3/31/16: Amon Amarth, Prince, Greg Cordez, Tancred

@@@ Amon Amarth: Jomsviking (Metal Blade, 2016).  Some heavy music off the Apple Music front page.  They sound a lot like Metallica but the drummer isn’t as good as Lars Ulrich and the singer is more gruff than the redneck that fronts Metallica.  Big production and huge epic metal jams with lyrics revolving around being an outsider.  There’s some cheesiness to the lyrics that you don’t get with Metallica.

@@@ Prince: HitNRun (NPG, 2015).  I was a huge Prince fan back in the day so I thought I would check out his latest.  Oh man, nobody combines sweet pop music with funky black music in the way Prince does.  This tune Baltimore treads a fine line between sweetness and the darkness of the Freddy Gray murder.  I don’t like the second song, RockNRollLoveAffair as much as the opener.  The arrangements are tight and super sophisticated but I think I miss raunchy punky Prince.  Check out Baltimore if you didn’t hear when it came around the first time.

@@@ Greg Cordez: Paper Cranes (Ninety and Nine Records, 2015) Some straight jazz off this week’s London Jazz blog email.   It opens up distant and ambient before moving into a simple groove held down by the pianist’s left hand and the bass player.  Instrumentation is two horns, sax and trumpet, piano, bass, and drums.  It builds and I’m enjoying the drums and the sax not as much.  The second tune, 8.23, is a ballad and while the mix is really quite nice I think I will move on.  As I’ve said before I struggle a bit with the straight jazz and tend to prefer my jazz spicy and out.

@@@ Tancred: Out of the Garden (Polyvinyl, 2016).  A retro 90’s power pop indie guitar record I got to via a music publicist email.  If Nirvana and the Breeders had a baby it would sound like this, except not as sharp elbowed.  Fans of big rock drums and guitars will feel this record.  The female singer is solid but the lyrics might be trying a bit too hard.  Stick with the drummer and the guitar player.

YTD recordings listened to: 310
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 174
Not good music: 116

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

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3/30/16: Kenny Chesney, Rare Futures, White Denim

@@@ Kenny Chesney: Noise (Blue Chair, 2016)  A self-pitying arena rock track that’s a hot track on Apple Music.  He’s lamenting all the noise in our society in a very unironic kinda boring way.  At least Rodney King put it in a nice folksy way — can’t we all just git along?  I don’t think so and I’m fine with that.  I’m guessing the suits in Nashville thought tis was timely in the age of Trump and the intertoobz static resultifying from this here election season and whatnot.  Big U2 guitar solo in the middle, the rest is Civil Ware era hardtack.

@@@ Rare Futures: This is Your Brain on Love (Cerebral Music Group, 2016)  It’s a little hard to reconcile the label name, Cerebral Music Group, with the title of the third track, Riding the Snake, which is a very non-cerebral activity.  This is an upbeat indie prog first tune with a white boy popping bass line and lots of vocal harmonies.  Let’s check out this third tune, Riding the Snake.  Imma expecting some low IQ achievement here.  For a saucy title this arrangement is as clean as a Starbucks bathroom floor.  Chem-Clean!  This is not what I expected at all.  Imma gonna check out this fourth tune, Mercury, which is about planets and shit.  This is a bit too earnest and clean for me, but check it out.  If Death Cab for Cutie and Yes had a love baby it would sound like this.

@@@ White Denim: Stiff (Downtown Records, 2016).  Off last week’s All Music notable releases.  Updated classic rock off with arena rock/pop mash.  Think Bad Company but with a ginger ale enema.  Of Foreigner with a lobotomy, and Foreigner was pretty mindless before a lobotomy.  The second tune, Ha Ha Ha Ha, is better than the opener with some pretty nice vocal work.  I’m on the third tune and my basic feeling is that this is a lot of energy expended without a purpose.  It’s trying to hard, I don’t know, it doesn’t work for me and I’m a bit exhausted by it.  Feel free to check it out for yourself.

YTD recordings listened to: 306
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 171
Not good music: 115

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

3/29/16: A$AP Ferg, Bonzai, Elzhi, Bob Mould

@@@ A$AP Ferg: Let It Bang (RCA, 2016).  A gangsta anthem to all things gun and ghetto off the Apple Music best of the week.  Awesome bass pulse, pretty standard beats, excellent rhymes.  It’s a little tough to listen to this and not think it’s glorifying tha life.  I would tell all you kids to stay in school, but school sucks and doesn’t do shit for you.  Don’t be a gangsta neither.

@@@ Bonzai: Where are U Now? (Anchor Point, 2016).  An urban electronic jam fronted by a nimble female singer.  There’s your standard sub bass and some skittery panned sounds with other chopped salad sonic bits.  It’s pretty pleasant, and probably more so if you’re high.  The sounds slightly outperform the vocal performance — somebody tweaked the bits up in this track something fierce.

@@@ Elzhi: Lead Poison (365 Glow, 2016).  An exclusive from this Detroit rapper that I got to from the Apple Music front page.  It’s taking a bit for this first tune to firm up but this second tune, Introverted has some really nice elements in it.  A long guitar melody also played by an electric bass, distorted beats and Mr. Elzhi on the mic with good energy but not at full speed.  He’s got quite a dramatic piano player on this record and an interesting blend of sounds — some classic soul vibes, some fusion business but mixed together in a slightly different way.  Check him out.

@@@ Bob Mould: Patch the Sky (Merge, 2016).  I love Bob Mould’s voice and his guitar sound.  Sometimes I find the lyrics too self-indulgent.  The guitar tone is less distorted and turned down a bit making more room for the drums.  The second tune, The End of Things, is more typical Mould far.  Excellent buzz, accelerated tempo.  He’s got some really nice guitar solos thus far, the lyrics are a tad maudlin — this is a good primer if you are a youth out there but after you check this out head on over to Husker Du’s New Day Rising.

YTD recordings listened to: 303
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 169
Not good music: 114

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

3/28/16: Bamba Wassoulou Groove, DJ Katapila, Justin DiFebbo, The Joy Formidable,

@@@ BAMBA WASSOULOU GROOVE: Farima (Label Bleu, 2015).  Mid tempo African music out of Mali that I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  This first tune features dual plinking guitars, some tasty singing and a steady steady kit drummer.  The second tune looks intent on getting into some African slow jamming with that clean tone and some circular and melodic shredding.  In the second half of the tune (clipped below) they get into some pretty heavy playing.  I could use a higher tempo and more grit but that’s just me, they can play.

@@@ DJ Katapila: Trotro (Awesome Tapes from Africa, 2015).  Let’s stick with the motherland for a bit.  I got to this uptempo electronic pop release out of Ghana through the WRIR playlist email.  The beats are quick, he traffics in pitch shifted robot voices, shredding electric guitar-like synth melodies and getting folks out on the dance floor after they have had a Red Bull so they can hang.  This is some pretty trippy and funky electro — hipster wannabes should check him out.

@@@ Justin DiFebbo: Skin and Bones (Self-released, 2016).  Some adult alternative space rock I got to from an email from the artist.  The piano parts rock the adult alternative and the sparse but tone-full guitars bring the space to your earholes.  It’s a mash you don’t hear often.  Good music for both the lobby of the dentist’s office as well as when you’ve got the mask on and your getting the gas before the sadist gets his tools out.

@@@ The Joy Formidable: Hitch (C’mon Let’s Drift, 2016).  Brit rock with traces of shoe gaze that I got to via a music publicist email.  Big big swells of distorted guitar with moments of quiet and feelings.  It is energetic and bland at the same time.  The lyrics aren’t particularly memorable.  Now if she said she wanted to kill somebody and eat the body I would sit right up and take attention.  I think the image below says all that needs to be said about this band.  If there were great bagels on that unicorn horn I could really go for one.

YTD recordings listened to: 299
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 167
Not good music: 112

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

3/27/16: Autolux, dvsn

@@@ Autolux: Pussy’s Dead (Columbia, 2016) Experimental electro (we’ll see about dat!) off the Apple Music front page.  I’m hearing a lot of pop music here with some mope and a tad of John Lennon vibes.  The main vocal hook is the line ‘It’s so sad to be happy all the time.’  Wow, my world is on fire.  Oh, they’re whipping that dead horse something fierce so I’m gonna skip ahead.  This second tune, Soft Scene, has some nice beats but is far from  unpredictable/experimental.  That is, however, some nice booty bumpin’ bass, too bad it’s served up with art school mope.

@@@ dvsn: Sept. 5th (OVO/Warner, 2016)  Some half-slick/half-out r&b also off the Apple Music front page.  The sounds on this tune are lush and rich and happening.  The second song, Too Deep, pushes some gospel into the sound and the falsetto singer is working a lot of double entendres.  Surely not as nasty as early Prince, he’s more take me home to your mama nasty.  Man, whoever produced these sounds has skills.

YTD recordings listened to: 295
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 164
Not good music: 111

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

3/26/16: The Body, Magic Circle

@@@  The Body: No One Deserves Happiness (Thrill Jockey, 2016) A genre bending electronica/heavy music mash that I got to via this week’s Aquarius weekly email.  This first tune Wanderings is opening up angelic, spare, and electronic.  And then the big guitar crush!  The third tune, For You, descends into a curtain of noise/static over a pushed back drum beat, it’s really quite a chalkboard/fingernails typathing that works to undo the prettiness of the elf queen female vocals.  I give this a solid B.

@@@ Magic Circle: Journey Blind (20 Buck Spin, 2015).  A heavy music record of my weekly heavy metal newsletter.  I’ thinking with a name like Magic Circle we might see a little prog up in this record, but that’s just a guess.  Once the first tune gets cooking I hear more riffy stoner music than prog.  After an extended jam intro we get into some epic throwback classic metal with an operatic singer.  I like the drum sound and some of the guitar playing but I can’t really deal with this singer, it’s not my style.

YTD recordings listened to: 293
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 162
Not good music: 111

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 4

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, 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, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Parker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Cruciamentum

Best of 2016 Pick 4

Los Hacheros: Bambulaye (Jacob Plasse, 2016).

I have their 2012 effort on my best of list for its beautiful ambient sound and this record makes the list for it’s powerful combination of melody and rhythm.  Indie hipsters will hopefully connect with the rock guitar/electrified son(?) that has been added to the traditional salsa band instrumentation.

The violin player lends a romantic edge to the music and the singer glues the whole thing together.  He is a great singer and there’s not a weak link in the band.

From the first tune all the way through these guys tear it up.

Check these guys out!