4/30/16: Konono No. 1, Brian Eno, Heathered Pearls

@@@ Konono No. 1: Konono No. 1 Meets Batida (Crammed Disc, 2016).  Off this week’s All Music notable release email.  I have had strong positive feelings about previous Konono No. 1 records, but my feelings have ebbed somewhat.  However, this first tune is smoking and weird and I’m feeling it big time.  Let’s move to the second tune and hope they keep building this fire.   The second tune, Yambadi Mama, is starting out well.  With some African percussion, they bring in a demented drum machine beat to garnish the African beats.  Oh what a tasty mash.  Oh, this must be the Yambadi Mama, and she should be called Badass Mama.  She has a very strong and beautiful voice.  One more tune before I declare this record will make some sort of list on this blog for this year.  This third tune brings a trippy circular metallic loop and a hi hat to go with the thumb piano and the hammered marimba typathang.  Sweet Jesus, this is fonky.  Check this record out people!

@@@ Heathered Pearls: Body Complexity (Ghostly Int’l, 2015).  Some ambient synth electronic top floating over old school part hip hop, part skitter beats.  I got to this music after seing the outfit mentioned on the Twatter.  I’m not loving the beats, although I do like some of the chopping thereof, and I find the synths to be not much more than pudding or pink insulation.  Let’s move to the second track Interior Architecture Software.  I’m grateful to get the standard unt-tss kick hat beat and some percussion/vibe sounding synth patches.  Ooh, much better. Not knocking me out, but better.

@@@ Brian Eno: The Ship (Warp, 2016).  Let’s stick in electronic land with Brian Eno, the grandfather of ambient music.  I got to this via the All Music weekly email.  This first tune, the title track is a 21 minute banger, and I really dig the first three minutes of this track.  I guess Eno sings in some spots on this record but I don’t know where in this big ass piece he’s gonna hit the mic.  I like the beginning of this second piece, an 18 minute banger.  Fewer cloud formations and more insect noise and pulsating sounds.  The third tune, a three minute (a ditty in comparison) is an acoustic piano and spoken word piece.  I like the words, they sound like something out of a novel.  The first two pieces are the bulk of the record and I will swing back to check out that forty minutes of music when I get the chance.

YTD recordings listened to: 392
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 221
Not good music: 145

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar, Brian Eno

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4/29/16: Beyonce, Fresh Big Mouf, Joey Kneiser, Elaquent

@@@ Beyonce: 6 Inch (Columbia, 2016).  The Lemonade stand is open with the fifth track, 6 Inch.  Ah, this tune is a bit of a mess.  It’s about a female character, a stripper, and how hard she works for her money.  It’s hard (no pun) to see the 6 inch title to be a penis reference.  I like The Weeknd’s first vocal, he’s really got a good Michael Jackson vibe going.  There are too many vocals on this track, it’s cluttered.  The beats are also all over the place.  They go from rock machismo to club handclaps and it’s incoherent.  If there’s anything we all know about Beyonce is that everything is about her and not about her at the same time.  I can’t tell if this is about her as a sexy, working female doing her thing, but since the song kinda sucks.  When people talk about what a genius Beyonce is I would like to see them roll out on this tune and explain the genius at work here.  This is not the work of a genius.

@@@ Fresh Big Mouf: Bite Your Brains (Not sure, 2016) A single from an artist I saw name checked on the Indie pulse music blog.  It’s an indie electronic track that is close to an old four on the floor disco track with some pitch shifted voices, synth bass, some ’80s era synths, and a bouquet of R2D2 robot sounds.  It’s all right, check it out if you dig indie electronic

@@@ Joey Kneiser: The Good Ones (This is American Music, 2016).  An American roots track with polished production, a strong vocal melody/performance, and big reverbed guitars.  Also piano on this loneseome lonesome track.  This is straight ahead roots, no mashing up with other genres, just a man and a woman singing about their broken hearts.

@@@ Elaquent: Less is More (Urbnet, 2015).  Some indie hip hop off the CFUV weekly email.  This second tune, Caramel is an interesting blend of retro ’90s sounds mixed with chopped/blenderized vocals and some glitchy swirls.  Not much from the MC Elaquent at this point.  Maybe he’s the producer and these are instrumental tracks.  Hol’ up Imma check the intertoobz.  There’s an MC on the fifth tune, and it appears Elaquent produces these tracks and a lot of them are instrumentals.  He’s got skills.  As noted before ’90s influenced beats but there’s some interesting stuff going on in the arrangements.  I hear saxophones, a short bouncing vibes sample.

YTD recordings listened to: 389
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 220
Not good music: 144

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar

4/28/16: Beyonce, Givers and Takers, Blue October, Anna Meredith

@@@ Beyonce: Sorry (Columbia, 2016).  A friend of mine was wondering why I was spending so much time reviewing Beyonce’s new record.  I told him that almost all of the coverage of Beyonce revolves around her superstar manipulations and very little revolves around her music so a respectable way to take down Beyonce is to talk honestly about her music.  Thus far, my opinion is that the Super Bowl single Formation is pretty much incoherent and her track with Jack White is pretty lame.  This tune is more urban with skittery beats and a bumping bass and a lot of synth candy.  There is one stretch where she drops a really advanced descending vocal melody but her vocals (as in other tunes) are uneven.  Cliche at points and too many vocals seem to be the main weaknesses to my ears.  This tune is an inbetweener, better than Don’t Hurt Yourself and Formation but not full on genius as people seem to think she is.

Note:  When will the new Boxer Rebellion record come down off the Apple Music front page?  How big a check was sent to Cupertino for that placement?  Lord knows it’s not the quality of the music that put that record right splat in front of everybody’s face.

@@@ Givers & Takers: Strangers (Not sure, 2016).  I saw this band name checked on an indie music blog called Indiepulse and this is their brand new single.  It’s kind of a proggy blues.  Clean guitars, mannered singer, some vamping organ.  The chorus breaks out with a big guitar sound and a more uptempo feel.  It goes out in a blues rock outro/jam.  Riffage, big ’60s rock feel and pumping organ.

@@@ Blue October: Home (Up-Down/Brando, 2016)  Some meaningful adult alternative grown up rock off the Apple Music front page.  Epic, cheesy chorus, reminiscent of Peter Gabriel but without any world music swirled up in there.  Then into a big rock section.  Not good.  I think I’m not a big fan of the singer.  This second tune is 1980’s soft arena rock rebranded for the end of the Obama era.

@@@ Anna Meredith: Taken (Moshi Moshi, 2016).  Some electronic music out of the UK that I got to via a music publicist email.  It opens up high club until a prog chorus of voices comes in.  There’s a slight aggro feel that bridges the prettiness of the voices with the pumping club rhythmic undercarriage.  Said undercarriage morphs into full breakbeat with minimalist clink before the voices come back.  It’s a solid compositional idea but it kinda cycles.  I understand it’s a remix and I see another remix of the same time has a very different vibe.  I’d like to hear the original but I can’t find it scrolling up and down the page.  I’ve clipped both remixes on the page for ya earholes.

YTD recordings listened to: 385
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 218
Not good music: 142

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar

4/27/16: Lisbon Kid, Beyonce, Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate, Mayflower Madam

@@@ Beyonce: Don’t Hurt Yourself (Columbia, 2016).  This is the track with Jack White.  Everybody know how much I love rock star Jack White and now he rock it with Queen Bey.  I like these distorted vocals, but she’s more dramatical than believable in this tune.  None of the pipes of Aretha Franklin.  Oh, there’s Jack White poppin’ up in the mix like a piece of Wonderbread poppin out of the toaster!!!  We gotsta listen to him sing, I would have preferred him on the guitar.  This is the first stink biscuit of this record.  I don’t mind but she could not have cut Jack White a smaller piece of the pie than what she gave him.  The problem with this tune is that she’s supposed to be pissed and fierce but she never loses it on the mic.  Angry but doesn’t want to break a nail.  I bet she breaks some shit in the video, but the tune is only half exploding.

@@@ Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate: Faya (Cumbancha, 2014).  A world music collaboration that I got to via the WRIR weekly email.  This first tune opens up with some straight blazing electric ngoni (guess).  The second tune is less compelling and the third tune is better but not super interesting to me.  The electric string player is electric, I dig the bass player, but the lyrics and tunes not as much.

@@@ Mayflower Madam: Self-Seer (Night Cult, 2016)  A blend of post-rock and shoegaze with a Goth singer that I got to via a music publicist email.  I like the guitar sounds, the singer not as much, but it’s got a fresh feel to it.

@@@ Lisbon Kid: Last Weekend (Wall of Sound, 2016).  An elector funk single I got to via the indie music blog Indiepulse.  Nice electric bass, kit sounding drums or kit drums and a cynical spoken word over wajjy wajjy synths.  I spaced on the narrative of the words, I didn’t know there was going to be a story about a guy meeting a girl at a club on the weekend and now that I’ve lost the thread I care less.

YTD recordings listened to: 381
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 215
Not good music: 141

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar

4/26/16: Beyonce, Sophie Strauss, Citizen Kay, Night Beats

@@@ Beyonce: Hold Up (Columbia, 2016).  We are doing a song by song review of Beyonce’s new monster shot.  If you’re alive and you’ve been feeding off the intertoobz you know Beyonce been wronged and this record is her working out her bad feelings about Jay Z’s infidelity.  I like the arrangment here, it’s very minimal and well done.  A well placed bass pulse and a percussive, abstract synth sound.  The vocals are a bit of a mixed bag.  Some of the lines are very memorable, some cliche and some oddly out of place.  If the vocals were more raw it would be a great contrast to the constrained arrangement.  They are B level lyrics, oscillating between very good and interesting and predictable.

@@@ Sophie Strauss: Yeah No Fine (Self-released, 2016).  I got to this indie folk/adult alternative record via a music publicist.  This first tune has some Daniel Lanois sized reverbs and it’s pretty and lonesome and half rocking.  This first tune is dragging just a wee bit so let’s move to the second tune.  Y’all know I have mad music to listen to so we gotta keep things moving.  Strauss’ vocals are mixed a bit too high in the mix.  I’m gonna check out this third tune and head out most likely.  The second tune was mostly a vocal performance where this third tune has pep.  I like it okay but I think she needs to either work on the lyrics more or de-emphasize them a bit.  I’m gonna judge it on what I hear upfront.

@@@ Citizen Kay: Our World (Asphalt Records, 2015).  Some Australian hip hop I got to from the weekly CFUV playlist email.  This first tune, the title track is bouncy and concious and perfect for a beer soaked frat party.  Kay’s flow on the microphone is a bit clunky in this first tune but he’s working quickly and well on this second tune, Wax On Wax Off.  This tune appears to be perfect for a pubic hair removal commercial.  Wax On Wax Off!  I would like this record more if the beats were different.

@@@ Night Beats: Who Sold My Generation (Heavenly, 2016)  Some Northwerst stoner psych also off the CFUV weekly email.  Plenty o’ reverb on the vocals in this first track, and some pretty high end riffage.  The second tune moves towards a late ’60s hippie rock/soul bumptiousness with generous dollops of psych wails and crescendos.  I like the guitar playing, the mix is bit too splashy for my earholes, and I like it without loving it.  Check for yourself.

YTD recordings listened to: 377
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 212
Not good music: 140

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar

4/25/16: Fit for Abuse, Elder, Beyonce, Wood Lake

@@@ Fit for Abuse: Mindless Violence (Armageddon Shop, 2015).  Some old school hardcore dedicated to the War on Terror (my add).  I love the War on Terror, we’re really killing our way to peace, it’s going great!  These guys have no metal to their sound despite that they’re on my heavy music weekly email.  The drummer has more skills than a normal hardcore drummer, the guitarist has a solid slashing style while the singer does the hardcore schtick with sytle and flair.  He doesn’t have that Jello Biafra wild sarcasm, he’s much more meat and potatoes which is good too.

@@@ Elder: Lore (Armageddon Shop, 2014).  Off the same heavy music email.  It’s not a straight metal, it’s got quite a dollop of prog in it.  Not the full prog art explosion but up in there.  The singer has started in the first song here and he is epic.  These are long guitar bangers with the shortest weighing in at 9 and one half minutes of your life, so you either better have a big bag of weed or you better really like these guys.  It’s pretty good but not quite worth my time.  Maybe yours?  Big mainstream rock with prog schmears — that’s what you’re gettin’.

@@@ Beyonce: Pray You Catch Me (Not sure, 2016).  Beyonce dropped a monster shot over the weekend.  Regular readers know Imma huge Beyonce fan, I love her.  She so honest and open with the people.  Imma gonna review her record one song at a time.  This first tune is a slow saddie, oh Jay Z you a bad man hurtin’ Beyonce’s feelings like that.  I like the gospel tinges to the track and the simplicity of it as it has not exploded into diva land.  There are too many vocal tracks for my taste, but she’s Beyonce and shit.  It goes out instrumental and it’s all right.  Certainly not Curtis Mayfield face ripping, or Prince 1999 (I miss Prince already yo) but it’s awright.

@@@ Wood Lake: Hell (Sef-released, 2016).  Some Canadian shoegaze I got to from the indie music blog Indiepulse.  This first tune explodes more than your typical shoegaze.  More urgency, I like that.  They have some dance influences in this first tune.  Oh, these kids today with their mashing and combining.  There’s a piano opening up the second track and the singer sports a Thom Yorke like voice.  It’s an interesting blend of sounds when it’s all bound together with big blasts of guitar noise.

YTD recordings listened to: 373
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 210
Not good music: 138

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar

4/23/16: Peder Mannerfelt, Jon Bellion

@@@ Peder Mannerfelt: Controlling Body (Peder Mannerfelt, 2016).  Weird ass electro off this week’s Aquarius Records email.  This first tune starts with angel squirts and synth farts.  Alternating — pretty and chewy.  Oh and here are more elements coming in sideways.  More angel voices, a synth horn, and now a percussive blast, and an oscillating wang.  An interesting blend of sweetness and weirdness.  The second tune, Her Move is a looped voice that is reduced to being only rhythmically meaningful as it’s coupled with a Caribbean flavored beat with a club kick and some mechanical beng beng.  The third tune, BZ Reaction, is a club keyboard vamp with delay on it that rolls out and is joined by a descending spaceship complete with R2D2 chatter.  Starting minimal and layering in the sounds seems to be the modus operandi here.  I appreciate how he takes his time despite not loving all the sound.  Solid B.

@@@ Jon Bellion: Guillotine (Capitol, 2016).  An exquisitely produced electro cheese biscuit off the Apple Music front page.  A more indie electronic verse tilts mainstream in the chorus.  The worst aspects of the song are the small ewok grunts and the background vocals.  Oh, and the stupid lyrics and the white funkness of it.  Blech.

YTD recordings listened to: 369
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 210
Not good music: 138

Honorable Mentions: 8
Buys: 7

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Cha Wa, Systema Solar