12/8/15: Beauty Pill, Jamie XX, Alabama Shakes, Brandi Carlile

@@@ Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are (Butterscotch, 2015).  This is the time of the year when labels and PR people start giving shouts out for releases that make year end lists.  This record made NPR’s top 50 of 2015.  It is an interesting mash of indie, orchestral and even a tad of soul.  At least in this first tune, Drapetomania.  NPR tends to hew towards nerdy rock albums with strings and concepts and this record is no exception.  Coming across as high iq but  a bit low on the soul.

@@@ Jamie XX: In Colour (Young Turks, 2015).  This electronica record appears to be one of the records the taste making community is shitting their pants over.  I think I peeped this earlier in the year, but I’m a humble  reviewer and maybe I got it wrong.  Let me tell you what this record isn’t — it’s not very funky, it sports very simple melodies, and nothing particularly noticeable in the production.  The second song is a pretty nice house track, but the third tune is a cheesy disco biscuit.  I was not wrong, this is not the best electronic record of the year.  #toohyped

@@@ Alabama Shakes: Sound and Colour (ATO, 2015).  I checked out the single when it dropped and thought it was all right but it didn’t make me shake.  But since this record is showing up on everybody’s year end lists, I thought I would re-peep.  The first tune, the title track is hot.  It has an intimate feel to it and the sounds of the vibes, the ambient guitar and the upright bass is high quality.  The second tune, Don’t Wanna Fight, is more of a Curtis Mayfield soul rocker and I like it less.  I find their slow songs to be more convincing than the rockers and to my ears it sounds like they’re going out of the way to show everybody how hard they can rock.  I wish they had taken some of that rock energy and converted it to funk/soul and mixed them together.

@@@ Brandi Carlile: The Firewatcher’s Daughter (ATO, 2015).  Also off NPR’s top 50 of 2015 list.   Carlyle does a country rock thing and she has a ragged voice which I like.   She traffics in a variety of styles from strummed redneck folk all the way to kick the spittoon full on rockers.  I really like the energy of the record, but I don’t hear anything lyrically that would put this bad boy on my year end list.

YTD recordings listened to: 988
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 557
Not good music: 344

Honorable Mentions: 25
Buys: 15

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, 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, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa, Richard Thompson, Pat Thomas, Janelle Monae, The Alchemist, Luther Dickinson, Andra Day, Frog Eyes, Madd Again!, Fuck the Facts, Destruction Unit, Rim Kwaku Obeng, Graeme Barrett, Kowloon Walled City, Lionel Loueke, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Noisem, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves

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