after all. Pharrell drops a head-boppin’ verse to open up the track, setting the table for Snoop to deliver a smooth-as-butter verse: “Lay back while we sippin’ on a breezer / Fresh four-pack sittin’ in the freezer.”
The string-driven beat is just as soaring as Pharrell’s melody, as each matches the other in joyful concert. While Snoop doesn’t quite reach Pharrell’s highs, his verse still translates themes of desire and love first introduced by Pharrell: “When I seen her wit the homies I was like ‘Jesus’ / It’s been a little minute since I seen her / Hope her man don’t run up cause I’ll have to pull the nina.”
Released in 2006, “That Girl” is far off the charts and isn’t even the first “That Girl” that comes up on streaming platforms, but I assure you, without even hearing the others, that this has to be the best.