@@@ Hinako Omori: A Journey (Houndstooth, 2022) I’m a bit surprised and entertained to see that this record has been labelled as easy listening in Apple Music. I’m starting at the beginning of the record and it appears to be a mostly electronic record. The first track here, Spaceship Lament, is a meteor show of big synth notes diving and rising across the stereo field. And now a low arpeggiator. The second tune, A Journey, does indeed kick up the New Age spiritual vibes with a friendly and active arpeggiator, some whoo hoo whisper-y female vocals and then a pitch shifted down Lord of the Rings intoning voice. My problem with what I’ve heard thus far is the lack of contrast. I don’t mind soft, comforting sounds but I find them more compelling when they are presented with other harder sounds — that deepens the listening experience for me and creates tension. This is too far towards baby food for my liking.
@@@ Jensen McRae: Machines (Human Re Sources, 2022) The video below is the 10th song on a contemporary folk record. It opens with a cassette opening and closing before the bedroom mid lo fi sound comes in. The lyrics (at least the first verse) are a bit on the surreal side but the most notable component is McRae’s badass voice. The melodies here are not Joni Mitchell complex but she handles what she has here pretty effortlessly. As for the strummed acoustic guitar, it’s a strummed acoustic guitar hence the focus on the voice. It pushes the needle for drama, but hey if people dig it and it’s presented as tastefully as possible. There are some string arrangements that do their thing in the background and I don’t need them but as we’ve already said, drama. We get a big round of whoa hos starting around 45 seconds from the end and that’s the show. I’m giving the second tune, Happy Girl (tune 2) and I dig the bedroom sad ballad more as this has a drummer which gives it a more coffee shop folk feeling. Not a big coffee shop folk kinda guy here.
@@@ Aldous Harding: Ennui (4AD, 2022) Two releases from Pitchfork’s top 10 most reviewed albums this week. This opens as a sort of art school/proggy/chill rock thing. Piano part, tinkly drums, droning singing, it does match the opening track title and is a depiction of ennui as I’ve experienced it. Now it’s in the verse proper and it remains quirky. About halfway through the tune, the drum mix/part changes and it’s a full fleshed out tune, piano driven with off kilter vocalizing. I did a little googling and Harding hails from New Zealand and there is a distinctly un-American feel to the proceedings. I appreciate that, I like difference. She’s an experienced arranger and songwriter. I’m not a huge fan of this arty fok-y, indie style but that’s just me. If you dig it and want a modern and crisp version of it this could work for you.
@@@ Bladee and Ecco2k: 5 Star Crest ( YEAR0001, 2022) I thought this was going to be electronic but it’s more dreamy indie r&b. It’s got a good helping of glitch sauce to go with the intimate, bedroom singing. I appreciate that it’s more a riot of sound and doesn’t super feel like a structured piece thought it easily may be. Yowsa, I did not notice this is a 9 minute banger and the vibe changes completely to a dancefloor, sci-fi thing around minute 2. Still a lot of spaced out sounds, but a dreamy beat with a siren-y, beeping sound. I’ve rocked almost the whole track while I peeped my twatter feed and this is some epic indie electronic. It’s aspirational, loose and pretty free for the genre and not committed to being anything for any amount of time. I didn’t love it, but I respect it.
@@@ Walcot: Another Man (Self-released, 2021) This is an upbeat pop rock track I got to via a music publicist located in Chicago. The main hook here is the contrast between the super uptempo drumming centered in the snare and the sweetness of the vocalist. Then come strummed acoustic guitars, a harpsichord synth patch and there you go. The lyrics are pretty standard relationship business about being chosen instead of choosing another man. The drummer really brings this track to life so good on the singer for going for that vibe.
@@@ Philip Jeck: 7 (Touch, 2019) I got to this experimental turntablist via a twat on the Twatter noting his passing and mourning it. The first piece here opens with some really nice swirling, dreamy but not to cheesed out, and some panning. This is a 7-8 minute piece and the pulse and tempo of this works for a piece of this length. A slow, pitched down melody is introduced and it changes the composition bigly. I skipped ahead to the second track to be able to pass on more info regarding textures and flavors of this record but for me this is ticking a lot if not all the boxes I like to hear in an ambient electronic record. It’s not New Age-y, it’s not too sci-fi, it’s not too industrial or too shiny, he’s just presenting some very pleasantly manipulated sounds. This is a go for me, the second piece Museum. If you do check this out notice how the looping of the vinyl static serves to create a rhythmic base for the tune, I think that’s really cool. You may think it’s complete bullshit and that’s fine too yo.
@@@ Destroyer: Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread (Merge, 2022) Fourth track on the record and it’s most definitely in ’80s happy rock. The singer is deeper in range with retro-ish guitar sounds, multiple layers of vocal tracks tucked behind him and a classic vibe. Whether you dig the vibe or not, well that’s up to you. This is most definitely in a neighborhood I don’t enjoy passing through while I recognize that a lot of folk like dance rock drumming and happy rock. I was turning a page after hearing some recent releases from Merge and then pow, they hit with this and it hasn’t gone down well or easy. Today I listened from bottom to top and I will go out here saying that the second track is much more to my liking and more energetic.
@@@ oso oso: nothing to do (Triple Crown, 2022) Some old school guitar rock with indie and mainstream rock flourishes. Very rich guitar, a tambourine which is always a signifier, active drummer and a friendly singer. I would term this whipping a well mannered shitty, especially the singer. There’s a bring it down section that leads back to the buildup. The star here is the guitar player, followed by the drummer. I’m sure the singer is a great dude but he’s not really my cup of tea. Oh man, I get why I don’t cotton to the singer as he sounds a whole bunch like the lead cat from Wilco who I can’t stomach. He’s better than Wilco duder, but they’re related. There’s more mainstream rock going on here once you start listening more closely. Just informing.
@@@ Soul Glo: Diaspora Problems (Epitaph, 2022) I went to see the old school NY black hardcore band 24-7 Spyz last weekend, so I do appreciate that something small and different that black hardcore bands like the Bad Brains and Soul Glo deliver. In the first tune, Gold Chain Punk, they start out sorta poppy and expected before it devolves into a more dissonant and heavier thing, going out wig flipped and freak flag flying. The singer here is doing bigly work, he’s all over the mic with energy and a rhythmic intensity that is exciting to hear. The herky jerky business ocntinues with the second tune, Coming Correct is Cheaper with the addition of an occasional drum machine kick drum, but the formula is intact without being repetitive. The energy here is a notch underneath completely flipped out (it does not go into that crazy ass demented Butthole Surfers level of disturbing, it’s much more of a get up and burn shit down typa thing) and seems of this fucked up moment. I hope folks check out this record and I hope it blows the fuck up because they’re not trafficking in standard hardcore, this shit is a cut above. I don’t see how this record won’t make my best of year list, these guys bring it.
@@@ Eric Clapton and Van Morrison: Stand and Deliver ( N/A, 2020) I recently watched an amazing documentary about an anti-racist musical movement in the UK during the late ’70s/early ’80s and poor ol’ Eric Clapton aligned himself with the forces of racism in British society so this anti-vax/’pro-freedom’ track is not that much of a surprise. “Is it a sovereign nation or a police state, you better look out people before it gets too late.” It’s a notch or two under midtempo and he takes a half-hearted not quite showcased great for him in the mix guitar solo. The music is all right, it’s pretty standard and I like the drummer, but with lyrics like ‘do you want to make it better, or do you want to make it worse? I really don’t know what the hook Stand and Deliver means in this context. The original phrase stand and deliver means to give over something that is demanded, like taxes and rights, etc. Anyway, it’s not a tune really worthy of going into great detail on as the tune is okay but a bit laggy. Most likely this will go down as a historical mistake by Clapton and whatevs as this is the age of whatevs and everything comes and goes across the brain pans of society. I thought the tune would be more impassioned than this, but it’s not.
@@@ Raw Poetic and Damu the Fudgmunk: Open Roads (Def Presse, 2022) I got to this interesting hip hop record via the bandcamp marketing machine. It’s hip hop with a very strong band feel, both rock feels and some jazz feels. It’s also got an acceptably chill hippie flow to it. The track clipped below is the opener and it’s a pretty hot track with nimble microphone work and a lot of instruments poking out of the mix. I’m checking out the second track, Chewing Gum, and it follows a similar formula. The bassline is tucked in there and is a dizzying climbing line with some synth blasts and the MC who is engaging — the lyrics are world weary and kinda philosophical. World gone crazy themes and whatnot. These guys seem to want to uplift without applying excessive sonic cheese, the mission is accomplished by the arrangements and the microphone energy and the lyrics.
@@@ B. Visible: Pancakes (Data Snacks, 2022) I think this is another listen from bandcamp, and Mr. Visible is a dance artist from Vienna Austria. It’s got the anchoring kick drum, some occasional blasting synths, an arpeggiated synth that bounces about capturing most of the listeners’ attention and an old school popping funk bassline. It’s not an EDM exploding cheesebomb and I’m grateful for that. I’m giving a quick peep to the third track and it’s the same kick drum, a keyboard progression, some chopstick-y percussion, no hand it’s a slapping conga drum type sound, and similar keyboard sounds. I appreciate the minimal arrangements, sometimes the electronic shit can be so over the top sci-fi (or other flavors). Super clean production, yikes, like a porn star’s love patch, manicured if you dig that sort of thing..
@@@ J. Robbins: Un-becoming (Dischord, 2021) I got to bot of these listens from Bob Mould’s PR person’s blast mail saying who is opening on his summer tour. Former lead singer of DC band Jawbox this is the fifth track on the record and it opens with an ambient piano part before it segues into the rocking body of the track. Lots of slashing Clash type guitars to go with the classic distorted guitar arpeggios. It’s a very wordy track, literate and about something, our country I think. Or our bodies. I’m on the next track and I’m getting the distinct feeling that Mr. Robbins does not want to repeat his earlier work of which I’m a fan. It may be a bit to art school for me, but I like that he’s not repeating himself.
@@@ H.C. McEntire: River’s Jaw (Merge, 2021) Female driven country dirge type business. I’m not the biggest Merge Records fan as I think they doth issue forth a lot of blue eyed dance garbage, but this is not that and I dig that. It’s also not a string band type of situation, there’s a lot of electric guitar happening here. It’s got a bit of spaghetti western twang to it. I like it without loving it, let me check another track before I wrap up for the day. I’m checking out the third track High Rise and it’s got a lovely slide guitar and a more developed vocal melody. I just emailed my wife telling her she might like this record as she digs this formula — a little rock, some country, a woman on the microphone. If that works for you check it out. Also very nice guitar tones here.
@@@ King Jammy: Closed Border Dub (Greensleeves, 2022) A coupla listens off the WRIR weekly playlist from last week. King Jammy brings back the dubwise flavors for the post Covid party. Well maybe post Covid, and maybe a party. Some newer dub records don’t have that trippy grit of the classic ones and though this opening track is no murky Lee Perry business, it feels dubby and not all cleaned up. All the titles are pandemic related with titles such as Dub for All Hospital Workers and Track and Trace Dub. Most dub records don’t contain much in the way of guitar shredding but there was a nice Funkadelic style guitar shred towards the end of the first track and the second track has it as well. Let me google who this guitar player might be, ah shit I can’t find anything. Whoever you are I honor you. There is some tasty shit on this record, this might make my year end list, so check it out, King Jammy 74 years young and kickin’ it!!!
@@@ LALALAR: Abla Deme Lazim Olur (Bongo Joe/Dunganga, 2022) This is a pre-release track from a Turkish outfit that I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email. Gruff, low key male vocals, some rock bass, world music flavored synths and overall a sly party track. A little shreddy electric guitar, is the rock guitar making a comeback??? This is a pretty slammin’ track to be hitting for the onset of spring, lucky to be alive and kickin’ some party music, you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a bit hard to describe this track as it’s a mash of a lot of different sounds, but thank God we have the interwebz and you can hear it for yourself if you click on tracks you don’t know. Good listens today, get your world music on.
@@@ Yumi Zouma: In the Eyes of Our Love (Polyvinyl, 2022) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. This is track 6 and the tempo is brisk brisk brisk. Female singer, some jangly guitars but the voice and the drums dominate here. Short guitar solo, very poppy and energetic. I listened to today’s post from bottom to top and this is another track where elements of rock are presented in a poppier non-rock framework. Maybe rock flavored pop soda will be a flavor that people going forward. Myself, I don’t need it, but who’s to say?
@@@ Midlake: For the Sake of Bethel Woods (ATO, 2022) Updated rock on a major label at a time when rock is a pretty weak genre. Very neutral singer, big beats on the drums mixed high in the mix, no coincidence there, and a fair amount of guitar washes and a prominent piano part. It’s got a tambourine, you gotta applaud that. I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s pretty bereft of big guitar flavors. It’s like a 1970’s arena rock track but piano driven with a big drum sound. With an album evoking the town where woodstock happened, then you know it’s backwards looking without trying to sound backwards that way. The player clicked through to the next track and there’s a semi-intricate rock guitar figure but not all distorted so the formula remains in place there.