@@@ Alewya: Play (Because London, 2021) Today’s listens are off this weeks Line of Best Fit. Lots of music outside of the U.S., lots of music by non white folks pushed up there. I’m hearing this as a world music influenced, lounge-y dancefloor banger. A fair amount of vocals have been injected over the rhythms — some backwards, some processed. Then I believe Alewya takes a laidback turn at rhymin’ on the microphone. I’m not going to say there’s anything particularly revolutionary in the lyrics in the music but she sure has built a pretty massive groove with both the sounds and the lyrics and her delivery. I’m checking out another track by her and it uses the same formula and executing it at a high level. I don’t want to get all racial and shit but she’s from Ethiopia so the rhythmic sophistication embedded in a dancefloor banger is not surprising to me.
@@@ Remi Wolf: Street You Live On (Island/UMG, 2021) This is the last track on a major label pop record that tries to throw a little bit of everything into the pot trying to find a large group of listeners. A little rock, a little funk, a lot of pop music, those are the most prominent sounds going on here. It’s a bittersweet melody with a vocal hook about avoiding the street that he lives on due to painful memories. The due to painful memories is my addition. I mean it’s groomed and produced the way you would expect from a major label pop jam. I would be more moved if the beat wasn’t so straight. I know why they do that but I don’t enjoy it. Kick snare, kick snare, kick snare, big drum machine tom tom roll, repeat.
@@@ James McMurtry: Canola Fields (New West, 2021) I got to this record via music business honcho Bob Lefsetz. His taste is often janky. This is the first track of the record and he looks set to grab in this moment the mantle of poetic country music. The band is pretty standard with nice tones and pretty straight playing, his voice is certainly many notches above Bob Dylan but the focus here is on the lyrics first and then the melodies. I don’t know how old this cat is but he’s doin all right on the microphone. I skipped to the third track Operation Never Mind cuz I liked the title. There’s more rock in this album than I initially caught on. I like this record without jumping up and down. The tones are great, especially the guitars. I don’t get fully off on the lyrics and the songs are good without making me jump up and down. I was raised on rock and I find it tough to listen to now.
@@@ —___–___: Sadness, infinite America (Orange Milk, 2021) Off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums. I don’t know what I thought this was going to be but this track is crazy mash of free jazz, autotuned vocals, vibes, sax, and voice. It’s got a desolate vibe for sure, so we’re far past mope and straight into dystopia. And I’m much more into dystopia than bourgeois mope. The way the teched out voice goes with the jazz elements is fresh and I’m super into it. It doesn’t feel random, it sounds arranged but there’s no way to know for sure. Someone is slipping one past the goalie here as it’s slotted as ambient, and it does have an ambient feel to it but it’s got more going on than a typical ambient record and it’s just not an accurate description of the music. Well done, and I’m listening to my second selection and I’m digging it as much as the video clipped below. Check this out if you’re up for some freshness. A little sweet, a bit abstract, a bit lonely and darker — yadda yadda yadda. There’s also some orchestral classical feels going here.
@@@ Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Dance Songs for Hard Time (Thirty Tigers, 2021) Also from Ted Gioia, though I’ve been a big fan of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band for years, he’s a nut. This is the last track on a record released earlier this year. Once a bottle slide solo hits you get the full on Rev. Peyton — full mental church revival country redneck rock business, you can’t fuck with him! Come down angels, bring some heaven down to the ground, that’s the hook. Full background choir, manic guitar playing and simple almost thrash metal drumming. I’ve heard the Reverend before and I’m a huge fan. He’s got a couple of uplifters ‘I’ll lift you up’ and ‘Come Down Angels’ some political screeds ‘Crime to be Poor’ and straight roof blasters ‘Rattle Can’ which I enjoyed the most.
@@@ Jupiter & Okwess: Telejayi (Everloving Records, 2021) This is the first track of a record released in April 2021 and it’s a modified Afrobeat formula with additions — rock energy, more complex vocal arrangements in places. The energy is also more danceable and lighter than the righteous Fela business. I really like the space organ, it elevates the track, I’m agnostic on the vocals, and I don’t love the rock guitar tones. So a bit of a mixed bag much like Ted Gioia’s recommendations. Vocals in French, just sayin’. I really don’t like the guitar here but that’s just me.
@@@ Leesa Johnson: Barn Tracks (Self-released, 2021) Today’s listens are off Ted Gioia’s recommendations of the month over off his Twatter and/or his substack. The first track is not what I expected at all. It’s an uptempo hippie/concious rock track called World Without Cause. I was expecting hillbilly tracks because of the title. My bad. Excellent conga playing here on the opener and the singing is vigorous. The second track opens with some mandolin plucking (I think) and while I this is really well executed coffee shop singer/songwriter business, it’s not a sound I crave. However, check it out if you roll this way, it’s well done.
@@@ Myele Manzanza: Crisis and Opportunity, Vol. 1: London (DeepMatter, 2021) From the same Ted Gioia monthly recommended list and it’s crisp, well turned out two horn straight jazz with piano, drums and bass. There are five tracks on offer and they’re all substantial with a couple going over 10 minutes. A synth on the second track, the stars are not lining up for me on this. I haven’t heard tons of jazz with retro synth sounds that I love. Same as the record above the recording is well made, the energy is solid, but it’s not really for me. I’ve never really been into the hippie thing and straight jazz makes me feel Republican.
@@@ Artikal Sound System: You’re an Asshole (Controlled Substance, 2021) I got to this track via a music publicist email. Ironically it’s a reggae track, well it’s white people Sublime style frat reggae, but the female singer does a good job with denouncing her former partner in a pale rootsy manner. Outside of the medium provocative title it’s pretty standard lyrically and there are some fairly nice sounds here, though on the poppier side of reggae. We not talking Burning Spear here.
@@@ Eris Drew: Level Cowbell (N/A, 2021) I got to this DJ set up on Apple Music via the UK music magazine Crack which I dig. This opens as straight drums and I guess they’re being mixed live furing this set. Just shy of a minute it gets into the cowbell pattern that gives the track its name. It’s a quickie break typa thing so I will hang for another track to get a better sense. The next track brings more instrumentation including some hip hop squiggle scratches and some effervescent synth bubbling. All over the power funk beat with occasional appearances by, you guessed it, the cowbell. From what I’ve sampled from the set the focus here is on brisk grooves with big hip hop influences and club sounds slathered over that. Some big grooves get excavated here.
@@@ Domingae: AE (Sacred Bones, 2021) Off this week’s All Music notable release email. Vibe wise I would put this trippier and a bit darker on the electronic music spectrum. Any time I hear chopped and glitched voices it feels a bit deconstructed and dehumanizing as you’re taking human voices and putting them through the wringer. Other sounds here are radio wave type business, some low rumbling, even some rhythmic metal stabs. The second tune, Daemon, brings a four on the floor kraut-y type beat which immediately anchors all the ambient sounds and changes the listening experience. The chopped and glitched vocals sound very cool contrasted with the beat and less unsettling. I’m checking out the second to last tune, Aenihilator, and it’s very voice centered as well. It’s got a pulsing, regular bass sound and a lot of gusty sounds. I don’t like it as much as the second track Daemon, but it’s cool.
@@@ Thrice: Scavengers (Epitaph, 2021) Also off the All Music notable release email. These guys are more of a hard rock thing thing than the usual So Cal Epitaph power punk or poppier punk. I like the drum sound and if you like the singer you’ll probably like the record. I’m agnostic on his gravelly, world weary voice. To me this is an updated grunge record with big feels and friendly production. Great sounds here and classic rock energy and it’s all right, I’m not jumping up and down but it’s cool.
@@@ Moonchild Sanelly: Yebo Teacher (Transgressive, 2021) Off Line of Best Fit! I’m gonna have to GooglePimp Sanelly’s bio cuz I’m hearing strong African feels swirled up in a poppy context. She’s from South Africa, I don’t know where she lives now, but she has invented a genre called future ghetto punk, I’m a fan of that. I can’t tell if this is a drum machine of hand drumming or a combo platter (guessing the latter) but the synth bass is synth bass and it’s a mostly electro arrangement with a lot call and response. Yebo means ‘I agree’ so she’s the teacher and she’s teaching her students. I’m not a huge pop fan but this is pretty strong rhythmically and is not nearly as mindless as say, the Beebs.
@@@ Tall Black Guy and Ozay: Viberite (Coalmine, 2021) I got to this via a prome email from the label that released this. I’m pretty sure on that. This is the third track from the record and it has a distinctly NYC sound with a fair amount of Tribe Called Quest friendly, sophisticated funk flavors. I wouldn’t say it’s a party track per se, but it certainly isn’t a huge statement track. It’s the vibe, right? Hooky with a bit of George Clinton (just a wee bit) in the chorus so there’s decent contrast between the rhymed verse and the chorus. A female MC grabs the mic around 3 minutes and that changes the overall feel of the track. I like this and if you’re in the mood for some fresh retro this could work for you.
@@@ Hempress Sativa: Scheme (Cienfuego, 2021) We finish off this work week’s listening with a little roots and culture. The track opens in a spaghetti western style including banjo. Then the track expands out into a full modern reggae flavor with Ms. Sativa going mellow on the microphone and full conspiracy theory in the lyrics. It’s all about social control, withheld information and a scheme for control. I don’t agree with the sentiments here but it’s pretty fascinating. Distrust of the white man is deep people, it’s a deep distrust that produces tracks like this. She gets into MK Ultra and other shit that has happened to the people of the Third World. The sounds are delicious and smooth and the lyrics are gasoline on an already tense situation. If you’re up for some roots reggae on this Friday this will do you.
@@@ Dr. Bassie dubs with Scientist in the Last Lands (Michael Bell, 2021) Released this year (it may be a reissue) but this is some proper old school dub with super chill dub and concious Rasta lyrics. I’m not sure I find any nits to pick, you just get pulled into the mad prophetic world of the Cultivator, who I’ve never heard of not that that matters, super sticky and deep. If you google this album title nothing turns up which is a shame as this is some super flavorful roots business. I’m now sampling the fourth tune and it is one wicked monster shot after another, you best not sleep on this music, it’s righteous dub.
@@@ Coldplay X BTS: My Universe (Parlophone, 2021) I saw big music biz newsletter honcho Bob Lefsetz gave some space to this track. You should be careful when you mix the Coldplay cheese with the BTS cheese, it can really fuck you up. The chorus explodes with the hook ‘You are My Universe and I want to put you first’. I give props to BTS for singing in Korean for the most part and I give no props to Coldplay ever because they suck balls. Fourth rate watered down Earth Wind and Fire? Justin Timberlake busted out on fentanyl lollipops? I’m gonna be honest there’s very little positive for me to comment on here as this is a travesty. Everything about it is cliches and predictable. Hey if it makes the panties quake, well I guess those must be some boring ass panties.
@@@ Kutiman: Guruji (Siyal, 2021) I got to this single via this week’s WRIR notable release emial. It opens with a blend of hand drumming and keyboard playing. Then tambourine like metal tinkly tink and I’m guessing we’re building to a big explosion. LIke the distortion and the dubwise flavors on the hand drums in the sections in which it happens. It never quite builds to the exploding but it does raise a sweat and I like these sounds for real. I let the player click through and it has a similar restraint but with an accompanying drone type sound. The chillness of it makes me think it’s designed for lounge or hookah listening. This is a two track single and I’m leaning towards the B side for maximum tastiness.