Friday 7/31/15: Teenage Time Killers, Jill Scott, Kasey Chambers

@@@ Teenage Time Killers: Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Rise, 2015).  A supergroup of big rockers who I don’t know except king of the Foo, Dave Grohl.  The first tune, Exploder is an Orange County style punk tune with a touch more muscle to it.  It’s not very foo-ey.  The second tune, Crowned by the Sun, is a serpentine, stoner guitar thing with big Black Sabbath flavors.  The third tune is more classic metal with some full thrash sections and plenty of ka-chunk.  Not fooey at all.  Let’s skip to the Jello Biafra tune, because Jello is the man.  Of course, Jello brings that insane clown on helium vocal style to his thrash punk and it’s really quite a short ode to that Fox fucknut Sean Hannity.  This is a pu pu platter of punk/metal styles.

@@@ Jill Scott: Woman (Atlantic, 2015).  The rest of Jill Scott’s record is up on the Beats store.  The first tune is a midtempo shuffle with hilarious lyrics about kids, aka wild cookies, the name of the tune.  It’s bit of a light track before the second tune, Prepared, a slower piano tune about getting one’s shit together.  The third tune, Run Run Run is a rave up, old school style with all female backing vocalists, horn section and up uptempo.  I like these tunes and the record, but it’s not jump up and down material for me.

@@@ Kasey Chambers: Bittersweet (Rounder, 2015).  An Americana roots music record that is at the top of the heap of last week’s All Music weekly email.  The first tune, Oh Grace, sounds a lot like what you would find on a recent Emmylou Harris recording — sparse instrumentation, relaxed midtempo pacing, and a beautiful female voice.  The second tune, Is God Real? is the kind of faith searching tune that I’m not a huge fan of.  I like the music, her voice, and the productio but I’m not a huge fan of these lyrics.

YTD recordings listened to: 594
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 343
Not good music: 205

Honorable Mentions: 15
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, Jeremy Pinnell, Hope Drone, Pat Thomas

Thursday 7/30/15: Hopsin, Mick Futures, Soulstack

@@@ Hopsin: Pound Syndrome (Funk Volume, 2015).  After a medium gangsta hip hop intro, the second tune Forever Ill gets into a West Coast/George Clinton ’80s space funk arrangement.  Mr. Hopsin can rhyme and he rhymes very quickly.  He sounds a bit like Eminem.  The lyrics focus on aggression and putting down ‘commercial n*ggas.’  The third tune, No Hope, more than dabbles in women hating lyrics which is almost always a cue for my exit.  Plus, the cheesy piano on this tune is bleh.

@@@  Mick Futures: Banned From The Future (Telephone Explosion, 2015).  Some punk rawk heavily influenced by early Clash records without the black music influence.  Alienated singer, lots of guitars (also a synth in that first track?), super straight fast rock/punk beat.  The second tune is less fantastic, with a slurpy phase guitar, a No Wave vocal melody and a general tempo sag.  C’mon fellas, keep it brisk.  We’re getting more into ’80s synth rock and krautrock with the third tune, Tentative Issues and I’m getting less happy.  By the fourth tune, A Few Pieces, we’re into the straight up Devo bite.  Ah well, it’s a ’70s/’80s white boy with guitar record pu pu platter.

@@@ Soulstack: Soulstack (Independent, 2015).  A funky blues/soul mashup I saw in the roots section of the CFUV weekly email.  James Brown-like singer with full horn section, lots of guitars, electric organ, and an active drummer.  In this first tune, Just Don’t Call it the Blues you even get cowbell, and who doesn’t love cowbell.  I can picture these guys tearing it up on the college frat circuit.  More Blues Brothers/Blues Traveler than Howlin’ Wolf.

YTD recordings listened to: 591
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 341
Not good music: 204

Honorable Mentions: 15
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, Jeremy Pinnell, Hope Drone, Pat Thomas

Wednesday 7/29/15: Hope Drone, Pat Thomas, Sample Answer

@@@ Cloak of Ash: Hope Drone (Relapse, 2015).  Some heavy metal off the Beats Highlights page.  It does indeed open up drone-y, with slow rolling guitar distortion — two different waves.  It then moves onto a post-hardcore rapid strum all the while anchored to some big rolling tom action.  And now we are getting into the thrash drumming, most excellent.  And finally the singer, low in the mix, losing his nut and turning his throat inside out.  Very urgent music, more urgent and upset than pissed.  These are long tunes, epic shall we say — I like that the singer is tucked way back in the mix and sounds like a Guantanamo detainee tortured from afar.  Check these guys out.  I’m going to check them out more when I have the chance.

@@@ Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band: Self-titled (Sterns 2015).  Some contemporary music from Ghana that I got to via the WRIR review email this week.  Very sweet vocals, extensive but not super layered.  The guitar player is laying down some ridiculous lines on the right side of the mix with the organ bubbling in the left channel.  The music is very pretty and laid-back without coming off as soft or overly poppy.  And I forgot to mention the full horn section that’s on full display in the second tune, Gyae Su, and that Mr. Thomas looks just like mid ’70s Isaac Hayes on the cover of the record.  Most excellent summer music — I mean not quite as good as the latest Taylor Swift corporate hardtack biscuit but for the rest of us, real music.

@@@ Sample Answer: Good Boy EP (ACP Recordings, 2015)  An emering UK Talent off the Beats Highlights page.  Opens up with tune Good Boy, where Mr. Answer plays the hippie troubadour with a smidge of soul to the song.  The lyrics are pretty cliche and the tune is pretty straightforward.  Let’s skip ahead.  The second tune, Proud, starts out with a little intro and then some rhymes.  This is pretty well worn territory — rhymes over a rock band like vibe.  I would consider this to be more of an undercover cheese bomb rather than a write my name across the sky in cheddar letters affair.

YTD recordings listened to: 588
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 340
Not good music: 202

Honorable Mentions: 15
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, Jeremy Pinnell, Hope Drone, Pat Thomas

2015 Honorable Mention Pick 15

ILSA: The Falcon’s Claw (A389, 2015)

With a good heavy metal record you’re gonna catch a beatdown.  The only question is how would you like your beatdown to go?

These guys offer up primo guitar sludge served on a bed of thrash and straight metal drumming topped off with a frontman who sounds like somebody just poisoned him.

The first tune, Oubliette, is more of an uptempo tune with a little bit of classic shredding, but the second tune 25 Cromwell settles into a common slow midtempo monster walk.  They’re not gonna beat you up quickly and they’re not going to quite drown in you in stoner guitar syrup, it’s gonna be a nice relaxed beating.  When those guitars start grinding it’s really quite pleasant.

Grade A American sonic assault, check ’em out.

Tuesday 7/28/15: Lamb of God, Evvol, Exco Levi, Twin Bandit

@@@ Lamb of God — VII: Sturm Und Drang (Epic, 2015)  More muscular than most corporate heavy metal records, you’re not gonna get much uplifting in a record named Sturm Und Drang.  An eight armed drummer that sprays and thrashes with equal deftness, a pretty straightforward guitar player who chunks it up and shreds as a veteran would.  The singer is understandable with more than a bit of grit to his voice.  He’s safely wedged between the Neanderthal class and the singing class.  The playing is strong but I don’t really feel the record — check it for yourself.  I like the messy shit, this in between corporate hard rock and heavy metal doesn’t work for me.  From this week’s All Music weekly notable releases.

@@@ Evvol: Eternalism (Evvol, 2015).  Off the Beats highlights page.  The first tune, I See You, opens up all video game bleep and shit.  There’s also a nice faux electric guitar synth whistling over the top and then….some synth vamping chord changes.  Then the drum machine and then the reverbed female voice.  Things get even cloudier and more intimate with a lot of female vocal energy floating over a small bed of synths and a flute!  I’m feeling like there’s too much reverb on these vocals and it’s not making me feel good.  One more tune.  The third tune was like a little mint between courses and something more interesting is happening with this fourth tune so if you’re hardcore on the fem-electro go straight there.  Otherwise, it’s a bit of a proggy synth biscuit — too mushy to be useful.

@@@ Exco Levi: Hello Mama (Silly Walks Discotheque, 2015).  Levi’s record is #1 in the world section at CFUV but only this single is available on my Beats/Apple sto.   It’s roots reggae, very sticky with sophisticated vocal arrangements and a well balanced mix.  Levi has high energy and works the microphone hard.

@@@ Twin Bandit: For You (Network, 2015).  #1 in the roots music section at CFUV.  It’s opening up expansive and alt and a tad New Age-y.  Big cloud of high pitched tone in the back of two harmonizing females.  That fades and we’re on to two lightly strummed guitars, somebody with a shaker, and then a super simple kick-stick beat on the drum kit. This is high meaningful music with big sounding production.  Let’s skip ahead.  This second tune, Crown, continues the formula.  I don’t think I love the singers, they don’t sound natural to my ear — it’s too cleaned up and purposeful and lends a slightly sterile air to the record.

YTD recordings listened to: 585
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 340
Not good music: 201

Honorable Mentions: 14
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, ILSA, Jeremy Pinnell

Monday 7/27/15: Big Galut(e), Jeremy Pinnell, We Came as Romans

@@@ Big Galut(e): Self-titled (Pastromele Records, 2015).  Classically trained musicians playing Jewish music that I got to via a music publicist email.  Instrumentation is violin, accordion, clarinet, uke/guitar, bass and maybe a couple others that I can’t pick up from the mix.  These are not traditional Jewish tunes and the violin player sounds like the star to me.  They get into some world music with tunes like Kalkutta Klezmer and all of a sudden I feel like some noodle kugel and maybe a latke or two.

@@@ Jeremy Pinnell: OH/KY (Sofaburn Records, 2015).  Some mostly old school country music I got to via a music publicist.  Pinnell has a classic voice with a whole bunch of lonesomeness in it that works well with his laid-back and solid band.  Instrumentations is pretty standard — acoustic guitar, rhythm electric, slide, bass and drums.  The vibe goes from laid-back to cough syrup super laid-back.  I’m going to circle back and check out this record more closely when I have the time but if you’re expecting these guys to burn down the barn it ain’t gonna happen.

You can stream over here.

@@@ We Came as Romans: Self-titled (Equal Vision, 2015).  Some post-hardcore with strong metal and even mainstream heavy music influences.  They rock a hard verse that softens up in a sung chorus — a la Linkin Park.  There is a little bit of synth garnish, which I’m not a big fan of, but I really like guitar sounds.  Lyrics are a little New Age-y and introspective for my taste, but check it out for yourself.

YTD recordings listened to: 581
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 337
Not good music: 200

Honorable Mentions: 14
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, ILSA, Jeremy Pinnell

Sunday 7/26/15: Jon Batiste, Goat Semen, Prince Royce

@@@ Jon Batiste: Stay Human (Razor & Tie, 2013).  I saw a whole feature on Batiste on Wired about his upcoming gig as bandleader for Stephen Colbert’s new show.  I like the tuba player and he’s a positive musician who I think will do better live than on this record.  This second tune, Let God Lead, sounds a bit canned which is a bit of a shame because it features some pretty hot vocal harmonizing.

@@@ Goat Semen: Ego Sum Sathanas (Hell’s Headbangers, 2015).  Off this week’s heavy metal mail-order email.  These guys are full on ready for the mainstream with a name like Goat Semen.  The music is some feisty thrash metal sung in Spanish with shades of hardcore and little bits of guitar shred.  The singer is full on Neanderthal/Orc — grunting and splitting his vocals cords open over a maelstrom of guitar noise and that classic suffocating thrash beat.  I didn’t think I would ever find myself typing these words  but Goat Semen is all right.

@@@ Prince Royce: Double Vision (Sony Music Latin, 2015).  Some Latin inflected mainstream boom titch electro  pop featured on the Beats Highlights page.  The first tune, Stuck on a Feeling is a pretty straight forward get out on the dance floor banger, while the second tune features more interesting sounds but Royce’s loverboy vocal style is pretty tiresome.  The third tune, Back it Up, features J-Lo and a synth dancehall beat.  J-Lo fails to make hottie Prince Royce any more interesting and this is really nothing more than catchy corporate electro biscuit slinging.

YTD recordings listened to: 578
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 335
Not good music: 199

Honorable Mentions: 14
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Evan Caminiti, ILSA