Best of 2017 Pick 8

Prepared: Trust Me (BART Records, 2017)

22 minutes of heartfelt, emo punk with great energy.  The guitar player is surprisingly engaging as you don’t usually get super interesting guitar playing on straight punk records.

The strength of this record lies in its ability to express/release a lot of negative emotions (frustration, desperation, sadness, anger, etc) with somewhat simple musical elements and allow listeners to have a similar release.  And it accomplishes this with a nakedness and/or lack of pretension — it just goes right to it and lets it out.  This to me is the essence of great punk rock.

Advertisements

Music for 7/27/17!!! The Bombay Royale, Pokey LaFarge, Mr. Eazi

@@@  The Bombay Royale: Run Kitty Run (Hopestreet, 2017)  An Australian/Indian funky large ensemble record.  There are two tracks up for pre-release on the Apple Music and this first track is funky for sure with some tongue in cheek spy movie/spaghetti western influence.  I like the blending of musical cultures and I am enjoying the singers but I’m not jumping up and down.

@@@ Pokey LaFarge: Manic Revelations (Rounder/Concord, 2017)  Some old school rocking’ r&b in the vein of James Hunter that I got to via this week’s CFUV playlist email.  It’s a larger band with a horn section and an organ player.  LaFarge has a very nice voice and this is a celebration of early ’60 r&b.  Pre black power/James Brown.  Aretha Franklin could probably beat LaFarge up and that would be entertaining.

@@@ Mr. Eazi: Life is Eazi, Vol. 1 — Akkra to Lagos (Banku Music, 2017)  A rare African music record on the front page of Apple Music.  I can see why they have him front and center as he sounds like an African Bieber except not nearly as annoying.  Smooth vocals with some nice African guitar playing and beats you would find on a lot of new American mainstream releases.  Regular readers know that I’m a huge listener of all African music but this does not have enough African music in it to super interest me.  It’s probably really interesting to a lot of American mainstream music listeners.  I’m agnostic.

YTD recordings listened to: 491
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 268
Not good music: 201

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity

Music for 7/26/17!!! Old Bliss, Tamika and the Slay, Duendita, Shacar

@@@ Olu Bliss: Traveling Bliss EP (As We Arrive, 2017)  Today we are going to listen to bands that will be playing Afropunk 2017.  I’m not a huge fan of soft, strummed blues folk but Bliss’ voice carries the day.  The second tune (clipped below) goes full band (even horns!) but the vibe is still mad mellow with Bliss’ loose and soulful voice.  The brother can sing.

@@@ Tamika & the Slay: Ugly EP (Self-released, 2017)  Old school rockin’ r&b also from the Afropunk at the Knitting Factory advert.  Ms. Tamika has a steamroller of a voice and she’s out in front of a burning band on this first tune.  Full horn section, organ player, tambourine, they’re only short the cowbell.  These guys may be smoking before the show but they’re washing it down with Red Bull as this is no sleepy ass shit.  Let’s peep more.  The second tune is a ballad but it builds to quite a crescendo.   I’ve peeped parts of four tunes and the one below is the best.

@@@Duendita: Yikes! (Self-released, 2017)  I’m not a huge smooth r&b kinda listener but this is a really nice track.  The singer has a quirky voice that I enjoy listening to her.  The mix has an appealing thickness to it that I dig.  A simple arrangement of keyboards and laid-back guitar highlight her super sweet multitrack vocals (in places).

@@@ Shacar: Ghost (feat. Santos) (Paradice, 2017) A r&b single I got to via the same Afropunk semi-final show.  It’s a simple arrangement with a simple tight beat, some piano chords underneath Shacar hitting the microphone.  There is a break with some rhymes but it’s Shacar and a vocal guest singing really well.  A focused, clean and funky track.

YTD recordings listened to: 488
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 266
Not good music: 200

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity

Music for 7/25/17!!! Poppy, Tyler the Creator, Dasher

@@@ Poppy: Interweb (Mad Decent, 2017)  The official anthem of the NSA!  Maybe I’m a spider, maybe I’m a fisherman, I’ll catch you in my interweb.  A sultry female singer, some synths and a standard boom bap beat but the lyrics are great.  Tongue in cheek I would think but ya never know.

@@@ Tyler, the Creator: Flower Boy (Sony, 2017) I really liked one of the singles so I’m back for the full length.  I really like his rhymes, but I don’t dig the sounds on this record thus far.  It’s a lot of synths which decreases the funk factor (for me at least).  I continue to really like Who Dat Boy, the pre release single, it really stands apart from the first three tracks.  Folks expecting a continuation of that single will be disappointed.  Is it wrong for me to want my hip hop funky?

@@@ Dasher: Sodium (Jagjaguwar, 2017)  Some garage-y punk off this week’s CFUV playlist email.  Fast out of the gate with slashing guitars these guys whip a solid punk shitty.  All members of the outfit are at full energy.  They have a little bit of a ’80s Janes Addiction kind of sound in the vocals and the guitar sound.  Solid B+ and the female singer does good work.

YTD recordings listened to: 484
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 264
Not good music: 198

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity

Music for 7/24/17!!! Vera Blue, Meklit, Ritual, Shania Twain

@@@ Vera Blue: Perennial (Island Records Australia, 2017)  Some Kate Bush-y epic electronica/adult alternative off the music blog Indiepulse.  The sounds here are a piquant stew of mainstream pop/electronica and New Age with a lot of modern sounding synths, a little schmattering of acoustic guitars and plenty of multitrack vocals.  All this slathered over just the right amount of funky for housewives drum machine beats.  I’m not a buyer, it panders.  I tried to find a lyric video as that’s my favorite thing but I couldn’t find one.  And that will be your loss, not to see these lyrics unfold on the video, the tears streaming down your face as you realize yes, I need to be brave, yes! I need to do more self care, and yes! I will love again!!!!

@@@ Meklit: When the People Move the Music Moves too (Six Degrees, 2017) World music off this week’s WRIR playlist chart email.  It’s a mash of African sounds, some American black music and adult alternative sounds.  It’s uplifting for sure.  Ah, I’m not super low IQ — I went to get a video and I see Meklit is an Ethiopian-American so that explains the blend.  As the first tune unfolds it has some nice muscle to it so it’s uplifting but it’s not soft, a combination I don’t really love.  The production is strong and the horn section is happening.  The lyrics are not to my taste but I’m very finicky.  She has really mashed American music with African music here.  Check her out.

@@@ Ritual: In This Moment (Atlantic, 2017)  Metal off the Apple Music new release section.  The first tune is opening up like a Hollywood soundtrack — epic with huge tom rolls, chants, and a rising guitar squall.  In an odd turn of events the second track gets into a blues vocal with thunderous arena rock production.  Yikes!  I guess that’s what this record is going to be as the third tune keeps those blues inflected vocals, though a dude steps in and they start rocking.  I can’t really get with this music, it’s not a blend of sounds I can get with.  It’s just too shiny and epic and shall we say a tad cheesy for my taste.  There are a bunch of covers of songs here that I don’t think needed to be covered.

@@@ Shania Twian: Poor Me (Mercury Nashville, 2017)  A pre release mainstream country single off the Apple Music hot tracks section.  It is breathtaking how far stretched country music has gotten.  I can’t find a single country music element in this tune — not a twanghy guitar, no pickup truck lyrical references.  Ms. Twain is a big star, she doesn’t have to do country music and it’s just an observation.  I neither hate the tune nor love it, it just sorta passes through and is over.

YTD recordings listened to: 481
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 262
Not good music: 197

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity

Music for 7/22/17!!! Japanese Breakfast, Howling

@@@  Japanese Breakfast: Soft Sounds from another Planet (Dead Oceans, 2017)  Off this week’s CFUV weekly playlist email.  ’80s influenced synth rock with a dreamy female singer.  It gets guitar noisy in a breakdown section and then goes back to its arpeggiated guitar sound.  They’re back with the shiny guitar and the reverbed out vocals in the second tune and while I understand this is a trendy, comeback hip indie sound I can’t abide by it.  I find it more than a bit self-indulgent and kinda boring.

@@@ Integrity: Howling for the Darkness Shall Consume (Relapse, 2017)  Epic metal off this week’s CFUV playlist email.  Oh, they’re switching up gears and into a sweet tasty thrash — I love that suffocating snare sound and the grinding guitars.  I’m feeling this second tune Fallen to Destroy.  These guys play with a lot of energy and sort of slip in and out of sections with dexterity — thrashing into slick rocking sections into classic metal melodies.  I usually decry classic metal records as cheesy and somewhat ridiculous but the way these guys do it is really happenin’.  Imma swing back on this record when I have more time but if you’re into metal these guys have it going on.

YTD recordings listened to: 477
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 260
Not good music: 195

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity

2017 Honorable Mention Pick 7

Dead Ranch: Brumation (No List Records, 2017)

Regular readers know of my inner toil regarding heavy metal singers.  I don’t like the cavemen, nor do I like the epic and operatic high range classic metal singers.  I like this singer a bunch, he works for me.  He’s a little punk, a little post-rock, and a little metal in places.  There are places where he has a little Kurt Cobain working.

The guitar player is similar in his styles — he’s got some punk, some post-rock, some classic hard rock, and some metal in his playing.

That’s the formula, blending these various sub genres but at the end of the day are tunes good and is the music fresh?  Yes is my answer.  While I often bemoan shiny music custom aimed at the heart of alienated suburban youth, this is high quality shit for the fringey upset folks in Westchester county, Chicago suburbs etc.

Nice sounds and tones, really energetic playing and a really good singer.