@@@ Frances Baker: Bringing Me Down (Beatnik Creative, 2021) These listens are off this week’s Line of Best Fit. It’s pretty mind blowing to see how much things change over time as you wonder if the folks who make a label called Beatnik Creative know what a beatnik is. I doubt it. This is an ’80s informed little less than midtempo synth rock banger. I would say Ms. Baker is contributing to the somewhat soggy texture of the track despite the cheerful synth that sits on top of a synth bass. To be fair the tune is called Bringing Me Down. Just a little jump up in the beat would be fantastic, the kick snare rock beat never altered is hard for me.
@@@ Swindle: How I’ve Been (BMG, 2021) The last track of a hip hop record with a ton of guest MCs. Opens with a little piano spray and finger snaps and two singers, one male and one female. This is most definitely not a street banger as a British accented MC hits the mic and gets emotional. Yeah Swindle is from London and this is classy. To my ears it only dips a toe in hip hop and is really a positive r&b flavors with a couple of MC appearances. No shame in it, but I continue to maintain that calling music what it really is is better in the long run. This might work for a brunch if you have a good job and uptight friends.
@@@ Spencer: Want U Back (Self released, 2020) Some more listening off the buzzfeed 20 black indie folks to listen to. This is my third listen off the list and I like the tune but it’s not super indie, they’re trying to slip one past the goalie here. There’s a clean guitar arpeggio part, a classic indie component, but slow jam drum machine beats and his singing, not so much. Regular readers know I’m certainly not a ball buster, ha! It’s a groove track that he hangs on but it’s a tasty groove and he does add a lit garnish here and there. I’m not jumping up and down recommending this but these are mainstream sounds put together in a fresh way so if you’re up for that.
@@@ Jany Green: Call My Parents (Nice Guys, 2020) Opening up with a strummed acoustic guitar and an Andre 3000 brisk pop thing. Again, not super an indie formula but you know this is ‘Merka and a lot of folks be genre stretching and bullshitting. I like the horn line the most, don’t love the strum, like his energetic delivery and am not pulled in by the lyrics. I switched over to his record from this year and it uses a little bit of the same formula but it’s closer to rock and reminds me of the Red Hot Chili Pepper. Punchy, black music flavored rock. If you’re a fan of this flavor check out his 2021 record Lost In Love over the single clipped below.
@@@ Bedside Kites: Deep Brown Eyes (N/A, 2020) I’m checking out a few tunes from Buzzfeed’s 20 black indie artists you should peep. Regular readers know how hard it is for me to give respect to indie rock genre so while I love black music, can black artists resusciatate a musical form I mightily struggle with? We’ll see! Here we have the classic elements — clean strummed electric guitar, melancholy-ish lyrics. The melodies are above average comparatively, but as a recording engineer I think it would have been nice if somebody had taken 10 minutes with izotope to remove the massive electric guitar buzz. Oy. He wants to be more than a friend, it’s a classic subject. I’m suffering from a lack fo drums and the amp noise. The singer is the star here.
@@@ ODIE: Slowly (Empire, 2020) Shifting gears to an intimate electro r&b jam style track. The singer is pretty good, he’s the most energetic while energy and tempo is not the point here. It’s a chill sitch. My favorite part of the listen is the spaciousness of the mix and the arrangement. I’m not sure I would really consider this an indie track. I don’t really love how the strings come in but he brings in a big fat bass throb that occasionally booms. I like a bunch of the stuff here without jumping up and down. I guess if I felt the drama of the strings it would work better for me, but strings, strings are pretty played out, I need someone to hit me with some extravagant ear catching string arrangements to unleash my attention.
@@@ Hand Habits: Aquamarine (Saddle Creek, 2021) Ah Saddle Creek, meaningful white people rock. Lots of feelings. This is the second track on the record and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I kinda like this. I like the bass synth a whole bunch and the production is pretty small and right up in yer face at the same time that the singer is on about their feelings. This is the straight beat I would march to Hell to spend eternity with Satan but the sounds are nice. See, I’m an open minded motherfucker, so you all you peasant bitches like me can open yer minds and like things on the 10,000th listen. It’s not to low self-esteem and talking about how much they hate themselves, and it’s not to dreamy female-d out which I fucking hate, it’s got a simple no bullshit synth rock feel just being itself and not The Cure.
@@@ The Convenience: Accelerator (Winspear, 2021) Opens up with drums, handclaps, and tambourine. Labelled as indie pop, it’s an early Prince clone down to the synth sound occasionally popping into your ears. Oh my this is Controversy in a white man’s body, yowsa somebody call the Bite Patrol!!!! The main difference is the outrageousness of Prince’s lyrics vs. the pretty staid lyrics here and Prince’s use of falsetto which creates a somewhat funkier impression. Let me check the next tune to see if the Bite Patrol needs to be called on the whole record. The Prince feels continue on the second track but it’s not as energetic and shows why the early Prince records remain some of his finest work.
@@@ Black Marble: Somewhere (Sacred Bones, 2021) More listening off this week’s All Music notable release email. I like this label and think they put out a bunch of interesting stuff but this is the sort of ’80s influence white people, half krauty synth rock that I’ve never cottoned to. I like the lead synth sound, the second one is a bit lazier and more syrupy, and the drums, oy the drums, oh big shift into a more Devo-ish place with a spraying high synth patch. Almost two minutes in before the singer shows up and he’s cool, pretty standard for the sounds. It’s a six minute banger and I’m at 3.5 minutes and I’m sure these are perfectly fine folks but these sounds have never worked for me. If you like a nice klunky drumbeat this will go down smooth. I mean that, f’real.
@@@ The Pineapple Thief: Wretched Soul (Snapper, 2021) These guys are big rock/prog and it opens up with a male singer exclaiming ‘I’ve got a wretched soul’ and to that I say what? Have a sandwich maybe. Or a snicker doodle, a snicker doodle can be quite delicious. Sonically, the drums are indeed arena-ish and the singer is doing a less anguished but still pained Thom Yorke thing. He let it get a hold of him, that’s what he’s singing now, buttressed by a big guitar riff and the drums, oh the drums! I’m entertaining myself, always not a good sign about the music if I’m forced to amuse myself. There’s big middle part with a version of a guitar solo with some doublekick bass drum and then a comedown. It goes out with another guitar blast, a more formal sounding guitar solo
@@@ Deerhoof: Department of Corrections (Joyful Noise, 2021) Deerhoof is my favorite deer related band, ths singer is great and strange and they live up to the quirky indie rock hype. This sounds like a Yes track blenderized with more modern sounds. This is from the All Music notable release email. A fair number of dueling guitar runs, pretty thunderous drumming and then singer in the middle of it on about something in her way. I’m not going to claim that the big bucket of guitars here is revelatory, the part where they drop away and she does this weird beep beep beep crazy shit is much more engaging. I will check out the other pre release track, an oy it’s the same with the two guitars frantically splattering all over the place. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. Oh my they start a kluster of distortion and dirty bass and that shit, oh that shit is fantastic. #MixedBag
@@@ Ross From Friends: The Daisy (Brainfeeder, 2021) A UK DJ bumpin’ up some high brow dancefloor bangin’ on this record I also go to via the All Music notable release email. I’ve peeped some Brainfeeder business before and the sounds can be a bit too refined for my taste — I like some crunch, I like some weirdness, this is pretty tight and manicured quite carefully as a porn stars genital hair patch may be. He gets into some pretty tasty glitching and deconstructing, but I say put some mustard on this hot dog, naimsayin’? Let me peep another track and check the fire on that. The second tune, Love Divide rocks a classic techno unt-sss to open up but then I imagine he’s gonna get up in some modern, ooooh, pong synthesizer, nice. Techno video games up in here. If this music was a dude it would be Pete Buttigieg — very clean and well spoken and ya know uptight. Gay/not gay I have no view on that.
@@@ Keshav Batish: Binaries In Cycle (Woven Strand, 2021) I think I got to this via a tweet on the Twatter. I love me some Twatter. This instrumentation here is sax, bass, drums and piano. Mix is nice, pretty clean sounds, well really clean sounds to be quite frank. The tempo is quite quick with the piano player taking the first solo and he’s doin’ all right. Oh, I think this might be an electric bass, there’s no shame in it but it does produce a pretty different vibe. The sax player took his solo and I’m most excited by the piano player, he’s catching my ears the most. It is my professionalism that has forced me to make it to the drum solo, the last solo of the quartet. It’s pretty meh, he sounds a bit like he should be in a rock band so the piano player wins the contest as the most interesting musician on this track. All right-y then.
@@@ Deli Teli: Boumpam (Rebel Up, 2021) This is some Greek psychedelic music from a small UK label that specializes in interesting mashups that always include some sort of world music style. Middle Eastern electronic, Greek pyschedelic, African shit from all over the place really. I’m on their mailing list. Two things — I can’t find this track on Apple Music so you’re going to have to deal with GooglePimpTube. Secondly I have a fair amount of Greek music in my vinyl collection so I’m a fan. What I’m struck about most here is not the instruments or the singing in Greek, it’s the distinctly surf-y vibe they’ve injected into the track. So what’s described as Greek psychedelic is more like Greek surf. I guess surf doesn’t have the best genre reputation but I dig surf music, it’s cool and weird. The bass player is on fleek, the drummer is good and in addition you have plenty of keyboard and stringed instruments, bouzouki most notably. I like the vibe here, it’s smart party music. Check it out if you dig surf or party music.
@@@ Kam-Bu: Dumpling (Parlophone, 2021) Got to this via a Crack magazine promo email. Oh British hip hop, I love this shit. The accent makes the whole thing so Great British Bake Off, it’s just hard to feel the menace with this vocal flow. Once you get past that, and maybe you’re the kind of listener that likes British accented hip hop, the sounds are quite original. There’s a fragemented come and go flavor to the sounds which really jumps out in places. In addition to the accent of the MC I have tough time following the subject matter here. I’m guessing from the title that this MC is out for some takeaway Chinese and he just loves dumplings! Well, that’s made up, I’m entertaining myself. I’m checking out the second track ‘Black on Black’ that features strings (which I hate in hip hop) and a very nicely done bassline. Again I find the arrangements more interesting than the MC. He’s not bad but the sounds win here.
@@@ ?Qiensave?: Para Poderte Olvidad (Qiensave, 2021) I got to this track via a music publicist email. This is a single that opens with rock bluster before breaking into what I think the music publicist referred to cumbia urbano. To me it’s way more electric guitars at points and some rock drums swirled into the cumbia flavor pack. The singer is mad smooth and they even get into some multiple vocal track passages. Nice space organ solo, and it’s recorded well but I switched over to another single they released this year and find a similar electric guitar sound but the vocals are busier and the tune is more energetic. This track is called La Poderosa and I’m feeling this much more than the more recent single.
@@@ Dooms Children: Psyche Hospital Blues (Dine Alone, 2021) From the Line of Best Fit. I thought this was gonna be full on rough house business with the title of the track and name of the band. Doom and shit. However, it’s a laidback Brit rock thing with a gruff voiced singer, some twangy telecaster playing and even background singers and a slide guitar. It’s got a bit of an epic Oasis feel but more in spirit than construction. Faded rock, it’s that. Tasteful panning guitar solo that doesn’t go full batshit and even has a type of shadow either with delay or another track. I don’t completely hear the title reflected in the lyrics but it’s got a good rock feel. I’m not a huge rock guy, i’ve heard enough rock to last a lifetime. Oh fuck me, I”ve been peeping the wrong track, somehow the player skipped ahead to the next track Skeleton Beach. From the opening bit of this track (clipped below) I’m glad I was skipped ahead, as the tune clipped below is more of a standard straight ahead rocker and snoozy.
@@@ Alfa Mist: Bumper Cars ( , 2021) From the chic Brooklyn performance venue National Sawdust. This is the B side of a track due out in the middle of November. It’s a mannered and sophisto medium large ensemble jazz feel opening this up. A wee bit of funk, plenty of horns, some violin, keys, oy it’s the full monty up in here. This is strictly suit and tie action you can’t be out shitting on somebody’s lawn listening to this track, it’s far too mannered. It’s straying into soft jazz territory with a delayed sax sound and just so super chill I want to have a flavored coffee and curl up with a book on my kindle, thanks Jeff Bezos you fuckface. I joke around and call Jeff Bezos a fuckface but a lot of people like this style. It’s well done for what it is, I guess some folks aspire to this level of composure and togetherness. I do not. If you roll this way, then have at it, it’s only personal preference. At least it’s not Coldplay.
@@@ Meth Math: Muro de los Lamentos (AWAL, 2021). I got to this track via a twat from Crack Magazine in the UK. It’s an electronic track that opens with a medium aggro bass and a choppy high synth that gives way to the dreamy female vocals and skittering beats. Vocals are sung in Spanish which I think is better (for me) but overall I’m having a tough time understanding the overall point of all these songs. There’s some video game feels here, the dreamy female pop feels, and the mix is crazy crazy compressed so the loudness of it does contrast other sounds that are in it. Color me confused for sure. The B side of this single is much more understandable to me. A similar formula but the sounds line up to present a dreamy sound with skittering percussion and space voyage feels. They shoulda switched the order on these tracks.
@@@ Self Esteem: I Do This All the Time (UMG, 2021). I got to this track via the Guardian that gave this second record 5 stars as an artist coming into her own type of rave. So let’s peep! This is a pre-release track from an upcoming major label banger. The sounds here are very accessible, sorta white people hip hop beats with empowerment style lyrics. Maybe other tracks are not self empowering. There are two spoken word sections that focus on a single woman prioritizing her own pleasures over getting married and having kids. The chorus really peaks out on this trip around and then it’s back to her spoken word business that I don’t really like. There is a string arrangement which lends a seriousness to the proceedings. There’s not much here I like which is unfortunate as I love music but this is just some undercover New Age dumbness.