Our favorite band nerd gone big-time DJ/electronic producer from Michigan, GRiZ, has a new soulful, feel-good album on the market entitled Ride Waves. As it says in the cover art, this album is full of “experiments in beautiful thinking.” After releasing album singles “I’m Good,” “Can’t Get Enough,” and “It Gets Better” featuring DRAM, we finally get to boogie to a full-length 14-track album by this sax-master.
Ride Waves isn’t the necessarily the best produced album out there, not densely layered or anything, but it’s lighthearted and funky fresh. It’s straight up soul music, an anthem for the mission of love and positivity in this world. GRiZ collaborated with an iconic musical crew to help bring this feeling freshness and positivity of his music to life including, Snoop Dogg & Prob Cause, BXRBER, Matisyahu, DRAM, Bootsy Collins, Muzzy Bearr, Yoshi Flower, Valentina, Leo Napier, and Wiz Khalifa.
GRiZ continually writes tunes that blur the lines between multiple genres: soul, jazz, dubstep, reggae and hip-hop, to create a hybrid electro-soul sound, which GRiZ self-describes as future-funk. I would say that the songs on this album are broken down between five different sub-genres, if you will, so I’ll break down my review of each song under these categories…
The first four tracks on Ride Waves fall under GRiZ’s most distinct sound, what I like to call Funk-Dubby:
The album opens with previously released single track “Can’t Get Enough,” one of my favorites on the album. “We take more love than we give ‘cause we can’t get enough” is the lyrical line that sticks out most to me as I feel it will resonate deeply with our younger hippie, music-loving generation. The funky fresh acoustic guitar licks of the verses and bridge transition smoothly into the distorted wubs of the chorus with a call to action “time to boogie!”
The lyrics of the second track “I’m Good” say it all: “I don’t need much but a good tune! Just a funky bassline and my friends, too. Yeah, we keep the vibes high; that’s how we do! Got the rhythm in my soul, feeling damn good.” A full horn line, groovy rhythm section, glitchy scratches and dubbed saxophone keep the beat hot and energetic.
In “My Friends & I” Snoop Dogg’s bar “I don’t stress ‘cause I just clear my head: that meditation flex, my glow-up effortless” sets the mood for this uplifting tune. Prob Cause sings “my friends and I get down” straight into a tasty synthesizer lick in the chorus, giving the vibe of an old-school video game tune.
“Cruise Control” and “The Prayer” fall under a more bluesy, jam-band feel:
Psychedelic and sweet guitar solos layered between wailing horn blasts, spacey samples, and soulful vocal leads, literally give the feeling of gliding on “cruise control across the galaxy.” Cruise Control is the most bluesy tune on the album, in my humble opinion, with a slower tempo riding steady and smooth that hits right in the pocket.
Riding on the psychedelic, wavy and smooth vibe of GRiZ’s more bluesy tracks, “The Prayer” is a simple and feel-good tune, nothing super dense or over-layered. An electronic breakdown in the chorus slides from high to low timbres, kind of vocal-like, and trade-offs with guitar licks, piano and strong vocal scats bridge the tune to the end with big, soulful energy. The lyrics “I can feel the love, and I can feel the pain. I just wanna thank God I’m alive today,” remind us to be grateful and optimistic every day.
GRiZ made sure to lay down some sassy jazz/big band-esque tunes for us.
“Bustin’ Out” is more of a big band tune with high energy in the horn licks, guitar comping, and Bootsy Collins’ funk vocals. “It’s astronomical, baby!”
“The Escape” is a typical showcase of GRiZ’s hybrid jazzy/DJ soundscape and groove ability as a producer of his unique electro-soul genre.
“Maybe” is a straight up MOOD. I want to use the word bombastic to describe the sound having such biiig energy, but maybe vivacious is a more fitting description for the fiery dub melodies swinging to and fro with splitting high-hat riffs and wailing trumpet notes. Yoshi Flower singing “Oh baby this is so very new, something that could be so beautiful, or maybe this is just another dream, something I am hoping I can make true” has me feeling some type of way and inspired to take on the world.
You already know GRiZ has got soul, and he surely shared it with us in tracks “Mercy,” “Barrel of a Gun,” and “Find My Way.”
“Mercy” features guest artist Valentina’s beautiful voice singing over bouncy electronic beats and guitar strums and solos.
Raspy, echoey vocals from Leo Napier juxtaposed next to scratchy electronic samples and bluesy horn interjections makes for a tasty downtempo track in “Barrel of a Gun.”
A Wiz and GRiZ collab is something I never knew I needed in my life until this album dropped. These two beautiful souls together just feels so right. Wiz Khalifa’s positive rap lyrics along with the soulful gospel choir and trumpet harmonies are all so wholesome, especially with a sweet, angelic vocal solo bridging to the end of the song.
The last sub-category are the “feel good” tunes that fall more into the reggae/hip-hop realm or the dance tunes of the album: “Caught Up,” “A New Day,” and “It Gets Better.”
“Caught Up” is an upbeat dance tune with a trumpet feature that keeps the spirit “higher than the ceiling, caught up in this feeling.”
Matisyahu provides old-school reggae dub, feel good, beachy vibes on “A New Day.” This song has a powerful message that “all we need to learn is love… Plant the seed of change, see it blooming… And now it’s time to lay down the weaponry; fight fire with water, we can let this be. No more jeopardy when it comes to the future.”
“It Gets Better” is the happiest song I’ve ever heard, with a sweet saxophone chorus that gives you no other choice but to smile and feel uplifted. “You ain’t gotta be stressed out, go on turn the music loud, you ain’t gotta have no doubt… I know we’re gonna make it okay, trouble for another day, if you’re feelin’ bad all you gotta say is I know it gets better.” This is an ANTHEM for those of us on a mission for omnipresent love and positivity. This is soul music, GRiZ.
Ride Waves is one of the most fun to listen to albums my ears have ever been blessed with. Listening to it top-to-bottom, I can’t help but envisioning myself jigging to these tunes on the beach surrounded by all my best friends in the summer sun. I can’t wait to catch GRiZ live on his tour this year!
Catch GRiZ on tour this year:
MAY 3, 2019
ST. AUGUSTINE AMPHITHEATRE
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL
MAY 4, 2019
RED HAT AMPHITHEATER
MAY 6, 2019
MAY 8, 2019
MAY 9, 2019
MAY 10, 2019
MAY 11, 2019
MAY 14, 2019
MAY 15, 2019
MAY 16, 2019
ST LOUIS, MO
GULF SHORES, AL
MAY 17, 2019
MAY 18, 2019
KANSAS CITY, MO
MAY 27, 2019
JUN 9, 2019
JUN 14, 2019
JUN 21, 2019
HEBER CITY, UT
JUN 23, 2019
FIREFLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
JUN 30, 2019
METROPOLIS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Written by Cassandra McLaughlin